Monday, November 30, 2009

I know that I've mentioned Ebates before in the past, but I just thought I'd point it out to any new readers.

If you are going to make *any* online purchases, I highly recommend going through Ebates.  You will get a % of your purchase back in cash (a check is mailed every few months).  This is like free money!  The best part is you can still use your coupon codes.  Just scope out a coupon code you want to use (or if you don't have any, Ebates will suggest some), sign up or login to your Ebates account, click the link to the store you want to shop in and then proceed as usual!  Ebates will give you credit for the purchase just by clicking through their link.

If you click here and sign up, we both get $5 (thanks!) & last year when I signed up Ebates also sent me a bonus $5 gift card to Target out of nowhere in the regular mail as a thank you for signing up.  I don't know if they still do that, but I was just so amazed how easy & rewarding it has been for me to use Ebates.

Also, don't forget to check out Retail Me Not for any coupon codes that might help you in your online shopping!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgving!  I hope you are enjoying your day with those you love <3

And I hope you are safe if you decide to shop on Black Friday!  It's a crazy world out there.  I think the only shopping I will do is to pick up the awesome freebies at CVS.  Check out the preview scan at I Heart CVS here.


My house isn't sold.  This is the second time we have had our buyer fall through shortly before closing.  And honestly, it sucks.

It would be one thing if we just didn't have any interest on our house, but instead we get showings galore, people who "love" the place and a couple of first-time homebuyer single guys that think they want to buy a 100+ year old  house.  Instead my hopes get up, I waste tons of time and energy and it is pretty much for nothing.

I'm complaining and yet I'm also not, because today is the day before Thanksgiving.  I am SO thankful to have a house.  A safe, (relatively)warm house for my family that, as much as I complain about it, is actually very nice.  I'm thankful for my awesome family and friends and for the health of us all.

Recently, I posted about how I went to NYC for the Aiming Low event.  Aiming Low's founder, Anissa Mayhew (one of the "bloggy rockstars" I mentioned) was just recently struck down with two debilitating strokes.  I have been broken hearted that the amazing, vibrant woman whose funny words I love reading & I had the pleasure to meet in person just weeks ago is in the hospital just fighting to be able to open her eyes.

If that doesn't put things in perspective for a whiner like me, I don't know what will.  I have been touched and amazed at the outpouring of support for Anissa & I would be totally remiss if I didn't point my readers in her way so that you can add your prayers to the thousands who are believing for a miracle.

Anissa's husband Peter is posting updates on her recovery at Anissa's old blog Hope 4 Peyton.  (And why is it called Hope for Peyton? Because Anissa started that blog to chronicle their family's struggle with her daughter Peyton's recovery through childhood cancer)  If you are so inclined, please consider donating to the family who clearly have a long road ahead of them.  Here is a link to information about a PO box being set up and here is the link to a button if you would like to donate via Paypal (I can't get the button to work right here on my site).  I'm sure that no amount is too small; imagine if everyone gave $5, how quickly that would add up!

And while you're at it, if you're on twitter why not follow Anissa's 'celebrity' crush Ralph Macchio & tell him that Anissa sent you ;o)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lately at least.  I wanted to give a little update as to why I have been so bloggy absent.  As you are probably already aware, we are in the process of selling our house & this time it looks like we might really be closing sometime in the very near future.  This has had me in the tailspin of packing, cleaning, vacating the house with kid and dog in tow, etc.

And now I'm sick. Blah.  The past couple of nights I haven't been feeling so hot (actually, that's wrong as I've been fever-y and definitely hot) and I think I've finally deduced that I have strep throat.  The enormously swollen tonsils with white patches (ew, sorry!) were what gave it away.

So now I'm on some strong antibiotics, but the packing and frenzied moving activities are still continuing (hopefully! Keep praying! I know the market is bad, but really? It is just so much harder to sell your darn house these days).

I should be back into the swing of things soon.

photo by g-hat 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I wanted to give you a heads-up on a great freebie over at Freebies 4 Mom.  Heather has a special offer with for each of her readers to get 50 free photo cards & they will even ship them for free!

Click here to check out all the details at Freebies 4 Mom.  This offer expires on 11/30 but I would act fast just in case their supply gets exhausted.

Well you already know I'm always behind on my blog posts, but I just had to put this up...eventually! Two weeks ago (actually it was the same day as my Mrs. G's blogger event with Electrolux) I went all the way up to NYC for a super-fun event hosted by Aiming Low & Hp.

I love reading the girls' posts over at Aiming Low not only because they are very funny, but also because they give me the ever needed reminder that it's perfectly ok to be not-perfect. (Would it have been super corny to write "perfekt", yes. So I didn't, but I thought about it!)

Since I normally don't travel 10 miles outside of "my zone" I had to drag one of my dear girlfriends to come with me. It was quite an adventure for me and Blaire since this involved actually taking mass transit.  On our train was a costumed (I hope) guy dressed completely as Christian Bale in American Psycho: full business suit, clear poncho *covered* in blood (his face was also covered), and he was carrying a briefcase and some type of weapon (was it a chainsaw or an axe? We couldn't really tell).  Anyway, since Halloween was quite a few days away we were a little extra spooked about the dangers of NYC!

We made it off the train and hopped in a cab to the hotel.  While we were there, we got some free food, free drinks, met some really cool people 'in real life' & ogled products from Hp, in that order.  Here's me and Blaire at our table (You already know I take horrible pictures, but the horrible-ness of these is because they are from my phone)

Oh yeah, I had no time to put makeup on.  Thought that might make me fit in with others who Aim Low, but of course I ran into Sophia's Mom from The Wannabe Wahm and she was adorable:

She was so cute, you have to read her post on going to Aiming Low since it is so much more coherent than mine.  I love how she said that I look 12 (because that's how I feel) and that I promised her a picture and never delivered...because who doesn't like to be called out on their ineptitude? (*Kidding!* I did send it to her, just really late.)

We all went pretty crazy playing with the Hp photo printers, among other things (like laptops, which I didn't even realize Hp made).  Aiming Low was kind enough to tell us to bring a jump drive of photos so as I was printing out pictures of my little Rayna and swooning over them, an eager cameraman captured my really-strong-martini-induced plug: "THIS IS SO EASY!!! I JUST LOVE IT!!!! THESE ARE AWESOME QUALITY!!!" Sheesh! I hope they don't decide to use that footage, ever.

I also met some other Philly & South Jersey people, and it was super fun to pretend that I was one of the bloggy-rock-stars that were in attendance that night.  Check out me and Lisa from ...just over the river posing like celebs in front of the Hp red carpet-thing.

I had a blast and just wanted to finally share it with you.  Hope you aren't too jealous of my jet-setting lifestyle! ;o)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recently I bought the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook "Deceptively Delicious". I bought this because as a toddler, naturally, Rayna wants to eat ZERO vegetables. Since you make veggie purees to mix into the recipes, I was left with a *ton* of purees and I want to only make one or two of these recipes at a time to start with. Most of the recipes call for either 1/4 or 1/2 cup of puree, so I froze some of the purees in 1/4 cup pieces by measuring out 1/4 cup of puree into a lightly sprayed muffin tin:

(That was cauliflower puree, if you're curious) Once I actually made some of the meals, I also realized that Rayna would not want to eat such a large portion of them in the time before they would go bad. So I had the idea again to freeze individual toddler-sized portions so that I could quickly defrost and heat one up when I need a quick toddler meal.

With the holidays approaching, we will have less time than ever to make healthy, homemade meals especially for Rayna (did I mention that she's picky?) So I plan on making a bunch of these little individual meals to use as an alternative to the pre-fab tray meals.

For more tips on saving time in the holiday season, check out Works for Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last year I wrote a blog post about ways to give back a little during the holidays. It was also the first time I had heard about Operation Christmas Child and I made two shoeboxes using a lot of the excess items that I get for free by 'working the deals.'

There is something so rewarding about packing up a shoebox of goodies that you know will directly reach an underprivileged child. It doesn't hurt that it is also easy! Many of the items that make a good shoebox are things that you probably purchase frequently and inexpensively (like toothpaste, toothbrushes, candy) or can be purchased easily for little money (dollar store toys, school supplies). This year I'm making more shoeboxes and I wanted to encourage you to do the same!

Here is one box that I am making for a girl ages 5-9 (you can choose boy or girl in the age groups of 2-4, 5-9 & 10-14).

So far I've included:
  • Toothpaste & a toothbrush
  • A coloring book and pack of crayons
  • A small wooden game
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • Barettes
  • The ubiquitous Johnson's Buddies soap (click the link there if you don't know why they are so popular; you can almost always get them for free!)
  • A baggie of lollipops
  • A pair of flip-flops
The hygiene items are deal items, the toys I've purchased at dollar or similar stores and the lollipops I bought in bulk for Halloween and have divvied out into plastic baggies for my shoeboxes. You can't include any liquids or chocolate for the purpose of melting/leakage, but even with the soap or hard candy you should put them in a baggie just to be safe. Last year I heard another blogger mention including a pair of flip-flops and I thought that was a great idea, and I was excited to pick up 3 pairs for $1 from an Odd-Lot store!

I am going to pick up a couple more things that I can put in all of my boxes (like a pack of washcloths & combs that I can put one in each box) & some age specific toys like a doll, etc. but I just wanted to show you some ideas. For instructions on how to pack a shoebox, click here. The national collection week is November 16-23 and boxes can be dropped off at participating churches who will ship them all in!

If you want to learn more about Operation Christmas Child and its parent organization Samaritan's Purse, click here. It is a wonderful Christian organization that will also include a Gospel message with each shoebox!

And if you are thinking of participating and have your own blog, then visit Real Life Blog and link a post up with Sarah's carnival to enter for some great prizes! And even if you don't blog, but want to read some other posts about OCC, then click here!

Monday, November 2, 2009

This past Wednesday I was able to attend a lovely event for local bloggers being held at Mrs. G TV & Appliances in Lawrenceville, NJ. I was invited by my twitter-friend Hilary Morris, the author of Mrs. Mo's New Jersey blog, whom I actually had the pleasure of meeting a little while ago at another NJ-blogger event. Hilary is the "assistant coach" of the Mrs. G "Very Important Blogger" series--a series that Mrs. G CEO Debbie Schaeffer put together to educate us bloggers on a variety of topics and products. The event was eye-opening for me in a bunch of ways, as I was able to confirm that I am completely behind the times in household technology!

Being the epitome of a "mommy-blogger", I could only make this particular date and time if I could bring Rayna along, so the two of us got in the car and made our way to Mrs. G's in the rain. After a rocky drive (my little ol' Toyota does *not* handle in the rain and I decided to trust my gps instead of my sense of direction) we made it a little late to the event. But better late than never right?!

When I got there, the group had just finished watching a tv segment about the history of Mrs. G TV & Appliances. What I was able to learn was that Mrs. G TV & Appliance is a family company: Debbie Schaeffer is the 3rd generation of women leaders since her grandmother (Mrs. G) founded the company 75 years ago! Next on the agenda was the demo of some of the amazing flat-panel tvs:

We don't have a flat screen tv yet and I have to say that I really want one ;o) Once I saw the huge flat screen that comes with a set of four 3-D glasses I was blown away. New movies are coming out that can be watched in 3-D, and I was able to see one (Coraline) with the glasses. Very cool!

Next up, we walked through the awesome showroom at Mrs. G towards the washers & dryers where Electrolux rep Joe Visicaro gave us the lowdown on some of the features of their energy-efficient appliances. Here I am in the back listening to every word, as you probably already know my obsession with getting in and out of the laundry area asap! ;o)

All the little things that Electrolux has done to make laundry easier are really pretty amazing. Since your hands are inevitably full when you want to open the washer, all you have to do is hit the door with your hip and it pops open. And the soap cup? Hit it with your elbow while you're unscrewing the lid of the detergent pops open. There were so many amazing features I was scribbling down, that I could really make this post outrageously long just talking about the washer (it automatically adjusts so it doesn't shake all over the place, you can actually open the washer once it has started to throw that stray sock in, and NO MOLD, Ever!)

Just look at this lovely combo:

Even though I could talk about laundry forever, the group was ready to move on to the Electrolux cooking appliances. Let me just say that the Mrs. G showroom is gorgeous, and the kitchen appliances are set up in little designer kitchen "vignettes" that will inspire you (read: make you wish you had them). The Electrolux Icon series was fabulous. Check out the convection oven about to cook our lunch:

Electrolux rep and chef Leigh Donadieu made us salmon, brussel sprouts with pancetta, tomato bisque and chocolate fondue (don't be jealous) using the convection oven and an induction stove. Here she is explaining the convection oven:

I can at least say that I have heard of a convection oven. If you aren't familiar, it uses air to cook your food much faster than the standard oven that uses only a heating element. What is the benefit to you? Not only does your food cook faster, but the food cooks more evenly. Have you ever tried baking 3 sheets of cookies at one time? No, because you know the cookies on the bottom rack would be burnt to a crisp while the others vary in done-ness. The convection oven will cook those 3 sheets evenly. As a side note, Leigh cooked the salmon and the brussel sprouts in the same oven and the veggies did not taste like fish!

Now here's where I realized that I really was completely behind the times. Check out the induction stove:

If you asked me, I would have just thought this was a regular electric stove. I have always used gas, so that is what I prefer, but the safety issue with a gas stove and a toddler is ridiculous. I am militant about kitchen safety, but with gas leaks, fires starting, etc. this nervous mama always fears the worst. This is where I almost flipped out: Induction technology uses the power of magnetism to cook your food. Unless your pot is on the stove, the burner doesn't get hot. Joe picked up the pot and put his hand on the burner. Nothing! Imagine you had half of a frying pan on the induction top. You could cook on egg in the half-pan and on the other half of the same burner have a raw egg. I was just blown away. Did you even know about induction cooking? Leigh said that Electrolux also carries a combination electric and induction cooktop, but that once people start cooking with induction, they wish they had just gone 100%.

The Electrolux refrigerator was our last stop. Here is Joe showing us the fridge (and the awesome bottom drawer that holds 3 cases of soda):

After all of the product information it was time to eat lunch and connect with other local bloggers, many of whom are now my twitter-friends too ;o)

This first blogger event at Mrs G's was a great experience and I really enjoyed learning so much new information. Down by me here in South Jersey, I don't know of any showroom and warehouse centers quite like Mrs. G TV & Appliances. There's the usual Home Depot and Lowes and then the scratch-and-dent type places. Mrs. G is a great place to check out a wide range of appliances in a beautiful location. And just because you get to enjoy a pleasant shopping environment doesn't mean that you have to pay more than those places. Mrs. G's is part of a network of stores that has combined their buying power to exceed that of Home Depot, making them able to pass along great prices to their customers.

Mrs. G TV & Appliances is located at 2960 Route 1 in Lawrenceville, NJ. Click here to visit their webpage.

Disclosure: This event was sponsored by Mrs. G & Electrolux
Photos courtesy of Hilary Morris

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A while back for a MPM I mentioned that I was making the Pork Chops with Apples & Stuffing recipe from the new little Pillsbury cookbook "Pot Pies & Casseroles" just in case you missed it, here is my recipe post for it.

For this week:

Monday - Chili (from this recipe, which I always use) & cornbread

Tuesday - Our old-standby that we eat all the time, Springtime pasta (I mention the recipe in this post)

Wednesday - Leftovers (I made this pulled pork recipe for Sunday dinner so we'll be eating more of that, but I'll probably have chili again on a baked potato...I love that)

Thursday - Fajitas

Friday - Homemade pizza

Saturday - Out!

Be sure to put together your menu plan for the week to reduce impulse spending! Need ideas? Check out the other menu plans on the Menu Plan Monday post over at Orgjunkie!