Saturday, April 29, 2017

Grill Out With Cave Tools Tonight

Now that the weather is warmer, my husband and I have been enjoying grilling on weekend nights for dinner.  We usually have grilled chicken or pork chops with corn, veggies, baked beans, or potatoes.  There's nothing quite like the taste of grilled food and it's always fun to do it yourself too. Scarlett loves the baked beans, they are surely her favorite part of the meal.  Whatever you like to grill, make sure it's as delicious as possible.

Cave Tools is the headquarters for anything grilling.  Whether you need tongs, veggie baskets, digital cooking thermometer, or any other grilling accessories, they have you covered.  If you need a gift for the relative or friend in your life who is a grilling expert, this would be the company to buy from.  Anything from Cave Tools makes an ideal Father's Day present for your husband or dad too. Keep the brand in mind to make your next BBQ a success.

One thing that I don't grill enough of for my family is vegetables.  We usually have steamed veggies with our BBQ's, but there's truly nothing like fresh.  Most vegetables are delicious grilled especially peppers, broccoli, and zucchini.  Make sure to season your veggies well.  The smokey taste is unbeatable! 

Cave Tools offers a fabulous grilling basket that lets you cook your favorite vegetables right on the grill without falling through the grill grates.  The basket is perfect for grilled fruits, shrimp, meat, veggies, or anything else that would fall through.  You'll love the fact that you don't have to wrap everything in aluminum foil to cook, but can cook directly in the basket.  Since the baker is curved, you'll never drop anything on the floor again.  Cook your meats right next to the veggies for a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy.  Once you're done, put the basket in the dishwasher for an easy clean-up time and time again!

When we grilled out for dinner tonight, we decided to have peppers along with the pork chops.  Our Weber grill doesn't have an extremely large grilling surface, so we have to be careful not to grill too many things at once.  There was just enough room for the potatoes, pork chops, and the grilling basket.

The inside of the grilling basket is quite spacious and really holds a lot, especially if you have a large family.  I chopped up two peppers completely and there was room for more! You'll like the modern and sleek appearance of the basket and it'll fit in perfectly with whatever style grill you have.

Since the basket has holes all throughout it, it allows the food to be grilled completely at all angles. The peppers turned out fabulous and Scarlett and my husband really enjoyed them.  They were warm with a great smokey flavor.  I'd say they were just perfect.

I can't wait to use this basket more in the future.  I think grilling shrimp to go with steak sounds heavenly.  Surf and turf for next weekend, anyone? I'm in!

If you're looking to take your grilling experience up a notch, it's time to turn to Cave Tools.

You can also purchase the grilling basket on Amazon.  Use code VEGGIE15 to take 15% off. 

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Cave Tools for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Scarlett Says YES to Nurture Life!

As a stay-at-home mom to a two year old, meal times can sometimes be a challenge.  Even though Scarlett is a great eater for the most part, she does have her picky moments which seem to be happening more so lately.  One day she'll love peanut butter crackers and the next she'll refuse them.  She used to love chicken nuggets, now she really doesn't.  Her hot and cold nature with food is frustrating and I'm always trying to find out what she likes best and what she doesn't.  I miss the days where she ate everything given to her.  This is typical two year old behavior but that doesn't mean it's easy!

Nurture Life is a food subscription delivery service that offers fresh organic meals for babies, toddlers, and kids that's ready to eat.  For babies starting at 6 months, fresh pureed baby food like oatmeal, apples, or pears is delivered to your doorstep weekly.  For older babies from 8-10 months the menu changes and such meals as chicken meatballs and pasta or zucchini, yam and farro puree is available.  

Toddlers from 1-3 years old can enjoy offerings like mac and cheese with cauliflower or albacore tuna salad.  Children who are 4-8 years old will love to have teriyaki tofu over brown rice for dinner or even veggie fried rice.  There's a large assortment of food to choose from and the food changes weekly to keep your little one interested.  Once you receive the food, just warm them in the oven and microwave and it's ready to eat.  

Simply provide your child's age and dietary preferences and the Nurture Life culinary team will cook up your weekly menu.  You can go with the chef's choice menu or select meals from a seasonal and favorites menu.  All meals are made-to-order and crafted to fit your child's nutritional needs based on his or her stage of development.  

Nurture Life is fabulous for working moms who are busy and for stay-at-home mom's who'd like a break from cooking.  A subscription service could be a wonderful gift for any mom!

I was interested to try Nurture Life because it offered different options for Scarlett to try that I wouldn't normally think to make.  I generally make the same rotation of food for her with a new recipe every now and again.  In my opinion, giving Scarlett the opportunity to try new foods would be a positive thing and I hoped she would enjoy them.  From a mom's perspective, I was excited about not having to think about what to make her for dinner for five nights!

I selected mac and cheese with cauliflower, quinoa and chili bowl with cornbread crumble, spaghetti and chicken meatballs, spinach stuffed gnocchi, and chicken bites with mashed yams and green beans.  I hoped she would like everything and I tried to select meals for her that seemed up her alley.

The shipment arrived quickly and I was interested to see what Scarlett thought of the food.  I was delighted to be able to open the fridge and pull out a meal for her for dinner instead of actually making something myself.  Moms need a break from time to time! Another added bonus is there are no dishes to wash since your child can eat right from the tray.

For the first meal, Scarlett had the spaghetti and chicken meatballs with cauliflower and broccoli.  I chose not to give her the cheese sauce that came with it because she loves veggies plain and didn't think she needed it.  The portion sizes are a decent size for a toddler although Scarlett tends to sometimes eat a lot!

The food looked fresh and delicious.  I even wanted to try it! Scarlett had no problem digging right in and devoured the spaghetti and chicken meatballs immediately.  I liked that the large meatballs were chicken not beef, as chicken is much healthier for you.  She seemed to enjoy the meal thoroughly and I knew she was having something that was good for her.

Scarlett enjoyed the mashed yams, French green beans and chicken bites for dinner the next night.  When I microwaved the meal, the aroma of the mashed yams was strong and smelled fabulous! I had to sneak a bite and really enjoyed it.  This dinner is a really wonderful pairing of foods that you can feel good about serving your child.  Nothing is processed or artificial.

Since my toddler is a veggie lover, she went right for the green beans and inhaled them.  This meal contained 3 large chicken bites as well as a decent sized portion of green beans too.  I do wish there were more mashed yams since she enjoyed those too.  The chicken looked juicy and flavorful and Scarlett had no problem saying no to it!

For the third day, Scarlett had the mac and cheese with cauliflower for lunch.  She absolutely loves mac and cheese so I knew she'd be excited for her lunch.  What child doesn't though? The macaroni noodles were large and covered with a nice cheese and cauliflower sauce.  Again, the portion size was large and a good size for lunch.  I asked Scarlett if I could have some and she said no! Her passion for mac and cheese is strong and she has no time for sharing, I guess! I'm happy that she was so enthusiastic about her lunch.

It's safe to say that Scarlett has really been enjoying the options sent to her from Nurture Life so far.  I would highly recommend this meal subscription service if it's available in your area.  We'll surely be ordering again in the future!

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Nurture Life for providing me with complimentary meals in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Save Money on Luvs Diapers And Be Happy #ShareTheLuv #ad

As Scarlett has gotten older, the baby expenses have gotten less costly.  While we're happy to be saving money by not buying baby food, bottles, and formula anymore, we're still paying a decent amount for diapers monthly.  This has been one fixed cost since birth that isn't going away just yet!

For anyone who has a child in diapers, you know how expensive it is to purchase those cases! It's amazing how expensive they are, and it seems like they hardly last before you're out buying more.  I can't wait for Scarlett to be potty trained! We'll be trying seriously in June.  The higher diaper size your child wears, the less diapers there are of that size in the box.  Isn't that frustrating when it's still just as expensive as a smaller size box with more diapers? I'm always on the lookout for any sales or coupons on diapers especially since I'm a stay-at-home-mom.

If you're like me, you enjoy a good money saving deal whenever the opportunity strikes.  You're in luck since Luvs is offering both a $2 off coupon for any pack of box of Luvs in April 30th's newspaper as well as a $1 off print at home coupon! This coupon can be used anywhere where Luvs diapers are sold.   If the diapers are on sale in your store, you'll be able to save an additional $1 with this deal! Who doesn't love a money saving coupon?

Luv's diapers are softer and more absorbent than ever before, with large stretch tabs for easy fattening, ultra-leakage protection and a money-back guarantee. Luvs Ultra Leakguards with NightLock plus prove the high-quality feature babies and parents need for less cost than the premium brands.

There's nothing more comforting than your little one being able to sleep softly and soundly all night without waking up due to a leaky diaper.  You'll enjoy saving money on a fabulous diaper brand that you can rely on.

*DISCLOSURE* This review was made possible by iConnect and Luvs.  I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions stated are 100% mine.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Children Will Have a Great Night's Sleep With Pillows From A Little Pillow Company

I'm very lucky that Scarlett is a really good sleeper.  Since she's been 6 months old, she's sleeping through the night from 7:30 PM-7:30 AM.  I need to decompress and have some time for myself at night, so I'm happy that she takes her sleep seriously.  We introduced a pillow in her crib at 19 months and she adjusted to it quickly and enjoys it.  If she doesn't get enough sleep, she's cranky and irritable.  Make sure that your child is well-rested, it makes for a happier mama!

A Little Pillow Company offers a variety of comfortable pillows and pillow cases for children and adults.  If you're looking for a something soft and cushy to rest your head at night, A Little Pillow Company is where it's at.  Toddler pillows are offered for children 2-4 years old, while youth pillows are for ages 5-12.  For adults, the loft bed pillows are for ideal for side, back, and stomach sleepers.  The toddler and youth pillows have cute themed designs on them for boys and girls whether it's flowers, jungle animals, sheep, dots, or penguins for example.  You can have a matching pillow and case if you want, or opt for a themed case and solid white pillow.  Whichever type of pillow you choose, I can guarantee that you'll love it.

Since Scarlett is two, we opted for the toddler pillow to rest her cute little head on at night.  I chose a plain white pillow with an adorable pink sheep design on it.  Since Scarlett is an animal lover, I knew that the sheep would appeal to her.  This pillow is the safest, most trusted one available.  It's specifically designed in all ways for your precious little one.  The allergy-free toddler pillow was created in 2007 to provide the correct amount of lift for a toddler's neck using only the safest fabric and fill available.  A Little Pillow Company's pillows and cases are free from all flame-retardants and are constructed from strictly hypoallergenic materials.

The pillow was shipped extremely fast and I was excited to see her reaction when she used it for the first time.  Scarlett's favorite color is pink and she was happy to have the cute sheep in her bed with her.  The pillow is a perfect size at 13"x18" and fits well in her crib.  She touched the sheep and said "baaa" and laughed.  This child laughs at herself all the time! Her old toddler pillow was solid white with a white pillow case, so I thought it would be fun for this pillow to have a little more personality. 

I noticed that the pillow was firm yet soft too.  Scarlett had no issues laying on the pillow and seemed comfortable and happy.  The pillow case and pillow can easily wash in the washing machine if it gets dirty and that will make parents everywhere happy.  It's small enough to travel with or stow away in a suitcase if you're not traveling by car. 

In the future we may order a different case for her pillow if she wants something else, but right now she seems very happy with the adorable sheep.  Even I love them! Do you think she counts sheep at night to help her sleep? If she needs to, they are close by. :)

If you're looking for a reliable and comfortable pillow for your child it's time to place an order with A Little Pillow Company!

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to A Little Pillow Company for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Make Macy's Backstage A Part Of Your Closet #MacysPartner

I can't remember the last time I've shopped for me.  I constantly make sure my husband and my daughter's needs are met before I focus on anything else.  Before my daughter was born I would always shop for myself, but times have certainly changed.  I've been noticing that I need new summer clothes lately and finally decided to do something different and take care of me for once. It feels good to do so!

Macy's Backstage recently opened in my local mall and I couldn't be more excited.  This outlet store is popping up in Macy's around the country and hopefully your mall will have one soon! You'll quickly notice that shopping for every member in your family is affordable and easy thanks to Macy's Backstage.  As you walk around you'll see stylish clothing sections for men, women, and children as well as racks of shoes, accessories, and home decor.  Whether you need a new pair of sandals for your daughter for summer or your son needs shorts, theres truly something for everyone at prices that won't break the bank.  What could be better than that?

I visited my local Macy's Backstage today and was pleased at how much there was to choose from. Of course I wanted to immediately gravitate towards the toddler clothes section to look for my daughter, but I reminded myself that I was there to shop for me.  I made my way to the woman's clothes and was on the hunt for cute dresses and short sleeve tops both dressy and casual.  It's been a while since I've updated my wardrobe and really was excited for the opportunity.  

Since I spend most of my day with my daughter, I was on the hunt for versatile pieces that work for the playground and beyond.

The employees working at Macy's Backstage were extremely helpful and seemed to genuinely be excited to work there.  I was told that the stock changes frequently so it'll always be different every time you shop.  That's a good tip to have because you'll always be able to find something that you're looking for each and every time you shop.

The woman's clothing section had a lot of options and I instantly started scooping up everything I liked to try on.  I noticed all of the clothing was on trend with today's fashion and featured insanely low price tags too.  The low prices are helpful for anyone who has to stick to a shopping budget but really can still get a lot of bang for their buck.  In the end, I bought 2 dresses, a pair of shoes and 4 shirts for $150.  I don't think you'll find those prices on quality items in a department store anywhere else but Macy's Backstage.

I'm very excited about the pieces I ended up buying.  Everything fits me well and it's important to have sophisticated, classy items in your closet that can work for different occasions.  

Every woman needs to have a form fitting black dress for a party or event in her wardrobe.  The polkadot dress makes me feel confident while wearing it which is worth every penny.  Since there's ruching in the middle it helps to make you look smaller and hide any problem areas.  I'm only 5'0, so I'm happy the length is a good one for a short woman.  I'd pair the dress with black wedges or heels depending on what type of event it is.  I can definitely see myself wearing this for my upcoming wedding anniversary with my husband when we go out to dinner to celebrate.

The pink and white splatter shirt along with the black tank top and pink shirt are all great everyday casual items to have.  Whether you pair them with shorts, jeans, or capri's, they'll look fabulous all the same.  The splatter shirt would look great with tan or brown flats as well as a neutral colored sandal too.  I know the tank top would look adorable with white shorts and black sandals or flats too.  My favorite detail about the pink shirt is the flower cut out on the sleeves, it's so cute! Pair that shirt with black, white or a neutral colored shoe and you'll be stylish in no time.  All three of these shirts would look great while hanging around the park with Scarlett or taking her to a playdate too.

As soon as I saw the white dress, I instantly fell in love with it.  I wasn't sure how it was going to fit but it honestly fit me like a glove.  To say I was pleased with it would be an understatement.  This is my absolutely favorite thing that I bought and I can't wait to wear it on Mother's Day.  Depending on the weather I might have to wear a cardigan over it, but that's ok.  I want to either pair black or brown wedges with it, I'm not exactly sure which color yet.  The fabric is comfortable and breathable and I love the pattern featured on it.

The leopard wedges are fun and add some personality to your shoe rack for sure! I'd wear these with either a black dress or a brown or black shirt with capri's or shorts.  They not only fit well but are comfortable on too.  I can picture wearing these out to lunch with my husband or some friends.

The navy and white shirt is unlike anything I've ever owned before.  It's unique but I was really drawn to it and I love how it looks on.  I think it would look fabulous with white sandals with white shorts, don't you think?

I'm very happy with everything that I was able to buy from Macy's Backstage.  The items I purchased aren't like anything I already have in my closet and they really make me feel good about myself.  Feeling confident and secure with yourself is a wonderful feeling.  It's important to treat yourself to new clothes from time to time, and with Macy's Backstage pricing that can certainly be a reality.  Do something special for yourself, you deserve it.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Macy's for providing a gift card in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GOYA Foods Chicken and Cheese Tostadas Are Toddler Approved #GOYAFoods #BetterForYou #GOYA #RealLifeChef #GOYAGood

As a mom of a 2 year old, I'm always wanting and willing to try new recipes to make Scarlett happy with.  Meals some day can be a challenge while others are smooth sailing.  Since most toddlers enjoy chicken and cheese in dishes, I wanted to combine those two ingredients into something not only delicious but quick and easy too.  I know some moms are busy and tired at the end of the day, especially working moms.  This recipe can be created in no time at all and your toddler will definitely say yum!

In honor of Cinco De Mayo, GOYA Foods is launching a Better For You product line which features over 300 nutritious products.  Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines and I make a lot of Mexican inspired dishes for my family.  

I was sent a box containing various ingredients in order to make a new and unique recipe featuring tostadas.  As I thought about what to make, my daughter Scarlett came to mind.  She's a big fan of quesadillas which I make for her frequently, but I don't think she's ever had tostadas before.  Since they are similar, I figured she'd enjoy them.  I used the included ingredients of corn oil, Adobo, black beans, refried beans, and the tortillas.  From my fridge I took out shredded Mexican blend cheese as well as cubed chicken.  

To start, I spread a generous layer of refried beans on a tortilla and topped it with chicken and shredded Mexican cheese.  I poured a small amount of oil into a pan and turned the heat to high. Once the tortilla was in the pan I covered it until the cheese was melted and the chicken heated through.  The tortilla fries in the oil on the bottom and gets crispy and crunchy as it cooks.  Once the tostada was done, I could tell that it was perfectly crispy and fabulous.  I topped it off with halved tomatoes for color.

On the side, I served black beans that were tossed in lime juice and Adobo.  I had a bite and it was utterly so tasty.  The combination of the warm chicken and cheese combined with the cool tomatoes and the crunch of the tortilla was outstanding.  The black beans were perfect for rounding out the meal.  I don't know how I haven't made tostadas before! They will certainly be added to my rotation of recipes to make.

Scarlett absolutely loved the tostadas and ate it up in record time.  My child is a big cheese lover so I knew this would appeal to her.  

If you're looking for something new and exciting for your toddler's lunch or dinner, I'm sure they will absolutely love chicken and cheese tostadas.  

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Goya Foods for providing compensation and product ingredients in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Introduce Olivia's Cookies To Your Belly Today

When I see beautifully hand decorated cookies that are made with dedication and care, I wish I possessed that talent.  I love to admire those beautiful cookies in bakeshops that are not only works of art, but delicious too.  Unfortunately, I'll never have the skills to decorate like a professional does, but that doesn't mean my belly can't enjoy those masterpieces cookies just the same.  When's the last time you indulged in a cookie that not only pleased your eyes but your stomach too?

Olivia's Cookies is an Etsy shop ran by owner Karin who creates cookies that will make you say wow!  The range of cookies that she makes really has no end in sight.  Whether you need wedding favor cookies, as well as birthday, anniversary, baby shower, party theme, back to school or anything in between, Karin creates it.  Her cookies are simply stunning and almost too pretty to eat, but I'm sure you'll manage to eat them anyway! If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, she'll be able to happily create the cookies of your dreams.  Go ahead and contact Karin to make your special cookie order today.

Everyone who is a reader of my blog knows how much my daughter Scarlett loves Sesame Street. Her enthusiasm for the show seems to grow day by day actually.  I wanted to do something special for her and have Sesame Street themed cookies featuring some of the major characters of the show made for her.  I knew she'd be so excited and I was eagerly anticipating her reaction too.  

The cookies were shipped extremely fast and individually wrapped with bubble wrap to ensure they were protected and wouldn't break.  Karin did a wonderful job of hand decorating each cookie and I was impressed at how much they looked like each character.  The colors used were bold and vibrant and you can tell significant time was spent working on each cookie.  Since Scarlett's favorite is Elmo, I knew she'd want an Elmo cookie first.

When Scarlett first saw the cookies she was so excited! She screamed Elmo and had a huge grin on her face when looking at the order.  Who could blame her though? 6 of her best friends were turned into cookie form.  What could be better than that?

You can request certain flavors for the cookies like chocolate or vanilla, but these cookies were made in vanilla.  Each cookie is large and certainly able to curb any one's sweet tooth.  I thought the cookie was soft yet firm and had a very pleasant vanilla taste.  It was sweet, but not overly sweet and tasted extremely fresh too.

Scarlett is a sweets lover like her mom, so I knew she'd absolutely enjoy the cookie.  There's no sharing when it comes to treats with this child and she immediately ran off to ensure that sharing was not happening.  She said yummy while eating the cookie so it's safe to say she loved it.

We're going to put the rest of the cookies in the freezer so she can have a special treat during the next few weeks.  It'll be fun for her to have a Sesame Street cookie every so often, especially since she'll probably forget we have them.

I'm very impressed with Karin's work and will certainly be contacting her for any special cookie needs in the future.  If you're looking to make your next party or event a hit, Olivia's Cookies is waiting for your order.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Olivia's Cookies for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How To Save Money On Your Grocery Bill

As a stay-at-home mom, I'm always looking for ways to cut corners on my grocery bill.  My husband and Scarlett eat a lot and it seems like I have to make big portions of food to have all of us eat.  Of course all of this costs money and it feels like I'm constantly going to the grocery store.  It's nice to save money when you can, everyone enjoys it.

Here are some of my tips that allow you to save some $$ on your food bill and get the most bang for your buck.

1. Buy one get one free items.  For example a pack of Sargento cheese that's $3.99 is also buy one get one free.  So, you're getting two packs of cheese for $4.00, instead of $8.  That's a big savings! We go through sliced cheese a lot in my house for sandwiches or grilled cheeses.  

2. Make a volume of food that will last for your family for a few days.  I cook 5-6 nights a week. One night I might make a pan of baked ziti or a casserole and it lasts my family about two days and we can get a few meals out of it.  Scarlett may have it for lunch twice or so.  If you make a big pot of soup or a stew, that will feed your family for a while too.  Always try to buy everything on sale too if you can, that will instantly save you money.

3. Buy reduced meats if your grocery store has them.  My grocery store always reduces the meat set to expire in a day or two about 40% off. That's a big savings if you think about it.  If you freeze the meat, it lasts months.  I recently bought a large package of ground beef for $2.50.  I was able to make 26 meatballs with it for my family.  If you pair that with pasta, it's a cheap dinner.  Just pull the meats out of the freezer and defrost it when you need it. I use ground beef also for tacos and enchiladas as well as casseroles.  

I've found chicken sausage, turkey sausage and chicken breast for 40% off and have bought a few packages of each to freeze.  The options for what you can make with those items are endless.  My family loves Perdue chicken burgers and today when I went to the grocery store they were on sale for $2.69 for four patties.  My husband has two burgers and Scarlett and I each have one.  So $2.69 for a main meal is great! All you need is rolls and a small side to go with it.

4. Check the bakery department for reduced breads and bakery items.  I can always find nice rolls or breads that are great for sandwiches.  Today, I found chocolate chip sea salt pretzel cookies that were originally $5 reduced down to well under $3.  I probably would not buy them at $5, but for the reduced price you bet I grabbed them.

I hope these tips help and save you some dough.  Happy shopping!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Scarlett's Love Affair With Elmo

For as long as I can remember, Scarlett's had a big basket of stuffed animals in her room. Most of them were gifted to her at my baby shower, or when she was born.  It's a traditional cast of characters including bears, dogs, and the like.  She never really had a big interest in them and didn't care to play with them too much.

The basket contained a small stuffed Elmo that I always thought was cute.  He was soft and very cuddly.  Right around 18 or 19 months, the love affair with the furry monster began. Scarlett noticed the Elmo one day and it was honestly love at first sight.  Her love for Elmo was calm at first but then progressed into an obsession fairly quickly.  When she wakes up in the morning, she starts talking to Elmo as soon as she's up.  You can hear her babbling to him! It's very cute.  

When you walk into her room in the morning, she is holding up a various Elmo for you to see.  If you don't acknowledge Elmo she will get annoyed and shove him in your face! I usually say "good morning Elmo! How did you sleep?" We have 5 or 6 Elmo's that stay in her crib and make her extremely happy.  They are all different and some speak or dance.  
Facetiming with Elmo! 

She carries around a different Elmo through the house all day.  She chooses which one she'll spend the day with since she has so many to pick from.  Elmo eats breakfast next to Scarlett in her high chair, and sometimes I even let him have some of her toast.  She loves when I pretend to make Elmo eat.

Besides stuffed Elmo's, we have Elmo slippers, books, DVD's toys,, and of course Elmo clothing and bedding.  She gets very excited to see Elmo on Sesame Street and will wildly point and dance when he's on TV while screaming Elmo.

Scarlett's Elmo themed 2nd birthday shirt

Introducing Miss Elmo 2017

Elmo participating in dress-up

You can frequently see her cuddling and kissing her stuffed Elmo's.  If you go to a toy store, don't even let her see an Elmo toy or book because she'll want it instantly.  We've had many meltdowns in Walmart or Target because of this! Scarlett can see an Elmo item from a mile away.  What can I say? She only has eyes for Elmo.

Scarlett's Valentine's Day cards that she handed out to her class this year were even Elmo themed!

Scarlett had a Sesame Street themed 2nd birthday this past December and absolutely loved it.  Her love affair with the furry monster has gone on for about a year now and there's no stopping it! We'll be going back to Sesame Place this summer and I'm sure she'll be beyond excited.

Spring Cleaning Makes Me Happy

My husband and I along with our dog moved into our 1,500 square foot house in 2014.  The house seemed so large as we had come from an 800 square foot apartment.  Scarlett wasn't born until 7 months later and her clothes and stuffed animals were contained in her room.

Fast forward 3 years later and my child's possessions seem to take over the house completely. You'll walk into the kitchen and see a fake lemon on the floor and it's not uncommon to find fake vegetables or Mr. Potato's head ear on the bathroom floor either.  Even though my third level loft is a playroom, kids can't keep all their toys contained! My once spacious house doesn't feel as large anymore.  

I routinely like to purge and get rid of clothes and books for example as much as I can.  Frequently, I'll give away Scarlett's outgrown clothing to my friend who has a daughter 18 months younger than Scarlett.  I save my favorite outfits and then give the rest away.  It's impossible to keep everything. My husband doesn't share my let it go philosophy as much as I do, even though I wish he did. Yesterday, we were able to go through the garage and organize it better as well as get rid of unwanted items.  It makes you feel good to get rid of things you don't need anymore and have more room! 

As it gets warmer, I'd like to spend a weekend morning cleaning out closets and getting rid of old clothes and shoes.  I haven't had the opportunity to do that in quite some time and I know there's a lot I can donate. 

Are you doing spring cleaning this year? What are you most looking forward to getting rid of?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Your Tummy Will Say YUM to Bang Cookies!

Cookies are everything to me.  There's nothing quite like them and they make me very happy.  I could eat them every single day without fail.  My dentist probably hates me.  How can anyone resist freshly baked, warm cookies? Of course you can't forget a tall glass of milk to go with them either. Chocolate chunk, snicker doodle, and a monster cookie with tons of add-in's like pretzels and candy are just three of my favorite types of cookies.  If this doesn't appeal to you, I don't think you're human.  Go ahead and have a cookie or twelve today, I know I will.

Bang Cookies is a relatively new company on the cookie scene.  Their round yummies are baked fresh in Jersey City, New Jersey and made with only the best organic ingredients to make them extra tasty.  You can pick them up locally at their warehouse or they can be shipped to a lucky recipient of your choice.  What's different about these cookies, you ask? Well you'll be delighted to know that they are made extra large to please your belly and taste buds.  I'm sure you won't be able to turn down such delectable flavors as sea salt chocolate chunk, triple chocolate chunk, peanut butter chocolate chunk, s'mores, oatmeal raisin and many more.  If you're a cookie lover, you absolutely must try Bang Cookies.  I can guarantee you won't want to share though!

As a cookie-aholic through and through, I was more than pleased when an order of Bang Cookies showed up at my door.  When I opened the box, there were 6 of the most beautiful cookies inside that I've ever laid my eyes on.  The flavors were chocolate chunk walnut, white chocolate macadamia nut, peanut butter chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, sea salt chocolate chunk, and triple chocolate.  I couldn't get over how large and in charge these cookies were, they were certainly unlike any cookie I had ever seen or had before.  A cookie from Bang Cookies is certainly meant for a hardcore cookie lover like myself.  I knew that my belly had a date with one of these treats and I'm sure the date would be one to remember.

My husband was home at the time of delivery and couldn't get over the cookies himself either! He's a sweets lover just like me and we can do some sugar damage together if given the opportunity. Well the opportunity had arrived and it was time to dig in! He chose the peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie while I of course opted for the triple chocolate.  Triple chocolate is my middle name, if you didn't already know.

While these cookies are super sized, they also pack a lot of weight too.  When you pick one up you'll notice how heavy it is.  I was actually surprised because I had never held a cookie that heavy before.  It's full of fabulous ingredients according to each flavor that will make you say yum through each and every bite.

The triple chocolate chunk combines dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark Belgian cocoa all in one to make your chocolate dreams a reality.  I noticed that the cookie was a beautiful rich, deep brown color that meant that it would be full of everything I could want.  Since the cookie was so dense and rich, I only had half.  Each bite was filled with the most luscious, sweet chocolate flavor that I had ever had.  The cookie itself was soft and moist and extremely fresh.  Easily, it was hands down one of the best cookies I've had in my entire life.  Whoever thought to combine all three of these chocolates together definitely ranks high in my book.  Pair this with a tall glass of milk and you've got yourself the perfect mid-day treat.

My husband Jay's ideal sweet treat would be some kind of chocolate combined with peanut butter, whether it's ice cream, a cake, or even a cookie. Of course he was thrilled when they had his favorite flavor made into a monster cookie.  The peanut butter chunk weds chocolate in a match made in heaven.  If you love salty and sweet, this cookie is definitely for you as it has the perfect blend of milk and dark chocolate to make your taste buds dance.

Once Jay cut his cookie in half, he was presented with a huge amount of peanut butter filling along with large chocolate chunks.  Besides our wedding day and our daughter Scarlett being born, I think this was the best day of his life.  I couldn't blame him at all.

Jay was blown away by this soft and delectable treat and thought the ratio of peanut butter and chocolate was the perfect balance.  Peanut butter and chocolate is such a classic pairing that you can never go wrong with.  The cookie was sweet and fabulous, truly everything you could want out of a round piece of heaven.

We're more than satisfied with the cookies we've tried so far, and look forward to trying the other flavors very soon.  Since I have zero self control, it'll be a lot sooner rather than later! An order of cookies from Bang Cookies makes the ideal birthday present for a friend or a family member, as well a gift for truly any occasion.  It's impossible to say no to cookies.

If you wish to order Bang Cookies, please use promo code SAMMI15OFF at checkout to save 15% on your purchase.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Bang Cookies for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are truly my own. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My Love for Zulily Is Through The Roof

As I've mentioned previously, I enjoy online shopping.  There's something exciting about making a purchase for something you want or need and waiting for it to show up outside your door.  Online shopping is fantastic, you can skip the crowds and the lines and purchase anything from the comfort of your own home.  What could be better?

Zulily is the one website where I have a lot of trouble not making a purchase.  If you haven't been on Zulily before, let me inform you of how fabulous it is.  The website offers daily deals from top retailers and beyond that are anywhere from 40-80% off.  You can save some serious dough on home and garden items, clothing, toys and games, shoes, accessories, and so much more.  There's truly something for everyone and it can be downright dangerous for your wallet! It's hard for me to stay away and I sometimes can't!

I mostly shop on Zulily for Scarlett since they offer unique and interesting clothing options for babies, children, and adults that you can't find in a local store.  The prices are always so reasonable and Scarlett can look adorable for a fraction of the cost of what the outfit would be in a department store.  All of her summer sandals and some rompers and dresses came from Zulily and they fit her great.  

The toy options are also quite different from most toys that you'd see in your local chain retail shop. They do have name brand toy companies, but there are a lot of small Mom & Pop type companies that they give a chance to as well.  Zulily offers a lot of learning and educational toys which make moms everywhere happy.  I know I enjoy Scarlett learning through play and Zulily is big on this. There's always something fun and exciting that kids will love.  

Zulily has a wonderful return policy if you aren't satisfied with what you've bought.  Sometimes an item you buy doesn't work out and that's ok, they don't ask many questions for the return and want you to be satisfied.  

You're able to sign up for alerts that tell you when your favorite company or brand is featured again on Zulily, which allows you to never miss out on your beloved brands.  

Once you make a purchase you have free shipping for a limited period of time.  I like this option because shipping is sometimes pricey, when you have the advantage of free shipping on something you may have forgotten to buy it makes you feel important.  

There's nothing that I don't like about Zulily! I highly recommend the website and look forward to buying and saving lots of $$ on my next purchase! Go check them out today and you'll quickly become a fan.

*DISCLOSURE* I am not receiving compensation from this post.  I am simply sharing my love of Zulily with an audience.  All thoughts are strictly my own.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Delight Your Belly with Zoodles with Shrimp, Spinach, And Tomatoes Tonight

I always try to make healthy substitutions for my family when it comes to fat and calories. We opt for turkey chili or chicken burgers rather than beef.  Of course we do occasionally indulge in full fat options which is a treat when it occurs.  Taking care of yourself should be everyone's top priority, and it's easy to make low-cal options of your favorite unhealthy meals!

I've recently started experimenting with spiralized veggies.  Not only do these beautiful curly veggies look perfect in salads or side dishes, they work ideally in main entrees too.  If you're not familiar with spiralized vegetables, it's truly a vegetable in spiral form using a handy kitchen spiralizer.  I purchased my own spiralizer but my local grocery store sells spiralized veggies for those who don't have a spiralizer.  I'm sure your market would sell them too.  My favorite spiralized veggie to use in dishes is zucchini, but you can use carrots, squash, or any other vegetable that you like best.

Let's face it, everyone loves pasta.  Pasta comes in so many shapes and sizes and works fabulously with seafood, chicken, fish, and beef.  You can pair that lovely pasta with a variety of sauces for a wonderful meal. What's the downfall, you ask? Well the calories of course! Pasta is unhealthy especially covered with tons of sauce and cheese.  Wouldn't it be nice if you could have a pasta alternative at home that's just as delicious but cuts the calories and fat in half? 

You'll love zoodles with spinach, tomatoes, and shrimp for a light and healthy dinner any night.  If you're allergic to seafood or don't like it, feel free to substitute with another meat or even tofu for a veggie option.

I buy the frozen shrimp that's unpeeled with the tail on.  To start, you'll have to peel the shrimp and take the tails off.  Once you've done that, put olive oil in a large pan and season the shrimp with your favorite seasonings.  I like to use Adobo since it's all purpose.  I also added a little bit of butter too.  

While the shrimp is cooking, add the zoodles, spinach, and halved cherry tomatoes into another pan with a small amount of oil.  Season to taste.  Everything should cook pretty quickly in about 5 minutes. You'll know the shrimp is cooked through when it's translucent and pink.  Don't overcook it though.  Make sure the spinach is completely wilted and the zoodles and tomatoes heated through.  Pour the shrimp into this pan to heat again.  Once everything is finished, add in marinara sauce and stir to cover.  I used vodka sauce, but use what you like best.  

You'll be presented with a restaurant worthy dish that you've made in practically no time.  This is a great recipe for working mom's who are looking for a quick and easy dinner for the family.  You'll surely be adding this one to your recipe book!

Mom Groups Are Essential When You're a Stay At Home Mom

When Scarlett was first born, it was just me, her, and our house.  My pediatrician told us not to go out for the first 3 months of her life because it was winter and she didn't have her shots yet.  I didn't last the 3 months, but only made it 8 weeks.  It was so difficult being stuck inside with a newborn during the snow and freezing cold temperatures.  I certainly felt like I was going insane at certain times, and a simple trip to the grocery store alone at night felt like a vacation.

I found a local group in my area when Scarlett was a few weeks old.  There were scheduled activities weekly and sometimes even daily! This was definitely what I needed and I was very excited.  I couldn't wait to connect with other moms and meet new people.

Once Scarlett was old enough, we made it to our first activity which was my library's story time.  Even though Scarlett slept through it at 9 weeks old, it was a chance for me to connect with others.  Plus, I really loved getting out of the house! I had a wonderful time and was so glad for the opportunity.

Fast forward two years later and I'm very active in my mom's group and have made wonderful friends.  Scarlett and I do activities 2-3 times a week and it gives her a chance to socialize as well as me.  My group has trips to museums, playgroups, park outings, story time, county events, and so much more.  There's even Mom's Night Out dinners without the kids or husbands! 

If you're a mom of a little one or will be having a new baby soon, I highly recommend joining a mom's group.  You'll love the opportunities that come with it! 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Hand Painted Elmo Shoes Will Surely Make Scarlett Smile

As I've previously mentioned before, Scarlett has more shoes and clothes than she probably needs.  I sometimes have a hard time saying no to a cute outfit or a pair of shoes I know she'll love. Of course I try to convince myself that it's okay that she has a large wardrobe because I didn't spend that much on each item.  Having a girl is so much fun and some of Scarlett's favorite pieces are special custom or handmade ones, that you cannot buy in any store! Make sure your child has some out of the ordinary items like that in their closet, they'll love it!

Sneezy23 is an Etsy shop ran by owner Susan who creates fabulous hand-painted children's shoes, shirts, and hair bows.  She is extremely talented and can make anything you ask her to.  I wish I had this kind of talent! Her canvas painted shoes in her shop range from Mickey Mouse and Sesame Street to Spongebob Squarepants and characters from the movie Frozen.  If you don't see exactly what you're looking for, ask her to create something that your child will love.

The shoes come in black or tan canvas, depending on your taste.  Susan's hair bows are also equally as adorable and would look great in any little girl's hair.  If you're looking for an Easter present or birthday present for your child or relative, a pair of hand painted shoes with a character or design they love will truly make them happy.

Since Scarlett is still as Elmo crazed as ever, I knew she'd love to have a pair of painted Elmo shoes.  I've never seen anything so fun and unique in my life and knew that her closet would appreciate them! Susan was very sweet and easy to work with which was wonderful.  I sent her an image of Elmo that I wanted and she was able to copy it exactly on the shoes.  Since Elmo is red, I thought that the black canvas shoes offered a perfect background.

Once the shoes came in the mail, Scarlett was so excited when she saw them.  She screamed out Elmo and wanted to put them on right away.  As a parent, it always makes my heart happy to see my child happy.  There's no better feeling than that! The shoes are slightly big which is good since it offers Scarlett room to grow into them. 

I was so impressed at how great of a job Susan did with painting Elmo.  The painting truly looks just like Elmo and the colors are bright and bold.  These shoes are certainly a conversation starter and something that no other child at school will have!

Scarlett will surely be excited to wear these for some time to come.  The shoes will look great with shorts, capri's, or even pants.  I know she'll enjoy wearing them to the playground or camp this summer too.  Anytime Elmo is involved in anything she does, she's guaranteed to have a great time!

If you're looking for a special and memorable pair of shoes for your little one, it's time to make a purchase at Susan's Etsy shop.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Sneezy23 for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Family Fun Awaits You At Fairfield University's Quick Center

Now that Scarlett is a little bit older, I've recently been thinking about taking her to more live shows and performances for her age.  Her first live show was Sesame Street last September when she 21 months old.  She absolutely loved it and sat still for the entire hour and a half show! These experiences make memories and are perfect outings for a day of quality family time.  When's the last time you took your family to see a live show?

Fairfield University's Quick Center in Fairfield, CT hosts many live performances, shows, and speakers throughout the year.  There's always something interesting and unique going on that can't be missed.  Check the Quick Center calendar for the school to see what's upcoming that you'd like to attend.  

My family and I have actually never been to the Quick Center for entertainment before.  The establishment was recently recommend to me and I've been curious to find out more.  When I found out we had the opportunity to attend a performance of The Little Prince on April 23rd, I knew it was a chance we couldn't pass up! The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is one of the most beloved books of all time since it was written in 1943.  It has sold over 150 million copies in almost 300 languages and it's certainly a classic in everyone's heart.

This iconic masterpiece is a tale for all ages with inventive puppets, live actors, original music and set design that bring to life the heart-warming story of the Little Prince.  This story provides rare and unique insight into love, loss, and laughter.  The show is perfect for all ages and the whole family will  be focused on the multi-layered visual feast produced by Sean and Patrick Johnson, who are trained puppeteers at the Jim Henson Company.  

I know Scarlett will enjoy the show since she is interested in anything involving puppets, like The Muppets and Sesame Street.  I can't wait to see her reaction when it starts!

We're looking forward to the show as well as attending many other future performances.  If you're looking for something new and different for your family to do, it's time to see what The Quick Center has to offer.  

Please visit this link for show information as well as buying tickets.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Fairfield University for providing complimentary tickets in exchange for this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Every Baby Will Love Evenflo's Pivot Travel System

If you're pregnant and due to have a baby in the next few months, I'm sure you've been getting everything ready for your newest addition.  Once the nursery is done and you have all of the finishing touches completed, it's time to think about the baby gear.  You'll want a stroller that is lightweight and compact, yet stylish and easy to fold when on the go.  As for your baby's car seat, you'll want something that is safe, reliable, and comfortable for your little one.  This is where Evenflo steps in.

Evenflo is passionate about children and creates carefully designed products for your child and infant.  There are so many products to choose from including swings, car seats, strollers, highchairs, baby gates, and more.  I'm sure many of you have had or do have Evenflo products on your baby registry. If you're thinking of what to get your friend for her baby shower, an Evenflo swing would be great for her new baby to snooze in during the day.  You can trust the brand for quality products that you will use for years to come.  Keep Evenflo in mind for any of your baby shower gifting needs.

My husband and I are planning to have a second child in the near future.  While I am not expecting just yet, I do want to be prepared for when baby comes and have all the gear I need.  I've heard wonderful things about Evenflo's Pivot Travel System and know that I'd like to have it for my second child.  One thing that I've admired on expensive top-of-the-line strollers is the carriage for baby to lay down flat and sleep while strolling.  This travel system offers this unique feature and I absolutely love it!

The Evenflo Pivot is a stylish travel system with three reversible modes including carriage, frame stroller with infant car seat, and toddler stroller which lets baby face you or the world.  Moms everywhere will love the large, 3-panel canopy providing full coverage on sunny days, the cruiser tires and ergonomic handle which offer a smooth ride and effortless handling.  Since the stroller is gender neutral it's ideal for both girls or boys as it comes in grey or sandstone.

Baby can grow from 4-35 lbs while using the SafeMax rear-facing infant car seat which can go from car to stroller with ease.  Simply snap the carseat into the base and you're good to go.  The car seat is incredibly safe and has been designed and tested for structural integrity.  If you're bringing your little one around town for the day, the toddler stroller mode features multiple recline positions, a flex-hold parent cup holder so you and your child can cruise along in comfort.  

You'll love the large storage basket on the bottom of the stroller that can hold all of your purchases or items for baby like diapers and wipes.  No worries, the stroller is easy to push with its high handle bar and glides and turns with ease.  The stroller folds easily in the trunk of your car or in the garage for storage and future use.  

The stroller holds a maximum weight of 50 lbs which will ensure your child will get many years of use out of it.  Moms and babies alike will agree Evenflo is the way to go!

You'll definitely agree that this travel system is the one for you and your family.  I'm sure you'll be recommending it to everyone you know soon!

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Evenflo for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.