Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Freebies

Here is a list of places to bring the kiddies (or not) throughout the day tomorrow.

Bring your children in costume to the Sears Toy Shop (I am assuming this is the toy department in the store, usually near the hardware department) and they will receive a free Mattel toy. There is also a coupon for $5 off a $20 toy purchase.

Michael's will be hosting a Halloween Event from 10AM-2PM. Kids will receive a free Trick or Treat pail, balloon, and candy. There will also be a free coloring activity, a Crayola Model Magic pencil topper demo and a Make and Take frame.

Toys R' Us will have a parade and "trick R' treating" through the store from 12PM-3PM. Kids 3 and older will receive a re-usable bag that they can use to collect goodies and giveaways as they parade through the store with Geoffrey.

Looking for a costume for yourself? Dress up as your favorite burrito, bowl, taco or salad and stop by your local Chipotle. If you do this from 6PM-close, you will be rewarded with a free Boo-rito burrito.

If you don't feel like dressing up like Mexican food, or even if you do Taco Bell is offering a free Black Jack Taco to everyone from 6PM-midnight.

I am sure there are plenty of other free activities going on out there, but these are the "national" ones that I am aware of. I know one of our local Wal-Marts (the Brockport one, for local readers), is also having a Halloween activity tomorrow. I do not have all the details for that right now, and I do not know if all Wal-Marts are doing this (I don't think they are). We are also participating in a local church's trunk-or-treat tomorrow night. They are supposed to have a mile of cars, about 300 of them, for the kids to "trunk or treat" at. They will also have a huge outdoor movie screen and a huge inflatable fun park. This should be a fun day, all day, for the little ones. Please feel free to share any "free" plans you may have come across.

French's Cook-Off

Be sure to enter the French's Cook-Off for a chance to win a weekly prize and the grand prize of $25,000. Recipes must include at least 1 French's product, contain no more than 8 ingredients (not including salt, pepper, or water), and be ready to serve in under 1 hour. Of course, in my slacking, you only have until tomorrow to enter your recipe. Here is the recipe I entered:

Cranberry Mustard Pork Chops

2 ½ pound boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
6 tablespoons French’s Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons flour
3 tablespoons water
1 can whole cranberry sauce
French’s crisp onions


Lightly toss pork pieces with flour; shake off excess. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet. Add half of the pork; cook about 10 minutes, turning once until chicken is golden brown on each side and cooked through. Remove to a platter; keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the pork. Add more butter if needed.

Whisk together wine, chicken broth, cranberry sauce, and mustard; add to skillet, scraping up browned bits. Combine flour and water in a small bowl. Stir into skillet. Boil 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer 5 minutes. Pour sauce over pork. Sprinkle with French’s crisp onions. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Try It Tuesday: Harry Connick Jr- Your Songs

When I was approached by One2One network, to do a review of Harry Connick Jr's new album, I was thrilled. I have been a fan of his for as long as I can remember, both as a singer and an actor. I love his voice and cannot deny that he is very easy on the eyes. His new album, Your Songs, is a collection of love songs sung by him. How can I complain about hearing Harry Connick Jr. sing me love songs? Well, you will see how I fell later in the review.

So what songs are on this CD you ask? Here is the album track list. The names in parentheses are the original performers:

All The Way (Frank Sinatra)
Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)
Can’t Help Falling In Love With You (Elvis Presley)
And I Love Her (The Beatles)
(They Long To Be) Close To You (The Carpenters)
Besame Mucho
The Way You Look Tonight
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
Your Song (Elton John)
Some Enchanted Evening
And I Love You So (Don McLean)
Who Can I Turn To? (Tony Bennett)
Smile (Charlie Chaplin)
Mona Lisa (Nat King Cole)

You can see a behind-the-scenes video of the making of this album on It is neat to see how many musicians were involved in this project. You can also follow Harry Connick Jr through his website and on facebook.

I absolutely love this CD with one exception. I felt the emotion was missing from the first song, All The Way. Since it was the first song, I almost turned it off, but since it was Harry Connick Jr...I kept listening. I am so glad I did. Every other song sounds as though he is singing directly to you. The songs are beautiful and he brings his own style to these well known songs. If you are a Harry Connick Jr fan, you will love this album. If you are looking for love songs, this CD is great. If you just like good music, you will also enjoy this. If you are heartless, have no respect for good music and you do not like Harry Connick Jr (what?!?!), then you will not like this album. As I said, I loved Your Songs and I am pretty sure you all will as well.

***Disclaimer*** I received a free copy of Harry Connick Jr's Your Songs CD in exchange for this review. Although the CD was free, the opinion is my own and was in no way influenced by anyone or anything.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Making dinner in a flash

TwitterMoms is again hosting a fun contest for bloggers. This time the prize is a random drawing from participating bloggers for a Samsung Refrigerator. Wouldn't you know, that is the only appliance we have not yet replaced and needs replacing? The "theme" for the contest blog is also very fitting for me, "Making dinner in a flash". So here are my tips for getting dinner on the table quickly.

- Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. I chop vegetables, shred cheese, and brown meat within a day or two of buying it. I then throw everything in the freezer so that when I need it, I can just pull it out and add to the recipe. If you cannot do this, do not be afraid to buy your veggies already chopped, either in the produce department or the salad bar at the grocery store.

- Plan ahead. I plan my meals one week ahead of time. This means that I already know exactly what we are eating and have all the ingredients on hand and ready. I can even pre-measure out the recipe ingredients at my convenience so that I can just throw everything together as needed.

- Love your crock-pot. You can throw everything together the night before and throw it in the fridge. In the morning, throw it in the crock pot and let it cook. At dinner time, grab some salad and dish up from the crock-pot.

- In a real pinch? Buy an already-cooked rotisserie chicken at the store, a bag of salad, and some potato or macaroni salad from the deli. You end up with the taste of a homemade meal in very little time.

- Double your recipes and freeze the second portion for another day. If you are already making one lasagna, making the second one only takes a few minutes longer. When you are ready to eat it, take it out to defrost and then cook as normal.

- Extend your recipes. When you buying a roast, buy one a few pounds larger than you normally use. Cook the roast for dinner one night. Add the leftover meat to the leftover gravy and serve over egg noodles or rice another night and as hot roast beef sandwiches a third night.

So what ways do you make dinner in flash? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments or do your own blog post and enter the giveaway at Twittermoms (please let me know if you do this so I can check out your post).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Avocados

I decided to write about the health benefits of avocados because they are one of my favorite foods, but they tend to get a bad rap because they are higher in fat than other fruits. While that is true, there are many good things about avocados, including the fat they contain. Here is why avocados should not be avoided:

- They can help defend against certain cancers (namely oral cancer and breast cancer) and inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

- Avocados are good for your eyes. They are high in carotenoid lutein, which protects against cataracts and macular degeneration. In fact, avocados have the highest levels of carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit.

- Avocados have high amounts of vitamin E, folate, and potassium. Potassium helps keep your blood pressure in check. Folate is good for your heart and helps prevent strokes. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer.

- Avocados can help lower cholesterol levels. Beta-sitosterol is another compound found in high levels in avocados. Beta-sitosterol helps to lower cholesterol levels. Avocados, like most plant-based foods, do not have any cholesterol either. This is also where the fat levels come into play. Avocados are high in mono-unsaturated fats. These are the "good" fats that we sometimes hear about and they help to remove cholesterol from the body.

- Avocados are also very high in protein and fiber, more so than most other fruits.

So now you know what a nutritional powerhouse avocados are, you are ready to go out and buy some right? If you have never bought avocados before, here is some brief information on choosing and preparing an avocado.

- There are two main types of avocados: California/Haas and Florida avocados. The Hass avocado is smaller with a pebbly skin and range in color from green to purplish-black. The Florida avocado is much larger with smooth, shiny green skin. I prefer the Haas, as I find them to be much more flavorful.

- The best way to tell the ripeness of an avocado is to check the stem. If it comes off easily, the avocado is ripe. Do not choose bruised or soft fruit and do not squeeze the fruit as avocados do bruise easily.

- It is often best to buy avocados before they have ripened and then bring them home and place them in a paper bag. Within a day or two, they will have ripened.

- Do not place avocados in the refrigerator, as they get mushy.

- To cut open an avocado, slice in half, around the center pit. Then gently twist the two halves apart. You will be able to remove the pit easily with the tip of a spoon if the avocado is ripe. Another way is to whack the pit with a knife and then gently turn the knife and lift the pit out. If you are only using half of the avocado, leave the pit in the other half and wrap in cellophane to prevent the fruit from discoloration.

- Avocados are very versatile and can be eaten many ways. You can use them in recipes like guacamole, smoothies, or salad dressing. You can dice them up and use them on salad. Slice them up and use them on burgers or sandwiches. I also like to mash mine and spread on sandwiches in place of mayo. They are also yummy eaten as is. I sprinkle mine with a little garlic salt for a yummy treat.

How do you eat avocados? Do you have any great avocado tips to share?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Great deal on Snow White DVD/Blu-Ray

There is a great deal on the new Snow White DVD/Blu-Ray 2 pack. On, the sale price is $19.99, but if you enter the coupon code "Snowhite", they will take an additional $10 off, making the total cost $9.99. Shipping is $2.98, but the DVD does qualify for Super Saver shipping so it could be free if you add another $5 to your purchase (the total needs to be $25 before applying the $10 coupon for free shipping). This includes both the regular DVD and the Blu-Ray version so whether you have a Blu-Ray player or not, this is a great deal.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Halloween Shopping Guide

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because of all the fun decorations. I have decided to post a shopping guide for those of you who may be looking for some ideas of new things to add to your home decor, family wardrobes or to use for trick or treating. You will see that all of the items are from Etsy and there is good reason for that. I love unique items, especially when it comes to holiday items. I cannot stand seeing the same decorations 30 times on the same street or 30 people all wearing the same holiday tie/shirt/earrings. So with all that are my choices for Halloween shopping this year:

I love this sign by The Homespun Raven. This sign is sure to last many years and you could even hang it year-round if you wanted. At $18, it is definitely well priced.

I also thought this vinyl cat from Vinyl Cutz would be fun to stick in a window. You can use it to decorate your house or your car. You can even order it in any color she carries, from fuchsia to lime. The list price is $8, but this can be ordered in other sizes as well.

Family Wardrobe

This set of ghost earrings and matching pendant, by REMLanmpwork, are just so cute and would look great on a child or an adult. At $16 for the set, the price is right as well.

How cute is this tie, by Ivy and Mae, for the little guy in your life? It costs $13.00 and comes in sizes 1T-2T and 3T-4T. She also carries a matching jumper dress for baby girls.

I can just see these non-slip clips by Lexi Lou Design in my little girls hair. I also love that they can be used any time of year. The clips are $3.50 and until October 15th, you can get a free Pumpkin 2-D Ribbon Art Clip ($2.50 value) with any $15 purchase.

For Fun

Call me unAmerican, but I have never been a fan of sock monkeys. That was until I met Macabre- The Skeleton Sock Monkey by zparkleys. Zparkleys carries a whole line of unique sock monkeys. Macabre sells for $45 for the regular size or $35 for the baby size.

I grew up carrying a plastic pumpkin when I went out trick-or-treating and later graduated to pillowcases. I wish I had one of these cute bags by Baffin Bags, to carry instead. This bag sells for $18 and Baffin Bags is currently running a Buy 3 Get 1 Free sale.

That concludes my Halloween guide for 2009. However, I also wanted to share this months Piggy Paint special, Ghouls Wanna Have Fun Gift Pack, is on sale for $22.50. It includes 3 polishes in Sleepover (black), Glass Slippers (clear sparkles), and Mac-N-Cheese (orange). Don't forget you can save an additional 15% by using coupon code HAPPYWIFE15L. The discount is good on everything on the site, including sale items.

***Disclaimer*** With the exception of the items I reviewed for Piggy Paint, I have received no product or payment in exchange for these listings. All pictures are owned by their respective artist and are used with permission. Please do not copy any of the pictures without permission of the artist.