Friday, August 31, 2012

Getting Creative with Leftovers - Hamburger Buns

I love to host parties and gatherings. I think that it all started as a child, where I would watch my parents host an annual Christmas party and regularly host friends for cards. Of course, the biggest part of any party or gathering is the food. I love making and serving a variety of foods. Frequently, parties are my only chance to make many of the foods that I love and can only prep when I have a large gathering to help me eat them (otherwise, I would seriously over-indulge on many of my favorites).

One of the challenges of hosting a party is having the right amount of food. I frequently find myself with leftovers. I don't want to waste food, so I find myself looking for creative solutions for eating the leftovers without feeling like you are eating the same thing over and over again.

My son's birthday party was last week (I'll have to share the cake) and we did a cook-out. We bought extra buns and had extra meat to go with them until a grill fire resulted in a loss of some heavily sooted/smoked meat. The net outcome was a large amount of buns remaining.

So, my weekly menu moved into creativity mode. How could I use up a number of buns and not feel like the meals were the same every night?

Generally, when I am doing the weekly meal plan and trying to come up with ideas for dinner, sandwiches are not something that comes to mind. I enjoy sandwiches - sloppy joes, cheesesteak, hamburgers, and such. Typically, if I'm having a sandwich for dinner, I definitely want for it to be a warm sandwich - cold cuts are for lunch. But, if you take that same cold cut sandwich and turn it into a Panini - that is dinner! Did you know that August is National Panini Month? I'm thinking it is something about having a warm meal without heating up the kitchen - but that is just my theory.

If you don't have a Panini maker or press, you can actually just double up with a skillet or frying pan to make your panini. Simply prepare your cooking skillet with a bit of oil or spray and put it over medium heat. Add your sandwich and top with the other skillet. Add some weight to your skillet - a can would work. Cook for a couple of minutes, turn and repeat.

I actually have had a grill pan for a while and recently bought a panini press from Pampered Chef. I like that I get the fun grill lines that way. Plus, it is a great way to cook chicken faster.

The great thing about having paninis for dinner is that everyone can customize their sandwich to their likes. I like making mine a bit more fancy, but the kids like theirs more simple - and I can accomplish that without feeling like I am making several meals.

Tonight was panini night. We had the following options to choose from: chicken, pepperoni - regular sliced and turkey minis, provolone cheese, hot pepper cheese, spaghetti sauce, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, roasted red peppers, and mayonnaise. We served the paninis with red pepper strips, potato chips and homemade onion dip.
My son decided to have a bit of chicken and pepperoni with hot pepper cheese for his sandwich, with banana peppers on the side. My daughter chose simply pepperoni and provolone for her panini. My husband chose pepperoni, hot pepper cheese, jalapeno peppers, and tomato sauce. I went with chicken, provolone, roasted red peppers and mayonnaise.
With my grill pan, I could do two sandwiches at a time, making a total of six sandwiches (the hamburger buns make reasonably small sandwiches). I like how the cheese is just barely melted and the sandwich is warm throughout.

I think that next time, I'd like to use some chicken, cucumber, red pepper strips, tomatoes and a bit of hummus on my panini. Just thinking about the combination of the crunch and the warm, juiciness of the tomato (I love warm tomatoes on a sandwich) is making my mouth water.

What would you put on your panini? You can find some recipe inspiration for paninis like Bacon and Spinach Panini and Turkey Red Pepper Panini on Hormel's website.

(In case you were wondering, we used buns four nights this week - the first night we turned them into garlic bread as a side for our pasta, the second night I made them into personal pizzas, the third night we had egg, cheese and bacon sandwiches, and of course, paninis tonight. We even toasted up a couple one night for a snack with butter and jelly. It was fun finding creative ways to use them.)

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 a thought starter and some of the information for this post.

Samples and Freebies

Bear Naked Cereal Sample (Target)

Woolite Darks Sample and coupon

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Parent - Child Time

Sometimes as a mom of two, I feel like I am constantly on the go and have little time to really spend with the kids. Sure, I am with them (or near them, at least) most of the time, but being with them is different than spending time with them.

We have many opportunities to do things as a family. Whether a trip to an amusement park, a baseball game, a walk, a family game night, or simply dinner - there are many things that we do together as a family. We have a great time, but it doesn't give them the individual attention that they want.

When my daughter was first born, I started a tradition with my son. I would take a day (usually just an afternoon when he was younger) and it would be about us doing something - just the two of us. We would go to a baseball game with a friend and her son. We would catch a movie. We would go to lunch. We would go to the park. The activity itself was not important, the important thing was that it was his time alone with me. We would have a special day every couple of months. It was nice, with my daughter still in daycare, I didn't have to worry about whether my husband was traveling - I knew that I had childcare for her.

My husband did something similar. We signed my son up for Storytime and my husband would take him to dinner and then to Storytime, while my daughter and I spent time home alone. I valued that time alone with her as a baby. It was time that I simply had with my son, because he was the only one.

When my son reached school age, the days became more focused to summer. We would occasionally do a weekend, but usually the special days were extra special because they were during the week when everyone else was going about their normal routine.

Of course, we started to have the special time with my daughter too. So, now we have special Mommy-Daughter, Mommy-Son, Daddy-Daughter and Daddy-Son days.

On the most recent Mommy-Son day, we started our day with breakfast at Bob Evans, using his free birthday meal coupon. Then, we fit in a quick game of miniature golf - hoping the whole time that it wouldn't rain on us. Then, we headed to the toy store and spent his gift card that they sent him for his birthday. Next was lunch at Steak n Shake. We finished our day with a round of laser tag. It was a fun day, full of activities that he had chosen.

No matter the activity, it is just fun to spend a day playing alone with my children. Allowing each of them to have that special alone time with me.

This works for me!

CVS Deals - 8/26

I had a very disappointing and frustrating visit to CVS this past Sunday. It reminded me why I try to avoid that location.

I had received an e-mail offer for $4/$20, which I elected to send to card rather than print. Things seemed fine, when I printed the coupons from the scanner, there was a slip that printed saying that I had the $4/$20 on my card.

I picked up my two items and headed to the checkout.

1 - Nature Made Fish Oil 300ct
1 - UNREAL Chocolate Bar

Together, my total was $21.18 for the two items. Now normally, I would hand over my transaction coupon of $4/$20, but since it was on the card, I wasn't able to do it first. So, I handed over my coupons. I had a CRT for the Nature Made vitamins. It was for $4 off when you spent $20 on Nature Made Vitamins. Now, I have been shopping at CVS to know that on ECB deals and coupons alike, that most of the time, you can be a penny or two off of the total and the coupons/ECB offer still work. I handed the coupon to the cashier and she said it won't work. I asked if she had scanned the coupon? She said no, the vitamins were only $19.99. I explained that many times the penny didn't matter with the coupons, she still wouldn't scan. I asked if she could price adjust it up to $20.01 and take it. She said it was on sale so she couldn't price override. I asked if a manager could help, I was told the woman next to her was the manager. Finally, she scanned it and you know what it worked - there was no need to push the coupon through, it simply went. Then, she scanned the free UNREAL coupon that I had received through Facebook. It was only good up to $1 and they are all priced at $1.19 in the store. She told me she could only take off $1, I told her that I understood since that was the term of the coupon. I used some ECBs and paid for my transaction. I stopped when I was at $4.12, figuring that was the right spot. I asked why the $4/$20 coupon didn't come off and they said it didn't ask. Then they said, maybe it isn't good on sale merchandise. I looked at my slip and there weren't restrictions noted like there are on the % off questions. It wasn't until I was home and looked at my receipt that I discovered the likely reason - unfortunately, because my transaction was only $3.18 before tax, the $4/$20 coupon did not apply. I hadn't expected the tax to be close to $1. If the coupon had applied before I started making my 'payment', then it should have worked. I guess that being green cost me green this time. Unfortunately, the coupon expired on my card unused.

Cereal Muffin Mix

Inspired by Big G cereal favorites Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Reese’s Puffs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through September 12th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The End of an Era

Today was a rough day for me. Today was the last day of daycare for my daughter. Now, I understand that the kids will be back next summer for latchkey, but that, even though the same school is at a different location.

Going to daycare has been a part of my daily routine for the past 8 1/2 years. I have come to know several of the teachers and the owner/administrators very well in that time. They are almost like family.

I will never forget the first day that I had to take my son to daycare. I was so worried. He had been home with my husband and at my neighbor's since I went back to work.

As background, my husband worked from a home office and most of the time kept him at home, but as needed for travel, business meetings or teleconferences, we would rely on a neighbor to watch my son. That all changed one week when my husband was traveling on business and unable to make it home as planned. Our neighbor was not available on short notice and I was forced to take an unplanned vacation day at an inopportune time. At that point, we made the decision that we needed a different child care solution. We had checked out several options - both daycares and in home care - when my son was first born, but had never found the one that was right for us. A coworker that knew that we were looking made a recommendation for a daycare just south of where we lived and on the way to work for me. I just had a good feeling about the place when we went for a visit.

The first day of daycare was a cold day in March and my son was just 7 months old. There was a shutdown at work that week, which meant that I needed to be in early for the project work I was supporting. I dropped my son off, right as the daycare opened. I cried when I did, I cried when I left. It was so weird to think that someone I didn't really know was going to be caring for my son all day. I called in the morning to check on him and drove up on my lunch hour, having about 15 minutes to hang out after accounting for drive to and from. I got there and he was sleeping. I didn't care. I picked him up from his crib and went and sat on the floor in the play area and just held him and rocked him. I put him back in the crib when it was time to go back to work. I couldn't wait to pick him up at the end of the day.

It took some time, but as I became more and more familiar with the teachers and the administrators, it got easier to say goodbye to my son each day. I knew that he was in good hands. By contrast, when my daughter came along and had to go to daycare, aside from the fact that I didn't want to leave her and go back to work, it was much easier, I knew the center and the staff and there were no concerns with leaving her there. I knew that they would take care of her and cuddle her and hold her and that they cared about her.

The center has grown a lot in the time that I have been a parent. The room my son was first in as a baby is now the 'big' 2s. The latchkey that used to be at the center has been moved offsite. Many of the teachers moved up through the school with my children. One of my daughter's teachers in the 4s and 5s, was one of the original baby teachers that my son had. The one owner/administrator left the center several years ago. I have grown close to a couple of the teachers and the remaining owner/administrator.

They have all become part of my daily routine over the past 8 1/2 years. It was very strange when I dropped off my daughter this morning. I was sad. I was saying good-bye to friends. Sure, we can stop by and visit, but it won't ever be the same. They won't be part of my and my children's daily life. We will be back for latchkey, but that is a different location and different teachers. We will still see the owner/administrator at latch key, but not every day - she isn't normally there when I drop off or pick up the kids. I had to say goodbye this morning though, because by the time I return to pick her up, they are done for the day.

When I picked her up tonight, I cried again. I said goodbye and it was hard.

I feel very fortunate that I found a center that I truly loved, filled with people that I really trusted with my children and formed a bond with.

Now, tomorrow is the first day of kindergarten. I am sure that it will be an equally tough day for me. My daughter is so excited and I am excited for her, but the reality is that my 'baby' (she tells me she is not a baby) is going to school and that is sad to me. I hate to think about how fast the time is going. I will be a mom of two school-aged children.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Samples and Freebies

Simply U Shampoo & Conditioner Sample
FREE UNREAL Candy (CVS Facebook coupon offer)

Tom's Naturally Dry Sample

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Love with Food Winner

Congratulations to Dani! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Love with Food September Box giveaway.

Be sure to check out the other active giveaways and thanks to everyone for entering.

Don't forget, you can still pick up a September box at a discount.

As a special offer, A Busy Mom of Two readers can enter BUSYVIP at checkout on Love with Food and receive a $2 discount on their first month's order. This code is only good for the September box (pre/post workout snacks, which can be ordered through 8/31.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CVS Deals - 8/22

I had really good intentions of going to CVS earlier this week, because I had a 25% off coupon. Only, when I went to my e-mail to print it, I discovered I was a day late to print. So, when I got a $2 ECB coupon by e-mail - anyone else? - I decided to not let that one escape. I didn't really prepare scenarios this week, but I knew that I had expired ECBs that I needed to use too, so I was looking for a few items that I could pick up. Cereal is something that we go through at my house (out of fairness the boxes are getting smaller, but a box doesn't last like it used to).

2 - Cheerios
1 - Revlon Just Bitten Lip

-$1 Cheerios mfg coupon
-$3 Revlon face or eye CRT
-$1 Revlon Color mfg coupon

Paid with $2, $1, $1 and $1 ECB and $1.62 OOP (with tax). Earned $2 and $4 ECBs. So, net cost was about $.62, which is not too bad for two boxes of cereal and lip product.

What did you get at CVS this week?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Monday again already? Wow! This summer is flying by. Just over a week and the kids will be back in school. Our schedule is starting to become busy with activities already. My son has started soccer practice and baseball practice starts this week. For my daughter, the practices are still a week or two away.

This was a busy, but fun weekend. We had soccer pictures, a birthday party for my son with his friends, dinner and a movie with friends (saw Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Dog Days), and hosted Bible Study. This week is filled to capacity, finishing with a family birthday party for my son.

Cincinnati Style chili and chili dogs

Coconut Shrimp


Turkey Roast



Cook Out

Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. Now that it is summer, my son has lunch at latchkey on the days that he goes. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Samples and Freebies

slow week...

Post It Note full adhesive sample

Honey Nut Cheerios sample

Love with Food

I recently heard about a company called Love with Food - "the easiest way to discover and sample the best gourmet food delivered to your door for only $10/month". As an added benefit, for every box ordered, a meal is donated to feed hungry children in America. To date, they have donated over 8500 meals. You can read more about this program on their website.

I really like this idea - what a great way to be introduced to new foods. I like to try new things and I like to encourage my family to try new things. Whether it is a new food product or a new recipe, you don't know if you will like it until you try it. The other day, as we drove past a Thai restaurant, my son said that he would like to try it. I told him that we could go there for lunch whenever he wanted - so that he could try Thai food. I also told him that I would take him for Greek/Mediterranean sometime too. I love that he is willing to be adventurous and try the food and not just assume that because it is different that he might not like it.

The boxes from Love with Food change each month and are based around a seasonal or other theme. The boxes feature 8+ gourmet food samples based on the theme. Once you've sampled the product, you can go back to their website and purchase the items from the box at a discount on their shop tab.

August's box was full of Travelin' Treats. I haven't tried everything yet (that would be a lot of snacking!) but have enjoyed the Vegan Lemony Lemon Cookie and the Gin Gins Super Strength Ginger Caramel Candy. I wasn't sure what to expect with the ginger caramel candy, but found that I really enjoyed the combination of flavor and texture. I am a fan of ginger - I keep a box of ginger tea on hand at all times (did you know that ginger is supposed to help calm your stomach? - that is what I heard at least) Next, I plan to try the Dried Montmorency Cherries and the Key Lime with Ginger Mustard. I can only imagine that they will both be awesome.

Next month's box is going to feature pre/post workout snacks - I am intrigued.

You can learn more about Love with Food by visiting their website, Like Love with Food on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Pinterest.

As a special offer, A Busy Mom of Two readers can enter BUSYVIP at checkout on Love with Food and receive a $2 discount on their first month's order. This code is only good for the September box (pre/post workout snacks, which can be ordered through 8/31.

In addition, one A Busy Mom of Two reader will win a free Love with Food box.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through August 22nd. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary Love with Food August box to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family. Post contains referral link.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

CVS Deals - 8/15

CVS recently sent me another 30% off coupon and since it was expiring and I needed a hair brush, I headed over to my local CVS to pick up some deals. I did learn that if something is part of a spend $x get $y ECB deal that the discount will apply, as long as the item is regular price. I tried to use this to my advantage yesterday. I picked up a straightener - have never owned one, not sure I will keep it but I thought I would at least entertain the idea.
1 - Alive Vitamins
1 - Conair Hair Brush
1 - Scuunci Head Band Set
1 - Conair Straightening Iron
1 - pack of Orbit gum (on clearance for $1.02)

-$13.14 30% off e-mail coupon
-$1. Any Gum Multipack CRT

Total $29.64, plus $1.96 tax. Earned $4 ECB.

I knew that the vitamins are cheaper at 30% off than they are at Walmart and I rarely see them on any sort of BOGO or other type of deal. I think that the hairbrush and headbands with the 30% and the $4 ECBs were definitely a deal - in fact, the headbands are pre-priced, so they would have been the same anywhere. I'm not sure about the straightening iron. I still need to check it out and read some reviews to make sure it will be okay. They had others that cost more, but they were 2" wide and I was worried that my hair was too short for that.

I got 4 CRTs for Mars Snack Mix. I am not sure what this is, but am thinking that the M&M snack mix is the only thing I have seen - unless it means a bag of candy? I will have to figure it out, they really must want for me to try it if I got four identical coupons on one visit to CVS.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pea Soup

What a foggy drive this morning.

Crayola & General Mills BTS at Target - #giveaway

Have you been busy doing back to school shopping? We have been at my house. It actually started back in early July for me, when I started to do some uniform shopping online. Then came the early school supply ads that we would pick up while we were out. Now, it is down to finding those things we don't yet have on our teacher supplied supply lists, the missing pieces of clothes and shoes and preparing the pantry for back to school snacks, lunches and breakfast (the kids eat at Daycare most days in the summer).

Just yesterday, we stopped by Target to pick up some supplies - loose leaf paper, pens, lunch supplies, disinfectant wipes and more. One of the things that we picked up were General Mills Cereals that feature a fun coloring activity on pack and coupons to save up to $5 on Crayola products (available exclusively at Target). We grabbed Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch - they were on sale for $2.99 a pack and we had $.50 coupons for each that are available online (

"With only a few short weeks before school bells chime and you’re back in your weekday morning routines, now is the perfect time to stock up on your kids’ school supplies and on-the-go breakfast favorites. With Crayola® and General Mills teaming up at your local Target, you’ll be sure to pass back-to- school prep with flying colors!

Available exclusively at Target Stores during the month of August:

- Purchase specially marked Nature Valley® Crunchy Granola Bars, Pillsbury® Toaster Strudel® Pastries, and Big G Cereal packages and you could save up to $5 on Crayola products
- Participating Big G cereal boxes will feature a fun Crayola coloring activity on pack
- Save on General Mills products when you purchase specially marked Crayola 64-CT Crayons

This back-to-school season will be as easy as 1-2-3 with a little help from General Mills, Crayola, and Target, the one-stop-shop for all your back-to-school needs! Head to the front of the class and check out where you’ll find even more coupons for back-to-school, recipes, and a special 2012 “Grocery Savvy Crayola® Back To School” Sweepstakes! Be sure to enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win one of the 700 Crayola® 8-count Washable Dry Erase Crayons or one of 20 Crayola® Dry-Erase Activity Centers Zany Play Edition."

Courtesy of General Mill, Target and Crayola, through MyBlogSpark, I have the opporutnity to give away to one A Busy Mom of Two a Back to School Gift Pack, which includes:
A box of Cheerios
$20 Target gift card
8-CT Crayola Dry-Erase Crayons

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through September 10th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by Crayola, Target, and General Mills through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Toys "R" Us deals

Right now, there are two Toys "R" Us offers available that can let you get some stuff for a really great deal.

First, you can head here and print the coupon for $5 off of $5. The offer is good until 8/16.

Second, you can text 5ONUS to 78697 and you will get a message with a link that you can follow at the store and get $5 off of $5.

We grabbed both of these offers this morning and headed to Toys "R" Us this morning. We also had a $3/$3 coupon that my son received for his birthday.

They seem to restrict a lot of the standard Toys "R" Us restricted items on these coupons - like diapers, formula, FAO Schwarz, etc., so you will want to watch the restrictions as you make your selections.

We had to do two transactions, they allowed us to stack the $3/$3 and one of the $5/$5, but not all three in one.

Transaction #1
Racko game


Total $1.99 plus tax.

Transaction #2
2 - Craft Sticks (one plain, one colored)


Total $.98 plus tax.

I was pleased to get us a new (old) game that I used to play as a child and some craft supplies for only a total of $3.16 OOP.

What will you get with your coupons?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fiber One 90 Calorie Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

I may have mentioned before that I have a liking of chocolate, so when I have a chance to try something new that is not high in calories and has the added benefit of providing fiber, I usually am game. Such was the case when I was asked to try the new Fiber One 90 Calorie Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie.

I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but always worry that with items that have fiber, that they will be dry. I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and chewy they were. I like that I can easily throw one in my work bag and have it on hand for those afternoon snack needs. Much better for me than the candy that I occasionally keep at my desk for a mid-day chocolate fix.
"Dreaming of a brownie that will satisfy your sweet tooth craving to help you stay on track? New Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor Fiber One® 90 Calorie Brownies, combine your favorite dessert flavors: chocolate chip cookie AND brownie! When you’ve got brownies on the brain, but don’t want to over-indulge, this moist and chewy chocolate chip cookie brownie is the perfectly portioned 90-calorie snack.
- Each serving provides 20 percent of the Daily Value of fiber (5g)*
- Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor features semisweet chocolate chips in a cookie-batter brownie topped with a dark chocolaty flavored drizzle

*3g of total fat per brownie.

New Fiber One® 90 Calorie Brownies: Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor make the perfect afternoon pick-me-up, satisfying your chocolate cravings at work or at home. We recommend keeping a supply at your desk or kitchen snack drawer (that’s what we do!)."

Want to learn more? You can check out this and other products at the Fiber One Website and Like Fiber One on Facebook too!

Courtesy of General Mills through MyBlogSpark, I have the opportunity to give away to one A Busy Mom of Two reader a Gift Pack that contains:
1 box of Fiber One® 90 Calorie Brownies, the Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor
and a Survival kit including:

- Brain Stress Ball
- Water Bottle
- Ear Tube Buds
- Office Turf
- Mini tote bag

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through September 4th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Menu Plan Monday

I can not believe that it is already mid-August. The time has gone so fast this summer. It is another busy week, as fall sports kick off and back to school activities are on the horizon.

I made a quick trip to the grocery store yesterday, but mostly picked up fruit, yogurt, bread, and milk. It is good to have a 'slow' week at the grocery. I like being able to complete my whole trip in under 30 minutes.

Lemon Chicken Artichoke Pasta

Homemade Pizza

Hot dogs on the grill

Mexican (likely Chipotle Chicken)

Tilapia Vera Cruz

Turkey Roast

Dinner with Friends

Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning, although sometimes at school my daughter will have pancakes or french toast. Now that it is summer, my son has lunch at latchkey on the days that he goes. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Ellen! Her entry was selected as the winner of the Burst.It Lifetime Storage giveaway.

Congratulations to Stacey! Her entry was selected as the winner of the B-Leve Product Sample Box giveaway.

An e-mail was sent to the winners.

Be sure to check out the current giveaways and enter to win!

Sam's Club Bonus Box Tops for Education

For as long as I can remember, we have collected the Box Tops for Education points from our cereals, snacks, tissues and more (turns out, as I learned on their website, that it has only been around since 1996). For a long time, I had no kids in school, but still we collected them. When my son went to kindergarten, we had a lot of points to send to school right away. The schools are able to save up those points, up to $20,000 annually from the clip program, to use for school supplies, playground equipment and more.
"It’s back-to-school time, and this year Sam’s Club is providing more opportunities to earn cash for your school than ever before. Not only can you collect Box Tops for Education on your favorite General Mills products, but you can also check out these additional opportunities which are available exclusively to Sam’s Club members!

500,000 Box Tops Giveaway 8/1/12-9/30/12
Sam’s Club is giving away 500,000** eBoxTops®. Members can earn 5 eBoxTops when they shop at Sam’s Club until the 500,000 are gone. Earn your 5 eBoxTops (a .50¢ value to any BTFE participating school) by following these simple steps:

- Purchase any product at Sam’s Club and save your receipt
- Beginning 8/1/12, log in or register at and enter the code found at the bottom of your Sam’s Club receipt
- Answer a few survey questions and earn 5 eBoxTops for the school of your choice!*

**Limit one earning opportunity per email address. Limit of 100,000 earning opportunities thru 9/30/12.

Box Tops Membership Bonus 8/1/12/-9/1/12
- New Plus Members will receive 100 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $10 value to any BTFE participating school)
- Upgrade your current Membership to a Plus Membership to receive 50 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $5 value to any BTFE participating school)
- New Advantage or Business Members will receive 25 Bonus Box Tops.* (a $2.50 value to any BTFE participating school)"

Want to learn more? You can check out Box Tops for Education on the Sam's Club Website for more information on the promotions and you can learn more about the Box Tops for Education on their website.

You can find Sam's Club on Twitter and Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through August 30th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. The gift card, information, and additional sample have been provided by Sam’s Club and General Mills through MyBlogSpark. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Samples and Freebies

CVS Sunscreen Trial Size (Facebook, coupon offer)

Back To School Coupon Booklet
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Sample (from Target)
Nescafe Memento sample and coupon
Woolite Dark Sample and coupon (from Target)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Giant Eagle Greek Yogurt

I'm not sure when I started to eat yogurt, but I can remember in high school that I would bring it to lunch several days a week. You see, one of my friends, who was also a 'cool' kid brought in yogurt and well, I wanted to be part of the group. I remember at the time, I pretty much would only eat lemon. There was something about the lemon flavor that 'masked' the yogurt for me. Maybe it was because I expected a sour flavor, that it helped detract from the astringency of the yogurt.

Over the years, my tastes have matured and I have rather come to enjoy yogurt. There are so many more options, both in varieties and flavors, than there used to be. I tend to stick with the low fat/no-fat regular varieties of yogurt. I tend to stick with blended yogurts if I am getting regular yogurt, but like the 'stacked' parfait style yogurts with sprinkles.

My children were introduced to yogurt at a young age and it is a go to hold me over to dinner snack, when we are running out the door for sports and meetings, before we can eat a dinner. They also like it as a 'dessert', a lunch box treat, and a middle of the day snack too.

One of the types that I have been trying lately are the Greek Yogurts. I really like the idea of Greek yogurt - "which is strained extensively to remove much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it its thick consistency—does have an undeniable edge. In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half."

For a while, the only one that I could enjoy eating was a Key Lime flavor. Again, much like my high school experience, I was using the lime flavor to mask the yogurt. My experience with the Greek yogurt was that it was more astringent than regular yogurt - or maybe, because it was thicker it would hang on my tongue that extra bit and makes it seem more astringent. Either way, I felt a bit like I was forcing myself to eat it (sometimes grimacing as I did), because I knew it was probably that little bit better than a standard yogurt.

Much like my experience with regular yogurt, my tastes matured (or I got used to the change in texture and astringency) and started to branch out to other flavors. I have concluded that if there is fruit that I prefer it on the side or the bottom, not mixed. I am okay with the vanilla yogurt, but feel like I need to have some fresh fruit on the side.

I recently discovered a new Greek Yogurt on the shelf at Giant Eagle, Giant Eagle Greek Yogurt. "Giant Eagle Greek Yogurt has 0% fat, is gluten free, an excellent source of protein and comes in seven delicious varieties: Pineapple, Black Cherry, Strawberry, Peach, Raspberry, Vanilla and Plain." It carries their 100% satisfaction or Double Your Money Back Guarantee, too.

Currently, it is on promotion at 10 for $10. When we stopped in the store to pick up cheese for dinner the other night (we were having pizza and were out of mozzarella!), I grabbed a few varieties to check them out. My daughter chose Strawberry for her flavor and I grabbed Peach, Vanilla and Plain.

I was very pleased with the flavor and texture of the yogurt. The 6 oz cup was the perfect size. With 14 grams of protein (the plain has more), it really helped me on my way to meeting my daily target of protein. In fact, that is more protein in the cup of yogurt than some of the protein shakes I use and at a lower calorie content - I just might have to make a swap to eating my protein.

The vanilla was a little astringent to me, but when paired with some fresh berries, it was very balanced. (As an aside, I was at a party this weekend and someone had a bowl of fresh fruit and reached into the fridge and added a scoop of vanilla yogurt to the top - that is a great idea, I never would have thought of that. I frequently will have fruit on the side because I pack both in my lunch, but never really on top of my fruit like that.)

I really enjoyed the flavor of the peach fruit. The peach is on the bottom of the cup. I don't actually stir my yogurt, I dig down to the bottom on the first bite and then scoop a bit of the fruit with each bite. I feel like it delivers more fruit punch per bite that way. The size/shape of the cups allowed me to easily eat it in this fashion (I'm sure that I am strange for not mixing it - but, so be it).

I can't wait to pick up some of the other varieties to check out.

No compensation was received for this post. Giant Eagle provided information about the product and promotion, as well as a gift card so that my family and I could experience the new product. All opinions expressed are solely my own or that of my family.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

National Night Out

Tonight (unless you live in Texas who celebrates in October) is National Night Out - ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime'.

According to the website, this is the 29th Annual National Night Out, "a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch". Each participating community may hold a variety of events. Some events are neighborhood or block-wide, others are full community events.

Locally, our community brings out the public safety vehicles for exploration and holds a hot dog cook-out. The kids have a blast climbing aboard the big fire trucks and checking them out. We have been able to watch them take apart a demo car to see how they would rescue a trapped accident victim. We have had the chance to see the inside of a police car and an ambulance. We have had the chance to check out SWAT vehicles and more. Last year, we got to watch a medical helicopter land, explore it and then watch it take off again - I know that my daughter found that experience to be pretty neat. It was the first time we had seen a helicopter anywhere other than in the sky.

As a mom, I like the opportunity to capture their pictures next to the large tire of the big fire trucks. It is fun to look back over past years and see how they have grown (or is that tire shrinking?).

You can see a list of registered communities on the National Night Out website or search National Night Out and your community name.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Samples and Freebies

Tom's of Maine Antiperspirant Sample (Facebook offer)

Schick Hydro Silk razor and coupons
K-cup Iced Coffee Sample and coupon
U by Kotex sample, pouch and coupon

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Finding Time to Exercise

When I was younger, my schedule seemed so much more flexible and there seemed to be more time in a day. I would get up, go to work early, come home, go to the gym, have dinner and go out with friends. Now, I wonder, how did I find the time to do all of this and not be exhausted.

My schedule is so much more busy these days. And, really, let's be honest, it's not just my schedule, but my husband's, my son's and my daughter's schedules that contribute to my busy life. One of my goals is to be more active and healthier. In order to achieve this goal, I need to have activity (exercise) as part of my daily routine. Sure, I get some level of exercise when I am playing ball with the kids, going for walks around the block, gardening, etc., but that is not consistent enough to achieve results.

I have tried to take classes before, but I can't commit to a specific date and time for very long. It seems that if I sign up for a class on Tuesday nights, the schedule will be clear for a couple of weeks and then I will have several weeks in a row where it doesn't work and then, it is so hard to get back. I recently found a Zumba class that works for me. With 5 classes available at one location and an option of classes at an alternate location on other nights - it is just flexible enough that I can usually make it to a class a week.

Again, one, maybe two, classes a week is not enough to achieve results. So, I had to find a time that would work consistently for regular workouts. I chose the morning. Sure, it is a challenge some days to get up at 5 am, but it is the one time of day that is consistently conflict free. The only plans that any one else in my family has at that time is SLEEP!

I actually have found that I enjoy the silence of working out in the morning. Whether I walk in the neighborhood, run at the track or pop in a DVD (typically reserved for the cold of winter and the wet of rain), there is generally silence while I am working out. It gives me time to decompress, to think, to work through things in my mind, to plan out my day and just to breathe in my surroundings. When I am out and about, I will occasionally see others, but it is generally in passing and results in not much more than a 'Hi'. Otherwise, my senses are filled with the world around me - the birds chirping, the gentle breeze, the painted sky of sunrise, the ominous clouds of a coming storm, the smell of fresh cut grass (if you can get past the noise of the mower and the smell of gas @ 6 am - they mow early at the track). You can check out my morning view here.

The other benefit of mornings is that I feel so energized for the rest of my day. There is something about getting your blood pumping that just keeps you going, makes you more alert.

Plus, I can start a load of laundry before I start my workout and switch it to the dryer before I head up for my shower - allowing me to get things done, while I work out.

Working out in the morning, works for me.


This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.