September 27, 2010

Shoes by CSN Stores {REVIEW}

A couple of weeks ago, I was approached by CSN Stores to do a review of any product I chose on the website (well, any product under a certain dollar amount).  I know what you are thinking; how could she possibly chose just one thing on a website that has 200+ stores of products available?  Let me tell you, it was difficult.  I was able to narrow down the selection to shoes because I love shoes!  My husband can attest to this!  Since I got my new job as a bank teller, I've struggled with sore and tired feet at the end of each day.  After all, I'm standing for hours on end.  This opportunity to review a product came at the perfect time!  I went right to Women's Shoes and started shopping!

I chose these babies...aren't they pretty?  I love that they are charcoal instead of severe black.  Naturalizer shoes are such a good brand and I constantly am reading reviews about how they are still comfortable even after a long day.  After a full 8 hours of work, I am happy to report that my feet were not nearly as sore and tired as when I wear other shoes.  I mean, they do get a little sore just because of the fact that I'm on them for such a long period of time, but these shoes really did help keep my feet from getting overly tired.

One of the best things about CSN Stores is the ability to shop for shoes, kitchen supplies and pet supplies all in the same place! Where else can you find such high-end products at such awesomely low prices?  It's so easy to shop at CSN Stores, too, because the checkout process is very simple.  There are just a few clicks and it gets even easier after you purchase your first item because your account is all set up and you just have to verify the items that you want to buy!  They usually get the items out to you the next business day and you'll have it by the next week.  CSN Stores is definitely worth looking into the next time you want to go shopping online!

Disclosure:  I was given the opportunity to review a product from CSN Stores worth less than $60 and give my honest opinion of the product as well as the experience on CSN Stores website.  I was not obligated to write a positive review about the product.
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September 26, 2010

My Review of Bryant Pump in Black Fabric

Originally submitted at CSN Stores

Bryant Pump by Naturalizer

Features:

  • Bryant Pump in Black Fabric
  • Part of the Bryant collection
  • Stretch fabric upper
  • Manmade outsole
  • N5 comfort system
  • Capped toe type
  • 2 3/4" heel
  • Available in y...


Cute and comfortable!

By Jennifer @ Giveaways and More! from Sutherlin, OR on 9/26/2010

 

4out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Conservative, Stylish, Versatile, Stable, Comfortable

Cons: Poor Arch Support

Best Uses: Church, Formal Occasions, Office

Describe Yourself: Comfort-oriented, Career, Classic, Practical

So far, these shoes are doing their job. I was looking for comfortable, stylish shoes and these definitely are both. I am very happy with the comfort even after standing on my feet for over 8 hours per day. I would recommend that you purchase the size of shoe that you wear because I got a pair one half size above what I normally wear due to the fact that there is some swelling after standing for a long period of time however I feel that the shoes would fit better if I got the correct size.

(legalese)

Busy weekend...

We're having a pretty busy weekend starting with my mother-in-law's birthday on Friday that we celebrated on Saturday and ending today with a grape stomp at a local winery.  I'll try to take some pics and post them later from my first ever grape stomp!  I plan on having a couple more reviews and giveaways posted this week, too so stay tuned and have a great Sunday!
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September 22, 2010

Marlo Thomas is going digital!

Marlo Thomas has always been a known, trusted, successful actress and she's now starting her own website, partnering with AOL, at www.marlothomas.com.  Marlo's website will be a great place for all women to connect, share and support each other in a digital, online setting.  She will find and profile amazing women who have inspired others to be better women.  Her first feature about Lu Picard of Torrington, Conn. is up right now so head over there and watch it, then nominate a woman that inspires you!  Just email Marlo at heroes@marlothomas.com with your own nomination.  Marlo's also on Twitter and Facebook so keep up with all the updates to the website at those sites, too!

What can you expect from Marlo on MarloThomas.com, Twitter and Facebook?

·         original content - stories, posts, videos, and photos
·         great conversations, laughs and inspiration
·         observations on popular culture and news
·         entertaining clips of "Free to Be You and Me" and "That Girl"
·         galleries of celebrity images
·         family photos
·         ...and a lot more

Head over there and connect with other inspiring and inspired women!

Disclosure:  I am writing this post in exchange for a chance to win a $25 gift card from Global Influence.
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September 21, 2010

SnapIt Screen Capture Software from Digeus

Have you ever wanted to capture a portion of your computer screen without going through the process of cropping it?  Maybe just one flower on a web page or a recipe that you found?  Well, there's a great way to do that!  It's called Digeus Snapit Screen Capture Software.  It is so easy to use and will save the file in BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, and TIFF formats.  Whichever format you prefer will be automatically saved to your clipboard unless you choose the auto save feature.  This software is so great that it will save whatever screen capture you make in the same place every time.  No choosing the file and clicking save in a certain folder.  That's a pretty impressive feature!  Go check it out here!
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September 19, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler

We are fortunate enough to live in an area where my husband's family is well connected in the farming world so we took advantage of those connections and have stashed away frozen blueberries for the winter, although I'm not sure how long they are going to last.  These are not just your average blueberries.  They are big and sweet! 

A friend of ours was so happy when we dropped by with a bag of these blueberries so he found this amazing blueberry cobbler recipe on Cooks.com.  It's extremely easy to make and uses Bisquick baking mix!  Now I know that some people are not so keen on baking mixes but my mom used Bisquick when I was younger so I figure if it was good enough for her, it's good enough for me.  Besides, this cobbler is amazing!

My husband decided tonight that he had to make this cobbler and I didn't argue!  Here's a picture of the cobbler fresh out of the oven.  Doesn't it look good?  I wish you could smell my apartment right now!


What's your favorite fruit dessert?  Is it easy to make?  I'm taking suggestions on what else we can make with these blueberries, if you've got 'em!
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Pear Tree Personalized Halloween Stickers {GIVEAWAY}

I truly can't believe that we are so close to Halloween!  It just doesn't seem possible.  How much fun is Halloween, though?  While it's not my favorite holiday of the year (nothing beats Christmas), I still enjoy getting together with friends and handing out candy to all the cuties who dressed up and are trick or treating with their parents.  Pear Tree Greetings has some cute Halloween goodies on their site to help get you and your Halloween guests in the spooky mood!  You can get Halloween-inspired invitations, address labels, photo cards and personalized stickers.  How cute is this sticker?  I love that you can personalize them with your family names!


Or maybe you want to send out a picture of your own cuties all dressed up!  I love the images of Fall on this card!

One of my lucky readers will receive 24 Halloween personalized stickers of their choice.  There are so many to choose from at Pear Tree Greetings, so get over there and start shopping!  Just think of all the cute applications for these stickers.  They would be a great sticker for a party treat bag or on your own homemade candy wrappers.

Also, throughout the month of September, enjoy 10% off anything and everything Halloween! Use code PEARSEP10.

Mandatory Entry

Head over to Pear Tree Greetings and tell me which Halloween Personalized Stickers you will choose if you win!  (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and Pear Tree Greetings. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More! on Facebook.
1 entry - "Like" Pear Tree Greetings on Facebook
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More! on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow Pear Tree Greetings on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Enter another active giveaway on Giveaways and More! (1 entry per giveaway entered)
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment.  Feel free to use this tweet:  

Spook your friends and family with @PearTreeGrtngs Halloween Stickers! http://goo.gl/fb/nw6hA Ends 10/3 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on October 3rd at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Pear Tree Greetings for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.
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More great items at the Bump 2 Baby Event!

If you haven't checked out the Bump2Baby Event at J. leigh designz and Minnesota Mama Must Haves, you are missing out!  They are giving away a bunch of great baby stuff like a 4-piece crib bedding set from Summer Infant.  Isn't this adorable?






You can also win a new Kolcraft Contours Classique 3 in 1 Bassinet!  I'd love to win these prizes for the future!



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September 18, 2010

Weekend winners!

Thanks to everyone who enters my giveaways!  I always have a fun time reading your responses!

The winner of my Tropical Tradition Coconut Peanut Butter giveaway is:

#24 - Haylee

The winner of the $30 gift card to Skinfree Skincare or Blue Ridge Gypsy is:

#35 - janetfaye

Congratulations to the winners!  They have been notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or I will have to choose new winners.
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Robby Wash Laundry Ball {REVIEW}

Laundry is the bane of my existence as I'm sure it is for everyone.  I mean, who enjoys laundry?  I feel like every time I get a handle on the pile and get all the wash done, that pile comes back!  Not only is laundry time consuming, but laundry detergent is expensive!  That is why I was so excited to hear about and try the Robby Wash Laundry Ball from Oransi.  This ball lasts up to 120 loads ( the equivalent of one year) for $32.95!  Watch how it works in this video from YouTube!



This video shows the simplicity and ease of the Robby Wash Laundry Ball. All you have to do is make sure that the beads fill about 75% of the ball and you're good to go!  These beads are magical things.  They clean and deodorize your clothes better than an powder laundry detergent.  In fact, this ball cleaned even my husband's sweaty workout clothes without any trace of odor!  That is a feat that no other detergent I've ever used has been able to accomplish and is, in itself, worth the price of the Robby Wash Laundry Ball
 
I received the fuchsia laundry ball to review in my home.  It's only supposed to be used in cold washing but I use it in hot as well.  It's super easy to use, just load the laundry, throw in the ball and start!  I don't use liquid fabric softener because I use the sheets in the dryer but you can use softener in the wash with the Robby Wash ball.  Just add it like you normally do to the washer.

Here is some information about the Robby Wash Laundry Ball taken directly from the Oransi website:

Simple to use - just put it in the wash. The Robby wash ball is an ultra high efficiency laundry solution with no need to add any detergent. Makes doing the laundry very easy and saves you the hassle of lugging home large containers of laundry detergent and cleaning up if you spill when adding detergent to your washer. Refill ball when level of maco-molecule pellets is less than 75% full. For over-sized washing machines we recommend using two washing balls.

This pack contains 10 ounces of macro-molecules which can clean for 12 months of laundry. This is equivalent to 1200+ ounces (75+ lbs) of washing powder. Consider what you are no longer dumping down the drain.

Economical: No need to buy washing powder, a savings of up to $100+ over 200 washes.

Caring for you laundry has never been so easy, efficient or inexpensive — as soon as the machine starts, the ball gets to work:
- Hypoallergenic and great choice as a baby laundry detergent cleaner or for someone with sensitive skin
- Cleans and protects your clothes
- Guards fabrics against oxidation and discoloration caused by chlorine in the water, and maintains your clothes' bounce
- Eliminates unpleasant smells thanks to its antibacterial action


Robby Wash saves you money but that's not all that makes it exceptional - it's the only laundry ball that add a light fragrance that you expect from your washing experience.

How it works:  The Robby Wash ball uses a unique and patented worldwide technology to clean your laundry even better than the powder laundry detergents it was independently tested against.  Its activated macromolecules are gradually released through the wash, dissolving dried-in stains by generating ions which activate the water molecules.  This increase in the pH enables the activated molecules to penetrate deep into the fabrics and attach themselves to the stains. As the motion of the drum agitates the clothes, the stains come away easily from the fabric and dissolve in the water.  Of all the systems on the market, Robby Wash's effectiveness is tested, proven and guaranteed.

The Robby Wash Laundry Ball is a great addition to my laundry routine.  It not only makes my life easier and makes my wallet heavier, but it also cleans better than any product I've used.  We will definitely be a Robby Wash family for the foreseeable future!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.
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September 16, 2010

If you're in the Chicago area...

Check out this event!  We have more and more senior citizens out there on the road who should not be driving and as family members and friends of those seniors, we need to talk with them and let them know about our concerns to keep them safe on the roadways.  If you can't make it, you can take the pledge here to have conversations with your elderly loved ones about the perils of driving and how they can take steps to be safer.


LIBERTY MUTUAL TO KICK OFF “NATIONAL CONVERSATION DRIVE” IN CHICAGO
Launch of nationwide effort to get families to “pledge” to talk to parents about senior driving safety

WHAT:  Liberty Mutual Insurance, the eighth-largest car and home insurer in the U.S., will kick off its “National Conversation Drive” at a day-long event at Chicago’s Millennium Park. Members of the public will don movement-restricting “senior simulator suits” and wear special vision-impairing glasses to help simulate the effects of aging on driving ability; participants in the experience will also be asked to complete an online pledge to have conversations with their elderly parents and family members about senior driving safety, as well as transportation alternatives for seniors.

Also on hand will be representatives from ITNAmerica and ITNChicago, Liberty Mutual’s partners in providing safe, alternative transportation to seniors; and the Macklin Intergenerational Institute, which consulted with Liberty Mutual and specializes in intergenerational awareness and acceptance.

WHO: Driving safety experts and executives from Liberty Mutual, Representatives from ITNAmerica and ITNChicago and Representatives from the Macklin Intergenerational Institute

WHEN: TUESDAY, September 21, 2010 from 9am to 5pm

WHERE: Millennium Park, CHICAGO
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September 15, 2010

Low Entries!

There are only 15 entries in my Skin free/Blue Ridge Gypsy $30 gift certificate giveaway!  It ends tomorrow so get over there and enter because there is an amazing chance of winning!
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September 12, 2010

Pillsbury Sweet Moments {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Let's be honest, every once in awhile we all need to have a moment to ourselves and why not enjoy the moment with a sweet dessert?  Pillsbury offers many traditional ways for you to enjoy a sweet moment but they just released four simple, yet delicious ways to take a quick break and indulge in a little sweetness.  These treats can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store so get out there and pick some up!  MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury were kind enough to send me a lovely prize package along with a coupon to try one of their new Sweet Moments desserts.

You can choose from two flavors of ready to eat bite-size brownies which include Chocolate Caramel and Chocolate Fudge.  These morsels are layered with either caramel or fudge and then enrobed in sweet, milk chocolate and at only 60 calories a piece, you can't find any excuses to not eat them.  There is no preparation needed with these babies, they are ready to eat as soon as you walk out of the store!  What could be better for a little afternoon pick me up or a sweet snack after dinner?  I didn't get to try these, yet (notice the yet?) but they look so delicious!  I am a huge fan of caramel so I'll probably try that one first and then taste the chocolate fudge variety.  Chocolate is my favorite way to relax and be decadent!  Which flavor would you try first?

If bite-size brownies don't tickle your fancy, how about a molten lava brownie?  There are two flavor choices with this, too, chocolate fudge and chocolate caramel.  The cakes comes in individual bowls that only require a quick 15-20 seconds in the microwave before they become warm and gooey!  Molten lava cakes are one of my major weaknesses so this was the one that I decided to try out.  My store didn't carry the caramel variety which was disappointing for me but I was very happy with the chocolate fudge brownie!  It was like a little bowl of heaven after dinner!  The fudge was melted and gooey on top and there was a rim of chocolate cake around the outside of the bowl.  Can I just say, yummy?  It was indulgent and luxurious and absolutely what I needed after a long day at work.  The molten lava brownies are not something that I would eat on a regular basis, but it was a quick and easy way to have a sweet snack.

One of my lucky readers is going to win the same prize package that I received from Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark!  In the package was a coupon for a free Sweet Moments dessert as well as some fragrant bath and body products that smell like chocolate!  I've been using these every morning and love smelling like chocolate all day long.
Mandatory Entry

Tell me what you do to celebrate a sweet moment.  Do you bake cookies with your kids or take a long, hot bath or indulge in a bowl of your favorite sweet treat?  (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More! on Facebook.
1 entry - "Like" Pillsbury on Facebook
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More! on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow Pillsbury on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Enter another active giveaway on Giveaways and More! (1 entry per giveaway entered)
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment.  Feel free to use this tweet:  

Indulge in a Sweet Moment with @pillsburytreats and win a prize pack! http://goo.gl/fb/NVieW Ends 9/26 #giveaway RT @curlyq776 #mbsspark

This giveaway will close on September 26th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Pillsbury and MyBlogSpark for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.
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Olivia's Croutons {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

When I think of croutons, the first thing that comes to mind is salad.  I mean, croutons just really dress up a salad and give it some pizazz!  I love eating a salad that is full of fresh vegetables like tomatoes, onions, peppers and any other vegetables that I have around along with a protein like chicken or steak or hard boiled eggs.  Salad dressing comes next which could be one of many such as ranch or vinaigrette.  All of these things are what makes up a salad but what gives it some extra flair for me is the crouton!  There are so many different kinds of croutons out there that it's difficult to choose the perfect one sometimes.

Olivia's Croutons are made in Vermont in an historic dairy barn by Francie, Olivia's mom, who started making these croutons in her own kitchen.  Here's Francie's story in her own words:


I started Olivia’s Croutons in April of 1991.  Our son David was almost two and daughter Olivia was three. We started in our own kitchen with the Butter & Garlic flavor, sold in brown bags, hand stamped with rubber stamps.  Twenty bags was a big order and it took quite a long time to hand cut each loaf and bake the croutons in our conventional oven.

By August of that year we were dealing with about six stores, and had just signed on our first “really big store”.  We did a demo and sold 200 bags or croutons in three days.  This was a monumental step.  We installed our first Blodgett convection oven in our kitchen and we rigged up a semi automatic cutter to help on the cutting end.  Now we could really make croutons!

Since that point we have grown steadily.   We started adding out of town UPS ship orders and we realized that we really had no limitations.  In April of 1993 we moved out of our kitchen and into a larger commercial kitchen that we had built in our basement.  In the spring on 1997 we added a new packaging machine.  With our new longer shelf life, we were now able to sell our products through distributors, a whole new market for us.  The new growth forced a move in July of 1999, when we purchased a perfect little building in the next town.  We added Tostini to our line and have recently introduced a new Certified Organic Crouton!

By the end of 2005 it was clear that we again needed to find new production space.  We looked and looked but couldn’t find a place that felt right.  Then it happened.  David was out on a back country road and he found our new home, for both the croutons and our family.  After a purchase in March and extensive renovations to a 1912 dairy barn, Olivia’s has it’s new home.  We live on the 50 acre homestead, are growing wheat for the croutons and producing our products in our brand new space, cleverly concealed inside the historic barn.  The property is listed on the State Historic Register and we are awaiting a decision regarding placement on the National Historic Register. The kitchen has doubled our production capacity and we have added a new bagging line for increased packaging options and an expanded product line.

We are continuing to have fun, meeting new vendors and exploring new markets.  I really enjoy what I do.  I like making a product that people really love to eat and one that is unique to the market place.  This product brought me into the food and grocery business.  It has proven to be an education!  I pride myself on being an honest, hard working, uncomplicated person. It is only logical that we would produce a wholesome, all natural, uncomplicated product.  As a family, we enjoy these tasty treats and we hope you will be fond of them too. 

One of the best things about Olivia's Croutons is the incredible variety of croutons!  There are 5 different flavors as well as a stuffing mix; Organic Garlic & Herb, Butter & Garlic, Parmesan Pepper, Vermont Cheddar & Dill and Multi Grain with Garlic.  Are you noticing a trend?  Lots of garlic!  Olivia's has found the way to my stomach and it's through garlic!  Although, I have to admit that the Vermont Cheddar & Dill is probably my favorite flavor of all of these.  Don't get me wrong, they were all very tasty but there is something about the Vermont Cheddar & Dill that captured my taste buds.

Olivia's Croutons are made with the finest ingredients and it shows.  They stand up to dressing and keep their crunch and flavor!  The croutons taste like they are made with fresh garlic and real butter, nothing artificial in these babies.  The packaging is cute, too!  There is a window in the front so you can see the actual product.  I really like that because I like to see what I'm buying.  I don't want to get home and realize that I just bought a package of tiny croutons.  Give me the big, fat croutons!

I'm happy to announce that Olivia's Croutons has offered one of my readers the chance to win a case of croutons just like I received!  I promise that you'll love these croutons and if you don't, well that's too bad.  Give them to someone who will appreciate them!

Mandatory Entry

Visit Olivia's Croutons and tell me which flavor you look most forward to trying and what your favorite salad ingredients are.  (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and the Olivia's Croutons website. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More! email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More! on Facebook.
1 entry - "Like" Olivia's Croutons on Facebook
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More! on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow Olivia's Croutons on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Enter another active giveaway on Giveaways and More! (1 entry per giveaway entered)
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment.  Feel free to use this tweet:  

Dress up your salad with a case of @oliviascroutons! http://goo.gl/fb/UAs5l Ends 9/26 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on September 26th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Olivia's Croutons for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.
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September 10, 2010

Aloha Friday #150

I'm so happy it's Friday!  Over at An Island Life, Kailani celebrates Aloha Friday.  In Hawaii, Fridays are a day to kick back and relax so I'm going to ask a simple question and ask that you answer it.  Go ahead!  It's fun!

How do you celebrate long weekends?

Obviously, last weekend was Labor Day and a 3 day weekend so we drove north to meet my parents and sister and her boyfriend halfway between our homes.  We got a great rate at a hotel and just enjoyed spending time together!  Usually on a long weekend, if we can get out of town, we do.  It's a nice break and a good opportunity to explore another place!
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September 9, 2010

Eating Well Should Be Healthy, too!

Eating Well Should Be Healthy Too!
 
by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., and Zoë François,
Authors of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients


After the release of our first book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, in 2007, we started hearing from our readers. Many of them wanted to share their experiences with our innovative, time-saving, based on long-term dough storage. Many others had questions, so we set up a website and blog that were designed for questions and discussion.  Most of the questions directed at me sounded something like this: "You're the doctor, what's with all this white flour in the bread?"

Good question! The recipes in our first book were based on the traditional European repertoire, which meant lots of white flour. When people challenged me, I had to admit that I love a well-made white baguette, though I eat more whole grains than ever before. Variety is the spice of life, and I'm not ready to completely give up white flour. Every slice of bread doesn't have to represent a completely balanced meal. But, people asked for recipes with more whole grains, and they were backed up by some heavy hitters in the nutrition world. The American Diabetes Association now endorses whole grains as a preventive for the development of diabetes. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture is similarly pushing for more whole grain intake. We decided to write a second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, to give people more nutritious alternatives to white flour. 

Whole grain nutrition: So how does whole grain flour stack up against white flour? White flour is milled strictly from wheat's endosperm, the white part of the wheat kernel containing almost exclusively starch and protein (mostly gluten). There's nothing wrong with starch and protein, but you're missing all the benefits you get from whole grain's "germ," and all the fiber from the bran (the dark outer coating of the wheat kernel). Whole wheat includes the germ, which is packed with vitamins, anti-oxidants, and healthy oils. It's a particularly rich source of Vitamin E, which, when combined with Vitamin C-containing foods, make one of the most powerful anti-oxidant combinations known. Please pass the homemade orange marmalade on whole wheat bread!

Whole wheat also includes bran, which doesn't have vitamins and anti-oxidants -- that's wheat germ's chance to shine. But bran has its own very special role to play, and I'd love to tell you all about it. Unfortunately, it seems that food professionals have some sort of gentle-person's agreement about talking about the digestive tract, so if you're interested in learning more about bran's role in digestion, here's a great website for you: Fiber: How to Increase the Amount in Your Diet, from the American Academy of Family Physicians. The family doctors seem pretty clear that fiber from whole grains prevents a wide range of health problems.  

The other frequent question from readers was whether our books are a good fit for vegans (those who don't eat meat or any other animal products, including eggs, and dairy). Most of our non-enriched recipes (that's the majority of both books) are vegan in the first place. While many other whole grain authors use skim milk powder in whole wheat bread to tenderize it, we decided against that, mainly to keep things simple (fewer ingredients = simple). For vegans, the second book includes alternatives to butter in the enriched recipes. In our first book, butter was the animal-based ingredient that appeared most often. In Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, we give alternatives to butter, including canola oil and zero-trans fat, zero hydrogenated oil-based margarines. We also talk about the new products being sold as "butter substitutes," usually made with vegetable oils, but also flavor-enriched with whey and other non-fat products of butter. Technically speaking, most of these are not vegan because of the whey, but check the ingredients as there are exceptions.

Fruits and vegetables in the bread:
OK, who told the USDA to increase the recommended fruit/vegetable servings to nine (for a person whose ideal weight is 150 pounds)? I have a friend who says he can't even name nine fruits and vegetables! Those are half-cup servings -- is anybody really getting this much in their diet? I can tell you that I am not. There are some good rules of thumb, such as "two-thirds of the plate should be vegetable or fruit." That helps, but even so, I don't think I'm making my quota. That's why we included a chapter in Healthy Bread about breads that are fortified with fruits and vegetables, sometimes ground finely, and sometimes chunky. We were amazed at how well this works, despite our fears that this stuff would weigh down the bread. Every little bit helps. 

Gluten-free breads: I once interviewed a prominent gastrointestinal specialist from one of the country's finest University hospitals, where his practice includes the treatment of celiac disease (intestinal allergy to wheat gluten). We talked about celiac disease, but I also asked him about people who aren't celiac, but simply don't feel well when they eat wheat. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 1 out of every 113 Americans have celiac disease. They become unpleasantly ill when they eat even small amounts of wheat gluten. The science is pretty clear on how to treat celiac patients: eliminate all gluten from their diet. Chapter 9 in Healthy Bread was written with them in mind. But the science is unclear on what to tell people who say they don't feel well when they eat gluten, but don't have celiac disease. My gastroenterologist friend has a very clear answer for those people. He tells them "don't argue with success." If you feel better when you avoid gluten, then decrease or eliminate it. So Healthy Bread is a book for those people well. 

All this health talk makes me a bit wary. When I used to see patients, I turned over every rock to figure out how to reduce their risk of chronic disease -- quit smoking, get more exercise, do your routine screening exams, and eat a healthier diet. But I'd hate to see people become obsessed with their diet, and specifically, about the bread. If you can pack some extra nutrition into the bread, and you like the flavor, by all means, go for it. But don't let it destroy your appreciation for great bread and other foods. As we said in our first book, if you worry about the bread, it won't taste good. 


© 2009, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, used with permission of the Authors


Author Bios
Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., coauthor of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, is a physician with twenty years of experience in health care as a practitioner, consultant, and faculty member at the University of Minnesota Medical School. His interest in baking and preventive health sparked a quest to adapt the techniques of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day for healthier ingredients.


Zoë François, coauthor of Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, is passionate about food that is real, healthy, and always delicious. She is a pastry chef trained at the Culinary Institute of America. In addition to teaching baking and pastry courses nationally, she consults to the food industry and is the creator of the recipe blog www.zoebakes.com. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two sons.


The authors answer bread questions at their Web site: www.healthybreadinfive.com. post signature

September 7, 2010

Back in the Blog Hop game!

I'm finally getting used to my new job and schedule and decided to hop (pun intended) back into all the fun blog hops!  Have fun and let me know where you found me.  I'm happy to follow all who follow me so just let me know that you're a follower (if you leave your URL, that would be helpful) so that I can come over and follow you.  Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday Tag-Along

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September 2, 2010

The Bump2Baby event has begun!

I'm so excited for this event because I'm in the process of trying to stock up on baby products in the hopes that we'll start our family soon.  This event is featuring many amazing products with the first one a crib and mattress!  J. leigh designz and Hayneedle have teamed up together to offer one reader a DaVinci Kalani II 4-in-1 Convertible Sleigh Crib and Kolcraft Pediatric™ 2000 Crib Mattress shown below!

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CSN Stores sells shoes?

Sit back and prop your feet up on the coffee table because I'm going to be doing another review for CSN Stores!  Since I just started a new job as a bank teller, I'm seriously lacking in comfortable, yet professional shoes.  Lucky for me, CSN Stores has a website just for shoes and I've been offered the opportunity to review any product that I want!  Stay tuned to see which pair I choose (I know you're waiting with baited breath for my choice, don't lie).  Feel free to weigh in with some of your favorites!
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Skin Free Skincare & Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio Products {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

My skin has always been problematic.  As a teenager and still as a thirty-something woman, I struggle with blemish-prone, oily skin.  Trying to find products that keep blemishes at bay while, at the same time, retaining some of the moisture so that my skin doesn't feel like sandpaper is so hard for me!  I've tried everything from expensive products that can only be purchased in salons to products that are very inexpensive and can be bought at your local drug store.  Nothing seems to work.  I fully intend to struggle with this problem for the rest of my life!

However, while I still haven't found that "miracle product" that will take away all my woes, I have found a group of products that help lessen the problems that I've experienced over the years.  Skin Free Skincare products are formulated by a pharmacist and recommended by doctors for those with sensitive, delicate and very dry or damaged skin.  Skin Free products are recommended for extremely dry skin, fragrance allergies, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, pregnant moms, babies, the elderly, diabetics, renal patients and after radiation or chemotherapy patients.  These products are rated by the Environmental Working Group with "0" toxicity.  Not many products have received this incredible rating which is why so many sensitive groups are able to use these products.  They do not contain any petroleum products, perfumes, steroids or harmful chemicals.  They are never tested on animals and are made from natural, vegan ingredients.

Skin Free Skin Care products were created by Julie Hilton, who has over 30 years in compounding and natural skin care.  All of the Skin Free products are distributed by Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio for public use.  You can take a look at all of the products on both websites.  There are descriptions for each separate product and they are even separated into different categories like Blemish-Prone and Mother-Baby.  That makes it so much easier to shop for what you need!  Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio offers products that related to bath and body products as opposed to the products on Skin Free Skincare which are more for skin problems.

I received three different products from Skin Free and Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio including Acai Scrub for Sparkling Skin, the Extra Moisturizing Soap & Shampoo Bar and Butter Cream Hand and Body Lotion in Tuscan Lavender.  I was so excited to receive the lotion because I love the smell of lavender!  This lotion lived up to my excitement because it smells lovely and just like I'm standing in a field of lavender.  It is not at all greasy on my skin and it absorbs wonderfully.  The consistency is light while still providing enough moisture so that my skin does not dry out.

My husband was thrilled with the Acai Scrub!  In fact, he used it one morning after shaving and excitedly announced later that evening that his skin was still very smooth.  No five o'clock shadow here!  I was also happy with the scrub.  It smelled wonderful without any of the perfumes that you normally have in a scrub.  It felt natural on my skin and didn't leave any greasy residue after rinsing it off.  The first time I used it I was a little bit freaked out because it does have a brown tint to it which I could see in the tub while rinsing but it didn't stain my tub.  All in all, this was a great product that works to remove excess dry skin!

The last product we tried was the Extra Moisturizing Soap & Shampoo Bar.  Both my husband and me were amazed at the way that the bar cleansed our skin with drying it out or leaving a film.  I've never used a bar soap that didn't leave my skin feeling tight and dry so I was thrilled when this one cleaned without drying.  I didn't try it as a shampoo bar but I bet it would do a great job at cleaning hair, too!

One of my readers has the chance to win a $30 gift certificate to either Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio or Skin Free Skincare!

Mandatory Entry

You must follow the Skin Free Skincare blog on Google (it's towards the bottom of the page) and subscribe to the Skin Free Skincare sales newsletter.  You can find the entry on the main page of the website on the right hand side.  Please let me know that you have done these two things for your mandatory entry in a comment below. (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and the Skin Free Skincare website. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More! email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More! on Facebook.
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More! on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow Skin Free Skincare on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Enter another active giveaway on Giveaways and More! (1 entry per giveaway entered)
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment.  Feel free to use this tweet:  

Win a $30 gift certificate for Skin Free Skincare products! http://goo.gl/fb/O7CN9 Ends 9/16 @skinfree #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on September 16th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Skin Free Skincare and Blue Ridge Gypsy Studio for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

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