Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Menu Plan Monday and why I plan

Can you believe it? It is almost time to start a new year. I know that I am one to make resolutions each year, many of which I do an okay job of maintaining. Take last year for example, I decided that I wanted to make exercise more of a focus again. I have always been active at various levels, but last year I wanted to refocus. I think the reason that I was able to stick with it is that I found a great group of women to work out with. We are fortunate enough to have been able to talk our instructor into additional classes and now have class together 4 days a week (was 5, but she took a break last session and someone else took over her class this coming session). It is a great motivator. I look forward to seeing everyone, the classes are different each day. I may not have lost the weight that I wanted (evidently, as my instructor says, my jaw is still my strongest muscle), but I am certain that I am in better shape than I have been for a long time.

This year, I plan to continue with that resolution. I also want to continue to focus on menu planning. It does a few things for me:

- it alleviates stress, there is just something comforting about knowing what we will eat. Even though we do step away from the plan from time to time, it is there and I always have an answer to 'what's for dinner?'. It also means that we are more likely to have the ingredients on hand that we need - I say more likely, because some of the recipes are amongst our favorites, I don't always go through the effort of reviewing the recipe to make sure that I do have everything.
- it helps me shop wisely, waste less and save money. I don't necessarily plan my weekly menu based on what's on sale, but it does influence me. But, also, because I do plan, I don't have to worry that the tilapia or the pork chops that I bought multiple of on a deal will get forgotten.
- it helps me eat better. When I am planning, I will balance the menu with lighter choices to make sure that we are getting a good mix of meals. Plus, if I plan a specific meal and buy a vegetable(s) to go with it, I am more inclined to make the vegetable(s) than if I am trying to put something together at the last minute. I don't normally call out side dishes, but frequently we have a salad with dinner, some vegetables on the side, sometimes we have bread, etc.
- it allows us to eat dinner together most days. Even during our busy seasons, by planning the menu I can make sure that we have quick to table meals and/or can prep stuff the day before to allow the meal to be quick to table.
- it works for my kids. They like to look ahead at their school lunch menu and their dinner menu. It also helps if I am making a less than favorite meal earlier in the week, but they know that one of their favorites is coming up in a few days.

Do you menu plan?

Chipotle for burrito bowls

Cajun Jambalaya Pasta

Crab Cakes, pizza bites, chicken nuggets (New Year's Eve tradition)

Pork Tenderloins and sauerkraut (we grew up enjoying pork roast, but my family doesn't like it - so I get my pork and sauerkraut in my own way)

Turkey Roast and potatoes

Chipotle Chicken (#54)

Pizza (for the kids and dad...I have a GNO with some friends)

This week we are still on holiday (I have to go back Thursday), so breakfast is cereals and lunch is either leftovers, sandwiches or whatever mood strikes us.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Post Holiday Leftovers

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. As a Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger, I received information from Hormel for this post, as well as product samples.
I'm not sure how it works at your house, but at my house, we can usually get one or two leftover meals in enjoying the food as originally prepared before it gets to be ho hum or plain old undesirable. As such, over the years, I have come up with several ways to enjoy our leftovers as new meals and the family is less likely to get tired of them. Plus, if I have a good amount, I will sometimes freeze them for those other meals.

Here are some of our family favorites:
For turkey, we use it like we would chicken:
Buffalo Turkey Cheesesteak
Pulled Barbecue Turkey Sandwiches - make your own sauce or use a bottle of barbecue sauce. Let it all sit in the crock pot for a few hours and it will be tender and yummy.
Turkey Enchiladas
Loaded Turkey Nachos - Layer tortilla chips with shredded turkey, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and all of your favorite toppings. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes, so that everything warms through and the cheese melts. Serve with sour cream, salsa and/or guacamole.
Turkey Pot Pie
Turkey Shepard's Pie - substitute cubed or shredded turkey for the ground meat and use up your turkey gravy, vegetables and mashed potato leftovers too.
Turkey Noodle Soup - if we have gravy, we thin that for the base, or just use chicken or vegetable broth

For ham, we use it to make some family favorites:
Grilled Ham and Cheese sandwiches
Quiche - I add it to my broccoli cheese quiche
Scrambled Eggs and Ham
Green Eggs and Ham - the kids find the color to be fun

For Mashed Potatoes, we have a new favorite recipe (if we don't use them up in a Shepard's Pie:
Fried Mashed Potato Balls

Hormel has also shared with me some Holiday Leftover Ideas:

Leave it to leftovers to keep you in the holiday spirit even after your big meals are over and done with. To help expand your post-feast repertoire, Hormel Foods has compiled a list of new ways to enjoy leftovers this holiday season. Impress your family and friends with these creative and tasty options:
* Looking for a new approach for all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey? Create Greek Turkey Kabobs by cutting Jennie-O® Turkey Store® oven roasted turkey breast into cubes and alternately threading them onto skewers with cucumbers, tomatoes and Peloponnese® kalamata pitted olives. This Mediterranean twist might just convert reluctant turkey eaters!

* Use extra holiday ham and pie crusts to bake a delicious quiche! Mix in your favorite vegetables and seasonings with Hormel® Cure 81® sliced ham to create a wonderful meal that can feed the whole family.

* If you’re craving the standard leftover turkey sandwich, take it up a notch with corn tortillas! They make a great stand-in for bread and give your sandwich an extra special crunch.

* Make a lunchtime salad by tossing pasta with leftover turkey or ham, vegetables, and your favorite dressing.

How do you use up your leftovers?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. As a Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger, I received information from Hormel for this post, as well as product samples.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

May you and your family have a wonderful, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

CVS Deals - 12/22

On Sunday, I decided that the 25% off coupon that I had received by e-mail for CVS was likely to be my best opportunity for picking up additional Slim-Fast (protein shakes in my world) at the best value. My coupons expire first part of next week and although I expect a New Year's resolution type sale, I expect it will be the first week of next year, vs the week of New Year's. The deal turned out even better than I expected. When I got home and looked at my receipt, I understood part of why it was better than I expected. Before checking out, I asked if I could use two of the same CVS coupons in one transaction, as I wanted to take advantage of my 25% off offer and was told that would not be a problem.

4 - SlimFast Shakes 4pk
1 - Just the Basics 32oz Conditioner (clearance priced at 62c)
1 - Cadbury Carmello
1 - Speedstick Deodorant
1 - Dove 12 oz Conditioner (clearance priced at $1.24)
2 - Suave Men's Sport Body Wash, 12 oz
1 - Reese PB 6 pk snack
3 - Milky Way/Musketeers bar (added at the last minute to allow use of ECB)

-$6.18 CVS 25% e-mail offer
-$7.49 BOGO SlimFast CVS IP (CVS.com)
-$3.75 $3.75/2 SlimFast Mfg coupon (coupons.com)
-$7.49 BOGO SlimFast CVS IP (CVS.com)
-$3.75 $3.75/2 SlimFast Mfg coupon (coupons.com)

Paid with $10 ECB and $1.02 OOP ($.45 plus $.57 tax).

Turns out that the SlimFast has a buy 3 or more and save price of $6, but the computer still treated it as the regular price of $7.49, so with just my CVS and manufacturer's coupon, I paid $.38 for each 4-pk...but, remember that I got 25% off as well on some portion of them. The 25% off was based on a subtotal of $24.72, which as per normal I can't quite figure out what items it applied to.

Unfortunately, I think the BOGO coupon is no longer available, as I looked for it on a friend's computer and didn't find it. Too bad, that is quite a deal. Did you print it while it was available?

In the end, my receipt says that I saved $53.13 or 99%. Not too shabby.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Can you believe it? Just a few days until Christmas. Things are still pretty busy, but starting to slow down here. I love having several days in a row off of work with no real plans. We will likely go to the swimming pool (did that today actually), perhaps go roller skating, fit in a little shopping, visiting with family and visiting with friends, and probably a good number of movies (and if I'm lucky, some reading too).

I find that with undefined days, it is still good to have some level of menu plan in place...but, I'm a realist and willing to assume that it will flex at least some depending on what we do each day.

soup, sandwich, salads at Panera
Pulled Chicken or Hamburgers on the grill (it was a nice day)

Turkey Enchiladas (same as Chicken Enchiladas, but a great way to use up the remaining frozen turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving)

Chinese take out (Christmas Eve Tradition)

Lasagne (and a banana cheesecake for dessert - yum!)




This week, we are all home so we will wing it for lunch - likely enjoying leftovers, peanut butter and jelly, pizza sticks, soup or other things we have around home.

What is on your holiday menu?

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Holiday Preparations #BJsHoliday2013

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. I was offered the opportunity to take a tour of the club and received a gift card from BJs.
It is so hard to believe that we are just days away from Christmas and that New Year's Eve is next week. Are you ready?
Whether you are planning and hosting a gathering for family and/or friends, or looking for that last minute gift or a hostess gift to take with you, you can find several options to fit your needs at BJs. From Buffet Servers, to cocktail mixers, to Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate or Peppermint Truffles, to Gift Sets, they have a variety of options that can help make your holiday prep less stressful. Looking for more holiday decor? They have that to - from LED Christmas Tree to a Wreath and Garland Set to a 12 Ft. Snowman Lightshow. They also carry wrapping paper and gift tags.

We have been members at BJs since the kids were born. It was hard to dismiss their value advantage, not only can you buy in bulk typically for a better value than you can find at the grocery as with most club/warehouse stores, but you can also use manufacturer's coupons to help further reduce those prices. This was a huge opportunity when the kids were in diapers. At the time (can't speak to current packages) there were three inner packs in the diaper boxes, which meant that we could use three manufacturer's coupons on each that we purchased - allowing us to typically save an additional $3 per box. The same held true for baby food and other things that we were buying. To us, it made the switch an easy one.

BJs carries more than just bulk pack items and the things that we purchase at BJs has evolved, now that we don't need to pick up diapers anymore. They have a wide assortment of books, DVDs, CDs and toys for the kids. They offer sheets, towels and clothing, as well. In fact, the trench coat that I wear to work in the spring and fall, is one that I picked up at BJs a few years back. When my daughter was younger, we also were able to find a lot of dolly and me type pajama sets for her at BJs. They carry electronics - from telephones to TVs. They have kitchen accessories and party needs, paper goods and plastic ware. They have a nice selection of branded offerings, but also offer some products under their own label - in fact, we almost always purchase their brand of paper towels - we find it performs similar to the branded, but is a better value.

About BJ’s Wholesale Club
BJ’s Wholesale Club is a one-stop shopping destination for name brand, high-quality food and merchandise at
prices that are significantly lower than supermarkets, supercenters, department stores, drug stores and
specialty retail stores.
Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ's is a leading operator of warehouse clubs in the eastern
U.S., currently with 200 clubs and 113 gas stations in 15 states. Learn more and shop online at BJs.com, and
for exclusive content visit Facebook or Twitter.
BJ’s is one of the lowest cost operators in the retail industry. BJ’s values are compelling, especially when
people are looking to save money. BJ’s is able to pass the savings onto its members in the form of lower prices
for the following reasons:
* BJ’s is extremely efficient in shipping and handling goods
* BJ’s does not have expensive displays, fancy buildings, or high advertising costs
* BJ’s annual membership fee also helps eliminate factoring operating costs into pricing
* With such a large committed base of loyal Members, BJ’s merchandising team is able to negotiate with
vendors to bring Members the consistent value

BJ's carries the most product variety of any other wholesale club with more than 7,000 items, including
supermarket-sized staples.

BJ's is the only wholesale club to accept all manufacturers' coupons in addition to in-club coupons and for
greater convenience, offers the most payment options including EBT.

If you’re not a club member, you can still shop and save. The wholesale club is offering a Free 60-Day Trial Membership, which can be activated until December 31. The risk-free, trial membership consists of full-member benefits and no surcharge.

So, as you prepare for your holidays, consider a stop to BJs to help you wrap things up.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. I was offered the opportunity to take a tour of the club and received a gift card from BJs.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided through Blogging for Books.
I recently completed reading Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall. I don't know that realized it when I requested the opportunity to review this book, but it is actually a collection of three novels in one. I know that my children were impressed by the 566 pages and I was amazed at how quickly the book read.

Christmas in Apple Ridge contains The Sound of Sleigh Bells, The Christmas Singing and The Dawn of Christmas. As you might surmise from title, all of the stories are set in Apple Ridge over a series of Christmases. This made me very happy, as each novella introduced us to new lead characters, the characters from the previous stories were part of the subsequent stories. I love that it gave me a chance as a reader to learn a little more about the lives of those characters that I had come to know as I read the other books. Cindy Woodsmall writes a character that you can't help but feel you know and who you can't help but cheer on, so there is something so satisfying about learning more about them, seeing them continue to develop and evolve. It somehow makes me feel more complete.

In each of the stories, you get to meet and get to know an Amish woman and man, who both thought that finding love was not in their future. Yet, as they got to know each other, they discovered that there was someone that was rightfully suited for them and that love comes when you least expect it.

I enjoy Amish fiction and this series of books did not disappoint. The Amish is part of who the characters are, but at the end of the day, their trials and tribulations are not that different than it is for all of us. These stories of love and determination are a great way to introduce yourself to the Amish fiction genre or continue your enjoyment of the category.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided through Blogging for Books.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

CVS Deals - 12/13

I headed out to CVS last week, because I had a rain check for Slim Fast shakes (I use them for my post work out protein shake). They also had a couple of other deals that I was considering (but didn't consider looking for coupons first, of course!).

4 - Slim Fast 4 pks (rain check for $5 each)
1 - Rolaids 10 ct
1 - Tums Chewables
1 - Essence of Beauty bath pouf
1 - Softsoap pump

-$3 $3/20 CVS e-mail offer
-$5 Slim Fast BOGO CVS coupon (printable at CVS.com)
-$5 Slim Fast BOGO CVS coupon (printable at CVS.com)
-$1 FREE Rolaids 10 ct CRT
-$1 $1 on Essence of Beauty bath pouf CRT
-$1 $1 on Soft Soap pump CRT

Paid with $12 ECB and $.74 plus tax OOP, earned $3 ECB for the Tums.

I likely had a coupon for the soft soap and the tums, but didn't look before I went. The manager had to push through the second Slim Fast coupon, as you can only use one in a transaction since they are CVS coupons. I was going to split, but when I realized that I couldn't use the $12 ECB if I did...she said, we will push it, no problem. I was glad that they were willing to work with me.

Of course, I think I spent my rain check too early, or perhaps now I just have a chance to buy more Slim Fast. I already printed my limit of 2 from my computer, so I will need another computer to be able to print more. With the rain check and coupon, I got them for $2.50/4 pk after offer, now I can get them for $2.12/4 pk after offers. Of course, the coupons that I printed don't expire until 12/31, so there is a little time to see if there is a sale or other offer that would make this an even better deal. I use $1/serving as the max that I want for my post workout protein - whether a bar or a shake.

Planned Transaction:
2 - Slim Fast

-$7.99 Slim Fast BOGO CVS coupon (printable at CVS.com)
-$3.75 $3.75/2 IP (coupons.com)

Total $4.24.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

It is so hard to believe that we are just over a week from Christmas. The time seems to be going so quick, and I'm no where near done with my Christmas baking. I know how I will be spending several evenings this week, makes me want to keep my menu simple - not necessarily making it quick, but low maintenance items, so that I can accomplish other things while dinner is being made.

I learned something about my son this weekend, he doesn't like grilled cheese, but if you call it a Panini, he will eat it. Twice this weekend for lunch, he had a cheese and pepperoni panini. I always use a grill pan for panini, the first day, I used a panini press; the second day, I just pressed on it with my spatula. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the difference is what you call it. When he was younger, he lost interest and would fight taking a nap...so, he recharged each day, in his room, with the lights down and the cd player playing his bedtime disc, and recharging frequently resulted in sleeping.

local favorite Mexican

French Bread Pizza

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Pork Chops and mashed potatoes

Spaghetti and meat sauce (or maybe Spaghetti and Meatballs, if I prep)

Pierogie and Eggs


During the week, breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Lunches are either the hot lunch from school or packed lunches for the kids. My husband and I have leftovers, frozen meals or sandwiches.

This post shared on Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Scooby - Doo Live! Musical Mysteries North American Tour 2014

No compensation was received for this post.
I grew up watching Scooby-Doo and have shared Scooby-Doo with my kids. When I heard that Scooby-Doo Live! was coming to Akron, I was very excited, because I knew it was a show that the whole family would enjoy.

Tickets for this show would make a great Christmas present. I love to take the kids to live theater and when they are already familiar with the characters, it makes it that much more enjoyable for everyone. Plus, we have a history of giving each other tickets to live shows and sporting events for Christmas. We have frequently made 'vouchers' for those events where the tickets haven't yet gone on sale or we didn't receive paper tickets.

Scooby Doo: Musical Mysteries
Akron Civic Theatre
April 5, 2014
2 Thrilling shows at 2pm and 5pm.

Jeepers! SCOOBY-DOO and the Mystery Inc. Gang have been called in to help
solve an epic mystery in Akron. A trouble-making ghost is haunting a
local theater and SHAGGY, FRED, DAPHNE, VELMA and SCOOBY-DOO are
on their way in the MYSTERY MACHINE to help solve it! This hilarious live
theater show brings everyone's favorite animated series to life. Filled with wacky
new characters, fantastic songs and outrageous antics, SCOOBY-DOO LIVE!
MUSICAL MYSTERIES, presented by Warner Bros. and Life Like Touring, will
have audiences on the edge of their seats in traditional Scooby-Doo fashion.
See if this time the gang is in over its head!

Special Offer!
I am excited to be able to share with my readers an exclusive password that will allow you to participate in the presale event, the day before tickets go on sale to the general public.

The Presale is this Thursday,12/12/13 from 10am – 10pm

Use the password: SHAGGY

Links to buy tickets:

Click here to buy tickets to the 2PM show

Click here to buy tickets to the 5PM show

Tickets go on sale to the public on 12/13/13 10am.

No compensation was received for this post. The Akron Civic provided the information for the presale and the exclusive password to share with readers to participate in the presale. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Chasing Hope

A Touching Story of Two Unlikely Friends.
The Power of Trust.
The Struggle of Pain.
And How, Sometimes, Following God Can Lead You to the Most Unexpected Places.

A talented runner determined to make the Olympics, Sabrina Rice had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she's forged a new vision for her future that has nothing to do with running, which she's buried deep, intent on forgetting...

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world class potential, and it's all the more painful that it belongs to a troublemaking teen. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina realizes she's Brandy's best hope to salvage a life about to spiral out of control forever.

I recently had the chance to read Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman. I was really drawn into the character of Sabrina Rice...after watching Chariots of Fire with her mom, she had set her dreams on being an Olympic runner and using that as a springboard to do mission work. As we get to know Sabrina, we learn that her dreams were crushed when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and that she abandoned the entirety of dream, deciding instead to go into PR and put memories of running and thoughts of missionary work behind her. She left the school that she started and is now living with her grandma while attending a new school and working a job on campus, all while doing her best to maintain perfect grades. She is a busy young woman and very focused on school and the future.

Brandy is the granddaughter of one of her grandma's friends. She brings her to dinner one night, hoping that Sabrina can help her out. Brandy's first impression of Sabrina leaves her not wanting to even give her a chance. Sabrina's Grandma convinces her to at least try to help her out, so she reluctantly does. As Brandy gets to know and trust Sabrina, she starts to see her in a new light. Working with Brandy, allows Sabrina to finally reflect on the impact that the RA has made on her life and to revisit what is important to her and what her true aspirations might be. With time, Sabrina and Brandy not only come to learn more about each other but also themselves and they start to develop a true friendship. Brandy realizes that Sabrina believes in her and uses that motivation to keep going - so as not to disappoint and in the process, achieves her own goals.

Kathryn did a great job of weaving in Sabrina's prior reflections on the Children of Israel from her childhood when her dreams were still intact. As Sabrina begins to reflect on where she is now and how her life has changed and what direction is right for her future, she revisits her earlier writings and perspectives and these help her to reflect on what she once thought was her calling and whether her illness had taken it away or only changed it.

I enjoyed reading through a couple of interviews with the author about the book. Through this, I came to learn that this story was in part based on her own daughter's experience of being diagnosed with a chronic illness at a young age. I also learned that she is not a runner, but did train for and run a 5K as part of her research. I really liked the idea that she was willing to do the research necessary to give the story a real perspective from what it took to train and run. She also reflected on the parallel that she was drawing with the Children of Israel and how just because something is God's calling doesn't mean it will be easy.

This was the first book that I have read by Kathryn Cushman, but after reading Chasing Hope, I would be interested in reading more of her books. She has one called Almost Amish, which with my enjoyment of Amish fiction, sounds like a great next book for me. If you are looking for a story of hope and friendship, I think this is a great book to consider.

Have you read any of her books? What is your favorite?

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

After three weeks of not really menu planning, I knew that I had to get back into gear this week. Of course, one of those weeks (10 days) was spent on vacation, so I had a good reason and really didn't flounder quite as much as it might sound I did. Plus, during that time, we found a new family favorite and enjoyed it twice in that window - Pizza Sticks (one night we had it on its own with salad and the other time we paired it with crustless pizza).

This week things quiet down a bit from a scheduled activity perspective, but with the holidays fast approaching, it is good to have some time to be able to fit in all of those other things - like cookie baking (you can check out my 12 days of Christmas cookies series over on my A Busy Mom of Two in the Kitchen blog for inspiration if you are looking for ideas) and errand running.

Barbeque Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey Noodle Soup

Hot Dogs

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Skyline Chili

Chicken and Dumplings (or perhaps leftovers)

dinner with friends

During the week, breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Lunches are either the hot lunch from school or packed lunches for the kids. My husband and I have leftovers, frozen meals or sandwiches.

This post shared on Menu Plan Monday.

CVS Deals - 11/27

I finally made it to CVS on Wednesday to take advantage of their assortment of free after ECB items for Thanksgiving week. A couple of things struck me as unusual - the sale was before Thanksgiving, not on/after and the store seemed to be well stocked on everything. Sure, there were a few deals that they didn't include this year - like the headphones, but normally, even going first thing on Thanksgiving (when the sale started then), I would find a few things already stocked out. Of course, it being in stock didn't mean I remembered to get everything or that I had the right coupons with me - I should have taken the time to prepare my game plan and could have saved even more. I was not only getting deals, but restocking on the vitamins that I was in need of, so it wasn't a super low cost trip.
Transaction #1
1 - Good 'n Plenty Theater box
1 - Orbit gum
1 - 5 gum
2 - Gum Toothbrushes 2=pk
1 - Child Advil
1 - Advil 4ct
1 - CVS wipes, unscented
1 - Visine

-$4 Visine CVS coupon (was on their coupon page)

Paid with $5 ECB and $7.83 plus tax OOP, earned $12.83 in ECBs.

Transaction #2
2 - Alive Vitamins (should have bought 3 for bigger ECB...but they only had 2)
1 - Nature Made Vitamin D

-$4 $4/$20 CVS e-mail offer

Paid with $12.83 in ECBs and $32.74 plus tax OOP. Earned $15 in ECBs.

Transaction #3
2 - CVS Vitamin C (BOGO)

Paid with $5 ECB and $1.79 plus tax OOP.

For everything, my net OOP was $42.36 plus tax and I have $10 ECBs to roll for about $80 in product at sale prices. So, I wound up getting it for about 1/2 off, I could have done better, if I had brought my coupons, organized my transactions and bought the third Alive (would have been a $12 ECB instead of $5).

I did not make a trip back with their 30% coupon for Black Friday...I find that too much is considered on sale that it doesn't wind up saving me what it sounds like it should.

Did you get any deals?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Love With Food - 2 exciting offers! #BlackFriday

No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary Love with Food box and information about the offer from Love with Food. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.
A while back, I shared with you 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 100,000 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.

We recently received one of their boxes and it was filled with some items that we have not tried. When we opened the box, everyone quickly called dibs on the items that they most wanted to try. I was excited to try the Chocolate Pizzelle Crisps from Silk City Snacks. I am a fan of pizzelles and love that this pack of crisps only has 100 calories and there are 20 pieces! My husband was ready to try the Kind Bars in Almond & Coconut. My son was excited to try the Toasted Coconut Chips from Dang. My daughter wanted to try the Happy Squeeze Fruit and Veggie Twist - she is a big fan of squeezable fruit and the blueberry, apple and purple carrot sure sounds like a unique variety. Some of the other things we are looking forward to trying are New World Caveman Cookies - made with pumpkin seeds and maple syrup, amongst other ingredients - sounds interesting. There is a product called Pixo Pearls - apple cider vinegar pearls (only I think that my pearls have all broken based on how it looks and the picture on their website). We also received some Organic Hard Candies and some Glee Gum in a Triple Berry.

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.

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.

You will need to act fast to take advantage of these two special offers.

First, for every 6- and 12- month subscription purchased (including both personal and gift subscriptions), Love with Food will be adding on a bonus 2-year subscription to the Rachel Ray magazines. I have always enjoyed her magazine...I just wish I had more time to read it and make all the yummy recipes.

Right now, as part of their Black Friday deal, you can get 20% OFF all Subscription Plans + all 6, 12 month plans purchase will include the bonus I mentioned above - 2 Year subscription to Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine!

Sale ends 12/1/13 at midnight!

To get the discount, you MUST sign up at this specific link: Black Friday 20% discount

No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary Love with Food box and information about the offer from Love with Food. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Hormel Foods Hunger Initiatives

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. As a Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger, I received information from Hormel for this post, as well as product samples.
Over the past couple of days, as we have been out doing shopping, we have noticed many opportunities to give back to the community through adopt a child, angel trees, share a meal and other giving programs that encourage those that can, to help those that are in need. I am always willing to help out where I can, but what worries me is that whereas there is a lot of attention given to helping this time of year, the reality is that those that are in need can use help year round. Fortunately, there are programs that help to provide food to families year round and companies, like Hormel that have a commitment to helping to fight hunger.

Hormel Foods is a company with expertise in food manufacturing, distribution and protein, which are all important components in helping to feed the hungry around the world! Hormel Foods’ ‘On Our Way to Ending Hunger’ program includes hunger relief efforts in the United States and abroad and comprises three pillars:

1. Collaborate: Collaborate with retailers, nonprofits and government agencies on hunger relief efforts.

- Hormel Foods partners with Hunger-Free Minnesota, a statewide coalition of community and corporate organizations aimed at closing the “missing meals” gap in Minnesota. Its goal is to provide 100 million additional meals, annually and sustainably, by 2014 for Minnesotans in need. Jeffrey M. Ettinger, Hormel Foods chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, serves on the steering committee of Hunger-Free Minnesota.
- Hormel Foods has supported Feeding America (formerly called America’s Second Harvest), the largest domestic hunger-relief organization in the nation, through cash and donations of millions of pounds of product since the organization was founded in the 1970s.

2. Nourish: Nourish the hungry domestically and internationally.

- Hormel Foods has donated millions of individual meals throughout the years through our On Our Way to Ending Hunger program.
- As part of the On Our Way to Ending Hunger program at Hormel Foods, the company has developed Spammy™ shelf-stable poultry product fortified with vitamins and minerals to help prevent malnutrition in children in Guatemala through a partnership with Food for the Poor and Caritas Arquidiocesana.

3. Motivate: Motivate individuals and corporate partners to take action to fight hunger.

- In 2012, more than 20 Hormel Foods plant locations donated to local non-profits committed to ending hunger in their communities.

How do you help support those in need?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. As a Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger, I received information from Hormel for this post, as well as product samples.

Giant Eagle Market District - Now Open in Green

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. I was invited to this special event.
Last week, I was invited to participate in the grand opening festivities for the new Market District Store in Green. What an amazing store. (I should insert that I am a bit of a foodie). According to the Market District Chef Ben D'Amico, that provided us with the tour of the store, the goal is for the Market District store to be a destination, not just a grocery store.
They have several restaurant stations available within their fresh produce and deli department. They offer a full salad bar with 70 items that are hand cut/prepared daily. The options on the salad bar change seasonally. In addition to their salad bar, they have a hot bar with several chef prepared options, including many seasonal favorites. In addition to the salad bar and hot bar, which you might be accustomed to seeing in other Giant Eagle stores (perhaps on a smaller scale), they also offer a Wok Station, Sushi, Made to Order Subs and Pizza. They have several vegetarian options available within their dining area. They also offer two types of Rotisserie chicken, the traditional ones that you find at the other stores, but also a free range option. They will even let you try any of the food before you buy. I know that I enjoy having the chance to try new things and it is good to know that I can find out if I like it before I make the investment.

And, they have a really nice dining area, including a loft. The setting is so nice, I could see a group of friends heading there to relax and enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch. I might even take my team from work there for a team lunch.

As with many Giant Eagle stores, they also offer an Eagle's Nest - a great way to let the kids have fun and make time for your own shopping or lunch with friends. Eagle's Nest is a FREE service available for Giant Eagle customers' children, of ages three through nine. You have to show your license to check them in and out of the area and they give you a walkie-talkie, so they can reach you if your child needs you or needs to use the bathroom. They have games, coloring, movies and more - to keep the kids entertained while you shop with less distraction (or enjoy lunch!).

On Friday evenings, they feature a 6/$6 event - you can enjoy 6 appetizers and 6 wine samples for just $6. That really could be a lot of fun...starts at 6 of course!
I was really excited to see the variety of items on their salad bar, but was also excited about their olive and antipasti bar and generally the variety in their produce section.
One thing that I really liked was that they offered a variety of unique items and provided cut-open views of them as well as information about the produce and it's uses.  For the grand opening event, they had talented artists on site that were carving the fruit and produce to make beautiful displays.

Their bakery offers a wide variety of products. They have these really cute birthday cupcakes that look like little tiered cakes. They have several options when it comes to pastries, cakes and cookies. (we tried some of their Chocolate Chip Biscotti and my family has been asking me to buy more). They have seasonal flavors (and regular) of candy corn and have a full candy bar with fresh fudge and more. They offer bagels sourced from New York, Da Bronx, as the sign notes - talk about authentic.
Their bulk food section has so many varieties of candy, grain and more. They even have an olive oil and vinegar bar where you can choose your variety and they aren't just offering run of the mill vinegar - did you see the Blueberry Infused Balsamic that I took a picture of. I can just imagine using that to make a salad dressing.
This is one of my favorite features - a Grab 'n Go section that features the staples that you often will stop in for mid-week. I love that even though they want to be a destination, not just a grocery store, they are still catering to those that need to stop in for a few items and get back home. That is the type of courtesy that makes me feel valued at the store, whether there to explore their vast offerings and enjoy their specialty features, but also when I need just a few items.

While we were at the grand opening, we got the chance to meet Tyler Florence, who was part of the grand opening ceremonies. It was great and I will share more in a future post, but for now, here are a couple of pictures.

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. As an invitee to the blogger event at the grand opening, I was able to meet Tyler Florence, get a copy of his cookbook and was provided with a store tour to learn more about the features. I also received a gift basket to thank me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It is the end of November, it is snowing and our one tree still has most of its leaves. At least it's not a heavy snow that I have to worry about losing branches.

This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy Veterans Day!!! Thank you to all that have served, are serving, and will serve!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CVS Deals 11/5 & 11/9

I wound up making two trips to CVS this week to pick up the one deal that I was after. I had gone to one on Tuesday evening, only to find that they were out of the items that I needed. I bought one after confirming that if they didn't get them back in stock before the end of the week, I could get a rain check to complete the deal.

Transaction #1
1 - Alive Vitamins
1 - Just the Basics Paper towels

- $2 Alive mfg coupon
- $.79 JTB paper towels CRT

Total $10.29 plus tax, paid with $3 ECB and $8.09 OOP.

Transaction #2
2 - Alive Vitamins

- $2 Alive mfg coupon
- $2 Alive mfg coupon
- $4.92 CVS 20% e-mail offer (was surprised this worked since they were part of a deal)

Total $15.66 plus tax, paid $16.99 OOP. Earned $12 ECBs.

Transaction #3
1 - Listerine 1L
1 - Listerine Pocket Pack
10 - Cereal Cups

- $2 Listerine 1L IP
- $2 Listerine Pocket Pack IP

Total $15.98 plus tax, paid with $12 ECB from last transaction and $4.66 OOP. Earned $5 ECBs.

I essentially got each pack of vitamins for $5.36 (57% savings) and the Listerine items for $.50 each (88% and 91% savings).

How did you do this week? Get any great deals?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Home to Heather Creek by Kathleen Bauer

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

I recently finished reading the first two books of a series from Guideposts, that became available in stores September 1st. The series is Home to Heather Creek and the first two books are Before the Dawn and Sweet September. Unlike (at least as far as I know) most series that I have read, this one is actually written by multiple authors under the common pseudonym of Kathleen Bauer. There are a total of 24 books in the series. (When I learned that there were 24 books, I became a little bit curious as to how they released 24 books in a series in such short order. As I looked around, it appears that they have been out for a while, so I am assuming that they were recently re-released.)

The Home to Heather Creek series follows Charlotte and Bob Stevenson as they come to grip, not only with the death of their daughter, but the sudden growth in their household when Denise's three children - Sam, Emily and Christopher - come to live with them. The children are faced with a lot of change, losing their mother unexpectedly, moving in with grandparents that they barely know and leaving the suburbs of San Diego to live on Heather Creek Farm in Nebraska. As you can imagine, it is an adjustment on both sides of the equation. The full series covers the first two years following their move.

As the children discover life on the farm, the relationship with their grandparents and their Uncle Pete start to develop. Pete helps to provide a young perspective and helps Sam learn to drive, buys games for the kids and introduces them to several of his favorite movies. They also start to meet people in town and more of their family. Through these relationships, they start to find ways to cope and adapt to the many changes that they are faced with.

The story is very touching and the emotions are real. Charlotte relies on her faith and her good friends to help her through the adjustments that come to raising children again. She is afraid to make the same mistakes that she did with Denise, that caused her to run off at a young age. She tries to learn from what did and didn't work with her own kids, as she raises her grandchildren.

Initially, as I transitioned from the first book to the second book, it was a noticeable different tempo and voice. I think this is a true concern and could make reading the full 24 book series a little awkward. Normally, when you read through a series, hopping into the second or later book is easy, the author provides a little background for the benefit of the reader that hasn't read the other books and to help refresh the reader that has, but from there, it falls right back into the rhythm of the previous books. At first, I was worried about this change in tempo and voice, but as I continued to read, I became accustomed to the new storyteller and it felt right again. That being said, I am not sure how it will flow. The one thing that I think will help is that many of the authors wrote more than one book in the series.

I found these first two books in the series to be enjoyable. I want to continue reading, so that I can continue to watch Sam, Emily and Christopher grow and adapt (or not) to life on the farm. I want to see how Charlotte and Bob address the challenges that they face as they raise their grandchildren. I want to see if and how having the kids on the farm changes Pete. If you enjoy a good story, these might be books that you would enjoy checking out.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Friday, November 1, 2013

America's Got Talent Live! Ticket Winner

The winner of the 4-pk of tickets to America's Got Talent Live! is:


Congratulations to Laura.

Thanks everyone for entering. An e-mail has been sent to the winner.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Beans or No Beans - how do you take your chili?

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.
October is National Chili Month. With the temperatures starting to feel like fall and football in full swing, it feels like the right month to celebrate the wonderful world of chili to me.

For me, the answer is always No Beans, which my son is aligned to. For my husband and my daughter, they generally enjoy the beans. As a result, we always make the beans on the side. After prepping the chili, I will scoop out about 1/2 cup of the chili and add it to the kidney beans in a separate pan and allow all of that to simmer together.

There are so many different ways to enjoy chili. The first we like is Cincinnati-style chili. I make a homemade version, but a trip to Skyline Chili, planned or unplanned is always a nice treat. When we make it at home, we enjoy it on pasta and on coney dogs. I also make a more traditional 'soup' style chili using ground meat, diced tomatoes and vegetable juice as my foundation. Sometimes, we will have a chicken chili. For us, oyster crackers and hot sauce are always on the table when we enjoy chili.

Another way we like to enjoy our chili is as part of an appetizer. Who can resist the warm cheesy goodness of the classic Chili Cheese Dip with tortillas? - Not I...which usually means I eat more than I planned.

Whether you prefer it in a bowl, in a dip, or as a topping, chili is a fabulous comfort food for the fall and winter seasons. That’s why it is perfect that October has been deemed “National Chili Month.” Did you know that Hormel® chili is considered America’s number one canned chili? Prior to 1935, chili was popular only in the Southern, Southwestern and Western regions of the United States. Hormel Foods is responsible for introducing chili to the Midwest as well as introducing new, unique ways to eat and enjoy chili!
While many people think chili is best served in a bowl, three-fourths of users actually enjoy chili as a topping, making favorites such as nachos, rice and dips even more fun and delicious.

In honor of National Chili Month, Hormel has put together a full menu of suggestions for each meal occasion - breakfast, lunch and dinner - featuring Hormel® chili!

* Fiesta Brunch Casserole: This delicious, baked casserole can be prepared in individual tortilla bowls for easy and personalized enjoyment.
* Chili Topped Breakfast Burritos: Give your morning an extra kick by topping your breakfast burritos with your favorite variety of Hormel® chili.

* Chili Pizza: Put a fun twist on your otherwise ordinary pizza by adding a new and interesting topping; chili! Supplement with your favorite veggies and cheeses.
* Taco Soup: This tasty soup boasts the perfect combination of spice and flavor thanks to CHI-CHI’s salsa, Hormel® chili and cheese.

* Chili Mac: This easy and hearty meal is a great dish for the whole family and is sure to keep you warm in those fall and winter months.
* Chili and Cheese Quesadillas: Top these unique quesadillas with your favorite condiments for a quick dinner dish.

I think the one that sounds the most unique and that I think I might include in a menu plan soon is the Chili Pizza (minus the mushrooms please!). It sounds delicious and like something that the family would enjoy.

How do you enjoy your chili? Do you have it with or without beans?

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 product and some of the information for this post.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Wow! Can you believe that this week is already Halloween, the first of November and time to "fall back" and return to early darkness? I am a big fan of fall and recognize that this is all part of enjoying fall, but it just seems to be going so fast. This weekend is my daughter's birthday party and I am busy planning for a Minnie Mouse Themed party, with a yummy turkey and all the fixings for the family meal. I can't wait for the house to be filled with the smell of the turkey roasting and of course, the challenge of making a Minnie Mouse themed cake and cupcakes.

We are officially done with fall sports and now we start into swim lessons. I love the quiet of no organized sports - it gives us more time to have real meals and to actually get things done during the week and not just come home and crash in a state of exhaustion.


Homemade Pizza

Pork Chops

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Pierogie and Eggs

Chicken Enchilada

Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed potatoes, Cranberry Applesauce and more!

During the week, breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Lunches are either the hot lunch from school or packed lunches for the kids. My husband and I have leftovers, frozen meals or sandwiches.

This post shared on Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, October 25, 2013

America's Got Talent Live is coming to Cleveland!

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the show and tickets for the giveaway were provided. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

America's Got Talent Live

Don’t miss your chance to be dazzled live and in-person by the amazing and electrifying stars of NBC’s #1-rated hit TV show. For eight years running, “America’s Got Talent®” has entertained viewers with its own unique blend of incredible talent and one-of-a-kind performances, in a celebration of the American spirit. With a lineup led by the show’s brand-new Million Dollar Winner, the “America’s Got Talent Live™” stage show features many of the performers and fan favorites who won America’s hearts and received millions of votes from viewers across the country. Be there to experience all the energy and excitement of the blockbuster TV show.

Official Tour Lineup: Kenichi Ebina, The KriStef Brothers, Collins Key, Cami Bradley, Jimmy Rose, Taylor Williamson and Tone The Chiefrocca

America's Got Talent Live
November 6, 7:30 pm
State Theatre
1519 Euclid Ave
Cleveland, OH 44115

Win Tickets for America’s Got Talent Live - You could win 4 Tickets for America’s Got Talent Live!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through October 31st. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. Winners will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winners will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the show and tickets for the giveaway were provided. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forever Friday by Timothy Lewis

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary Advanced Reading Copy was provided to allow me the opportunity to read the book and share about it. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

hopeless romantic -
1. This person is in love with love. They believe in fairy tales and love.

Yes, I consider myself a hopeless romantic...I certainly love a good love story. Whether it is a book or a movie, there is just something so appealing to me about a good love story.

When I read the synopsis of Forever Friday, by Timothy Lewis, I knew that I simply had to read it.
"Every Friday, a Postcard. Every Friday, a Love Poem. Every Friday for Sixty Years."

What a neat idea! Could you imagine? How romantic...not to just write a love poem, but to send it on a post card every Friday. The best part, the author drew inspiration for the story from the postcards sent between his great-aunt and great-uncle over a period of sixty years.

The story is about Huck and Gabe Alexander. It is a story of how they met and how these soul mates found a love that led to these weekly postcards. It is told from the perspective of Adam Colby, the owner of a small estate-sale business, who came upon the postcard collection during the sale he was conducting of the Alexander's belongings.

He pieces together their love story, through the post cards and conversations with Yvette, the daughter of their long time housekeeper. It is their story that he recounts in the book Forever Friday.

The story is a great love story, set against sixty years of history, starting in the early twentieth century and ending in the summer of 2006.

If you enjoy a good love story, I recommend this book. The author did a great job of developing the characters and telling their love story. Almost as soon as I started the book, I was hooked. I wanted to keep reading to learn more about their adventures.

I must confess that I was a little surprised when I realized that it was a male author - I think that this could possibly be the first love story that I read by a man. Now, certainly, some of my favorite authors that are men have included love in their stories, but this book was a love story. The story struck me as one that could someday be made into a movie, one that if it were well done, I would really enjoy.

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary Advanced Reading Copy was provided to allow me the opportunity to read the book and share about it. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Monday, October 21, 2013

60's Rock-N-Remember Ticket Winner

Congratulations to Stephanie! Her entry was selected as the winner of the 4-pack of tickets to see 60's Rock-N-Remember at the Akron Civic Theatre.

An e-mail was sent to the winner.

Thanks everyone for entering and I will be sharing some additional giveaways soon.

Menu Plan Monday

What a great weekend! My son didn't have school on Friday, so we took advantage of the opportunity and headed to Kalahari Indoor Waterpark right after school on Thursday and stayed through Friday mid-afternoon. It was nice to get away and have a good time. We ate out way too much, but really , what is your option when you are on vacation with no kitchen? Fazoli's, Dunkin Donuts and Steak 'n Shake were the dining locations of choice for the mini-vacation. We lucked into arriving at Steak 'n Shake for their Happy Hour and enjoyed half-price milk shakes. It was a yummy vacation, although, now I feel like I need to workout twice as long to make up for the additional calories that I consumed.

Saturday was my daughter's last soccer game. It was a good game and we wrapped up just before the rains came. With a rainy day at hand, we did some cleaning around the house and then finished the day with some movies.

Sunday was my Werther's Original Baking Caramels MommyParty. It was a delicious party, complete with caramel apple tarts, caramel brownies and caramel hot cocoa. Yum!

This week is a little quieter, now that we are down to just the playoffs for baseball. It makes it easier from a dinner planning perspective.



Chicken Cheesesteaks (and Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteaks)

Sloppy Joes and French Fries

Pork Chops and Mashed Potatoes

Tilapia Vera Cruz

Chicken and Dumplings

During the week, breakfast is usually a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Lunches are either the hot lunch from school or packed lunches for the kids. My husband and I have leftovers, frozen meals or sandwiches.

This post shared on Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Werther's Original Baking Caramels MommyParty #WerthersBakingBash

No compensation was received for this post. I received a Party Kit to allow me to host a Werther's Original Baking Caramels MommyParty, as well as recipes, party ideas, invitations and coupons to share with my guests. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

I am not really sure why it is, but sometimes, I have the worst timing when it comes to hosting parties. Whether it is a gathering for a catalog item party or a social gathering just to visit, I either have a couple guests or a houseful. I love to host parties, so my preference is generally to have a houseful, but even though it can be disappointing to only have a few guests, it is still a great time and really gives you a chance to visit with friends.

Today, I hosted a Werther's Original Baking Caramels party. It was a chance to try out the new Baking Caramels and share the experience with friends. I already knew that there were several conflicts and that there would be a smaller group of friends (and their families) joining in on the fun. Unfortunately, with several days recently that were rainy, there were several conflicts that arose late due to rescheduling of things and decreased an already small party to an even smaller one.

On a positive note, that just meant more treats for the rest of us. In order to share the desserts with more friends, I think I might have to do a bit of an encore party and create and share the treats yet again (if for no other reason that it allows me to enjoy the treats again.

Here is a pic of the party pack that I received:

The first treat that I prepared for the party was a delectable Caramel Brownie. I started by baking up a standard brownie mix and baking it as directed. Then, I unwrapped a package of Werther's Original Baking Caramels and melted them in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. I poured them over the partially cooled brownies and allowed them to set up. I cut them into squares to share:
Just look at the ooey gooey goodness:

I must say, with the way the caramels are wrapped, it was really easy to open them and be ready to make a recipe. Especially, when I compare it to other baking caramels that I have used in the past.
The next dessert that I tackled was a Caramel Apple Tart. This recipe uses a frozen puff pastry and some apples to make a great dessert, especially when served ala mode. You can find the Caramel Apple Tart recipe here.

I also made up a batch of Caramel Mocha Hot Chocolate, with some slight adjustments. I used 2 cups of water, 2 cups of milk, 1 cup of brewed coffee and added powdered cocoa mix to the right ratio. Then, I heated the cocoa on the stove top to a low simmer. I added half a bag of caramels and allowed them to melt over low heat. It was a sweet treat:

I set out the treats on the counter, along with the Halloween pumpkins that are awaiting decorating and left the cocoa on the stove on low.

Each guest prepared a plate with each of the desserts and a cup of the cocoa:

I had planned to make a few other recipes, but as the attendee list shrunk, I decided that too much of a good thing meant that there would be more left for me to eat. I think that I would like to use them to make some caramel chocolate chip cookies and I saw some really delicious recipes on the Werther's website. I also think I will use them in some of my favorite recipes this holiday season - treats like Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars or Caramel Tassies.

What is your favorite recipe using caramels? Have you tried Werther's Original Baking Caramels?

No compensation was received for this post. I received a Party Kit to allow me to host a Werther's Original Baking Caramels MommyParty, as well as recipes, party ideas, invitations and coupons to share with my guests. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Giving Thanks for Giving #CookingPlanit

Know someone that makes a difference in others lives simply for the joy that it gives them? Cooking Planit invites you to share a personal story about someone you know who gives their time, energy and/or love in the spirit of helping others without thinking of themselves and both you and your hidden hero could win up to $250 in cash + one grand prize winner will get to choose a local charity to which Cooking Planit will donate $1000.

You can find the full terms and share your story on the Cooking Planit Blog or on their Facebook page.

• 5 winners will be selected from all eligible entries. $100 Visa Gift card will be awarded to the story author & $250 to their Hidden Hero (story subject). (10 prizes awarded in total; 5 story author + 5 hidden hero)
• The 1st place winner will also get the opportunity to select a local charity to which Cooking Planit will donate $1000.

Story Guidelines
When writing your story, consider the following guidelines:
• In 300 words or less, recognize an individual who is making the difference in the lives of others in your community; whether it be by donating their time, energy or love with a focus on helping others without necessarily thinking of themselves
• Provide details on how/what they are doing to improve or impact the lives of others

• We reserve the right not to post your story if it contains any of the following types of content:
• Obscenities, discriminatory language, or other language not suitable for a public forum
• Advertisements, “spam” content, or references to other products, offers, or websites
• Email addresses, URLs, phone numbers, physical addresses, or other forms of contact information
• Critical or spiteful comments on other stories posted on the page or their authors
• In addition, if you wish to share feedback with us about Cooking Planit or other customer service issues, do not submit this feedback through the Cooking Planit Stories platform. Instead, contact us directly.

• Enjoy writing your story!

Judging Criteria
• Most inspirational and empowering story submitted

No compensation was received for this post. The information about the event was provided through Cooking Planit. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Monday, October 14, 2013

60's Rock -N- Remember coming to Akron Civic Theatre #giveaway

No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary set of tickets to attend the show from the Akron Civic and they provided information and the tickets for the giveaway. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Growing up, as I am sure most kids did, I listened to a lot of my parent's music. So, when I heard that the show 60's Rock-N-Remember was coming to the Akron Civic Theatre, I got a little bit excited. The show includes Herman's Hermit's starring Peter Noone, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Dennis Tufano of the Buckinghams. As I read through some of the songs listed in the show blurb, I find myself singing the songs in my head. I know so many of the songs and am certain that I will have to stop myself from singing along with all of them. (I know the songs, but I certainly can not sing!)

60's Rock -N- Remember featuring Herman's Hermit's starring Peter Noone, Gary Puckett and The Union Gap and Dennis Tufano, original voice of The Buckinghams.
Sunday, October 27, 2013 4:00 PM
Akron Civic Theatre

Peter Noone is a multi-talented entertainer, who has been delighting audiences nearly all his life.

At the age of fifteen, Peter achieved international fame as “Herman”, lead singer of the legendary Sixties pop band Herman’s Hermits. His classic hits included: “I’m Into Something Good” “Mrs. Brown, you’ve Got A Lovely Daughter”, “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”, “Silhouettes”, “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”, “Just A Little Bit Better”, “Wonderful World”, “There’s A Kind of Hush”, “A Must To Avoid”, “Listen People”, “The End of the World” and “Dandy”. Ultimately, Herman’s Hermits sold over sixty million recordings. In all, fourteen singles and seven albums went gold. The Hermits were twice named Cashbox’s “Entertainer of the Year”.

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap was an American pop rock group operating in the late 1960s. Their biggest hits were "Woman, Woman," "Young Girl," and "Lady Willpower."
GARY PUCKETT and the UNION GAP was one of the most successful musical groups of the sixties. Gary's unmistakable signature voice garnered six consecutive gold records and top ten Billboard hits:

Dennis Tufano is the original lead singer of the 1960s rock group The Buckinghams, and has been a solo performer since the early 1980s.

Courtesy of Akron Civic Theatre, I am able to give away to one A Busy Mom of Two reader a 4-pk of tickets to 60's Rock-N-Remember.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through October 20th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. Winners will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winners will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary set of tickets to attend the show from the Akron Civic and they provided information and the tickets for the giveaway. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.