Friday, May 31, 2013

Lunch time options *

*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.
I don't know about you, but at my house one of the biggest challenges is the answer to the question - "what's for lunch?".

During the week, during the school year, it is of course easier, because we either buy or pack and packing is usually a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or luncheon meat. Then, when the weekend comes (and summer days not at daycare or camp), it seems that the kids (and my husband) are tired of sandwiches and are looking for other options. If we have leftovers, that of course is one option, but when our schedules are busy like they are right now, we tend to have a lot of meals from the freezer for dinner and I generally pack those without leftovers. So, we are usually left trying to find other options.

One option that we have enjoyed for years are Hormel Compleats. Ready to go, easy to microwave meals that are shelf stable. (Of course, we don't just enjoy them on the weekends, they also make great options for a packed lunch for my husband and I during the week.) I love that I can grab one and take it to work and keep it at my desk for lunch.

I was glad to learn that they have recently launched some new cheesy pasta varieties. I can't wait to try the Three Cheese Chicken Pasta and the Smoky Bacon Parmesan Rigatoni.

Hormel® Compleats® cheesy pasta varieties are perfect for today’s busy, on-the-go moms who are looking for convenient, protein-rich foods to power them [and their families] through their day.

Hormel® Compleats® cheesy pasta varieties are shelf-stable and ready to eat in just 60 seconds. These microwave meals fit perfectly into people’s busy everyday lives, while still providing consumers with the taste of comfort that they crave.

Made with real cheese, the new line offers a variety of satisfying flavor selections for consumers to choose from. The product is available in the following real cheese flavors:

• Mac and Cheese
• Italian Herb and Cheese Rigatoni
• Three Cheese Chicken Pasta
• Cheesy Ravioli
• Creamy Cheese and Basil Tortellini
• Smoky Bacon Parmesan Rigatoni

Aside from the new varieties, Hormel® Compleats® are available in over 40 different varieties so you will be sure to find a dish you love.

What is your greatest challenge at lunch time? Do you have a favorite, quick lunch dish? What is your favorite pasta variety?

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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Dial It Back - Fruit2O Mommy Party #gotitfree *

* no compensation was received for this post. I received information and product to share with friends as a host of a Fruit2O MommyParty.

I don't know about where you live, but here in North East Ohio, it was a rather cool Memorial Day weekend. Last year, it was close to 90 every day of the weekend - trust me, I was sweltering at an all weekend baseball tournament. This year, it was closer to 60. In some ways, a cool weekend was nice, but in others it made the weekend more of a challenge. For instance, the kids were asking about setting up the slip'n slide. I'm not sure exactly what they were thinking, wearing jeans and sweatshirts and thinking that it would be warm enough for a swimsuit and water. In addition, we had to move our picnics indoors - leaving us with less place to eat and hang out than we have when we can use picnic tables and the table on our deck. Thankfully, we did all of our picnic-ing and marshmallow roasting on Saturday and Sunday, because Monday turned out to be not only cool, but also wet!

One of the fun features of our weekend gatherings, was the Fruit2O Mommy Party (dads and kids were included!) that we incorporated into our gatherings. In fact, instead of having just one party, it was more like 2 1/2 - spanning Saturday and Sunday. Everyone seemed to enjoy trying the variety of flavors that we received in the party pack, as well as the additional bottles I picked up at the store on Friday evening to make sure that we had plenty on hand for the gatherings. We used some fun temperature sensitive cups to serve up samples (and really all of the beverages over the course of the weekend). It reminded me a little of those Hypercolor t-shirts that were all the rage 25 years ago. The kids thought it was fun to watch them change colors and then to see the track of where they had drank the water.

There were several flavors of the water that we got to experience at the party - Strawberry, Raspberry, Cucumber Lemon, Grape, and Watermelon. Unfortunately, the two new flavors, Cucumber Lemon and Watermelon, I wasn't able to find at my local store, so we only had a little to sample and share for those flavors. I had picked up two 6 packs (on special for only $2.50/6 pk at my grocery store), one each of Strawberry and Raspberry, for the party, anticipating that the samples we had wouldn't be enough. We drank them all, so it was a good decision on my part.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the water. The water has a nice subtle fruit flavor, enough to taste and identify the flavor, but not so much that the flavor was overwhelming. We had some disagreement about whether the cucumber or lemon flavor was more prevalent in the Cucumber Lemon water. We talked about the available flavors and decided that the lemon was the one we were least likely to buy, because you could just as easily get the flavor with a lemon wedge or a bit of lemon juice in your water, but the other flavors really offered a nice change of pace from 'plain' water. Even the little kids enjoyed the water, with one little girl asking for more juice when she finished hers.

The water was a great beverage option for the picnics. It wasn't hot out, but the drinks were still refreshing and a nice accompaniment to our dinners and snacks.

One of the other things that we checked out briefly was the Fruit2O Dial it Back Facebook App. The app 'audits' your Facebook posts and make suggestions on where you might want to dial it back and show a little restraint. You can even check back to see what your progress is in dialing it back.
Above is my report. You can see that I evidently spend my time talking about the kids, the weather and sports. It doesn't surprise me, seeing as how my kids have had lots of spring sports that involved us wearing winter coats and gloves and snow. You can check out the stats on your posts, by heading to, clicking on Like and then running the app. While there, be sure to enter to win in their daily prize giveaway, too.

As the guests headed out, I gave them a coupon to pick up their own 6-pack of water to enjoy at home. Luckily, I still have one more for me and I will be on the watch for the Cucumber Lemon or Watermelon to show up at my local stores.

No compensation was received for this post. I received information and product to share with friends as a host of a Fruit2O MommyParty. I was selected to be a host of a MommyParty through my participation in MomSelect. All opinions shared are my own or that of my family.

Happy Memorial Day!

Thank you to all the men and women who have bravely served our country.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lilacs in Bloom


This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Hole In the Middle - free download available this weekend

I am always on the lookout for new authors and books to read, so when I heard that the new book The Hole In the Middle is available for FREE download this weekend, I decided it was one that I would check out. (Now, if only my schedule will flip and once again allow me time to enjoy this book and a handful of other books I have sitting on my counter waiting to be read, that would be great.)


Don't miss the free download for the book that reviewers are calling “a stunning debut,” “a must read novel for the ‘This is 40’ set,” and “smart, funny and addictive.”

I Don’t Know How She Does It for the This Is 40 generation, The Hole in the Middle introduces Sophie Whelan, a woman who has it all - including a hideous boss, a distracted husband, daycare woes, problem employees and a 40th birthday on the horizon. Precariously close to slipping off of the treadmill that is her daily grind, Sophie is startled by the reappearance of Will Shannon, the great unresolved love of her life. As she remembers the vivid drama of their college romance, Sophie confronts the choices she has made in life and in love and looks for the one answer that has always eluded her: what does she really want?

The Hole in the Middle is getting amazing reviews from readers. A heartbreaking love story, a hilarious romp through today’s corporate workplace, and a fresh take on the hot debate about whether women can have it all, The Hole in the Middle is not to be missed.

Why not head over to Amazon and download a copy for yourself?

The Hole In the Middle - free download

No compensation was received for this post. I was provided with information about the book and the free download this weekend. I plan to take advantage of this same deal that I am sharing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

To all of the moms I hope you have a wonderful, Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rod Stewart - Time *

* complimentary review copy provided for this review.
When I was back in high school (it really scares me a little when I consider how long ago it was now), I was very active in the church youth group. Every summer they would hold a large retreat at a nearby university. Each year, there was a theme for the retreat - based on a recent song. One of the years, the theme song was 'Forever Young', by Rod Stewart.

Much like that powerful ballad from the late 80s, the songs that are part of his just released (on May 7th) album Time have powerful lyrics. Many of the songs share the stories of his life and reflection on his life.
Rod Stewart has spent four decades being a rock star, three being a parent, and has a new album's worth of rollicking stories to tell. Time is his first album of new material in almost 20 years (and his hairstyle hasn't changed one bit!). The album was born from a burst of inspiration that came while Rod was reviewing his life for his recent memoir. Rod rediscovered his voice as a songwriter and rekindled his gift for writing the honest, nerve-touching narratives that have been the cornerstone to the first three decades of his career. 'Suddenly ideas for lyrics were piling up in my head,' he says. 'Next thing I knew, I had a song called 'It's Over' about divorce and separation. And now I was getting up in the middle of the night and scrambling for a pen to write things down, which has never happened to me. I finished seven or eight songs very quickly and I still wasn't done, and it became apparent that I would eventually have a whole album of material to record.'

Time Track Listing:
1. She Makes Me Happy
2. Can’t Stop Me Now
3. It’s Over
4. Brighton Beach
5. Beautiful Morning
6. Live The Life
7. Finest Woman
8. Time
9. Picture In A Frame
10. Sexual Religion
11. Make Love To Me Tonight
12. Pure Love

I really enjoyed listening to the album and the songs felt so familiar to me that there were even points where I was questioning if it was a song I had heard before, but only one was not an original song - Picture in a Frame. The liner notes features all of the lyrics and a few pictures - I love this, call me old-fashioned, but that was always one of my favorite features in an album, cassette or CD - the lyrics. I had three favorite songs - Can't Stop Me Now, Beautiful Morning and Time. I think of all the songs, Time was the most familiar sounding to says though that it was copyright 2013 and it isn't the first single that was I can't really explain why it was so familiar.

You can purchase a copy of the CD through Amazon or pick up the MP3 version (you'll miss out on the liner notes though).

Rod Stewart’s links:
Twitter: @rodstewart

No compensation was received for this post. I participated in this campaign for One2One Network, who provided some information for the post. I received a free copy of the album to facilitate my review. By posting, I am entered into a giveaway. All opinions stated are my own or that of my family.

Samples and Freebies


Garnier BB Cream and coupon (
Free International Delight coupon

JAWS Winner!

Congratulations to Austin! Their entry was selected as the winner of the JAWS cleaner giveaway.

Thank you to everyone for entering and be sure to watch for new giveaways, coming soon!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Michael Bublé - To Be Loved #ToBeLoved *

* complimentary review copy provided for this review.

For the past few months, I have been taking several workout classes at the Y and am fortunate to have a wonderful fact, I have the same instructor 5 days a week for three different classes - spinning, boot camp and toning. For spinning she has a set play list, based on the workout of the day, but with boot camp and toning, she just has the music playing in the background and it seems, just plays whatever is in her library. The other day, we were in the midst of rotating between several very challenging stations in a circuit workout and the tempo of the music shifted...we had gone from 80's Hair Metal to Michael Bublé's 'Ave Maria'. One of the women in the class called out, definitely great music, not great workout music though - and the instructor switched to another song. The following day, in spinning, we were talking about the song when it came on during cool down. We all agreed that Michael Bublé has an amazing voice (and is nice to look at too!) and that we all love his music and how his Christmas album is a definite must have.

His amazing voice really shines on his newest album - To Be Loved. I recently had a chance to check out a review copy of his album and I really enjoyed it. There are four original songs and 10 cover songs. I love that when he does covers, that they range from the classics to things that I consider to be more 'current', like the BeeGees 'To Love Somebody'. Several songs feature other artists, including Bryan Adams on the original song 'After All' and even Reese Witherspoon on 'Something Stupid', a Nancy and Frank Sinatra cover.

You likely have heard the first single, an original tune, co-written by Michael Bublé, called 'It's a Beautiful Day'. I really enjoy the song which has a cheerful tune, although, I guess I haven't really listened closely to the lyrics before now, because I just read on his webpage that he considers it an 'anti-love song', a kind of revenge song. After listening closely, it is clear that the song is about a former relationship that she ends, because she just wants to be friends and he has an 'I don't care' attitude and won't spend his time thinking about the break-up. The good thing is that one of his other songs is a love song, a love song for the women in his life - his wife, his mother, his grandmother. "These are good times for the singer, who is about to become a first-time dad. He sounds like a man in love with life. "I wrote Close Your Eyes about my wife and about the power of all the women in my life—my sisters, my mom, my grandma and all women in general. Let’s face it, where would we be without them?"

The performance of the songs on the album is definitely great, he has an awesome voice. Some of the songs are slower, but the album would make a great back drop at a dinner or an evening with friends or just relaxing with my husband.

You can pick up a copy of the album at Amazon or iTunes or at a local retailer.

No compensation was received for this post. I participated in this campaign for One2One Network, who provided some information for the post. I received a free copy of the album to facilitate my review. By posting, I am entered into a giveaway. All opinions stated are my own or that of my family.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wishing on Willows - Katie Ganshert *

* a complimentary copy of the book was provided for the review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

How often do we meet someone and come to a conclusion about who they were before really getting to know them or where they come from? I found the risk of this to be a common theme in the book Wishing on Willows.

Robin has faced a lot of challenges and disappointments in her life. She now is a mother of a young son and the proprietor of a coffee shop, that is located in a sought after section of town for a new condominium project. When the developer, Ian, comes to town, she sees him as a corporate man with little care or concern for the well-being of those in her community, only in the interest of his company.

As the story unfolds, they slowly learn more about each other and come to have a different view of one another. Through this process of discovery, they both start to reconsider their position and priorities and come to enjoy each others company.

Throughout the story, the reader is able to witness their faith and their compassion for helping others, both of which shaped their past and future.

One of the things that I enjoyed about the story is that the reader was learning about the characters along with them. There was less mystery in Robin, as her story was the start of the book, but many of the experiences and events that shaped who they were we learned as they were learning about each other. It really helped to create a bond with the characters and an evolution of experience and perspective of the characters and their intents. As my perspective evolved, I really started to cheer for a desired outcome...some of it resolved as I had hoped, but there were parts that I had other thoughts about. Still, it was a great ending.

I recommend the book Wishing on Willows to those that enjoy a good story. There is the right balance of tension and friction, self-doubt, love and faith.

I look forward to checking out Wildflowers From Winter and future books by Katie Ganshert. Wishing on Willows is the second book in the series, so you might want to check them out in order - although, you certainly can start right in with this book.

Want to see for yourself? You can read the first chapter of the book to preview the book.

You can learn more about Katie Ganshert and listen to her podcast on Wishing on Willows, with the links below.

Author's Website:

Podcast (about 6 minutes long):

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

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Get the 2013 Ohio Family Fun Summer Survival Guide from

For those of you that are in Ohio, I recommend that you check out the just released second annual Ohio Family Fun Summer Survival Guide. The guide contains many ideas for summertime fun in Ohio, links to local attraction & event reviews, money saving coupons and much more.

Plus, as part of her kick-off celebration, you can enter to win an overnight stay and waterpark passes for Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort. (you can read about our experience at Fort Rapids here.)

Head to to enter to win and learn how to download your free copy of the Ohio Family Fun Guide Today!

Many thanks to Tracy at HallofFameMoms for including A Busy Mom of Two in the guide as a Ohio Family Fun Resource.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In Full Bloom

The flowers on the Cleveland Pear are so pretty right now.

This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.