Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Get Custom Embroidery from AllAboutBlanks!

When my fellow blogger over at Mami's 3 Little Monkeys announced that she was doing some promotion for an online store, I was surprised to see that the company was in the linens business. I was confused because the company name, All About Blanks, didn't seem to have anything to do with linens.

Then I saw their website.

It was amazing! They have pillows, handkerchiefs, stuffed animals, table runners, place-mats, towels, oven mitts, pot holders... (you get the idea) and all of them are 'blank' to allow you to order custom embroidery on your purchases! I thought that was pretty awesome, and saw quite a few things on there that I would love to get. (Like his & hers pillowcases or a funny wine cover!)

Because Sarah from Mami's 3 Little Monkeys recently hosted a giveaway for them, you can get 10% off your order by using the coupon code MONKEYS10 at the check-out!

Custom Embroidery ItemsYou can see Sarah's original review here, or head straight to AllAboutBlanks.com to start shopping!

Want to know more about AllAboutBlanks? You can follow them in social media on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to get the latest updates & info!

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaway tab for a list of available contests! Please contact mamis3littlemonkeys@yahoo.com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

10 Tips to an Easy Baby Shower

Baby Shower Tips


If you've had experience planning a baby shower before, I'd love for you to share your tips in the comment section below. For those of you who have this task coming up, here are my top ten ways to host a great baby shower without breaking a sweat.


1. Inform the momma-to-be!

This might seem like a great big no-brainer, but I can't tell you how many times I've been at a surprise baby-shower, and it never goes as planned! Surprise parties are usually fun, but unless you know the guest of honor intimately, save this type of party for another event. Almost all moms-to-be want a smidgen of input in their own baby showers, even if you've been gifted the task of hosting. Plus, being able to talk with her will make your job so much easier when it comes to things like guest addresses, the baby-gift-wants list, and even what kind of cake to get!

2. Pick an easy location.

By easy, I mean easy to get to, easy to fit your party guests in, easy to pay for. You don't want to have the party at the home of your mom-to-be. All this does is leave a mess for her to clean up and make everything a bit crowded. You also don't want to spend a fortune on a location - this isn't a wedding reception, it's a baby party. And you definitely don't want it to be so far away that some of your guests decide not to show! Two of the best options are heading to a local park that has both indoor & outdoor locations to choose from, or checking with the mom's place of worship. Both of these venues generally come at a thrifty price, the option to reserve an area with a kitchenette, and complimentary trash pick-up afterwards!

3. Ask the mom-to-be for the guest list.

This is one job you should definitely delegate to the mommy. This is her party after all. I have been to at least four baby showers where the mom didn't know most of the guests! This is a big no-no at a baby shower. Mothers(-in-law), I'm sorry, but baby-shower-territory is where you tend to go a bit crazy. It's understandable that you want to share your joy with all your friends. However, your daughter(-in-law) probably doesn't know any of your high-school friends, the ladies you play cards with, or your church prayer circle; and I'm gonna go out on a limb and say she'd most likely prefer to play party games with her friends instead of yours. Whether you're an anxious grandmother-to-be, a best friend, a co-worker, or close family member - skip the urge to invite everyone you know and just ask the mom for a list of invitees instead.

4. Pick a theme.

You'd be amazed at how out-of-control and out-of-budget a party can get if you decide that you're going to grab every cute thing that tickles your fancy. Baby showers should have a theme to tie everything together not only because it looks nice, but because you'll be able to pick out colors, decorations, favors and more as quickly as possible. Easy baby shower themes to go with are: Ducks, Teddy Bears, Pink Ribbons, Blue Cars, Frogs, Rattles, Baby Dolls, and Bassinets.

5. Plan a party time-frame.

Baby showers - unlike other parties - should not end at "???" Chances are that after the fun & games & cake, the expectant mom will be ready for a good nap, and your guests will be ready to head home. Plan to have no more than 3-4 party games, gift unwrapping, and cake cutting, followed by some mingling until the party end-time. Try not to cut the cake before the gift-unwrapping since the mom-to-be will probably miss out on eating her own cake if she's too busy unwrapping everything!

6. Make a master party-shopping list.

One big mistake you can make when party planning is to just head out and start buying. Chances are that you will under-buy or over-buy on something, and that's going to mean wasting time (and gas money!) on another trip back to the store. Pick out party games beforehand and figure out exactly how many tables there will be (and what size the tables will be) so that you can add to your list accordingly.

7. Hit the dollar store first.

The dollar store is probably one of the most overlooked options when planning a party. Not only do they have a vast array of items pre-made specifically for events like baby showers, but they are also a wonderful source for things like DIY centerpieces and party-game supplies (think notepads, pencils, toilet paper, diapers, baby dolls, etc.)! Shop here first to check items off your list as cheaply as possible.

8. Skip the catering.

Baby showers are rarely fun as a sit-down affair. These types of parties are about getting up and about, mingling, playing games, oohing and aahing about tiny baby items, and eating a big slice of cake. No one will be shocked or think the baby shower wasn't fun if you choose to serve a cake, beverages, and maybe a few cheese/cracker/veggie platters. Baby showers are generally held in the afternoon anyhow, between lunch and dinner, so your guests shouldn't be hungry for more than a snack! This will not only save you a lot of money but a lot of clean-up as well.

9. Give good game-prizes.

Most of us who have been to a baby-shower have come to realize that the baby-shower-game prizes usually aren't all that awesome. However, if you've ever been to a baby-shower where the prizes are good, you realize how much more fun they are. Offer up a nice candle, a gift certificate, or a box of fine chocolates and suddenly you have a room full of women squealing to diaper a baby-doll fastest while blindfolded... not to mention laughing and having a good time. The interest and enjoyment of your guests should not be overlooked since this is what often makes or breaks most baby showers. Yes, you should be paying attention to the guest of honor, but because you are hosting the party in her place it's also your duty to provide for her guests as she would!

10. Plan ahead for what comes after the party.

After the party ends, most people feel the sudden thud of responsibility hitting them square in the face. The guests are leaving, the mess needs cleaned up, the expectant mom wants to go home, and someone needs to get the gifts back to her house! Make sure you have a plan of action in place for clean-up before the party ever starts. Enlist someone to write down who gifted what during the unwrapping to make the job of sending thank-you's super-easy. Have a male family member pick up the unwrapped gifts during the cake-cutting to make one less job to do after everyone goes home. Let guests take the centerpieces home so you don't have to mess with them again. Bring extra trash-bags so you don't have to wait for the venue-staff to empty the can during clean-up. Go through the clean-up process in your mind so that you know what kind of obstacles you'll face and be able to handle and plan for them with ease.

Do you have a baby shower coming up? What's one-thing on your must-have list that you hope your guests will bring? I love talking with my readers, share with me below!


(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please contact misavings@ymail.com if you have questions about the the results of this giveaway.)

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Restaurant Review: Azteca Real

I recently discovered that one of my favorite local restaurants, Azteca Real in Davie, Florida, is actually part of a larger chain called Azteca Mexican Restaurants. Although Oregon, Washington, and Florida are currently the only states that the chain is operating in, I decided to do a review on them anyhow. Florida and the Oregon/Washington area both see a lot of tourists each year, and I wanted to personally recommend this restaurant to anyone who might be traveling through these areas.

Dining Floor of Azteca Real in Davie, FLThe restaurant is one of those places that is sitting the fence between traditional Mexican food and the more americanized tex-mex blend of food that many of us have come to love. A quick perusal of the menu reveals items that are for those who are after the usual: nachos, mexican pizza, enchiladas and tacos. But then the menu begins to get more interesting: Tacos al Pastor, Carnitas, Chicken en Mole. For those who are looking for something more authentic without veering too far from the familiar tastes, this is the place to go.
Chips and Salsa at Azteca
Pollo MexicanoWhile this restaurant isn't going to be a "cheap" one, I wouldn't complain for one second about the cost. The dinners range anywhere from around $12 to $20 a plate depending on what you get, which is more than fair considering how well they are prepared and the large amount of food you receive. I ordered the Macho Burrito a couple of weeks ago, and that was enough food for my meal, lunch the next day, and dinner the next day.

The food reheats perfectly, so if you are traveling and staying at a hotel, this meal is well worth it if your room has a fridge & microwave in it. I don't know about you, but when I stay in hotels, I always get the late-night munchies and end up reheating my leftovers at around midnight.

Combo Plate at Azteca RealThe meals start off with complimentary chips & salsa. The salsa varies from night to night depending on how it has been prepared and can be anywhere from chunky to a bit watery, and has a largely tomato taste to it. It isn't very spicy, so those that don't care for heat in their foods will be spared. For those looking to kick up the flavor, the restaurant provides the usual bottles of hot sauce to add to whatever you'd like.

Azteca Real Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon During our last visit I ordered the Pollo Mexicano, which is my favorite dish there. Many of the menu items can be served with chipotle sauce and peppers if you ask, and this is one of them. The smoky flavor of the peppers provide the perfect kick to the meal and I frequently find myself craving their rice and beans, which I love to mix into the spicy sauce. My husband orders something different nearly everytime we go there, and hasn't been able to find a favorite yet.

For those who are looker for lighter fare, or don't eat meat, they have a whole section of vegetarian options. For kids they have American food, like their surprisingly delicious chicken tenders, or Mexican food, like a quesadilla or burrito. The particular location we go to even has a small pork chop (complete with rice & beans) on their children's menu.

Azteca Real on Foodio54All in all, I have no complaints about this particular restaurant. Parking is great, the food is excellent, service is fast, wait staff is friendly. The most difficult part about going here is deciding what to get off of their huge menu. And that's a task we enjoy.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

PayDeals Website Mini-Review

As a blogger I'm constantly inundated with info about 'the next greatest thing'. However, not all of those things turn out to be great which means that I waste a lot of time researching a subject, cause, product or brand for nothing. And although that might not sound like a good thing, at the end of the day I'm glad to do it since I'm trying to do right by my readers. (That's you.)

So when a fellow blogger of mine was looking for help promoting PayDeals.com, I did my research before I volunteered my site as part of the promotion. (I hadn't heard of this company before and was a bit worried that this would turn out to be another fly-by-night foreign intrigue meant to ship off shoddy merchandise at cheap prices.)

What I found out about PayDeals.com was not only pleasant, it restored some of my faith in internet deal-sites!

PayDeals Review

An Honest Company?

Very rarely in this day and age do I find a company that is doing a broad sell of many deals across the internet that is as candid and open as this one is. From the story of how they got started to the company's concern for the environment - this website impressed me. They even donate to children's cancer research!

Born in the USA

I was even more happy to discover that they are based right here in the United States! More and more companies like this are being outsourced to gain cheap customer service, but PayDeals is doing just the opposite.

They refer to their employees as 'Dealmakers', stating that they search for employees with the friendly attitude and commitment to find great deals for their customers. Their contact form for those interested in working for the company was so energetic that it even made me want to apply! (Too bad I live no where near them.)

But what about them prices?

The best thing of all, of course, was that the prices I saw were legitimately great deals. I found an iPhone Body Glove case for $9 (usually around $50). I saw a docking station/alarm clock/speaker iHome setup for $15. Fifteen dollars!! There was even a SOUL by Ludacris headset for right around $45.

Because my husband is 'the deal guy' in our family, I immediately filled him in on the site and watched him browse through. (As soon as I did that I kind of regretted it of course, since I'm already nagging at him for buying too many things through his deal sites.)

Have you heard of PayDeals? What deal sites do you like best?
Chat with me in the comments below to tell me what you think!

Find Me on Social Media!

Connect:

Are you interested in checking out PayDeals? You can check out their website through the link below by visiting them at www.PayDeals.com. Or, connect with them on social media for updates, deals & more on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!

(The $250 PayDeals Prize Pack Giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please take a look at our Winners List or contact MommyOnlyHas2Hands(at)gmail(dot)com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are my own.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Address Your Heart Health!

This post has been sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company. For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'. Thanks +Campbell's Kitchen!

In a society where things are becoming constantly 'easier' thanks to advances in technology, it can be difficult to get the proper amount of exercise. Combine that with the fact that so many foods that are ready-to-eat have a low nutrient level and you might be looking at heart issues somewhere down the line.

My family and I have been really focusing the past few years about getting ourselves healthier. I'm at risk for high cholesterol and heart disease (thanks to my genetics) so it is especially important to me to take good care of myself.

Getting in-shape can be a chore, which is why I find it is better to take proactive steps everyday towards maintaining health that don't interfere with my daily routine. Here are a few ways that my family focuses on promoting our heart health & overall well-being:

  • We eat beets. Believe it or not, beets pack quite a wallop when it comes to heart health. They have a high level of nutrients that work to reduce inflammatory compounds in the arteries and thereby lower your risk of heart disease!
  • We walk after every meal. The American Heart Association has found that there is no difference between a moderate walk and vigorous run when it comes to heart health! Even walking for a few minutes a day can help to improve your overall heart wellness.
  • We get our lycopene. Soups, sandwiches, salads, juices - if we can add tomatoes to them, we do. Lycopene has long been thought to improve blood vessel function in addition to the already amazing antioxidant boost it provides.
  • Water, water, water. This is critical. Staying hydrated will allow your heart to pump blood much easier, not to mention help to rid your body of waste and toxins. Dehydration can be deadly, so make sure that you're drinking enough water each day!
  • We cook nutrient-rich meals. Don't have an idea for any meals that are heart-healthy? Check out some of my favorites below; then, click HERE to snag some great coupons & offers from Campbell's so you can get to cookin' and save money in the process!


Grilled Bruschetta Chicken

Pizza Primavera with Cauliflower Crust


Creamy Turkey & Vegetable Lasagna


Broccoli Cheddar Rice


Creamy Chicken & Vegetables over Spaghetti Squash


Get even more out of this campaign by heading over to AddressYourHeart.com to snag additional tips, recipes, and coupons!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cloud 10 Salon in Delray Beach Expanded!

Cloud 10 SalonHey there Floridians! I just got an update from Julie over at The Buzz Agency (a well-known PR firm here in Florida). She sent me over this tidbit about +Cloud 10 Blow Dry Bar & Hair Salon to let me know that they have expanded and are offering some pretty great deals to their already-great salon experience!

Press Release (Delray Beach, FL)
Cloud 10, the innovative beauty salon that specializes in luxurious blowouts and makeovers, has expanded to offer a full array of hair services, including cut, color, extensions, and more. The full menu is now offered at both of their locations - in Delray Beach (next to Salt Seven, just off Atlantic Avenue) and their newest location in East Boca Raton (next to Rebel House).

Great Prices...

Cloud 10 is generally recognized as the most deluxe and best-equipped blow dry bar in Florida.  With the addition of their new services, they are taking the salon experience to the next level. Luxurious blowouts, including a deluxe shampoo, will continue to be offered for only $40. All color services will be performed with Davines organic color compounds and start at just $70 - combining luxury and affordability. New cutting services will include special pricing for pixie cut, bang trim, and even men's styling.

Party Packs...

In addition to package deals, Cloud 10 also offers a variety of party packages. There's the "Girls Getaway," the ultimate beauty experience for a ladies' night out with gorgeous blowouts, makeovers, relaxers, and even drinks, hors d'oeuvres and dessert. Brides can book their Wedding Package and have a one-stop-shop for just $135: hair including an up-do, full airbrush makeup, and a "mini-emergency" kit.

...And a rewards program too!

Cloud 10 has also now established a Rewards Program, where customers earn points for their first service, sharing reviews on social media, friend and family referrals, and more. Upon accumulating 1200 points, members will receive complimentary blowouts or credit towards any other salon services.

ABOUT CLOUD 10

Cloud 10 Blow Dry Bar & Hair Salon was founded by Jodi Dery, who has an extensive background in providing spa services, most recently at the world renowned Boca Raton Resort's Spa Palazzo.  Before launching the first Cloud 10 Salon in Delray, she visited more than 30 blow dry bars throughout the U.S. and then selected the 'best of the best' in products, services and ambiance for Cloud 10. Dery is also an accomplished author, penning four best-selling e-books on how to most effectively use Siri on the iPhone 4S and 5.

Appointments can be made at either Cloud 10 location, or by calling 561-303-3000 (Delray location) or 561-465-3900 (Boca location) or reserving online at Cloud10USA.com. Additional information can be found at Facebook.com/Cloud10Florida; and Twitter.com/Cloud10Florida.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Comfy Kids with Comfy Sack!

If you have kids, you know already that they like to spend a good chunk of time somewhere on or near the floor. (By the way, isn't it amazing how as children the floor is a play-place for our imaginations, but as adults laying and/or sitting on the floor for too long is an invitation to a sore back?!)

My mom couldn't stand to see us roll around on the floor when we were younger (probably because she thought it was too hard for our little knees), so she got us bean bags. If you've had bean bags though, you know that the problem is that sooner or later they receive a final 'bonzai' jump that is just too much for their seams to handle. Then you have bean-bag beans everywhere. Such was the case in our house, until the bean-bags were finally just gotten rid of. (Can't blame my mom, those beans were smaller than real beans and static-stuck to everything, ugh!)

Thankfully, bean-bag technology (if there is such a thing) has come a long way since then! My blogging friend A Lucky Ladybug got to review a foam lounger (foam is in, beans are out!) from Comfy Sack. I had never heard of a sack-type chair being as big as a couch, but that's exactly what this is! After I read her review, I of course decided that I wanted one.

We have actually been thinking of getting a new couch, but don't want to invest a ton of money since we might be moving (and couches are heavy to move). This would be the perfect solution to that. It's cheaper than a couch, fits as many people as a couch, and would be much easier to move cross-country. Plus the people in her review pics look super comfy! (Which is good, because that's kind of the point, right?)

kids furnitureThey even have kid-sized sacks that are perfect no matter how rambunctious your kids are. (Seriously, they ran over their products with an actual tank and they were still usable!)

Want to know more about Comfy Sacks? You can visit them on their website at www.ComfySacks.com to see their full product line! Or, connect with them on social media for updates, deals & more on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

How cool is this DIY kids' fort kit?

When I was younger, I had a little kit that made a tent out of some plastic tubes. It was super-tiny and made for a cramped camping experience, and the plastic cover on top of it eventually ripped apart like a potato chip bag - but it was still my favorite 'toy' for years.

Even now (over a decade later) my little brothers & sisters still put that thing together and throw a blanket over the top. It has been our castle, our space-ship, a favorite reading spot, and so much more. I thought it was one of the coolest things my parents had ever bought for us.

Then I saw this:

Fort Magic Kits

My blogging friend A Lucky Ladybug got to review this kit from For Magic, and all I could think was: "Whoa. Kids today have no idea how good they have it!"

Gone are the old plastic covers - instead you can use whatever fabric you want and design any kind of fort you want! You could make a pirate ship, a castle, a race-car, space-ship... just about anything you could imagine. There are even curved pieces for making windows! How doggone awesome is that?!

Cool Kids Toys

I could go on and on about all the neat features and all the reasons that I'm planning on snagging one for my son's birthday, but it's probably just easier if you check out my friend's review of it here! (She took some great pics of her little guy enjoying it!)

Kids today. They have it so awesome.

Want to know more about Fort Magic? You can connect with them on their website at www.FortMagic.com. Or find them in social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Pinterest.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmailcom if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Keepin' it Cool with Chili-Pad

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, tangled in the sheets, hot as the dickens, and sweaty as could be? Happens to me all the time. Our bedroom is one of the hottest rooms in the house, and with the addition of little ones that decide to 'surprise' me in the middle of the night by climbing into bed with us, our bed gets hotter-than-ever. (And not in the good way!)

hot at nightI have actually been taking a look at night-time 'cooling' products over the past few months, but haven't found anything that I think would suit my needs. Either the product seems to be way too pricey for what I feel I'm going to get, or the materials used in construction will only stay cool for a limited amount of time. Other products (like mattress covers) seemed like they would do the trick, but I worried that they would be a pain to remove from the bed every single time I decided the night was too cold to use one!

So of course when I saw that my blogging buddy over at A Lucky Ladybug received one of these Chili-Pads to review and loved it, I wanted to share about it with my readers. You can read her full review on it by clicking this link. The absolutely most awesome part that I read about the pad is that it's temperature controlled by a device about the size of a small fan. This means if you get the pad for both sides, you and your bed-mate could be sleeping on two different temperatures, to match your own preferences! How cool is that?

Want to check out Chili Technology a little further? You can visit them on their website at www.chilitechnology.com to see their full product line! Or, connect with them on social media for updates, deals & more on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Growing a garden? Check out these thrifty tips.

Thrifty Garden Tips

Spring to me means gardening. When I was younger the fresh smell of wet earth was abundant on our small farm each spring, and mom would send us out in turns to till the garden and pull weeds.

Through the years, I've learned that there are a few tricks to preparing for a garden that will allow you to have a lovely harvest without spending a lot of money.

Check out some of my tips below to find out how you can save a little cash on your next gardening project!


Hit the discount stores for the best deal on potting soil.

You can get a whole bag of premium soil for around $7 at Big Lots - which is a pretty good deal in itself. But if you sign up for their discount club and wait for their 20% off sale-day, you'll be down to around $5.60 a bag!

Plan your garden out a month before planting.

Whether you're doing a small project or a large one, planning ahead can save you big. Buy your plants and seeds online from reputable nurseries to save yourself a ton of cash. The plant that costs you $15 at the local home & hardware store might only cost you $3 online!

Skip buying the mini plant-starter kits and use clear, plastic egg cartons instead.

You're going to use eggs anyhow, and for a few cents more per dozen you can grab the ones that come in the clear container. These work great as little bitty greenhouses, but cost significantly less. When the plants have sprouted and are getting ready to outgrow their egg carton cups, transplant them directly into your garden or pots.

Plant herb borders around your garden to have fresh seasonings that do double duty as bug repellent!

Sage, rosemary, mint, lemongrass, thyme - the list goes on and on. Almost all herbs have properties that will keep bugs away from your plants. That means a better harvest for you and you won't even have to invest in unhealthy chemical sprays.

Put up distractions.

If you've planted a garden before, only to find it trampled upon and eaten by a plethora of critters - you are not alone! I'm not suggesting you bust out a full-sized scarecrow for your home garden, but a few well-placed items can dissuade all sorts of pests from snacking on the fruits of your labor. A bed of catnip planted well-away from the main garden will attract cats to roll in that instead of in your precious tomatoes. A corn cob stand will keep squirrels, chipmunks, and other rodents from rooting around in search of your slightly-harder-to-access veggies, and a full bird-feeder placed near the garden will encourage birds not only to eat there, but to keep an eye on your crops for any sign of bug-like movement.

Get a chicken.

A chicken or two with garden-roaming privileges can be a wonderful thing. Many times I have bemoaned the fact that my Florida garden looks nothing like my Indiana garden, and I think the biggest reason is the lack of a good chicken. From morning to dusk, my mother's chickens can generally be found out in her big garden - dutifully eating bugs and grubs and whatever else happens to creep or crawl through her plants. Who needs pesticide when God created chickens?

And lastly...

Don't forget to share your harvest at the end of the season! Get information about your local farmer's market about participating as a seller! You can meet new people, get great tips from other growers, and make a few bucks on the side.

Do you have a great gardening tip to share?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

Follow Me on Social Media!

(The Spring Into Cash Sweepstakes that was associated with this post has expired; please check out the giveaways tab for a list of available contests! Please take a look at our Winners List or contact the good people over at MomPoweredMedia.com if you have questions about the results of this giveaway.)

Disclosure: MasterofMom.com was not responsible for the distribution of this giveaway. I received no compensation for this post but I may earn a commission for any purchases made through any links listed within my posts. For more information on this, please see my disclosure at the top of the page.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Wall-art is easy & beautiful with LindseyBoo!

Recently I was given some products to review from LindseyBoo, and I fell in love with them!

LindseyBoo ReviewI received three prints with double-matting for free in order to do this review, but please know that my opinions and words are 100% my own. For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled, 'Let me disclose to you'.

Decorating my home is something I have looked forward to ever since I was a young girl. The thought that I could put whatever I wanted into the home to make it warm and unique and inviting has always intrigued me, and I thought I'd have the kind of home that is featured in the magazines.

Here is the problem with that: First, I didn't know as a child that decorating a home is time-consuming. Especially if you have kids, they usually use up all your free time! Secondly, I didn't realize how much of a shock to my budget just trying to pay for rent/mortgage and utilities would be. Who has twenty dollars for a small stack of fake ceramic books to hold up the real books?!? Cute, but it wasn't the kind of thing I could afford anymore.

During the past year or so however, I have realized how simple and easy home-decor can be if you make use of DIY, pre-made kits, and internet vendors! Internet vendors have ended up being one of my favorite ways to afford the things I want. They usually have low overhead which allows them to offer you their products at a much better price than you could ever get in the store. However, with internet vendors, there are so many out there it is nearly impossible to know which ones will give you a quality product for that great price, and which ones you want to steer clear of.

Lindsey Boo ReviewSo let me just tell you: If you're looking for beautiful wall-art that you can get gorgeous pre-cut mats for (even double-matting!), with fantastic customer service, LindseyBoo.com is one of the best places you could go.

When you place your order with them, not only do they provide fast shipping and service, but if you have questions on colors, matting, customization, etc.; they are only too happy to help! I wasn't sure what colors I should pick for the double-matting and asked Kent, the owner, for suggestions. He helped me choose shades that not only went well together, but went great with the main piece. He is very friendly and has been a joy to work with.

Christian ArtTheir company is owned and operated and has been in operation for several years. It is what I like to call a 'people's company' - meaning that they have the customer fully in mind when doing business. Kent even told me that a few years back they decided to start providing the double-mats solely based on customer feedback. When they realized it would be cheaper and easier for the customer to get double-matting directly from them, they made the change and have been selling them ever since. To top it off, they are a Christian company. Few things please me as much as a company that isn't afraid to declare their belief and trust in God for the rest!

Lord's Prayer ArtKnowing what I did about LindseyBoo, I had high expectations for my package and was not disappointed. I received the prints in record time, even though they are located in Virginia. I have a suspicion that my package was mailed off in just a few hours after I'd finished placing my order with Kent! I love getting my packages earlier than expected, so this was already a great surprise.

Measuring for picture framesNext I had to find frames for them. I had wanted to find some old frames with a 'distressed' look to them so that I could refinish them as another DIY project, but the size they use is a popular standard: 11"x14" for matted, 8-1/2"x11" unmatted. So of course although I could find them in abundance at just about every store I went to, I couldn't find any at the second-hand shops. I ended up getting a great bargain on frames at my local +Big Lots store though, so I can't complain!

Name poems artFraming the prints was just as easy as I imagined it would be. The mats were precisely cut and I didn't even have to worry about taping them in place or together. They looked perfect and fit exactly into the 11"x14" frame. With the print itself, I opted to first measure and place little marks on the back of the mat to ensure that I was getting it right in the middle of the mat. A few pieces of tape applied at the corners held it in place, and tadaa! - it was done.

Mother's Day GiftsMy son was thrilled to see his name on this print and spent the next few hours trying to sound out the words and spell his name. He was excited to show everyone that came over his 'name baseball'. What a cutie! I'm glad he is happy with it, because we plan to attach it firmly to the foot of his bed with plastic in the front of the frame instead of glass. (He can have the glass back when he's grown out of his rambunctious little boyhood!)

1rst Wedding anniversary gifts Paper anniversary giftsI also received a print for my daughter and a print to put in my bedroom with the Serenity prayer on it. No, I'm not referring to the shouts of "Serenity now!" that were made popular by the TV show +Seinfeld (although that does crack me up), I'm talking about the prayer you often see on magnets, mugs, and, well... wall-art. It is a favorite of mine because my great-grandma had a magnet on her refrigerator with that prayer on it since I can first remember. My great-grandma has since passed, and my mom now has the magnet on her fridge. We are big on sentimentality in our family, so to have this prayer on my wall really means something to me.

Baby shower giftsIt was such a joy to me to find a company that not only has great prices (you can get a double-matted print for right around $15!!) but great quality in their work. The prints are fantastic, and the acrostic poems (the name poems) are written by Kent's wife, who co-owns the company. Combine that with the incredible selection of prints, sayings, scripture, phrases, prayers, mats, even professional creeds (like the Marines), and you have yourself a really awesome hub for grabbing wall-art. These make wonderful gifts (especially for baby showers!) and because wall-art is so unique you can give it again and again.

I love this company and the prints that they sent to me. The next time I need to look for a gift, this place is definitely on my shopping list.

Do you want to check out LindseyBoo and all they have to offer? Visit their website at www.LindseyBoo.com and opt-in on their mailing list to see what's new on their site. You'll only get a few emails from them each year to remind you that you have a great place waiting to buy your next gift! You can also keep in touch with them through Facebook or Pinterest.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Can you really get a better smile in two hours?

While shopping for toothpaste I noticed all the different 'quickie' teeth-whitening kits that are available. My teeth are in good condition, but I know that they aren't a pretty color thanks to all the coffee I drink. I stood reading the label on the box (trying to find a 'catch' in the whole thing) for several minutes. Before long I noticed that the man next to me was doing the exact same thing.

He smiled and gestured at the box, "Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? I bet they don't even work."

I laughed and nodded at him, "Yeah, it seems like if they worked that great, everyone would be using them."

Do teeth whiteners really work?He nodded back before he smiled and said, "You only live once, right?" as he took a box and walked away.

I decided to take his carefree 'why-not?' attitude to heart and grabbed a box for myself, hoping in the back of my mind that I wouldn't end up with teeth like Ross on that episode of +Friends. Although I like to find a good deal, I didn't really want to test out an 'off-brand' with my precious teeth, so I spent the six extra dollars to buy the Rembrandt 2 Hour Whitening Kit.

I ate a couple of chocolate covered coffee beans to get me through the two hours (I really love my coffee!) and put the whitener on.

The first few minutes were horribly uncomfortable, and if it weren't for the fact that I was testing this out as a blog entry, I would have thrown them out immediately and just said "Forget it!"... But since I didn't have that option, I kept going. By the second round of gel (about 30 minutes in) I was getting ready to lose my mind. My mouth was full of spit that I didn't want to swallow because of the gel chemicals, I had a washcloth stuffed between my teeth to absorb the moisture, and my baby was whining all through her nap because I couldn't find her binky.

Fortunately, the baby stopped crying after I rocked her for a while and when I took the second round of trays out of my mouth I saw that my teeth did look a little whiter. I hoped that I wasn't imagining it and went on for round three. By this time I was used to the weird bubbling sensation happening around my teeth and I just went with it. The washcloth went a long way in keeping my mouth dry, and I don't know how I would have gotten through my whitening sessions without it. Unfortunately, this is the point that my son decided to start begging me for chocolate milk, and I didn't have the room in my mouth to explain to him why he couldn't have any.

After a while I got my point across and he went to sulk in the living room while I put in my last set of trays. I think that if I didn't have my kids running around and bothering the dickens out of me I would have been able to do something (like play a video game or read a book) that helped me ignore the annoyance of the whitening trays.

The picture below shows the difference from before and after.

Teeth whitening before and after

I was so relieved to be done with the trays, but it was worth it since I felt I could see a difference. The pessimist in me says that perhaps that was just the lighting playing tricks on my eyes, but the optimist in me says "Whoohoo! I'll have to try it again to see if I can get them even whiter!" I'd say that for only having spent $17 on this product, I got my money's worth.

Now if I can just figure out how to keep coffee from staining my teeth in the first place, I'll be all set!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

Crock Pot Keeper: Balsamic Pot Roast

Some time ago I found myself with an abundance of Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing thanks to a sale I couldn't pass up at the grocery store. When I realized that I was tired of salad, I decided to kick things up a notch and make a pot roast out of the dressing. Because I only had certain ingredients sitting on hand, I decided to just wing it and came up with this recipe. I know this isn't the only Balsamic Pot Roast recipe out there, but this version is definitely tasty (not to mention easy) and there are never leftovers!

Although you don't need to marinate the meat ahead of time, you will need to start making this dish approximately nine hours before you intend to serve it since this is a slow-cook dish. Don't worry though! You only spend 25 minutes doing the prep work and then can kick back for the rest of the day. By the end of the cooking time, the meat will be so tender you can cut it with a spoon and you can take all the credit for a job deliciously-done.

This recipe requires a slow cooker that can hold at least 6 quarts.

Balsamic Pot Roast

Serves 4-6, depending on appetites!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette (any brand will do, but I tend to use the Wish-Bone variety)
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons beef broth
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 lbs beef chuck or blade roast
  • 3 lbs potatoes
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, cut into four large chunks (you can add all the cabbage if you have room in your +Crock-Pot Slow Cooker)
  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced into sticks
  • Parsley, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Pour the 1/2 cup vinaigrette and 1/2 cup beef broth into the bottom of a large slow cooker (more commonly referred to as a crock pot).

Cut the onion up into medium chunks and place in the vinaigrette mixture.

Settle the roast carefully onto the onions.

Chop or cut the rest of the vegetables and place them into the slow cooker, drizzling the reserved two tablespoons of vinaigrette and beef broth over the top of them.

Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to cook for 8 to 9 hours on the low setting.

Add in the parsley during the last half hour of cooking and allow guests to salt & pepper their portions as desired during serving. (Note: This recipe does not call for salt or pepper during the course of cooking since those seasonings are best applied 'to taste'. Allowing each person to season his or her portion allows for dietary restrictions and personal preferences.)

Serve with fresh fruit, cheese wedges and a crunchy loaf of bread for a complete meal.

Enjoy!