Archives for December 2012

A Guide to Your Housewarming Party

Everybody wants their housewarming party to go well. Not only is this the best chance you have to show people how awesome your new home is, it’s a great chance to prove your ability to plan and throw a party. Here is how to make sure that you have a beautiful, fun and classy housewarming party that your guests will truly enjoy.


Send out real invitations. Sure it’s easy enough to set up an e-vite online or to simply send your friends an email. It looks better and, frankly, feels better to send out actual invitations. If you want to get really fancy you can even include RSVP cards to help you figure out how many guests to plan for in terms of food, seating, etc. To save time and improve the look of the invitations, have classy address label stamps made up so that you don’t have to hand write every single envelope you want to mail out. These are great investments because you’ll be able to use them on other mailings as well.


Your housewarming party is going to be the first time most people get to see you in your new house. While you don’t have to have it absolutely finished in terms of decorations (though that would be nice), it does have to be completely clean. Don’t just throw those empty packing cartons into a spare room and hope nobody looks inside. Break them down and put them in the recycling. Or, better—sell them on Craigslist for a few extra bucks that you can use for other party prep.


The nice thing about a housewarming party is that people want to see what your home truly looks like. This means that you don’t have to go overboard in terms of party decorations. A nice tablecloth for the food table, putting fresh flowers in the vases, actually lighting your candles—that should be enough. Save your decorating budget for the food!


Unless you plan on having a formal sit down meal, most housewarming parties are meant to be pretty loose. This lets you off the hook quite a bit in terms of the food. Some trays filled with tasty appetizers and finger foods and plenty of beverages (nothing that will stain if spilled) and you’re good to go. In even better news, now you can find beautiful disposable plates, cups and cutlery so you won’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll have enough dishes for everybody (or washing them afterwards).


Make sure that you’ve opened up all of the rooms in your home well ahead of your party. You might even want to open the windows as well so that everything gets good and aired out before your guests arrive. Nobody wants to be known for throwing the party in that home “with the funky smell.”

These are just a few tips and tricks for throwing a wonderful housewarming party. Beyond these, don’t forget to have fun! You love your new home and this is your chance to show it off! Enjoy it!

This post is brought to you by guest author, Jenna Smith.

Capture More with the Windows 8X Phone by HTC Camera

With all of the parties, celebrations, reunions and festive decor during the holiday season, I find myself using the camera on my phone more than ever.  Because my arms are generally full with presents, food and coats as we walk into a holiday party, I tend to leave my bulky camera at home in lieu of a reliable camera phone.

As part of the Verizon Wireless Ambassador program, I have been sent the Windows 8X Phone by HTC to put through it’s paces.  I figured the holidays would be a great time to test the features of the phone.  This Windows 8X Phone by HTC touts a world-class camera with a new ultra-wide angle front and back camera.  Crisp, bright pictures are not a problem even in low light conditions thanks to the BSI sensor, LED flash and 8 megapixel camera with auto focus.

The feature I was most interested in testing out was the ultra wide angle front camera.  With many people to fit in a picture and lots of festive decor I want to capture, I decided to test the Windows 8X Phone against my Samsung Galaxy SIII.  Standing in the same spot in my living room, I took a picture of my Christmas tree and fireplace with 5 stockings hung in a row with both the Windows 8X and Samsung Galaxy SIII (no flash for either picture).  Here are the results:

Samsung Galaxy SIII

Windows 8X Phone

I was able to capture my entire mantle with all 5 stockings using the Windows 8X Phone where my Galaxy cut off the 5th stocking in the picture.  The 88 degree wide angle (when compared to an industry standard 30-45 degree) definitely helps me capture more in a single shot.  This feature will definitely come in handy at dance recital time!

How often do you use your camera phone?  Do you leave your larger camera at home or pack it along? 

Celebrate Life’s Little Moments Cool Whip Frosting {Giveaway}

With two daughters, the holiday season has been full of baking.  We were in charge of brownies for a dancing party, cookies for school and cupcakes for another holiday party not to mention the homemade hot chocolate mix we made for our family and friends.  I still had presents to buy and wrap plus a house to clean for Christmas dinner, so I needed a super easy way to make delicious treats.

I recently was introduced to COOL WHIP Frosting and I could not have been more excited!  As a child, I would eat a bowl of COOL WHIP as my dessert instead of putting it on pie so the idea of frosting cupcakes with COOL WHIP seemed ingenious.  About the product:

“Found in the freezer aisle, COOL WHIP Frosting is whipped to perfection, making it easy to spread while providing a perfectly sweet touch to your baked goodies. As a great alternative to canned frosting, COOL WHIP Frosting comes in three flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla and Cream Cheese.”

I chose to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting and easily found the product in the frozen dessert section of my local grocery store.  The directions say to defrost in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or on the counter top for one hour before using.  As I began to stir the frosting, I noticed that it was already light and fluffy and didn’t require much mixing before it was ready to frost.

Spreading the frosting on the cupcakes was very easy as the texture did not break off any cupcake pieces.  One tub frosted 24 cupcakes and I had a bunch left over.  Good thing we only needed to bring 20 cupcakes to school, because we *may* have taste tested a few and they were a big hit.  There was a definite chocolate taste but it was not overpowering or too rich.

Now that the holiday season is just about over, I am looking ahead to planning birthday parties for my two girls early in the New Year.  I am already dreaming of making something with the COOL WHIP Frosting in Cream Cheese!  To get you started baking, one winner will receive the following prize pack valued at $100:

  • 3 Gratuity coupons for COOL WHIP frosting
  • Heart shaped silicone cake mold tray
  • Baking by Flavor – Recipe book by Lisa Yockelson
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Stainless Steel Cake Icing Spatula by MIU
  • Cake Stand plus Cover Set

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Zoe’s Kitchen Comes to Elmwood

Well, the holidays are behind us. I hope you and yours had a great time surrounded by family and friends. Me? Not so lucky. Both of my daughters came down with a virus including high fever and lots of coughing.  I am surprised that Santa was brave enough to enter my home!  But, I am happy to report that both kids are feeling better and are quite a bit stir crazy.  We need to get out of the house!

I heard that a new Mediterranean-inspired, fast-casual restaurant was opening in Elmwood (which has seen an incredible expansion of shopping and eateries in the past few months) and we decided to give it a try.  This is the fifth location of Zoe’s Kitchen in Louisiana and 74th location nationwide serving savory dishes which are an extension of many home kitchens.  The menu showcases entrees such as chicken kabobs and chicken roll-ups, fresh sides, yummy desserts, gluten-free options and even take home dinner packages for four.  Zoe’s Kitchen focuses on fresh foods and there are no fryers or microwaves in any of the locations.

Ordering from the menu was so easy because there were many options from which to choose.  I decided on the Chicken Roll-Up which consisted of grilled chicken, feta cheese, lettuce, caramelized onion and tomato rolled up in a crispy wrap with a side of salsa for dipping.  A-MAZING.  My hubby was thrilled to see an “Under 500” section on the menu since he is watching his calorie intake.  He ordered the Greek Chicken Pita which was feta, onions, mushrooms, chicken, and tomatoes stuffed in a pita bread while my sister-in-law opted for the Chicken Slaw pita which included grilled chicken, vinegar based coleslaw and cheese.

Zoe’s Kitchen also has a great kids menu featuring lots of healthy options for your little ones.  My daughter got the chicken roll up with a side of marinara plus a fresh fruit cup.  The fruit looked amazing and she gobbled it up in no time.

We loved it so much, we have already returned and are planning to visit again soon.  Zoës Kitchen is located at 1208 S. Clearview Parkway, Suite D and is open from 11am-9pm.  Check them out on Facebook, too!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While the meal was complimentary, all opinions remain 100% my own.

Getting to Know My Verizon Windows Phone 8X by HTC

I am so excited to announce that I will be a Verizon Wireless Ambassador for a second time! For the last few months, I have been testing out the Samsung Galaxy SIII and I am in love.  After the program, I opted to keep the phone because I just could not part with it.  For this cycle, I will be getting to know the HTC Windows Phone 8X.

To be honest, this is going to be a hard sell because before the Galaxy SIII, I had a Windows phone and we had a love/hate relationship.  But, I do like the features that the Windows 8 platform offers so I am curious to see if this upgrade will convince me to replace my Galaxy.

My Windows Phone 8X arrived just last week and I thought I would share with you my first impressions:

1.  This phone is pretty.  And blue.  You can all ooooh and ahhhh with me here.

2.  It is lightweight (130 grams with battery) and very thin (did I mention it is pretty?).  The buttons are flush with the body adding to a sleek design, but for me it is making the buttons a bit difficult to operate them.

3.  The screen resolution is nice (HD 720 p)and the colors are vivid.  I like being able to customize my screen by “pinning” my favorite apps or widgets to the homescreen.  You can even re-size and move the apps to adjust the screen to your liking for a truly personal experience.

The Verizon Ambassadors were treated to a webinar earlier this week to teach us all of the tips and tricks of our new Windows Phone 8X.  In the coming months, I will share with you all that I have learned and my experiences.

So, what apps should I download?

My Favorite Things Day 12: Allure Best of Beauty Prize Pack

This is it! Day 12! I hope you have enjoyed all of the fantastic giveaways. I would like to thank the generous sponsor, Neutrogena, for providing all of the prizes.  For the last day, Neutrogena wanted to provide one winner with an “Allure Best of Beauty Basket” including:

  • Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunscreen Stick SPF 60
  • Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray SPF 50
  • Neutrogena Naturals Lip Balm
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night
  • Neutrogena Make-Up Remover Cleansing Towelettes
  • Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash Pink Grapefruit
  • $25.00 American Express Gift Card

My personal favorite is the Wet Skin Sunscreen.  We used it this year on several family summer vacations and I won’t by anything else!  If you would like to win the basket, enter below!

Happy Holidays!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fight Holiday Stains with Whirlpool

With Christmas just around the corner, I am officially is panic mode.  Forget that I still have presents to buy and wrap, but I am hosting Christmas dinner at my home for my entire family.  From now until Christmas Day, I will be cleaning, washing and baking until the wee hours of the morning.

My guests include 16 adults plus seven kids ranging in ages from 2 to 10.  It is sure to be a ton of fun, but when you combine kids, dessert and a huge pile of presents, you are bound to get crazy excitement.  And with the excitement comes accidents of all varieties.  Drinks will spill, cranberry sauce will fall and someone’s clothes are sure to be soiled.

If this sounds like your home this holiday season, follow these simple stain finding tips!  First rule of thumb, read the care label of your garment. After that, follow the instructions below:

  • Cranberry sauce slip off the spoon? Remove any excess fruit from the cotton and run the fabric under cold water to prevent oxidation. Wash the garment in the warmest water safe for it. Use your bleach dispenser or add liquid chlorine bleach or color-safe bleach during the rinse cycle, after your detergent has done its job.
  • Turkey a bit too juicy? Apply a pretreat to the oily stain, or rub liquid detergent directly into it. Wash the garment in the hottest water safe for the fabric, then air dry and check it for any remaining stain. If necessary, repeat the procedure before placing the clothing in the dryer.
  • Overflow from the gravy boat? Scrape off any remaining gravy with a spoon or back of a butter knife. If it has already dried, brush off the residue. Rub in liquid detergent and then soak the fabric in a mixture of detergent and water for up to 30 minutes. Finish by washing the garment in the warmest water safe for it.

My personal stain fighting secret the special combination of Tide detergent and my Whirlpool Duet!  Despite all of the work, enjoying the day with my family is completely worth it all.  Do you have any special stain fighting stories to share?

I wrote this review while participating in a Blog Tour for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Whirlpool. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

My Favorite Things Day 11: Vera Bradley Giveaway

My Favorite Things sponsored by Neutrogena is winding down.  Have you enjoyed the giveaways?  Before it’s over, I have two more days to spoil my readers!  Another one of my vices is purses…can you ever really have too many?  A friend introduced me to Vera Bradley a few years ago and I just love how the patterns can spice up any outfit.

Today, you can win the Vera Bradley Frame Bag in ANY pattern available (but I love it in English Rose)!  Enter below and Happy Holidays!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stay Safe With These Sears Deals of the Day #dealsoftheday

Ok, so how many Sears Deals of the Day have you scooped up this week?  Today is the final day and I have two great deals to share with you that will keep you safe on the road and at home!

The holidays are the busiest travel season and many of my friends and family hit the road to visit their loved ones.  Sears wants you to stay safe during your holiday travels with the Stanley 40 Amp Automatic Car Battery Charger w/ LCD Display, 1-Touch Technology & Moisture Protection.  About the product:

“Charging your car battery is a breeze with this Stanley Battery Charger. This innovative device automatically selects a charge rate from 0 to 40 AMPS to maximize battery life, charge speed and maintenance. The easy to read digital-display LCD screen offers clear and concise information. Other features include spark resistant reverse hook-up protection, microprocessor controlled digital diagnostics and a moisture protection coating.”

You can get this product for only $49.99 at Sears today only!  Grab one before you leave to avoid being stranded on the side of the road for Christmas dinner.  When you reach your destination with your little one, keep an eye on them with this Levana LV-TW502 Monitor for only $104.99 at Sears.  Here are some features of the product:

  • ClearVu® Digital Wireless Technology – ClearVu® technology ensures outstanding image and sound clarity so that you can watch and listen to your child up to 500ft.
  • Large LCD for Superior Viewing Quality – Imagine what you will catch your baby doing on this bright, clear, large 3.5” LCD screen.
  • Temperature Monitoring to Ensure Safety – Many studies indicate that your baby’s room should be between 68-70° F (20-21° C).
  • Talk to Baby Intercom – Soothe your baby from a distance with the Talk to Baby™ intercom.
  • Five Soothing Lullabies – Turn lullabies on and off as well as change the song being played all from the parent unit with the simple push of a button. The built-in night vision allows you to see your child, even in complete darkness up to 10ft away. When the lights go down the system automatically adjusts to the level of light.
  • Relaxing Nightlight – The baby unit has a gentle nightlight that you are able to turn on and off from the parent unit. Voice Activated Control – Conserve battery power and sleep well at night with VOX activation.
  • LED Noise Level Indication Lights – The monitor has LED lights on it that light up to display up to five different levels of sound.
  • All-in-One Table Stand and Belt Clip – The table-stand also functions as a belt clip for ultra usability.
  • Energy Efficient Power Adapter – The power adapters save you on power all while saving the environment. They are rated with a Level V efficiency standard which means they are 30% more energy efficient then other conventional power adapters.
  • Extensive Battery Life – Along with power saving features, the integrated rechargeable battery ensures long battery life for up to four hours of monitoring.
  • Wall Mount on Baby Camera for the Best Viewing Angle – The camera can be wall mounted so you can easily view your baby in its crib as well as see all other parts of the nursery.
  • 24/7 Lifetime Live Customer Support – Our customer support team can be reached by phone 24/7 or by email and live web chat services, so you always have access to an expert.
  • List of Contents – 3.5″ LCD video monitor, night vision camera, rechargable battery (monitor), 2 power adapters, instruction manual, 24/7 lifetime live customer support, 1 year manufacturer’s direct warranty.

I absolutely love the Talk to Baby feature! Where was that when I had infants?  Don’t miss these deals and head over to Sears to put these under the tree today!

This is a sponsored post, I am a Sears blogger, though all opinions are my own.

Keep Your Kids Hydrated with Juicy Juice Fruitfuls this Winter

In the days leading up to Christmas, our schedules should be full of holiday parties, caroling, baking and shopping.  But for my family, the days have been filled with sneezing, coughing and Doctor appointments.  Both of my kids have come down with some sort of winter virus accompanied by a high fever.

After today’s visit with the Pediatrician, she suggested that I make sure both of my girls are well hydrated because fever can easily dehydrate.  I have been making sure they are drinking plenty of water, but they have been requesting something more.  In an effort to avoid drinks with a high sugar content, I decided to try out Juicy Juice Fruitfuls.

Many juices claim to contain less sugar, but Juicy Juice Fruitfuls gives your kids a WHOLE SERVING of fruit while also containing 35% less sugar and all natural ingredients.  With flavors like Apple Quench, Berry Cherry Burst, Punch Splash and Orange Strawbana Blast, you really can’t go wrong!  Check out the video of my two girls trying Juicy Juice Fruitfuls for the first time:

Both of them loved the two flavors we tried tonight and I definitely plan to purchase more in the future.  If you would like to try the new Juicy Juice Fruitfuls, print this coupon to receive $1 off!

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Juicy Juice. I was compensated for posting, but all opinions are 100% mine.”