Showing posts with label Clever Girls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clever Girls. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Comfort in a Cup

This post is sponsored by Tempur-Pedic, the brand millions of owners trust to deliver their best night’s sleep every night. Enjoy our Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer now and give the gift of custom comfort to someone you love. I love the word comfy. My middle son, Chase, pronounces it "comfty". How adorable is that? We love to cuddle and get comfty together quite often around here.

Comfy to me is watching a movie in some stretchy pants, a cup of flavored coffee, snuggled under a fluffy blanket. Christmas time offers so many great moments to be comfy and it is absolutely one of my favorite things to do in the month of December. Make it a Christmas movie and an eggnog latte and this girl is HAPPY.

Here are some of my favorite "Comfort in a Cup" recipes!

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate:


This is the super easy fast version. I saw a ton of recipes on Pinterest with steamed milk and espresso and yadda yadda but I'm too lazy for all that business.

Here's how I made it:
Cup of prepared coffee
Caramel sauce (about a tablespoon or two)
Packet of hot chocolate mix
Pinch of sea salt
Milk or creamer (make it caramel creamer to take it up a notch!)
Whipped cream
Extra caramel sauce to drizzle and sea salt to sprinkle on top

Mix together the coffee, hot cocoa mix, creamer or milk, caramel and sea salt. Top with whip cream and then drizzle with extra caramel sauce and sprinkle extra sea salt on top.

It's that mixture of sweet with  a hint of salty that I just can not get enough of!

Homemade Coffee Creamers

Photo courtesy of Deliciously Organic

This is something I have been wanting to do for some time now. I am totally addicted to flavored coffee creamers but not a big fan of all the junk that's in them. Here are some amazing flavors made by Deliciously Organic. Flavored coffee creamer in a hot cuppa joe is comfort all the way for me!


Hot Buttered Rum


Well I tried to show you this one as a video but my laptop decided that the file was corrupted and I couldn't redo it because I drank it all. Here is a screen shot from the video. See that smile? Hot Buttered Rum.

So. Here is the recipe. You'll have to wait a little longer to see me get merry on video. Sorry. Or You're Welcome. Whichever. Did I mention all the Hot Buttered Rum I drank?

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups softened vanilla ice cream
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Each Serving:
1/2 cup boiling water
1 to 3 Tbsp rum

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in the ice cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and store in the freezer.

For each serving, place 1/2 cup butter mixture in a mug; add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Stir in rum.

The butter mixture can be prepared ahead of time and kept stored in the freezer. Then whenever you are ready for a cup of happy, scoop it out and mix with some hot water! Easy and delicious way to warm up on a cold night!

*Original recipe from Taste of Home Magazine

The only thing that can possibly make these drinks more comforting is the people you are sharing them with. (YES. You have to share.) Enjoy every warm and snuggly moment.

Go ahead, get comfty. And have a really wonderful Christmas!

Follow #clevercomforts on Twitter for more comforting Holiday inspiration!

Comfort is the perfect gift for everyone on your holiday gift list, so be sure to take advantage of Tempur-Pedic's Buy 2, get 1 free pillow offer! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. *All of this was my idea. These are my own thoughts. Hot Buttered Rum. The End.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Festive Holiday Dessert Party Ideas!


Thanks to Duncan Hines for sponsoring my writing. There's no limit to the baking possibilities, so grab your favorite Duncan Hines mix and Comstock or Wilderness fruit fillings and Bake On! www.duncanhines.com

You guys know that one of my favorite things to do is bake desserts! With the Holidays here I thought it would be fun to show you some of my favorite go-to desserts.

If I'm planning a Christmas party, I forget about ham and potatoes and all that business. I go straight to the best part of the meal. Desserts! There is nothing more fun than throwing a dessert party with friends. And Christmas is the perfect time to do it!

All of these ideas I am showing you are treats that you can grab and eat. No utensils needed! All you need are some plates and mugs and you are ready for a great dessert party with friends!

Here are a few of my favorites and also some new ones that I found on Pinterest that I want to try!

Eggnog Spritz Cookies with Rum Glaze


I am an eggnog die-hard. Put some rum in it and oh baby, you are talking my language! I have been making these cookies for a few years now and I love how easy they are compared to how beautiful and tasty they are! A cookie press makes them look professionally made!

Homemade Sea Salt Caramels


This is a new favorite that I am really excited about! I think they would be so cute in a jar on a holiday dessert table! Perfect for a take home gift for your guests as well.

Oreo Truffles


This is one of those desserts where everyone raves about it and asks for the recipe. Prepare yourself by making up some recipe cards in advance! (Another great take home gift idea!)

Pecan Tassies 


My Mom has made these since I was a little girl and it's just not Christmas without them! They are like miniatures pecan pies and perfect for a dessert night!

Santa Hat Brownies

I mean, how cute are these?! I haven't made any yet so I do not have a picture to share but check them out! I think the kids will love these! These would be super quick and easy with a box of Duncan Hines Brownie Mix!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake

Cheesecake Factory Photo
I found this on Pinterest from The Cheesecake Factory. If anyone has a recipe for a copycat, let me know!! Look at how beautiful it is! I think it would be fun to make them as cupcakes for a buffet dessert party.

Hot Cocoa Peppermint Marshmallows
These would be super cute with a cup of hot cocoa to go along with all of these amazing desserts!

Fudge Rum Balls

Photo From Duncan Hines
 I found these on the Duncan Hines website and OMG. Yes, please!

And, well, let's be honest...anything from their Christmas Recipes list is looking pretty good!

Can you say, "Dessert overload?" Not that there is such a thing.

All of these desserts would look absolutely beautiful spread out on a holiday buffet table. Spread some lights, greenery and shiny ornaments all around the table and you have a gorgeous and delicious party in a flash!

What are you go-to desserts to serve over the Holidays? Do you have any "Desserts With Friends" party ideas? I'd love to hear them!

Remember to check out Duncan Hines' website www.duncanhines.com to find some great recipes for your holiday get-together! I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective.

All opinions are my own. As always!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Greek Tuna Salad Featuring Marzetti's Simply Dressed Salad Dressing

 

I'm really excited to share a new product with you guys that I am in love with! Marzetti has launched a new line of salad dressings called "Simply Dressed". I'm loving them because the ingredients are SIMPLE! I can read everything in the ingredients list and there is no high fructose corn syrup! There are no preservatives either which scores high points in my book. So many of the every day salad dressings out there are full of chemicals and hfcs and who knows what else. This salad dressing definitely helps me keep my Food Golden Rule.

I've seen these dressings on sale and I've heard other bloggers mention finding coupons for them (you can sign up for their newsletter to get coupons!). So you can definitely get them at a great price. Honestly, I'd pay full dollar for them. Salad dressings are something we use quite often in our house and I feel good using a brand that keeps the ingredient list so pure.

I used the Greek Feta Salad Dressing on a Greek Tuna Salad that I made and it was so delicious! Here is what I put in it:

Greek Tuna Salad Featuring Marzetti's Simple Dressed Salad Dressing:


Chopped romaine lettuce
Chopped baby spinach
Chick Peas, rinsed
2 oz water packed tuna
Sliced cucumber
Grape tomatoes
Crumbled feta cheese
Marzetti's Greek Feta Simply Dressed Salad Dressing
Mini whole wheat pita

This was a delicious combination! I think the Balsamic flavor would be equally delicious on this salad as well. If you are not a tuna fan, you could substitute with chicken.


I am really looking forward to trying the other flavors, especially the Ginger Sesame one! What do you guys thing that would taste good on? An Asian type salad with chicken and mandarin oranges, maybe? I'm thinking a Buffalo Chicken Wrap using the Bleu Cheese dressing should be my next venture.
Have you tried any of these yet? I'd love to hear some thoughts and recipes from all of you!Marzettie has some great recipes using these dressings as a Downloadable Recipe Book. These are some seriously great looking recipes!

Sorry, I know I just threw a ton of links at you, but I honestly don't want you to miss anything!

I was one of the bloggers selected by T. Marzetti Company and Clever Girls Collective to host a Marzetti Simply Dressed review. They provided me with product to test myself and compensation for my time. However, my opinions are entirely my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kids and Allowances - Teaching the Value of a Dollar


This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I've been wanting to write about kids and allowances for awhile now so I was super excited to be asked by the Clever Girls to write about just that!

We came up with a plan to help our kids learn the value of a dollar and to realize that Mom is not the maid. We went back and forth about allowance for awhile because I feel strongly that kids should help around the house without getting paid for it. I really want my boys to learn what it means to help around the house to show that they value our home, our things and each other. But I also want to teach them about money. About saving and spending and everything in between!

We began giving our boys an allowance for more than just getting things around the house done. We are using allowance as a way to encourage responsibility and cooperativeness in the home, not just for taking the garbage out. Basically we watch for attitudes when we ask for a job to be done. If they do the job without whining or causing a problem, we take note.

Our oldest is almost eleven so we bascially just give him a flat rate at then end of the week based on his attitude when asked to help out and if he went above and beyond the chores we expect him to do. Our youngest two (eight and six years old) had a harder time making it the whole week so we started a marble system to keep track and spark daily interest. Every time they do a job the first time they are asked, without attitude, or do something above and beyond, etc, we put a marble in their jar. Each marble earns them ten cents. At the end of the week, we add the marbles up and that is their allowance. On a good week, they will make $1. We pay our oldest $2-3 per week because he does way more to help out around the house than our younger boys.


The jobs that are expected to be done without pay are things like taking the dog out, helping with the dishes and making their beds. The jobs that we pay for are doing laundry, vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom. (For example.) We also give marbles to our youngest two for basic cooperation and responsibility in taking care of things for themselves. If they get up and get ready for school and make their lunches without a fight, I will give them a marble. If it makes Momma's life easier? Money for everyone!

We are working on the art of teaching them about saving and giving a percentage of their allowances. They make very small amounts of money and at first we just let them spend it on silly things here and there to let them figure out how it feels to buy things with their own money. There have been "Ugh, why did you let me waste my money on this?!" tears and "I wish I would have saved my money because I would have had enough for this by now!" tears. All really great lessons about letting money burn a hole in your pocket. Now we need to move towards teaching how to manage what you save, spend and give.

We are Dave Ramsey fans and try to manage our money along the lines of what he teaches so we are steering the kids in that direction as well. We talk very openly with the boys about our budget, how much every day things like water and electricity cost, as well as make them aware of wastefulness (which costs money!). We model saving and giving by example. I think that really is the best way to teach kids life lessons.

I would love some advice about what percentages you have your kids give, save and spend. How do you handle allowance in your home?


I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.

*This is a sponsored post but all opinions and thoughts came from my very own brain! (Don't be afraid.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Raising Good Citizens...Getting Involved In Your Community!





Thanks to Walgreens for sponsoring my writing. Help Walgreens help others! Visit their Facebook page here to learn about their charitable partners and decide which cause Walgreens will donate to with a quick vote.

Getting involved in the community is a big priority for us. We are bound and determined to teach our kids to be good citizens! Sometimes it can feel like an overwhelming thing to teach a child. But teaching volunteerism is done best just like every other teaching moment...by example!

Here are some of the ways we get involved with giving back to the community. I'd love to hear yours too! 

The obvious places to check for help are your local food shelf and your church. There are always needs waiting to be met there. I have found some great opportunities in my local newspaper. Check yours out to see if they list volunteer needs. And if they do not? Request it!
One organization always asking for help in our paper is the Ronald McDonald House. If you live anywhere near a hospital, there is probably a McD house nearby. They house families with seriously ill children in the hospital and are always in need of food for their guests. We went with a group from our Church and prepared a meal. It was fun to cook together, especially knowing what a blessing it would be to those staying there. When you are tired and weary and emotionally drained with a child in the hospital, a free warm meal is a wonderfully practical blessing. This is a great project to do with older kids who can help prepare food and cook.
Habitat for Humanity is another great organization to get involved in. It's not really something you can do with kids until they are older. But while my husband helps out it is a great chance to explain to my boys that giving up their Daddy for a few hours on a Saturday so some kids can have a house is really a pretty small sacrifice.

 Since hurricane Irene came roaring through the East Coast causing wide spread flooding in Vermont, we have had a very large need for volunteers in our communities to the south. Thanks to one of my lovely local twitter friends, Sarah, a website was started to connect people who needed help with people who wanted to give help. It has been amazing to watch Vermonters come together and help one another on such a large scale. Much more help is needed and will be for some time! vtresponse.com is the perfect example of jumping in and doing what you can with what you have. Everyone can be involved in some way and on some level! If you see a need and you know how to fill it? DO IT!


Find more ways to help Vermont by following them on twitter @vtresponse and the hashtag #vtresponse.

During the past week I was able to help at the Vermont 211 call center. When there is a natural disaster or other local emergency, your state's 211 call center is going to get very busy and very likely will need some extra help. You can find out how to help out with that and many other ways to get involved in your community in non-emergency times by connecting with The United Way.

My son's school is running penny wars to raise money for families affected by the floods. It is a really easy way to get a large group of kids involved in donating money. Kids can scrounge up pennies pretty easily. And pennies can add up to a lot of dollars! They sabotage the other classes by donating dollars and other change. It was so fun!

Another great way to get your kids involved is to donate toys and clothes. This works out great because you get to clean out your closets and your kids get to learn how to give to others! Just be sure to only donate items that are in good condition and toys that are like-new and have all their pieces. While reading through some of the needs on vtresponse.com, I saw one woman asking for shoes for her kids. All their shoes were ruined in the water and muck from the flooding and they can't just run down to the store to get some new ones. This is the perfect example of how a child can help. I guarantee if you explain that situation to your child, they will be more than happy to give up a pair of shoes to help out! Find simple opportunities like this for your child to help with. Make it personal. Paint a picture for them and help them understand just how blessed they are. 

Kids are tenderhearted. They will act. We could learn a lot from their examples too! 

Giving back is a healthy way to show gratitude for what you've been blessed with. Get out there and get involved. Your community needs you!

Don't forget to help Walgreens help others! Visit their Facebook page here to learn about their charitable partners and decide which cause Walgreens will donate to with a quick vote. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are honestly and truly mine. All mine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Girls For A Change - Show Your Support In One Easy Way!



The following is a post sponsored by Yahoo! Every time someone clicks here to make Yahoo! their homepage, they're showing their support for Girls For A Change.

I was selected for this opportunity by
Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


I'm pretty picky about what sponsored posts I will write. I won't share just anything with you guys so I can make a buck. When this offer came to me, I instantly said yes. This is something I can get behind!

I'm really excited to share with you the opportunity to support a really great cause!
Girls For A Change is an organization that empowers girls to create social change by inviting young women to design, lead, fund and implement social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Even though I have three boys I have a soft spot in my heart for young girls. Especially girls who have limited opportunities before them. I can remember being a young girl and the struggles to find yourself and fit in and they are still fresh in my mind. Girls who do not have the loving support and insightful wisdom of stable women NEED someone to step up and take that role. I love that there are women doing just that with the Girls For A Change program.


Here is an excerpt from the
Girls For A Change website that explains more about what they do:

Girls For A Change empowers young women to create change in their own communities with the guidance of adult women. About 5-10 girls and two women "coaches" make up a Girl Action Team. Teams design and implement a social change project that will make a lasting change in their neighborhood, city or school. More than 100 Girl Action Teams meet across the US and internationally each year. Check out how Girl Action Teams are transforming the world in your city.

In an effort to get the word out and do some good for this awesome program, Yahoo! will donate $10 to Girls For A Change (GFC) for each person who switches their homepage browser to Yahoo! -- up to an amazing $10,000!


Be sure to use the specific link above or it won't count!

Why Should You Make Yahoo! Your Homepage? It offers...
  1. Personalized content: The Yahoo! homepage delivers you the most relevant content based on your interests, time of day, and what’s most popular with other users like you.
     
  2. Your World and The World: The Yahoo! homepage uniquely brings together your world (your email, local news) with the world around you (current events, entertainment news, financial updates and more) 
  1. Human Interest: Articles on the homepage have a human approach – more than just news, it delivers human interest stories that you just have to click on.

 Thank you so much for reading and supporting Girls For A Change by changing your browser homepage to Yahoo!

    *All opinions are my own*

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Yahoo! Email: My Mommyhood Lifeline




    Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

    I already told you about my email love story with my husband. But email isn't just about loooove notes for me! It keeps me connected with friends and family around the country.

    When I first started emailing on a regular basis (that makes me sound old), my babies were actually babies (sob). I was stuck in the house with three kids under the age of five, two of who were in diapers. My life was all about nursing babies, changing babies and playing with hot wheels. I was lonely. I was talking to my kids about random stuff just so I could talk! It wasn't easy for me to get out much. An infant and a toddler who could barely walk tend to slow you down. Add in a five year old and you just stay home.

    My girlfriends and I started emailing back and forth about getting together and dreaming up girl's nights. Then our emails began to just be random and about silly things like the latest Grey's Anatomy episode.  We started to send emails back and forth all. day. long. It would only take a quick second to check my email and laugh then reply with a "you are crazy, girl!" but I have to say, those emails made my day. It got me through those moments of feeling like I was alone. I laughed, I cried, I grew so very close to my friends. We would send pictures and take turn making comments and I swear I thought I might die from laughter on most days. It didn't matter how busy we were, we always made time to check in with each other. There is nothing like knowing that with a click of a button I could talk to a friend!


    Being a stay at home mom is a hard job. I have always felt like it is a blessing, it's what I always wanted to do. But sometimes, you just need to know that there is more to life than diapers. You need to feel like you can have a conversation with an adult other than Big Bird or the mail man or anyone at the grocery store who will listen to you.  Emailing with my friends did that for me.

    That was quite a few years ago but to this day my friends and I are able to stay in touch through email. Now we have Facebook and blogs but nothing beats a good ol' email thread full of encouraging words and hilarious inside jokes from friends.

    I could never live without my Yahoo! Email. I count on it to be my lifeline through mommy-hood and so much more.

    This video is a cute reminder of it all for me!


     Tell me about the first time you realized you couldn't live without your email and why?!

    Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions and stories are mine and they are all true!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Cube Dog App - Your Kids Will Love It!



    Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

    I am always looking for fun new apps to put on our iPhones for the kids to play. It's the perfect thing to keep them busy during those waiting periods of life...in line, in traffic, while waiting for a table at a restaurant, so they'll be quiet and leave me alone at any time of the day, really.


    So when I was asked to review the Cube Dog app I was really excited! My boys love those digital pet kind of games so I knew they would love this. My husband, Matt, downloaded it on his iPhone 4 and started showing the boys how to play. It was only a matter of minutes before they were off on their own playing with Cube Dog and screaming about who's turn was next. 


    Cube Dog is a fun 3D digital dog. You can create your own dog by choosing it's ears, nose, eyes, etc and colors. With a shake of the phone, you can change your mind and change the looks of your dog! The full 3D graphics are really amazing. You can rotate and zoom around your dog. The 3D animations are super high-quality and make the game so fun. You can add accessories and all kinds of other options to your dog as well as teach it to respond with the swipes and taps of your finger on the screen. My boys loved making it do tricks. Their favorite was to make it a ninja. I could tell it was their favorite because of this:




    Their other favorite (and actually mine too, I kept making them do it just cause it made me giggle) was to make their Cube Dog call them from his iPhone. How cute is that?!


     The Cube Dog app is compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch 4 with camera. (Oh that reminds me, you can take pictures and insert your dog into any scene! Even take a picture of your dog with you!)

    Check out this video for a sneak peek...



    The video is just a peek. The actual app has so many fun options to play with. You can create up to 3 dogs at a time (one for each kid, perfect). And the best part is that you can download it for FREE. There are additional treats and fun options you can buy your cube dog as well! Head over to the iTunes store to download your own!

    You can also check out Cube Dog on Facebook for more details and to watch for a fun contest running June 13-17!

    While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.
     

    Thursday, May 19, 2011

    How Yahoo! Mail made my marriage better...for real!



    Thank you to Yahoo! Mail for sponsoring this post about staying connected. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


     A long time ago in a galaxy far far away Matt and I shared an email address.

    *gasp* I know

    We were so 1999.

    As time went on I decided I needed my own email address.  I wasn't sure who or what I'd be emailing about *gasp* (yes, we shall be gasping a lot during this post) but I knew I wanted my own. I was tired of reading Matt's emails about Fantasy Football. So I joined Yahoo! and my love affair with email began.

    It was easy to see how emailing made my life easier in a practical way. But what I didn't expect was how much fun it would be!  And also? How much it would affect my marriage...don't worry, in a good way!

    Matt began to email me during the day while he was at work.  I'd wake up and there would be an email from him and my morning was instantly exciting!

    Remember when getting an email was exciting?

    Related: I am old.

    Actually, I still get excited about getting an email.

    Also related: I am a nerd.

    Anyway. Email. Love affair. Stay with me people.

    It began as a little hello here or there, a list of things that we needed to talk about, a reminder about picking up milk on the way home. But as the days went on, the emails between us became so much more. Flirting and silly bantering became a fun way to keep in touch throughout our day.

    As a stay at home mom, emails from anyone felt like "Oh thank God there are real humans out there!" but emails from my husband were sweet reminders that even though he was terribly busy at work, he always had time for me. My love affair for email totally started a fresh love affair with my husband.

    To this day we email each other daily. It gets me through the day. I love it. I love him. I love email!

    All for different reasons, of course. Just thought I'd clarify.

    The video below is so sweet and pretty much sums up what I'm talking about!


    Yes, we have also sent a lot of I'm Sorry emails. But they always end with me sending Matt pictures of us in a slide show! Wait, no they don't. I'm such a slacker.

    So tell me, who else has some good email love stories? I want to hear them!

    Right after I go send my husband an email...

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Shake Hands With A Hero



    Thank you to Procter & Gamble, Kroger and the USO for sponsoring this blog post and the Shake Hands With A Hero initiative. Please click here to learn more about this program. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

    My husband, Matt, is an Officer in the Vermont Air National Guard. We are a fairly new military family, (which I have told you about before) though we have a long history of family members who have served. I take my role as a military spouse very personally. When I was asked to take part in getting the word out about Shake Hands With A Hero, I couldn't have been more excited! I love to do anything I can to support our troops and their families!

    Matt was recently given the Family Readiness Coordinator for his unit. He told me that basically though, it's my job. (Thanks, Honey!) We will be the contacts for all of the family members who have a deployed family member. I am honestly very honored to fill that role.

     Matt recently has had to say good-bye to some of his fellow co-workers on the base as they were deployed. It was so very hard for them to leave their families. It brings tears to my eyes just to think about it! Every day as a military family we are reminded of those who serve and think about the day that our turn will come.

    What I want to do is encourage you to think more often about the men and women who sacrifice so readily for our country.  Here is your turn to take a moment to remember them and show them you care!

    Here are the details about Shake Hands With A Hero:

    Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kroger and its family of stores have partnered together to support the USO – an organization that provides an extensive range of programs at more than 150 centers in 27 countries and at hundreds of entertainment events each year to support the morale, welfare, social and entertainment needs of troops and their families, free of charge – in its mission to help American troops and their families. Through the partnership Kroger will donate $250,000 to the USO.  

    As part of the partnership Kroger and P&G have created an opportunity to let consumers virtually “shake hands with a hero” to show your gratitude to US soldiers in uniform to thank them for their service to our country. The first 50,000 people who visit www.honoringourheroes.com to shake a soldier’s hand will receive a coupon (which will be loaded to their Kroger Plus Card) for $1 off P&G products.

    I'd love it if all of you would take a moment to make a couple of clicks and show our troops that we are behind them and thinking of them! Thanks so much!

    A big thank you to all of you who so selflessly sacrifice for our freedom and to all of the families who stay behind. Hero doesn't seem like a big enough word for all of you!




    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    Women Helping Women - Supporting Heart of Haiti for Mother's Day!


     I've shared with you guys about The Heart of Haiti Project before and I was really excited to get the chance to share more about it with you!  With Mother's Day around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to get the word out about The Heart of Haiti  products.  I love supporting this project because it's a great chance to make a direct impact on the lives of artisans in Haiti who are still recovering from the earthquake of 2010. I am especially excited this time around to tell you about the women of Haiti that you will directly support when you purchase something from the HOH product line available through Macy's. There is nothing more empowering and beautiful than women supporting women across the globe!

    I love hearing stories about women helping women. I know I personally would not be the person I am today without the women who have impacted me. Of course my Mom has been my biggest fan my whole life and has always shown me love and support in everything I do. I can honestly say I would not be who I am without her presence in my life. Then there are the Grandmothers who whispered too many prayers to count on my behalf and the Aunts who have been there with an encouraging word and helpful advice. My biggest supporters in my life have been fellow women, whether a family member or just a friend, I believe in the power of women standing together in love. I believe that we can make a difference in the world by simply being kind and supportive of one another.

    In honor of women around the world who may not have been as blessed as I have with such amazing support, I would love it if you would head over to Macy's Heart of Haiti product page and purchase a one of a kind piece of art handmade (and signed!) by local Haitian artisans. Buy a piece for a woman you love this Mother's Day and you will be supporting the women of Haiti in such a strong and powerful way AND you'll get a beautiful hand crafted piece to show for it!

    This is the one I want for Mother's Day. (hint, hint)


    Because we love ya, the Clever Girls have a special discount just for you! Just enter CLEVERGIRLS when checking out and get 15% off when you purchase items from Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace products!!  The discount is only valid from May 3rd-May 8th so be sure to order between those dates to get your discount!

    View the Shop for a Better World / Heart Of Haiti collection in it's entirety (including just added items for Spring!)

    Thanks so much for supporting such an amazing cause!

    I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.   

    My only "payment" for writing this piece is a necklace like this which I love so much that I think you need to go order one of your own right now!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Five Fabulous Bloggers You Don't Want To Miss!



    Thanks to Trop 50 for sponsoring my writing about fabulous bloggers. This year Trop50 is granting 50 fabulous wishes. Click here to enter for a chance to win $1,000 to help grant a friend's wish!

    Today I'm going to share my five favorite bloggers with you!  As a blogger I really appreciate the "art" of blogging and I honestly read so many great blogs that it was SO hard to choose!  The five I chose are the ones that I always make sure to read first. So if my Google Reader says 200 unread...I scroll through to find these five first and then if I have time, I read the rest!  So yeah, they're pretty special!

    The first Fab blogger I'm going to introduce you to really needs no introduction.  She is a highly popular blogger.  But a few weeks ago I made her Cinnamon Rolls and told everyone that they were from The Pioneer Woman and nobody knew who I was talking about!  I was shocked! So I asked some family members if they knew who she was and they said no!  Do you people live in a hole?!  So, I think she is well known among other bloggers, but not necessarily among the general public.  I thought I definitely should mention The Pioneer Woman because she is obviously not well known by my faithful readers (ie my Mom).  She is by far my favorite!  I love her recipes, her photographs, her humor, and her style!  She chats with you in her posts like you are her bff and you're sitting down with a cup of coffee.  I think I model myself after her a little bit in that area when I blog. I really do want it to feel like we are friends chatting as you read my words. (How am I doing?!)  The Pioneer Woman just published a book, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels which is her and her husband's love story.  I want it NEED IT as soon as it comes out as well as her cookbook which I am way behind in owning, because, helllloooo, I'm her biggest fan.


    My next favorite is a fellow Mom.  She blogs about her life at I Should Be Folding Laundry.  At first, I thought, "Why do I want to read about someone else's life as a Mom?  I know how that story goes."  But the more I read, the more I wanted to know about Beth.  When she writes, she bears her soul.  She is real. So real.  Among the tragedy in her life she has found hope and I so admire her for that.  Beth is also an amazing photographer and I just love reading her tips on taking pictures and seeing the amazing shots she takes.  For all my Indiana friends, Beth is in NW Indiana and is always looking for new clients for her photography business, Beth Fletcher Photography.  Read her. Love her. I do!


    Beauty and Bedlam

    Balancing Beauty and Bedlam is one of those blogs that is just all around helpful. Jen provides recipes, inspiring thoughts, fashion advice and lots of practical tips on saving money and living frugally.  Every recipe that I post on Tuesdays is linked to her Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods which is one of my favorite ways to browse for new recipes and new blog friends!

    Diary of a Dairy Queen - First of all, her blog title makes me want to get a DQ Blizzard.  But anyway.  I recently met Alison on Twitter and fell in love with her blog right away.  It's simple but so very full of goodness in every corner!  I especially love that she is a local Vermont gal and I really love supporting a fellow Vermont blogger!  One of these days, I'm going to meet her. Without stalking her, mind you.  Follow Alison on her adventure of living on a farm in Vermont, married to a dairy farmer.  Does it get any more charming than that?! 


    Motherhood in NYC is the blog I read for just plain fun. "Marinka", as she is known on her blog, makes me laugh.  She makes me laugh so hard I cry sometimes.  She is irreverent and blunt and the total opposite of me.  Which is why I enjoy reading her blog so much.  She says things I would never say and then I laugh.  It's a good relationship we have.  And I will happily share her with you! 

    Don't forget to enter the 50 Fabulous Wishes contest for a chance to win $1,000 to support a friend's wish. I was selected for this Tropicana Trop50 sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do. I received compensation to use and facilitate my post.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Heart of Haiti


    When I was asked by The Clever Girls Collective to write about the Heart of Haiti project, I immediately said YES.  

    I love that this project stands for helping families reclaim their lives together in an artistic way. Since the devastating earthquake that happened one year ago today, Haitians have had a very difficult time trying to make a living.  Raw materials were wiped out and the general lack of sanitary living conditions made it impossible to resume life quickly and easily.


    By purchasing a handcrafted masterpiece from Heart of Haiti hosted by Macy's, we can directly benefit Haitian families.




    Each item is handmade by local Haitian artisans.  I love all of the pieces but I think I will get the watermelon bowl and maybe the pineapple bowl too.  They are really beautiful pieces of art!  And the story behind them makes the purchase so meaningful.



    You can go to Heart of Haiti - Shop For A Better World to browse all of the products.  They are priced really well (the watermelon bowl is only $16!!) and there is even free shipping with some purchases!  For each purchase you make, 22% of the retail cost goes directly to the Artisan themselves! And I love, love that the items are signed by the Artisan.


    It's such an easy way to help a family thrive in Haiti. And it's so much more than just a paycheck for the Artisians as well. Check out this blurb from the How It's Helping section of the Heart of Haiti website:


    Heart of Haiti also offers new opportunities for artists to collaborate with US designers, strengthening artisan associations and inspiring and energizing their communities. Men and women are working together, gaining confidence and hope for the future. Master artisans who planned to leave the country are now staying behind to train the next generation. The tradition of rich and unique Haitian art lives on... through the generosity of many like you.





    Please consider purchasing something from the Heart of Haiti and make a difference.  Thanks for joining me in support of such a worthy cause!



    I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.

    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG Present The Best Gift Ever!


    SWAGG is a free mobile app (download here) that lets you shop smarter using your mobile phone. Buy, send or swap SWAGG GIFTS and organize your old school plastic gift cards.

    For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) , up to $125,000.

    Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! Download the SWAGG app and then visit the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes site to enter to win a trip for two to the Sundance Film Festival. Entry deadline is January 3, 2011, 11:59pm, PST.

     I loooove getting gift cards.  It's a card that gives you permission to shop, what's not to love!  So I thought this mobile app was an ingenious idea, especially with the holidays coming!

    Basically, you can use the app on your smart phone (we use it on our iPhone) to buy, send or even swap SWAGG GIFTS and organize your plastic gift cards.  It's easy to use and quite handy!  You can keep track of everything right on your phone.  Forget cluttering your wallet with tons of plastic cards!  I love it!

    Many people think gift cards are too impersonal but I think it's a great gift.  I love buying gifts for people but sometimes it's hard to figure out what to get and rather than just guess and end up giving a gift they don't love, you can give them a free pass to shop for themselves! 

    Last year we gave our boys a Wii for Christmas.  We made a really big deal out of it and their responses were priceless.  I will never forget how it felt to literally make their year!  It was the best moment.  We still talk about it and laugh at how they all screamed and jumped and hugged. So sweet.  It really was the best gift I ever gave because of how much the boys cherished getting it. They were truly thankful and appreciative and that just made it all worth while!  I have a video of them opening it and it is hilarious. I won't share it with you though because I was in my Christmas jammies and have bed head.  I do have some pride, you know.

    As the boys get older I foresee buying gifts will get more difficult.  That is when the gift cards will really come in handy!  For now I will enjoy the easiness of making their day with video games and tape.  Yes, I give my kids tape and paper in their stockings and they love it!

    I'm pretty excited to share this fun app with you and I hope you take a minute to check it out!  Especially because SWAGG has partnered with non-profit Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C).  For every download of the app between now and Dec. 31, 2010, SWAGG will donate $1 to SU2C up to $125,000. Awesome, right?! Visit the SU2C site for more info!

    AND!

    Clever Girls Collective and SWAGG are sending a lucky pair of movie fans to the Sundance Film Festival! The sweepstakes is offered exclusively through the Clever 1000, and it has a pretty amazing prize, including:

    * 2 night/3 day stay at Yarrow Hotel in Park City Utah (Jan 21 - Jan 23, 2011)
    * Ground transportation to and from hotel to airport in Park City, Utah
    * Dinner for two at Tao Lounge, including 2 nightclub passes
    * All access to The House of SWAGG Gifting Suite
    * 2 tickets to a movie premiere on Saturday, January 22nd -- movie tbd
    * $4,000 value

    NICE!  (More info on the Ultimate SWAGG Getaway Sweepstakes)


    Learn more about the coolest new app that revolutionizes the whole shopping, gifting, and gift card-organizing experience and Download the SWAGG app to your iPhone or Droid. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses  Blog With Integrity

    While this was a sponsored post, the opinions are my own and honest, as always!

     

    Monday, December 13, 2010

    Video Game Review: Battle of Giants - Dinosaurs Strike for Wii


    I have three boys. I think it needs no explanation that they love two things: video games and violence.  I try my hardest to channel the love of those things the best way I can.  I avoid letting them play the really violent war type video games and stick to fiction games like the Lego games. The only thing they are doing is "destroying" legos, not killing people.


    So when I heard about the game Battle of Giants - Dinosaurs Strike for Wii. I loved it right away.  A chance for my boys to get out some aggression and "fight" in a video game without pretending to kill people? Perfect.


    In this game from Ubisoft, up to four players can customize their dinosaurs and then face off in a fight.  The more you win, the more items you can unlock to customize your dinosaur.

    Charlie is showing me how he's customizing his dino.


     I liked that the boys tended to be up on their feet while they were playing too.


     Here is Charlie giving it all he's got to get his dinosaur to rebound from a "KO" (knock out for my non-moms of boys).


    My boys are ages 5, 7 and 10.  They figured the game out very quickly and had no problems understanding what to do.  Even my 5 year old who can't read yet figured out what to do without help.  Our 12 year old neighbor came by and played with us and he thought the game was fun and challenging, even for him!  So I was happy to see that the game can be enjoyable for such a wide variety of ages.  My younger boys did seem to enjoy the game the most though.

    I had to pry the controllers out of their hands at bedtime and they laid in bed talking about the game. So I think that pretty much spells success! 

    Battle of Giants - Dinosaurs Strike for Wii by Ubisoft is available just about anywhere.   You can get it at Amazon.com for only $28.99 and it qualifies for free shipping!

    Thanks so much to Ubisoft for sending us this game to review.  It came just in time to wrap up and give to Chandler for his 10th birthday! (Shhhh, don't tell him!)

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Easy To MakeThank You Card and Bonus Scotch Tape Giveaway!






    Thanks to Scotch(R) Double Sided Tape for sponsoring my writing about crafts! 

    Add your comment below to be entered for a chance to win free sample rolls to help with your upcoming holiday needs!

    I'm a scrapbooker. I love the art of taking pieces of paper and my favorite pictures and turning them into pieces of art. I also love card making and prefer to make a card over buy one any day! I always use Scotch brand products for my scrapbooking and card making adhesives (and I'm not just saying that because they are sponsoring this post, I swear!)

    With Thanksgiving come and gone and plenty of people to thank for a wonderful meal, I thought it would be fun to show you a quick and easy Thank You card that even a beginner can make. In fact, this card can be easily made by the kids too! You can change the colors and words as well very easily to make it appropriate for any occasion. A friend of mine made a thank you card like this for me a long time ago and ever since I use it as my go to template for a quick card.

    So here is the end result:



    Here are the directions typed right on the pictures below for easy follow along instructions!







    Easy right?!

    Now for some fun! Leave a comment to be entered to win a roll of Scotch Double Sided Tape from 3M!  Simply tell me what your family uses tape for the most (and include your email address please!).  You can enter once a day until December 3rd when I will select TEN WINNERS!!  

    It will only take a second to enter and you'll be ready for gift wrapping! I'm really saving you about $50 here because you will inevitably be wrapping gifts and run out of tape. You will run to the store. You will leave with about $50 worth of stuff that you probably don't need and you may even forget the tape!  So just enter to win some here and we both win! :)




    Please learn more about Scotch(R) Double Sided Tape and other Scotch(R) Products, and join the conversation on the Scotch(R) Brand Facebook Page and via Twitter. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

    UPDATE: Contest Closed! Winners are listed HERE!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    American Express Small Business Saturday Featuring Italian On The Run!



    Thanks to American Express for sponsoring my writing today about small businesses.  American Express is presenting Small Business Saturday, a way to honor the local merchants who are the backbone of the economy, this Saturday, November 27.  They're offering statement credits to people who shop at small businesses, advertising for small-business owners, and donations to Girls Inc. for "Likes" of the Small Business Saturday page on Facebook.  Join the celebration by clicking the "Like" button and then visiting the Facebook page to learn more about the program and read the terms and conditions that apply. 

    When I was asked to highlight American Express' Small Business Saturday, I was all YES.  I much prefer to shop and dine at local businesses than big box stores and chain restaurants.  

    The small business I want to share with you today is from my husband's home town - Massena, New York.  It's where we met, fell in love, got married and had our first son.  It's a special place to us for sure and full of so many memories!  My very good friend (and Bellaziza'sFavorites.com buddy!) Crista and her husband made the daring move one year ago to purchase a failing restaurant in Massena.  It was a great deal but a scary proposition at the same time as they knew they faced an uphill climb in order to resurrect it.  They believed in their vision and knew that with lots of hard work, smart marketing through social media and of course their amazing homestyle Italian cuisine, it could come back better than ever.  It was a big undertaking like all small business ventures are, but only a year later with tremendous community support, Italian On The Run is a booming local success story and better than ever! 


    Italian On The Run offers superb homemade Italian cuisine to their loyal customers.  Although many people do dine in, they are primarily a take out and delivery place that focuses on quality... but with convenience.  Forget about just your standard pizza and wings (although they are amazing in their own rite!) "IOTR" has an impressive menu that would rival many fancier places.  They have a great variety of gourmet pizzas like the new Mediterranean Chicken Pizza, and their most popular, Buffalo Chicken Pizza made with their homemade Buffalo wing sauces!  Beyond mouthwatering calzones, strombolis, subs, salads, and gourmet pasta dinners, they have the most exquisite homemade desserts around, fresh and made from scratch!   Our pick?  The Italian Cream Cake and the Cannolis.  OMG.


    Thanks to Crista's entrepreneurial genius and social media suave, Italian On The Run has brought a major Facebook explosion to Massena!  As her and other small businesses work hard to connect within their community, customers are "liking" their way through the small town of Massena at a record pace!  Liking IOTR's Facebook Fan Page is all the rage right now too. :) Crista offers Facebook specials and hosts giveaways regularly which keeps things fresh and their fans always coming back for more!  Go ahead and LIKE them too! Once they get to 2,000 fans, amazing things are gonna happen and they're less than 50 away!!  That's pretty amazing if you ask me!  While you're at it, go ahead and follow IOTR on Twitter too!

    At Italian On The Run it's not all about them, and they know it.  They are very community focused and create as many collaborations as they can with other local small businesses.  IOTR is diving into Small Business Saturday head first by posting about many of their fellow small businesses on their Facebook page to try to lead their almost 2,000 local fans to other local small businesses on Facebook!  Is there anything better than a small business supporting other small businesses?!  I think not.

    Make it a point to visit as many small businesses as you can on Saturday, November 27th.  American Express is ready and willing to reward you for doing so too, so check out the links below and LIKE Small Business Saturday on Facebook!

    Small Business Saturday


    I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

    *Disclosure: While I was compensated to write this post, all opinions are 100% honest and mine! All mine!*