Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chips and Dip and Dip and Dip...

When it comes to snacking, I love dips. There is just something so satisfying about combining the crunch and (usually) saltiness of the chip, with the fresh, coolness of the dip. Whether it is tortilla chips in salsa or a creamy taco dip; or pita chips in hummus, or potato chips in French Onion dip, I am all in! I will even go beyond chips and use crunchy vegetables. Carrots in a dill weed dip, celery in a buffalo sauce. I just love to dip!

When we entertain, I generally like to have some dips. Some dips I make, some dips I buy. Some dips are warm, some dips are cold. I like to make versatile dips that can be used with many dippers. I like to make a dill weed dip that works well for carrots, pumpernickel bread, and potato chips alike. I like to have many dips that will work with one chip. I like to serve a salsa, a spicy taco dip, a guacamole and a chili cheese dip for tortilla chips. I love to have a little bit of everything, so that everyone can find their favorite. (I love to host too! - for one thing it is an inspiration to me to organize and clean (I am a bit of a pile builder and sometimes need motivation to get through them), but mostly I love to cook and share my favorites and love that others enjoy the things I make.)

Tonight we are having some friends over for game night (and likely will watch The Ohio State University men's basketball team try to advance to the finals in the tournament). Since we aren't gathering until later in the evening, there won't be a meal component to our gathering (sometimes we meet earlier and share dinner), so the focus will be on snacks. I have some tortilla chips and will put out a few dips with them. Some Wholly Salsa (and Wholly Queso if I can find it locally). I think I might mix up some taco dip and some Asparagus Guacamole. It is a dip that I first sampled at the grocery store. I am not normally a guacamole eater, but this one is delish! I serve it as a layered dip with salsa and sour cream.
Asparagus Guacamole
4 cups trimmed fresh asparagus
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons onions chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 cup green chili chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tub Wholly Salsa, divided
8 oz container sour cream

Cook asparagus until tender. Drain well and cool. Using a food processor, blend asparagus with garlic, onion, lime juice, chilis and seasonings, until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 c salsa. Cover and chill.

To build the dip: layer sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Serve with tortilla chips.

You can also use frozen asparagus tenders, if it is not in season. The guacamole is so flavorful and works well served as a dip with grilled chicken, as well.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some of the information for this post.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Freebies and Samples

SaniHands sample (
Garnier Ultra Lift Serum plus Moisturizer (

Tide Pods Sample
Quaker Oatmeal Squares Honey Nut sample and coupon
Coupon for Free Fresh Takes (Kraft First Taste)
Eucerin Skin Calming Lotion sample and coupon

CVS Deals - 3/27

I had received one of those 'free gifts' from the CVS Twitter party the other day and I headed to the store to pick up my free candy or beverage. I checked when I got there and was told that if I bought a 'larger' candy that it would simply take up to $2 off on the order. I decided that the M&M special offer was for me!

2 - Easter Pretzel M&Ms

-$1 $1/2 Easter M&M CRT
-$2 'Free Gift' coupon from CVS Twitter party

Paid with $1 ECB and $.16 on a cash card. Not a bad deal - essentially FREE!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Even though the temperatures have dropped, the trees are still ready for spring.
this post shared at Wordless Wednesday.

Making Your Tiled Floor Look New Again

A while back, I guess it's probably been a month ago now. We had our friend, and handyman, over to look at a few projects that we were thinking about doing to get a feasability review and a cost estimate. We find this an important step, as there are things that we don't think about - like load bearing walls and projects that just would be way more than we want to invest.

After we looked at, and determined what we could / couldn't do of the projects that we called about, we started to talk about flooring. When we moved in, we chose carpeting for the dining room. It really was a financial decision that I question every day, as it will cost us more to change it out than it would have to do it in the first place. We know that one of our next projects is to replace the carpeting in the dining room with hardwood. I also mentioned that ideally, had I to do it over again, I would have put hardwood in the dining room and the foyer, reserving the tile for only the kitchen.

This comment got us onto the topic of tile floor and how dirty the grout was looking and how it never seemed to become fully clean and back to its original color. Our handyman said that he had recently cleaned his grout using Clorox Cleanup with Bleach. He said that he worked in small sections, spraying it on and allowing it to sit for a few minutes and then scrubbing and rinsing before moving onto the next section.

In cleaning out the cabinet in our bathroom, the first of many clean-out/organize sessions I have had lately, I found a partial bottle of Clorox Cleaner with Bleach and decided to do a test patch that was in a fairly dirty area. We loved the results.
So, the next time my husband was out, he picked up another bottle and a scrub brush and set out to clean the grout. It is amazing the difference that it made. Somehow the original, lighter color of the grout makes the room visually seem bigger. It is so nice to have a 'like new' looking floor.

(not sure why the color looks so different here!)

This is one cleanup tip that we will bank and use again and again.

This post shared at Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CVS Deals - 3/26

While I was out running a few errands, I made a point to stop by CVS and pick up a few items. The Easter candy, as you might recall, is only on a 3 day sale.
Transaction #1
4 - Mars Easter Candy
2 - Colgate 360 Toothbrushes

-$.25 $.25/2 Mars Easter Candy CRT
-$.25 $.25/2 Mars Easter Candy CRT
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon

Paid with $4 and $1 ECB and $.83 OOP ($.48 + tax). Earned $4 and $2 ECBs.

Unfortunately, the J&J First Aid kits were not included in this week's promotion. I guess I will have to wait and/or keep looking for a deal.

Menu Plan Monday

We had a great weekend and I did not go to the grocery store (unless a quick trip to Target 30 minutes before I was planning to serve 10 adults and 9 children dinner on Sunday night). In fact, aside from Sunday's meal, I hadn't really planned anything. I know that it is a tough week if I don't plan, so I finally sat down last night and planned us to the weekend. The weekend is a bit up in the air, but we will do just fine. I also made a quick trip to Giant Eagle. With all of the recent Land O' Lakes coupons (and the buy one get one rebate), the sale at Giant Eagle was a good one to stock up.

Cincinnati Style Chili (Skyline Chili)


Italian Parmesan Chicken (Kraft Fresh Takes - got coupon for a free one)

Breakfast for dinner - Tyson Breakfast Bowls

Creamy Chicken Florentine

Hamburgers on the Grill


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school or a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, March 26, 2012

CVS Scenarios - week of 3/25

Well, I finally went to CVS last week, after several weeks of not stopping in. There are a few deals this week that will make me at least stop by. The jelly bean and Mars Easter Eggs/Bunnies deal is only good until Tuesday, so the trip will need to be early in the week.

Transaction #1
1 - Gold Emblem Jelly Beans
2 - Mars Easter Eggs

-$.25 Mars Easter CRT

Total $1.74 OOP, earn $1 and $.99 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Irish Spring Body Wash
1 - Softsoap Body Wash

-$1 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$1 Irish Spring mfg coupon
-$1 Soft Soap mfg coupon

Total $6, pay with $1.99 ECBs and $4.01 OOP. Earn $3 ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - Colgate 360 Toothbrush

-$1 Colgate Toothbrush mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate Toothbrush mfg coupon

Total $3.98, pay with $3 ECB and $.99 OOP. Earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #4
1 - J&J First Aid Kit (hoping these are part of the deal)

Total $12.99, pay with $4 ECBs and $8.99 OOP. Earn $5 ECBs.

For the trip the total OOP is $15.73, with $5 ECBs to roll, for $29.96 in product. A savings of 55%.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge
Transaction #1
1 - Gold Emblem Jelly Beans
2 - Mars Easter Eggs

-$.25 Mars Easter CRT

Total $1.74 OOP, earn $1 and $.99 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Colgate 360 Toothbrush

-$1 Colgate Toothbrush mfg coupon
-$1 Colgate Toothbrush mfg coupon

Total $3.98, pay with $1.99 ECB and $1.99 OOP. Earn $4 ECBs.

For the trip, the total OOP is $3.73, with $4 ECBs to roll for $7.97 in product. A savings of 69%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crystal Light Mocktails

This evening, we had friends over to our house for dinner and Bible Study. I made Cincinnati Style Chili with all the fixings and sliced up some bread. Someone was planning to bring along some soday, but I wanted to offer some drinks for those that might not want soda and for the kids. I made up a pitcher of lemonade for the kids and then, for the adults (or the kids too), I made a pitcher of the new Crystal Light Mocktails in Peach Bellini.

It was a hit. It has such a soft peach flavor and really does remind me of a Peach Belinni. I really enjoyed the refreshing beverage. I think that next time, I might 'spike' it with a bit of soda (or soda water) to give it a little bubbly effervescence. The drink was a hit with the guests as well. One of the women said that she was adding some of the lemonade to the drink and really liked the combination.

I haven't had any of the Crystal Light Mocktails before, but look forward to trying some of the other flavors. In addition to the Peach Bellini, the other new flavor is Pomtini, which I will be making next. The Peach Bellini and the Pomtini are limited edition flavors, that are available until around June, or as long as supplies last. The other flavors that are available are Margarita, Mojito and Appletini. I think that I will have to try out the Margarita one, I love the lime flavor of Margaritas.

The drinks contain just 5 calories in an 8 oz serving, so they are a great option for a flavorful drink that doesn't contain many calories. Each package has 5-2 quart pitcher packs. They were very easy to make, just add the packet to 2 quarts of water in a pitcher, stir and refrigerate.

Did you see the ad in the coupon section? They have teamed up with the Celebrity Apprentice and the ad is based on that partnership. I love the tag line on the ad "Drink as much as you want and still be awake to hear "You're Fired".

For more information on Crystal Light, you can connect with them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

No compensation was provided for this post. Product samples of the Crystal Light Peach Bellini and Pomtini were provided by Kraft in addition to drink napkins, umbrellas and a pitcher, so that I could try the product and share my experience. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

CVS Deals - 3/24

It had been a while since I was at CVS. In fact, my ECBs expired earlier this week. I wanted to use them all, so I kept having to add to my transaction to make it right.

Transaction #1
5 - Suave Men Body Wash
1 - Suave Natural Body Wash (only because there wasn't another men one)
2 - Easter M&M
4 - Orbit Gum (BOGO sale)
2 - Carefree Thin

1 - Xtra Laundry Detergent
2 - MilkyWay/Snickers Eggs

-$2 Suave Buy 2 Get 1 Free mfg coupon
-$2 Suave Buy 2 Get 1 Free mfg coupon
-$1.20 10% Beauty Anniversary CRT
-$1 Seasonal M&M CRT
-$1.37 Buy 2 Get 1 Free Orbit CRT
-$1 Carefree mfg coupon
-$1.50 $1.50/2 Carefree CRT
-$.25 $.25/2 MilkyWay/Snickers Eggs CRT

Paid $10 and $3 ECBs and $1.03 ($.41 + $.62 tax) on a CVS Cash Card (from previous promotion). Earned $1, $4 and $1 ECBs.

If I had known I had the $1.50/2 Carefree CRT, I would have looked for another Carefree coupon, as I am pretty sure I had more but didn't have them with me. My paper didn't have the M&M coupon that other regions got.

Rite Aid Deals - 3/22 & 3/24

Well, my Rite Aid deal didn't work out as well as I had hoped. My friend wound up not having that free bodywash wyb cleanser coupon. So, I wound up changing things up on the fly, substituting some of the body wash for razors and shaving cream. Then, when I rang out, rather than the Olay Buy One Get One 50% off applying the 50% off to the cheapest items, it applied it to the like items. As a result, my OOP was higher than expected.
Transaction #1
2 - Olay Body Wash
2 - Olay Cleanser
2 - Venus Razors
2 - Satin Care Shaving Cream
2 - Pantene Shampoo/conditioner

-$8.99 Olay Free Body Wash WYB Cleanser mfg coupon
-$4.49 Olay Free Body Wash WYB Cleasner mfg coupon
-$3 Olay Cleanser mfg coupon
-$2 Venus Razor mfg coupon
-$2 Venus Razor mfg coupon
-$1 $1/2 Satin Care mfg coupon
-$3 $3/2 Pantene mfg coupon

Total $27.17 plus tax, for a total of $30.53 OOP. Earned $10 +Up Reward and will submit for a $15 Gift Card.

My Rite Aid was out of the Banana Nut Crunch, so I had to head to another store Saturday to pick up that deal.
Transaction #2
4 - Banana Nut Crunch Cereal (@BOGO)

Total $10.58, pay with $10 +Up Reward and $.58 OOP.

For the two transactions, the total OOP was $31.11 (includes $3.36 tax) and I will get back a $15 gift card, for a net cost of $16.11 including tax. I took home $72.91 in product. A savings of 78%.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Free Land O Lakes Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread

Right now, you can head over to the Land O Lake website and find a rebate offer for a coupon by mail for a Free Land O Lakes Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread. (You can check out my review here.) All you have to do is purchase a one of their 'tub' products and submit the rebate.

To make the deal sweeter, be sure to head over to and print a 50c coupon for the Land O Lakes Butter with Canola Oil product. They also have coupons good for 50c when you buy 2# of butter, that I snagged.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Rite Aid Scenario - week of 3/18

I don't normally shop at Rite Aid, and I'm not 100% on what the prices will be (I'm going with what I am seeing online, but know that they vary regionally), but I'm hoping to take advantage of the P&G +Up reward and $15 Gift Card rebate opportunity.

Transaction #1
3 - Olay Facial Cleansers BOGO50% @$7.99
3 - Olay Body Wash BOGO50% @8.99
2 - Pantene Shampoo/Conditioner BOGO50% @7.49

Subtotal: $50.20
(I am assuming that the BOGO50% will be on like brand items - i.e. the Cleanser would all be 50% and Bodywash regular price. I will ask first, because this scenario won't work if it's not like that)

-$3 Olay Cleanser mfg coupon
-$8.99 BOGO Olay mfg coupon (buy cleanser get body wash)
-$8.99 BOGO Olay mfg coupon (buy cleanser get body wash)
-$8.99 BOGO Olay mfg coupon (buy cleanser get body wash) - I get two papers and a friend said she would share hers!
-$3 Pantene mfg coupon

Total $17.23 OOP. Earn $10 +UP Reward and apply for P&G $15 Gift Card.

Transaction #2 - since I don't shop often, I want to use up the +Up Reward.
4 - Post Banana Nut Crunch Cereals @BOGO (expecting this to be about $3.99 / ea)
4 - Arizona Ice Teas @BOGO (expecting this to be $.99 / ea)
a filler? (not sure if Rite Aid, will adjust down the +Up Rewards)

Total OOP ~ $0.

After gift card, I would expect to have a net 'payment' of about $7.77 for $85.84 in product! That is a great deal for me!

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the Rite Aid $5 Challenge.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Ashley! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Trix Yogurt Prize Pack giveaway.

Congratulations to Tina! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Kroger Gift Card giveaway.

Thanks everyone for entering and be sure to check out the current giveaways, listed on the right sidebar.

CVS Scenarios - week of 3/18

I haven't been to CVS in weeks and I have some ECBs that are expiring, so I think that I will do my best to make it in this week.

Transaction #1
6 - Suave Men Body Wash
1 - Carefree

-$2 B2G1 Suave Men mfg coupon
-$2 B2G1 Suave Men mfg coupon
-$1 Carefree mfg coupon

Total $8 OOP, earn $4 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - M&M Holiday
1 - Cadbury Creme Egg

-$1 $1/2 M&M CRT
-$1.50 $1.50/2 M&M mfg coupon

Total $4, pay with $4 ECBs and $0 OOP, earn $1 ECB.

Transaction #3
1 - Colgate Optic White

-$1 Colgate Optic mfg coupon

Total $2.49, pay with $1 ECB and $1.49 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

For the trip, the total OOP is $9.49, with $2 ECB to roll, for $22.99 in product. A savings of 62%.

For more deals and scenarios, check out
Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom.

CVS $5 Challenge

Transaction #1
1 - Colgate Optic White
1 - Carefree

-$1 Colgate Optic mfg coupon
-$1 Carefree mfg coupon

Total $2.49 OOP, earn $2 ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - M&M Holiday

-$1 $1/2 M&M CRT
-$1.50 $1.50/2 M&M mfg coupon

Total $4.50, pay with $2 ECBs and $2.50 OOP. Earn $1 ECB.

For the trip, the total OOP is $4.99, with $1 ECB to roll, for $10.49 in product. A savings of 57%.

For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

What a great weekend (mostly)! The weather was very unseasonable, with highs in the mid-70s, it felt more like May than March. Perhaps it has been the unseasonably warm weather, or perhaps it's just a desire to finish what we started, but lately we have been on a clean out, reorganize, refresh, redecorate sort of mode at our house. We accomplished a lot this weekend (up until we didn't). We have now cleaned out and reorganized our two linen closets and under the sink in our half bath; rearranged things in the basement to move my daughter's doll house from the dining room to the play room; we have pulled out old clothes that don't fit, to make room for clothes that are the right size; we have cleaned out and reorganized the pantry (inspired a batch of super yummy cookies); we cleaned out and reorganized by adding new organizational tools to the garage; we have redecorated the half bath - with a new color on the walls, a new light fixture and an abandoned attempt to change out the mirror and we've thoroughly cleaned the grout in the kitchen/foyer making the rooms feel brighter and larger. I hope to share some of all this including pictures.

Saturday afternoon the kids had a friend over to play. They spent the afternoon playing outside, although at one point they wanted to come inside to play. I suggested (told them) that they should enjoy the unseasonable weather, because when it was cold or rainy, they would be upset that they couldn't play outside. We enjoyed a late dinner out at Chipotle, arriving about 30 seconds before a busload of people coming home from an indoor track and field event. I would never have expected a line out the door at Chipotle at 8 pm (especially on St. Patrick's Day). We enjoyed a Shamrock Shake and then headed home. Sunday, the kids got a chance to play outside again. We even took a walk in the late afternoon to enjoy the weather. Just about the time that we headed to our friends house for Bible Study, the rain started. I was glad that it had waited until after we had a chance to fully enjoy the weekend before it started.

We really were getting a lot done, and I had more that I planned to do when we got home from Bible Study, but after my daughter fell off of a couch and into a coffee table at our friend's house, our Sunday evening was spent in the ER, waiting to get stitches. She actually wound up getting staples which is sort of strange sounding. The three shiny staples are very easy to see in her hair, making it easier for me to put on some antibiotic cream and to make sure that I don't brush over her boo-boo. She was a trooper. I think that my son was more bothered by the whole thing than she was. She came upstairs calmly, he was upset that she was bleeding. He went home with friends, so he didn't have to hang out in the ER and when we picked him up, he was afraid to give her a hug goodnight. We lost about 3 hours sitting in the ER for a procedure that amounted to 20 minutes of applying a topical numbing solution (which was 1 minute of a nurse putting it on a cotton ball and 20 minutes of me holding it there), 2 minutes of cleaning the wound and 15 seconds of inserting staples. I get the need to address critical injuries/illnesses first, and I get the first come, first served thing, but it feels like someone could have stopped in for two minutes to give us the numbing solution, and left. Then, the next person could have come in and cleaned it and applied staples and been done. We could have been in and out, allowing them to better serve those that had to wait - a broken foot (has to have x-rays taken and read), etc. and freeing up a room. It just seemed so inefficient to have us sit there for two hours before we saw the nurse and doctor (other than the observation, ice pack providing, etc. that happened at triage) for something that took them each only a few minutes of active time to accomplish.

I just am thankful that she is okay. It was frustrating, but in the end, the important thing is that she is okay. She is sad that she has to miss swimming lessons, but to me that is a minor thing.

No trip to the grocery store this weekend. We were too busy doing other things, so the menu is planned from products on hand.

Canned pasta/hot dogs



Breakfast for Dinner

Chicken Bruschetta

Tilapia Vera Cruz


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school or a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sun Chips 6 Grain Medley Parmesan & Herb flavored multigrain snacks

I'll admit it, I love a nice crunchy snack. I have gotten in the habit of including a chip of some sort in my lunch, so that I can break up an otherwise mono-textured meal. Typically though, I will wait until mid-afternoon to snack on them. I count the Points up when I figure out my lunch so I have planned for them. Then, it gives me chance to break up my afternoon with a snack that I have already planned on (better that what I used to do where I would just add an unplanned snack). Since I eat them on their own, I prefer to have some different flavored chips.

SunChips have always been a favorite choice of mine. I have always enjoyed their Garden Salsa and even their Original. There is just something so appealing about the flavor that the multi-grain mixture provides - I might say it tastes a little nutty, but that would sound odd since I'm not much of a nut eater and yet find their flavor so appealing.

Recently, I had the chance the try the newest flavor for SunChips - SunChips 6 Grain Medley Parmesan & Herb flavored multigrain snacks. "This new member of the SunChips family packs 21 grams of whole grains and 4 grams of fiber per serving into a crunchy snack with a distinguished parmesan and herb flavor -- making them not only super scrumptious, but a snack you can feel better about eating. We think they’re the perfect complement to your grown-up lunch box." The 6 grains are Corn, Wheat, Oats, Brown Rice, Buckwheat and Quinoa.

I really enjoyed the smoothness of the Paremsan flavor coupled with the taste of basil, contrasted by the toasty, crunchy flavor of the chip. Unfortunately, my kids discovered them too and they seem to really enjoy them. It seems that as soon as a bag of them is opened, they are gone. I suppose though that since they are lower in fat than most chips and are made with whole grains, I should be glad that they choose these over others.

I stopped by their site today and saw another flavor that was new to me that I just have to try...Jalapeno Jack. That just sounds good. Pepper Jack is one of my favorite cheeses to snack on with crackers, and this flavor (and what I know from enjoying SunChips) makes me think of crackers and cheese - baked into a chip. I guess I know what flavor I will be trying this week.

No compensation was received for this post. Sample product and information was provided to me by Frito Lay. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Samples and Freebies

KRAFT FRESH TAKE Cheese & Breadcrumb mix
Origins Skin Tone Correcting Serum (Facebook)
Crespo Olives sample pouch
Fiber Choice

simple Facial Wash Gel sample
Kleenex Cool Touch sample and coupon
Purex Triple Action sample and coupon

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Intersection of Seasons

Hard to believe early March and a forecast of 70 for NE Ohio.

This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mamavation Monday

What a week!

Last week started out wonderfully. I was doing a good job managing my food intake and minimizing Weekly Points usage each day, knowing that I was saving them for Saturday. I was able to fit in a workout each morning - some shorter, some longer, but active none the less. I even fit in a walk at lunch one beautiful afternoon. I did a reasonable job avoiding the temptations of the treats and candy and such too readily available at the office. The scale was responding wonderfully. Finally, I had overcome the plateau I was stuck upon.

Saturday came, and as expected, I used many of the Weekly Points that I had saved. No surprise, when you eat what is about twice the Daily Points on one day, the scale reacted on Sunday. I knew that it was only temporary and that when I returned to regular eating, that I would be fine.

But, somehow, my brain was disconnected and despite a good start and good intentions, I just didn't maintain focus and went overboard on Sunday. Breakfast was a simple bowl of cereal and a banana. Lunch started out good, a taco salad with a bit of cheese and a bit of sour cream, but otherwise essentially a bowl of Zero Points vegetables. Then, it happened, I started to pick at the chips and one led to two led to three and so on. I wound up eating just over a serving (I was planning to avoid - 6 Points!). Then, well, it was a birthday, so there was ice cream and cake. I had a piece of cake and a small scoop of ice cream (11 Points!) - the worst part was that the flavor of the cake was not that good to me and I ate it anyway. If I had stopped there, it wouldn't have been too bad, but we had another social gathering that evening. Again, I had tortilla chips, stuck with one serving at least, some nacho cheese dip, some fruit, some meatballs and a brownie. At this point, I had seriously eaten into my Weekly Points and it was day one of my week!

I just need to let Sunday go and focus on the days ahead and I know that I can be successful. I can't let one bad day be my demise. Despite my Sunday, I saw a small recovery towards my prior week weight on Monday. Thankfully, I am back on track. Monday, I consumed a little beyond my Daily Points, but didn't get in much of a workout. The scale continues to recover towards where I was on Saturday morning.

This post shared at Mamavation Monday, where the question this week is: What food did you think was good, but discovered that it’s not? I'd have to go with the obvious - salads when you are out to eat. I was simply floored the first time that I looked at the calories on some salads. Of course, now I read through the description and leave things off and have the dressing on the side, to make sure that it is a healthy meal.

No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with a trial subscription to Weight Watchers. All opinions expressed are my own. This post is sponsored by Mamavation – a community dedicated to obesity prevention & weight loss for women and I’m writing this to be entered into a giveaway.

Silk Fruit and Protein

My kids love to try new things. So, it was no surprise to me that as soon as my husband picked up a container of Silk Fruit & Protein that they would be all over trying it. They both really enjoyed it. My daughter started requesting it as fruit milk. I thought this was a great way to look at it. She saw it as the same as having 'strawberry milk', but I knew that she was getting a little more out of it than just that. Silk Fruit & Protein is a Good Source of Protein, and an Excellent Source of Calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin C. We tried the Mixed Berry and each 1 cup serving of Mixed Berry is packed with 5 grams of Protein, 100% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium and 25% Vitamin D.

For those with allergies, it is good to note that according to the package, the product is free of lactose, dairy, cholesterol, eggs, casein, MSG and worries....this message is sandwiched between "It's Free" and "You still have to pay for it", which I found to be cute and caused a light chuckle when I read it. Of course, it's protein source is from soy, so if you are allergic to that, well, it's not a good option.

"Silk Fruit & Protein: The great taste of fruit juice plus the power of protein."

As I noted, we tried the Mixed Berry, but Silk Fruit & Protein is also available in Strawberry Banana and Mango Peach. To me, the Mixed Berry delivery felt a bit like a drinking yogurt. It was smooth and creamy with a nice fruit flavor. I can't wait to try the other flavors, which I consider more 'breakfast juice' like and see if their delivery feels more like a juice or a drinking yogurt.

My kids have been pretty entertaining. One night at dinner, I asked, what do you like about the product. My daughter started off talking about the fruit flavor of the fruit milk and wound up sounding a bit like a commercial, even ending her comment with a 'so go buy it now!' When we laughed and commented that she sounded like a commercial, my son decided that he was going to write a commercial and include all of the Silk products in our refrigerator. He asked my husband if he would film them, which of course he said that he would. The next morning, I came into the kitchen to see four 1/2 gallons sitting on my counter while he was busy writing down the flavors (Vanilla Coconut Milk, Vanilla Almond Milk and Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, in addition to the Fruit & Protein). I have yet to see the script or the commercial, but I can't wait.

It's funny how once you try a new product you have a tendency to share it with friends and/or suddenly know who would love/use this product. I was walking with a friend one day and she was mentioning that she worries about her daughter getting enough protein, because she is not a big meat eater. I suggested that she might try the Silk Fruit & Protein as a drink at meals to increase protein intake easily. Another friend has a daughter that is allergic to milk. I haven't had a chance to talk to her since we tried it, but I have a couple coupons ready to share, because I think this would be a great alternative for her and allow her to get some extra calcium too.

Want to learn more? You can find out more by checking out the product pages for each flavor: Silk Fruit&Protein Mango Peach, Silk Fruit&Protein Mixed Berry, and Silk Fruit&Protein Strawberry Banana. You can read about the Silk Love It Guarantee, check out other reviews on their Facebook page. Now through March 28th, you can enter the Product Giveaway on Facebook, where they are selecting 60 people per day to try the New Silk Fruit & Protein for Free.

Get $1 off - you can find a printable coupon for $1 off Silk Fruit & Protein on the Silk Fruit&Protein website.


Courtesy of Silk, I have the opportunity to giveaway to one A Busy Mom of Two reader a set of coupons to try each flavor (3 Free coupons, plus several $1 coupons to share or use) of the new Silk Fruit & Protein.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It was a wonderful, crazy weekend.

Friday night, we spent relaxing at home. No big plans, but it was a nice start to the weekend.

Saturday morning was spent doing some laundry and house cleaning. My brother and his family were coming over in the afternoon, so I wanted to get all the 'chores' behind us. Saturday afternoon as a girls day out with a group (7 girls, ages 3 1/2 -5 and 6 moms) heading to the Akron Civic Theater to see the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet perform the world premier of The Little Mermaid. The girls all seemed to enjoy the show. We were going to try to do dinner afterwards, but we all seemed to separate in the surge of exiting the theater. So, my sister-in-law, my niece, my daughter and I caught up with the rest of our families for dinner at a Japanese steakhouse. My daughter was so excited to have her cousins spend the night. Unfortunately, when my niece became sick, those plans were changed. The girls were already asleep, so my daughter didn't know that she left until she woke up alone on her floor at 2 am. She was so sad. This was the second weekend in a row that she didn't get to spend the night with her cousins.

Sunday was a nice day. The weather was simply amazing. The day was punctuated with several play times outside. In addition, we did some shopping at Kohl's (30% off!!!), picked up groceries, attended a birthday party, attended Bible Study and I made Twix Brownies and cooked up a whole chicken for two meals this week and set aside enough for three more meals in the freezer.

This week we are making some favorites and picking up a meal that was 'skipped' last week.

Taco Bar (birthday party)


Chicken Gravy over biscuits

Lemon Artichoke Chicken Pasta

Beef Taco Skillet

Fish Fillets


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school or a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Big G Star Wars Prize Pack Winner

Congratulations to Theresa! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Big G Star Wars Prize Pack Giveaway.

An e-mail has been sent to the winner.

Thanks everyone for entering. Be sure to check out the newest giveaway for an XO Laptop. You can find the link for that giveaway and all other current giveaways on the right side bar.

Win & Give Campaign - Enter to Win an XO Laptop

As I raise my children, I am trying to share a variety of experiences with them. One of those experiences is giving back to the community and to others. We participate in the Give a Christmas program at Christmas, we make donations to groups like Friends of the Library and Goodwill throughout the year, we collect change to support my son's class Pennies for Pasta programs and more.

Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks and parenting expert Dr. Michele Borba have partnered to make giving back easy though the “Win & Give” campaign. Now through May, kids in the U.S. have a chance to win laptops and help donate laptops to kids in Africa. The campaign shows moms and kids that even the smallest of acts can make a big difference and that giving to others can be fun.

Dr. Borba recently traveled to Rwanda with Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks and OLPC to help give XO laptops to kids in schools. For her thoughts on the trip and the program itself, please visit For more information, you may also check out to see first-hand the incredible impact these laptops have had on the kids in Rwanda along with additional tips from Dr. Borba and videos of her speaking about the positive impact giving back has on the lives of children.

“Research shows that providing children with opportunities and experiences to feel the joy and impact of giving to others helps them grow into kind, empathetic and respectful adults,” said Dr. Michele Borba, parenting expert. “As part of my work with Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks, I recently traveled to Rwanda and saw the incredible impact laptops have on kids in Africa. The smiles and excitement I saw on the children’s faces was amazing. They are so appreciative for the gifts that kids in the U.S. have given them. The ‘Win & Give’ campaign truly makes a difference and it’s so easy for kids in the U.S. to get involved.”

Having a giving heart is important, as 93 percent of moms would exude more pride if their children grew into giving adults than if they were wealthy, according to the “Kids’ Altruism Indicator .” But, between work, school and after-school activities, it can be hard for families to find the time to give back. Dr. Borba recommends five ways families can incorporate giving into their everyday lives:
• Tap into kids’ passions. For instance, an animal lover may get excited about helping at a local animal shelter. Encourage children to become involved in causes they care about. Let them lead the charge and follow-up with support.
• When watching the news, take the time to explain hot button issues and how people have been affected by local disasters, like hurricanes or tornados. Kids are compassionate and may proactively want to help by donating clothes or writing letters to those affected. Especially when they know they can make a difference. Take that moment to mobilize compassion - “What can we do?” is a great question that empowers children to lead the way.
• Be on the lookout for local opportunities to help. There are often ways families can help through local food or clothes drives. Parents and kids should do the activity together so they can experience and witness the impact of giving as a family. Kids will see the joy their parents get from giving back and it will help them catch the spirit of giving.
• Leverage holidays to talk to kids about giving back. For example, talk about giving around the winter holidays or discuss the troops around 4th of July and Memorial Day. Don’t forget to put the talk into action. Become a home that encourages giving, the more active kids are in experiencing giving, the more likely they are to develop empathy.
• Find easy ways to help others around the world through opportunities such as helping to give laptops to kids in Africa through the Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks “Win & Give” campaign.

“Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks believes that every kid can be a hero, so we’re helping them make a great impact on the lives of kids in Africa,” said Ben Mand, brand marketing manager, Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks. “The ‘Win & Give’ campaign provides kids in the U.S. an opportunity to win a laptop, as well as the chance to see the impact these laptops have on students in Africa.”

To participate in the “Win & Give” campaign, simply look for specially-marked Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snack packages at your local store. Each specially-marked package contains a code that you can enter at to see if you’ve won an XO laptop. For every child that wins in the U.S., Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks, in partnership with the non-profit One Laptop per Child, will donate a laptop to a child in Africa. Additionally, every code that is entered at will help donate additional laptops to kids in Africa (one additional laptop for each 100 UPCs entered). So, even if you don't win, the children in Africa still will!

For more information about the “Win & Give” campaign, please visit The website allows parents and kids to see the powerful impact laptops have on kids in Rwanda with videos from the students who received the laptops and their teachers. Additionally, Dr. Borba shares her experience participating in the laptop donation, as well as her tips to help parents instill giving in their kids.

Some info:
  • The official rules of the Win & Give campaign can be found here. The Win & Give campaign runs through May 31st, 2011.

  • You can learn more about the XO laptop on their website

  • Learn more about the Win & Give Campaign and get a 50₵/2 coupon for Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks, on the Win & Give Campaign Learn More page.

  • For me, this is an easy contest to enter and an easy way to give back. I like to keep fruit snacks on hand. They are an easy snack that I can keep in my purse for those times where the kids need a snack while we are out. In fact, I picked up a specially marked box of Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks this weekend. I was hopeful to find a winning code inside, but it was not.

    Thanks to Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks, you have a chance to win an XO Laptop not only by buying specially marked boxes, but also by entering this giveaway!

    One A Busy Mom of Two reader will win an XO Laptop and a variety pack of Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks. And, when one reader wins here, another XO Laptop will be donated to a child in Africa.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    The giveaway is open only to residents of the US. Winner will be responsible for any taxes associated with the prize. Entries for the giveaway will be accepted until April 18th. At that time, I will select a winner. The winner will have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be selected. Laptop will not be shipped until the Win & Give Campaign is over.

    No compensation was received for this post, but I will receive a box of assorted Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks. Information about the Win & Give campaign was shared with me by Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks and they are providing the prize pack for one reader. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

    Samples and Freebies

    Nordic Naturals Fish Oil Samples

    Nature Valley Protein Chew Bar and coupon (came on the Sunday paper)
    Tide Pods (no coupon though, bummer)

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Kmart Cereal Deal - 3/5

    I don't often shop at Kmart, but I always scan their ad just to see what they are offering, because I am usually near one at least once a week. This week, I was excited to see a deal on Kellogg's cereal.

    Here's what I got:

    5 boxes Kellogg's Cereals
    1 8ct box Kellogg's PopTarts

    -$5 $5/$5 Kellogg's Cereal IP (was available a few weeks ago)
    -FREE PopTarts wyb 4 Kellogg's Cereals Shop My Way Rewards offer

    Total $5 OOP. The receipt says that I saved $10.64.

    Does anyone know if the free PopTarts deal is a limit of one? With the new $4/4 coupon that is available, I could go back and get 4 boxes of cereal and PopTarts for only $4 OOP.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    JAWS Cleaner Giveaway Winner

    Congratulations to Leah! Her entry was selected as the winner of the JAWS Cleaner Giveaway. An e-mail has been sent to the winner.

    Thanks everyone for entering and be sure to check out the other giveaways going on now.

    Cook'n Recipe Organizer Software Winner and DEAL!

    Congratulations to Christine. Her entry was selected as the winner of the Cook'n Recipe Organizer Software Review giveaway. An e-mail has been sent to the winner. Thanks everyone for entering.

    But, wait, you are all winners with this offer from the creators of Cook'n. They are now offering 50% off the purchase of Cook'n Software to readers of A Busy Mom of Two.
    To use the code, visit Cook'n Recipe Organizer ( to purchase. You can get it for download or on CD. At check out, enter the coupon code mb-busymom and save 50% off of your purchase.

    Oath of Office, by Michael Palmer

    I'm a reader, no doubt. I'm trying to help my children become readers, but my son still struggles with the idea that reading is something that you do because you enjoy it. I have let him know that I enjoy reading a good book and love reading a great book. I told him that I hope that one day that he will read a book that will change is his mind and make him want to keep reading. When he gets older, I hope to introduce him to many of my favorite authors, but he's just not ready for some of them. Take for example, the works of Michael Palmer. He has an amazing collection of books, but the psychological thriller nature of his medical thrillers would probably be more than scary for a child, I know that many of them scare me. In fact, once that fear or questioning starts, it just draws me in, there is no turning back. I don't want to put down the book, I want to know do the good guys 'win' out, are the bad guys found out (or as if often the case, first I need to confirm, who are the good guys that the 'hero' can rely on and who are the bad guys) and are they able to stop the 'force' at play.

    It was no different for me when I was reading Oath of Office, the latest medical suspense novel by Michael Palmer. Dr. Lou Welcome, a local ER physician and former alcoholic is one of the central characters in this novel that explores not only medical issues, but also corruption in government and the associated risks to the nation's health. When Dr. Meacham, a doctor that Dr. Welcome has been working with for years suddenly goes on a shooting rampage, Dr. Welcome is not satisfied with it being simply that he was 'unfit' or 'crazy'. From the moment that he shows up at the hospital where they are treating the Dr. Meacham, who turned the gun on himself, he just senses that something isn't right. The staff seemed to be fixated on things and not following standard medical protocol. Then, when he rides home with Dr. Meacham's wife, she exhibits strange behavior. A series of other events, leads him to reach out to local law enforcement to help. When he learns he is being followed, him and his friends turn the tables and 'follow' his pursuers. When the catch up, they are attacked in a corn field - corn that exhibits some unusual characteristics and is well past the knee-high by the 4th of July 'standard'. As Dr. Welcome gets deeper into the issues at hand, he gains an unexpected ally in the First Lady, a former pediatrician. Someone has been sharing information with the First Lady, trying to use her as a positive influence against her husband, but who? Together, they try to put everything together and stop what is going on.

    Of course, I can't tell you much more, because then there would be no fun in reading the story. I really enjoyed reading this novel. Surprisingly, I started to feel like I knew the 'source' if not the cause of the issues that were being experienced, much in advance of Dr. Welcome. Normally, I find myself second guessing and changing direction many times throughout the novel. Perhaps I am getting smarter, or perhaps the technical details of the story were less, but it was definitely a new perspective trying to help Dr. Welcome make the connection. I'm used to trying to convince them not to go into an area that is likely dangerous, but trying to help them find the source so that they can narrow in on the cause is not something that I get to do often when reading thrillers.

    Oath of Office was released on February 14th and you can pick up a copy at your favorite local bookstore or online. It is also available as an audio book and in digital format. You can hear an excerpt here:

    Want to learn more about Michael Palmer? You can find more about him by checking out his website - Michael Palmer Books. You can connect on Twitter and Facebook.

    No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary review copy of the novel was provided for my enjoyment and to allow me to share a review.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Menu Plan Monday

    What a wonderful weekend. We had the chance to spend time with family to celebrate my niece's 3rd birthday (although some would argue not enough time). We relaxed at home a little and watched the snow come down in big flakes, getting more snowfall than the less than 1/2" forecast would have suggested. We enjoyed a comedy show with some friends and our son. Brian Regan was in town and he is one funny dude. Of course, my daughter was sad and a little bothered by the first time that she stayed alone with a babysitter without her brother.

    This week is another relatively quiet week. Not many appointments, meetings or practices. It makes dinner planning a lot easier when you don't have to make everything with a tight timeline to get someone out the door (or to bed after practice). I think we have a couple more weeks of this, then we will get back into the swing (hehe) of things with the start of teeball and baseball. Next weekend, my daughter is looking forward to going to the CVYB performance of the Little Mermaid Ballet with several friends.



    Pork Chops

    Spaghetti and Meatballs

    Taco Skillet

    Roasted Shrimp and Tomatoes


    Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. For my son, lunch is either the menu item at school or a packed lunch with some type of sandwich. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

    This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

    Friday, March 2, 2012

    Samples and Freebies


    Gud Lotion Sample from Burt's Bees (Facebook)
    Tide Pods sample (different than the Facebook offer last week)
    Kleenex Share a Pack
    Lipton Tea & Honey sample (Facebook)
    Eucerin Calming Itch Relief (Facebook)

    slow week at the mailbox.

    Reminder - Free Pretzel Day Tomorrow


    Head over to your local Auntie Anne's on Saturday, March 3rd from 10 am - 3 pm to participate in Free Pretzel Day. You can receive one complimentary Original or Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel.

    As always, I recommend checking to make sure your store is participating before heading out.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Kroger Cart Buster Event & Giveaway

    "Get ready for the Cart Buster Savings Event exclusively at Kroger and the Kroger Co. Family of Stores. You’ll see Big Savings Storewide on some of your favorite brands! And look out for some special offers and coupons only available at the Kroger Co. Family of Stores, and only available for this event!

    Beginning the week of February 26th, 2012, shop the Kroger Co. Family of Stores biggest-ever promotion and find the hottest prices around on more than 35 brands, across more than 60 categories from General Mills, P & G, Pepsi, Nestle, Kraft and Kroger Banner Brands. During the Cart Buster Savings Event, you’ll find great savings in almost every department at the Kroger Family of Stores, which includes:
    • Kroger
    • Ralph’s
    • King Soopers
    • City Market
    • Dillon’s
    • Smith’s
    • Fry’s
    • QFC
    • Baker’s
    • Owen’s
    • Jay C Food Stores
    • Hilander
    • Gerbes
    • Food4Less
    • Pay Less Super Markets
    • Scott’s Food & Pharmacy

    Check your local store to confirm the exact dates for your Cart Buster Savings Event.
    Here are just a handful of the great brands participating in the event:
    • Cheerios
    • Lucky Charms
    • Pillsbury
    • Betty Crocker
    • Hamburger Helper
    • Yoplait
    • Progresso
    • Totino’s
    • Green Giant
    • Cascadian Farm
    • Tide
    • Charmin
    • Bounty
    • Pampers
    • Pantene
    • Crest
    • Iams
    • Febreze
    • Old Spice
    • Bounce
    • Pepsi
    • Ruffles
    • Quaker
    • Tostito’s
    • Rice A Roni
    • Tropicana
    • Stacy’s
    • Sobe
    • Mountain Dew
    • Gatorade

    Looking for even more ways to save time and money? Visit beginning 2/26/12 to find money-savings digital coupons, shopping lists and more.

    And starting 2/29/12 you can participate in the “Deal of the Day”!

    How does the Deal of the Day work? During seven days of the Cart Buster Savings Event, 2/29/12 - 3/6/12, there will be a super hot, exclusive offer good on one participating Cart Buster item. Each offer will be exclusive and available for one-day only – but the offer will be good for the duration of the entire event.

    You’ll see savings of up to and over 50% with the Deal of the Day offers – maybe even some freebies - and that’s on top of the already-low, low prices that Cart Buster has to offer!

    Look for seven days of “Deal of the Day offers” beginning 2/29/12. The Last Deal of the Day offer will be up on 3/6/12. But don’t fret - the Cart Buster event will continue even after the Deal of the Day ends.

    Check your local store for the exact end date for the Cart Buster Savings Event."

    I was so excited to learn that although you can only download the daily deal on the day it is offered, you can redeem it through the end of the Cart Buster Savings Event. That works well for me, because I want to take advantage of some of the offers and I know I won't get a chance to shop at Kroger until Saturday or Sunday, based on my schedule.

    To learn more, you can visit the Cart Buster website, Like Kroger on Facebook and follow Kroger on Twitter.

    Courtesy of Kroger Family of Stores and General Mills/Nestle/Proctor & Gamble/Pepsi/Kraft, through MyBlogSpark, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will win a $25 Gift Card to the Kroger family of stores.