Archive for January, 2010

Freebie Friday: January 29, 2010

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! Freebies 4 Mom is our #1 resource for freebies and she generously shares her list with our readers each week. Although not free, there are some buy-one-get-one free offers on SoBe Life Water and Special K cereal this week. Be sure to check those out!

This week on MomAdvice I am sharing ideas for creating a red carpet night of fun with friends with recipes, how to boost your energy by tackling the dreaded to-do list, a round-up of great giveaways and contests, our notebook full of wonderful ideas, and my admission that some days I am afraid to blink.

Don’t forget, you can subscribe to my feeds and never miss another thing on our site again! We have a landing page where it makes it easy to subscribe to our blogs and you can even subscribe to my article feed. We have switched to FULL FEED, but I am seeing a huge decline in our traffic so I am hoping that this number goes up so we can continue offering this. Please subscribe today and visit the site for more great info!!

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
DenTek Floss Picks (on Facebook)
Colgate Healthy Habits for Kids

Ensure Shake
Kashi Cereal or Bar

Home & Garden
uni Super Ink Pen

Upcoming Freebie Events:
Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events


30 – Lakeshore Learning Kid Crafts make a key holder 11-3

1 – Denny’s free burger & fries (first 500,000 to register)
5 – Starbucks free Kind bar samples
6 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a #20 Car Display 9-12
9 – Denny’s free Original Grand Slam 6am – 2pm
13 – Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a Jewelry Organizer 10-11

There Are Days I Am Afraid to Blink…

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Amy’s Notebook 01.27.10

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

I love these tips for making the most with your Google Reader (@ CraftyPod)

This list for ten places to proclaim your love will come in handy for Valentine’s Day and I love the gift closet inspiration too  (@ giver’s log)

These oatmeal butterscotch bars would be a great after-school snack (@ Cooking During Stolen Moments)

This sweet Italian chicken looks delicious (@ Big Red Kitchen)

These cinnamon-apple yogurt muffins would be a wonderful morning treat (@ Food Gal)

I want to try this recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread (@ Musings of a Housewife)

I am loving these simple solutions for everyday issues (@ Nesting Place)

This fabric hair clip is so pretty and simple (@ A Beautiful Mess)

These little sweetie pies would be a delicious Valentine’s Day treat (@ The Farm Chicks)

This banana bread with chocolate chip struesel recipe looks like a total winner (@ 80 breakfasts)

These apple cinnamon butterscotch muffins look like a great addition to your Sunday brunch (@ Annie’s Eats)

Boosting Energy by Tackling Life’s Nagging To-Do List

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

We all have one.  It is a nagging list of items that you intend to do, but never get done. There is always a great reason why you don’t have time to do one more thing with such a full schedule, but deep down, you know that many of the items on the list would only take a few minutes. Some of the things on your list might be routine appointments for yourself, home ownership projects that never get done, paying bills, or an errand that has been looming. How about a really embarrassing to-do? How about the fact that my daughter is four and I still haven’t ordered her birth certificate!? Oh yes, I have a nagging to-do list and it can be a total energy drainer.

I sat down and jotted down my running list of things I need to do. It is the list of things to do that swims in my brain right before bed and causes me not to sleep as well. I did a brain dump on a sheet of paper and decided that this month I would tackle all of the things that have been bugging me.

Some of the items proved to be easier to tackle than I thought. My contacts could have walked away and stood to attention by themselves because I was in desperate need of an eye exam. I called Sam’s Club to schedule an exam and they had an opening in an hour. Within one hour, I got my eyes examined, got new contacts, and took my daughter to go get her ballet shoes (another nagging thing that needed to be done). It was almost too easy.

Other things on the list took much more time. I spent an afternoon ripping out the old caulk on our tub and caulking it with fresh caulk, we repainted our bedroom to a bright and cheery color,  and I spent a great deal of time researching flight prices and getting my schedule together for the upcoming BlissDom conference.

Two thing still remains to be done…getting a birth certificate and sending out thoughtful notes to the grandparents for the holiday gifts. I promise to tackle those this week.

Let me give you an example of how much better tackling something on your nagging list of things to do could be with an afternoon of time invested.

Our bedroom really was in need of a new update. We have lived in our home for six years now and this was one of the first rooms in our house that we had painted.  This room does not get a lot of natural light into it, the art lacked the personality that I want our home to have, and it was cluttered. After tackling our closet, I was ready to make this space our own by updating the paint and decor.

We had an extra gallon of paint leftover from painting our front room and we used this same Honey Bear color in our bedroom. I already owned the bedding and just bought two throw pillows ($12.99 each) from Target to add a new accent color to the room. One shade had not been hung because we couldn’t find the hardware. After decluttering our space, I found the hardware and we hung them in the room. We took down the dated curtains and decided not to hang any at all.

My husband asked for this print of Boston as a holiday gift and I bought a poster frame ($17.99) to frame the art. We miss Massachusetts a lot and this was a way to remember our first married years together and the home and friends that we love there.  This spoke so much more of us and what we love than a picture of fruit in a basket, don’t you think? Again, this pulled in our new accent color without costing us a lot of money.

This little storage crate was one splurge purchase that we desperately needed for putting away bed linens. I have had linens in a basket underneath a side table for years. This made for much more attractive storage and keeps the linens fresh, put away, and dust-free instead of the spot they were in. I put off-season blankets in this and spare sheets for the children. I got it for $79.99 at Target, but they have it on sale this week for $59.99. (Note to self- add a price adjustment to my nagging list of things to do)

The true transformation though didn’t cost a dime. It was the absence of clutter… the wall clutter, the knick knack clutter, the useless objects clutter, the items-that-gathered-dust-but-were-never-useful clutter.

One of my favorite wedding gifts was the bowl that was pictured above. You would have never known it because it was filled with useless items. Emptied and dusted, it makes me so much happier.

The nightstand is empty and waiting for my library books to dive into, the little china saucer my best friend gave me is the perfect place to stick a glass of milk with my late night snack.

There is just so much peace in this space now and I can finally relax. One day spent tackling something that had been nagging me for months should give me many, many days of enjoyment.

(I am continuing to work on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin I recommend you read it too!)

What has been on your nagging to-do list?  Anything half as embarassing as getting a birth certificate for your child? Please make me feel better!

An Apron Full of Giveaways 01.26.10

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Photo Credit: Snappy Shop , $45.00

Thanks so much for swinging by for our Apron Full of Giveaways! Each week we share a link list of great contests to enter all over the web.

Below are the contest links to our contests and to yours! If you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we aren’t giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Children’s Movies).”

Please let me know if you have any questions and good luck to each of you!

Red Carpet Bunco & a Cast of Great Recipes

Monday, January 25th, 2010

I can admit that Bunco, for me, is one of life’s delicious little pleasures! Our group has been rolling the dice for years now and every year we add more fun girls and make the most of this one day together each month.

When I think about it, I get a little misty-eyed. We have lost members as they have moved to other areas, we have gained new friends as we add new people to the group, our children have grown, new babies have been added to the mix, we celebrate each other and our accomplishments, and love each other when things are not going well. These women have been one of those steady things in my life that I know I can count on and I feel blessed to love each of them. Whether we are rocking it out in our old bridesmaid dresses, enjoying a night of 70’s fun, having tea for charity, or being decked out as retro housewives, we find a way to celebrate together once a month!

When Degree contacted me to see if I would be interested in hosting a red carpet evening for the SAG Awards, I immediately thought of my Bunco Babes and how we could make this a fun night together.

I feel so spoiled with my site sometimes and I feel so blessed to get opportunities like these. I look forward to spoiling my friends and family when I can incorporate them into these events and I invited my Bunco Babes group over for a night of pampering and fun.

Degree gave us $100 for our food and drinks, a $100 Macy’s gift card for a red carpet dress for myself, another $100 Macy’s gift card to raffle off to my girlfriends, and scheduled a manicurist to come to our event and give us all manicures. We truly got the red carpet treatment!

I love getting ready for the parties and pulling everything together for our theme. We set up a manicure station on the lower level with oodles of magazines and cream puffs so that the girls could truly be pampered while they had their manicures.

The upper level was decorated with fresh flower bouquets, a red tablecloth (that I already owned), and a little bit of sparkle from the Valentine’s section of a local superstore.

We are usually chasing after our dice since the tables can be slippery so I found pieces of felt for a quarter and attached a little chipboard saying to each of them that could be centered on each table. These will be traveling to the next house and kept with our Bunco kit of supplies for the hostess. I was pretty proud of those.

I had no success at Macy’s finding the perfect red dress for the event so I opted for my favorite little black dress and found a red shrug to go over it. These flats were perfect since I was on my feet fielding the ladies down to the manicurist and subbing for everyone while they got their nails done. I found these at Marshall’s for $24.99 and thought they would be practical and fashionable while hosting the event!

We all loved our manicures and felt so glamorous after our red carpet nail treatment. All of the ladies got to choose a different shade of red for the evening.

This ring (pictured above) got more compliments than my dress and was a $4.20 purchase over at Forever 21. I love how it adds a little sparkle to my hand without breaking the bank.

Bunco is all about the food and I did take a little store-bought help since I had a food budget. I bought two trays of meat lasagnas ($10.99 each) and two large boxes of cream puffs for the manicure station and dessert table ($14.99 each).  Everything else was homemade though and everyone really seemed to enjoy the food.

In the spirit of red carpet deliciousness, these were the award-winning, red carpet-worthy dishes that rounded out the menu!

Roasted Green Beans

2 pounds fresh green beans (or a bag of frozen fancy green beans)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (I use the bottled garlic to save a little time)
Salt & Pepper
Zest from one lemon (save the juice for later)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grab a jelly roll pan and dump green beans on the pan. Sprinkle seasonings, lemon zest, and garlic over the green beans. Drizzle the olive oil over the green beans and then toss with your hands until they are all coated with the seasonings and zest. Spread out in a single layer and slide your cookie sheet into the oven. Roast fresh green beans for 20-25 minutes and roast frozen green beans for an additional 10-15 minutes. When they are done, pull from the oven and put them on a serving platter. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top (from the lemon you zested) and serve.

Spunky Spinach Dip (courtesy of Gooseberry Patch Cookbook)

2 cups salsa (approximately one standard size jar)
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz low-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened and cubed
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (thawed and drained)

Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until cooked through. If baking, cook at 350 for 20-25 minutes (double your cooking time for a double batch) in an oven-safe bowl (covered). Serve with your favorite dipper! I served this with fresh celery sticks and fresh carrots to balance out the heaviness of the lasagna.

Bacon & Ranch Cheese Ball

2 (8 ounce) packages of low-fat cream cheese, softened
1 package of Ranch dressing mix
1 cup cheddar cheese
5-7 strips of bacon cooked and crumbled (or buy prepackaged crumbled bacon)

Mix all of the ingredients together with a mixer until they are incorporated. Shape into a ball and roll in a plate of shredded cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours. I served this with assorted pretzel crackers.

Classic Orange Chiffon Cake (Courtesy of The Cake Doctor)

5 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 package yellow cake mix

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup vegetable oil such as canola, corn, safflower, soybean, or sunflower (I used canola oil)

1/4 cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate

1 teaspoon grated orange zest


2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons orange juice (I had to use 5 so you may need to increase this)

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set aside an ungreased 10″ tube pan. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set the bowl aside. Place the cake mix, egg yolks, orange juice concentrate, oil, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl, and with the same beaters used to beat the egg whites, blend with the electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer to medium and beat for two more minutes, scraping the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended.

Turn the beaten egg whites out on top of the batter and with the spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter until the mixture is light but well combined. Pour into the pan and place int he oven.

Bake until it is golden brown and springs back when pressed with your finger for 48-52 minutes (Mine took 48 minutes).  Remove the pan and immediately turn it upside down over the neck of a glass bottle to cool for one hour. Run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a rack and then invert it again on a serving platter so it is right side up.

For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a medium mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for one minute. Spread the glaze over the top and side of the cake. Let the glaze set for 20 minutes and then serve.

Side Note- After you measure out 1/4 cup of the thawed orange juice concentrate, prepare orange juice with the remaining concentrate by adding half as much water as the package directs. Use this orange juice in your cake batter and glaze.

Bunco Punch

Orange slices
Lemon slices
Lime slices
Maraschino cherries
Cherry juice or red food coloring
Metal ring mold

SIMPLE SYRUP (Prepare ahead) :
3 c. water
3 c. sugar
Combine, boil and cool.

Simple syrup, chilled
4 c. chilled cranberry juice
3 c. chilled bottled lemon juice
2 c. chilled orange juice
2 c. chilled unsweetened pineapple juice
2 qt. chilled ginger ale
16 oz. rum or vodka or wine or champagne

Create your ice ring by throwing in the citrus fruit slices and then pouring in the jar of cherries (juice and all) Top the bundt pan off with water and then freeze overnight.

To serve: Unmold ice ring into punch bowl; add juices and liquor; add ginger ale.

This makes approximately 30 (6 ounce) servings.

The very famous radio superstar, Amy Watson from Cat Country, won the raffle for the $100 Macy’s gift card. She is having a baby next month so I can think of no one who deserves a little pampering and fun shopping more than her!

It was such a fantastic night of fun and a great kick-off to another great year of Bunco with my girlfriends!

Degree  is offering cool prizes daily and a chance to snag product coupons. Be sure to visit their site for more information and a recap of the red carpet fashion that was spotted at the SAG awards.

Freebie Friday: January 22, 2010

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Hello, friends! Happy Freebie Friday from Freebies 4 Mom and myself. Heather’s site is my #1 resource for great freebies and deals on the web. Be sure to visit her for oodles of freebies and giveaways!

This week we are sharing a yummy orange chiffon cake (made from a cake mix), how to gain control of paper clutter, try a new soup recipe, enter our giveaways, and a notebook full of ideas to inspire you!

This week on MomAdvice it is delurking week this week where I would love for you to stop by and just say hello! In efforts to create more community around here, every person that leaves a comment on that post will get a visit back from me! I think I have visited around seventy blogs yesterday which has been so much fun! I want to get to know you better and would love to hear from you!

We also have FINALLY added a MomAdvice Fan Page to Facebook so feel free to become a fan and join our community there!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Health & Beauty

Kerasal Foot Ointment
Huggies Diapers (newborn or size 1)


Cream of Wheat
Betty Crocker $10 Coupon Book
Souper Salad Kids Eat Free
Atkins Quick Start Kit

Baby Mozart song download
N3WY3AR Redbox Code at McDonalds
Star in The Hero movie (upload a photo)
Home & Garden
uni Super Ink Pen (starts daily at noon CT)

Upcoming Freebie Events:
Please call your local store or restaurant to confirm they are participating in these freebie events


23 – Lakeshore Learning Kid Crafts make a fuzzy felt wallet 11-3
23 – Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinic make a Tic Tac Toe 10-11

6 – The Home Depot Kids Workshop make a #20 Car Display 9-12

Delurking Day Today

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Commenting is rough, isn’t it? I read so many great blogs and I wish that I had two more hands that could type special messages to everyone I read. The notebook has been my, “I’m so sorry that I read you, but I never say hello,” idea that I had to bridge the gap between thoughtful comments and simple acknowledgement that bloggers are just awesome people. Those posts take me an entire week of time so I hope they still feel like they are coming from the heart. I want to acknowledge the brilliance that is you!

I know most of my readers are busy moms. I know I am a busy mom. I know I should comment more. I would love if more comments came my way.

I just wanted to say that if you have a moment and can say hi, I would just love that today! It doesn’t have to be anything profound, just let me know you are out there so I can say thank you personally. I will do my best to visit each of you this week because that is what friendship is all about.

Notebook Experiment: Tuscan Tomato Soup

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The Tuscan Tomato Soup that was featured in the 01.13.10 notebook entry was, perhaps, one of the best bowls of soup I have ever eaten. I prepared it as was instructed except that I used half-and-half instead of the heavy cream that was listed in the ingredients. I noticed that the comments also recommended trying evaporated milk as a substitute for the cream. If you did that, the soup would be made entirely from pantry ingredients. You know that I adore a good pantry dish!

The ingredient that takes this soup to the next level is the addition of the pesto. It makes it so flavorful that you will have a hard time eating just one bowl.

We paired the soup with grilled cheese for dipping and my soup-hating family loved it. This is going into our meal rotation as a fun way to fancy up a good bowl of soup. Lucky for me, there was some leftover to pair with spinach salads for lunch!

Want to make the recipe? You can find the recipe over at this week for dinner!

Have you tried anything recently from the notebook? Please feel free to share links or feedback here!

Amy’s Notebook 01.20.09

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

This Valentine’s photography makes me want to run out and take pictures with my children (@ the inadvertent farmer)

This Valentine’s kissing ball is adorable (@ Domestic Fashionista)

This Valentine’s garland is so pretty and made from recycled magazines (@ Oh So Crafty)

My family would love this honey ginger salmon (@ $5 Dinners)

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite dishes (@ Annie’s Eats)

These homemade pretzels make me want to attempt pretzel making again (@ A Southern Fairytale)

Chicken and dumplings reminds me of my fabulous great-grandmother’s Southern cooking (@ Baking Bites)

I adore this Ragged Ann birthday party (@ kara’s party ideas)

I would have never thought to use a Playtex nurser bottle as a portable cracker holder (@ Parent Hacks)

I love these ideas for capturing pictures of sibling to see the resemblance in the family (@ Rookie Moms)

This fabric covered child’s table is precious (@ the long thread)

This Valentine’s Day shirt makeover is too cute (@ Happy Together)

I am in love with this new way to tie a winter scarf (@ Chic Critique, HT to Small Notebook)

This idea for watering down your kid’s juice is so smart! (@ Salt and Chocolate)