Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal October-Laura from Laura's Plate

Thanks again to Ashley for her review on my package here

I am equally as gleeful of my match this month. Laura from Laura's Plate was a gift!! She has a beautiful website and each blog and recipe is better than the last! If you have a second, please read her story-I think we can all resonate! I know I can! Having foodie pals like Laura makes me beg you to do this program! We have met some great people through this!

My note was so sweet, I wasn't very specific with my likes so when I opened my package I was so excited to see some good advice, ideas and ways to eat healthy...with the goodies to go along with it! I am wondering how she knew that I LOVE ITALIAN. What a good match. She sent me her favorite sauce and Cento beans which they do not sell here, I squealed as I love their organic tomatoes and can't wait to try them. Her instructions to add more protein to my meal using these beans were genius. This is what Laura does a living and I am thankful for her tips. Are you curious about how health coaching can help you? Schedule an initial consultation with her today. Your initial call is free, so you have nothing to lose!


Here are the contents of my package:



Yummy Healthy Breakfast in our Future!



The Lean Green Bean

This blog should make you join the fun! Here are the Foodie Penpals details:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You must submit your information by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th! You will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours if you sign up. Pin It

October Foodie Pen Pal Reveal-Ashley

It was a busy month for everyone, wasn't it! But it is time for another Foodie Pen Pal Reveal! This is a first for me, the lovely Ashley who was my Foodie Pen Pal is just about to embark on a blog but wanted to recap what she received from me. As you can read, she giving the world a great disservice by not writing every day, all day! Here is her sweet sweet review:

Hey y’all!  Darlynn has been kind enough to allow me to take over her blog for a minute so that I can share with you the awesome stuff she sent me for October’s Foodie Penpal!  I asked her to find only gluten free stuff, and boy did she deliver!  I thought I had the world of gluten free treats figured out.  But she had some awesome surprises wrapped up and mailed to my front door.


Let’s start with that big ol’ bag of Lundberg Jubilee Rice.  How pretty does that thing look?  I don’t even want to eat it.  I want to make crafts with it because I think it’s so pretty!  It’s meant to go with the packet of Simply Organic jambalaya seasoning, but I’m pretty sure I’ll also be using it to make a pilaf with cranberries.  Yum…

Next are the Liz Lovely Ginger Molasses cookies (gluten free and vegan).  Ok, first of all, those are ginormous!  So, that in and of itself is exciting.  But I don’t think I can put into words how tasty these are.  So soft and moist, not overly-sweet.  I’m pretty positive I’m going to have to start ordering these by the case.

I’m super excited to try the Almonds and Apricots in Yogurt Kind bar.  Not enough foods include apricots, I think.

The Cioccolatini Latte skim-milk chocolate covered peanuts were interesting.  I have never (knowingly) had chocolate sweetened with stevia before.  These would be a perfect little afternoon pick-me-up because they’re not too sweet, and they wouldn’t leave you in a sugar slump.

There *were* two packages of Artisana Raw Superfood Berry AntiOxidant nut butters.  But I immediately opened one because I’d never seen anything like it and just had to try it rightthisveryinstant.  Not what I expected.  It wasn’t sweet.  It would be perfectly at home paired up with some jam, like regular peanut butter.  But better for you!

Then there were the Surf Sweets Spooky Spiders.  Their tag line is “Fruitfully delicious.  Naturally good.”  These gummy treats do not have corn syrup in them.  And you’d never know it!  They were awesome.  And they kind of made me want to sip on a carton of Juicy Juice while sitting on a swing.  Plus, the back of the package directed me to ecomomalliance.org, which is a super cool place to visit.

Oh, Sun Cups.  My new best friend.  See, I actually really like sunflower seed butter and think it’s highly underutilized in our society.  But pairing it up with cups of dark chocolate?  Shut up!  I did a happy dance when I saw these.  I’m dead serious.  And then I did a happy dance when I ate them, because they were just as tasty as I hoped they would be!!

And lastly, Dr. Bronner’s super amazing do-everything soap.  Who doesn’t love this stuff?  What an exciting little ‘lifestyle’ addition!

I’m always a little worried when I tell people that I don’t eat gluten.  Especially when I’m asking those people to provide something I can eat.  Not only did Darlynn not freak out when I told her, but she said that shopping for me was neat!  And I can tell you, enjoying all of these gluten free treats has been pretty neat, too!!  Thanks.  :)

Thanks Ashley! To read what Laura from Laura's Plate sent me, click here

The Lean Green BeanThis blog should make you join the fun! Here are the Foodie Penpals details:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for November, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You must submit your information by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on November 5th! You will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours if you sign up. Pin It

Friday, October 26, 2012

The True Halloween Spirit

2012 Catwoman and The Riddler
Boo! Its almost Halloween! Admittedly, I never caught the Halloween spirit as much as Megan or my sister in law, who begins to start the decorating for her annual Halloween bash in mid August. I have had some great costume fun-(see below) and I have been working on my costume for a couple of weeks now for our Saturday party. But, besides waiting for It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown-(which I MISSED this year!)...I think when we have children the fun of  the season will kick in more for me.

I wanted to blog more about Halloween, besides the fun I had with Snyder Hanover and was thankful that Spirit Halloween contacted me about how they give back during the Halloween season. When you are shopping for your last minute costume details this weekend make sure you find a Spirit location and support them.

Spirit Halloween is once again bringing the fun and excitement of Halloween to hospitalized children throughout the United States and Canada with its Spirit of Children program. 

Since 2006, Spirit of Children has supported Child Life departments to make hospital stays less scary for kids and their families and touches hundreds of thousands of pediatric patients each year by providing both fun and funding to hospitals at Halloween and all year long.

Spirit of Children enables hospitalized children to celebrate Halloween like kids should by organizing events complete with costumes, accessories, decorations and activities. This season, Spirit of Children will host celebrations at 85 hospitals and hopes to raise $3.5 million, bringing its total contribution to more than $10 million since the program’s inception. 

While shopping online or in Spirit Halloween stores for costumes and décor, shoppers can donate to Spirit of Children to bring a smile to a child’s face this Halloween. Consumers that make a donation of $2 will receive a reflective Halloween safety bracelet for kids to wear while trick-or-treating. To locate a Spirit Halloween store in your area or to donate to the Spirit of Children program, visit www.SpiritHalloween.com.

Know that your efforts will benefit locally. An example of a hospital that benefits from the funds is Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando

For exclusive discounts and the inside scoop on all things Halloween, “Like” Spirit if you dare on Facebook, follow them on Twitter.

So, what are you dressing up as this year? Does your significant other let you do couple costumes, like my kind beau does??

This one is my favorite

Let the record reflect-I was supposed to be a sexy 70's Diva-NOT Mrs. Ropeer, sigh-
Doesn't Megan make an awesome Amy Winehouse?

Snooki and Pauly D

Our non couple costume, meh..


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Socially Acceptable-Paper Coterie

Oh! I have a new obsession! And it is just in time for the planning of all that is holiday! I know that you are fighting me on the fact that Christmas is two months away. But, I have decided to not fight, but to embrace and start the pre-plan. I have a feeling that Paper Coterie and all their amazing ways to celebrate and personalize the holiday will be a big partner in these plans.

When I went to NYC and did the Rockettes Experience of a Lifetime....I wanted to find a special way to never forget it. I now have the most amazing Memory Keeper with my pictures from that day. The 10 x 10 Memory Keeper is like her big sister and now gives you two great size options to store your most treasured photos, cards, clippings, and mementos. I think this will make a great gift! Click here to check out the different options and make yours!

My Rockettes Memory Box (with my favorite quote)

Today, Paper Coterie announced a great holiday special-50% off! This year's holiday card collection is their best and most creative ever, and I can't wait for you to check them out!

Click here and use the code- HOLIDAYCARDS2012

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Breast Cancer Walk, Awareness and a Fearless Interview

Me and the Girls at the Breast Cancer Walk

Fall is in the air and I am excited for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this weekend. In year's past, I took a bigger role with the organization as an MC and a chair. I also started Project Pink in Daytona, where we would sell pink flamingos for $10, invite them to be dressed up and returned to a ball game with the Daytona Cubs who would wear Pink Jerseys. It was a lot of fun and raised a ton of money!You can read about it here.
We had a Great Day! 

My friends and I have always enjoyed the walk and this year I will be walking with my boyfriend's family who has made it a fun time indeed! They do a really fun party to kick it off and it is nice to be a part of it. If you are in the Volusia or Flagler County Area-information on the Put on Your Pink Bra is here

In celebration of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I had an opportunity to talk to Marimah Karmo. Maimah Karmo is a breast-cancer survivor and the founder of the Tigerlily Foundation, an organization that educates, empowers and advocates for young women affected by breast cancer. The idea was born after her second chemotherapy treatment, and when she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to tell her story, Oprah's advice was emphatic: Maimah must write a book.

So Maimah did. Fearless: Awakening to My Life's Purpose Through Breast Cancer (Brown Books, October 2012) is about her transformation, and how she learned that a challenge can be a gift.

Fearless is a stunning account of Maimah's upbringing in Liberia—which was uprooted when she was 15 years old, and her family was forced to flee to the U.S.—to living the American Dream, watching it all fall apart with a breast cancer diagnosis, and ultimately, bouncing back.

Today, Maimah has made her mark in the world of breast cancer, and her work has been celebrated everywhere from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Redbook Magazine to ­­­­Good Morning America.

Dedicated to changing the breast cancer landscape, Maimah's goal is to create a legacy of a world free of breast cancer. I had a chance to ask about her journey:

Tell us about your book.

Fearless is the story that my heart has carried around for many years, but that I had to
live out to this point, in order for me to share with others. It is me, being me, out in the
open, authentically, freely, uninhibitedly, unabashedly and for the first time – proudly
and unashamed or afraid to show all of me. It starts with my life in my native country
of Liberia, fleeing to America, as a refugee at 15, building my life, then watching it all
fall apart after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Initially angry, hurt and scared as
I watched my life fall apart, I grew to see that there was a blessing, a hidden gift in the
experience; through it all, I re-discovered my strength, myself, and my purpose.

What inspired you to write Fearless?

When you face your mortality in any way, it puts you at a crossroads – you either
become a victim of the thing or a victor of it.

You also have the opportunity, if you survive, to start over, re-create yourself and your
life, because you realize that you’re the artist and at your desire, you can draw anything
you want on that canvas. My breast cancer diagnosis devastated me, but even more so,
I know that many other things had to fall apart at once, for me to be pushed to the point
where I begged God to show me my purpose, because I had nowhere to look but up. I
had fallen so far so fast.

After my surgery, my fiancé walked away, unable to cope with my diagnosis. As my hair
fell out and I lost my eyebrows, eyelashes, I felt parts of myself falling away. As I saw
my career came to a standstill, I had to move in with my mother and give up my home,
saw the way some of my friends now looked at me and watched my body become weak
and frail, I learned that so much of what I had prioritized in life was unimportant. I had,
first of all put other people, my career and material things first, and me and my passion
last. I realized that so much of my life was a façade. Most of all, I realized that if I died,
I would not have given a fraction of what I wanted to the world, and no one would really
know me and the big, crazy love that I’d kept hidden so deeply inside, lest I be judged by
others in some way for being too open with my heart.

Losing “everything” that wasn’t important showed me that I had everything to lose by not
showing up. I began to live my life by giving all that I had away – my time, my love, my
passion – to help others, through my organization, Tigerlily Foundation, and as I gave,
God gave me more in return than I ever imagined. He gave me time with my daughter,
blessed me with the ability to service others through my “work”, which isn’t really work to
me, he gave me joy, faith, quadrupled all that I lost, and most of all, he gave me passion,
and he restored me to the person I had been seeking all along. I also learned that life is
not about wanting to take for oneself and garnering things, but about the moments we can commune with, affect and empower others.

You founded the Tigerlily Foundation. Tell us about that.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. I was 32 years old and had a
3-year old daughter. When I had initially gone to the doctor, I had been told I was too
young to have breast cancer. She performed an aspiration, which was unsuccessful,
but she insisted that I come back in six months, during which time the lump doubled in
size. I began experiencing overwhelming fatigue and night sweats. When I went back,
she insisted on a re-aspiration. I pushed for a biopsy. I was diagnosed the next day,
then found out I had aggressive breast cancer. While undergoing my second round of
chemotherapy, I would ask why this was happening to me; I was so afraid of the future.
I learned that approximately 11,000 young women get diagnosed and approximately
1,100 of those women die because they are misdiagnosed. I thought of how many
other young women were going through what I was experiencing. Then, I stopped
asking why and began thinking how, and then what could I do to make a difference,
instead of looking to someone else to make a change. I prayed about it and the next
day, the vision for Tigerlily Foundation was born, with a mission to educate, advocate
for, empower and provide hands-on support to young women – before, during and after
breast cancer. What started as a promise and a dream is now a nationwide organization
reaching thousands. Tigerlily Foundation provides education and empowerment to
young women and their families, we educate healthcare practitioners, provide peer
support to newly diagnosed young women, send young women in treatment breast
cancer buddy bags, meals, pay their bills, and provide support to young women living
with Stage 4 breast cancer.

I founded the organization while working a full-time job, and as a single mother. I did it
because if it were not for the grace of God and a mother who taught me to do my breast
exams at thirteen, I wouldn’t be here. I’m humbled to do this work, because I believe
that when one is blessed with life, in some way, we must be of service to others. There
is really no excuse to not give back or find the time to help others. There is so much
we each can do to impact someone else’s life. I founded Tigerlily because I promised
God that I would create something that would make a difference in the landscape of
young women and breast cancer, and I promised my daughter that I would live – and I
meant not just physically, but be truly alive, thereby giving her a legacy that would never
die – hopefully an example of the importance of creating the life you want, pursuing
your dreams, embracing life, loving the moment and walking along a path because you
believe in something deeply, even if you can’t clearly see the way ahead.

I do this work because young women are needlessly losing their lives to a disease that
many of them are not even aware of. Breast cancer floored me, but I made a decision to
pick myself up and be even better than before – and I want other young women who are
diagnosed to know that they have somewhere to turn, for support, love, empowerment
and services. I want them to know that they can survive and thrive. I want young women
who have not been diagnosed to know that they have a right to life and that they need to
exercise their personal power and become their own best advocates. I will do whatever
it takes to ensure that every young woman is aware of the issue of young women and
breast cancer and I’ve dedicated my life to ensure that this happens. It is important to
be living examples to our children. When my daughter was six, she woke me up one
morning and asked me what she could do to “help the women too”. She asked me if she
could have a fundraiser. The week she started first grade, she began planning, along
with several of her friends to have her first fundraiser. In December of this year, she
is holding a 100 person event at a local hotel. At six years old, she already knew she
could make a difference. Imagine what the world would be like if little children grew up
all wanting their lives to matter and wanting to give more than to get. That would be a
wonderful thing. I hope to give this gift to others through my work.

You've connected with some amazing, inspirational women along your
journey. What have you learned from them?

I have learned, as one of them said, “to eat life with a big spoon”. Life is so short, and
we are so powerful. The women who make a difference don’t live scared – they show
up and say what’s on their minds. They are passionate, purposeful, have faith and an
amazing personal strength that comes from a sense of knowing oneself. They live with
their heads held high and are never victims of this or that, but tend to see life with the
glass half full, learning from mistakes, living with grace and knowing that their actions
reverberate on a larger scale.

What was connecting with Oprah like? (Everyone always wants to know!)

She was amazing. She is a wonderful host – compassionate, kind and warm. You
almost forget she is there, you feel like you’ve known her forever and that you’ve sat on
that couch before with her in her living room. She has a way of focusing on each person
and making them feel special. She was amazing. I love her even more after meeting her.
She is 100% the real deal and is doing so much to help so many.

What's the one thing you'd want someone recently diagnosed with breast
cancer to know immediately?

That being diagnosed with breast cancer is not a death sentence; and that you are not
alone. Those two things are the most fearful feelings. There are so many women, more
than 250,000 diagnosed annually, who survive and thrive after breast cancer. That
means that you have thousands of other women who have walked the path before you
and who can support, empower and inspire you. What shifted me was the knowledge
that I was in charge, not breast cancer or anything else. Breast cancer sucks, but the
reality of life is that we all have to go sometime – from breast cancer or something else.
What breast cancer did for me was put my life in perspective. It gave me a wake-up call,
and helped me to see that I was and we are all here temporarily. So I needed to own my
life and find my purpose, so that I would live the rest of my life with meaning. With this in
mind, I focused my energy and fears into making my life count – that is what we all want
at the end of the day to make a difference, love a lot and life like there is no tomorrow.
What was interesting is that helping others healed me in so many ways. It taught me
compassion and gave me more wonderful friends than I could have imagined.

Finally, where can we find your book?

You can purchase it on Amazon or if you would like an autographed copy, visit my
website at www.maimahkarmo.com.
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Smirnoff New Flavors-Iced Cake and Kissed Caramel


Color me happy, Smirnoff has released some new flavors just in time for the upcoming holiday season.  Flavored Vodka and Water is my go-to drink because it is incredibly low in calories, you are hydrating and trust me-you look prettier in pictures than when you drink wine. 

When I first received this great news from Smirnoff, I immediately thought of making Caramel Apple Jello Shots using the Kissed Caramel instead of the Schnapps. I will warn you, they are messy to make....but well worth it. If you are invited to a Halloween party, this is a must do. The recipe from That's So Michelle is here

From their press release: 

With the holiday season kicking off at the end of the month, SMIRNOFF® Vodka is introducing two new flavored vodkas – Iced Cake and Kissed Caramel – giving adult consumers  a reason to raise their  glasses  and celebrate every occasion  this holiday season.  As the world’s number-one selling and most awarded vodka brand, these decadent new flavors are the best way for consumers and fans of SMIRNOFF to honor every event, big or small.

Created from award-winning SMIRNOFF No. 21 Vodka, SMIRNOFF Iced Cake and SMIRNOFF Kissed Caramel flavored vodkas join SMIRNOFF Fluffed Marshmallow and SMIRNOFF Whipped Cream in the brand’s increasingly popular line of confectionary flavored vodkas. 

Just as there are two faces of the moon, two edges of a sword, and two sides to every story, SMIRNOFF is offering consumers two smooth, creamy tastes to experience: the sweet flavor of Iced Cake and the sultry essence of Kissed Caramel. To indulge either side this Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, and every holiday in between, try whipping up the Upside-Down Cake cocktail with SMIRNOFF Iced Cake or the Caramel Candy Apple cocktail with SMIRNOFF Kissed Caramel:
 
Upside-Down Cake

1.5 oz.   SMIRNOFF Iced Cake Flavored Vodka
1 oz.       orange juice
1 oz.       pineapple juice

Build in a Highball glass over ice and top off with Club Soda. Garnish with sprinkles, a cherry and an orange twist.

Kissed Caramel Appletini

1.5 oz.   SMIRNOFF Kissed Caramel Flavored Vodka
1.5 oz.   apple juice
.25 oz.   lemon juice
.25 oz.   simply syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with think apple slices and a caramel rim.

“As pioneers in the world of cocktail culture, we’re always experimenting with new tastes and trends to expand our portfolio and give consumers delicious, high-quality flavored vodka options suitable for all responsible drinking occasions,” said Dan Kleinman, Brand Director for SMIRNOFF. “SMIRNOFF Iced Cake and SMIRNOFF Kissed Caramel make the perfect base for any celebratory cocktail; whether it’s a birthday, an engagement or a promotion at work, these flavors work so well with those key moments that call for raising a glass.”
  
For additional information, please visit www.Smirnoff.com or become a fan of the “Most Liked” vodka brand at www.Facebook.com/Smirnoff. And remember, when drinking SMIRNOFF, please do so responsibly.

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Target and Neiman Marcus Preview their Holiday Awesomeness

Target is so cool and they give the best Birthday presents! Back in July, they announced that this year just in time for my birthday, on December 1st they are teaming up with all of my favorite designers to give us a holiday collection that is not to be believed! 

According their press release: Following months of anticipation, Target® Corp. (NYSE: TGT) and Neiman Marcus unveiled their unprecedented holiday collection. The collection, which features 24 of America’s preeminent designers—all members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)—will be available Dec. 1 at all Target and Neiman Marcus stores, as well as online at Target.com and NeimanMarcus.com. In recognition of the 24 designers who created products for the holiday collection, Target and Neiman Marcus are donating a total of $1 million to the CFDA.

And for fans of ABC's Revenge-in addition to unveiling their holiday collection, through a first-of-its-kind integration, Target and Neiman Marcus will be the sole sponsors of an upcoming episode of "Revenge," ABC's fan-favorite series, airing Sunday, Nov. 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In lieu of broadcast commercials, the retailers announced they are working directly with the creative team of "Revenge," a series known for its flair for fashion and high style, to create original content incorporating the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection, which will air throughout the November sweeps episode of the hit show.

So, this gives you approx a month and a half to plot and strategize a perfect plan to grab these goodies.  I am a tiny bummed that there is no DVF dress and Marchesa is only for little girls but all in all I am so pleased!

I am a little scared this may match the Missoni Mania last fall but I am excited, are you?? The complete lineup and the look book are here and here

This is what I am MOST excited about:


Diane von Furstenberg for Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection -
Yoga Mat $49.99
Jason Wu for Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection - Ornaments
Set of Three $49.99
Tory Burch for Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection -
Lunch Box-$19.99

Tory Burch for Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection - Beverage Container-$24.99


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Aunt of the Year Thanks To Snyder's of Hanover

Halloween is coming!! Our costumes are almost ready and this weekend I am going to pull out all the Harvest merchandise. I am excited!

I also had a chance to strengthen my Aunt of the Year muscle when my nephews and I did some fun Halloween crafts this week We had a blast with pretzel recipes and Crafts using Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels and Cake Mate Decors.

I am in stiff competition in this family. My sister in law is ridiculously creative and as you can see, her boys are following suit, The picture below is one of the only creations I will own up to!!

Snyder's of Hanover has a lot of different options for pretzels, and using Cake Mate decorations we had an awesome time using the icing and the gel writers making Halloween edible decorations.

Snyder's website does a great job of using their products to incorporate into really creative recipes. Our Halloween night of crafts was a lot of fun. Hope you and your family can use pictures of our own creations below to get inspired and have a night of your own!

Check out Snyder's of Hanover on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter for more ideas!

Our Pretzel Artists

Scary Skeleton 

Candy Corn


Pretzel Bat
Hall of Fame Pretzel Crafts

Candy Corn Pretzel Rods


You’ll need:
Snyder’s of Hanover® Pretzel Rods
Cake Mate® Cookie Frosting
Rice Crispy style cereal (6 cups)
Butter or margarine (3 Tbs)
1 (10 oz.) bag of marshmallows
Cooking spray or oil

Directions:
Spread out a few sheets of wax paper
In a large saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat.
Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted; remove from heat.
Stir in rice cereal.
Lightly oil hands and any utensils (such s a spatula)
Scoop out about 1 cup of cereal/marshmallow mixture onto wax paper.
Shape mixture into a triangle.
Repeat until all mixture is finished.
Gently push a pretzel rod into triangle to make an indent; remove pretzel.
Repeat with all triangles.
Add a little frosting to each indent and place rod into indent; cover with a bit
more frosting.
Place in refrigerator to set the frosting.
Once fully chilled, turn each triangle facing up (rod in back of triangle).
In a microwave-safe bowl or cub, melt the yellow frosting for 20 seconds
at 50% power; stir, and pour the yellow “stripe” onto each of the triangles.
Repeat process with the remaining 2 colors.
Refrigerate until set.


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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Homegating with Wholly Guacamole #Giveaway

As I tell you a LOT, I just love avocados and guacamole. I love to make it from scratch but really, aren't we just so very busy!! When I met Wholly Guacamole at BlogHer, I begged and pleaded to please let me be their best friend. Feeling like a lucky girl indeed, I am now a proud and official Wholly Guacamole Homegating Blogger! They have a really fun program and luckily you get to also reap in the benefit!!

My new friends at Wholly Guacamole sent me a cooler packed full of goodies and it was like the Guac Fairy had blessed me!! Check out all the goodies they sent! Best of all, they sent me a ton of my favorite: 100 calorie packs that are so convenient for on the go healthy snack! Over the next few months, I will be giving away THREE of these coolers to my readers! Enter below for your chance to win the first one.


In order for me to set my Homegating in motion, I had to carefully plot. I wanted to go big, but I didn't want to scare the boys who will eat anything and everything during the game. I picked some of my favorite recipes that I thought would go good with guacamole and salsa. Keep your eyes open for my Crescent Chicken Braid (which is so easy to make) and the Warm Salsa Cheese Dip recipes in upcoming future blogs using Wholly Guacamole Salsa. They are awesome and I can't wait to share. 

But this blog solely belongs to my soon to be famous corn guacamole dip. I was excited to try this and use Wholly Guacamole in place of the guac ingredients. It was even better than if I used avocados! 

Ingredients 

4 whole Green Onions, Sliced
4 Tablespoons Lime Juice
2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
¼ cups Snipped Cilantro
8 cloves Minced Garlic
2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 can of corn or one ear of fresh (cooked)


Prep and Mix All Ingredients Together


Add Wholly Guacamole and Mix Well!

Homegating Headquarters has been the one stop party planning site for families during the ever popular Football season. Homegating Headquarters is part of the eatwholly.com site that gives readers menu ideas, recipes, grocery checklists, decoration ideas, special coupons and more so families can entertain this football season in Wholly Guacamole style. 

To decorate for football season, I have some secrets. Of course it depends on your team but places like Walmart and the dollar store are your friends at the beginning of the summer when they roll out their plasticware for the summer. For chump change you can really stock up on all kinds of serving platters. Depending on the team and its colors, pay attention to the holidays for the best deals. Red and Green Christmas of course, Orange for Halloween, etc. trot in there the day after the holiday and stock up for the season. If you are in a weird position like I am-a Florida State Seminole Fan, you have to either be creative or be willing to spend a little to match your colors. I like to use white or black as a base (napkins, tablecloth, etc) and then scour Pinterest or Oriental Trading for ideas.



The Homegating site launches in November and as I mentioned above, Wholly Guacamole has given me THREE coolers packed full of their goodies to giveaway to my readers!

It's time to give the first one away!! Be sure to enter below and tell me how you like your Guacamole in your comment. Good Luck!!

Congrats to Helen who won  this giveaway!
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Stop The Presses-Someone is Talking About Your Business!


Sometimes I feel I have a better handle on dealing with customer's complaints more than most people. The reason is because I am an infamous recipient of consistent horrible customer service. My friends and beau alike all claim if they didn't see if first hand, they would never believe it.

If it the waitresses first night, they are our server....did she just get in a nasty fight with her boyfriend right before she came to my table? Sure enough!! Does the guy behind the counter  hate his life and his job and has no care in the world to do it properly but is now taking my order? You better believe it!

If I could speak to anyone who deals with the public, I would say this:I always say-no one puts a gun to your head to come to work. You can work wherever you want! It is a free country. But for the love of God, do the job you are paid to do! I don't feel like I should be the bad end of your angst!

Even with the best of staff training, a business owner should understand that there will be these bad seeds. Back in the day it was a little harder to trace and track if no one asked to speak to the manager...they would simply tell all their friends and not come back. But now thanks to social media platforms such as Yelp, Urban Spoon and Google Places among others, they are not only telling their friends, they are telling the world and I hope that you have procedures in place to listen what they have to say.

I chatted with Dave Carroll, global sensation and social media innovator known for his 2009 YouTube music video ‘United Breaks Guitars’  for his thoughts on the subject and he offered this tip:

 Be Quick to Engage With Your Customers

Simply listening to your customers is not enough, especially since what consumers want most is to feel valued and know that their concerns are being heard. The best way to do that is to respond to them quickly and proactively when they might not have thought you would.

Studies show that the speed at which you react to a bad customer service experience affects how expensive it may become for you.  I have heard stories about airlines that have monitored generally negative comments from traveling passengers on Twitter and surprised the passengers upon landing with a resolution. That kind of service does not go unnoticed and makes people feel like they matter. Of course, there are countless other examples about bad service that goes unrecognized and these often serve as case studies for why attention to your entire customer base is a must. In this era, where every patron matters, you need a system that ensures no complaint is left behind; a concept a growing number of startups are lining up to offer this an essential service.

I agree with Dave 100%. At the speed you deal with the positive or negative feedback your customer gives you defines your success as a business owner. I have great stories of customers who have turned their negative review into positive ones with the claim that this is how you do customer service. This is only because we were quick with a response and a solution.

I sadly will never go back to the place that has washed and detailed car since I was 16...trust me that was many moons ago. After a car wash which left my car a little less dirty than when I brought it in, I went to the website and filled out the comment card with my lengthy but eloquent complaints. Do you know that they never responded?? It was weeks ago! To make it worse, I know the owner (if only at a head nod and a smile status), like I said I have been coming there for a long time. I really can't believe it but I have to practice what I preach and move elsewhere to someone that actually cares about the customer experience.

As I write this, it validates what I believe and try to preach to my customers. You can build your brand and offer the best product, but you will lose lifelong customers if you don't listen to them.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello Pumpkin! Time for Fall Baking!

Even though in Florida we get about forty two seconds of Fall total, it is my favorite season. I love decorating the house with all my harvest goodies...I almost have as much as I do for Christmas! And when the humidity leaves the air (the Floridian way of describing Fall), it is time to start thinking of upping your ante in the kitchen. The excuse that it is too hot is no longer relevant and its time to bake!

Pumpkin ice cream is one of my favorites! This no-bake easy Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie gives you a chance hang on to the little summer that we have left. 


Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

 

Ingredients

1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1 teaspoon Spice Islands Cinnamon, Ground Saigon*
1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Ginger, Ground *
1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Nutmeg, Ground 
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened 
1 prepared pie crust, pastry or graham cracker 

Directions 
Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Fold in softened ice cream. Pour mixture into crust. Freeze until firm, a few hours or overnight. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

TIP: 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Spice Islands are one of my favorite lines of spices. They have a crazy great variety and a fun interactive website that integrates social media platforms with each spice. They also have a ton of recipes that go with each spice. Pin It

Saturday, October 13, 2012

SW Grill at Sunset Harbor Grand Opening Event

Diane and I were really excited to be invited to the newest endeavor of the Stonewood Restaurant Group: SW Grill at Sunset Harbor for many reasons.

First off, the Stonewood Restaurant Group has won us over many times with our almost weekly pow wow breakfast at Peach Valley Cafe. Stonewood Grill and Tavern, who makes my favorite Salmon app ever is also one of my favorite places for a great dinner and yummy wine. 

In addition, any new waterfront (river is my preference) addition to this town is embraced and welcomed. Not to mention, the very seldom occasion of a restaurant opening done properly in Daytona Beach makes me grab my party dress tout suite. 

There is some sentiment and pride to see something created in your backyard. The first Stonewood Grill and Tavern was built in Ormond Beach about a decade ago. They now have 16 locations! Another thing from a nerdy observation, they have a very intimate pool of management that they work with as they build outward. Its pretty neat to see.   
Diane and I-First Friday Guests! 

Ok, on to the awesome! We took the early seating on Friday and for once we were on time. Smiling hostesses greeted us upon arrival and informed us that we were the very first guests on a Friday ever! You can sense the excitement buzz from the employees as we entered the restaurant. 

When we entered, a SW Fish Market of sorts greeted us. The fresh catch of the day and other fresh entries were displayed. I thought it was a nice touch to remind you exactly how fresh their faire is.

When we sat down, we were greeted by our cheery waitress Nicole who explained what was in store for us this evening. One app to share, cocktails, an entree a piece and a desert. She also explained that the restaurant has taken a lot of time picking out their signature cocktails and those were her favorites. As I skimmed the menu, the SkinnyGirl Coconut Mojito jumped out at me. I just saw this cocktail on a blog and was looking forward to trying this interesting concoction! Yay! 

Nicole described parts of the menu and gave us some insight of what was some of her favorites. Lucky her, as a new employee they had a chance to sample everything on the menu. She was also taking our order on an iPad which of course I loved. 

We decided on the SkinnyGirl Coconut Mojitos, Spicy Shrimp as an app, a House Salad to split, Diane chose the Mediterranean Chicken and I chose the Prime Rib.

The Spicy Shrimp came out right away. Look how beautiful it is! Tender crispy shrimp served over Napa Cabbage with a red pepper sauce. It is their signature appetizer, and was suggested by David-their Food and Beverage Manager.

At any new restaurant, I tend to try whatever the restaurant is meant to be known for. However, I am such a fan of Stonewood steaks I knew I was not going to be disappointed. Understatement of the century. Check out my 12oz Prime Rib! It's a monster of awesome! Cooked perfectly in a Rosemary Au Jus...I ate every single bite!!  
Diane chose the Mediterranean Chicken. Every bite was better the last, spinach, artichokes, goat cheese, YUM!! I am for sure going to get this the next time. 

Even though at this point I could barely move, my favorite Creme Brule was taunting me! So good! 
Throughout the dinner we were checked on often and visited by various members of their management and staff. There are plans to build an outdoor bar of sorts which will be awesome in the Spring weather. I look forward to spending a lot of time here and hope they think about opening up for brunch on Sundays! 

SW Grill at Sunset Harbor is located at 861 Ballough Road in Daytona Beach. Check out them on Facebook an Twitter.






















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