Friday, October 29, 2010

The Halo Shirt Review


Did you know that cleft lip and cleft palate are the most common birth defects of the head and face for children worldwide? These children suffer from multitude of health issues like difficulty breathing and hearing loss and not to mention have to endure several surgeries to help fix the defect.

Unfortunately, many parents worldwide cannot afford to have their child's cleft lip/palate treated, which means those children then endure being an outcast in their communities. Although being at outcast is mostly known by children with cleft defects in developing countries, I remember my neighbor, who had a cleft lip (which had been treated) and stuttered, being made fun of on the bus. I don't remember a lot from back then, but that stuck with me because I knew how much that must have hurt him and I wish I had the guts to stick up for him.

Thankfully, we do live here in the U.S. and my neighbor had the opportunity to go to college, get a good job and is doing great now. But knowing not everyone has opportunities my neighbor did, it's nice to know that people like those at Little Lamb Kidz Properties, LLC. are doing what they can to help.

Little Lamb Kidz Properties introduced The Halo tee shirt- "a trend-setting symbol of compassion and support for a widespread pediatric problem." The Halo tee shirt is made of 100% pre-shrunk cotton and has an image of a glowing halo, an encouraging symbol, on the front.

This tee with the halo image will help those with cleft defects because:

"Little Lamb Kidz will donate 10% of all sales of the shirts to Smile Train, an organization which provides free cleft-related surgery for millions of poor children in developing countries. The Halo™ tee shirt makes it possible for people who have a passion for this important cause to not only donate money but also raise awareness for it in their daily life. The Halo™ tee shirt can be purchased at http://thehalo.littlelambkidz.com/. It is available in both adult and children sizes."
I was sent a t-shirt for Blake to wear and he seems to like it. He REALLY likes that it glows in the dark!! It's definitely a nice quality shirt and it seems like it is going to hold up to my rough 'n tough little guy. I'm proud that he is wearing it, so we can help spread the word about the children with cleft defects to whoever inquires about it. Even though I wasn't able to stick up for my neighbor way back when, maybe this will help me do a little something for a child somewhere now. :-)

Buy It!: The Halo tee adult size costs $19.95, while the child size shirts run $14.95. Please click here if you are interested in purchasing The Halo tee.

*All quotes and cleft palate information came from The Halo tee shirt press release.

*Disclosure: I was provided a t-shirt and asked to help spread the word about Little Lamb Kidz efforts with The Halo tee. All opinions about The Halo tee are my own.

'State' Door Mat Review from CSN Stores

When CSN Stores contacted me to with another review opportunity, I had a REALLY hard time deciding what I was going to get to review. I'm sure there were things that we could use or would want, but then I thought it was a great opportunity to get a Christmas gift. So I looked for gifts for the kids and came up with all sorts of toys...that they don't need....so then I looked for others and still could not make up my mind. I ended up just giving the responsibility to my sister and she chose her Christmas present! LOL! She had liked the idea for a while to decorate their outdoor space with creations made with our Alma maters' logos. I knew she was interested in lawn/garden ornaments, but it never struck me that she would like this 'State' Door Mat!


It came UPS a couple days ago and I have to say it is one TOUGH door mat! I, of course, have not used it being that it's a gift, but it's "crafted in coir fiber and pressed rubber" and weighs 16 lbs! It is easy to tell that it will last through being walked on, stomped on, scraped...possibly even chewed on by the dogs...for years! Although my sister already knows what she is getting, I still think she will be pleasantly surprised by the durability of this mat and will be happy to have a start to her 'State' themed outdoor decor! :-)

Thank you to Sean at CSN Stores for this review opportunity.

*Disclosure: I was given a gift code in exchange for a teaser post and the review post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Our 5th Anniversary


It's been quite a week leading up to today. Starting early Wednesday morning, about 3:00 am, I came down with the flu. Rich took the kids to my mom's, then came down with the flu himself at work, so my parents ended up taking the kids to Rich's parents' (because my mom had to work the following morning). Thursday morning Rich felt good enough to go to work and Rich's parents were leaving for a 12 hour drive to see my brother-in-law, so the kids then ended up at Rich's grandma's to give me time to recover. Then, when they all made it back home last night, Rich noticed he left the water on to the cattle ALL day and a couple hours later we didn't have ANY water! This morning things are almost normal....only its 56 degrees in here because we are refusing to turn on our heat until November and my stomach still doesn't feel quite right, but we have water...so far...

So this week hasn't been anything like what we expected, but after 5 years and 2 unexpected little ones (and countless other unexpected things), we've come to expect the unexpected. We may not make it out to our anniversary dinner tonight due to a funky stomach and using up our babysitters already this week, but going out for dinner isn't important. It's the little things that are important....like knowing we're there for each other when we're sick....and laughing about leaving the water on to the cattle just like my grandpa used to do....and cuddling up under blankets and enjoying being cozy because we're being cheap...those are the things that we can enjoy today on our 5th anniversary. Happy Anniversary Rich! I love you!! :-)

* Rich is not dirty in the pic above-it just scanned funny....kinda goes along with our week I guess ;-)

UPDATE: So we really didn't have water this morning, but the well guy already came out and changed the switch, pressure gage and control box on our pump and we're back in business! Thankfully no work needed to be done on the actual well like we were fearing (that would have been even more pricey!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Week of Road Trips

Rich and I were on the road a lot last week with all the happenings going on around here. Last Sunday we had a trip planned to the area my sister lives to have dinner with her for her birthday. We got up that morning thinking we'd have a great day...the weather was beautiful, everyone was in a wonderful mood until....the throwing-up started! To make a long story short, Blake puked, then Morgan puked, then after asking for Rich to help, he puked...ALL on the carpet, cleaned carpet, changed clothes, took off, forgot gift, turned around, tones go off for fire call, turned around again, Rich ran into fire hall, waited for trucks to leave, came home, waited for Rich, took off again (with gift this time) after he called, drove 2 hours, and made it to dinner for my sisters b-day only 1-1/2 hours late! :-) (By the way-the kids were fine-their congestion got to them from their colds.)

We had a great dinner of pizza at a place called Aubree's. I forgot my camera in the car and after finally making it there, I didn't bother running back out to grab it for pics. I assure you everyone had a nice time. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon checking out Trader Joes for the first time (and grabbed some hard apple cider that had our last name in it-thought that was kinda cool!) and visiting my parents' campsite they had been staying at that weekend before driving the 2 hours back home.

The next trip was last Tuesday when Rich and I drove all the way across the state to go to the burial of my grandparents' ashes....8 hours round-trip for a 15 minute burial. (Basically coast to coast...in Michigan). It was really neat, though. The burial date would have been my grandparents' 70th anniversary and the scenery was beautiful the whole trip-I really wish I had pictures for you! We also had lunch with the members of the family that could make it, which was nice.

The most recent trip was this past Saturday to Michigan State University, my alma mater, for the homecoming football game. It was only my second football game, even though I spent 4 years over there, and it was my first true tailgating experience. I had a wonderful time and Rich had an even better time (though there are parts he doesn't remember...if you know what I mean...lol!) And I remembered to get pics on this trip!! :-)

It'd been over 3-1/2 years since I had been to campus and this awed me! LOL! I used to have to stand and wait for the trains to pass on my way back and forth to the commuter lot and now the road goes under the tracks! I am still in awe! LOL!


Roomies! Me, my friend Kelley and my sister. We roomed together my (and Kel's) Junior and Senior years.

The band playing at half time.

Sparty-our mascot! :-)

Celebrating a touchtown.

Beaumont tower from the stadium.

This one is a bit confusing. I thought I was taking a picture of Gerard Butler (Bounty Hunter, 300, etc.), but it's just some guy in a leather coat and MSU hat....then as I was looking at this before posting and there is Gerard Butler on the far upper right in the greyish leather jacket....at least I'm almost positive it is-lol!

Here's a pic of him at the game from MSU's facebook page...now compare to the pic of the guy on the far right above...it's him, right? Either way, I tried-I had my camera zoomed in 16 times and the pic is blurry until I take it...I could only do so much-LOL!

Celebrating the 26-6 victory over Illinois. GO STATE!! They are now 7-0 and ranked #8!! :-)
This pic is as we were walking back to the commuter lot. MSU's campus is truly beautiful this time of year...I wish I had gotten to the old part of campus-I'm sure it was breathtaking! :-)

It was a busy week, but a good one! I'm looking forward to staying close to home this week....and the next few weeks-that was A LOT of traveling! LOL!


P.S. Today is my sister's actual birthday...Happy Birthday Katie! I know you were dreading this one...I am too knowing that I'm only 15 months behind you!! ;-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mama Likes It Easy Planners



When I received a "Mama Likes It Easy" planner in the mail to review, I'll have to admit I was extremely impressed! The planners I've been using are the cheap $5 ones that just have some lines and boxes to fill in dates. I'm a fairly simple person and I never thought I needed more than that, but now I know what I was missing out on!!
The "Mama Likes It Easy" planners were well thought out and designed by busy moms who know what moms need to stay organized and it definitely shows in their product! When I got past the fun things, like the fabric cover, the little charm on the front and the elegant font, I started looking at the categories of inserts that came with the planner. These are the categories with their descriptions:

*Daily Calendar of Events or Weekly Calendar Our Daily Calendar of Events features 3 months of dated easy-to-use 6 family member columns to schedule timed activities throughout your busy day. Daily list of things to do, journal entry and today's food menu also included. If our daily calendar is not what you are looking for we also offer our Weekly Calendar of events featuring 52 weeks (1 full year) of undated pages consisting of things to do columns/appointment tracker, menu planner, and special event reminder. One full week is printed on two side by side pages so that you can view your entire week. Additional daily and weekly calendar refills are available. See inserts page for details.

*Monthly Calendar Pages, Four-Year Calendar, Important Dates to Remember including Card & Gift Record.

*Family Medical Records- Keep your family doctor visits "painless." List important contacts, prescriptions, insurance information, appointments & vaccination records. Keep it all organized for convenient reference use.

*Meal Planning- List restaurants, take-out food favorites and recipe entries. Reference cooking measurement guide also included.

*Family Activities- (our personal favorite) Team sport section featuring coach & team parent contact information, game & practice schedule, photo & snack mom dates. Class activity & volunteer project outline pages also included.

*Holidays & Parties- Keep track of all birthdays & dinner party details including food, entertainment & guest list. Record your holiday greeting card list including who sent YOU a card.

*Travel- Bon Voyage!... From hotel reservations, airline flights, car rentals, destination sites & packing lists, you'll have all vital travel information conveniently at hand. Useful travel phone/website reference pages also included.

*Contact List- We go way beyond a typical address/telephone directory. Now, you can include your favorite websites with usernames and password information.

*Note Pages, Shopping Tablet & Notes to the Teacher Forms Gone are the days of searching for a piece of paper to write your child's school absent note...we know what a busy Mommy needs at 8 a.m.


I was impressed with the layout of each of the pages and the amount of detail! For example, in the 'Medical Information' category, there are areas to list allergies and blood types for each family member. Or in the 'Weekly Calendar' category, there is a spot for each day to plan out your meals! How awesome is that!?

I was also sent extra inserts to look over including the categories: Babysitting, Troop Leader, Household Projects, Pets and Christmas. Of the extra inserts, my favorites were definitely the Household Projects and Christmas:

With the hectic Christmas season quickly approaching, I got excited to see the different pages in the Christmas insert and how useful they would be to stay organized. I could keep track of my greeting cards, gifts and then there is an area to list the tasks needed to complete the last 6 weeks before Christmas! Right now, these lists are in 3 totally different areas of my house and I constantly lose track of them...I'd love to have them all in the same place!

The 'Household Projects' insert also excited me. The 'Cleaning Projects' page is an area where I could list all those things that I've been meaning to clean, but always forget because I never write them down. There is also a 'Home Improvement' area which would really come in handy when we work more on fixing up our house! It has places to list paint color, where to get it, the type (flat, satin, etc.) and is very comprehensive! Then there is the 'Maintenance Schedule', which also excited me! It lists the things that need to be done at different times of the year to keep everything in the home running efficiently and safely...for example cleaning the ventilation duct of the clothes dryer and clean/replace the furnace filter.


BUY IT: I could honestly go on and on with all the qualities that I LOVE about this planner, but I'll let you check it out for yourself (click on button below). The price of the planner starts at $55.99 and includes all the inserts listed in italics above, choice of charm and cover. Extra inserts vary in price from $2.95 to $45.00 (for the 9 month Daily calendar refill). Shipping is FREE for all orders over $75. I honesty feel all the pricing is very reasonable for what you are getting and how much I'm sure it will help keep life organized! :-)



In the end, I definitely think I'll forgo my $5 planners and invest in one of these "Mama Likes It Easy" planners in the near future! I already love how organized the planner could keep me now and with Morgan and Blake getting old enough to start in activities like Wednesday night youth programs at church, 4-H, Girl/Boy Scouts and T-ball, without a planner like this, I'm not sure how I'd ever stay organized!

Thank you to Carrie at "Mama Likes It Easy" planners for this review opportunity! :-)

*Disclosure: I was provided with this planner to review and return so I would be sure it was a product that I could stand behind before joining the Mama Likes It Easy Affiliate Program.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CSN Stores Has Me Reminiscing

As I sit here typing, I'm thinking back 8 years ago when I moved to my first apartment at college. I'd lived in the dorms for 2 years and decided to take the leap and move into an apartment with my sister and friend/dorm roommate. Despite being comfortable with my future roommates, I was nervous to be more 'on my own'. The dorms supplied you with meal plans, access to the Internet, phone, etc and now I'd be figuring all that out on my own and having to make arrangements and organizing so we did everything fairly in our apartment that we'd be sharing.

Another thing we had to figure out was how we were going to furnish our new apartment and what supplies we'd need to buy. I remember I was in charge of getting a vacuum (as my contribution) and each of the others had something they had to get....though I don't recall what they contributed now. As far as furnishings, we lucked out! Our parents had several things that they were eager to get out of their house, including our bunk beds, dresser, desk, bookshelf and the drop leaf table and chairs.

Once we got settled in and got used to living together, I don't know what I was so nervous about. It worked out quite well, though my sister and I found out that we get along much better if we don't live together...we can laugh about it now ;-) And as I think about the furnishings and if they hadn't been given to us, we would have had to do a lot of garage sale-ing! But if we had the money, how nice it would have been to shop at CSN Stores!

Night & Day Ginger Twin Over Full Bunk Bed in Cherry

Sunset Trading Light Oak Drop Leaf Dining Table

Funny thing is, even now that I'm married and have my own place, I still can't afford to buy new since we are still paying for that college! LOL! The experience of living with others was well worth the cost though.... it prepared me for the gives and takes of marriage and kids and for that I am thankful. :-)

Side note: GO STATE!!! 6-0 so far!!!! ;-)

Disclosure: Any views expressed in this post are my own. CSN Stores offered for me to host a review/giveaway in return for this post.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Summer 2010 Update #3

The last couple months have been a bit of a whirlwind and as much as I thought things were going to settle down, they really haven't....and with the upcoming holidays, I don't anticipate that life will slow down too much, but I'm back!! I've decided that I'd like to cut back on blogging, though, so you probably won't see posts as often as I had been (before the break), but I am hoping to have something up at least once a week.

So, for the summer update! WAY back at the beginning of August, the neighboring town had one of my favorite groups perform at their Music in the Park, so I made sure to take the kiddos and we thoroughly enjoyed them! (The group was Three Men and a Tenor for those of you who may have heard of them.)

The following day the same town, that had the music in the park, had their Art Fair. I made sure to get some kettle corn while I was there (it's the best!) and my brother's friend was doing a book signing for his newest book, Michigan's Mysterious Lighthouse. It was a beautiful day and there was some truly amazing art there!

The 2nd weekend of August we had a birthday party to go to for my friend's little girl who turned 4 (she's also Morgan's best friend.) I also got to see her new little baby who was only a couple weeks old, then drove to see my other friends' new little one the next day. That Sunday we picked up 2 more calves, too, so that weekend was a weekend of getting my baby fix! ;-) It also ended with truck problems...with our brand new truck...but it was a fairly quick and easy fix...thankfully!

Two weeks later was another birthday weekend with my Aunt's surprise birthday party and Blake's birthday. (They share the same birthday-kinda cool!) Plus we went to Rich's old fire department's pancake breakfast that Sunday and followed that with his fire department's picnic....it was in the mid 90's that day and I really didn't need to eat anything! LOL!

Speaking of fire departments, Rich's burned an old house which I got pictures of, but on my dad's camera :-/ Then a few weeks later his old department burned a house that was on his grandma's new property and Rich had the opportunity to help with it!
This is the house being burned on the family's property. Rich is the one with the yellow helmet.
Watching the fire was so interesting! And the darkness in the picture is from the thickness of the smoke!
Rich is on the nozzle spraying down the tree to keep it from burning.
Family picture :-)

Labor Day weekend was a little more relaxed and on Labor Day we had a picnic with the family. The weekend after that, though, we had a wedding to attend. The wedding was Friday afternoon, so we dropped the kids off with my parents', who were going camping, then carpooled with Rich's parents and some family friends. We stayed that night, came back the next day and ran up to where my parents' were camping to get the kids....a lot of time on the road! The wedding was fun, though, and the kids had an awesome time with my parents' attending The Thumb Octagon Barn's Fall Family Days where they got to milk a goat, card wool and have it spun to bring home, make greeting cards using dried & pressed flowers, take train rides, pump water at old-fashioned pump and lots more! (I'm thinking I'll have to go there next year-sounds awesome!)
Rich and I ready for the wedding! Had to get a pic of us, since we don't dress up often :-)
The newlyweds :-)
A quick pic of the Octogon barn...we drove by since Rich had never seen it before.

Morgan started preschool the following Monday and has been LOVING it! I take her to school in the morning, so she doesn't have to ride the bus with the big kids and she rides the bus home right before lunch. It was a tough decision to let her go, but now that she's going I know we did the right thing :-)
Rich took a couple hours off to drop Morgan off at school with me on her first day...another family pic.

The next weekend was the fireman's memorial festival and the weekend after I had another Girls' Night Out with the girls from high school as well as an open house for a couple who is expecting their first in October. (SO many babies!!) :-)

In between all that I've picked, husked, hung, dried and shelled my popcorn. I ended up with a gallon bag full even though I cut back! I made sure to get them done asap this year and only lost a little bit to the chipmunks who decided to infest our mudroom (they are quite cute little pests though!) I also got 42 quarts of tomatoes canned and 14 pints of salsa...so far....all the tomatoes are picked (due to a frost threat) and I'm just waiting for them to ripen. The garden is basically done for the year-the only thing left out there is our pumpkins! :-)

The kids and I have also been working on several activities/crafts/projects that I hope to share with you in another post....this one is long enough! ;-)

Delicious Fall Recipes

I happened across some recipes this past week that I tried, loved and had to share with you guys-they're delicious!!

The first one I tried was Pumpkin Spice Popcorn that I came across on Jolly Mom. The kids and I had this for a snack just a couple hours after I saw it...I couldn't wait to try it and it is YUMMY! I actually made it 3 times that day I liked it so much!! (One batch was for my father-in-law, because it reminded me of him.)


Pumpkin-Spiced Popcorn

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. butter
2/3 cup popcorn kernels

Combine sugar, spice, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Stove top method:
Add canola oil and a 2-3 popcorn kernels to a large, heavy bottomed pot on stove top over medium-high heat. When those kernels begin to pop, the oil is hot enough to begin popping the corn. Add 2/3 cup popcorn kernels to the pot. Cook, covered, on medium high heat until fully popped--shaking the pot every 10-20 seconds to ensure that all kernels are popped and that popcorn doesn't burn. Turn off heat. Quickly add melted butter to the popcorn and immediately sprinkle spice mixture over popcorn. Stir or shake pot to coat.

*************

The next one I tried is Butternut Squash Soup that I saw on Momtrends. I had a HUGE butternut squash that my mom had given me and needed ways to use it up without having to eat it all plain(I'm not a big squash eater). So I thought I'd give this a try, especially since I could use up 6 cups of squash at once ;-) This was SO worth it! I never knew squash could be SO good!!! Delicious!!

Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:
6 Tbslp minced onion
4 Tblsp butter
6 Cups butternut squash (peeled, slightly cooked is better)
6 Cups chicken broth
1 chopped red pepper, or roasted red pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 8oz package cream cheese (light if you prefer)

Directions:
Slice the squash in half and bake just enough to soften the insides. Remove from skin, set aside.
Saute onion, garlic and red pepper in butter till soft.
Combine onion/garlic, broth, squash, and cayenne pepper in a pot. Simmer until the squash is tender.
Remove from heat, puree in a blender, until squash is smooth.
Add cream cheese, puree again, then return to heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Serve with soft fresh bread and a bit of cream on top.

*************

The last new recipe that I tried was for this Pumpkin Bread that was on allrecipes.com. I had to make a dessert for workshop we had for Morgan's school and I always consider quick breads like a dessert, since they're so sweet....plus I STILL had more squash to use up! Yes I used squash instead of pumpkin, but I'm pretty sure there probably isn't a difference in the taste of the bread......it's still yummy! :-)



Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups white sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two loaf pans.
2.In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and cloves.
3.In a large bowl with an electric mixer, blend sugar, oil and eggs. Stir in pumpkin. Slowly blend the flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. While blending the mixture add water incrementally. Pour the batter into two prepared loaf pans.
4.Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for 90 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans.
I'm entering this post as part of the Gooseberry Patch Blog's Halloween Party. Head on over and join in on the fun!! :-)
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