Saturday, October 30, 2010

Family Fun Halloween Photos


 Do you see the ghost in the background? Amazing what the camera pics up!







Friday, October 29, 2010

U Follow Me I Follow U Friday Blog Hop and Giveaways

UFollowMEFollow

I love Friday blog hops!  Link to mine,  leave a comment as to how you are following me and I will follow you back!  Each week I'm going to feature a blogger to get my FRIDAY SHOUT OUT!  This week it is Jennifer over at Life with the Lebedas.  She is a fun mom and has some cool things going on over there at her blog! Here is her button!


Thanks for stopping in! Link up! I might give you a SHOUT OUT next week! You can link up your blog, a giveaway, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

LOOKING for giveaways! Here are some great ones going on! It takes 1 entry to win! So go enter!




HERE ARE THE BLOG HOPS where I sign in with!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Top 10 great uses for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly!

Do you use Vaseline? Here are my Top 10 great uses for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Do you have more uses? Share below.
vaseline jelly

Vaseline time!  They are celebrating 140 years!  Happy Birthday! This little jar of goodness is probably in your home right now sitting inside of your medicine cabinet. What do you use it for? How long has it been in there?  I just went to the Vaseline website and found out that Vaseline is "a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes....that has a melting point just above body temperature."  I did not know that! Did you?
vaseline

Here are my Top 10 great uses for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly!
1) Feet- I love rubbing Vaseline on my feet, inbetween my toes and putting on a pair of warm, fluffy socks.  This is great to do before bedtime. In the morning, my feet are silky soft.
2) Hands- Rub Vaseline on your hands right before putting on gloves.  This is great if you are going to be out for awhile in the cold.  The Vaseline forms a barrier with the gloves and your hands will stay warmer. 

3) Hands- Rub Vaseline on your hands after you have done the dishes.  This will soften them and help the skin regain its natural moisture.
4) Lips- Put some Vaseline in a little travel container and toss it in your purse. When you are out in the cold and wind pull it out and put some on your lips to help protect them.  Rub the excess into you hands.

5) Lips- Put on your lipstick and then add on a light coating of Vaseline.  This will help lock in your lipstick and give your lips a pouty shine. 

6) Lips- Rub some on your kids lips before they go outside to play in the snow! This will help lock in moisture and protect the lips from getting chapped.
7) Cheeks- Rub some on your kids or your cheeks before going out to play in the wind and snow.  This will help lock in moisture and protect them just like your lips.  
8) Ears- I have used Vaseline on the top of my ears where my new glasses sit for the first few days.  This helps with new glasses and cuts down on the friction.  This is really great for the elderly, too.  
 9) Thermometers-  A small glob of Vaseline is great on rectal thermometers. It cuts down on the friction.  
10) Zippers- I rubbed on a little bit of Vaseline on a plastic zipper to help it close. It worked wonders!  I then wiped off any extra.  

Before doing this post, I went to Vaseline and checked out their site.  I also learned that  dry skin starts happening days before you start seeing it!  That is amazing.  It makes sense. I do know that the skin is the largest organ in our body!  Time to protect it! 


So what do you think of my Vaseline tips? Do you have some to share? You can leave them here on my blog and/or you can go to TwitterMoms and share your own tips!  These tips are my own experience and opinions. 

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Vaseline blogging program, making me eligible to get a $25 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HOT Game Link up, Reviews and Giveaways

Luck of the Draw, a Game for the Artistically Challenged
Happy Wednesday!  I think the cooler weather is making us want to play more games!  We have a great group of game players!  Our games vary from chess all the way up to games like Dungeons & Dragons.  I really want to open up a Coffee Shop Cafe that has a wall full of games!  It would be great for people to come in, play and hang out.  Right now games are played at home, friend's home, library and anywhere else a board can be set down or a deck of cards shuffled.  Where do you like to play games??
We are participating in the Million Minute Family Game Challenge.  I haven't posted our results in a few weeks. We are now up to 14,108 minutes played in this challenge.  Our group is still holding in the top 10 which is amazing.  How much time do you spend playing games?  The minutes add up with you are playing with friends.

The game review this week is for Luck of the Draw, a Game for the Artistically Challenged by Gamewright.  This game has been on my wish list for awhile because it is a drawing game and my girls are very creative.  I have been hesitant in purchasing because I didn't want to get a game that people would not want to play if they "can't draw"   It is for ages 10 and up, 4-8 players and take approximately 30 minutes to play.   We've played with with as few as 2-3 players.  It is better played with the suggested 4-8 players but can be altered to play with fewer.

Object of the game:  It is a drawing game where you don't have to be an artist to win! Over the course of several rounds, all players draw impressions of a chosen subject and then vote on whose drawings BEST fit randomly drawn categories.  The player who collects the most Category cards wins the game.
Over the course of the game everyone is going to get voted as BEST fit drawing.  I say this because we've played this game many times and some of those times consisted of over an hour at a time and everyone has had their drawing picked as the winner.  I know you are thinking that these are sympathy wins for those who "can't draw" but they aren't!  The drawings are shuffled upside down and then arranged face up with a random color marker placed on each one.  Then a Category card is picked and you vote on the drawing that best matched the category.  You vote by color using a voting wheel. 
 
 
For the above picture, the Luck of the Draw card was picked, dice rolled and we had to draw from #1 which in this case was a LIZARD.  Now some will say "I can't draw a lizard" but the object of the game is to draw it the way you see and feel is right.  After the pictures and color marker are placed you then draw a CATEGORY card and THAT is how you vote to see who wins.  This card said "Most Masculine" and the voters have to decide which lizard fits that category. 

It is all in fun and the Category cards really make you laugh.  We have laughed and laughed playing this game.  I was impressed that everyone wanted to play and actually enjoyed it.   I was worried that this game would leave out those who do not like to draw but that was a wrong assumption.  Once the reluctant players joined in they saw that anyone with or without drawing skill could win this game! 

This game takes you through A LOT of paper with all the drawings.  The company acknowledges this and even states in the rules to "Reuse and Recycle" your paper drawings.  My daughters and I thought it would be cool if the game came with mini dry erase boards/cards then these could be erased and used over and over.  Just a suggestion for future games or revisions.  

What games have you played this week?  Here are a few of ours:
  • Chess and Chinese Chess
  • Monopoly
  • Candy Land
  • D & D
  • Tempus
  • 5 Second Rule
  • You've Been Sentenced
  • Mag Blast
  • Mancala
  • Wits and Wagers Family ENTER GIVEAWAY- LOW ENTRIES!
  • Twilight Imperium
  • Bananagrams
  • Twilight Struggle
  • Manouevre
  • Luck of the Draw
  • Old Maid
  • Go Fish
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Schooby Doo make a match
  • Car Crazy 8s
  • Disney Princess Old Maid
A copy of the game was given for my family to review. Our own opinions are expressed here.  We hope you try it out and form your own opinion. 

Keys To Good Cooking by Harold McGee Book Tour

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes 
• Hardcover: 576 pages
 Publisher: The Penguin Press HC, (October 28, 2010)
Book Description from TLC Book Tour:

From our foremost expert on the science of cooking, Harold McGee, Keys to Good Cooking is a concise and authoritative guide designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding universe of ingredients, recipes, food safety, and appliances, and arrive at the promised land of a satisfying dish. A work of astounding scholarship and originality, Keys to Good Cooking directly addresses the cook at work in the kitchen and in need of quick and reliable guidance. Cookbooks past and present frequently contradict one another about the best ways to prepare foods, and many contain erroneous information and advice.

Keys to Good Cooking distills the modern scientific understanding of cooking and translates it into immediately useful information. Looking at ingredients from the mundane to the exotic, McGee takes you from market to table, teaching, for example, how to spot the most electable asparagus (choose thick spears); how to best prepare the vegetable (peel, don’t snap, the fibrous ends; broiling is one effective cooking method for asparagus and other flat-lying vegetables); and how to present it (coat with butter or oil after cooking to avoid a wrinkled surface). This book will be a requisite countertop resource for all home chefs, as McGee’s insights on kitchen safety in particular—reboil refrigerated meat or fish stocks every few days. (They’re so perishable that they can spoil even in the refrigerator.); Don’t put ice cubes or frozen gel packs on a burn. (Extreme cold can cause additional skin damage)—will save even the most knowledgeable home chefs from culinary disaster.

 
My Take on the Book:   I love cookbooks.  They are the most comforting non-fiction books on the shelves.  When I agreed to participate in this book tour, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into!  This book is non-fiction but it is NOT a cookbook!  The author stated this right away in the introduction.  This is a book and it is about cooking but it is not a cookbook full of recipes that may or may not guarantee success. 

This book is the science behind the food we cook, the gadgets in our kitchen as well as the ingredients and techniques we use day in and day out.   This book is jammed packed goodness in 576 pages.  I've been experimenting with recipes for well over 20 years now.  I still remember as a kid wanting to test the temperature of boiling water to see if my science teacher was telling me the truth.

So one day while making Mac and Cheese (I was probably 12 years old) I stuck the tip of a glass thermometer in my boiling water.  It went snap and broke into my water and mercury floated up to the top.  Little did I know then that there was more to checking temp than just using any thermometer.  This book takes facts and applies it to all that we are cooking.

Here is a youtube video made by the author that explains temperature:

That is what this book is about.  The author did all the research on the science of all good things in the kitchen.  This book is never ending!  It is to large to read in one sitting.  I haven't read the book from cover to cover.  I started flipping around at the chapters, marking the pages with mini flags to remind myself where I started and left off.  This book is the only kitchen encyclopedia that you will ever need in the kitchen.  It is jammed packed full of information that I never even thought of when cooking.

If you are a new or an experienced cook, I strongly suggest you read: 

Getting to Know Foods, Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator, Kitchen Tools, Heat and Heating Appliances, Cooking Methods and Cooking Safely first.

This is the most PERFECT book to buy for a young bride or a "foodie" for Christmas.  This book would be on my wish list if I didn't already own it!  This book ranks up there with my 30,000 years of Art book. 

  Here is the content of the book: 

Volume Conversions
Weight Conversions
Volume-To-Weight Conversions For Selected Ingredients
Kitchen And Cooking Temperatures
Target Temperatures In Foods
Substitutions: Eggs, Thickening, Leavening, Sweetening, Chocolate
Formulas: To Thicken, Gel, Prevent Discoloration, Sanitize, Disinfect

The Contents are:

Introduction
Getting to Know Foods
Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator
Kitchen Tools
Heat and Heating Appliances
Cooking Methods
Cooking Safely
Fruits
Vegetables and Fresh Herbs
Milk and Dairy Products
Eggs
Meats
Fish and Shellfish
Sauces, Stocks, and Soups
Dry Grains, Pastas, Noodles, and Puddings
Seed Legumes: Beans, Peas, Lentils, and Soy Products
Nuts and Oil Seeds
Breads
Pastries and Pies
Cakes, Muffins, and Cookies
Griddle Cakes, Crepes, Popovers, and Frying Batters
Ice Creams, Ices, Mousses, and Jellies
Chocolate and Cocoa
Sugars, Syrups, and Candies
Coffee and Tea
 

About Harold McGee


Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking. He’s the author of the award-winning classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and writes a monthly column, “The Curious Cook,” for The New York Times. He has been named food writer of the year by Bon App├ętit magazine and to the Time 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. He lives in San Francisco.
This book was provided to me to so that I could read and participate in the blog tour. My own thoughts and opinions are stated here. Check out other reviews of this book on theTLC Book Tour.  We will all be covering different reviews of this book. Check here, the book’s website, to see videos of McGee talking through some of the points of the book like the temperature video above.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top 5 tips on being smart about your Health Benefits

Are you aware that most health insurance companies offer open enrollment from Oct-Dec every year? Why is this important?  This year of all years it is important to read what is being sent to your home or through your work about your benefits.  We get our health insurance information at our home address.  This year, again, our health cost will jump again starting in January.  The cost of living is increasing, our insurance is increasing (by 10%) yet our actual take home pay is decreasing! It is decreasing because of the taxes that are being taken out of it before we even get it in our hands.  Use this open enrollment time to reasses your benefits and make sure you are getting the best plan for your family. 


Our family health insurance is not through Aetna but they have launched a website to explain the up and coming health care changes for you to understand.  Their site is called BeSmartAboutYourHealth.com


The site easily explains the health care changes and gives you countless tips on how to get your plan to work for you. The article, Power of an Hour, gave me insight on writing this post.  My husband and his employer worked together to lower the cost of our insurance and find the best plan for our family.  We didn't have the Aetna site to help with our changes.  I hope you take advantage of it. 


Here are my Top 5 Tips: 


1) IF your plan offers various levels, considering going to a less expensive out-of-pocket plan.  I'm sure all health care cost is rising, like our, and you have to pay out-of-pocket for extras then consider the plan that will cut down on those extra expenses. Gather all your insurance benefits and cost and take 20 minutes to compare and choose.  Use a Health Expense Calculator to estimate your expenses next year.


2) Consider lowering your health insurance to the minimum and enroll in a Health Savings Account (Flexible Spending Account) .  This way you can start building up funds to cover your co-pays and other out-of-pocket cost.  Take 20 minutes and choose the right benefit package for your family.  Don't let others choose for you.


3) Start using the benefits that your health plan offers you.  Take 10 minutes and zoom through your benefits and make sure you are being a smart consumer of your health benefits.  If your company pays for two dental cleanings each year then get two dental cleanings.  You are paying for these in the cost of your insurance.  Take advantage of these benefits to prevent more costly services later. 


4) Take 5 minutes and check and see what type of mail-order services your plan offers.  You can save out-of-pocket money by using prescription and equipment mail order services.  The more money you keep in your pocket the more you have to save for other expenses.  


5) Check your benefits for health wellness options.  Some companies offer discounts on vitamins, health clubs, counseling sessions, smoking cessations, nutritious specialist visits, etc.  These healthy lifestyle changes will cost you less out of pocket if you have these benefits.


Don't ignore your health insurance plan.  Take 20 minutes to go over your plan and get the most out of it.  Don't let others make choices for you.  Be smart about your health plan.  Call your health insurance company and have them explain to you what you don't understand.  


I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Aetna blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

National Pumpkin Day Recipes & Reviews

Thanks to Punchbowl for keeping me updated on what is going on each day! Today is National Pumpkin Day (and get ready because tomorrow is National Beer Day)!  I love Fall/Autumn for all the pumpkin goodness it brings!  I love the colors of the pumpkins as well as all the tasty recipes we share.
Here is something I pulled from their site:
During the fall, the world's most common crops appear at full force: pumpkins. Did you know that the word pumpkin means "large melon" in Greek? The oldest known evidence of this fruit (yes, pumpkins are a fruit) dates back to between 7000 and 5500 B.C.  

Pumpkins are commonly cultivated during the autumn months. About 1.5 billion pounds are grown each year in the United States, though they can be grown worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. The largest pumpkin ever grown was by a Wisconsin farmer who claims he used seaweed, cow manure, and fish emulsion to grow his pumpkin. This pumpkin weighed a total of 1,810 pounds and was the size of a dumpster!
Celebrate National Pumpkin Day by carving a pumpkin in time for Halloween and bake the tasty seeds!
I've always carved pumpkins with my girls.  We usually purchase the pumpkin ahead of time and I let them paint on their pumpkin with acrylic paint.  Then when it is time to cut, you can wash it off or use the other side of the pumpkin. 
This year we carved one pumpkin early to review tools from Pumpkin Masters.  We were sent Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit with 12 Patterns & Tools,  It's Alive Pumpkin Light - Pumpkin Masters and FOLLOW YOU EYES kits. 

Emily and her friend had fun carving.  We found out that this was the first time her friend had ever carved a pumpkin.  My girls have used patterns before to carve so the pattern book was really helpful to teach Alexis how to follow it and carve.  

My Emily did a fantastic job showing her friend how to carve. They used the pattern book and made a really cool Owl silhouette.  Some of the pictures include the eyes.  They weren't made for this pattern but we stuck the on the pumpkin to take pictures.  They are cool!








I love the pumpkin carving tools.  As the mom, they always let me cut open the top of the pumpkin with my huge momma knife.  From there they do the rest from scooping to scrapping, pattern choosing to application and then cutting with the Pumpkin Master tools.  They are always careful and the tools are perfect for their little hands.  

Here are two of the new products:
“Follow You” Eyes: Attach these glow-in-the-dark pumpkin eyes that watch your every move! The special shape of the eyes creates an optical illusion, so it seems like they are following you as you walk by.
  
It’s Alive! Pumpkin Light: Shaped like a spooky brain, this pumpkin light uses three bright red LEDs to bring your creation to life. The LEDs slowly pulse on and off, creating the effect that your pumpkin has a mind of its own!


How are you dressing up for Halloween? Here are some recipes,too!

Pumpkin Dump Cake 

Pumpkin Seeds - 20+ ways to cook them!


 Do you have some pumpkin recipe to share? Link them up on my Fall/Halloween Link up! There are more Pumpkin recipes there, too!  

I was sent Pumpkin Master tools to review. It in no way influence my tasty words and opinions. We've been using these tools for years. IF you haven't tried them I hope you do!


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