Saturday, December 20, 2014

Don't Give Santa Milk This Year...Donate it to The Great American Milk Drive


Tis the Season to Give, right?  Well let me tell you about a great service idea that would be perfect for your kids to participate in!  For the most part we all love milk, right? I think we go through about 3-4 gallons a week for all 7 of us! Milk is a huge source of calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium, and a lot of people, especially kids are missing out on that.  
Every year lots of  people donate canned goods to local food banks to help feed hungry families in their communities, which is great!  Have you ever thought about the milk that these families might also need.  Families that depend on Feeding America food banks receive less than one gallon of milk per person, per year.  Hungry families in your community need the essential nutrients that milk provides, but it’s rarely donated to food banks.  We probably can't put milk into those big "Donate canned food here" boxes at the store, so let me tell you how you can help these families get milk, and how you can make sure it goes to your own community.


This is where the Great American Milk Drive comes in.  You can help children in need get milk's nine essential nutrients, including high-quality protein when you make an online donation between now and Dec. 31!  American’s dairy farmers and milk companies will match your donation, helping local food banks provide milk to their community. You can even enter your zip code to make sure your donation is going to the people in your very own neighborhood who need it.

Check out this video and share, share, share it! For every share of this video, a gallon of milk will be donated to a local food bank.



This year we have decided to give Santa water and make our holiday memorable by giving the gift of milk to those in need. Click HERE to donate if you want to do the same!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Meringue Cookies


I love a good cookie!  Who doesn't?   One of my favorite cookies is SWIG cookies that I shared with you here.  Those have been my favorite cookies to make for special occasions...until now!  I just recently started playing around with Meringue cookies.  If you haven't tried Meringue cookies you are in for a treat.  The fun thing with Meringue cookies is you can do so much with them by adding different flavors or even putting something inside!

I'm excited to be participating in the Patience Brewster 2014 online cookie exchange. Patience Brewster is an artist and designer of unique handmade Christmas ornaments.  Her ornaments are adorable. You can check out her entire line here.

Anyway, onto these delectable cookies!  Last night I went to an actual cookie exchange for our church's Relief Society Christmas party!  It was fun to see all the different cookies people brought, and take each of them home!  I got an idea a few days ago to take the normal Meringue Cookie and dip them in chocolate and add crushed candy cane.  I can't even tell you enough how A.MAZ.ING these cookies turned out!  They are SO easy to make with only 5 simple ingredients!

{I also made some small ones and dipped the whole top part in chocolate  You could do it either way.} 

Chocolate Peppermint Meringue Cookies

{Printable Recipe Here}
Ingredients:
-4 egg whites {room temperature}
-Dash of salt
-1/4 t Cream of Tartar
-1/2 T Vanilla or Almond extract
-1 Cup Sugar
- Chocolate Almond bark
- 3 Crushed Candy Canes

Directions:
1. Place egg whites, salt, cream of tarter and extract in a bowl and beat on med/high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add sugar slowing while mixing.
3. Mix about 4 minutes until stiff peaks form.
4. Gently spoon mixture into piping bag or spoon onto parchment lined baking sheet. Create any shape you like.  I just made circles.  
5. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 at 250º.  They need to have a shiny color and be very light golden brown.  When they are done, turn the oven off and leave them in the oven for at least 2 hours, take out and place on cooling rack.

*tip: you can place a lot of cookies on one cookie sheet. They get a little bigger but not much. 

Chocolate Dip:
Use melted Chocolate Almond Bark or Candy Quick and dip cookie half way in the chocolate. Do this  quickly and make sure the melted chocolate isn't too hot. Then sprinkle candy canes on top! Place on baking sheet with parchment paper and set in freezer for about 2 minutes.  Remove from freezer and enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Family Game Night with CASHFLOW + 10% off Code

Many thanks to RichDad for sponsoring today’s story and encouraging me and my family to be financially savvy with CASHFLOW
One of our favorite family traditions, especially around the holiday season, is to have Family Game Night!  We have them weekly with just our small family, but love to have big games nights with our extended family around Christmas time!  We love to get a couple of new games this time of year and play them during the break!

Another things we love is finances!  I know, your probably thinking, what in the world does this have to do with Family Games Night? Well, just wait, you will see.  Talking openly to our kids about finances is something we do, and I highly encourage.  As long as you do it in a positive manner and teach them principles of money management.  We don't tell them every little detail about our finances, but we talk about needs, and wants, savings and budgeting.  They each have bank account where we encourage them to keep track of where their money is going and what they have spent it on. We haven't quite gotten into talking about investing and money management, but the best place to start teaching our children about this is right here at home!


Now, onto why I put those two things together. Have you heard of the game CASHFLOW? CASHFLOW is a board game created by Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, the best selling personal finance book of all time, and Kim Kiyosaki, author of It’s Rising Time. Board games are a great way to learn, and the lessons are retained for life! CASHFLOW is the perfect tool for teaching your children about money management early on. Plus, learning by doing is a great way to understand concepts, and it's better to practice before you really get out into the real world!  Most importantly, this game is fun because RichDad wants you and your family to have fun while learning about money. 

My husband and I used to play this game years ago with some friends! I was excited to teach it to our kids.  I will warn you, If you haven't played this game yet, play it without the kids so that you aren't going the instructions while they sit there.  Our kids left after about 10 minutes because we forgot how to play it. Our kids are still young, but my oldest daughter was understanding it for the most part!  One thing I think my kiddos understood about the game was income, expenses and monthly cash flow.  They realized how quickly your money can go away when you spend it all on "doodads"!

CASHFLOW teaches you and your kids how to get out of the "Rat Race" (inner circle of the game) and onto the "Fast Track" (outer circle), how to make your money work for you - not the other way around. It simulates real life financial strategies and situations. The great thing is you are learning all about personal finance and investing without having to put your actual money at risk. CASHFLOW is an educational board game that teaches accounting, finance, and investing at the same time - and makes learning fun, and is perfect for Family Game Night!  My boys are going to love this game as they get older, and I'm excited to play it with my family this Christmas to see how well my siblings do at it!  My husband totally schooled me the other day when we played it!  I was stuck in the Rat Race FOREVER! 


CASHFLOW is the perfect holiday gift for your family as it makes for a fun-filled game night around an important and educational topic!   

Save 10% off the CASHFLOW game with our coupon code! 


You can purchase the CASHFLOW board game HERE. Don’t forget to use this code to receive 10% off your purchase price: CASHFLOW

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Learning Fun with Mickey's Magical Math World & Disney Imagicademy for Parents App



We love learning apps that really challenge the mind and help our children learn and use their imagination! I think it is good to have a balance when it comes to technology driven learning and book learning.  We love educational apps, and have found that they do help my children with learning and understanding some concepts! We have learning app day on our iPad about once or twice a week where each kid gets to trade off playing for about 1/2hour, playing different learning games.  We have a lot of favorite apps, but leave it to Disney to release this great new learning brand created for children between the ages of 3-8.  Disney Imagicademy apps provides an engaging and educational playground for kids to be creative and use their imaginations!  My kids absolutely love this game!

About Mickey's Magical Math World - Children can explore and learn to identify shapes in Mickey’s Rocket Build; Play with numbers and patterns while playing Minnie’s Robot Playground, enjoy early number concepts with Donald’s Alien Number Line and experiment with shapes, patterns and sorting skills with Goofy.

Unlike many learning aids that rely on rote memorization and repetitive game play, Disney will introduce children to fundamental subject matters through an interconnected system of apps that build upon each other to reinforce learning concepts in immersing and playful ways.


One of the things my kids really enjoy about the game is that after you get through a level they award you with "Pins"! What kid doesn't like to get awards for achieving something, even in a learning app!
My daughter really enjoys Minnie's Robot Playground where you can play all sort of fun number games! While my boys favorite game is to wake Donald! They think it is really funny!  My 3 year old LOVES to build the rockets with Mickey, and see them blast off!

About Disney Imagicademy: Parents
If you look at the picture of the games above you will see it says "Parents"  If you click on that it will take you to Disney Imagicademy: Parents.  This is an all-new free app that serves as a parent’s ‘go-to’ resource to connect with the Imagicademy community and gather information that can be used to engage with their child in meaningful ways.
The app will give parents their daily dose of what is possible and answer the question, “What can I do today to help my child grow?'” through daily articles and Imagicademy-inspired activities designed to help spark creativity and encourage imaginative learning. “Disney Imagicademy: Parents” also serves as a portal into children’s Mickey's Magical Math World, where parents can see their child’s latest creations, provide encouragement with a virtual “high five” and share their accomplishments with family and friends.

I love that the two apps go hand in hand.  Our kids are learning and having fun, while we as parents can encourage them and also find great way to engage with them in meaningful ways!
Mickey’s Magical Math World is free to download and offers upgrade options in the app!  Disney Imagicademy: Parents is also free to download. If you have a child within the age range of 3-8, I highly recommend checking out these fantastic apps. Please note that The Mickey's Magical Math World app is ONLY compatible with iPad (2nd generation or higher). Disney Imagicademy: Parents is compatible with both the iPhone and iPad.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sugar-free Mom: Naturally Sweet and Sugar-free Recipes for the Whole Family

SugarFreeMom_blogTour2
I am excited to tell you about this book!  It is by far the most simple, easy sugar free cookbook I have ever seen!  I am excited to try the recipes from this book because when the new year starts sugar free is something we are really going to work on in our household.  Not to say I won't have sugary treats every so often, but we love sugar and need to cut it out of our diet for the most part.  These recipes not only look delicious, but don't look too difficult to make.  The other thing that's great about this book is that all the recipes are gluten free, which we are not, but she has the conversions for non gluten free!  I also love that there is a picture per recipe.  If I can't see what it looks like I usually won't make it!
About the book:
Sugar-free no longer equals taste-free! Popular food blogger Brenda Bennett uses natural sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar to create delicious and wholesome recipes that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters, such as French Toast Sticks, Crock Pot Pulled Pork, and Chocolate Fudge Tart. You and your family will finally enjoy all the foods you love- without the guilt.
About the author:
Brenda Bennett’s passion for cooking began at the age of 5 kneeling on a chair by her grandmother’s side helping roll homemade gnocchi’s on a flour covered butcher block table. Her love affair with cooking was a mere hobby while teaching as a special educator and earning a Masters Degree in Education. After the birth of her second child, she had to give up sugar.  With sear determination and a deep desire to still enjoy chocolate, her love affair with food embarked on a new journey learning to develop recipes free of refined sugars and flours. After discovering peanut ,tree nut and soy allergies in 2 of her 3 children making homemade healthier versions of the treats they loved became a necessity. She transitioned to the position of homeschooling mom of 3, recipe developer, food writer, photographer and blogger. She focuses on wholesome delicious food free of processed flours and sugars to feed her family  and share with friends and fans on www.sugarfreemom.com. She lives in RI with her husband, 3 children and their dog, Ruby. When she isn’t cooking, blogging or writing she can be found at spin class, camping, volunteering  in cub scouts, or in the position of transportation engineer shuttling her children to karate, dance, boy scouts, soccer or softball.
You can buy her books HERE for only $15.69

I received a copy of this book for review purposes, all opinions expresses are my own. 

Fun Christmas Traditions from South America by Alyssa Craig



When we think of Christmas, we often think of sleigh bells, snow and houses lined with colorful lights. However, as we cross the globe the ways the Christmas holiday is celebrated is just as diverse as the differing languages, cultures and traditions. Even in continents of similar roots, such as South America, each country’s celebrations differ slightly from each other. As you prepare to take part in Christmas this holiday season, consider adding a different cultural flavor to your festivities by including some of these fun traditions from South American countries.

Seasonal Festivities

South America finds itself south of the Equator, so the Christmas season takes place during the summertime. Because of this, there are plenty of picnics, banquets and even fireworks fired off throughout most every country. The warm weather provides a great atmosphere for dancing outside and enjoying the relatively cooled night air.

Though not all parts of the United States receive snow in the winter, there is still relative cooling in most areas of the country. If your home state’s weather does not allow for outdoor festivities, consider having an indoor picnic in the living room.

Definitely make it a priority to bundle up and head outside for a little bit to add a fresh spark to the holiday with fireworks. Of course you will want to check first to make sure that lighting off your own fireworks is legal in your area.

Religious Observance

South American countries are predominantly Christian, with many of those numbers being made up of devout followers of the Catholic faith. Due to this, in many countries, the Midnight Mass (or other church service) on Christmas Eve is a long held tradition and honored every year, with feasts and celebrations taking place after the service.

In Colombia, the Christmas season starts on December 7th when candles are lit for the Virgin Mary. The next day, the day of the Immaculate Conception, is a National holiday and a day of Obligation with the Catholic church. Then rather than put lights up on the house as we do in the U.S., each house has about 100 candles lit outside, lining the sidewalks and illuminating the city.

In addition to church service, Chileans also participate in nine days of prayer, often accompanied by fasting, in the days days leading up to Christmas.

In Lima, Peru, the country’s capital, you can find a Christmas Day procession with a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The people of Venezuela take part in Misa de Aguinaldo, an early morning church service held daily from December 16-24. In the city of Caracas, it is customary to roller-skate to this service and roads are even blocked from car use to encourage the skating. Most people also attend one of nine available carol services.

Whether or not your family is religious, it may be a good educational experience to attend a Midnight Mass or other church service of your choice and experience some of the religious traditions associated with the Christmas holiday.



Christmas Feast

Whether you have your big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it is always a good time to get together with family and friends to enjoy some of the best goodies the season has to offer. Try incorporating some of these customary dishes from various South American countries into this year’s Christmas dinner:

  • Argentina and Uruguay include pan dulce (sweet bread) and sidra (cider) or champagne with their Christmas feasts.
  • Peru’s holiday meal often includes delicious tamales.
  • Brazilian Christmas dinners are very similar to American meals and include chicken, salad, ham, rice, turkey, pork, beer and fresh fruits.
  • Chilean festivities include cazuela de ave (a chicken soup filled with potatoes, onions and corn on the cob) and pan de pascua (a candied bread).
  • Traditional Colombian foods are ajiaco (soup with potatoes), chicken and natilla (a corn based dessert) and bunuelos (fried dough balls).

Santa Claus

Just like Santa comes on a sleigh to Utah and down the bayou in Louisiana, there are a few different variations in South American tradition for the gift-bearer on Christmas. Teach your family some of these fun differences.

Viejo Pascuero: Translated into English as “Old Man Christmas”, Chileans teach this gift-bringer also comes in a sleigh but rather than climbing down chimneys, comes through windows.

El Nino Jesus: Traditionally, Colombians say the Christ Child brings the gifts, but over time, Santa Claus has also been introduced to the folklore.

Papa Noel: In Brazil, children put out their shoes for Papa Noel to fill with presents. These could be anything from small gifts to money.

Christmastime is full of traditions and is a great time to teach your family about different cultures and customs. Look for opportunities to add some of these fun, South American traditions to add a new flare to your celebrations this holiday season.


Monday, December 15, 2014

American Temples - New Book by Photographer Scott Jarvie


If you haven't seen this book yet you are in for a treat!  I am so excited to get this book in my possession.  We love driving by the temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and seeing how beautiful each of them are! Every time we pass one while traveling my kids start to sing "I love to see the temple, I'll go inside some day!"  They can't wait for the day they go, and while I don't want them to ever grow up, I can't wait for them to experience the piece and joy that I feel every time I enter the doors.

Look at some of these picture in this book...

I think it will be really cool to read the interesting facts on each page.  

Scott Jarvie spent a year on the road photographing Temples all around the United States... this book represents all 70 operating temples at the time it was published. It Includes crowd sourced stories, church news articles about temples and lots of interesting facts.


My husband and I got married here the the Mt. Timpanogos temple in 2002.   Isn't it gorgeous?

This book would make an awesome Christmas Present.  "It sells for $60, but if you order 3 you get $20 dollars off.  Scott also sells a gorgeous calendar for $15.99. Check out his site HERE and order it for Christmas!




IncrediBundles Review + $50 Gift Card



Have you heard of this company?  I just recently heard of it and thought it was a wonderful idea!  It's called IncrediBundles.  It's kind of a twist on getting a big basket and putting a ton of baby gift in it.  IncrediBundles does all the work for you!

They have all sorts of Bundles, from Books, Bed, Bath and more! You can even create your own bundles.  Head on over to their site and see how cute they are !  You don't have to buy the bundles, but you get more for your money if you do.  If you want to purchase ala-cart can do that also. Or you can create your own bundle!


Another wonderful thing they do is you can set your order up for a subscription and get something new every three months filled with products for each stage of development!

All of their packages are worldwide delivery and Free Shipping in the Continental US, and with every bundle purchased they donate to children in need!

IncrediBundles has offered one of my readers a $50 gift card!  

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I was compensated with product for my honest review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Treats {Book Review}

I can cook and I can bake, but when it comes to creating cute things out of food…yeah, I stink at it. I mean, I can make things look nice, but making a Santa sleigh out of candy is something I have to look up online!  Norene from Party Pinching is so cleaver and amazingly creative!

When Norene’s sons grew up, she realized how much she missed being a room mom. Making sweet treats with the kids and throwing classroom parties were all a thing of the past. As a result, she created Party Pinching, a popular website where she could blog about her cute food and budget friendly party ideas. Her adorable desserts have been praised by Family Fun magazine, Seventeen magazine, Taste of Home, and even Martha Stewart herself! She is a frequent guest on New Day Northwest, a morning television show in Seattle where her easy dessert demonstrations get rave reviews.

She recently released this fun book called Sweet Treats for the Holidays: Edible Creations for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and More!  The thing I love about this book is that the treats are actually EASY to make.  I know, it surprised me too, but they truly are very simple and easy.

These two are our favorite…


If you are a room mom at school or just like your kids to think you are the coolest mom ever this book is for you!  Most of the stuff you just buy at the grocery store and then put together at home. Not a lot of baking, just assembling.  After looking through the book, I thought, wow that is so easy, why couldn't I think of that?  Then I remember that I'm just not that creative, and that's OK, that's why we have Norene to teach us how to be!

Order the book HERE on Amazon for only $14.13 or you can get the Kindle version for only $7.99!

I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions are 100% mine!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Younique 3D Fiber Lash Mascara + Eye Pigment Giveaway


Remember last month when I told you all about Younique 3D Fiber Lash Mascara in this post?  Well Jacque has graciously offered to give 2 of my readers each a Mascara and a free Eye Pigment Color of your choice!

Just to remind you about how awesome this Mascara is...Younique is a ground breaking company! All their products are naturally based and almost all their products are made in the USA! They are the first direct sales company to use social media to do their parties! They do all their parties on Facebook, which means, no cleaning your home, shop in your jammies, and you don't have to send the hubby out with the kids! She can host parties for anyone in any state right online in the comfort of your own home! They also not only sell Mascara, but a whole makeup line. Hostesses can begin to earn free and half priced makeup once their party hits $200! The rewards are good for an entire year! Also if any of you are interested in becoming a presenter, you start out getting 20% of each sale, and you get paid within 4 hours of each sale! Younique ships directly to each customer, so you don't have to keep anything in stock!

 If you are interested in partying, trying out the mascara, or maybe even being a presenter… check out her website here or email her at lilisgotlashes@gmail.com



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