Friday, December 30, 2011

"Elf on the Shelf" Goodbye Breakfast

On Christmas Eve morning, my kids were awoken to a SUGAR loaded breakfast, in honor of our Elf on the Shelf, Gus.  Since it was his last morning with us, we had a little breakfast to say goodbye!



The kids and I actually had made this banner a couple of days before Christmas.

North Pole muffins 

Snowmen donuts



 Who doesn't like cake for breakfast?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Finalizing my Christmas Day Menu


Here is my menu...what is yours?
(I am serving 5 adults and 2 kids, hopefully simple and no surprises!)

Christmas Day 2011 MENU

 Starters

Shrimp Dip with Crackers

Carrots/Celery/Cucumber Tray

Meal

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Beef Gravy




Crescent Rolls (Pilsbury)

Dessert

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

10 New Holiday Recipes: From Dessert to Hummus to Martinis

Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes

Looking for a new Holiday recipe. 
Check these out!

Betty 10: Red Hot Holiday Trends: http://bit.ly/BCHolidayTrend
Pumpkin Pie Cookies: http://bit.ly/bcppcookies
Boozy Bourbon Chocolate Cupcakes: http://bit.ly/bcboozycupcakes
Cake Batter Cookie Stackers: http://bit.ly/bcstackers
Mantastic Fried Chicken `n´ Waffle Sandwich: http://bit.ly/bcmansandwich
Skinny Clementine Martini: http://bit.ly/bcmartini
Cajeta Caramel Fudge: http://bit.ly/bcfudge
Sweet Potato Hummus: http://bit.ly/bchummus
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread: http://bit.ly/bcgfbread
Dog Bark: http://bit.ly/bcdogbark
Chocolate Coal Lumps: http://bit.ly/bccoallumps

Skinny Clementine Martini

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Word of the Year: Tergiversate

Yesterday, Dictionary.com (www.dictionary.com), the preferred online and mobile dictionary for students of all ages, announced it has chosen “Tergiversate” for its 2011 Word of the Year. Tergiversate means “to change repeatedly one's attitude or opinions with respect to a cause, subject, etc.” Dictionary.com selected a difficult word for a difficult year, and in so doing decided to buck a trend in how Words of the Year are often chosen. Rather than focusing on a term in the popular vocabulary, or a new word coined by a celebrity or politician, the company decided to follow its mission of word discovery and seek a perfect candidate that will expand people’s knowledge.


Here are a few examples of how the word has turned up in the press. On August 20th, 2011, in The Times of London, Oliver Kamm said, “The tergiversations of stock markets are often puzzling from the outside. They're no less puzzling from within.” In September, the Baltimore Sun picked tergiversation as its word of the week. Last year in May of 2010, James Surowecki used the word to describe German Chancellor Angela Merkel's economic choices: “Political risk is hard to manage because so much comes down to the personal choices of policymakers, whether prime ministers or heads of central banks. And those choices aren’t always going to be economically rational—witness Merkel’s recent tergiversations.”


Words of the moment and clever coinages are great fun, but tergiversate continues to resonate across a variety of experiences from the past year. And don’t you think it’s better to walk away from a dictionary having learned something new?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy 39th Birthday to Me!


And the countdown to "40" has begun!

Our Elf, Gus, Arrived Today


Our Elf on the Shelf, Gus, arrived today.  He delivered a package to our front door!  It was a basket of new Christmas pajamas for the entire family!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gingerbread House at Disney's Grand Floridian




There are 13 "hidden Mickeys" on the gingerbread house.

 You can buy Gingerbread cookies, cocoa and other treats, yum yum.

High Tea at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort

Girls afternoon (me, my daughter and my mom):


As many of you know, I go to Disney often.  However, today, I went to "high tea" at the Grand Floridian for the first time!


 I love that you get champagne with your tea, too!

 My daughter could not decide which dessert looked best!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trying to Lose Weight as I approach 40

I turn 39 in 4 days.  I promised myself I would get in shape before my 40th birthday, so I started Weight Watchers two weeks ago.  I am proud to say that I have lost 5 pounds so far!  (I have about 8 pounds to go).  I do agree with the "experts" that metabolism slows down as we age.  I can't eat like I used to. I have had to stop snacking (even the littlest things) between meals; add vegetables to meals; and cut back on soda and beer.  Not fun, but my health is worth it!

We Saw Santa Today at Bass Pro Shops

This is the second year we had to Bass Pro Outdoor World for the Winter Wonderland. The kids love it and the Santa is the best.  Here are a few pictures from today's visit:




Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Table Settings for the Kids

Two years ago I went online to search for the perfect Thanksgiving table settings and found several good ones. (You can see that post here: http://anotheronlinemom.blogspot.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-table-settings.html.)  This year, I decided to see if there was anything out there for the KIDS table, and pleasantly found a few that I really like.

From celebrationsathomeblog.com:


From meetthedubiens.blogspot.com:
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Alphamom.com  had this cute table setting:
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From thepartydress.net:
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From tipjunkie.com
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Sunday, November 13, 2011

376 Days to Go: Losing weight is not so easy lately

So in my 20s, I never counted calories or watched what I hate.  In my 30s, I would gain weight, but could also lose it easily if I wanted with exercise.  As I approach my 40s, good lord, it's not so much the number on the scale as the "mush" on my stomach.

I have spent the past year working out at the YMCA  and really didn't see any changes in my body.  In fact, I gained a few pounds, although I was working out 3 or 4 times a week(including meeting my good friend Allyson for pilates on Saturday morning).

Fortunately, I am still a size 8/10.  However, when I sit down, I have this disgusting blob of belly flat that just flops over my pant's waistline. It's horrifying, and I hate my body right now.  (This is not me in the picture, but very well could be!)

So on Monday, I started Weight Watchers online. I like that the system holds me accountable. (I have to track what I eat everyday and stay within certain "points".)  It's been pretty easy so far, but I do admit that some nights I am hungry at bed time.  I would like to lose 10 to 15 pounds in the next year, before I turn 40 (or roughly 377 days).

I keep hearing from othes that metabolism slows down as we age, and I have heard Dr. Oz say we need to eat less in my 40s, so my goal is to lose the weight now before it gets even harder.

I know I will never have the perfects abs, and I am okay with that...but I just want to feel comfortable when I look at myself in the mirror at night!  Wish me luck!  And if you have any WW tips or hints, please feel free to share with me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A New Look for My Blog: The What and Why (My Journey to 40)

It seems like yesterday I celebreated my 30th birthday, but truth is that was 9 years ago.

My life has changed a lot since then...ALL FOR THE BETTER: I have gotten married, delivered two beautiful kids, and no longer have career goals (I stay at home with my kids).


When I turned 30, I felt no physical changes. My breasts were at their best (plump and perky), I had tons of energy & actually enjoyed working out, and never used moisturizer on my face, but as I approach 40, I feel many different things happening to my body.

In fact, last week I was at the doctor and he said, "You do realize you are approaching 40, things will change!" AHHH!! Don't tell me that, please.  And just three days later my Mother In Law said to me, "You need to slow down and rest. You're not as young as you used to be."

Nice, uh?

I am trying to stay positive.  But, honestly, that's not always so easy.  So I am updating my blog and hopes of finding the bright side of this next phase of my life.  As I approach 40 next year, I plan to look and feel the BEST ever.

So please join me in my journey to 4-0!

The Power of Cranberry (and a $5 off offer!)

With the holidays fast approaching, shelves are stocked with holiday favorites, which almost always include the ingredient cranberry. Aside from being a delicious part of your holiday meals, cranberry has incredible health benefits too. This time of year, it is important to think about our all-over health - not just diet and exercise. 

Why ellura?
50% of women suffer from UTIs, and UTIs are the 2nd leading cause (behind respiratory infections) of missed work days by women.  ellura's mission is to stop the needless and silent suffering of millions of women with chronic UTIs and eliminate the chronic use of antibiotics. ellura is the only dietary supplement on the market that is clinically proven to have the required dose for effective protection against UTIs.  ellura is also the only cranberry supplement that conforms to a government health claim.  Many women take antibiotics as chronic preventive therapy, but the side effects and increasing resistance are bad for the individual and society.  ellura is an all natural and effective solution that can free women from the cycle of pain and embarrassment that accompanies UTIs.  www.myellura.com

What is ellura?
ellura is actually 100% cranberry extracted from the pure juice of the American cranberry.  The clinical studies show that the bacterial anti-adhesion effect, which can prevent UTIs (it does not treat or cure them), requires 36mg of PAC (proanthocyanidins) from the juice of the American cranberry.  This is the basis of the health claim approved by the French government agency ANSES.  One capsule also has an anti-oxidant ORAC value of 1240.  Cranberry is a powerful fruit, when extracted and processed correctly to harness its efficacy.  Unfortunately, other U.S. cranberry supplements are formulated based on hype and pure marketing dollars, not science.

Here is a coupon code for $5 off total order:
AOmom5
Good for use once per customer valid until Dec 31, 2011.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Want a SIMPLE Thanksgiving?

On newsstands now, Real Simple’s November issue features a 50-page guide to your best Thanksgiving yet.  With tasty recipes and smart tips for planning ahead, your table will be deliciously composed come November 24th.  As will you.

Real Simple’s complete Thanksgiving guide includes:

A Truly Make-Ahead Thanksgiving (page 226)
ThisThanksgiving dinner menu features crowd-pleasing recipes that you can prepare in advance, plus an easy-to-follow shopping list and timeline.  The menu includesCider Glazed Turkey; Bourbon Gravy, Fig and Cranberry Compote;Sausage and Apple Stuffing; and more.

The Best Pre-feast Nibbles (Page 237)
Are your guests feeling peckish? Silence the squawking with these store-boughtparty appetizers and snacks. Real Simple’s favorites, from more than 150 sampled, include a nut mix, a Mediterranean spread, cheese straws, and more.

Wines and Dine (Page 241)
Wonder which bottle is best to serve with your feast? Simply followReal Simple’s grape-by-grape guide to red and white wine for six Thanksgiving-ready varieties.

Simple Sides (Page 245)
They only look fancy:Real Simple’s homemade bread, rolls, and biscuits are bake-ahead and delightfully foolproof. Plus, an easy-as-piechicken stock recipe and three creative cranberry sauce recipes.

10 Ideas for Mashed Potatoes (Page 260)
Just when you thought everyone’s favorite side dish couldn’t get any more tantalizing, it has. Ten times over. New takes on the old standardmashed potato recipe include Toasted Garlic and Smoked Paprika; Olives and Lemon; Bacon and Blue Cheese; and more.

Show-Stopping Desserts (Page 265)
Real Simpleshares four reasons to save room.Thanksgiving dessert recipes include: Sweet Potato Pie with Candied Nut Cream; Chocolate Pecan Tart; Bread Pudding with Fruit Compote;and Apple-Molasses Spice Cake.

PLUS: Thanksgiving Road-Trip Supplies – Whether Grandmother’s house is just over the river and through the woods or 500 miles away, Real Simple shares nifty gizmos and car-friendly diversions to help the ride go more smoothly. Enjoyexclusive savings forReal Simple readers. (Page 302)

Free Christmas gifts from Snapfish

Calendar: Earlier this week, I was able to get my Dad's christmas gift from Snapfish, a free yearly custom calendar. (I only paid $5.99 shipping.) You can grab this deal too at http://fall.snapfish.com/

Christmas Cards: We buy many Disney DVDs and CDs for my kids.  Therefore, I collect the Disney movie rewards points.  And today, I was able to redeem the points for free custom 5*7 photo Christmas cards from Snapfish.  Check out the site today!

I love GREAT shopping days!!

I don't go shopping often, but when I do...I shop for DEALS.  And today was definitely a DEAL day!

I got a sweater and earrings on sale at Ann Taylor Loft, and paid with a $15 Birthday coupon they sent me.  Total = $10.68 with tax for both.  (Yup, 85-percent savings)

JCPenney had Cooks Pancake Griddles (see photo below) on sale, so I got two and paid with a $15 Birthday coupon they sent me.  I saved $95.04 and spent only $5.29 out of pocket. (Yea, 94-percent saings!)


At Panera Bread, I got a free brownie for signing up earlier in the week for the "My Panera Rewards" program.

Wow, if I could only save this much at the grocery store! :(

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Holiday Items at Pottery Barn Kids

Here are two great items at Pottery Barn Kids this year!

Count down to the holidays with PB Kids whimsical calendars – from the jolly Plush Snowman and Stocking Advent Calendars to the Hanukkah Countdown Calendar – each with meticulously designed pockets perfect for a treat, message or tiny gift.



Children of all ages can share in the excitement of the Festival of Lights with PB Kids Hanukkah Dreidel and Hanukkah Menorah, each carefully fashioned from solid wood. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Do's and Don'ts of Layaway Plans

Walmart, Sears, Best Buy and TJ Maxx are just a few of the major merchants now offering layaway. In fact, Toys 'R Us has expanded its layaway programto include most toys, rather than just the big-ticket items.

Layaway nearly vanished before the recession, as credit card use grew in prominence. Stores preferred we swipe away because it was easier than handlingall that paperwork. But with consumers leery of facing too much holiday debt -- and threatening to spend less this year in stores -- retailers began using layaway as a means of luring us back.

While this all sounds well and good, there are problems related to such programs. Here are a few "Do's" and "Don'ts" you should consider before making the leap.

DO
  • Do Dissect the Fine Print
You'll have to sign a contract or layaway initiation form, which naturally contains a lot of vital information you could easily overlook. Don't let a long line or impatient clerk rush you through checking each detail so you know what to expect.
  • Do Consider Whether it's Worth the Origination Fee
There's a fair amount of paperwork, processing and labor involved in layaway plans, so stores charge a start-up fee for each order. Consider the amountof that charge is worthwhile compared to the overall total of your purchase.
  • Do Decide if You Really Need This Item
Should something happen and you decide not to go through with all payments, you'll likely have to pay a fee of roughly 25 to 30 percent of the total price of the layaway plan. That's a hefty fine for changing your mind, so make sure you really want the item before placing it on layaway.
  • Do Compare all Fees vs. Credit Card Charges
Add up the potential costs and consider whether you'd be better off placing a purchase on a credit card. According to a New York Times op-ed by Cornell professor Louis Hyman, a typical shopper could wind up paying far less interest by using a credit card, even if it has a fairly high APR. Plus, a credit card gives you purchase protection and, with some companies, price protection.

DON'T
  • Don't Ignore the Internet
Don't let a sale combined with a layaway plan talk you into buying before researching your options. You'll often find better deals online and it's a lot easier to comparison shop with your mouse. Search for promo codes to use toward your coveted item, and then compare the total cost of the online purchase to what you'd ultimately pay by putting it on layaway.
  • Don't Neglect Your Expiration Date
There's a limit to how long Walmart will store your stuff. As with other stores, they want to move it before Christmas, so check to ensure you have enough time and cash to pay the entire debt off on time or you'll forfeit everything you've already paid. Mark that date on your calendar and make sure you make all payments before it hits.
  • Don't Forget About Automatic Withdrawals
Some merchants prefer to set-up automatic checking-account deductions, ostensibly to save you the hassle of coming in to make each payment. In actuality, it's just another way to make sure they get their money. Should one of those payments bounce, however, you'll be socked with a healthy overdraft fee from both the merchant and your bank. Once again, mark on your calendar the date each deduction will be made, so you can double check the balance in your account.
  • Don't Layway When You Can Pay
It's hard to part with cash during the holidays, when other expenses build up, but the fees you incur with a layaway plan aren't always worth it if you can pay cash now and avoid the hassle.
 
###
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A Visit to the American Girl Doll Store in Atlanta

We made our first visit to the American Girl Doll store in Atlanta on Friday.

Here is my daughter posing with Kanani, the girl of the year (this is also the doll my daughter purchased earlier in the year through the catalog).
 We chose a $20 hair style in the salon, a fishtail in the back (similar to a braid) with two colored bows.

Then we went into the bistro for "tea" (only $10 per person).


 I love that the doll even got her own chair!
 Then a little more shopping...
 And time to say goodbye...

We spent about 1-1/2 hours in the store, and can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sclerotherapy (Spider vein treatment): My Story

Ever since I delivered my children, I have noticed small spider veins in my legs. They are pale and don't bother me much. However, a couple are more noticable. Recently, I saw a segment on the Dr. Oz show where a lady had her veins removed with a simple injection so did some research.





Today, I had the injections done; it's called sclerotherapy. I paid for 40 injections but we stopped around 15 injections (I am a wuss, ha). It did sting a little, but I know it will be worth it in the end. (I truly didn't think I had that many veins but I have never inspected the back of my legs, ha. The doctor pointed out several I had never even noticed). I go back for the remainder of the injections next week. (I salute the ladies who can get it done in one sitting, I am not that brave, ha)




My doctor does not require compression doctors post-procedure (thank God; it's quite hot in Florida.) Instead she puts on very tight compression tape, which I had to keep on for two hours (no that is not cellulite on my legs; the bandages are that tight). I was also encourage to exercise, and NOT rest.I will have a few red marks and/or bruises for 2 or 3 weeks. Here you can see a few bruises on my lower calf (at the injection site) so will wear crop pants the next few days, not shorts, so I don't freak others out. You can also see a few smaller veins that we haven't gotten to you yet (again, I will go back next week to finish).I never thought I would have a "cosmetic procedure" done but am glad I did it! I will post more picutres next week.