December 31, 2010

Ringing in 2011!

Happy New Year!

We are going to be at a party with some friends tonight celebrating the fact that it will be 2011 so I wanted to wish all of my lovely readers a very Happy New Year!  I've been reading other blogs this past week and the general theme has been what they are hoping for (some call them resolutions) in the new year.  Since I don't like to use the term resolution (one of the results of owning a fitness center) I would have to say that my #1 hope is to finally get started on expanding our family.  If all goes well and our business can be moved to the situation that we are currently working on, I think I can convince my husband that this is the year.  The other hope I have for 2011 is for people to get back to work.  We've really seen some tough times in my area and I would love for folks who have been struggling to finally find some relief this year.  I'm not sure that it will happen, but I can dream!  Everything else seems so frivolous so I'm sticking with those two.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve celebrations and remember to stay safe!  I'll see you in 2011! 

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And the winner is....

Congratulations to the final winner in my Holiday Gift Guide!

The winner of the Exergen TemporalScanner Thermometer is

#117 - Erika

I have contacted the winner by email and she has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.  Once again, thank you all for participating in my Holiday Gift Guide!  It was a great success!  Keep following and checking in because I have some ideas for more events on my blog in the new year.

Happy New Year!
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December 30, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - Parisi Artisan Coffee {REVIEW}

I'm starting to think that I should change the focus of my blog to coffee because that seems to be one of the major topics that I discuss!  Oh well, what's not to love about coffee, right?  The rich, fragrant scent and the beautiful deep color of the beans.  I don't know too many people who don't drink coffee on a daily basis.  That's why I'm so thrilled when I find a new coffee company and am able to tell you all about how delicious the coffee tastes!  In fact, I was recently sent two different roasts of coffee from Parisi Artisan Coffee which is located in Kansas City, MO.

We categorize espressos two ways; Italian Style and Seattle Style. The Italian espressos are lighter and sweeter in flavor profile, with a rich crema. The Seattle Style espressos, designed to penetrate flavor through milk, are darker and smokier.


Italian Inspired


Italian roasters have inspired us to new heights in espresso creation. Joe Paris, the co-founder of Parisi, has spent years studying Italian espressos. During his many trips to Italy, Joe has met with the premier Italian Roasters, including Sant Eustacio owner Roberto Ricci. The June 2005 Coffee Almanac ranked Sant Eustacio as one of the top cafes in all of Rome.


Our roast master studies origins carefully and records traits of certain coffees for potential use in our espresso arsenal. His espressos are as simple as a single origin and some contain up to six components.


"With espresso, we ask ourselves how a particular blend does combined with milk or soy, on ice, or in its purest form, the shot," John says.

We received two bags of whole bean coffee from Parisi Artisan Coffee to try at home and fell in love with both!  First of all, the aromas that emanated from the box were absolutely heavenly!  If I could get away with a perfume that smelled like coffee, I would wear it everyday because the scent of coffee beans just makes me happy.  Secondly, the bags are beautiful!  I love the color and design.  It reminds me of Italy and walking along the roads looking at the famous ruins and then turning around and seeing a cute little corner cafe where the barista is wearing a tuxedo and moving at the speed of light!


One of the bags contained the Espresso Parisi beans.  This coffee is bold and flavorful yet not overly acidic.  We brew this coffee in our normal coffee pot and it turns out perfect every time!  We've also used a coarse grind on it and brewed it in our French Press pot and it was amazing!  So much flavor with not too much acidity.

The second bag we received was the Bolivia blend.  It was a little less bold than the Espresso but had just as much flavor.  On the bag it mentions hints of milk chocolate and honeysuckle which is right on.  We did not make this one in our French Press but have enjoyed it in the drip machine very much!

If you have a coffee lover in your life, you must head over to the Parisi Artisan Coffee website and take a look around.  They are always featuring a new blend of coffee for you to try.  The descriptions are in depth and they even tell you the type of clay the bean was grown in along with the amount of rainfall and altitude!  These folks know their coffee!  The 12 oz. bags begin at $9.00 which sounds a little steep but this coffee is well worth it and for a coffee connoisseur, that is not much at all.  Parisi also sells coffee pots as well as other accessories and they offer gift sets, too!  Just head over there and check it out for yourself!

Disclosure:  I was sent a free sample of the product and was asked to give my honest opinion. No money was exchanged and I was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.
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December 29, 2010

Eden Fantasys {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

Since Christmas is now behind us, it's time to start thinking about the next big holiday, Valentine's Day!  This is one of my favorites because it's all about pampering the one you love and, hopefully, them pampering you!  Eden Fantasys is a great website that offers lots of different products to increase the passion in your relationship.  Not only do they sell fun toys to spice up your bedroom activities, but they also have sexy lingerie, wonderful candles, fun games and other products to help you get and stay in the mood.

I've written before about Eden Fantasys and even told you about some of the products that they sell.  Some of my favorites are their awesome candles and massage products.  I love me a good massage!  Maybe next time I'll venture into something a little more risque.  I'm thinking my husband would love it if I got this Geisha's Secrets Collection for Valentine's!
I also happen to love the Bed of Roses Deluxe kit.  It includes a massage tool so that your hands (or preferably his hands) don't get tired in the middle of your back run, scented silk rose petals, rose scented bubble bath, edible chocolate massage oil, some tea lights and an invitation card.  You could be really creative and slip the invitation into his briefcase or wallet to find when he's least expecting it!
Luckily, one of my lucky readers will be receiving a $50 gift card to use at EdenFantasys.com!  This is just in time for Valentine's Day so that you can give your partner the surprise of his or her life!

Mandatory Entry

Head over to Eden Fantasy's website and tell me what you would buy with the gift card!  (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 Eden Fantasys. 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 - 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:  

Make Valentine's Day extra special with a $50 gift card at Eden Fantasys! http://goo.gl/fb/0RHHN Ends 1/12 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on January 12th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open worldwide to 18+ adults. 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 Eden Fantasys for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a gift card in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to provide a positive review nor offer a giveaway.
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Wordless Wednesday - It's Snowing!


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December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!




I hope all of you have a very  
Merry Christmas!

Enjoy the time you have with your families especially if you are spending the holiday with relatives that you don't get to see very often.  I have always loved Christmas because of the love and good food that surrounds me and my family.  Here is a picture of my mom's famous coffee cake that we traditionally devour every Christmas morning (it usually doesn't last very long especially since my husband was added to the family festivities):



We are so enjoying the time with my family and beautiful sunshine in Arizona (what is better than a 75 degree Christmas Day?) but will be traveling back to Oregon on Sunday which means that I'll be off the internet for a couple of days.  I'll be posting next week with another giveaway so stay tuned!


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December 22, 2010

More holiday winners!

It's time for some more winners!  Hold onto your hats because these are some great prizes!

EZ Sox Winner:
#41 - Megan

Schwans Frozen Food:
#93 - auntrene

Roku HD Digital Video Player:
#286 - Post Grad

All of the winners have been emailed and have 48 hours to respond to that email or replacement winners will be chosen.  Thanks to everyone for making my Holiday Gift Guide such a success!
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Got gift cards? Swagg is for you! {REVIEW}

Are you like me and always end up with multiple gift cards after the holidays?  Gift cards are a very popular gift nowadays.  I keep those cards in my wallet so that I don't lose them which makes my wallet bulge (not exactly a huge problem but annoying, none the less).  Let me tell you all about SWAGG, a website created for those of us who are overrun with gift cards.  SWAGG has launched an app that helps you keep all those gift cards and loyalty cards in one virtual place so that you don't have to carry around the actual cards anymore!  Freedom from a bulging wallet!

SWAGG allows consumers to import more than 250 brands of gift cards and rewards cards and, unlike plastic cards, SWAGG permits consumers to view available balance and reward information on most of these cards. Additionally, consumers can use their mobile device to give, get and even exchange SWAGG GIFTS from participating merchant partners such as American Apparel Inc., The Wet Seal Inc., Crocs Inc., 1-800-Flowers.com and Arden B. Through SWAGG, consumers can access the offers that matter most to them, connecting users with more than 3,000 retailers. Retailers benefit by acquiring new customers, increasing in-store business and retaining existing customers.

Since I have a Droid phone, it was very easy to download the app and get set up on the SWAGG website with an account.  You can also download the app on an Apple phone as long as you are a resident of the USA.  In fact, during the month of December, for every app downloaded SWAGG will donate $1 to Stand Up For Cancer.  Not only will you help keep yourself a little more organized but you can help a very worthy cause.  Download the app here and then you can purchase gift cards and give them as a gift, use gift cards to purchase merchandise and exchange gift cards for other gift cards.  SWAGG will also keep track of your balances on those gift cards.

I was lucky enough to receive a $20 gift card from SWAGG to test out the service and it was not only easy but fun (I mean, shopping for free)!  I decided to shop at Crocs and was able to get two pairs of shoes for less than $20!  One of the best parts of the transaction is that SWAGG provides you with a credit card number that cannot be hacked so if you are worried about using your credit card online, purchase a gift card with SWAGG and use their number.  So, get over to SWAGG and download the app.  Keep those gift cards and loyalty cards all in one virtual place and make room in your wallet for more $$$!

Disclosure:  I was given $20 to spend and give my honest opinion of the service as well as be entered for a chance to win an iPad.  All opinions are my own.
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December 19, 2010

Lots of winners!

Sorry for the delay in picking winners but I spent the week getting ready for our trip to Arizona for the holiday (sunny and warm, thank you very much).  We're having a great time so far and look forward to a fun week filled with family time!  Here are the most recent winners chosen by random.org:

IntelliGender Gender Prediction Home Test
#38 - Texas Type A Mom

Dan-e Women's Daily Supplement
#23 - Romapr

Tellurian Baby Skin Care Package
#36 - Elena

Congratulations to all the winners!  Everyone has been emailed (so if you see your name here and you didn't receive an email, please check your spam folder or email me).  The winners have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.  Thanks everyone and stay tuned for more Holiday Gift Guide winners!
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December 16, 2010

Hopes and Dreams for the New Year...

There are so many aspirations that I have for my life this new year. First and foremost, I hope to talk my stubborn husband into taking the plunge into parenthood.  We are getting older and having children is a dream of mine that I don't plan on letting slip by because of money.  Why is it that most men try to plan everything?  Sometimes you just have to jump into something and have faith that everything will work out alright.  It's so frustrating for me because I want to be a mom so badly and on top of that, everyone asks me when we are having children (why do they have to ask me and how would they react if we were trying and couldn't have kids?) and then when I tell them we are waiting to be more financially sound, they proceed to lecture me about how if you wait until you're ready financially, you'll never have kids.  That's very difficult for me to hear because it's not my decision to wait and I believe that we would be able to make things work regardless of how high or low our income is.
 The next dream goes right along with the first and that is to get our business sold so that we can move on with our lives.  When we first opened our business, it was with incredible hopes and excitement but the last few years have been so difficult on us, both emotionally as well as financially, that neither one of us wants to own this business any longer.  It's such a source of sadness for me because that is really what is keeping me from becoming a mom.  If we had a stable income, my husband wouldn't be so cautious and, unfortunately, being a small business owner in this economy is not stable at all.  We can't own a home because things are so unknown.  Granted, we haven't lost money but we've also worked the last 4 1/2 years without paying ourselves.  We do see the light at the end of the tunnel because we will be moving the business to a different location where we can show a fairly sizable profit and hopefully find a buyer.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that all works out the way we need it to.


Along the same lines as selling our business, we would really like to move back to the southwest.  Both of us were so happy there with the sun shining year round and the amazing restaurants and shopping.  My parents have also bought a home and are spending the winter months so when we do have children, we have free babysitters nearby!  I really miss living in a large metropolitan area although there are definite perks to where we are living right now.  I love seeing our nephew and niece often and watching them as they grow into little people.  They say and do some of the cutest things!  They have also been so helpful at giving my husband some practice with kids.  He's never been around little ones and watching him interact with them has shown me that he will be a great daddy someday!

These are just a few of my dreams for this year.  I would also love to get back to exercising more often and taking care of myself.  I would also like to work on furthering my career.  A nice trip back to Italy would be a wonderful gift, too!
 About OWN: The New Oprah Winfrey Network New shows. New faces. New possibilities.
OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network is a multi-platform media company designed to entertain, inform and inspire people to live their best lives. OWN will debut on January 1, 2011, in approximately 80 million homes on what is currently the Discovery Health Channel. During the OWN launch weekend, viewers will have the chance to see a little of everything OWN has to offer. OWN programming includes original series and specials, all focused on entertaining, informing and inspiring people to live their best lives.

More info: http://www.oprah.com/own
Twitter: http://twitter.com/OprahWinfreyNet
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ownTV

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network blogging program, for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.post signature

Holiday Gift Guide - Hasbro Board Games - Twister Hoopla {REVIEW}

When I was a child, I loved to play board games and that really hasn't changed throughout the years.  In fact, one of my husband's and my favorite board games is Scrabble!  Hasbro has so many different board games that are fun and can be played by all different age groups.  They have games that can be played with preschoolers such as Sorry and Chutes and Ladders.  They also have games that are more geared towards adults like Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit.  In fact, Hasbro offers so many different kinds of toys and games that it makes my head spin!

Hasbro sent me one of their newest games, Twister Hoopla, which is a fun change to the original Twister!  In this version, your bodies are the game board and you are trying to keep the rings from touching the ground.  There are five different versions of the game ranging from keeping your team alive by avoiding dropping the rings to a game where you toss the rings and catch them.  There is also a game where you lay out the colored rings like the original game and try to stay on your feet!  That was the toughest because the rings slide around! It's fun for the whole family (2-4 players) starting with kids aged 6 years and older.  It's also a wonderful way to get up and out of your chair while still playing a "board" game.  These games aren't as easy as they sound, either.  Lots of laughter and will ensue as you tumble around and try to win Twister Hoopla!

Check out Hasbro's website for all the games and other toys they offer this holiday season.  Your kids will thank you and may actually want to play the games with you!

Disclosure:  I was sent a free product sample in exchange for my honest opinion of the product.  All views are my own.  I was not required to write a positive review nor offer a giveaway.
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December 15, 2010

Help me win an iPad, please!?

So, I don't know if you've seen this request on other sites but you can help me win a new Apple product (I'm hoping for the iPad) just by registering your email address at Nomorerack.com!  It's super easy and fast.  Also, you can then ask your friends to sign up and help you win a free Apple product!  How awesome is that?

All you have to do is click this link and register.  It's simple and who doesn't love a great deal?

Thanks so much and Happy Holidays!

P.S. You only have until December 16th at noon EST!  Hurry over!
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December 14, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - Exergen TemporalScanner {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Taking another person’s temperature is a very difficult thing to do especially if that other person is a screaming, squirming baby who doesn’t feel well! Imagine if you could take the temperature of your child in seconds by swiping the thermometer across the forehead. Guess what? You can! Exergen has created a thermometer that measures blood temperature via the temporal artery. How does this work, you ask?

The TemporalScanner Thermometer is a totally non-invasive system with advanced infrared technology providing maximum ease of use with quick, consistently accurate measurements. Advanced, patented technology measures temperatures with a gentle stroke across the forehead.


The TemporalScanner Thermometer has been clinically tested for accuracy compared to rectal thermometers and temperature sensors inserted in the heart during course of patient treatment and accepted for use in major hospitals, making it the ideal thermometer for use with newborns, infants, children or adults.


The TemporalScanner has patented software, providing arterial heat balance. This unique process determines temperature by accurately measuring the balance between the tissues warming from arterial blood and tissues cooling (warming) caused by heat loss (gain) to the environment.

I received an Exergen TemporalScanner to try out and love it!  I have no patience for taking my own temperature and waiting for the beep that tells me it's time to take the thermometer out of my mouth so I can imagine what it will be like when I have children besides the fact that getting a baby to hold still while taking a temp seems virtually impossible.  The TemporalScanner worked great for me!  It is extremely easy to use; just swipe it across your forehead.  Quick tip, though, make sure you take off the cover before using it.  Both me and my husband were wondering why our temperatures were so low and I finally realized it was because the cover was still on!  After we removed the cover, it seemed accurate.  I don't have a very good thermometer at home so I couldn't compare but the reading was close to my normal temperature.  I love that it only takes seconds and can be done while a person is sleeping without them even realizing you are taking their temperature!  I also love that it is painless and non-invasive.  You can purchase the Exergen TemporalScanner a multiple retailers including Toy "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, Costco, Walgreens, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart and BJ's as well as online at Walmart.com, Babiesrus.com, Walgreens.com, Costco.com, Babycenter.com and drugstore.com.  I found it online for as low as $28.99!  That's a bargain in my opinion!  I've paid close to $10 for a digital thermometer that you have to put in your mouth and hold for 3-5 minutes.  The extra money is definitely worth the convenience!

One of my lucky readers will have the distinct pleasure of winning a FREE Exergen TemporalScanner of their own!

Mandatory Entry

Head over to Exergen's website and tell me where you would buy the TemporalScanner!  (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 Exergen. 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" Exergen on Facebook.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow Exergen 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 FREE @Exergen TemporalScanner and stop taking a temperature the hard way! http://goo.gl/fb/0RHHN Ends 12/28 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on December 28th 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 Exergen for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to provide a positive review nor offer a giveaway.
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December 13, 2010

Who won the CEIVA Digital Frame?

This is a wonderful gift so I'm thrilled to announce that the winner of the CEIVA Digital Picture Frame is

#84 - Joanna @ FeedingThePrices

Congratulations!  Joanna has been notified by email and she has 48 hours to respond or I will have to pick another winner.
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December 12, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Gift Sets {REVIEW}

This next gift selection is good for any adult on your list, as long as they drink coffee or tea!  When I was in college I was introduced to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and instantly fell in love.  They do an incredible job of making coffee and tea in their stores and have expanded into cyberspace with an online store where you can purchase their delicious coffee, tea and hot cocoa mixes as well as mugs and other coffee necessities!  The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf began serving coffee in the Los Angeles area in the early 60's and continues today with hundreds of stores throughout the southern half of the United States as well as over 19 international countries.  Here's the story from the website:

Since 1963 we’ve been passionate about serving our customers the best coffees and teas from around the world. Today, throughout our organization, and our hundreds of locations around the world, we remain committed to our original vision of quality and customer service.

We are dedicated to serving our community and providing a destination and lifestyle quality experience. We take pride in our handcrafted oak paneled stores; the ideal social gathering place to build respectful relationships with our friends, and customers in the community. Our store environment truly is cozy, warm and inviting and is ideal for just enjoying The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® experience.


I can tell you, from personal experience, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a wonderful place to get a cup of coffee or tea and just hang out with your friends.  The words above are all true and the folks who work in the stores are just as friendly as can be.  Since I left Southern California, I have wished that The Bean (as it's so affectionately referred to by the patrons) would expand into the Pacific Northwest where I live because I truly miss their unique flavor combinations and store atmosphere.  Alas, I don't believe that they will be opening any stores up here in the near future so I will just have to make my own atmosphere at home while still enjoying their coffee and tea products.

In fact, I was lucky enough to receive a few of their holiday gift sets to review for you this holiday season.  One of the sets that I got was the Flavored Coffee Duet.  This set is two 8 oz packages of flavored coffees, Pumpkin Spice and Egg Nog flavored coffees.  We have thoroughly enjoyed both of these coffees!  I would have to say that the Egg Nog is preferred by me but the Pumpkin Spice comes in close second.  The flavors are not overly strong but you can definitely smell them!  This would make a great hostess gift if you are invited to a holiday party or maybe gift exchange.  I don't know anyone who wouldn't love to receive this as a gift and at $15.95, it's affordable, too!


The other two sets I got were the Cafe Mocha Gift Set and the Winter Dream Tea Latte Mug Set, both of which cost $17.95.  I haven't yet made a mocha with the chocolate powder but both my husband and I are really enjoying the coffee and mugs!  The mugs are a nice size, not too large and not too small and they have the recipes for a cafe mocha and tea latte written on them.  The Winter Dream Tea is very good and I'm not a big fan of tea.  The Winter Dream Tea, though, is a nice blend of sweet and spicy notes and mixing in the vanilla powder really accentuated the cinnamon flavors for me.  Both of these sets would make great gifts for the coffee or tea drinker in your life.
These aren't the only sets available, either.  There are also some cocoa sets and other tea sets for less than $20.  You can also buy mugs and tumblers as well as coffees and teas.

Make sure you check out The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for all your coffee and tea lovers this holiday season.  If you happen to be close by one of the coffeehouses, buy an Ice Blended for me?

Disclosure:  I received no monetary compensation just the products noted above in exchange for my honest opinion.
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December 11, 2010

My first Holiday Gift Guide winner!

We've got a winner for my first Holiday Gift Guide giveaway!  

The winner of the Ornaments with Love Personalized Ornaments is:

#30 - bejewel

Congratulations!

I have emailed the winner who has 48 hours to respond or I will have to choose another winner.
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Giveaways!

I've got some great giveaways ending this weekend so make sure you get those entries in for the CEIVA Digital Frame by tonight!  There are pretty low entries and lots of chances to win.  You don't want to pass up this giveaway!

I also found a great giveaway over at Take Time to Smell The Rose!  It's for a Tassimo T20 BrewBot Package!  This is a very cool single cup coffee brewer that uses discs of coffee so not only can you brew different brands of coffee within second of each other but the clean up is a snap!  Head over there and check it out because the giveaway ends on Dec. 16th!
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December 9, 2010

"Community" Christmas!

Have you ever watched the show "Community"?  It kicks off the lineup on NBC on Thursday nights and is one of my favorite TV shows because of the quirky characters and fantastic writing!  The show is about a group of students at a local community college who are placed in a study group together.  They are such a motley crew of individuals who would have never even talked to each other had it not been for the group.  The dynamics of the group make for some very funny situations, sometimes touching and sometimes awkward.

This year, Community is having a special Christmas episode where the characters are all in stop motion animation.


ABOUT THE EPISODE:

ABED'S UNCONTROLLABLE CHRISTMAS
 

IN THIS SPECIAL STOP MOTION ANIMATION EPISODE, THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS IS LOST AND ABED’S INTENSE FIXATION ON CHRISTMAS CONCERNS THE GROUP

When Abed (Danny Pudi) wakes up in stop-motion animation, he takes it as a sign that he and the group must re-discover the meaning of Christmas. Meanwhile, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) become growingly concerned about Abed's mental health and enlist the help of Professor Duncan (John Oliver). The group undergoes hypnosis to explore Abed's winter wonderland and soon unravel the truth behind Abed’s madness. Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong also star. 


Here's a quick peak:

This episode is very typical of the group, funny and sarcastic with some singing thrown into the mix, and you will be touched when Abed finds the meaning of Christmas.  This is a wonderful way to start off all of the Christmas shows on TV as it incorporates a lot of the qualities from those older shows that are replayed each Christmas season.  Don't forget to watch Community tonight with your family! It's on NBC at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST.

Disclosure:  I was not paid for this post.  I wrote this post to be entered to win a prize.  All opinions are my own.
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December 7, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - Cowgirl Chocolates {REVIEW}

I consider myself a connoisseur of chocolate being that I've eaten so much of the stuff in my lifetime and grew up very close to an incredible chocolate store.  This is why I was so excited to try Cowgirl Chocolates!  I have never eaten chocolates that had cayenne pepper in them and anyone who knows me well, knows that I am very sensitive to to pepper.  this made me a tad bit apprehensive about eating these chocolates but when I received them, I quickly changed my mind!

Head Cowgirl Marilyn Lysohir founded Cowgirl Chocolates in 1997. Her two favorite things in the world are art (she has a notable career as a ceramic sculptor) and chocolate. In fact her first job was working in a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania. Marilyn mingled some favorite memories with some new ideas to create an American original, Cowgirl Chocolates...chocolates with a spicy cowgirl kick. She was the pioneer, one of the first companies to offer spicy chocolates in the world.


This is the package that I received from Cowgirl Chocolates.  Isn't it cute?  Inside were the chocolates for me (and my husband) to sample.  I was shocked to open up the box and find so many different chocolates!  Most were truffles but there was also one caramel (that had quite a kick to it!).  The truffles were a mix of mild truffles without any cayenne pepper in them and then the ones that make your skirt fly up!  They were all delicious and I was impressed with the flavors that were offered.

My sample box included Double Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Ivory Orange and Raspberry Lemon which were all mild truffles.  They were all very tasty but I think my favorite would have to be the Double Dark Chocolate.  It was smooth and creamy with that extra little bite that dark chocolate brings to the party.  I also received Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Double Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut Milk Chocolate and Cappuccino which are the spicy flavors.  Let me tell you, they were spicy!  In this batch my favorite flavor was the Cappuccino.  What an awesome combination of creamy coffee flavor with that extra kick of cayenne pepper.  I could eat this truffle everyday!  As I mentioned above, there was a caramel included in the box which made steam come out of my ears!  I believe it was a Habenero Caramel that was the spiciest thing I've ever eaten.

If you know someone who enjoys both spicy and sweet chocolate truffles or you would like to introduce someone you know to these treats, head over to Cowgirl Chocolates and take a look around.  Marilyn offers many more candies than just chocolates and she does gift samplers like the one I received as well as other options for a reasonable cost.  It would make a great gift for a loved one!

Disclosure:  I received a free sample of chocolates in exchange for my honest opinion of the candies.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.
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December 6, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - Roku HD {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Sometimes, the technology that is available today just blows my mind!  I love that I can watch any of the shows and movies that are available to stream on Netflix at anytime and on my TV without losing access to my laptop.  It's the best of both worlds!  Roku, which manufactures digital video players, has recently released a new player with three levels of HD and more features than their original player.  These new players are smaller, cheaper and use the highest quality for streaming.  I was amazed at how small this player was when I received it in the mail!  Just look at the dimensions.  It's smaller than my alarm clock and fits just about anywhere!


The Roku HD plays high definition video (720p), has built in wireless internet plus wired connection and has and HDMI output for HDTVs.  Keep in mind that the Roku works with all TVs not just HDTVs.  It really is a wonderful system and extremely affordable at $59.99 for the system.  The next step up is the Roku XD and adds a few more features like streaming high definition video at 1080p, an enhanced remote with playback feature and extended range on the wireless-N.  The XD retails for $79.99 which is still fairly reasonable, in my opinion.  the Roku XD/S is the top of the line with all the features of the XD along with dual band wireless technology, component video and optical audio outputs and a USB port for playing music, photos and videos.  The XD/S costs $99.99.
 
My husband and I also own a blu-ray DVD player with built in WiFi that streams Netflix and other entertainment options on the internet.  We have been happy with this player so I wanted to see how the Roku HD stood up to our blu-ray player.  The obvious major difference is that the Roku is only a streaming device without a DVD player inside.  Even though that is the case, there are multiple channels that you can stream which include Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, Pandora and many others.  Some are free while others require a monthly subscription.

About 5 minutes after I received the Roku player, we were watching a movie on Netflix.  It's literally that easy to set up this player.  It gets plugged into your TV, turned on and configured to your WiFi settings.  I mean, I was able to do it all by myself because the directions are very easy to read and the player walks you through the entire process on the screen.  We have also found that it loads and streams content faster than the blu-ray player and the picture is clearer which was surprising to me because we paid over $200 for our blu-ray player and mostly use it for streaming content.  I can only imagine what kind of picture come out of the XD player and it's only $20 more!

I truly think that the Roku would make an incredible gift for the techy in your life or even someone who is looking for a low cost option to stream movies!  The great news is that Roku has offered one of my readers the same Roku HD that I received for FREE!

Mandatory Entry

Head over to Roku's website and tell me which channel you would most like to watch!  (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 Roku. 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 - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow Roku 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 @RokuPlayer and stream movies & TV shows at home! http://goo.gl/fb/BrA90 Ends 12/20 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on December 20th 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 Roku for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to provide a positive review nor offer a giveaway.

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December 5, 2010

Holiday Gift Guide - Schwan's Frozen Foods {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

With life being so busy, wouldn't it be nice to have food delivered right to your doorstep?  Well, Schwans has been delivering frozen foods to busy families since 1952 and continues to deliver quality food products to families all over the United States!  It all started out as an ice cream truck in Minnesota when Marvin Schwan decided to pack up his van with 14 gallons of his family's signature ice cream and sold out in no time!  Since then, the business has changed and added more frozen offerings to families which now total over 350 items.  The history of Schwans includes many accomplishments that Marvin would no doubt be proud of if he were alive today.

Schwans sent me a few of their frozen items to review along with recipes for those items.  Since we were so close to Thanksgiving, I decided that I wanted to share these recipes with my family and they were a hit!  The first recipe that I made was Holiday Bread Crostini Appetizers.


Holiday Bread Crostini Appetizers
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Number of Servings: 12
Crostini means "little toasts" in Italian. Our delectable little toasts are topped with a blend of savory sausage and a rich creamy base.

Ingredients
1/3 cup            shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup            sour cream
1/2 tsp.            Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp.            mayonnaise
2 Tbsp.            diced red pepper
2 loaves           French Baguette Bread (#667), prepared
2 Tbsp.            green onion, chopped
6                       Country Sausage Patties (#441), thawed

Steps:
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Crumble and cook sausage on medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes until browned. Drain on paper towel. 
  3. Stir together sausage, cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, green onion and Worcestershire sauce. 
  4. Cut baguette bread into 1/2 inch rounds. 
  5. Spread sausage mixture evenly onto each round. Place on baking sheet. 
  6. Top with diced red pepper and broil until cheese melts and topping bubbles.
The recipe was extremely easy to prepare and took very little time.  The result was an incredibly tasty appetizer that everyone loved!  My husband's grandmother even said to include the fact that Grandma approves!  The bread was crunchy and the topping was flavorful.  My husband and I were pleased to find that the sausage patties were not full of fat and grease.  In fact, we also used the patties to make breakfast sandwiches on another morning and were very impressed with the flavor of the patties!

The second recipe I made was perfect for Thanksgiving and is called Candied Sweet Potato Souffle.


Candied Sweet Potato SoufflĂ© 
Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Total Time:  50 minutes
Number of Servings:  10

Ingredients:
1 cup               milk
2                      eggs
3/4 cup            sugar
1 1/2 tsp          cinnamon
1 tsp                 ground nutmeg
3 cups              Roasted Sweet Potatoes (#774), thawed and mashed
1/2 cup            pecan pieces, toasted

Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Mix together milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a blender or food processor. 
  2. Add sweet potatoes and blend until mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into a 9" x 9" casserole dish sprayed with cooking oil. Bake 45-50 minutes or until mixture has set. Top with pecans and serve.
Once again, this recipe was very easy to make and tasted very good.  I love the fact that Schwans offers recipes using their products so that all you have to do is follow along and a delicious meal can be on your dinner table quickly and easily.  The other thing that I love about Schwans is that customers can go on the website and review each product!  I really rely on other people's experiences when it comes to food and recipes so this is a plus in my book.

How would you like to win the products that I received from Schwans?  Well, one of my readers is going to receive the same three items that are included in the above recipes including French Baguette Bread, Country Sausage Patties and Roasted Sweet Potatoes!

Mandatory Entry

Head over to Schwans and tell me which other recipe you would like to try!  (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 Schwans. 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" Schwans on Facebook.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow Schwans 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:  

Impress your family this season with @schwans Frozen Foods! Win some here: http://goo.gl/fb/5Badg Ends 12/19 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on December 19th 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 Schwans for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free sample of product to review in exchange for my honest opinion.  I was not required to provide a positive review nor offer a giveaway.
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