Sunday, September 30, 2012

Samsung Galaxy SIII, my initial thoughts

This morning my husband asked me if I prefer using the Samsung over my iPhone and I couldn't answer the question. There are many things I love about both phones but to choose one or the other I was stumped. So he changed his question to which do I prefer....the android operating system or the IOS of an iPhone.

That one was easy. I prefer the Android. Sure there are a few features that the iPhone has that the Samsung does not BUT the Samsung puts the iPhone to shame in how much more it offers. Here are just a few things I mentioned to him that I prefer.

  • First and foremost is the back button. Something so simple yet very, very useful. 
  • Camera Megapixels. I know more is not always better but on a itty bitty phone I think it definitely helps take better quality photos. 
  • Speed. This one I have actually argued with my husband about on a few occasions. He didn't believe me that the Android put the iPhone to shame in the speed of use. Especially while using apps such as Facebook and Twitter. I cannot tell you how many time my iPhone froze or took over two minutes just to load. I have never had either issue with an Android. 
  • Complete customization. I love playing around with the settings and making the phone my own, not just a standard everyone has this phone. There are so many different ways to customize your phone that I know I have barely scratched the surface. 
Over time I am sure I will have changed my phone over at least ten times. The fun with that is being able to rediscover things and discover new things about the phone. So far though I am absolutely in love with the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

Verizon Ambassadors

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Making holiday shopping easier with Kmart layaway

This is a sponsored post, I am a Kmart Layaway blogger, though all opinions are my own.

BLG_Logo_Horizontal.jpg (3 documents, 3 total pages)

Would you believe that I have never actually used layaway? Yeah, sad isn't it. I have always wanted to use a layaway program and this year I plan to take full advantage with Kmarts free layaway. For me it's kind of like going on a shopping spree for free. Okay not really free free but being able to make payments and having no service fees associated with Kmarts layaway is a HUGE help for a single family income. Another thing I love and I think is genius is that their layaway program is not just during the holidays but year round! So you can start your holiday shopping or birthday shopping at any time during the year. Here is a brief breakdown on what Kmart layaway offers versus some other major retailers.

Kmart Free Layaway Grid 09_12.jpg

Another benefit is being able to shop from home. I know many of you might not think this is a huge deal but being a stay at home Mom to three children does has it's disadvantages when it comes to shopping for gifts. It's rare when I get a chance to go out with out my kiddos so given the chance to shop online or in the store I will choose online. It's not just for the conienance either. My kids, bless their little hearts but they don't know how to keep a secret and I don't want any surprise ruined for any of them by someone saying "ohhhhh Mommy and Daddy got you a _________" for Christmas!" Yes it has happened and I have since learned my lesson on shopping for holiday gifts with my little ones.

I've been browsing their layaway and have already found a few...okay a lot of things that I would love to get my kids this year.

My kids would absolutely flip over this playset. Not only would it look great in the yard but it would provide hours of fun for the kids.

My daughter has been asking for a Monster High Doll ever since they first came out.

My youngest is all boy and loves all things Lego, he has been known to steal his big brothers Legos as soon as my oldest turns his back so this would be perfect for him.

And my oldest while he is also a lover of Legos he is also a lover of airplanes and has been hinting about wanting a remote control airplane. I think this one would be a great starter for him to take to our local remote control airplane strip.


As if we would need another reason to go check out Kmart and their layaway program, right now they have a fabulous giveaway kick off this years holiday season. Kmart's Big Layaway Giveaway. There will be one winner, every every week from every store who will win their remaining balance of their layaway cart being paid off. Yes you read that right, they will pay the balance on your layaway cart! So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Kmarts free layaway and start your holiday shopping!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Food safety and common myths debunked

Being a (newly) working Mom of three little one's dinner time is not always easy peasy. I try my hardest to plan out our meals so my children will have home cooked food every night. But planning it out doesn't always mean that it will happen. Long days, cranky kids, tired Mommy can equal me looking for a fast fix. And by fast I mean using the microwave. While it is easy it's not always better.

Today I want to talk about a few food myths with you all and how to be safe in preparing food for your family.

MYTH:  “If I microwave food, the microwaves kill the bacteria, so the food is safe.”

Have you heard that statement before? I have and I have never understood why someone would say that. I mean yeah it heats up your food really fast BUT do they not think about exactly how is it that it is heating up their food and are you sure it's even cooking it all the way?

Fact: Harmful bacteria may remain harmful if food heats unevenly.

Bacteria doesn't just up and disappear on it's own. You need to ensure that you are following the directions of the food that you're preparing in the microwave. You also need to take precautions such as washing food if it needs it, stirring food occasionally while cooking, rotating your food while cooking to make sure that the food is being cooked throughout.

MYTH:  “I don’t need to use a food thermometer.  I can tell when my food is cooked by looking at it or checking the temperature with my finger.”

FACT: YOU NEED TO USE A FOOD THERMOMETER. Color, texture, and steaming are NOT indicators that a food is safe to eat. The only sure way to know food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer.

HELLO? Really? This one should be a no brainer. I know when you are pressed for time and rushing around trying to get dinner ready sometimes it's the most important things that we overlook. This should not be one of them. I never ever cook pork without my handy dandy thermometer. I have read that you can tell just by looking at the juices but for me that isn't enough for me to feel comfortable. I want to make sure my pork is fully cooked so I am not feeding undercooked meat to my family and risking their health. The great thing about meat thermometers is they are fairly inexpensive. So the next time you go to the store pick up one, or two, or five. Keep them in a drawer next to your stove so they are readily available next time you cook meat.

Below is a handy dandy printout for you. Print it out and hang it on your fridge for quick reference while cooking food for your family. If you're like me and cooking is a passion, one that you plan/hope to pass down to your children, you might like to be educated in making sure your cooking is doing more good then harm, then you might want to check out Food Safety and Fightback to educate yourself on popular food myths and safety. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Drive safe with the Safely Go App

Did you know that 23% of ALL traffic crashes (which is at least 1.3 million crashes every year) involve cell phone. And an estimated 1.2 million crashes each year involve drivers talking on cell and at least 100,000 additional crashes are related to drivers who are texting. Those numbers are scary and insanely high. While modern technology is fantastic and always evolving and helping our lives they can also be a distraction, one that we cannot afford while driving. 

Safely Go by Safely is a new free app for Android based phones that is aimed at cutting down on the distractions while driving.
Here's how it works.
  • When you set up your account you can choose to make three contacts your "VIP" contacts. In doing so you will only be allowed to receive phone calls and/or text from those three individuals.
  • While driving and having Safely Go on if you receive a text from someone that is not on your VIP list it will automatically send a text message that you’re on the road and driving safely.
  • Automatically enables calls through your Bluetooth or other hands-free device while driving
  • It will only give you access only to your top three driving apps such as maps, navigation or music. 
Setting up the app is very easy and pretty self explanatory. Make sure that you have your contacts in your contacts list on your phone that you plan on selecting as your VIP's because if they aren't in there they wont show up in Safely Go. When selecting the auto-reply message you can either stick with the default message or type one of your own. 

Starting this app is not difficult at all and I personally love that and think it's fabulous because it's not a ten step process for you to go through when you get into your car. Simply open the app and select the green "GO" circle. Your screen will then look something like the photo below. And that's all you have to do. When you're done driving simply select exit and the app will close.

I plan on running this app on my Samsung Galaxy SIII every time I get in the car because while I try my hardest to keep my full attention on the road and not distracted by technology, alas I am not a saint and I am after all only human. With the app being free and with the statistics out there why wouldn't you want something to help keep your attention where it should be.

Verizon Ambassadors

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mabels Labels, perfect for my family and yours

Mabels Labels was created by moms who were frustrated by the amount of stuff that was being lost. I am sure we can all relate to that huh. So, they created labels that were dishwasher, microwave, and laundry safe for all moms to label their childrens belongings. 

I may have gone a little overboard on going through my kids school and everyday items. I put them on all of the kids backpacks, lunch boxes, all sandwich containers, thermoses, inside their shoes, their sweaters, beanies, gloves and even on a few special toys around the house. Then again I am glad I did because last year we lost not only a lunch pail but a sweater and a few gloves. I even put my own labels on my phone, inside my purse and on some makeup that I am constantly loosing and of course my laptop.

In addition to their childrens' labels they also make allergy labels, write on labels, sticky labels, waterproof labels, iron on labels and more. One of my favorite sets that they offer is the Ultimate Back to School Combo set. With three little one's in school it's perfect for all of their school necessities. 
The ultimate back to school combo set includes:
  • 40 Skinny-Minis
  • 50 Tag Mates
  • 16 Shoe Labels
  • 2 Teeny Tags  
The teeny tags are also great for luggage as well and for school backpacks. Especially if you ever run into more then one kid having the same backpack at school. Eventually it may happen and having a little tag on the outside helps the kids identify which pack is theirs.

To wrap it up I am in LOVE with Mabels Labels. I think what they have done with their labels is absolutely genius! I come close to using up all of my labels and I can't wait to order some more. Are they my newest bet they are!
*I received a package of Mabels Labels to facilitate my review. All opinions therein are of my own.*

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

I have never been an organized person, I am more of a on the whim let things flow gal but lately deciding what to make for dinner has become more of a chore then an enjoyable experience as it once was for me. I love cooking, always have so in attempts to get back to the enjoyable side I have decided to try my hand and making a weekly meal plan.
I have avoided doing this for quite some time now because my thinking was that it would take forever me forever to sit down and plan it all out but in reality it took me under ten minutes. I think I mentally overwhelmed myself by assuming I had to do it a month at a time. But doing it weekly I can handle. Here is what I came up with for next weeks menu.

Week of 09/17 Menu

Monday: Curry Chicken
I love Curry Chicken. It is such a simple meal to make and one that is never a disappointment. Even my kids love it. 

Tuesday: Spaghetti
Another simple dish. I let my sauce cook most of the day and by dinner time all the flavors have infused wonderfully.

Wednesday: Wild Rice Chicken Casserole
I haven't made this dish in a while but as I sit here next to the open windows while it's a beautiful 65 degrees out I just had to include a nice fall/winter dish.

Thursday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Again inspired by the coolness outside I wanted a soup but nothing too heavy.

Friday: Leftovers
Waste not want not. I know not all people are leftover fans but I absolutely love them. It's the perfect time to have a little bit of everything from the week and to make sure nothing gets wasted. 

Saturday: Chicken Tostadas
While my husband is at work I usually leave the weekends as my easy days in the kitchen. And this is one of the kids favorite meals. It's a win win.

Sunday: BBQ chicken sandwiches
This will be a new one for us. My mom used to make BBQ Pork sandwiches while we were growing. While my kids aren't a big fan I thought a new twist might work. Fingers crossed.

My fridge and pantry are a little bare right now but luckily I do have a lot of the basics for these recipes so my shopping list will (thankfully) be semi short.

Now the biggest obstacle for me....sticking to it! Fingers crossed people.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunset Sunday-The airport never sleeps

Funny story. I was doing some work on my laptop last night when I kept getting these notifications that my dropbox was being updated. So what's a girl to do but be nosy and see what was being added. My husband, while completely adorable is a bit of a dork, was taking tons of pictures of what I think was clouds. If not they were completely random building pictures with neat clouds in the back ground. So yeah I will go with the former.
Realizing I once again didn't take any sunset photos I asked him to take a few for me to share in today's Sunset Sunday post. Like a good hubby he obliged and sent over about ten photos. These were my two favorites from the group he took.

He said the pictures were just eh but I disagree. I  absolutely love how the sun was right in the middle of the second shot and the tail of the plane was right in front of the sun in the second photo and in the first one with the one plane park and another in the background taxing somewhere it just shows how even while the sky may be peaceful and slow moving an airport never sleeps. So thank you hunny for sharing your photos with me so I could share them here.
Do you love sunsets? Have tons of photos of them, or maybe even just a few? I would love for you to join us in Sunset Sundays and share a few of your favorites.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cradle of Rome 2 Winner

And the winner of the Cradle of Rome 2 for Nintendo 3 DS is........drum roll please......

CONGRATS commenter #33 @misaacmom  who said "i would love to win this for my DD". I hope your daughter loves it! I will send you an email shortly Mary.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Not your ordinary family

I am in an odd kind of mood today and I just realized about an hour ago that it's Wednesday and not Tuesday.  On the plus side that means were one day closer to the weekend. Down side, I am mentally a day behind hence this post going up late. In a mad rush for getting this post up I went on the hunt for silly pictures of my kids for today's Wordless Wednesday. And HELLO WW peeps! It's been a while.

I remembered on our last hoorah my daughter cracking up while in the pool because of her hair. It was such a funny moment I knew I had to include this picture.

And this one makes me laugh every time I see it. He kept asking to be thrown into the pool but this was the only shot I got of it. I just love how he almost looks like he is sitting.

I take full responsibility for this. I used to try and get my baby sister to go cross eyed at a baby and some way some how I thought it would be funny to see if my daughter could go cross eyed. You think it worked? Yeah ever since about a year ago she now goes crossed eyed on her own and darn her for making me laugh while she does it.

My big boy being brave and sliding into the water! I love how big his cheeks are from holding his breath. And it makes me giggle that his eyes are closed. Still working on getting over his fear of water but this....this is awesome for him.

I think I found some winners here...what say you?

For more inspiring photos be sure to check out:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunset Sunday-Good morning?

I know the title may throw some of you but while I was browsing through my photos looking for one to post for this weeks Sunset Sunday I came across a picture I took with my cell phone (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately) on our train ride from Paris to Brussels. Seeing it I knew that I had to share it, even though it isn't a sunset but instead a sunrise.

It's gorgeous isn't it? I know I am biased here but there's something just so peaceful about this photo. The start of a new day, a new beginning. That is what sunrises symbolize to me. And when I see a stunning sunrise it reminds me to make the day extra special. I will never forget this sunrise. Even though I was running off less then four hours sleep and less sleep the day before I was getting ready to fly home to see the most precious things in my life, my children. So for me having that little reminder that I needed to make my day great and knowing I would be seeing my babies soon it will forever be carved in my memory. And that is why I had to share this sunrise picture instead of a sunset for this weeks sunset Sunday.

Do you love sunsets? Have tons of photos of them, or maybe even just a few? I would love for you to join us in Sunset Sundays and share a few of your favorites.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Julie and I were chatting on twitter the other day about soups and I asked if she had any recipes she may want to share with me since I came to the realization that I've only ever made two types of soups. Creamy Potato and Broccoli Cheese. While they are amazing soups I have been trying to stay away from creams and cheese based foods. And being the awesome person that she is she shared a few soup recipes that looked amazing. But I knew I had to try her Chicken Tortilla Soup as soon as I saw the recipe.

When I went shopping I had two of Julies soup recipes up on my phone and I accidentally looked at the wrong one and purchased a rotisserie chicken when the recipe called for chicken breasts so I ended up changing the recipe a little bit based on that.  

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1/2 cup salsa (I used Riverwalk Cantina salsa, you can pick it up at Walmart for under $2)
5 cups of chicken broth (or chicken bullion)
Half a roasted chicken, chopped into bite sized pieces (I picked up a precooked roasted chicken from the store)
4 Tablespoons uncooked rice
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional...I am not a straight cilantro fan so I didn't use this)
1/2 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 can of black beans (washed and drained)
2 large, ripe avocados chopped into bite sized pieces
Tortilla Chips
Onion powder, Cumin and Cayenne pepper to taste

Heat chicken broth to boil in a large pot. Once boiling add salsa and rice and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Now throw in the chicken, onions, black beans and seasonings to taste. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Taste the soup to make sure the seasonings are to your liking. If all tastes good then turn off the flame.
Just before serving add the cheese and cilantro. 
The fun part is piling up all the goodies to your hearts content. Avocado, cheese, sour cream, additional cheese (if you want it extra cheesy)and chips. You can either put them in the bowl prior to pouring the soup in or you can break a small handful of chips for the top. I personally like the little bit of crunch putting them on last adds to the soup. Last but not least is squeeze a little bit of fresh lime juice on top.