Aug 312016
 

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. 

Have you ever wanted to try out the latest technology products in a homelike environment? Well, now you can! Best Buy has brought to life the latest in home technology at their Tech Home in the Mall of America! If you live near Minneapolis, Minnesota, or if you are planning a vacation soon, you’ll definitely want to check this out!

Best Buy Tech Home

There, you will have the opportunity to learn about the latest in CE and Connected Home by touring the Tech Home with an expert Blue Shirt or Geek Squad Agent. You’ll be able to experience products from Samsung, Canon, NETGEAR, Philips Hue, Sony, Sonos, and Savant. Doesn’t that sound like so much fun? I would love to check out all of the awesome home technology products they have available now, like Samsung SmartThings. With Samsung SmartThings, you can control and monitor from anywhere, using your smartphone. How cool is that?! Tech products really do make life so much easier!

Best Buy Tech Home

Best Buy carries the latest and greatest in connected home technology products. Their knowledgeable Blue Shirts can help you find the solution to fit all of your home technology needs. Their Geek Squad can also bring the experience to life for you by getting your tech connected and up and running. I love how easy they make it!

Best Buy Tech Home

If you are one of the first 250 to visit the Tech Home at the Mall of America each day from 8/22-9/17, you could win one of many prizes made with Qualcomm technologies, including Sonos Play:1 speakers, Samsung Gear S2, and more! Go ahead and check it out, and while you’re there, learn how you could win a $10,000 Best Buy Gift Card, a Samsung SmartThings Smart Home Collection, Samsung Dream Kitchen, and a Samsung 55” SUHD 4K TV and more!

Tech Home

My husband and I just recently bought a 40” 4K Ultra HD TV from Best Buy, and we could not be more thrilled with our purchase. The quality is absolutely amazing. I also love knowing that we have Geek Squad protection on it for 2 years, if we should have any problems with it. We go to Best Buy for all of our technology needs. I so wish we could make it to the Mall of America for their grand opening. I think we might have to plan a family vacation near there some time in the future!

 Posted by at 5:19 pm
Aug 262016
 

This is a sponsored post through the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. I received compensation from Tessemae’s, however, all opinions are 100% my own. 

One of my favorite things about summer is having an abundance of fresh vegetables from my garden. There is just something so rewarding about growing, picking and eating your own vegetables. It’s really quite a lot of fun! We have been so lucky with our harvest this year, and our garden is just bursting with zucchini, summer squash and tomatoes.

Lemon Garlic Garden Veggies

I have been trying to come up with new ways to eat all of these wonderful fresh garden vegetables. John bought me a spiralizer for Mother’s Day this year, so we have been having quite a bit of zucchini and summer squash “pasta”. For dinner tonight, though, I wanted to do something a little different. We were having boneless chicken breasts, and I wanted to make a light and refreshing side dish to go with it. I chopped up a small zucchini, small summer squash, 1/2 of an onion, and added some cherry tomatoes. Everything but the onion came from our garden!

I love mixing a bunch of vegetables like this together and cooking them in a foil packet, either in the oven or on the grill. It is really so simple to prepare, and makes clean up super easy. I normally use a little extra virgin olive oil in these veggie foil packets, but I had just received a few bottles of Tessemae’s dressings to try out, and decided to use one of those for an extra burst of flavor. I just knew the lemon garlic would work wonderfully with my garden veggies.

Lemon Garlic Garden Veggies

Tessemae’s All Natural is a growing natural food company from Annapolis Maryland. They make clean, fresh dressings, marinades, and condiments with real ingredients and no preservatives. They have a variety of 25 different dressings, marinades, and condiments, and use real, whole sourced food ingredients and are now certified USDA organic.

Tessemae's

Unlike most salad dressings on the market, Tessemae’s contain no added sugar, thickeners, or additives, and they are even Whole30 approved! I was really impressed with these dressings and marinades. They are very flavorful, but don’t have that really heavy taste that most other salad dressings have. These are very light and refreshing.

Tessemae's

I really enjoyed these lemon garlic garden veggies. It was such a great way to use up a bunch of our garden harvest all at once and it paired very well with our boneless skinless chicken breasts. I also think something like a kielbasa would pair well with these veggies. I love preparing healthy and easy meals like this for my family!

Lemon Garlic Garden Veggies

LEMON GARLIC GARDEN VEGGIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small Zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 Small Yellow Squash (chopped)
  • 1.5 Cups Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion (sliced)
  • 2 Tablespoons Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl, then transfer to aluminum foil.
  3. Wrap the garden veggie mixture in aluminum foil, making sure they are completely sealed inside.
  4. Place aluminum foil packet on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until vegetables become tender.

Tessemae’s products are available for purchase directly from their website at www.tessemaes.com. Save 10% on your purchase with coupon code TesseLove.

What would you put Tessemae’s dressings and marinades on?

 Posted by at 9:32 am
Aug 252016
 

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

My 35th birthday is coming up next month, and it’s been making me feel really old. I honestly just can’t believe I am halfway to 70 years old! This “big” birthday has really got me thinking about a lot of things. Whether or not I like it, I’m an adult now with a lot of responsibilities.

I’ve spent the last 4 years being pregnant and raising my two children, so I’ve really kind of pushed my own health and well-being to the side. Us Moms have a tendency to take care of the rest of our family before we take care of ourselves, but it really is so important to make our own health a priority as well.

I have vowed to make this year the year that I take back control of my health. I need to schedule appointments for a complete physical, dental exam, and an eye exam. It has been several years since I have had any of those done.

The last time I had an eye exam was probably almost 10 years ago. At the time, I was diagnosed with astigmatism, and had to buy a pair of glasses. Those glasses cost me almost $300.00, and my daughter broke them about 2 years ago, when she was just a year old. When they broke, I felt sick to my stomach. I thought, “How am I ever going to afford a new pair of glasses?”, and so I have just been going without.

Tonight, as I write this blog post, I am having the hardest time focusing. All the words on the screen are blurring together, and my eyes are getting so tired trying to read what’s right in front of me. It’s definitely time for me to get another eye exam and a new pair of glasses.

How to Save Money on Eyewear

I recently figured out a way to save a lot of money on eyeglasses, and I am so excited to finally get a new pair. Our family is on a tight budget, and I just can’t afford a pair of expensive glasses, especially when I have two toddlers in the house that like to break things. Groupon has lots of great Health, Beauty & Wellness Groupons, and that is where I will be searching for my next pair of eyeglasses. They have great deals on eyeglasses, contacts and even sunglasses. I am actually excited to go to my eye exam and pick out my next pair of eyeglasses. I think I will even get myself a new pair of sunglasses while I’m at it!

Saving money on eyewear is easy with Groupon!

 Posted by at 11:52 pm
Aug 222016
 

THIS BLOG HAS BEEN SPONSORED BY NATURE’S BOUNTY® EARTHLY ELEMENTS™. All products mentioned in this blog post were provided to me for free by Nature’s Bounty® for review.

Staying at home to care for my 1-year-old son, Logan, and my 3-year-old daughter, Kayleigh, is very rewarding, but often times I find myself feeling worn down and stressed out. Parenting is hard work! In addition to caring for my own two toddlers, I also babysit my 1-year-old and 4 month old nephews three afternoons per week. Taking care of four kids ages 3 and under is no joke! I honestly don’t know how parents who have more than two kids can even function at all. I feel like I never have a moment of peace to myself, so I have to make it a priority to find time to relax and recharge. If I don’t, I get completely burnt out and can’t be the parent that I want to be to my children, or the aunt I want to be to my nephews.

As I have mentioned a time or two before, I am the epitome of an introvert. I would rather stay home by myself than spend the night out on the town. So, when I get the opportunity to have a little time to myself, I just pamper myself right in the comfort of my own home.

Recently, I have been experimenting with DIY beauty products. It’s really so much fun to make your own beauty products. I love knowing exactly what ingredients are in them, and I can tailor them to my specific wants and needs.

Today, I had a little time to myself, so I thought I would whip up a quick DIY sugar scrub. Sugar scrubs are really nice because they gently exfoliate the skin and leave it feeling really soft and smooth. I used a little help from my Nature’s Bounty® essential oils to give it a wonderful scent.

Lemongrass, Lavender & Rosemary Sugar Scrub

Nature’s Bounty® has several 100% pure and blended aromatherapy essential oils to choose from. Their line of Earthly Elements™ essential oils are AVAILABLE AT WALMART® and you can find them right in the vitamin aisle. For this sugar scrub, I opted to use Lemongrass, Lavender and Rosemary essential oils to give it an earthy-woodsy aroma. I also added just a touch of vanilla extract, which I thought balanced the blend out nicely.

Lemongrass, Lavender & Rosemary Sugar Scrub

I used this sugar scrub on my arms, legs and feet, and I felt so refreshed after. The lemongrass offers a really invigorating aroma, while the lavender brings a wonderful soothing effect. I really like the slight hint of rosemary that comes through as well. My skin felt so soft and a little bit tingly after my scrub, and I felt like a new woman! It’s amazing how great you feel after taking a little bit of time to pamper yourself.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed out lately too, give this sugar scrub a try! It literally takes just a minute to combine the ingredients together, and it will leave your skin feeling soft and refreshed!

Lemongrass, Lavender & Rosemary Sugar Scrub

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup sweet almond oil
  • 8 Drops of Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • 9 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil
  • 3 Drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Combine ingredients together in a small bowl. You can adjust essential oil amounts to your liking. Store in an airtight container and use within 1 month.

Lemongrass, Lavender & Rosemary Sugar Scrub

TIP:

Scrub your feet with this sugar scrub right before you go to bed for ultimate relaxation!

What are your favorite DIY beauty products to make using essential oils?

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Powered By:
 Posted by at 10:21 am
Aug 182016
 

This Blog has been sponsored by Nature’s Bounty® Earthly Elements™. The writer has been paid and received free product as compensation, nevertheless, all opinions are 100% my own.

I have a one year old and a three year old who both still wear diapers, so I have been putting up with diaper odors in my home for a long time now. I recently started babysitting my 1 year old and 3 month old nephews in my home three days a week, also, so the diaper odors have become even worse.

Over the past few years, I have tried a lot of different things to get rid of diaper odors in my home, but nothing really seemed to work, until I found essential oils.

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

With two toddlers in my home, I am really picky about the products I use. While I don’t use natural products 100% of the time, I do try to use them as often as I can. After listening to recommendations from several of my Mom friends, I recently fell in love with essential oils. They have so many different uses, and I especially love how well they work to eliminate diaper odors in my home.

After a bit of trial and error, I have found that these are my three favorite ways to eliminate diaper odors in my home with essential oils:

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

1. Diffuser – I absolutely love this Earthly Elements™ diffuser from Nature’s Bounty®. It’s so lightweight and easy to move from room to room, and it’s also very quiet! Another thing I love about it is that it will run on either 2 AA batteries, or you can use the USB cable that comes with it to plug it into a USB compatible device.

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

When my one year old son, Logan, wakes up in the morning, he’s usually waiting for me with a surprise in his diaper. I can smell it the second I walk into his bedroom to get him, and it is certainly not a pleasant smell. He has a very small bedroom, so the odor just kind of lingers there for hours if I don’t take care of it right away. So, I simply move the diffuser into his bedroom and let it run for a little bit. It completely wipes out the nasty diaper odor and leaves his room smelling nice and fresh again. I like to mix lemongrass and peppermint essential oils in the diffuser for a light and refreshing scent.

2. Cotton Ball in the Trash Can – The kids and I stay right here at home most days, so the dirty diapers seem to just pile up in the trash can. I have learned that putting a cotton ball with several drops of essential oils on it in the bottom of my trash can really help to combat the diaper odors in that area of my home. My favorite essential oils to use for this are grapefruit, which has a tangy, clean and refreshing scent, and thrive, which is cleansing and purifying.

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

3. Essential Oil Spray – Finally, I love making my own air freshener spray using essential oils. I can spray this anywhere in my home where there are odors and they will just disappear. To make my essential oil spray, I combine ¾ cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol or pure vanilla extract, and 15-20 drops of essential oil in an 8 oz. glass spray bottle. Essential oils can erode plastic, so that is why I use a glass spray bottle for this. You can use one essential oil, or mix and match your favorite scents. Some of my favorite combinations are peppermint and rosemary, lavender and grapefruit, and chamomile and eucalyptus.

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

Using essential oils in your home can help set moods and create sensual experiences, from calming to invigorating, depending on the scent used. Each essential oil has its own unique aroma. Earthly Elements™, 100% pure and blended aromatherapy essential oils, from Nature’s Bounty®, are AVAILABLE AT WALMART®, and you can find them right in the vitamin aisle! I love how accessible they are!

Nature's Bounty Earthly Elements Essential Oils

What are your favorite ways to use essential oils in your home? Do you have any favorite scent combinations?

The post is brought to you by Activate by Bloglovin and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
Powered By:
 Posted by at 12:54 pm
Aug 082016
 

Pasta is always a huge hit in my house, and I love making it because it’s filling, easy on the wallet, and so versatile. It’s such a great comfort meal to make at home and share with your family. We have pasta a couple nights a week, and it never gets boring because it can easily be changed up by adding different meats, veggies and cheeses, and of  course, by choosing a different shape of pasta!

Finding the right pasta sauce for your pasta dish is of the utmost importance. A bland or watery pasta sauce will totally ruin your meal, which is why I love to use Ragu’s Homestyle pasta sauce. My pasta dishes come out great every time I use this sauce. It’s thick and hearty, and so flavorful! I love how it just hugs every noodle and packs a punch of flavor in every bite. There are several different varieties available, too, so you are sure to find just the right one to compliment your own pasta recipe. One more thing I love about this pasta sauce, is that it doesn’t have any artificial flavors, artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup!

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

For this Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers and Onions recipe, I opted to use the traditional variety, but I think any of them would work just fine.

Homestyle Ragu

This is one of my family’s favorite dishes, and I’m excited to share the recipe with you! I just love rotini, and so do my kids. They think those spiral shaped noodles are so much fun, and I think it makes for a very pretty pasta dish.

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 jar Ragu Homestyle Sauce
  • 8 oz. dry rotini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
  • OPTIONAL: shredded Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Cook rotini according to instructions on box.

Meanwhile, brown Sweet Italian Sausage in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil, transfer to a bowl, set aside.

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add the peppers and onions, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

Add the sausage back into the pan, along with the sauce, lower the temperature and allow the sauce to warm through.

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions 5

Serve sauce mix over rotini and top with shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Rotini with Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

If you’re looking for more great recipe ideas using Ragu’s Homestyle pasta sauces, visit Ragu’s website. They have TONS of great ideas for you to choose from, like Spicy Veggie Quesadillas, Rustic Italian Bowls, Pizza Pinwheels and more!

 Posted by at 9:28 pm
Aug 022016
 

Buying canning supplies has been on my mind a lot lately. My husband, John, planted a variety of vegetables in our garden beds a few months ago, and we have been harvesting like crazy for the last couple of weeks.

We only had one garden bed last year, and it produced so many vegetables that we could not even keep us with them all. This year, we added on two more garden beds, and we are planning to can a lot of our garden haul. We planted quite a few different vegetables, but I think I am most excited about the tomatoes. Last year we had SO many tomatoes, and we actually planted even more this year. They haven’t ripened yet, but I think it will be any time now. I can’t wait to make and can sauces, salsa, ketchup and more!

I’m so excited that we are planning to can this year, so we can preserve all the wonderful flavor of our fresh vegetables. I think it’s so neat that we can just preserve them and enjoy them whenever we want to. If you’ve never canned anything before, here are the beginning supplies you will need. This post contains affiliate links, and I will receive compensation if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

Must-Have Canning Supplies

MUST-HAVE CANNING SUPPLIES

To figure out what canning supplies you need to get, you must first determine what you want to can. If you want to make a few jars of jam or pickles, and perhaps some salsa or tomato sauce, there are a few less items that you need. That’s because these foods are high in acid, and don’t need to be sealed under pressure. Regardless of the type of canning you want to do, most canning supplies that you’ll need apply to low or high acid canning.

Canning Jars, Rings, and Lids – Purchase jars designed for canning (do not re-use mayonnaise or pickles jars that you bought at the store, they aren’t designed for home canning). Canning jars come in a variety of sizes from four ounces up to 32 ounces, and in a narrow or wide mouth. Buy the jars in sizes appropriate to what you are canning, and the size of your family. For jams, jellies and pickles, you might not want anything larger than a pint jar; if you have a large family, you might want to make salsa in quart jars.

Jars will last forever as long as they aren’t chipped or broken; rings can be re-used as soon as the jars have cooled and lids are sealed. Lids are a single use item. You can purchase jars almost everywhere, from the grocery store to home improvement stores to the big box discount stores.

Canning Kettle – Except for jams and jellies, most canned foods need to be heated in either a water bath or pressure canner.

A canning kettle looks like a large stockpot with a rack in the bottom. You heat water in the pot, add your jars filled with food, put the lid on, and let them heat per your recipe. Most canning kettles hold seven jars, either pint or quarts depending on the height.

If you are just beginning and want to make a small batch of pickles or tomato sauce, you can get by with a soup pot; just make sure you have a rack in the bottom so the jars have water circulating under them.

Pressure Canner – This is used for low acid canning, like vegetables and some fruits. It works like the Water Bath Canner, except the air is forced out of the jars while in the pressure canner. This keeps harmful bacteria away from your food. This can be a sizeable investment, but if you plan on canning much, buy the biggest one you can afford. It will speed up your process. They have single layer canners that hold about seven quart jars or a double layer of pint jars.

Canning Tongs – These are a godsend for lifting hot jars out of your boiling water bath! Canning tongs have a rubberized gripper that fits under the jar neck, and the weight of the jar holds them in place. If you’ve canned without them, buy a set – they’re very inexpensive.

Canning Funnel – This is a wide mouthed funnel that fits inside both narrow and wide mouthed jars for filling them. It helps to keep the jar rim clean, and will save time in manually wiping them to make sure your jars get a good seal.

Food Mill or Processor – If you are chopping or slicing a lot of vegetables, these both can come in handy. Your pickles will be very even, and relishes will be chopped up in a jiffy.

Canning Cookbook – Choose a reputable cookbook, Ball Canning Jars has a very inexpensive one. Follow recipes exactly; there is a balance of acid, temperature and food type that makes canning a successful way to preserve foods. Until you know the basics and understand what to look for, do not deviate from the recipe.

From your everyday kitchen supplies, you’ll need a timer, ladles, slotted spoons, measuring spoons and cups, lots of clean dish towels, etc.

Once you have your stash of canning supplies ready, you’ll be good to go! Canning is very satisfying and an enjoyable activity. Jams are very easy and make a great starting point for learning to preserve food. With a little practice, you can amaze your friends with this new-found skill!

 Posted by at 11:47 am