Home Maid Simple: March 2012

Friday, March 30, 2012

Foodie Friday - Grandma's Recipes and a winner

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and
If you've been following along this last week, you'll know that my Grandma passed away last Thursday. She went peacefully in her sleep.  I've been thinking about her all week, and all the memories I have her. Although the one thing most people remember about my Grandma are her Quilts, I have some memories of her food as well.
One of Grandma's best recipes was for pie! No one could make a pie like my Grandma could. To avoid the War, my Grandpa took a job at a ranch, and my Grandma became cook for the ranchers. She made a fresh pie every day to serve with dinner, and as a result had a very tasty pie recipe.
I'm extremely sad to say I can't share her recipe with you. Turns out, she did it all by look and feel, and no one has a recipe. I can tell you however that one of the main ingredients in her crust was Lard. 
So if anyone out there has a pie crust recipe with Lard in it, please do share with me!
Then I started thinking about other foods she would make or eat regularly. Potatoes! Growing up her dad would eat potatoes every morning for breakfast. She loved some fried potatoes, baked potatoes, and potato casseroles. Specifically scalloped potatoes. Again, I have no recipe.
Finally I remembered the perfect food memory with a recipe to share with you.
A Tomato!
I kid you not, my Grandma liked to eat a slice of tomato with just a little salt. As a child I thought this was the weirdest way to eat a tomato. Don't get me wrong, I liked tomatoes, but they belong in a salad- with lettuce, and carrots and cucumbers. Not all alone on a plate.  Turns out she had a good thing going, tomatoes are pretty good all alone.
I'm going to take todays recipe one step further for you though. When I married Mark I became aware of another very odd way of eating tomatoes. A tomato sandwich. No bacon or lettuce with it. Just tomato. Turns out Mark knew that tomatoes were good without anything extra.
Tomato Sandwich
Ingredients
-small Roma Tomato, sliced
-2 slices bread
- miracle whip or mayo
- salt and pepper
Directions
Choose your bread. Any bread works. My personal favorite though is an Onion Bagel.  Spread some Miracle Whip on one side of each bread slice.  Add tomato slices to your hearts desire. Season with a little salt and pepper. Sit back and enjoy a very refreshing sandwich.
 Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
If you linked up a recipe last week you were entered into a giveaway for a $25 Walmart Gift Card. Unfortunately I can only give it to a US resident (so sorry!).  Thanks to Random.org our winner is
Amanda from At the Red Table
with her recipe for Pasta e Fagioli
Thanks for linking up Amanda!!
Now it's your turn!  Please join Diane and I in sharing some of your favorite recipes on the linky below. Feel free to link up as many recipes as you like, as long as you haven't linked them with us before. Also if you'd like to grab our button and post it on your site, we'd love you forever! (OH and it will be smaller when you paste it, I just like mine big).
Happy Recipe Hunting

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Charity Hopping Around the World - Giveaway

Welcome to the Charity Hopping Around the World Event
Hosted by
and

Each blog participating in this hop has chosen a charity to feature along with a giveaway.
I have chosen to tell you a little bit about a charity near to my heart.

3 years ago Princess C was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata.  Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the bodies hair. We became concerned when it looked like Princess C had rolled in a dogs bed - only it was her hair she was covered in. The doctor found about a quarter size bald spot on the back of her head. After a treatment of steroids her hair stopped falling out and began to grow back. Unfortunately steroids is not a cure, but it can help. We've been lucky enough to not have a recurrence, but it could come back any day.
There has yet to be a cure for Alopecia, or even a known cause for the disease.

The Children's Alopecia Project aka CAP is devoted specifically to helping children learn to live with this disease.
Although a cure would be great CAP's main goals are to
-Build Self-Esteem
-Provide Support
-Raise Awareness

You can follow CAP on facebook, twitter and on their Blog.
If you feel like you can you can make a donation to CAP HERE

Sponsoring Home Maid Simple in getting the word out about The Children's Alopecia Project are
Kimochis - Toys with Feelings Inside
and
Chilanthropy - The act of relaxing while being philanthropic

I reached out to Kimochis because I loved their concept, and feel they do for all children what CAP does for children with Alopecia. Kimochis toys are not just a toy but a way to help children understand and communicate their feelings.  You can read my review HERE.

Chilanthropy I knew I wanted to work with as soon as I read what Chilanthropy means.  Owner and founder, Rey, has devoted his business to helping charities around the world while creating wonderfully Eco-friendly candles. You can read my review HERE

Use the rafflecopter below for a chance at winning a Kimochis Cloud and your choice of candle from Chilanthropy.
Giveaway open to US only (sorry worldwide friends).

Featured Blog - Mumfection

Some bloggy friends and I are in a group over on facebook and we thought it would be fun to do a little feature on each other. We all asked a few questions and now we get to see the answers!

Today I'm featuring Eschelle from the blog Mumfection
You can connect with Eschelle on facebook and twitter!

1) If you were to re-live one moment in your life up to this point, what moment would that be?
I think I would re-live one day back in high school around spring break so I know I won’t be in class. Why?? Cause I could and wouldn’t it be great to be a teen again?? Just for a day though…

2) Funniest poop story... I know you have them.
Eldest used it as play dough once in his crib, youngest used it as paint… gross… just gross…

3) What's your favorite blog post you've written? link please!
This one is so hard! I would have to say it was one of my firsts describing a date hubby and I had. http://www.mumfection.com/2010/09/you-would-have-called-cab.html

4) What are your hobbies?
I paint using watercolors, HUGE movie buff, audiobooks I am soo HUGE on audiobooks. I would have to say that blogging would be a hobby but it would be more under the passion or “work” category.

5) What household chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Hands down, folding laundry, I loathe it!! In fact currently you can find a HUGE pile of clean clothes in my room and a pile of dirty ones. I hate folding so much I would rather hunt for kids’ socks in a MOUND of clothing than organize it. I should pay someone to do it for me…. Hubby also hates it, doesn’t work out so well for mum.

6) What story does your family always tell about you?
Oh umm… I dunno I don’t really talk to my family. I think my sister would tell stories about what a terror/demon I was. I have heard her describe me as both Lilo and Stitch, evil like stitch and morbid like lilo! I must have been a LOVELY little sister!
Samantha's Day

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Superior Nut Giveaway!

Do you like nuts? Do you like old time candies? You should check out Superior Nut!
Superior Nut has been around since 1929 putting together New Englands best gourmet nuts, dried fruits and candies. 
All Natural Nut Gift Basket (2 Pound Basket)My personal favorite nut is a salted cashew. I just love them! While browsing Superior Nut's website though I found some other products I would love to try!  Things like, oh Peanut Butter Topping!
Really that was just a brilliant idea! Instead of trying to melt your peanut butter (which by the way, NEVER put a jar of pb in the microwave, you might blow it up.....).  Peanut Butter Topping is already melted perfectly for pouring on top of your favorite ice cream.  I'm in love people!
Gummy Apple Rings (1 Pound Bag)
My next stop while browsing Superior Nut was the candy section. What can I say, I like candy. OH the excitement came as I stumbled across Gummy Apple Rings! Have you ever had these? By far these are my absolute favorite gummy snack, and I haven't seen them since I was a kid!  I gave Mark a none so subtle hint that these would make a great mothers day, birthday, Christmas gift.

What would you buy from Superior Nut? Are you a Nut person? Candy lover? or do you like Dried Fruits (not really my favorite, but I know some people who love them!)?

You have the chance to win a $25 gift code to use at Superior Nut!  Just fill out the rafflecopter below
*I was not compensated for this post. All opinions and ideas are my own. Gift code is not valid on shipping charges.

Remembering Grandma

Last thursday my dad called to let me know my Grandma had passed away that morning. She laid down for a nap, and was gone. Throughout my life there were just a few years here and there when my Grandma wasn't living with us. She's always been there, and been a part of my life. My Grandma just turned 94, two weeks ago.  She was an amazing woman, who I had great respect for. I will miss her immensely, and am sad that I didn't take more time to spend with her these last few months. I wish I had paid more attention to her quilting, and let her teach me the fine techniques that go into a hand quilted quilt. I tried last summer to learn crochet from her, but she was already declining, and it became too frustrating for both of us.
I will always treasure the quilt she helped me piece as a pre teen, and driving around to yard sales to buy random little treasures. Grandma was a hard worker, and always very independent.

Princess V helping Grandma piece a quilt.
Seeing Princess R for the first time

At Mark's graduation

I am so grateful for the time I had with my grandma.  I will miss her terribly, but I know one day we will see each other again. I am very grateful for the knowledge I have of families being together forever. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tuesday tip - Making time for Family

One of the biggest things we can do to make sure our house feel like a home is to make time for family. Last week I decided I personally needed to take less time online and spend more time with my kids. I easily got distracted keeping up with online friends and family. I love my friends, and my family far away, but I needed to reprioritize this week, and spend more of it with the people right here. 
Here's some tips for cutting back your online time

- Set a timer. Decide how much time you can spend online and set a timer. When it goes off, shut the computer down.

- Turn the computer off at night. In the morning, don't turn it on. Get dressed, eat breakfast with your kids, do some household chores. By not having the computer on first thing in the morning, you'll be less tempted to sit down "just for a minute to check on my friends". We all know that minute turns into much longer.

- Plan! Find some events going on in your town, and get out of the house! Plan in advance, so you have a couple days of things to do. If nothing is happening, go for a walk, hit up the library, invite a friend over!

Since taking time off the worldwide web this weekend I've found myself happier, my kids enjoying more productive activities, and a better bond and communication between us. Here's just some of the fun things we've done!
Had a family barbeque

Dressed up and played with Legos

Water Colered

And took a nap on Daddy.

So this week, slow down. Re-evaluate your time and reconnect with your family. Have a great week everyone!  I leave you with one of my favorite Mormon-Ad's!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Kimochis - Sponsor Spotlight


Kimochis - Toys with feelings inside.

These are my new favorite stuffed toy! If you have kids, you know how fast those stuffed animals pile up. Then you start wondering how often your kids play with them. You want to get rid of them, but you find your just as attached as your kids (OK maybe it's just me, lol). 

Kimochis are one stuffed toy you will all be attached to, and your kids will continuously play with. Each Kimochis comes with feelings tucked into a little pouch.  These toys can help you teach your children about different their different feelings.
Our feelings I think are one of the hardest things to figure out, and then express to others.  Even as an adult I sometimes struggle communicating just what I'm feeling.
Having a Kimochis to guide your child in what they are feeling is an amazing new tool for parents, and fun toy for kids.
We received Kimochis Cloud for review. Tucked inside his pouch were the feelings Happy, Sad and Mad.  Having these little plush feelings has led to many discussions, especially with Princess V (5years old) in how to express her feelings. Tantrums have become few and further between as she now can tell us what she is feeling. Instead of throwing a fit, she tells us

"I'm sad"
or
"I'm mad!"

We still get tears, and some meltdowns, but we are better able to understand how she is feeling, and what may be causing her to feel that way. Our home has been much more pleasant since Cloud became part of our family.


Princess V absolutely loves Cloud! She even insists on sleeping with him every night. One night this came in very useful. Princess V woke up and was scared of having bad dreams. So we pretended Cloud was a "dream" Cloud. We put on his happy face, and talked about happy things Cloud could help Princess V dream of. When she woke up in the morning, Princess V was very excited to tell me about the Princesses she dreamed of thanks to Cloud!

You can purchase your own Kimochis by visiting their website HERE
Follow Kimochis on Facebook and Twitter too!

OR come back Friday to enter the Charity Hop Around the World where you can enter to win your own Kimochis Cloud!

*I was provided with a product for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday


Well, this is going to be a very interesting week here at our home. There is a lot of unknowns thanks to baby Prince here and my Grandma's funeral. So I haven't been able to plan a menu like I would've liked to. Here is what I do have though!

Monday - BLT Pasta Salad (plans changed last week, so it's getting bumped)
Tuesday - home made pizza
Wednesday - Hamburger Helper
Thursday - Possibly fast food on the way to Grandma's viewing. OR Ramen Noodles
Friday - More than likely eating at my parents after the funeral. Otherwise sandwiches.
Saturday - Dinner at my parents
Sunday - Sloppy Joes

Edit - I have not had baby Prince yet. Sorry for any confusion!  Unfortunately my kids have all decided to come at different times during pregnancy. So I've gone almost exactly at 40 weeks, at 37 weeks, and at 41 weeks. It makes it hard to plan anything these last few weeks and days, including meals.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pillsbury Bake-Off: 100's of recipes


Every year Pillsbury has a Bake-Off contest. Well, did you know that if you visit Bakeoff.com you can get the recipes from 100's of finalists?  I've spent the last week just browsing the site, letting my mouthwater, lol.  I ended up picking 3 different recipes I really wanted to try out soon! 
Soon came sooner than expected, lol. I went to Walmart yesterday to grab some ingredients.  On the way home, I heard a pop! I thought maybe something just rolled out of the bag, but when I got home I found my Pillsbury breadsticks had popped open (thank sudden heat wave!).  With 20 minutes before I needed to pick up Princess V I whipped up a batch of these Open Sesame Pick-Up Sticks.
Oh my goodness they were so delicious!!  The kids didn't seem to care for the sesame seeds on them, but Mark and I sure enjoyed them!  I'll definitely be making these again!

Also on my list to try out soon are these
White Chocolate-Strawberry Yogurt Parfaits

and this
Peanut Butter Cookie Granola


Check out BakeOff.com for many many more yummy recipes. Then before you head to the store, check Walmart's Everyday Saver for coupons on some of the main ingredients in many of these recipes.

To get you baking some of these yummy recipes, you can enter to win a $25 Walmart Gift card Here

*The gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided by Walmart and General Mills, through MyBlogSpark.  I was compensated with a gift card to try out the products. All opinions are my own!

Foodie Friday - Freezer Meals and a Giveaway!

Hosted by
and
Have you ever put together some Freezer Meals?  For years I've heard of freezer meals, and I always wanted to try them out, but I had no idea where to start. I had questions like "At what point in the cooking do I freeze it?" and "Do I cook it longer or let it thaw before cooking?". 
Back when I had just Princess V and Princess C, I decided I wanted to try my hand at this freezing idea. So I started with dinner rolls. I actually completely figured them out on my own, and was very successful with my first try.
And then I stopped. Actual dinners just sounded too difficult to put together, and I really didn't mind being in the kitchen (I still don't!).  Jump to today though, and I've now got Princess R running around my feet, and Baby Prince getting ready to make his appearance. I decided it was time to stop slacking, and get some food put together so we wouldn't rely on pizza every night that I don't have the energy or desire to cook.
Let me tell you, it has been fun!!  I have been putting stuff in the freezer all week, and I'm running out of room.  A deep freezer would be so nice, except trying to figure out where to put it. So I make do with my little above the refrigerator freezer.  I started with cinnamon rolls, because really, cereal gets old, and warm cinnamon rolls are OH so good!  Then I jumped to some Chicken Tortilla Soup and Chicken Pot Pie. Tonight I made a double batch of lasagna and froze one. Tomorrow I plan on getting some bean burritos in there (they should fit!).
Freezing Dinner Rolls
(cinnamon rolls and any other bread will be the same process)
Choose your favorite dinner roll recipe. Follow the instructions up to shaping the rolls. Normally you will shape your rolls and let them rise before cooking. DO NOT LET THEM RISE! Once you shape the rolls place them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer.  After they've frozen sufficiently (2-3 hours), remove them from the baking sheet and put in gallon freezer bags. By freezing separately before the bags, the rolls should not stick together.
When you're ready to bake the rolls remove from the freezer. Let them thaw and rise until double in size. Bake according to original direction.
Freezing Soup
Make your desired soup according to directions. Leave off any garnishes, or items that could go soggy (in my case, the tortilla chips).  Cool it down in the freezer and then pour into freezer containers - gallon bags work, or air tight Tupperware.
When ready to eat, remove from freezer, dump into a pan and reheat.
Freezing Casseroles
This is similar to the soups. Mix up your casserole according to directions, but do not bake! Once the casserole is assembled, cover with foil, or lid if you have one for your dish (ha, I just realized I put foil on my lasagna, but I have a lid for that pan!).  Place in freezer.
When ready to cook, heat through. I would use the same temperature the recipe calls for, but it will need extra time to heat all the way through.
Now you know the secrets to Freezer Meals! It all seems pretty straight forward, but if you're anything like me, it seems pretty daunting that first time going at it.  Don't be afraid, and ask questions! There's a lot of info online too!
Giveaway Time!
Link up your recipes on the linky and you will have the chance to win a $25 Walmart gift card. Please make sure to use a valid email when adding your link so we can contact you!  The winner will be announced next Friday!
*Gift card provided by General Mills and Walmart through My Blog Spark

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chilanthropy - Sponsor Review

Chilanthropy - noun. The act of relaxing while being philanthropic

Chilanthropy is an eco-conscious company striving to make the world better, one candle at a time.  Founder Rey Herrerra came up with the idea of Chilanthropy when he co-hosted his friends baby-shower and made candles for all the guests.

In his own words Rey says
"I live my life eco and green. With 9 million+ neighbors every little bit counts! At home, everything possible is recycled, composted and I even keep a worm farm to eat unused food - providing fertilizer for the vegetable garden. With work, I'm doing my best to make sure that my business practices emulate my eco-conscious lifestyle. Minimal, recycled, recyclable, and compostable packaging helps offset this footprint. Eco-shipping is a little tricky - So I use green boxes and Milex packing peanuts that are made from corn and even edible!"

Not only is Rey aware of the planet and taking it upon himself to live a green lifestyle, but he is also aware of the many needs people around the world have. He has dedicated his products to make the planet better, and he uses the proceeds to donate to charities - making people's lives better.

Some of the charities Chilanthropy supports are

When I came across Chilanthropy, I knew I needed to contact Rey. I wish I had more resources to donate to charities, but I feel I can at least do my part in spreading the word about these great companies!
Talking to Rey has been a joy. You can really feel the passion he has put behind Chilanthropy. 
Rey sent me a Mexican Hot Chocolate candle to review, and if you come back March 30th, he is offering one up as a giveaway during the Charity Hop Around the World Event.

This candle smells amazing! I had started burning it one morning, but blew it out before running some errands. Shortly after I got home, we had an unexpected visitor stop by. One of the first things they asked was "what are you cooking? It smells delicious!"  So I got to tell them I wasn't cooking anything, it was a hot chocolate smelling candle, that hadn't even been burning for the last couple of hours!  

Head over to Chilanthropy and browse the different candles (I'm thinking the Grapefruit/Pomegranate is next on my list).
You can buy online, or see if there is location that sells Chilanthropy candles near you.
Or you can visit Chilanthropy on Facebook

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop
hosted by Kathy at I am a Reader not a Writer.

Part of spring cleaning, means going through our bookshelves (construction has helped with this too).  Throughout the hop you'll have many chances to win gently used books from some pretty avid readers.

Here on Home Maid Simple one winner will win the following 4 books
Water for Elephants

Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal
Transcendent: Tales of the Paranormal

Most of these I've read. I struggled with Water for Elephants, so I didn't finish that one. Evermore and Evangeline's Miracle I won from other bloggers, and truly enjoyed them, but want to pass them on.  Transcendent I read and reviewed (follow above link for my review). It is filled with lots of great short stories.

Giveaway is open to US residents only
(sorry shipping is just too much!)
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below
After you enter here, make sure to hop to all the other blogs for more books to win!

Menu Plan Monday


It's another Menu Plan Monday. I'm attempting to clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry this week, to make room for some freezer meals in the budget and in the freezer!

Monday - Egg Rolls and Fried Rice
Wednesday - Chimichungas's and Taquita's
Thursday - Lasagna (plus 1 for the freezer)
Friday - Baked Potato Bar
Saturday - BLT Pasta Salad
Sunday - Leftovers

Book Review and Giveaway: 3-2-1 Stop by Lorilee Lippincott

3-2-1 Stop: Stop running and start living By Lorilee Lippincot

About the author: Lorilee is a wife and mother of 2 kids. She with her family has decided to live a minimalist lifestyle and make life more about what really matters!

About the Book: (blurb from the 3-2-1 stop website) "3-2-1 Stop is a how-to memoir of learning to love simple living. Lorilee uses personal stories, as well as tips learned along the way, showing how to create a life that makes space for what is most important. Embracing minimalism, she tackles and teaches how to make the hard decisions of simplify the home as well as the schedule. She understands that a full life, really doesn't need to be that 'full' at all. Beyond that, Lorilee addresses the hidden emotional hoarding that keeps our souls running."

My Review: I've really enjoyed reading about Lorilee's journey to live a more simple lifestyle.  Although I don't quite agree with everything she has done in her life, that is the beauty of it. We are all different by nature.  I think every one can read 3-2-1 Stop and take something beneficial away from it. Reading through her first section on STUFF, got me really excited to start going through our house and start tossing..well..stuff!  I know we have an abundance of items that are rarely if ever used. Why do I still hold on to that? My rational is that I might one day find a use for it. Lorilee's helped me see that, I also might never use it, and the space is much more precious to me than the stuff.

I really think you have to read 3-2-1 Stop with an open mind, and willing to work it into your personality and lifestyle. For me, apartment living is not ideal. We did it for almost 6 years, and we weren't happy. We never felt like we had our own space, and for our family, we need our space. Plus, compared to the last apartment we were living in, home ownership actually saved us money, so we've been able to do more fun family activities then we could while renting.

The main point I feel Lorilee is trying to tell us all, is we need to stop valuing stuff, and things, and start living a full life with our families. Doing what makes us happy, instead of filling up our schedules every second of the day so we never have time to rest. I'm on a mission to live a more simple life, to enjoy my family more, and really look at the stuff I surround myself with.

You can find more about 3-2-1 Stop by visiting the book's site here http://321-stop.com/
You can also keep up with Lorilee's journey of simple living by visiting her blog here http://lovingsimpleliving.com

Lorilee is offering 3 of my readers a copy of 3-2-1 Stop
(ebook)
To enter use the Rafflecopter form below

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Foodie Friday - Pots of Gold

Hosted by
and

We'd love for you to join us each Friday in sharing recipes you've tried. Just grab the button, and place somewhere in your post or on your blog.
Tomorrow is St Patricks Day! Growing up it was never a huge holiday around our house. My mom would make green eggs and ham, and if we felt like it, we would wear green. Having the last name Greene, though, we usually got away with telling people we always wore the color.  Since having kids though, I've really gotten into celebrating even the smallest of holidays (my college roommate also absolutely adores St Pat's day, so it grew on me too).
This year, we're even having my baby shower on saturday. So I've been playing around with some fun treats we can serve, that would be appropriate for the wee ones.  My favorite is definitely the Orange Sorbet.  I love cold treats, and I love fruity flavors. This recipe is just as good as store bought, and you don't need any fancy equipment or ingredients!

Pots of Gold
recipe and photo from The Idea Room

Ingredients
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups fresh orange juice (I used Minute Maid's new Pure Orange Juice)

Directions
Mix the water and sugar in a pot on the stove. Simmer for 15 minutes to make a sugar water. Remove from heat and let cool. Add the orange juice, and mix well.
Now, if you have an ice cream maker you can use that per the instructions for your machine.
BUT if you're like me, and don't have an ice cream maker, just pop your mixture in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, give it a good stir. After about 2-3 hours it should be a pretty good frozen state for serving. If you're going to serve it at a later date, I suggest dividing it among serving dishes, before it's completely frozen. It will look real pretty once it's completely frozen in individual serving dishes.
For the baby shower, I'm trying to come up with some kind of dish to look like pots. I may make a run to the dollar store to see what I can find.

I don't know about you, but I'm not really a Corned Beef and Cabbage person. I've tried it, and I just don't care for it. I was so happy when Never a Dull Day in Poland linked up a recipe for Golabki.
It's Cabbage leaves stuffed with pork, bacon, onions and rice.  To me, it sounds and looks more appealing than Corned Beef and Cabbage.
Thank you for linking up
Never a Dull Day in Poland


Now it's your turn! Share with us your recipes!

Random Info About Me

Kelli, from Eat Pray Read Love tagged me in this fun About Me post.

More Bang for Your Bucks

She's asked some questions, and is waiting for my answers.  So here they are!

#1 - What is your favorite book ever?
 - This is always a hard question for me. I LOVE to read, and picking just one, is pretty hard. I think two of the greatest books you can ever read are The Book of Mormon and The Bible.
 - Fictional though, I would choose The Giver. It was the first dysopian style book I ever read, and I LOVED it. The whole concept behind this "perfect" world, and learning the truth and then acting on that truth just had me riveted. The Hunger Games Trilogy (so excited for the movie!) falls under this same dystopian theme, and the series has become another one of my all time favorites!

#2 - Do you greet the day or wish for a few more hours of sleep?
 - ummm, both? It really depends on how early I went to bed, whether any kids got up during the night, and how comfortable baby in the tummy let me sleep.  Generally I love mornings. I smile as I hear the birds singing, and see the sun shining through the windows. But somedays, what I wouldn't give for just a few more minutes of shut eye.

#3 - What color would you really want to paint your living room? Or, if you love your living room color, what color is it?
 - I don't mind the color we have. I don't know how to describe it really, it's an off white, tanish, cream color. We're painting our family room white though, and I have to say, I don't want it white. But for now, it's going to have to suffice.  Really I just want that room livable again, lol!

#4 - What is your favorite kind of shampoo/conditioner?
 - The kind on sale (does that help Kelli?).  Lately it's been Sauve - I stock up whenever I find them under $1.

#5 - What is your favorite etsy shop, and does she (or he!) sell?
 - I don't visit etsy as frequently as I used to :( Sad I know, but I had to stop my dreaming of wanting things I could not afford. A few that I still connect with on facebook though are
     - Saressa Designs.  She hand makes some beautiful jewelery (and I am lucky enough to own a necklace from her!)
     - Arnoldgirls.  I met her online through another social networking site, and just love her so much! She makes some really awesome paper crafts!

#6 - Have you met any of your blogger friends in real life that you didn't previously know?
 - Sadly, no :(  Amber, over at Quilted Euphoria, lives pretty near my parents, we just haven't been able to meet up yet.  I'm hoping to make it to a blog conference next year though, and meet lots of you!

#7 - What is one social issue that gets you revved up?
 - Education. All aspects. I'll try not to get into it.....oh who am I kidding, you brought it up Kelli!  Teachers are not responsible for your kids! Be the parent! Teach your kid right from wrong, and when they screw up, don't blame schools and the teachers! The majority of teachers are not in it for the money! Because unless they've been teaching for a long time, and live in a real ritzy area, teachers make less per hour than you pay a babysitter to watch your sleeping kids......ok I'm stopping now. It's a hot button for me.

#8 - What is your absolute favorite meal ever?
 - Easy - Chicken Cordon Bleu. Nothing beats mixing chicken, swiss, ham and a good sauce!

#9 - What is your least favorite chore?
 - Bathrooms! Oh I despise having to clean the bathrooms.

#10 - What is your favorite season and why?
 - Spring and fall. I really find them both similar.  Spring the birds are back bringing sunshine to the mornings. The flowers are blooming, and it's time to let in the fresh air again.  Fall, the leaves colors are changing, the weather is not too hot or too cold, and it's time to do some canning.

#11 - Do you prefer to be indoors or out?
 - Oh out definitely!  Fresh air just lightens the soul, and makes the whole day better!

How fun is that?! Now you know more about me! I'd love to see some of your answers to these questions. Leave a comment, or write up a post!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday Tip - Cleaning Microfiber Couches

Yes I know, it's Wednesday. I haven't lost complete track of days yet (or have I? calendars are brilliant inventions!).  I spent Monday and Tuesday morning testing out different cleaners on our Microfiber couch, so I could bring you this post. It took longer than I expected, but I got it done, and I'm here to let you in on some awesome tips!

If your kids are like normal kids, then your furniture probably starts to look something like this before you can even blink


I can't even believe looking at these pictures that I actually let it get this bad, and that I would actually have company over sitting on these! ahhh, bad housekeeper over here. Well I finally saw past my kids, and realized what had become of my sitting area. So off to work I went. I started with some cleaners I had in my cupboard.

I started with some EcoFresh Deodorizing Cleaner. It didn't seem to be doing much. So I pulled out my - 1 time purchase from a door to door salesman - Original Lavender Advanage The Wonder Cleaner Super Concentrated.  The claim was that it gets grease stains out like magic!  Too bad it doesn't take pen stains out of microfiber, because that would be a wonder.  Admittedly, it did lighten the pen, it just didn't come all the way out.
My next method of attack was removing the covers from the seat cushions. I threw the covers in the wash on Heavy soiled, high spin, warm water.  YES! Ok, again the pen didn't come out completely, but everything else did, and they look so much better!

Here is my #1 tip for Microfiber furniture - Buy pieces that have a zipper cover.  I wish the back cushions were removable for the same reason, but I guess I'll just have to spot clean them.

After going through the wash here is what my couch now looks like
Isn't she a beauty? ok I did just realize the cushion with pen was put on the other side, but you see the difference on the middle cushion? No more dark marks all over it. Absolutely wonderful to sit on! And really the cushion with the pen isn't nearly as noticeable.

So off to the arm and back cushions I went. I headed to pinterest for ideas.  The one "solution" I saw over and over again was Rubbing Alcohol. You take a white sponge (to avoid discoloration of your couch) and scrub the couch with rubbing alcohol.

I didn't have a white sponge, but I had some old green sponges that went to one of those dish scrubbers. They were brand new, but I had lost the scrubber somewhere along the line. I tested it out first just to make sure the green sponge was going to turn my couch green. it didn't, so off to scrubbing I went. Again, the alcohol helped lighten the pen marks, but didn't take them completely away. The rest of the arm looks nicer now though.

#2 Tip when cleaning Microfiber - if you can't remove the cushions, do not spot treat. You will need to wet your whole cushion to avoid leaving water marks.  It's more work, but it will be for nothing if you end up with large water marks all over your couch.


Good luck and Happy Cleaning!

*I'm working on spring cleaning tips and ideas. If you have any, and would like to be featured, please contact me at familyroom2@gmail.com

Monday, March 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 3/12

Last week we tried a Pork with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce. I LOVED it. I thought the strawberries would be a great addition for the kids. Turns out my kids prefer Pork over cooked strawberries. I don't mind really, because it means they got some meat in their diets. I also know if the strawberries hadn't been cooked, they would've been preferred over the pork. I love watching my kids enjoy good healthy food!

Monday - Home Made Pizza. No Bake Cookies
Tuesday - Mac and Cheese. I'll be at the doctors, so trying to make it easy for Mark!
Wednesday - Plum Pork
Thursday - Soup in bread bowls
Friday - Egg stuffed Potatoes
Saturday - Sugar crusted Vanilla French toast for breakfast.  Leftovers for dinner
Sunday - Slow cooker Chili
Saturday my sister in law is throwing me a baby shower. Since it's also St Patty's day, I'm going to be baking up some fun treats for it with the kids. Things like -
Sweet Pineapple Steawberry Spa Water

Orange Sorbet for pots of gold

Green thin mint cookie truffles

and a nice Rainbow Fruit Platter

What's on your menu this week?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Foodie Friday - Pork and Potatoes (w/linky)

Foodie Friday


It's funny, last night as I was thinking what recipe to share I started talking food with Mark. His first thought was a Plum Pork I had made years ago. We loved it so much, we had it probably monthly for awhile. Then I must have misplace the recipe when we moved, and had forgotten all about it. Well, it happens it was the exact recipe I  had started thinking about this week too!

So without further ado, I give you
Plum Pork

Ingredients
- Pork chops
- Plum sauce (usually found in the asian aisle at your grocery store)
- 1 Tbs worcestire sauce

Directions
Place the pork in a non-stick frying pan, over medium-low heat. Brown on one side, and then flip. Mix the plum sauce with the worcestire sauce. Spread the plum sauce on the cooked side of pork, while the other side cooks. Cook until middle is no longer pink. It really doesn't take too long.
What I love about this is you can adapt it to different cuts of pork. I'm adding it to next weeks menu on some pork ribs. Instead of browning on the stove top, I'll put it under the broiler.


Last week - Fun, Easy Recipes for Kids linked up
Red Potatoes
These are so easy, and should be fun to let my kids help out in the kitchen. Although we're not having Plum Pork tonight, we are having Pork with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce and these potatoes on the side! My mouth is already watering!

We'd love to see what's cooking in your kitchen!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2 New Disney Movies - Can't Wait!

I am really excited about the new Disney Movies coming out this year!
First up is the yearly Earth Day movie. This year it is Chimpanzee

Coming to theaters on Earth Day - April 20th

Disneynature takes moviegoers deep into the forests of Africa with “Chimpanzee,” a new True Life Adventure introducing an adorable baby chimp named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph.  Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family—including his mom and the group’s savvy leader — navigates the complex territory of the forest.  
 
The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimps, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimps, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever.  Directed by Alastair Fothergill (“African Cats” and “Earth”) and Mark Linfield (“Earth”), “Chimpanzee” swings into theaters on Earth Day 2012.

Second up is Disney/Pixar's Brave



Having 3 Princesses in the house, I am thrilled for this Female Heroine!  We're looking forward to watching this one!
Coming to theaters June 22nd

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Creativity Matters with Crayola

What a true statement! Creativity does matter! I try to be creative, I want to be creative. Sometimes my creativity is quickly tossed in the fireplace, where it will never be seen by anyone, and sometimes with the right inspiration and instructions from others it will hang above my kitchen table forever.  Instilling our kids with a creative sense, will help them achieve so much as they face problems and come up with solutions throughout their lives.

Crayola wants every child to be creatively alive, so they´re inviting parents "Inside the Crayon Box," for a special live chat with celebrities and trusted parenting experts that will inspire and spark ideas to expand your child´s creative thinking.
 The first "Inside the Crayon Box" live chat is TODAY at 9 p.m. EST.  Join Crayola and musician, children´s author and mom, Lisa Loeb for a 45-minute live streaming video chat on the Crayola Facebook Page. Lisa, best-known for her number one hit "Stay (I Missed You)," will share personal stories, practical advice and ways she brings a little creative play into every day for her daughter. Particpants will be able to ask Lisa their questions during the event.

I, unfortunately, have another event tonight (Relief Society birthday party!), so I won't be able to attend this live video chat. But I will be checking in later tonight to see what kind of tips and ideas were mentioned. Eventually when I have some time to sit down, I'll be watching the whole session on Crayola's Youtube channel. So if you also can't be there tonight for the live chat, you can watch it tomorrow or the next day or next week, on youtube.
How do you get the creative juices rolling with your kids?

*I was provided with this information from Crayola through MyBlogSpark

Continuing Education and changing the world

*This post is sponsored by Campus Book Rentals*

I love learning! I was one of those crazy people that loved going to school, having homework, and delving into my books. Since having kids though, I haven't been able to go back. As much as I would love to, I know right now my time is spent best teaching my kids and helping them grow into little geniuses.  Did you know you can take a lot of free online classes though? I was pretty excited to learn I can take some online courses for free from different Universities around the country. I get to keep learning on my time, and if I happen to go a year without even looking at the site, it's ok!

One of the other big reasons I can't go back is cost. School is expensive. Tuition, books, fees, any extra project materials. it all costs money! If you happen to be going to school right now, how do you pay for it all? I know there are grants and loans you can get. But have you checked into some other options for your textbooks?  I personally think textbooks are extremely overpriced! When I was going to school I was always looking for the cheapest book, no matter what it's condition was. And then I would just hope that at the end of the year I could sell some of those books back for a somewhat decent price.

Well, enter in the newest form of acquiring those needed textbooks at 40-90% off bookstore prices! Campus Book Rentals RENTS you your texts! Most of us plan on selling our books back anyways, so why pay full price when you'll just return the book anyways? (ok admittedly there were some I loved and kept, but not many).
Just check out the savings on these books
- Interior Design normally $138 you can rent for as low as $32!
- Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System normally almost $180 you can rent it for as little as $14!!

I mean those savings are pretty dang awesome!! Besides the savings, here are some other perks to using Campus Book Rentals.

  • Free shipping both ways!
  • You can HIGHLIGHT and mark up your textbooks with no added fees!
  • You can choose how long you want to rent the book for!


By far my favorite aspect of using Campus Book Rentals is that for every book rented they donate to Operation Smile.  I just love companies that give back to the world. If you don't know what Operation Smile is, you should check them out. Through donations they are able to provide surgeries to kids born with Cleft lip or Cleft palate - surgeries these kids otherwise could never afford! 
So if you're going to school, and trying to save money, please check out Campus Book Rentals and help give back to the world! It's the simple things in our lives we choose to do that can make a world of difference to others!



2013 Update
Campus Book Rentals has rolled out a new initiative called Rent Back. Rent back allows you to take books you already own and rent them out. This provides you 2-4X more than you would potentially make selling your books back to the bookstore. They just keep getting better!


*I was compensated for this post.  I feel this company has a lot to offer, and is making a difference in the world.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Tips - Fresh Towels

Tuesday Tip
As I walked into my bathroom this morning, I breathed a sigh of comfort as I noticed the fresh hand towel hanging up. With 3 little kids, our towels are often dirty, or missing.  Although I try to keep a clean one hanging, sometimes it just doesn't happen.

Hanging a fresh towel can add loads to the ambiance of a bathroom. For me it relieves stress, exudes calm feelings, and really just starts my day out right. Now, having a clean bathroom with those towels will add even more! (Which for me this morning was the case, since I just cleaned them yesterday! YES! go me!)

Remember to enjoy the simple things in life - Like Fresh Towels!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 3/5


Last week when I went shopping, pork was discounted, so I grabbed a couple packages of it. Since I already had our plan for the week though, it's been freezing just waiting for some yummy dishes like this Pork with Strawberry balsamic sauce. I think the Princesses will just love the strawberry addition!

Monday - Meatloaf and steamed carrots
Tuesday - Potstickers and Fried Rice
Wednesday - Birthday Dinner for Relief Society. Mac and Cheese for kids and Mark
Thursday - Chicken Nuggets
Friday - Pork with Strawberry Balsamic sauce
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - Crockpot Orange Chicken

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