30 Days of Christmas

30days

I am so excited! The Shopping Duck and Time for All Things are collaborating on 30 Days of Christmas. Each day, from November 16 until December 16, one of our blogs will present a craft, decoration or holiday treat that will be perfect for the Christmas season. This post will be updated daily with links to all the posts so stay tuned!

Day 1 – Holiday Vase with Ornaments: This decoration is so easy to make and you can get all the items you need for cheap!

Day 2 – Easy DIY Painted Glass Ornaments: These are so easy to make and they are fun for kids too! Use them to decorate a tree or wreath.

Day 3 – DIY Christmas Berry Wreath – So easy to make and with supplies from the Dollar Store, it is inexpensive too!

Day 4 – Easy DIY No Sew Pillows – These are so easy to make! Any piece of material will work to give your house a holiday flair.

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Make A Fresh Start – New Year, New Pantry!

Sticking to New Year’s resolutions can be hard. Did you now that one of the top New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier? This year, I decided to go through my pantry and take stock of what I have on hand. I tossed a number of old products and made a resolution to exchange some of the unhealthier items with better, healthier options. Just making a few switches can make a healthier 2016!

Here are some ideas of healthier options that will help you and your family make healthier everyday choices.

  1. Add Extra Flavor to your Water with Coconut Water – We all now that drinking water is the healthiest option, but sometimes this gets a little boring! One way to spruce up your water consumption is to add Coconut Water as an option. Coconut water provides the same great benefits but with a delicious flavor. Coco Joy coconut water contains natural electrolytes for daily hydration and contains no added sugar and no preservatives. It’s also gluten, lactose and dairy free. Coco Joy makes a convenient can that’s perfect for traveling or on-the-go… even though it tastes like you’re drinking it straight out of a coconut. ($1.19/8.3 fl. oz. cans)
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  3. Reduce Your Kids Sugar Intake with Naturally Flavored Water – I used to buy my kids boxed juices but found that many of them were full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors. Instead of boxed juices try AquaBall. AquaBall is a sugar-free, naturally flavored water sure to satisfy your child’s sweet tooth the healthy way. Available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape, AquaBall features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Marvel Avengers, and Disney Classic Characters. AquaBall also contains essential B & C vitamins, natural fruit flavors, and is sweetened with Stevia instead of artificial sweeteners. My son, who loves boxed juices, was a little hesitant to try the AquaBall flavored water. However, he was pleasantly surprised! He LOVES all the flavors and has begged me to get more. This is a great option since he does not drink enough water. ($22.94/12 pack)
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  5. Choose Healthier Snack Options – Like most kids, my children love chips and sweet snacks, but I am always looking for a different option for them. Viki’s Granola is made with 100% all natural ingredients, gluten-free and baked with love. Unlike other granolas with hard clusters, Viki’s has a fresh, soft, chewy texture and no artificial aftertaste. Available in five delicious flavors, Viki’s Granola is great to enjoy on its own or with your favorite yogurt and are even available in select flavors in snack packs, perfect for when you are on-the-go. (12 oz. bags $5.49/ 1.5 oz. bags ($11.99/10 pack)
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  7. Cook With Coconut Oil for Added Health Benefits – I have just started to cook with Coconut Oil and I love it. Coconut oil is a great alternative to traditional oils and Liquid Coconut Oil is naturally rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) which is efficiently utilized by the body for energy production, helps aid in calorie burning, and contains 4x more MCT’s than traditional virgin coconut oil. It even has a higher heat point than traditional olive oils. Available in Sriracha, Rosemary, Garlic and Unflavored, Carrington Farms Liquid Coconut Cooking Oils are perfect for cooking, sautéing, and baking. ($11.99 / 16oz bottle)
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  9. Ditch the Soda for a Healthier Cola Alternative – One of my resolutions this year is to stop drinking so much soda. However, I definitely crave a cola every once in a while. Stripped of all the sugars, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavors, some companies have created smarter carbonated drink options. Celsius makes a great tasting ready-to-drink Cola flavor that provides a healthy boost in energy without all the added calories, and still provides that Cola flavor everyone loves. ($2.39/can)
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  11. Condiments Count Too – Unfortunately, so many popular condiments are loaded with fat, calories, sugar, and artificial ingredients, but there is one that stands outside of those pantry stuffers – Mustard. While Coleman’s Mustard is certainly a great topper to sandwiches and hot dogs, it also makes a wonderful “secret ingredient,” adding a zesty flavor to many mealtime favorites including roasts, veggies, mac & cheese, even cocktails and dessert. I love the flavor of mustard and it is great for all kinds of chicken, beef, pork and fish recipes. Coleman’s Mustard comes in two varieties, Prepared and Dried. ($4.99 – $6.99)
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What pantry switches have you made?

RawSpiceBar – Freshly Ground Spice Kits

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Do you like to try new recipes and new flavors? RawSpiceBar is a new subscription based service that delivers freshly ground spices right to your doorstep every month for only $6/month. Every month you will receive:

  • Three freshly ground spices and blends with a new regional theme
  • Kitchen-tested recipes for cooking three global dishes
  • Spice stories and culinary history of each region
  • Surprises- bonus spices, testing tips, discounts and more!

RawSpiceBar

I received in the mail one of the RawSpiceBar Monthly Packs. This pack was called the Istanbul Spice Box. Included in the pack were three spice blends: Baharat, Urfa Biber and Za’atar. Only Urfa Biber was a spice that was not a blend. This spice is a dried Turkish chile which is smoky and almost sweet. The other two are blends of spices. Each packet contains a description of the spice or spice blend and some uses for the spice.

Baharat

Also included in the pack are three different recipes in case you would like to try and new and unique dish using the spices.

Some of the past spice boxes have included:

  • Malaysian
  • Baltimore
  • Memphis
  • Jamaican
  • Peruvian
  • Japanese
  • Punjabi
  • Navajo
  • Check out the blog and find even more recipes! I tried the Za’atar Roasted Chicken and it was delicious! The blend of thyme, sesame seeds, oregano, salt and sumac proved to work quite well with the chicken and adding the lemon marinade made the chicken so moist.

    To subscribe visit RawSpiceBar . To find out more, check them out on the following social media channels:

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Try the Brioche French Toast at IHOP – It’s Delicious!

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It’s the Season of Sweet at IHOP and they have some great new flavors of Brioche French Toast! Three flavors are sure to please everyone. All of the Brioche French Toast dishes start with brioche bread dipped in IHOP’s own vanilla batter and then topped with the flavor of your choice:

Bananas Foster – This one is definitely my favorite. Covered with fresh sliced bananas and a New Orleans Foster’s buttery-brown sugar glaze. Then topped with powdered sugar and whipped topping.
Strawberry Creme – Loaded with glazed strawberries and then topped with sweet, yet tart, sour cream and brown sugar for the perfect balance.
Caramel Apple – Topped with slices of delicious apples in a yummy cinnamon sauce. Then the French Toast is drizzled with rich caramel and warm vanilla sauce.

IHOP Brioche French Toast
You can get the Brioche French Toast by itself, or add additional items such as eggs and bacon.

I took the family to our local IHOP just the other day and I ordered the Bananas Foster Brioche French Toast! It was delicious. My kids ordered pancakes, eggs, bacon and hash browns because that it more up their alley. Everything was cooked to perfection and tasty heavenly. I love having breakfast for dinner and IHOP is a great place to get the perfect breakfast meal. Prices are reasonable and they have something for everyone on their extensive menu.

Make sure you stop by IHOP soon before the Brioche French Toast is gone!

Must Have Kitchen Tool – Kitchen Elite V Blade Mandoline Slicer #KitchenEliteslicer


I don’t know why I went so long without one of these nifty kitchen tools! I have been cutting fruits and vegetables by hand for years and never thought that this might be a better solution.

Kitchen Elite V-Blade Madonline Slicer 3

The Kitchen Elite Ultra V Mandoline Slicer lets you quickly slice, cut, dice and even julienne fruit and vegetables. Plus, you can also use it for cheeses and other foods too. There are five different cutting settings:

  • 1mm slice – this insert lets you cut even slices of food 1mm thick
  • 2mm slice – this insert lets you cut even slices of food 2mm thick
  • 1.6mm julienne/grater – this is perfect for shredding carrots or other vegetables into very small strips
  • 3.5mm blade – great for making thinner shoe string fries from various vegetables
  • 7mm blade – perfect for regular fries

Kitchen Elite V-Blade Madonline Slicer 1

You won’t believe how much you will cut down on prep time. At first, I thought that this would take too much of my time by setting it up. Not so. The inserts are easy to attach. Simply press the red button to remove the insert and attach another. Clean up is easy too. Just a quick wash in the sink and I put the inserts right back into their handy case. The V-shaped blade has dual edges which makes it easy to cut, even those harder veggies such as carrots or potatoes. One of my favorite things is the food holder which keeps my hand safe from the sharp blades. Not more cut fingers for me!

Kitchen Elite V-Blade Madonline Slicer 2

The unit is very sturdy and it has a kick stand type of stand that easily folds down so that it fits in my kitchen drawer. The plastic inserts are dishwasher safe, but I find that it is just as easy to wash the down with soap and water at the same time you wipe down the slicer unit.

Here is me in action using the Kitchen Elite Ultra V Mandoline Slicer!

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Monk Fruit In The Raw MommyParty from Mom Select #InTheRaw

I received product for free in exchange for hosting a MommyParty for Monk Fruit In The Raw. All opinions are my own.

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The New Year is almost here and it is time for me to start thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. Like most Americans, one of my resolutions this year is to eat healthy and maybe even lose a little weight. During the holidays, I love to indulge in all the sweets and goodies. Unfortunately, they are loaded with sugar. However, now there is an alternative to sugar that can help with the sweet cravings – Monk Fruit In The Raw®. What is Monk Fruit in the Raw?

  • a zero calorie sweetener made from monk fruit. Monk fruit is a vine-ripened fruit that is native to Asia.
  • about 300 times sweeter than can sugar
  • blended with dextrose, a bulking agents, to create the perfect balance of sweetness
  • It can be conveniently measured, poured and used as a substitute for sugar
  • manufactured by Cumberland Packing Corp. along with Sugar In The Raw® and Stevia In The Raw®
  • does not contain added table sugar, sugar alcohols or molasses

I was provided tote bags and samples for each of my guests to take home. We discussed all the benefits of this natural sweetener and then we taste the product raw and how it came out in some chocolate chip cookies that I baked. Everyone agreed that the cookies were delicious!

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When I made the cookies, I did as Monk Fruit in the Raw suggested. I substitute only half of the sugar with Monk Fruit in the Raw. For example, in recipes calling for 1 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar, probably 3/4 cup white/organic sugar and 3/4 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw® Cup For Cup will work. For recipes using only brown sugar, try replacing half with white/organic sugar and the rest with Monk Fruit In The Raw® Cup For Cup.

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Find out more about Monk Fruit in the Raw and give it a try!

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Taste of Nature Organic Snack Bars are Perfect for On the Go

I am a very busy mom. My children are involved in a number of activities and that means we are always on the go! There are times when I want to take an extra snack, but we are tired of the same old granola bars and packs of raisins. Instead, I have found a new go-to snack: Taste of Nature Organic Snack Bars.

Taste of Nature snack bars are 100% certified organic, gluten free and are non-GMO product certified. They contain nothing artificial, they have no fillers, no added sugar and no chemicals. These bars are both high in fiber and healthy carbohydrates making them the perfect pick-me-up snack.

I love these bars! They are not only delicious but give me a quick boost of energy when I need it most. I thought my kids might turn up their noses at the bars, but they loves them as well. They are packed with all kinds of nuts, seeds and fruits and make me feel good about giving my kids this snack.

Taste of Nature

Taste of Nature Organic Bars come in the following flavors:

Argentina Peanut Plains – Organic food bars made with the best certified organic peanuts in the world and low glycemic agave syrup. And Peanuts pack a nutritional punch.

Brazilian Nut Fiesta – This is my son’s favorite! A Brazil-inspired, festive blend of certified organic nuts, seeds, fruit and crispy brown rice.

California Almond Valley – California almonds and raisins, plus nutritious certified organic seeds make for a great energy snack.

Niagara Apple Country – Hearty oats, delicious Niagara apples and a hint of cinnamon.

Nova Scotia Blueberry Fields – Forget about strawberry fields. The Nova Scotia Blueberry Field snack bar is where it’s at.

Québec Cranberry Carnival – This bar explodes with certified organic cranberries, luscious nuts and tasty seeds.

Taste of Nature Exotic Bars comes in the following flavors:

Canadian Maple Forest – Enjoy the unmistakable taste of maple in this crunchy bar.

Caribbean Ginger Island – A bar chock full of tropical candied ginger and succulent hazelnuts.

Himalayan Goji Summit – Reach new heights in taste sensations with immune boosting Himalayan goji berries.

Mediterranean Pistachio Passion – One of my favorites, this bar has pistachios, cranberries, walnuts, apricots, whole grain brown rice crisps and raspberries.

Persian Pomegranate Garden – Fly away to exotic lands with this fruit and nut bar with antioxidant-rich pomegranates, perfect figs and tasty walnuts.

These bars are $1.99 each and are available in local stores. To find a store in your area click here.

G.H. Creators Chicago Mix Popped Corn Makes a Great Gift – Giveaway!

GH Cretors

One of my favorite things to give as gifts during the holiday season is food items. First, I know that the gift will be well received and second, who doesn’t love food!

A snack item that I recently came across is G.H. Cretors Chicago Mix Popped Corn. This is not just any popcorn, but QUALITY popcorn. All of the products are gluten-free and contain non-GMO ingredients. There are no artificial flavors or colors and the products are also kosher. The attention to quality all started back in 1885 when Charles Cretors invented the popcorn machine and the family started perfecting the art of making popcorn. Five generations later, G.H. Cretors is still creating great popcorn. All of their caramel is still cooked in old fashioned copper kettles and the cheddar cheese is melted just to the right temperature before pouring it over the popcorn.

In my gift baskets this year I am putting together a sampling of G.H. Creators various flavors of popped corn, cans of soda and a favorite movie – all wrapped in a popcorn bowl! These are easy for me to have on hand for neighbors, friends and teachers.

chicago-mixMy favorite flavor is the Chicago Mix which consists of Aged Cheddar Cheese popcorn and Caramel popcorn. The flavor is a perfect mix of salty and sweet! Of course, you can also purchase Caramel popcorn and Aged Cheddar Cheese popcorn separately too. G.H. Cretors also offers two Organic products: Simply Salted made with Sea Salt and Extra Virgin Olive Oil made with just a touch of sea salt.

To find out more about G.H. Cretors:

www.ghcretors.com

https://www.facebook.com/GHCretors

https://twitter.com/GHCretors

http://www.pinterest.com/ghcretors/

http://instagram.com/ghcretors

GIVEAWAY!

How would you like to win 24 bags of single serve 1.5 oz bags of Chicago Mix? These make great gifts or keep them all for yourself! One lucky reader will win these 24 bags. To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. (Open to US and Canadian Residents.)

GHCretors

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Make Snack Time Easier with Jif To Go® Dippers #MC #GetGoing

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Jif To Go Dippers. I received a sample to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

Every week I look over my calendar hoping that we will be much busier than than last week. It never seems to happen! School activities, soccer practices, music lessons and play dates seem to fill up my calender every week. Often we are running from one activity and I am often hearing the complaint of “Mom, I’m Hungry!”

I decided that I needed to have some healthier snacks on hand that my kids liked and that would be easy to grab and go. Since my kids already love Jif® peanut butter, I thought they might like the new Jif To Go® Dippers. These snacks come in two different varieties – Creamy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter Spread. Each container comes with pretzels as well.

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I put both flavors on the kitchen counter and my kids immediately wanted to try them! They tried the Chocolate Silk Peanut Butter Spread first. The exclaimed that the spread was delicious and that the pretzels were the perfect complement. The Creamy Peanut Butter was also a big hit too!

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One of the ways that I have decided to eliminate the “hungrees” between meals was to find nutritious snacks that are easy to grab and go. First, I found a cute plastic container at the dollar store. This bucket has two handles and is easy to tote around. Second, I filled the tote with water bottles, raisins, dried fruit snacks, cheese and crackers and Jif To Go® Dippers. I keep the container by the door to make it easy to grab on the way out. These snacks are just our to-go snacks and are not to be eaten in the house. This has really cut down on the kids snacking on unhealthy snacks during the day. I also add fresh fruit if needed.

Find out more about  Jif To Go® Dippers:

Jif Website
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I Tried It and I Liked It – Schwan’s Home Service

Schwans

I recently placed my first order through Schwan’s Home Service. My sister has been using Schwan’s for years, but I used to live in an area that did not have Schwan’s service. Now, fortunately, I do!

What I Love About Schwan’s Home Service

  1. It is so easy to order! The online catalog it easy to browse and navigate. Simply add items to your cart as you go and then checkout. You will be presented with a number of options for delivery dates too.
  2. Simplified meals. I also keep on hand a number of simply, easy to cook meals that we can eat on those busy nights. Schwan’s offers over 350 high-quality affordable food choices that keeps my family happy.
  3. Delivered right to my door. The Schwan’s delivery man arrived right on time and delivered my food without any problems. He also dropped off a catalog that I can keep on hand. All the food was the right temperature as well.
  4. No club to join. There are no contracts with Schwan’s. You do not need a minimum order and everything is 100% guaranteed. Plus, there is no payment required until the delivery is made.
  5. Schwan’s Rewards Points. For every purchase you make, you get reward points. You earn 1 point for every $1 spent. Earn 20 points and you get $1 off your next order. 500 points earns you $25 towards a future order.

What did we get in our first order? I choose the Vanilla Sundae Cones which were so good that they didn’t stay long in the freezer.

Vanilla Sundae Cones - Schwans

I also ordered the Four Cheese Penne with Prosciutto. This was absolutely delicious and perfect for our family of four.

Four Cheese Penne - Schwans

Don’t forget that you can save on your first Schwan’s order:

$5 off $25 Order – Code: JULIEN2
$10 off $50 Order – Code: JULIEN2
$15 off $75 Order – Code: JULIEN15

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