Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Announcing: Real Moms Love To Eat #RMLTE

It's hard to make life changes. Especially when it comes to food. For me, at least, food is a social event, a comfort item, a fun adventure. I don't always want to make the changes to my diet that are really what's best for me!

A new book called Real Moms Love to Eat by Beth Aldrich keeps the enjoyment of food in mind when helping moms adjust their diets and lifestyle.

Real Moms Love to Eat (which perfectly describes ME!) has :
  • An easy-to-follow 10-part plan for gradual life changes.
  • 21 days of meal suggestions
  • Tips, recipes, and lifestyle exercises
You can keep your love affair with food alive and burning strong, once you know how the food you eat impacts your body. There's still a lot of yummy foods that are GOOD for you as you experience and enjoy life (with food!).

Beth Aldrich knows that "real moms" need a plan that is simple and realistic - otherwise, it becomes too daunting to continue. I'm not one that has had to diet much in my life, but recently, I've been trying to eat gluten-free to improve my health and digestion. So I know first-hand how difficult a restriction on your diet can be. All the temptations that come with a diet. And the feeling that you're missing out.

If you're a blogger like me, sign up for the blogger Food Affiariate program - you'll get to review a digital copy of Beth's book on your blog, and be entered to win some fun prizes! I'm going to sign up, so be expecting to hear some more specific reviews of this book in the future!

Real Moms Love to Eat will be your ONE source for tasty, fresh, whole food meals, creative recipes and food facts that will keep you looking fabulous and feeling energized and fulfilled. Keep track of Real Moms Love to Eat on Facebook, follow @realmomsluv2eat on Twitter, or Pre-Order Beth's Book!
I spend a lot of time online looking for good recipes, menu plans, and other "loopholes" in my diet (LOL!). I'm very interested to get my hands on a copy of Beth's book, because it seems like her approach is friendly and conversational - getting you to have fun with food without limiting your choices.

DISCLOSURE: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Beth Aldrich - Real Moms Love to Eat blogging program, for a chance to get 3,000 My SocialMoms Rewards points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#MeTime, What's that? #SSCerra

I never realized how precious "alone" time would be... but nearly twenty months after having a baby, I hardly know what "me time" is anymore!

I have a wonderful hubby who watches the baby so I can get some shopping done, run out to have coffee with a friend. And I go to the local MOPS group and a mom's group at my church, both provide babysitting. So it's not that I NEVER get some time to myself, it's just that those times are dedicated to fulfilling obligations, social interactions, and more.

So... "me time"? I am wishing I had some! Recently I was introduced to Cerra. is a great place to start if you're feeling overwhelmed by the general details of life and need a peaceful moment to sort out thoughts, feelings, and regain composure. And it's not limited to new moms. I am sure that any women at any stage of life has those moments where life feels like it's going at warp speed!

Cerra sent me some lovely products to try out - all of which have their benefits for bringing a sense of calm and peace. What's Cerra? It's a unique company that focuses on helping people with their personal growth. Cerra focuses on seven positive "intentions:"
  • Grounded
  • Creative Energy 
  • Gratitude
  • Loving Kindness
  • Courage
  • Wisdom
  • Inspiration

Wow - that is definitely a list of character traits I want to incorporate into my life, and even though Cerra isn't a "Christian" company, I know that as a Christian, I can use scripture to help me focus on these seven traits as I develop spiritually!

In fact, that's one thing I loved about the Cerra Keepsake notes - I got a packet of Gratitude notes from Cerra to try out.

Little notecards with a writing prompt on them - each day I'd write down a note about something from that day that made me feel grateful. I always say I'm going to journal about all those little moments, but a huge blank journal book is overwhelming. These little cards were perfect to just jot a thought each day, and if I need to write more later, I can revisit the card. The physical act of writing out my gratitude notes was important for me, as the scripture reads: "In everything give thanks," but that an be easy to forget...these cards made me more specific about what I was grateful for... leading me to a more positive spirit as I went to sleep!
Cerra also sent these delicious tea bag samples. I don't drink tea often, but when I do, tea drinking has a calming effect. Maybe because I like to drink tea slowly, so the act of drinking tea forces me to slow my body and soul down for a moment to savor the experience (unlike when I drink coffee, which I seem to always drink in a rush, even when I don't need to!).
Another great way to regain calm and composure was with the Cerra Me Time Pebble candles. They are almost too cute to use up! The Me Time Pebble Candle set is a great idea to give a new mom or stressed out friend. It's perfect, because you can light a candle in the scent of your choice (one for each of the seven intentions), and it burns for exactly 30 minutes. Just the right amount of time to give yourself a pause for quiet reflection, along with some aromatherapy. Works great in the bath too, because they are tiny!

I could go on about the lotions, journal books, sensory oils Cerra offers, and how cool their website is, where you can type in the mood you're having, and they will suggest a certain product or aromatherapy to try. I think it's great to find a company whose goal is to help people improve and be more positive!

Check out Cerra for yourself and set aside a little "me time" this week! Your body and spirit will thank you for it! We all can benefit from quiet reflection in our day! If you want to be part of the Cerra SheSpeaks program, just click here!

DISCLOSURE: I was sent products for review. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are You On Pinterest Yet?

I am LOVING this new social media platform called Pinterest! What a great idea! I am shocked that nobody thought of it earlier.

It's like having "Favorites" but with a visual appeal and the ability to connect with friends about your favorite websites and ideas!

I owe it all to Crunchy Beach Mama for starting this latest online addiction. I wasn't sure about it at first, because who needs MORE to do (former Farmville addict speaking!). But hear me out, because I think Pinterest is a valuable tool for organizing ideas, planning, sharing, and... improving your blog traffic, apparently!

Okay first, what IS Pinterest:

Pinterst is basically a virtual bulletin board - good for planning, organizing, and sharing ideas. Very visually appealing. Great for inspiration!

When you see something you like online - like an amazing cake, beautiful scenery, clever kids' craft, you "pin" the image to a "board."

You can browse other people's boards (similar to Facebook, you can have friends and followers), and if you see something you like on another board, you "repin" it to your boards. You can create notes on a pin, have comments from other users. It's very interactive. I have created many boards. Some are more full than others. Here's a screen shot of the Pinterest Home Page:

I used Pinterest to plan out my bathroom remodel a few weeks ago. I simply searched Pinterest for all the "bathroom" pins, and I added what I liked to my "the home" board. I could see all my ideas in one place and be inspired!

You can even install a "Pin It" button on your toolbar so while you're out and about browsing the web, if you see something you love (on Etsy, blogs, or anywhere), you simply click "Pin it" and it gives a little pop-up for you to quickly store that idea on your Pinterest board. So much better than "Favorites!"

When you “pin," an item, Pinterest generates a link back to where you got the item to pin (it's important to link back to the ORIGINAL source of the item).

Isn't that a great idea!?

And now you can all...
Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are You Gluten-Free?

I've been trying to improve my overall health in various ways. Sleep (What's that?). Exercise (Hmm?). And... Diet.

One suggestion (strongly worded!) from the naturopathic doctor I see was that I go on a wheat-free, dairy- free diet. But uh, yeah,... I kinda like wheat. And dairy. A lot!

I am ready to do what it takes to improve my health. But changing my whole diet... This seems hard. I love food. All kinds. Except gluten-free foods just are not exactly my cup-o-tea!

No more English muffins, bagels, pizza, ice cream, cream in my coffee, ...Twizzlers? (yes, unbelievable, but one of my favorite candies has wheat ingredients!!).

I have tried this kind of diet three times before (to help with breast-feeding issues) and felt like I was going crazy after about day 7 or 8, and I was always breaking the rules. It just has never worked.

Oh, and let's not get me started on how EXPENSIVE this kind of diet is! [head spinning!]

I drove home from the doctor's wondering about how I am going to do this. And then I remembered: I'm a mom blogger! I am sure I have readers and fellow bloggers who have been where I am about to go!

So, as I embark on this new diet journey, I welcome your thoughts, and I will need your encouragement!

What are your recommendations for this kind of diet? I welcome all recipes, food brand, and how-to-stick-with-it tips!

Jedi Mind Tricks ~ Costume Discounters Review

My husband loves Science Fiction - especially sci-fi shows and movies. He's a huge Star Wars fan... and he's old enough to have seen the FIRST Star Wars in the movie theatre. (Wow!). He's even got Star Wars sound effects as his ringtones. Send him a text, and Chewbacca will let you know!

I'm also a pretty big Star Wars fan, although I can't throw out those movie quotes as light-saber fast as he does! I am pretty much limited to a Yoda impersonation now and then.

So of course we were delighted to check out Costume Discounters, which offers a great selection of costumes, include Star Wars themed costumes!

Are you looking for Jedi Halloween costumes? Then you should visit Costume Discounters! We picked out an Obi Wan Kenobi costume for our 19-month old - personally, he's my favorite character for his wisdom, strength, and fighting skills! And also, my husband supervises the Star Wars Club at his school, and we wanted to surprise the kids with a "guest appearance" by Obi Wan!

I couldn't wait to try it on my little guy. It's a bit long on him still, since we got a size 2-4, but that's okay because he'll get a lot of use out of it.

I love this photo - my son's incredulous look... is he trying to play a Jedi Mind Trick on me? These aren't the droids you're looking for, mom!

This costume is an officially licensed Star Wars Costume - not a knock off! It includes a tunic, pants and attached footies. The tunic portion is cream-colored plush fabric with an overlap on the front to look like a robe. A brown utility belt is printed onto the tunic for authenticity. The pants have attached footies designed to look like brown boots – true Obi Wan Kenobi style.

The cool thing about this toddler costume is that the legs have a velcro opening (The website says snap, but it's Velco) that allows for diaper changes. Because Jedis should never have accidents!

I will say that the costume fabric is fairly thin, so your child would probably want to wear some light clothing underneath for warmth, especially if it's a night time costume party or trick-or-treating. Also, I found it a little difficult to get him into the costume from the top, and I wish the opening had been a little longer - but we managed! Once it was on him, we loved it immediately! Totally cracked us up to see mini-Obi Wan walking around.

I love this warning the website includes: "Children should not play with light sabers until they have been properly trained by another Jedi." So true.

You should really check out Costume Discounters on Twitter to keep up with their latest sales and releases!

DISCLOSURE: I was sent a product for my use in writing this review. I was not financially compensated and all opinions are 100% my own.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apple Nachos with Marzetti Caramel Dip

Know what goes perfect with fall? APPLES!!

Know what goes perfect with apples? CARAMEL!!

And the perfect caramel pairing with apples this fall is Marzetti Caramel Dips. Marzetti® Caramel Dips are the perfect finishing touch for a variety of party favorites – whether it’s a dip for apples, pears and pretzels or a special ingredient in a delicious dessert. Marzetti Caramel Dips offer the perfect accent or finishing touch to a variety of party favorites including apples, pears, pretzels and even pound cake

I have long been a fan! One of my favorite ways to eat this was by stirring together a tub of Marzetti Old Fashioned Caramel Dip with a tub of whipped cream cheese (has to be the "Whipped" kind). Oh my goodness. Creamy. Caramel-y. With the tartness of a good Granny Smith dipped into it - DELICIOUS!!

But I just explored another way to enjoy Marzetti Caramel Dips. Check out my Apple Nachos!!

  • 3-4 Large Granny Smiths or other tart, firm apple.
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 tub Marzetti Old Fashioned Caramel Dip
  • 1-2 T half & half
  • Chocolate syrup
  • mini chocolate chips, mini Heath crunch crumbles, or chopped peanuts
    • Slice the apples into wedges and arrange in a layered circle on a round platter.
    • Melt the butter and marshmallows in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (about 30 seconds, stirring halfway through is good). Drizzle over apples.
    • Scoop about half the tub of Marzetti Caramel Dip into another glass measuring cup, add the cream. Heat in microwave about 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Drizzle over apples.
    • Drizzle chocolate syrup over apples.
    • Sprinkle with candy/nut toppings.
    • ENJOY!


MORE Great Recipe Ideas:
For more recipe ideas and product information visit You can also “Like” Marzetti on Facebook here!

DISCLOSURE: This post was written for Family Review Network & Marzetti, who provided the complimentary product in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Staying Healthy This Season #lysolcoldandflu

I'm not sure if it's the weather, the fact that we're indoors more in the fall/winter, or that suddenly we corral all our children into classrooms in large groups! But whatever it is, this IS the flu/cold season. Here's some ways that my family has stayed flu-free for YEARS (without the help of the flu shot!).

  1. Stop touching everything! Are we just fidgety or what? Because everywhere I go, I see everyone fiddling with items on counters, cash registers, what have you. It's not just the kids. (And I include myself). But all this contact can be spreading germs! So keep your mitts off!
  2. And the face too - if you MUST fiddle, just don't do it on your face. Stop biting those nails, touching your mouth, nose, rubbing your eyes... if you picked up any bacteria, you will just deposit it into those mucus-filled receptacles that are your mouth, nose, and eyes!
  3. A word about coughing - Ahem! Don't do it into your bare hand. Ew. Gross. Get a tissue, or cough into your elbow or shoulder. Always AWAY from people and in a way that contains the fluids that DO come out when you cough!
  4. Wash, wash, wash. Rinse. Repeat. - It's probably the single most important way to keep germs from spreading.
  5. Sing Happy Birthday. - Wait, what? What does THAT have to do with staying healthy? Well, when you wash your hands, keep washing until you have sung through the Happy Birthday song TWICE. That is enough time to get all the bacteria off your skin.
  6. Use clean tissues - don't keep shoving dirty tissues in and out of your pockets and purse. Tissues are not something we should be "frugal" with - dispose of them when used and grab a new one, please.
  7. Hydrate - being dehydrated can lower your immune system.
  8. Sleep - so can not enough rest
  9. Get C's and D's - No, not on your report card!! Get enough vitamins like Vitamin C and Vitamin D to combat illness and build your immune system!
  10. Stay home. Not that you have to be a hermit, but if you ARE sick, please stay home. Not only will you be more susceptible to other germs, but you'll just spread the nastiness further. Stay home, drink tea, and get better!
So that is how our family keeps healthy throughout the winter. We are both teachers, and RARELY do we get colds and NEVER do we get the flu, even though we work with children all day.

How do YOU prepare for cold/flu season?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Lysol blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

10 Holiday Planning Tips

Oh yes, the countdown to Christmas has begun. Less than 100 days... Christmas as a mom takes a lot more planning than it used to! Here's some great tips for gearing up for the holidays

  1. Make a timeline - list all the events, chores, shopping, cooking that you want to do before Christmas. Then plot it out on a calendar to see where certain items MUST go, and where you have time to fit in the rest! When I did this, I realized my "Christmas To-Do" list needed to be drastically shortened, because there simply wasn't enough TIME!
  2. Use Technology - Create a spreadsheet to keep track of Christmas cards, wish lists, menus. Or use online planners. Don't have a bunch of sticky notes fluttering around when you can have all your planning in one spot!
  3. Check your lists - One year, I kept buying presents, but when I sat down to wrap them, I realized I way overbought for one nephew, and had hardly anything for my neice. I hadn't been keeping track of who I was buying what for, so I had to go shopping again to even out the gifts.
  4. Shop online, but EARLY - I can't stress enough how great it feels to spend a couple of quiet, uncrowded hours online and take care of most of my holiday shopping in one stop! Just be sure to shop early so you don't have presents get stuck in the mail!
  5. Buy Christmas Cards online - Another easy-fix to the yearly chore of sending out cards. Don't scour the toppling boxes of second-rate cards at the drug store. Instead, check out Storkie Christmas cards for some classic cards. Or be different and sent a photo magnet card - this way your family photo doesn't get tossed after New Year's Day! I also love the sleek look of Storkie's modern Christmas Card designs.
  6. Don't shop alone - Invite a friend or family member along to chat with, share ideas, a cup of cocoa... and most importanly keep a second pair of eyes on the kids, or hold your spot in those long lines while you change a diaper!
  7. Be an Early Bird - start NOW to create your christmas lists, print address labels, buy stamps, check your Christmas gift wrap stash, and look up menus and recipes.
  8. Go Large! If you have a large group to buy for (coworkers, teachers) consider buying the same item in bulk - you could get a discount!
  9. Get Money Back - Cash Back is always nice! A great bonus of shopping online is that through Ebates, MyPoints, UPromise and other rewards programs, you might even earn some change back from all that holiday shopping! Again, plan ahead, because shipping can take 7-10 days!
  10. Try it First - Nothing ruins a holiday like a burnt roast, a flopped dessert, or tasteless dish. Try out new recipes in advance (like, NOW!) to see how they work out, and know how much time they take! (And nobody will mind test-tasting those Christmas cookies a little early!
Maybe these aren't new ideas, but just great reminders that if you plan ahead, the holidays can be smooth sailing! Please add your own tips to the comments! I'd love to hear!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Poem: In His World

In his world…

A shell can hold the entire ocean

His mother has the voice of an angel

Laughter can be loud and long

A garbage truck sighting is cause for rigid spasms of excitement

Stomping on bubbles is the day’s delight

Someone will always hold him in the night

Daddy is the strongest person in the world

Every day is for exploration

Every color is green

Every person worth a smile and a boisterous HELLO!

The sky, the dirt, the world is still a beautiful mystery

He can discover himself a thousand times a day in the mirror

And is pleased with what he finds there

The make believe…is his reality

Choices are few…and simple: yes and no

Bare feet are the best accessory

So is dirt. Or simply being naked.

Joy is not something found or sought, it is simply the way of things

In his world.

Republished with permission from A Year With Mom and Dad.