Home Maid Simple: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sponsor Love

I'd like to thank all my sponsors for the Best Gifts of 2011 guide and giveaway! You've all been a pleasure to work with this last month, and I hope we can work together in the future!
Please take a moment to visit each one of these wonderful sponsors! You may find the perfect gift to give this holiday season!
Saressa Designs on Etsy - Beautiful handmade jewelery. Perfect for any occasion!


Little Miss Princess Tutu - quality handmade tutu's for your little Princess!

HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures
HexBug - The Robotic bug any child will love!

Quilted Euphoria - maker of all things quilted and other crafty items!

Don't forget to also enter for your chance to win some great prizes from these sponsors!!!
Current Giveaway!

Untraceable by S.R. Johannes

When I first became a mom, reading got pushed to the side. I use to always have a book in my hand, and piles of books waiting to be read. I switched from reading chapter books, to childrens books. Nothing wrong with that, but I sure missed having something for me to get lost in. In the last 2 years, I've picked up my reading again. I love getting lost in a book, imagining myself there, and being able to pause reality for a bit (as long as my kids aren't in harms way, reality can be paused).  I still have piles of books to read, that just keep getting bigger, and finding time to read is still hard, but I am glad I've found more time for it again.

Untraceable (The Nature of Grace, #1)I was THRILLED when an author actually contacted me to let me know about her book! I know I'm not a book blogger, but trust me, I visit tons of book blogs all the time! So this is just a little post to let you know about the new author and book Untraceable by S.R. Johannes. It was released yesterday, but has been on my to read list for a couple weeks now.

Untraceable is a YA thriller with a female heroine.  The cover really grabbed my attention (amazing what artwork can do!). Here's a snippet from the goodreads page

16 year old Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him


I'd be excited to get this as a Christmas gift, and I think it would make a great book for any teens on your list who love to read!  You can buy it on Amazon, or enter to win a copy on Goodreads!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cranberry Naturals Review and Giveaway



I love Cranberry Juice. Growing up, I loathed it. I cringed opening the fridge and seeing the Cranberry Juice, because it meant someone was sick, and everyone would be drinking it until the sickness was gone.  To my young tastebuds, Cranberry Juice was very bitter. 
Then one day I married Mark, and he LOVED cranberry juice, drinking close to 1 glass a day. So I looked into Cranberry Juice more, and started slowly adding it to my diet (not diet diet, just the normal foods I would eat).  Overtime I was able to overcome the bad childhood memories of cranberry juice, and actually enjoy it.  I think the biggest problem was that when you have a cold, it magnifies the bitter taste.  I still can't drink cranberry juice when I'm sick.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review some of Old Orchards Cranberry Naturals.  Here's a few fun facts about this awesome drink:
 - It has 2X the cranberry juice of leading "diet" juices
 - 40% less sugar than other brands, and naturally sweetend with Truvia and just a touch of sugar
 - NO artificial flavors or preservatives

Can it get any better?  Besides Cranberry Juice already having tons of health benefits, Old Orchard has made Cranberry Juice healthier by cutting back their sugar and loading it with more of the actual fruits juice! 

Now being the holidays are here, and the cold weather has come to stay, I had to try something a little new with Cranberry Naturals.  I decided to make my own Wassail, completely experimental with no recipe to guide me (I LOVE recipes and rarely venture away from them).  Oh, and if you're wondering what Wassail is, it's like Hot Apple Cider, but has more fruits and spices in it. One of my favorite Christmas Carols is Here We Come A Wassailing, although some sing it as Here We Come A Caroling. That is the only word that has been changed. Not sure why, but there's a little Christmas fact for you!

Right back to my Wassail.  I made it up last night, and it was so delicious! The kids loved watching it simmer, and enjoyed drinking it as well.

Home Maid Simple's Cranberry Wassail
Ingredients:
64 oz Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals Original
6 oz Old Orchard Frozen Apple Concentrate
1 Gala Apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 Orange, juiced
1 Orange, sliced
2 Cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp Allspice

Directions:
In a large pot, mix all ingredients together. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, let simmer about 20 minutes. Serve warm.  You can either pull the fruit pieces out, or enjoy with the wassail. The kids escpecially had fun seeing apples and oranges inside their drinks. For large holiday parties, I suggest doubling the recipe.  Enjoy!


Guess what?! I have a giveaway for you!!!  Old Orchard is giving away coupons for FREE Cranberry Naturals to 5 of my lucky readers!  Each winner will receive 2 coupons for FREE Cranberry Naturals as well as 2 $.50 cents off coupons!  That's 4 coupons each for 5 Winners!!
All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter Form below!
(If the form is not reloading, or the wrong giveaway is showing, just click the title of this post, or refresh your page)
*I was provided with Old Orchard Cranberry Naturals to review and give my honest opinion. All opinions shared are my own.




Tuesday Tips - The Amazing Bread Slice

Welcome to Tuesday Tips!

Have you ever taken a good hard look at your bread? Wonder what you can do with it other than eat it? No? Or do you throw away the heel because no one in your family likes it, especially the kids?
Ok, I know kind of random questions there, I mean who really wonders what they can do with food besides eat it. Bread is pretty amazing though!
For instance, if I place a slice of bread in a container of brown sugar, my brown sugar will stay soft! I hate going to use brown sugar (especially during this baking season) and find that I have to pull out a pick ax to get a few grains. 

While browsing pinterest I came across another way to use a slice of bread!

If you bake a cake the night before you want to use it, and leave it on the counter overnight. You probably worry about it going stale. If you just put a slice of bread on top of it, it will keep the staleness away.  Apparently it works on muffins and cupcakes too, but I'm guessing you'd need to use a couple slices to cover a whole batch of those.
I haven't tried this yet, but I just bought some round cake pans from pampered chef, so a cake is in our near future. The science behind it though, makes perfect sense to me. The cake, like the brown sugar, draws on the moisture from the bread. I don't recommend eating the bread after using it for these tips, as it will be stale! It would probably make some great French Toast though!
 
link up your tips with Confessions of a Frugal Mind

Monday, November 28, 2011

Meal Plan Monday 11/28



Monday - Chicken and Stuffing. This may change though, since Mark isn't feeling too great today
Tuesday - Tuna Helper
Wednesday - Bean and Cheese Burritos
Thursday - Soup and hot cocoa. Perfect mood setting for putting up our Christmas decor!
Friday - Church Christmas Party. I'm taking some form of potatoes
Saturday - leftovers

Last week, I did hardly any cooking, since we were out of town for Thanksgiving. I did however, make some fun treats inspired by Pinterest!

(this was the first pie to go!)

Flirty Aprons Cyber Monday

www.FlirtyAprons.com

Don't miss Flirty Aprons Cyber Monday Sale!  40% off all purchases, plus FREE Shipping!!!
Aprons are great to have especially during the holiday season, but Flirty Aprons make wearing them as much fun as the baking (my personal opinion here!)
So don't miss out on this one day only sale!
Use code CYBERFLIRTY at checkout to receive the 40% off discount and Free Shipping!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Now that I'm home, I can share some pictures from our Thanksgiving! Sadly my parents computer felt the need to crash anytime I tried to upload a photo, so I gave up and enjoyed the many days with family and friends this week.
I hope you all had a wonderful week.
I am so thankful for my beautiful and fun children! We spent Wednesday at Gardener Village looking for elves.
I am thankful for a wonderful husband, who is a great dad! He held Princess R for quite some time to help her get a nap in Thanksgiving. Aww!
I am thankful for my parents. Without them and the example they set, I wouldn't know what I was doing.
I am thankful for my extended family, and that many of us were able to get together during this holiday season.  Again, for my mom, as she helped the Princesses make these fun turkey table settings.
I am thankful for good food, and great cousins. Yes my cousins aren't much older than my girls, about twice the age of Princess C. Princess V and Princess C felt so special getting to sit at an all girls table with these fabulous girls.

Most importantly though, as we go into this Holiday Season, I am thankful for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For the restored gospel that has taught my family, and continues to teach me about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him I am thankful for everything in my life, for I know without Him, none of it would matter.
Birth of Christ
mormon jesus christ Second Coming

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quilted Euphoria Sponsor Spotlight



I'm pleased to share with you all Amber from the Quilted Euphoria etsy shop and blog.  She is offering a tote bag as part of the Best Gifts of 2011 giveaway, so make sure you go enter through the button on the left!

Amber lives in Utah (turns out pretty close to my parents!), and loves quilting.  No one can say it better than the person themselves, so here's a little snippet from Amber's about me page.

Hello world, I'm Amber and I'm addicted to quilting! Not just quilting as I've come to find out recently, but I am developing a love for all things crafty! I have been quilting since I was 19, and crafting for...well however long it's been since I started this blog! I was so inspired as a child watching my grandmother quilt that I decided to do it myself, and that as they say, was that.Then I discovered blogging and the insanity really took hold. And here I am!

I have really enjoyed getting to know Amber through our separate blogs and her Quilted Euphoria shop.  Like Amber, I learned quilting from my grandmother as well. Unlike Amber, I did not take it up as a hobby.  I periodically help tie quilts for our church, but until I met Amber, that was the extent of my "quilting". Thanks to Amber I did recently make another small scale quilt, and shared the tutorial of that on her blog.  On her blog, Amber also hosts a Weekend Wow Me Party, where you can link up and show off different crafts you have made. I've gotten so many ideas from those links, I need to stop browsing them and get crafting!  

Now, if you're like me, you love quilts, especially in the winter time, but you don't want to spend the time, or have the time to make one yourself. Amber takes custom orders, and I'm sure she would be thrilled to put something special together for you! Quilts make great Christmas gifts, Wedding Gifts, baby shower gifts, and going to college gifts!  Really, I don't think you could ever go wrong giving a quilt as a gift!  Just look at some of Amber's handiwork - 


Don't forget to enter the Best Gifts of 2011 giveaway to win a quilted tote from Quilted Euphoria, plus many other amazing prizes!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kitchen Faucet Upgrade

Back in April, on one of the first nights in our new home, I came across a great giveaway! Hosted by Krista at Heavenly Savings, she was giving away a Pfister Faucet.  We didn't particularly like our current faucet, and so I entered. Never in a million years did I believe I would actually win that giveaway! So about a week later, when our faucet sprung an unfixable leak, we went ahead and upgraded.  Shortly after that, Krista sent me an email letting me know I had won the Pfister Faucet!  I was beyond shocked, and figured it had to be Murphy's Law, since we already got a pretty nice faucet.
It was close to Mothers Day, and I decided the Pfister Faucet would make the perfect gift for my mom. See last summer (2010) I was caring for my grandma at my parents while they went on a month long vacation. While they were gone, their faucet sprung a leak, but it was fixable. Unfortunately I, nor my parents neighbor, were the best fix it people to call. We did manage to fix the leak, but at the expense of switching the hot and cold, and losing part of the faucet (not important, but it looked kind of ugly). Take note of the picture below, by the faucet's handle.
I was pretty sad, and felt that I "broke", my parents faucet. So when I had the chance to give them a new faucet (yes they continued to use this one for the next year after it's uglification), I could hardly contain my excitement.  I waited, and waited and waited some more. When no faucet showed up, I contacted Krista at Heavenly Savings to see if there was a problem with the shipment.  She was sad to hear I had not yet received the faucet and got to work on it immediately! After months of back and forth between myself and Krista, and Krista and Pfister, I finally received the beautiful new faucet a couple weeks ago! I am so grateful to Krista for not giving up, and making sure her sponsor fulfilled their end of the deal. She truly knows what it takes to be a good blogger, and how to connect with her readers.
OH you, want to see the new faucet?  I gave my parents the faucet as a very late mothers day and fathers day gift. An on time birthday gift for my dad, and an early Christmas gift for the house.

Please, go check out Heavenly Savings for all her current giveaways, and the many deals she is always posting! Let's show an amazing blogger some blogging love!
(and thanks Krista, winning this faucet addicted me just a tad to blog giveaways for good! Turns out even the simplest of us have a chance of winning some amazing prizes.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Pots Boiling Over?

Welcome to Tuesday Tips!  If you haven't noticed from the past few posts, I've fallen in love with Pinterest (follow me, I'll follow you!).  I've even created a pin board dedicated to all kinds of tips that I'll be sharing with you on Tuesday Tips!
I felt this particular tip would come in the most handy this week, as many of us will be spending lots of time in the kitchen, hoping not to burn anything. 
Did you know that if you put a wooden spoon over a boiling pot, it won't boil over?

Although I found this on pinterest, it was pinned from another fun blog A Small Snippet.
I have yet to try this, but I plan on using it the next time I'm boiling something.  My question is, will a bamboo spoon work? Many of my spoons are bamboo. 

We're linking up to Confessions of a Frugal Mind

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 11/21 Thanksgiving Week


This week I'm not really planning any menus.  We'll be with family almost the whole week, so I don't know what we'll be eating, other than Thanksgiving Dinner at my Aunt's house.
So instead of sharing my non-existant menu plan for the week, I'll just share my pinned mouthwatering desserts I'm going to attempt making this week.

mmm, chocolate, pumpkin, salted caramel cupcakes!
Just recently some of my cousins were diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Although I know my aunt will be making items they can eat, I wanted to try my hand at some gluten free foods as well.
Flourless Chocolate Cookies




Flourless Chocolate Cake
 And this I'm thinking of making for Princess C's preschool Thanksgiving party tomorrow

I want to know! What are you eating this week?  Making anything special? Also, if anyone has any tips for cooking for Celiac disease, I'd love to hear them! 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Thrift Finds

We had a very lazy Saturday! I took one Princess and did some grocery shopping, and Mark took the other 2 and got some school work done. Just before lunch a couple came over to look at our Breakfast Nook. They've just moved up here to go to college, and were in need of some furnishings.  They were so sweet and friendly, and so in love with my breakfast nook.  If I had to sell it (and I did have to) it was a couple that loved it like I did who I wanted to have it.  YAY! So we made some money off of that, and Mark immediately decided he wanted some chairs for our new kitchen table.  We've been using folding chairs. Besides being kind of ugly around a kitchen table, they weren't all that comfortable or safe with kids climbing all over them. So I sent Mark to the local thrift store, Deseret Industries, to see what he could find. I suggested he look for a small couch as well to give us some seating in the family room.With only spending $10 more than we made off the table, he came home with some chairs that look like they were made for our table, and a corner piece from a couch sectional, that is extremely comfy!
$20 deal on the couch! Mark and I fit perfectly for some late night cuddling by the fire.  I may find myself sleeping on this as the pregnancy gets more uncomfortable as well. Yeah it's THAT comfy!

$10 deal per chair, and we got 4! They are slightly lighter than the table, but not enough to matter. We sat down for dinner, and again the level of comfort rose so much! Mark even hung out after he was done eating for some good family conversation. These plus the folding chairs gives us enough chairs to have company over as well!

Heely's, the shoes with wheels Review

"Heelys are the original shoe with wheels in the heels that allow the user to transition from a walk to a roll by shifting weight to the heel. Users can also transform Heelys into street shoes by removing the wheels."

I am having a hard time getting used to these wheeled shoes. Heelys sent me a pair to try and out, and I was pretty excited to act like a kid again! Turns out my balance, especially when pregnant is not very good.

I love the look of my Heelys. There are so many different styles to choose from, and sizes range from kids to adult.  When Mark and I got married, he had a pair of Heelys and I just laughed at them, because to me they were a kids shoe.  I've learned differently.  I personally think it would be a blast to get some Heelys for the whole family.  You see families biking together, roller blading, and going on walks. I think the next new thing will be Heely family outings! 

When I pulled my Heelys out to try out, I showed Princess V. You can't really see the wheels, so at first she wasn't too interested. Then I started rolling them around the floor. Her eyes about bugged out, and she excitedly exclaimed "MOM do those have wheels?!!" followed by "Can I try them?"  I have a hard time saying no, so of course I let her try them on.
That is the look of pure joy! She then insisted I try them on as well. Sorry no picture. I will be using my Heelys more as a street shoe until I have a bit more of my balance back. I may find next summer that going for walks with the stroller is more fun with my own set of wheels!


Click here for Skate 101 - Video's for how to's, tips, tricks, and safety with your Heelys
Click here to shop for Heelys
Don't miss a thing by following Heelys on Facebook
Hang out on Twitter with Heelys
And watch more vidoes on the Heelys youtube channel


*I was provided with a pair of Heelys shoes for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Snowflakes

Looks like Get to know me Better Thursday is being put on hold while I am a Reader not a Writer hosts the Gratitude Giveaways (sorry I'm not participating this year).  So make sure you head over to her blog and follow the linky for tons of book related Giveaways!!

Instead of answering questions about me, I thought I'd show you a fun "craft" the family did this week. Do you remember this awesome window decoration I showed you?
We changed it up a bit, and made paper snowflakes instead.  It was a lot of fun, good scissor skills for the Princesses, and a wonderful activity to spend family time together.
So not quite as pretty and colorful as the ornament balls, but the Princesses love it. We also hung them around the heater vent, so when that turns on it blows the snowflakes around. 

(and in case you're wondering, this breakfast nook is still up for sale. let me know if you're interested!)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One day One Hour! Be Happy On Purpose!!

Do you remember when I reviewed the book Happy on Purpose by Diana Fletcher?  I still love this book, and have made it a part of my early morning studies, alongside my Scripture reading.
Well let me tell you, if you want this book, for yourself or a friend, NOW, today, in 1 hour! is the time to buy it!  From 1:00pm to 1:59pm EST when you buy Happy on Purpose print copy through Amazon.com you'll be receiving BONUS gifts worth over $400!!  What will you get?

1. Exclusive Happy On Purpose Audio
2. 20% off coupon to the January 2012, virtual retreat
3. A month of happiness journal pages
4. The 6 secrets of permanent weight loss by Laura Crooks
5. Feng Shui video with Carole Hyder
6. Thirty Organizing Tips to eliminate clutter E-Book
7. The Simple Steps to Rapid Rapport: How to talk to anyone, anywhere, about anything by Sharon Saylor
8. Click! unlock you soul's code to Business Success by Karyn Pettigrew
9. How to Read Anyone in 10 minutes or less by Nadia Tumas

These are all digitial copies and will be sent within 24 hours to your email.  Buy one for you, a friend, family member! There is NO LIMIT on how many books you can buy, and with each purchase you will get these freebies, so whoever you may be purchasing them for, can also get the freebies!!!

Remember this deal only lasts for 1 hour TODAY, so don't miss it!  Go HERE and follow the links

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Miss Princess Tutu Review


April is the creator of little Miss Princess tutu, and she does an amazing job! So good a job in fact that TLC's Quints by Surprise were seen wearing Little Miss Princess Tutu's!  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review an LMP tutu.  I've got 3 little Princesses of my own, and tutu's are all the rage! I've tried making my own tutu's (really who hasn't), and honestly they just never turned out looking like the other ones I see out there. They take a lot of time and patience to get just right! 
Helping my princesses dress up, and watching as they play hard in their new LMP tutu, I know that it was made with care, precision, and lots of love!
Of course the camera came out, and she had to "show my moves!" Despite being tossed around the house, worn by 3 Princesses, and never put away, this Little Miss Princess Tutu, still looks brand new to me!  Thanks April, for letting my Princesses enjoy a quality made tutu! 
I just love browsing through the LMP tutu online catalog and seeing the other beautiful tutu's and pettiskirts!!!
Simply Sweet Portrait, 22 inches-
Ally Girl Red Ribbon Pettiskirt-
Yeah I totally want that pettiskirt! How adorable!!!
These would make great Christmas gifts, especially if you're doing a dress up box! They'd also be great for that Family photo shoot we all do at Christmas time!

Don't forget! You can enter to win your own custom Little Miss Princess tutu by checking out the Best Gifts of 2011 Giveaway!
Current Giveaway!

Tuesday Tips - Plastic pie lids

It's time for another Tuesday Tip! I'm thrilled to have found Tip Junkies Tip Me Tuesday to link up with! So if you're visiting from Tip Junkie, thanks for stopping by! 
Tip Junkie handmade projects

I've been wanting to get this tip out to you guys for awhile, but somehow everytime Tuesday popped around, I kept forgetting. I blame it on my scrambled pregnancy brain.
I personally, love french toast! I would eat it for breakfast every morning, if I could. My biggest struggle with making French toast, is finding the right sized bowl, to soak the bread in. All my bowls curved too soon, or were enormously huge.  I remember my mom using pie tins growing up. They really are the perfect size. I just don't own any pie tins (I do have a deep dish stone pie plate).  I love those premade graham cracker pie crusts though, and around the holidays, I have an abundance of them. One year, I tried using the empty foil pie tin for my french toast, only to realize a little too late, when I cut the pie, I also cut little holes in the foil. 
This year, it dawned on me though! The pies come with a plastic lid! Normally, I open the pie shell, toss the plastic lid, and usually have no leftover pie. This year, I had some leftover pie, and so I had kept the lid. And then, voila! I realized it was the right size (obviously since it's the same size as the pie tin itself) for French Toast! 
So this year, don't throw those plastic pie lids away during your holiday baking. Hold on to them, and you've got instant French Toast soaking bowls. If you make a lot of pies, like me, you could even dispose after each use, saving the washing time. Or you could continue to use forever (which is what I'll be doing).

Now go enjoy some pie and French toast! Together if you really feel like it.  I might add here, that apple pie spice makes a great substitution for cinnamon when making French Toast!

I'm also linking up over at

Monday, November 14, 2011

Meal Plan Monday 11/14


Last weeks menu fell through the cracks! I just got so busy with other things, and ended up improvising at the last minute most days.  It didn't help I also forgot some of the ingredients for last weeks menu when I went grocery shopping. Aw well, it happens. This week should be much better!

Monday - Cheesy Broccoli soup in bread bowls
Tuesday - Pasta and Aspargus
Wednesday - Chicken Stir Fry
Thursday - Eating at my parents: Mark will be on his own
Friday - Smoky Black bean Chicken wraps
Saturday - leftovers

What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sentimental Sunday - Naps

Naps have never meant much to me. I don't remember taking them as a child. I do remember having sick days, where my mom would have us lay down, and try to nap, but I never could. Something about knowing the sun was up, my body would not let me take naps. Now that I've become a mom, I love naps! Although my kids all gave up naps at a young age, Princess R is still taking them, but they are getting shorter. 
On Friday this week, during Princess R's nap, I cuddled with the other two on the couch and read stories. After 3 short picture books I could not keep my eyes open much longer. See I've been trying to follow the advice in Proverbs 31, that a woman arise while it is still night to make meat for her household. I have been getting up at 4:30 all week.  Sadly, I'm not as good at going to bed early, and by friday it was catching up. So I asked the Princesses if it was ok if I took a nap. They happily obliged, and colored while still cuddling with me, while I dozed in and out.
Today, Princess R woke from her nap much earlier than normal, and quite unhappy. I asked Mark if he'd like to get her, because I know sometimes just seeing him Princess R will get very happy.  30 minutes later, I had not heard anything from her room, nor seen the pair. So I went to check on them. I found this
ok not a great picture. I was trying not to use a flash so they would not wake up. But what you might make out in the above picture, is Princess R wrapped in her favorite blanket, sound asleep on Mark who was also sound asleep in the recliner.  Awe, my heart melted!
I love the memories made when we take time to slow down and spend time, even if it's napping, with our loved ones. These are memories to cherish.
Sit Relax and Read

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