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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Moving to Wordpress!

I am switching to a self hosted wordpress site!

Those of you that are bloggers know why that is exciting, but I tell you what... it's a bit of a headache if you are doing the move on your own!!

There is a lot to learn.  Lucky for me, I'm a bit of a nerd in that arena and it's actually kind of fun... sometimes... and sometimes I want to throw my computer across the room!

Anyway, just wanted to give you all a little update and let you know I am still here.  Sorry I haven't been posting much lately.

I have some exciting things planned for after my move.  Giveaways, recipes and fun posts!!

Have a great weekend!!!!!

~Nicole~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10 Holiday Planning Tips

It’s never too early to start planning for the upcoming holidays!

There is so much to get ready for and remember…

Cards, making sure you have all your addresses, figuring out what you will buy for the kids and everyone else on your list, figuring out your budget, deciding what house you will be at and what foods will be made.  I’m already tired just typing all that out!

For my own sanity, and hopefully yours too, here is a list of planning tips I like to follow:

  1. Figure out your budget – This really needs to be first on your list.  It will be difficult for you to successfully accomplish the rest of this list if you don’t even know what you are allowing yourself to spend on everything.
  2. If you will be ordering cards, now is the time!  The closer you get to the holidays, the more stressed you will be and you will have to rush to get them out, not to mention maybe not order the ones you really want.  I just discovered Storkie Christmas Cards and there are some super cute ones on their site!                                                          Storkie pic Here’s a cute one I found! Smile
  3. Start listening to things that are on your family’s wish list.  It’s only 3 months away, folks!  If you hear someone say something about a product they would like, go buy it!
  4. If you will be making some of your own gifts, now is the time to get those ideas finalized and get working on them.
  5. Get your card list made and/or updated.  If you need addresses, send out address requests on Facebook or make some calls to get those addresses.
  6. Who’s hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas this year?  Do you have a party for New Year’s?  First things first, what house will you be at for all of those holidays?
  7. Now that you know what house you will be celebrating, you can figure out what you all will be eating.
  8. If you do an advent calendar with your kids, you can start thinking about what that will involve.  December will get here faster than you think and you need to be ready!
  9. Will you be traveling for the holidays?  Go ahead and start making your list of what you need to pack.  There is so much to remember around the holidays, the least you can do is try to make packing stress free!
  10. Don’t forget about YOU!  What do you want for Christmas?  Start dropping those hints!  Or… just flat out tell your loved ones what you want.  They will appreciate not having to figure it out and knowing that what they give you is something you actually want!
I truly hope these tips help to make your holidays a little bit less stressful! 

Oh, and here’s my #11: BREATHE!!!!  Have fun!  Love your family!  Those are the most important ones. Smile

Anything I forgot?

~Nicole~

I wrote this blog post while participating in the Storkie holiday blogging program. I received compensation for my participation. All opinions are 100% mine.

Happy Birthday to Most of You.... Apparently!

According to a database query that anybirthday.com conducted, October 5th is the most common birthday.

There are 12,576 born on this day every single year!


Any math majors out there already have it figured out why this is the most common day to have a baby??  It is 9 months after New Year's Eve!!!  Hmmm....


Wondering what the least common birthday is??  It's May 22nd.  Apparently, no one wants to get hot and heavy in August, when the weather is smoldering!

Here's a chart from Any Birthday's website that shows conception date and birth date so you can have fun figuring out all the birthdays in your life!



Any October 5th readers?  Any of my readers go against the norm and have a May 22nd birthday??

~Nicole~

Monday, October 3, 2011

Halloween Costume Time!!!

Whether you like Halloween or not, you’ve got to admit that seeing the kids all dressed up is super cute!  We don’t let our kids eat candy, really, so Halloween is a big deal.  It’s a big deal for me to let them have candy that is so bad for them and it’s a big deal for them that we actually let them have it!

 

Anyway, for the last two years, I have been lucky and been able to find costumes for the kids on the clearance rack after Halloween.  You can find costumes for $5 and under, but it is hard to find the right size AND something the kids will actually like.  So, last year after Halloween, I bought the girls matching Super girl costumes and found my son a clown costume.

 

Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking when I got the clown costume.  My son has never expressed any interest in anything clown related.  I really just got it because it was the only thing in his size that looked good and I didn’t want to come home with costumes for the girls and nothing for him.  He was gracious in receiving the costume at the time, but later asked me if he had to wear it.  I told him that we could get him something else.  I think the clown costume was only a couple bucks, so it’s not like it’s a huge loss.

 

So, we got online together and looked at discount boys costumes.  It was so fun to be able to do that with him.  Rarely do the kids get to look at a something online and have the opportunity to pick what they want from a bunch of options.  It was fun for him!  I tried to sway him towards superman so that all the kids would be in the same theme, but he wasn’t interested in it, so I didn’t push it.  He has never gotten to pick out his own costume, so I wanted him to be able to pick it out himself.

 

He was looking at the Power Ranger costumes.  He’s fascinated with them for some reason.  Since he doesn’t watch the show, I don’t understand it… but I guess it’s normal to not understand everything your kids do!  Anyway, he decided on the Leonardo Muscle Costume from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  So, we ordered it right away to make sure we would have it in time for Halloween.

 

It got to our house super fast, so I guess we actually didn’t have to order it so early, but that’s okay.  Of course, we opened it right away!!!!  It looks really nice and actually well made.  Lots of Halloween costumes look like they will fall apart at any moment, and I was pleasantly surprised that this costume looks like it will survive a night or two or trick or treating!

 

He tried it on and I am happy to report that it fits perfectly.  He’s almost 8, so I ordered size 8-10.  I’m glad it fits well and I don’t have to worry about trying to return it for a new size…. it does look a little short in this picture, but it looks great in person, so I’m not sure why it looks that way??

Leonardo

If you don’t want to hassle with the stores and picking through all the aisles, I recommend you check out the Costume Super Center online and order your kids costumes.  They really have a great selection and your costume will definitely get to your house on time if you act quickly.

 

So, no more after Halloween clearance costumes for me!  I will shop for discount boys and girls costumes online!  It’s so much easier and the kids get to actually pick out their own costumes.  As they get older that is becoming more and more important to them!

 

Have fun shopping!  I hope you all have a great Halloween, no matter how you celebrate it!

 

~Nicole~

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pumpkin Puke #Spookamole Recipe

Who is getting excited about Halloween?  I have to admit, I’m not much of a Halloween fan… kids dressing up and going around house to house begging for candy… most of which will end up in the trash at the end of the night… doesn’t make sense to me.

Now, that being said, I do love hosting and attending parties… don’t really care the occasion!

If you are hosting OR attending a party this year, I have a seriously fun and easy recipe for you.

With all the candy and sweets all of us eat around this time of year, starting with Halloween and ending with Valentine’s Day, we really need something healthy to eat!  Hass avocados from Mexico are perfect for snacks at home, parties, or just to add to your favorite sandwich.  Avocados are available all year round, so it something healthy you can have in your house all the time (and we do!).

I know you are dying to hear what recipe I have for you, so here it is…
Pumpkin Puke!
Halloween recipe
Ummm… yum, right!?  Can you just see this in the middle of your table (or your friends’ table) at a Halloween party!!!!

Alright, so here’s your step by step:

First, wash the outside of your pumpkin (I suggest getting a couple so you have one to practice cutting on).  Awe… look at the pretty pumpkin!!
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Then make small slits in your pumpkin, just as you would a potato.  Just make sure you do it where no one will see since your pumpkin will be displayed!  I did a few on the bottom and a few on the top, like so:
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Now, your pumpkin is ready for the oven.  Let it cook on 350 for 45 minutes.  Remember to use pads or gloves when taking it out of the oven!  Set it down on the stove or counter.  Now, you can let it cool down a tad, but it’s not really necessary.  I started the next steps right away.  It’s really up to you.

First thing you will do with your pumpkin is make a nice round cut around the top to remove the top of the pumpkin.  Be gentle with this, though, because you will be putting it back on the finished product.

There will be a few seeds on the top of the pumpkin you just cut off.  Go ahead and scrape those off into a bowl.  Then, scrape the rest of the ‘guts’ out of the pumpkin into a bowl like so:
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I used a serrated grapefruit spoon, but a regular spoon would work, too.

Now, it’s time for the fun part!  Carving the puke face!  For the eyes, you will do a kind of crescent moon, with half circles at the top.  For the mouth, just a circle.  It’s best described in a picture:
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I would like to note, this is just the face I came up with…. use your imagination and do something different if you don’t like this one.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter!  Have fun with it!

Next, make your favorite guacamole recipe.  Mine has avocados, roma tomatoes, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Guacamole is such an easy and forgiving recipe.  It’s super hard to mess it up.  Sometimes, I just make it with avocados and spices and skip the tomatoes and onion.  For this recipe, though, I highly recommend the tomatoes and onions, even if they aren't your favorite, because it adds to the ‘puke’.

Alright, at this point, your pumpkin should be carved and your guacamole is made.  Now, put your pumpkin on a large plate or serving platter.  Serving platter works best if you have one.  Put it on the end or edge of the plate.  Add a spoonful of guacamole through the top of the pumpkin and put it on the bottom of the pumpkin by his mouth.  Then, spread the remainder of the guacamole out from his mouth onto the plate.  Surround the guacamole with chips and it is ready to serve!
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How stinkin’ perfect is that for your next Halloween gathering??

If you have a fun idea for a Spookamole recipe, go ahead and make it and take pictures, because Avocados from Mexico is running a contest!  Submit your recipe HERE.  You DO NOT have to have a blog in order to enter the contest!  Just a fun, yummy recipe.  Smile

Have fun creating your recipes!
~Nicole~

Discloser: I wrote this review while participating in a Spookamole blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Avocados from Mexico and received avocado items to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tri-Cross from Games for Competitors Review

This game is a cross between checkers and chess.  It has some of the same concepts of checkers in that you are jumping over pieces and removing them from the board, but there is more strategy involved, just as there is in chess.

 

I was sent the Standard board game, as well as the Eco-Friendly version of the game.  Being the natural girl that I am, I definitely prefer the eco-friendly version.  It’s the same game either way, but the eco-friendly version doesn’t have all the packaging and so on.  In fact, my only complaint with this product is that the standard version has a box that is WAY to big for the game with a big piece of plastic in the middle so that everything looks pretty inside.  And, while it is a good presentation, I think it’s unnecessary.  Make sense?  Other than that, I am very happy with the game!

                

Honestly, this game is a little too old for my kids.  The game is for ages 10 to adult (my kids are 3, 7, and 9).  Now, that being said, it’s a great game for my husband and I to play with the 7 and 9 year old on teams.  So we can each pair up with a kid and we can teach the child how to play that way.  It’s a great avenue to create bonds with your child, as well as teach them strategy in game playing.  We own a few other games that we do this with and I feel it has helped our kids think outside the box and think ahead to their next move, etc..

 

Another great thing is that they also sent me a CD that has tutorials on how to play the game.  Everyone learns differently, and sometimes it’s nice to see and hear how to play a game!

 

Information at a glance:

Product: Tri-Cross

Price: $19.95 – $35.95 (depending on which version you like)

Where to buy: Tri-Cross website or Retail stores

Skills learned:

  • Logical Thinking
  • Cause and Effect
  • Predicting
  • Interpreting Outcomes
  • Abstract Thinking
  • Memory (In Variations of Play)
  • Visualization

Ages: 10 to Adult

 

I do recommend this game.  My husband and I are ‘game players’, if you will, and this is one we will add to our repertoire.

 

~Nicole~

Disclaimer: I was given both versions of the game spoken about in this post in order to facilitate the review.

AIMS Review

Have you all heard of the AIMS Education Foundation?  I had the opportunity to review their Getting Into Geometry book.
This book is great.  It makes learning about shapes fun!  It starts out with 2-D shapes.  It shows your child how they can make shapes into other things (like the pic on the front of the book above).  Then they move to 3-D objects, showing the comparisons between the 2-D and 3-D objects.  The book has great games too, to help your child learn the concepts.  I also want to note that there is a CD that comes with the book.  The CD has the activities from the book.  It makes it super easy for you to print them off.

It is important to note that AIMS gives permission to make up to 200 copies of the activities if you are wanting to use them in a classroom setting.  I’m sure that would be a major benefit for those teaching in a public or private school setting or for those that teach in homeschool co-ops.  Honestly, I think it’s very generous of them to offer that!

I’ve told you in the past, I am not the most creative person, so this book is great for our family.  It gives me activities to do with my kids that are fun!

Information at a glance:
Product: Getting Into Geometry
Price: $24.95
Where to buy: AIMS website
Age: K-1 (for this book... AIMS has products for grades K-9)
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~Nicole~

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the book mentioned in this post in order to facilitate the review.Price