CostumeSquad.com Winner

The winner, chosen by random.org is comment 13, Erica C.! Congratulations!

Review and Giveaway: EvoraPet - Buddy has dog breath


Buddy has dog breath. I love him dearly, but I hate it when he breathes on me. Granted, I'm not inclined to brush his teeth; after all he's a dog and eats dog poop and mice, so where am I going to store THAT toothbrush?

I've been buying these dental chew sticks for him, which he loves, probably because I get all excited for him and over-dramatize when it's time to eat one. They are really expensive and honestly don't work that great. But I really hate dog breath. I learned about EvoraPet through a friend and decided Buddy desperately needed to try it.

The jar is a 30-day supply of probiotics and is supposed to work by balancing the good and the bad bacteria in Buddy's mouth. It is an all natural food that is odorless and flavorless. I can vouch for the odorless part, but I didn't taste it. However, Buddy did, well didn't, taste it. What I mean is, I sprinkled it on his food and he ate his food as though he didn't notice it was there.

I've been putting it on his food once a day as directed by the manufacturer Oragenics. The company is a biopharmaceutical developer working on formulas for probiotics for pets and people. The jar of powered dog-breath annihilator comes with its own little scoop that measures out just the right amount. I guess we're about halfway through the month's supply and Buddy has not yet refused his food (of course given what he will eat, I wasn't surprised).

I am surprised, however, that the EvoraPet is actually making a difference. Buddy can now breathe on me without knocking me out. Impressive. It's also much cheaper than the dental chew sticks, by more than half the price. A 30 day supply from Oragenics is only $14.95 and a 60 day supply is only $24.95. Plus I get to offer you a special discount of $5.00 off if you use the code EPET811 at checkout (US only).

Even better, one of my lucky readers is going to WIN a 30-day supply of EvoraPet to help your doggie get rid of dog-breath. It also helps kitties get rid of litter-breath. And we all know where they like to lick. The contest is open to US residents over 18, and all you have to do to enter to win is leave me a comment below, telling me the worst thing your pet ever brought home to you! This should be very interesting. Buddy once brought me half of a bird, ewww!!! I'll take entries until Thursday, July 28 at midnight, then let random.org choose the winner. The winner's information will go to the sponsor who will fulfill the prize. Good luck pet owners!!
Disclosure: I received a jar of EvoraPet at no charge to review for you. Opinions are truly my own.

Saturday Chores and Gratitude

I finally braved the Texas heat to do a job I've been putting off. My flower bed in the front yard has become overgrown with Wandering Jew plants. I love the plants because they are very drought-resistant and the color is striking against the green grass. But they grow like mad too. Several times each year I have to go pull a bunch out. Sometimes I transplant them by sticking them in the ground elsewhere because they'll root themselves pretty much anywhere. Today I filled five trash bags full of plants to toss out.


I almost complained about the heat. Then I remembered that I have two friends who are dealing with a broken air conditioner, another friend whose son will be headed to Iraq this week as a new soldier, and another friend whose family lost their house this year because they both lost their jobs. I stopped and prayed for all of them before entering my air-conditioned house. I am blessed.

I believe this ever-tightening economy has changed the face of American families. No longer are we running out to purchase the newest item on our credit cards. No longer do we celebrate every event with an expensive dinner out. No longer does a paid off car mean it's time for a new one. Instead, families are learning a new way to live in gratitude. Gratitude for what we have, gratitude for the ability to pay off debts (or at least be working towards that), and gratitude for celebrating with kind words and homemade goodies. I do not like to see families struggling, but I do like the return to a quieter, simpler life that is less driven to have "more stuff."

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Every year, I end up at the discount store the day before Halloween, digging through ugly costume left-overs because I put off getting a costume too long. One year, I wore a black sweatshirt and sweatpants and told people I was a big freckle. Another year, I bought a red cape and a gold crown so I could be Queen Lisa. This year, I decided I am NOT going to wait until the last minute. Neither should you! I was looking at the sweet and sexy Women's Costumes at CostumeSquad.com and I think my husband wishes I would wear this:
Not going to happen. Maybe ten years ago I could (and would) have worn something like that, but these days, I think this is more my style.
I wonder if my dear husband would be Ol' Spudhead with me? That would be so funny! My daycare kids would get such a kick out of that. Looking at the Men's Costume Category, I'm willing to bet the only one I could get him to wear would be this Top Gun one. He's not much of a costume guy, unless he can carry some type of super-cool weapon.
I finally settled on a very low-key, no questions asked, easy to wear type of Halloween costume from CostumeSquad.com. Maybe I can even find a nice hat to wear with it. Like it? I love it! Soft and comfy, and fits my personality.

Disclosure: I received this awesome t-shirt at no charge. Opinions are my own.

Secrets to a Good Marriage

My husband and I have a great marriage. We've been together 11 years and married for 10. We both have gone through divorce before and both swore we'd never marry again, and yet here we are madly in love and devoted to each other. We have discovered some valuable things that have kept us deliriously in love to this day. I can probably add several hundred more thoughts to this list, but here's a few of our secrets to a good marriage.
  • Talk about everything. (Well, except those things you did when you were a teenager, those things that you even try to hide from God.)
  • Don't go to bed angry. Even if you have to stay up all night.
  • You can't both be mad at the same time. Take turns being a supportive sounding board.
  • Remember that love is a verb, which is an action word, so show it every day.
  • Gifts mean more on days that the card companies didn't create. Give surprises.
  • Date night out once a month (with no children) is mandatory. Once a week if you can afford it.
  • Laugh sincerely at each other's jokes even if they aren't funny or if you've heard it before.
  • Combine your bank accounts (you're in this together) and make all big money decisions together. Decide together what that dollar amount will be (for example, all purchases over $100). Have a regular weekly or monthly "mad money" amount you both carry around.
  • Have separate interests and don't guilt the other one for enjoying it.
  • Find a spectator sport you can enjoy together. We watch nascar together and root for the same driver so it's not a competition between us.
  • Have occasional tickle fights. We sometimes end up chasing each other through the whole house, up and down the stairs, giggling and squealing like four year olds.
  • Never insult the other person. Not in private, not in public.
  • Call each other during the day just to say "I am madly in love with you."
  • Brag about the other one to everyone you know. Give each other stuff to brag about.
  • Have a weekend getaway without the kids once a year.
  • Say please and thank you regularly. 
  • Touch is powerful. Take time every single day to give each other a nice long hug and kiss.
  • Give each other that "look" that makes their toes curl with lust.
  • Play board games together. If it becomes too competitive, at the end of the game add the scores together and divide by two.
  • Look at each other when you are talking and listening. One day all the kids will be grown and gone, and the newlywed-style sex life will be distant memories, so you better be able to talk about things intelligently and enjoy each other's simple companionship.
  • Hold hands in public and put your arms around each other in public. We even snuggle in church.
  • Learn to say "Yes dear" to each other and resist urges to have the last word. 
  • Ask each other for forgiveness. Forgive each other freely. Try very, very hard not do anything to have to ask for forgiveness.
  • Strive for faith together. Keep God at the center of your life together.

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Zumbox $1,000,000 Giveaway and Instant Win

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The Gummy Bear Win

Remember when I posted The Gummy Bear video? I just received an email from the company that I've been randomly selected as their monthly winner! YAY! They are sending me an awesome prize package that includes tshirts, a dvd and a cd. Wanna see the video again? I posted The Gummy Bear Song HERE. There's also a game you can play online or on mobile HERE.

Review and Giveaway: King Arthur Flour


I love doing easy baking projects with my daycare kids. They love to stir, love to pour, and love to make messes. Today we made Zucchini & Carrot Muffins. Yeah, I know they would rather eat chocolate, but these are really good! I sent my dear husband to the store to get all the ingredients I didn't have, which was most of them. King Arthur Flour was so generous to send me a five pound bag of their White Whole Wheat Flour and a box of their brand new Whole Flax Meal.

Last night, I printed out the Zucchini & Carrot Muffin Recipe from the King Arthur recipe box and got as much ready for this morning's activity as I could. Working with preschoolers means you have to be prepared in advance for just about anything, because just about anything can happen, and it usually does. The veggies were grated last night, so I didn't lose any fingers in front of the kids today. I also cut up the pineapple with my kitchen scissors so no sharp objects would be part of our lesson. This wasn't going to be an "easy" project, so I wanted to make sure nothing went wrong.

So six preschoolers and I washed our hands and gathered around a short table with all these products. We learned new words like whisk, ingredients, measure, recipe, and batter. We followed the recipe step by step as I read aloud and everyone got several turns to participate in the different steps.

We talked about the batter and how the first bowl was filled with a wet mushy batter. We added the grated veggies and I saw several noses scrunch up right away. There's a shocker, I know. But the children were fascinated at how the texture changed with the addition of each new ingredient.

They did fantastic waiting their turn to pour and stir, yet remained focused on the entire activity. I guess it helped that I was silly and made a big deal about it when I "accidentally" made little messes on our table. One of them even told me I was the best teacher in the whole world.

The second bowl was filled with the dry ingredients, including our King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and our King Arthur Whole Flax Meal. The King Arthur flour and flax were a much better quality than what I've purchased at my local grocer. Did you know King Arthur Flour is America's oldest flour company?

The recipe also calls for Vietnamese cinnamon, but my husband could only find Saigon cinnamon (we think it's the same thing). Then we stirred again.

After all the dry foods were mixed, the two types of batter were combined into one bowl. All six kids watched with interest as the muffin mix was stirred. One child asked me why it was so colorful. I asked what the children's thoughts were on that, and got the right answer from one of them - "Because the vegetables are so colorful!" 

We spooned the batter into the mini muffin cups and popped the pan into the preheated oven. We cleaned up our mess together and settled into our "get ready to go outside" while the muffins baked. Just before we went outside, I pulled these beautiful muffins out of the oven.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't "test" them before the children, just to make sure they are edible, and these are so delicious that I can't tell they are healthy. My husband nabbed one when he dropped by for lunch and he loves them too. Think the kids ate them? You bet they did. All six of them. Each ate an entire zucchini carrot muffin. Amazing. When kids help in the kitchen they are more likely to try it because they know they made it!

Be sure to visit the King Arthur Flour website, where you can find recipes, baking mixes, high quality flours, ingredients, tools and gadgets, bakeware, and even educational programs. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter as well. They even have an active online community called The Baking Circle, where you can connect with other foodies!


One of my lucky readers is going to win their very own five pound bag of King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour and a 16 ounce box of King Arthur Whole Flax Meal. Use the quick and easy rafflecopter entry form below. You may enter until midnight EST on 7/28/2011. Good luck!

Cake Balls - My Grand Experiment

Just recently I discovered what a Cake Ball is and although I'm not a chef by any sense of the word, I decided to give it a try. Trust me when I say, make sure you have lots of time if you're going to make these. First, bake a cake. I used a strawberry cake mix. Then let it cool completely, keep your teens away from it, and crumble the cake into a big bowl. I trimmed off the tiny upper edge of crunchy cake and let my husband eat those. He was happy.

Then I mixed half a container of strawberry frosting into the bowl of crumbled cake. Stir? Ha, not me, I stuck my hands in there like it was  meatloaf. Once it was all mixed up, it was a slightly sticky substance and I put the whole bowl in the freezer for half an hour. Again, keep the teens away from the batter, because really it's just cake with frosting and they will eat it. It didn't seem like very much as far as quantity.

So after I walked the dog, I took the batter out of the freezer and rolled it into little balls with my hands (can you tell I work with kids for a living?) and set them on a big plate. It was a bit like using play-dough but stickier. I kept a small bowl of water nearby so I could dampen my hands while I was making the ball. It kept my hands from getting too sticky, but you have to be careful not to overuse the water too.

The balls are about the size of melon balls and this is how many I got out of one box of cake mix. I'd say offhand it's about 4 dozen. You can count them if you have that kind of time. Warn your teenagers there is a monster in the freezer that will eat them if they go in there looking for a snack. I put the rolled balls on the plate back into the freezer for another half an hour. In retrospect, I'd probably freeze them for several hours if not overnight. But I had to finish last night.

My candy coating was a bag of chocolate chips (the really cheap store brand kind) and two tablespoons of shortening (borrowed from my smart neighbor who never eats this kind of evil food anymore and has lost lots of weight). I set the burner on low and melted the chips and shortening into a soft dreamy mess. It was really hard not to climb in there. I had read many reviews about the cake ball dipping part going awry, so I armed myself with a slotted spoon, toothpicks, and a piece of wax paper that I later wished I had put on a cake plate or something flat that was moveable. As it was, the wax paper was on the countertop next to the simmering chocolate pan. I dropped each ball into the chocolate one at a time, rolled it around a bit, picked it up with the slotted spoon, stuck a toothpick into it and carefully (without dripping chocolate everywhere) set it on the wax paper to set. This process took quite a bit of time too and I'm glad there were no more than 4 dozen.

My motto is "If it's not easy, I don't make it." And now I remember why. These cake balls took me all evening. They sure don't look like the fancy ones in the catalogs, do they? As the chocolate coating mixture got used up, the mixture began to get too gooey. I had left the coating on the stove-top on simmer so it was stay warm and soft, but I think it started to cook towards the end. I let them sit about half an hour and picked up one by the toothpick. It immediately fell apart. Okay, not ready yet. I popped the mess in my mouth, and OMG it was so good. Thank you Lord for sweet things. Another half hour went by and I offered one to my hubby. I thought he was going to melt into the floor. He didn't care how amateur the cake balls looked, he loved the taste. The coating was still really soft, so I transferred the wax paper onto a big cutting board and put the balls in the fridge for overnight. I better go see if my teenagers ate them during the night, because I want another one. Caution: not on any diet plan anywhere on God's green earth.

Edited to add: My 16 year old son says, "Mom, why didn't you just use the chocolate fondue fountain we got you for Mother's Day?" Uhhhhhh....Guess who is going to have to make more cake balls now?

Winner Announcements - Boogie Wipes and Cabo Chips

Our Boogie Wipes Giveaway winner is amanda luchansky harris!!!

Our Cabo Chips Giveaway winner is Heather Vogler!!!

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you didn't win this time, check the giveaways tab above for more great prizes!


How to Back up your Blog in Blogger

If you use Blogger, this information is a MUST READ.  Thanks to B2B for this!


Preschool Paint Interpretation of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear"






After reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" by Bill Martin Jr., the children painted their interpretation of the animals with the Do A Dot painters. Even Picasso was a preschooler once!

I Won from Giveaway Corner and Pro Digital Photos

What a beautiful prize! I love when I win something that I can use to celebrate my children. I won an 8"x8" ceramic photo tile and easel on Giveaway Corner, sponsored by Pro Digital Photos. I chose one of the pictures of my son at his first "gig" and I'm so pleased with this (pardon the white flash reflection). Thanks so much for this giveaway, Anne and Veronica!

Just Five More Days Til Christmas (in July)



My Outdoor World

I will admit I'm a big homebody. I'd rather be at my house than anywhere else in the world. We've created a place that is our own little oasis and we don't have to go farther than the door to get there. I am fortunate to be so blessed. I thought I'd walk around my house and show you a bit of my outdoor world.
Here's my Texas pride showing. You can see these metal stars all over the place in Texas. Mine is on the outside of the wood deck that leads off my back door. When we moved here, there was a simple little set of concrete steps and I hated it. I hired someone to come build me a small covered deck and I'm much happier with it.
 My metal butterfly graces the siding wall on my back deck, with two metal sconces that I filled with scrunched up flower garland that I got at a discount store. I love the way fake flowers never die. These look great year round and have lasted me several years through heat, wind and storms. I'm not an expert at gardening and I hate pulling weeds, so I try to choose low-maintenance outdoor plants and decor.
This is my newest plant. I love it because it's so colorful. It sits under my kitchen windows next to the swimming pool. I try not to put too many flowers near the pool because I don't want to draw bees around the area. By choosing colorful plants, I still have the illusion of the color of flowers. This is also good in full sun and is pretty drought-resistant (necessary in Texas).
This is one of my favorite items, a resin snail. He's about twelve inches tall and sits on volcanic rock in my front garden, surrounded by Wandering Jew plants and a Sago Palm. I actually gifted this to myself from a friend. No I didn't steal it. She moved and told me she left a bunch of stuff in her back yard for me to go through and have anything I wanted. This snail was part of the truckload of items I took with me.
This is one of the few plants I can grow. It is a Canna plant, very drought resistant and comes back every year. I love the yellow blooms and they don't draw too many bees. These are planted around my backyard shed with a rock border, to soften the look of the cheap metal shed we bought. I love my little outdoor world and all the things we've done to make it our oasis!

Guess Where I Am Guest Posting

I am so excited! I submitted a guest post to CSN Stores and it'll be posted on their blog on Monday. What a super honor for me, only having been blogging a few months. I promise to post the link where you can go read it.

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GIVEAWAY Gifts That Give a Hand Up Through the Women's Bean Project

For several years, I was a single parent to two young children and I hated the thought of hand-outs. I worked full time, went to college full time, and I was so thankful to those who gave me a hand up to success. There is a company that has been providing hand-ups for women since 1989, to help them break the cycle of poverty and unemployment. It's called the Women's Bean Project and I had the pleasure of trying one of their gift packs, called the Three Dip Bundle.

It is a darling gift package, perfected pre-wrapped for giving. I loved the Women's Bean Project bow on it, that shows the receiver of the gift that you not only thought of them, but you also thought of someone else. What a wonderful gesture.
My family voted to try the Garlic and Herb dip first. It took me just a few minutes to dump 8 ounces of sour cream, 8 ounces of mayonnaise, and the dip mix together. It took my family even less time to make it disappear. Normally 16 ounces of dip should be enough for a party, but I have two teenage boys and they're a party all unto themselves.
It was supposed to chill in the fridge for at least an hour, but apparently my family decided that step was unnecessary. It was, of course, more important to them to "sample" it for the review. Yeah, okay.
The next day, I selected PJ's Smoky Tomato dip mix and again simply mixed it with sour cream and mayo. I opted for low fat on both, since we're all trying to eat healthier around here. When I opened the package, I could tell by the sharp, spicy smell of this dip mix that I was going to really like this one.

Amazingly simple to make and simply amazing to taste.
It is a wonderful combination of spices and it was delicious on both the carrots and the Cabo chips. I love, love, love this dip mix and will definitely be buying it in bulk. I hid the bowl of PJ's Smoky Tomato dip in the back of the fridge and I am hoping no teenagers find it before I get more of it.
The third mix in this pack is called Dillicious Dill. When I first opened it, the smell of dill was really strong. So much so that I worried about whether I'd like it. I mixed it with sour cream and mayo, 8 ounces each, just like the other two mixes, and put it in the fridge for an hour.

This dip is also very good. The taste is not as strong as I thought it would be; rather it's just right. I took this dip and some salty crackers to a potluck and the bowl was nearly licked clean. Obviously everyone else liked it too!
I definitely give this Three Dip Bundle a two thumbs-up! From the beautiful packaging of the gift to the delicious taste of the final dip mixes, I am very pleased. The Smoky Tomato is my favorite. Best of all, purchasing from the Women's Bean Project will give a hand up to someone who is working hard to combat their own poverty. Check out their website for more gourmet food products, gift baskets, and even beautiful jewelry. Click for Facebook. Click for Twitter.
Disclosure: I was not paid for this review. I did receive the product at no charge for sampling. Opinions are truly my own.

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