5 Ways to “Go Red” on February 3rd

I have known my husband since the sixth grade.  Because we have such a history, I have been lucky enough to meet many of his friends and extended family.  I never got the chance to meet one person he still holds close to his heart, his grandmother.  Consequently, she was not fortunate enough to hold her own great-grandchildren.  In 1986, Grandma Joyce passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 59.

Now, heart disease is the leading killer of women claiming the precious lives of 1 in 3 females, more than all forms of cancer combined.  On February 3rd, you can help the American Heart Association raise awareness about the truth of heart disease by participating in the 9th Annual National Wear Red Day.  Need some inspiration?  Check out some of my ideas to help you “Go Red!”

Source: etsy.com via Bridgette on Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally, if you are in the New Orleans area, consider attending the Go Red for Women Luncheon to be held February 3rd at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.  The luncheon will encourage women to take charge of their heart health by providing access to health screenings, seminars, and a heart healthy lunch.  Tickets can be purchased for $100.

What do you do to live a heart healthy lifestyle?

This post is the opinion of Experimental Mommy.  No compensation or product was provided for this post.

Pirate Brands Pirate’s Booty Snacks: Review and Giveaway

How many times are you planning a party and you walk on the chip aisle and end up purchasing the same old greasy potato chips?  You get them home only to find the bag is half empty and most of the chips are broken. So this week when you are planning your Superbowl party you don’t have to resort to those same old boring chips.  Why not try Pirate Brands?  About the company:

“Pirate Brands, a leader and manufacturer of all-natural snacks, is located in Sea Cliff, NY and has been creating healthy treasures since 1987.  The company was founded on the belief that you shouldn’t have to “snackrifice” taste and fun for health.  Pirate Brands produces deliciously baked, all-natural, trans fat and gluten free snacks that include Pirate’s Booty, Smart Puffs, Potato Flyers, and Tings.  Pirate Brands’ snacks are free from fryers and ingredients you can’t pronounce, Arrrrrr.”

Score points with the home team this Big Game day by serving a family favorite – Pirate’s Booty!  This year, intercept regular chips with a healthier alternative like Pirate’s Booty, which has half the fat and less calories (130 calories for a one ounce serving) than greasy fried potato chips.  Pirate’s Booty is a deliciously baked, all-natural snack made from puffed rice and corn.  Pirate’s Booty is also trans-fat and gluten free and…fun!

I asked my son if he liked them and he told me more please, so I got my answer!  Once you start eating them you don’t want to put the bag down.  In fact, as I was holding the bag I decided to compare it to the brand we normally buy.   I read the ingredients and needed a dictionary to decipher the words, however when reading the back of Pirate’s Booty I knew each and every ingredient.

According to the Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association an estimated 30 million pounds of snacks including potato chips, nuts and popcorn will be consumed on Superbowl Sunday.  As you root for your favorite team, you are consuming empty calories without even knowing it. I love that the puffs are now available in half ounce packs with only 65 calories to help you with portion control and stop you from nervous eating when your Team gets behind!  With Pirate’s Booty on your table you can cut your calories without cutting flavor and that’s a TOUCHDOWN in my home!  You can use the store locator feature on the Pirate Brands website or simply purchase any of the varieties online.

GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive one case (12 four-ounce bags) of Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar!

How to enter:

1. Tell me another Pirate Brands product you can’t wait to try!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Unlimited! (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog on Facebook and Pirate Brands on Facebook.

5. Place my blog banner on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on February 15th. Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This post is the opinion of Beth of Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Seven?!?

Seven short years ago, my baby girl was placed in my arms.  I fell instantly in love.

Seven short years ago, I looked into her eyes.  I became a Mom.

Seven short years ago, my husband kissed her forehead.  We became a family.

Lily, it is hard to believe that I didn’t know you seven years ago but I honestly cannot remember what life was like without you.  You have made me stronger, braver, and more patient (believe it or not!).

You made me a Mom.  You made us a family.

I love you, forever.

Six Steps to Saving BIG at the Grocery without Extreme Couponing

There has been much discussion lately among my family and friends about the economy.  In our circle, we have seen job loss, career change, salary cuts, and other circumstances that have caused many of us to take a long, hard look at what we spend and how we spend it.  Whenever my husband and I start getting our paperwork together for our accountant in order to do our taxes, I start swilling Pepto-Bismol because when we are done, we see where every penny went for the year.  Some of it literally makes me want to throw up.  One of our huge money-suckers is the grocery store.  With 2 growing kids, I was amazed at what we spent each year on food.  I decided to do something about it, and my wallet has never been happier.  Let me share my secrets:

  • The first thing I did was start cutting coupons.  It made me feel a little bit like a grandma on a fixed income, but I started noticing that a lot of coupons in the Sunday paper were for things I bought weekly.  I only clip coupons for the things I already buy, but sometimes clip for things we may want to try sometime. Sharing coupons with family and friends is a great way to save even more!  There are several great online coupon websites like Coupon Mom where you can print free coupons as well.  If you think coupons are a waste of time, I beg you to watch just one episode of Extreme Couponing on TLC, then you can decide for yourself if it’s worth your time. And while you’re at it, don’t miss Toddlers and Tiaras.  But I digress……
  • Next, I started watching the sales.  Here in Louisiana, our ads come out on Wednesdays and I have to say I’ve become a little obsessed.  I try and plan my menu for the next week based on what’s on sale.  I also look for items on sale that I can also use a coupon.  By doing this, I’ve gotten brownie mixes for as low as a quarter, toothpaste for fifty cents, and shampoo and conditioner for free.  While I am by no means to the level as seen on Extreme Couponing, it all adds up.  I shop at a nationwide chain that price matches, so if an item is at a deep discount somewhere else, I can show them the ad and they will sell it to me for the lower price.  By doing this, I haven’t paid full price for cereal, soft drinks, orange juice, and many other staples in a long time.
  • Once I have my list, I stick to it.  I completely stopped impulse purchases altogether, unless it is a sale I missed while looking at the ads.  I also stock up on sale items or items I have coupons for, so it might cost me a little more on that shopping trip but it’s cheaper in the long run.  For instance, last week a local store had whole chickens on sale for 68 cents a pound, so I got three chickens for about nine dollars.  That’s cheep!  (sorry, sorry….couldn’t resist) We’re roasting one tonight!
  • Try store brands.  I have a friend who uses almost all store brand items and we tease her to death about it (all in good fun, of course).  I am somewhat of a brand snob when it comes to food, but I decided to try swapping 2-3 items a week for store brands just to see where it mattered and where it didn’t.  Basics like butter, canned tomato sauce or paste, or items that are going into a recipe are usually unnoticeable when you’ve swapped and that will save you money.  Other things, like cereal, ice cream, and bread I won’t bend on.  It’s kind of like Parfums De Couer….if you like Giorgio you’ll love Primo!  Except that Giorgio smells good and Primo makes you smell like a poodle that has just been groomed.  I pay the higher price for what we want rather than something cheaper that will go to waste because no one will eat it.
  • Embrace leftovers.  I can still hear my mother telling us when we were little that throwing food away was a sin.  If that’s true then I need to do some major repenting because before my grocery overhaul, we threw away a lot of food.  The problem was, because I wasn’t watching what I was spending, I was over-buying. We would have five open boxes of cereal in the pantry, so they would all get stale before we finished them all.  Now we have 2 open at a time and you know what?  My kids are fine.  They do better with less choices!  Before, I never went to the store with a list or an idea of what we were eating for that week, so many times I came home with items I already had in the house.  Once I discovered I had three spice jars of paprika I got better about checking the pantry, fridge, and freezer BEFORE I went to the store.
  • SAVE TIME AND MONEY WITH E-MEALZ MEAL PLANSI checked out E-Mealz.  This website charges a small fee to send you weekly menu plans guaranteed so save you big bucks .  They have varying plans to choose from and comprise their menus from a wide range of nationwide chains based on what’s on sale.  I stuck with it for a bit and once I learned the ropes, I kind of trained myself on what to look for and how to shop.  It’s a great resource for working parents who don’t have a lot of time to menu plan.  You simply print out the grocery list and go to the store!

By doing this, I can happily report that my grocery bill has been cut IN HALF since July.  It’s become like a game between my friend and I – who can spend less!  We started doing this at the same time and I crack up at how much of our conversation revolves around what’s on sale and coupons.  But really, having a partner in crime has been helpful and motivating.  I still shop every week, and believe me, we are eating just fine!  I am still cooking our favorites and my children haven’t been deprived of anything they love.  I’m just shopping smarter. We’ve been inspired to save in other ways too, like repairing our own appliances with parts from PartSelect.com. And with the money I save, I can spend it on things that are really important, like electricity, water, and shoes.   ;)

What do y’all do to try and save money on your grocery bill? 

I’d love to hear some new ideas!

This is a sponsored post and is the opinion of Jennifer of Experimental Mommy.

Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Party Dip {Recipe}

Today we hosted my daughter’s 7th birthday party (where did the time go?).  I first tasted this recipe at a friend’s New Year’s Eve Party and I was hooked; I had to have the recipe!  It is super easy to make and only took a total of ten minutes…no kidding! Enjoy!

Caramel Cream Cheese Apple Party Dip

Prep time 10 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert
Misc Serve Cold
Occasion Birthday Party

Ingredients

  • 16oz Cream Cheese (softened)
  • 1 1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 jars Hershey's Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup Walnuts (chopped)
  • 32 wedges Apples (sliced)

Directions

Step 1 Combine cream cheese and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Layer onto the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan.
Step 2 Pour caramel sauce on top of cream cheese and smooth.
Step 3 Sprinkle walnuts on top of caramel.
Step 4 Line pan with apples slices and serve!


Easy Side Dishes From All Natural Alexia Food Products {Giveaway}

One of my biggest downfalls in cooking is definitely side dishes.  It never seems to fail that I cook a nice meal for my family and 30 minutes before it is time to eat I remember I have nothing to go with the main dish I just prepared.  Alexia Foods has the perfect solution for all of your side dishes.  From their website:

“We love food as much as you. That’s why we make it exactly how you would: all-natural, gourmet-inspired, and absolutely delicious.

OUR BEGINNINGS: At Alexia, our creativity and passion for the highest quality side dishes runs deep in our roots. As a Manhattan chef, Alex always wondered why there weren’t quality side dishes that achieved the same discerning standard as the main entrée. He knew others would agree, and believed he could create distinctive and inspired convenient everyday side dishes that lived up to what he might create in his own Greenpoint kitchen. Alex started by hand selecting the finest all-natural ingredients and producing only small batches making Alexia a hard to find favorite. Whether seasoning his Beauregard Sweets and Yukon Gold Potatoes or baking the perfect artisan Ciabatta and Focaccia breads, Alex always used real ingredients and put quality and taste first.”

Never again will I have to settle for opening a can or cooking a side dish that comes in powder form.  The Alexia products were absolutely fabulous!  I felt like I was dining at a fancy restaurant instead of in my kitchen.  We received the Onion Rings, Sweet Potato Puffs, and Ciabatta Artisan Bread.  Each side item took less than 30 minutes from oven to table.  While we liked all of the products we received, by far the Sweet Potato Puffs were the biggest hit.  My husband and I like them and they were great for the kids, too.

The best part about the Alexia Foods is that everything tastes like it was cooked fresh, you would never imagine that the were from the freezer section!  Alexia has something for everyone from Sweet Potato Fries and Cheddar Bites to Vegetables and Breads.  The website also has several recipes from Tyler Florence for you to try that complement the side dishes.  Also visit their website to download $1 off coupon towards your next purchase and find out where Alexia Foods are available near you.

GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive two coupons for a FREE Alexia Foods product!

How to enter:

1. Tell me which Alexia Food product you can’t wait to try!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Unlimited! (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog on Facebook and Alexia Foods on Facebook.

5. Place my blog banner on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on February 10th. Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This post is the opinion of Beth of Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of he product.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Spread the Love with Minted.com Valentine’s Day Cards

In an effort to be ahead of the game, I was strolling down the Valentine’s aisle at my local store.  Looking over the selection of candies and cards was fun but everything was just….typical.  There were your average cards featuring today’s pop stars, Disney characters, and cute baby animals, but I really wanted something more personal for my daughters.

Recently, I had the opportunity to try out the selection of kids Valentine’s Day cards at Minted.com.  We have been honored to try Minted’s Holiday cards in the past and were very pleased with the results, so we have high hopes for this Season, too.  When I first opened the classroom Valentine’s Day card selection, I immediately feel in love!  The cards are bright, cheerful, personable and above all, UNIQUE.   You can select to personalize the cards with your child’s name, photo, or message which really makes the card special.

My daughter and I selected to try the Work of Art Classroom Valentines.  This card allows me to add a picture of my daughter and leaves plenty of room for my three year old to draw a special picture for her friends.  She absolutely LOVES the color and draw so this card definitely shows her personality.  I have placed my order (I got 25 cards for $21!) and am waiting for the shipment, but the proof is absolutely adorable, don’t you think?

If you are looking for unique personalized classroom Valentine’s Day cards, look no further.  Get your order in at Minted.com no later than February 7th to ensure Valentine’s Day delivery!

This post is the opinion of Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While a product sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Pecan Pork Tenderloin with KRAFT Fresh Take {Recipe}

A few months ago, I was fortunate enough to visit the KRAFT kitchens as part of the BlogEats Blogger Conference.  One of the products we learned about, Fresh Take, was top secret…until NOW!  This January, KRAFT Fresh Take will make it’s way to your local grocery store and you do NOT want to miss it!

As a busy Mom, I tend to get stuck in the same meal plan week after week (the kids even know to look for Red Beans and Rice on Mondays).  So, I was excited to have KRAFT show me a Fresh Take on dinner.  The mix can be found in the refrigerated dairy section of your grocery store because it consists of one resealable plastic pouch separated into two compartmentalized sections (seasoned breadcrumbs on one side, blend of natural cheese on the other).

I had the opportunity to try the Italian Parmesan variety with my family tonight.  Before starting, you simply open the pouch and mix the breadcrumbs and cheese.  The pouch serves as the mixing bowl….no extra dishes to clean up!  Then you are ready to coat chicken, pork, fish or beef and bake.  Under five minutes of prep time! After baking for about 25 minutes, my Italian Parmesan chicken was ready which I decided to serve over pasta.  I have to say, I was pretty impressed with myself!  The chicken was crunchy, delicious and perfectly seasoned!  In fact, BOTH of my girls asked for seconds…that’s a first!

The KRAFT Fresh Take meal kit come in six varieties: Southwest Three Cheese, Italian Parmesan (delicious!), Rosemary & Roasted Garlic, Cheddar Jack & Bacon, Chili Lime & Panko and Savory Four Cheese.  The suggested retail price is $2.99.

Need some inspiration before you try the new KRAFT Fresh Take?  Check out the recipe below:

Pecan Pork Tenderloin

Serves 8
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Allergy Tree Nuts
Meal type Main Dish
Website Kraft Recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 packet FRESH TAKE Rosemary & Roasted Garlic Recipe Cheese Breadcrumb Mix ((pre-mixed))
  • 1/2 cup PLANTERS pecans ((finely chopped))
  • 2lb Pork Tenderloin ((trimmed))
  • 2 teaspoons Olive Oil

Directions

Step 1 HEAT oven to 400°F.
Step 2 COMBINE cheese mixture and nuts. Brush meat with oil; coat evenly with nut mixture.
Step 3 PLACE tenderloins, side-by-side, in foil-lined 13x9-inch pan.
Step 4 BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until done (145ºF). Let stand 3 min. before slicing.
This post is the opinion of Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While I received product in order to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

 

Get Ready for Spring with Havaianas Sandals

With the unseasonably warm temperatures here in South Louisiana, you would never guess that it is still technically Winter.  In fact, I took the kids to the park yesterday in shorts and a T-shirt….crazy for January, right?  Despite the fact that we seem to be skipping Winter entirely,it is time to start looking forward to Spring.  I am starting to go through my wardrobe and take inventory on what we may need in the near future.  Tops on my list?  Flip Flops.

Last year, I purchased my first pair of Havaianas flip flop sandals for women and absolutely loved them.  The thin straps, one of their signature features, are very comfortable and stylish, too!  Have you heard of Havaianas?  The company began in 1962 inspired by the Zori, typical Japanese sandals made of fabric straps and rice straw soles. Now, the foot-bed of all Havaianas flip flops have a textured rice pattern, one of its many unmistakable features.

Recently, Havaianas rolled out it’s Spring 2012 line.  The new products feature fun patterns, new strap styles and even Disney Cars and Princesses for the kids (my girls will definitely want those)!  My favorite pairs are the new Slim Thematic in the Chili Red color and the Slim Crystal Flower.  I definitely see these in my future!

Don’t miss out on any Havaianas news by following them on Facebook today!

My Top 5 Inspirational Quotes Found on Pinterest

After 17 years in Federal Service as a biological lab technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, my project lost it’s funding due to government cutbacks and I was “involuntarily separated.”  I am faced now with a huge decision….look for employment within my field or try to take a totally different career path.  I have the power to write a brand new chapter in my life.  What an amazing opportunity.

The next few days/weeks will consist of much soul (and job) searching, but I turned to my new addiction, Pinterest, for some consoling and inspirational advice.  This is what I found…hope it helps you, too.