The possible Halloween party

Halloween is my favorite time of the year and I don’t know if it’s because the weather has cooled off and I can pull out all the scarves and boots again, if it’s because all of the trees are bursting with gorgeous colors, or if it’s because some of my favorite movies are on. I’m sure that there are a million reasons why I love it so much.

I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t love it too.

Halloween has a long and sordid history for sure but I think that is what makes it so intriguing to me. Ghost, spirits of long past family members coming back to roam the earth for one night, dressing up to confuse them, and of course jack o’ lanterns meant to frighten off unwanted spirits.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween (Photo credit: Professor Bop)

But what makes the Halloween so much fun is the Halloween parties for kids and adults. This year I think that we’ll be hosting a Halloween party for a dozen or so tweens & teens! If you don’t hear from me after next weekend please send help….

When I was a teen I had a huge Halloween party and everyone dressed up. We converted my parents garage/pole barn into the party area and set up tables and chairs so we could all hang out. Of course there was lots of loud music, snacks, and fun. You know…. the typical teen type party and I was honestly surprised that my parents went for the idea.

Since Halloween only comes round once a year, it’s worth making the most of it. When wondering how to host a grown-up Halloween party, the first thing to start with is the food. It can be the life and soul of any party, so having a few spooky snacks and hors d’oeuvres, like spicy roasted pumpkin seeds, could get everyone talking. Pumpkin soup would make a great starter, and it’s in season!

Also, it might be worth doing some nachos for sharing. They might not seem like the most ‘festive’ thing to serve at a Halloween party, but you could make them so spicy that people are scared to take more than a single bite! Also, nachos are always kid approved around here.

When it comes to drinks, why not get creative with some Halloween themed cocktails? There are some great recipes out there, such as the Sour Ghost which is super easy to make and will certainly haunt your guests taste buds.

Maybe we’ll skip the kid party this weekend and throw an all out Halloween party for the grown ups!

No adult Halloween party should be complete without a theme, but just dressing up as ghosts and witches won’t be exciting enough. You could use it as an excuse to follow a theme with which you could use as inspiration for costumes, music, food and games. An 80’s theme would be great, where you could dress up like the cast of Dallas or The A-Team!

To try and keep the fun going, why not have a few games? Rather than something as childish as ‘Truth or Dare’, perhaps you could have a few drinking games involving scary cocktails. A good game to play is ‘Guess Who’. Like the board game of the same name, you guess who they are, but the answers could be characters from Halloween movies. All you need are a few post-it notes and a pen.

Did you ever throw a Halloween party when you were a teen or as an adult? What was it like? Please tell it was awesome so I can talk my kids into a real Halloween party.

Psstt…. This was a PR collaboration but all thoughts, opinion are my own.

Pre-Prom Prep

This is a sponsored post. All thought & opinions are my own.

I know it’s kind of early to be thinking about prom but with two girls it isn’t early. At least not to me… gotta save lots of money if they both go!

Okay, so it’s given that my oldest daughter will be going to the prom this year because it’s her senior year. This means that we need to find an awesome dress… one that she absolutely loves and one that won’t break the bank. These two things are like polar opposites.

My daughter, Caitlin, has incredible tastes and picks out some beautiful and unique dresses. Each of them would look amazing on her and are different from what all the other girls would be wearing, but there is a downside to these dresses…. the cost. So many of them are well over $5oo and outside of my budget.

Now, my other daughter, Natalie, may or may not go to prom. Really, it depends on if someone asks her because she just a freshman. I’m preparing myself mentally just in case. You never know!

Can you imagine dress shopping for two girls? Two girls who do not like the typical prom dress… two girls who don’t have the same taste… two girls who will want to hit up every single store that sells dresses in a 50 mile radius. I hope that they serve wine at these dress shops… I’ll need it.

Instead of hitting up all of those stores I think we’ll have to check out Dress First. They have so many options…. short dresses, long dresses, strapless, one shoulder, and so much more. Here are a few of my favorites that one of the girls might like.

blue dress cream dress
I had to check out the little black dress section because who can resist them? I found one that I must have!

black dress

This dress is perfect for the upcoming holidays! The first thing that I thought of when I saw this dress was Audrey Hepburn and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It has an elegant but sexy look to it and paired with a pair of really high, pointy black heels, and a small clutch it will be the perfect outfit. Don’t you think?

So the big selling point on Dress First is that you can have your dress custom made to fit you exactly. You take all your measurements, give them to the company, and then they make your dress to fit your perfectly and with pricing that is super affordable it’s a mom’s dream. Even better is that there is free standard 5 – 9 day shipping on most of the dresses!

As soon as we get through college applications next week maybe we’ll start the dress browsing… it’s going to take a while to find one we can all agree on.

Yes, this is a sponsored post and all opinions are my own, but I do love the dresses and know that at least one of my daughters will find one that they like on the site. I hope.

Share what’s good with Welch’s

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Welch’s. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

When I was growing up sitting down together for a meal was something that we did every evening. Same time, same place. Together as a family we ate dinner and talked about our days. Today, I still do that with my family because I feel that it’s important to stay connected and have that time set aside to be together in person, especially when there is so much going on in everyone’s lives and we tend to rely on technology to communicate with one another.

I’m not alone in this either. Welch’s feels the same way & have a new campaign called Share Your Moments!

Welch’s believes in the magic of “kitchen table” moments, and has been helping families enjoy them for generations. In the time it takes to drink a glass of juice or share a sandwich, a special moment can happen. That’s why Welch’s just launched a new movement called “Share what’s good™” It’s all about sharing those special moments that occur each day with family, friends and loved ones – whether it’s at home or on the go. At Sharewhatsgood.com you’ll find a variety of great content from fun family ideas to delicious recipes. You can share photos of your every-day moments and see how others are doing the same.

share whats good

As part of the Share what’s good campaign, Welch’s has launched the “Share Your Moments” photo contest! From 9/16 to 10/25 upload a photo of your favorite family moment for a chance to win $5,000! While there is only one grand prize, everyone who enters will get a $1.50 coupon for Welch’s 100% Grape Juice – or $2.00 if you share the news.

All you need to do is visit sharewhatsgood.com to enter! Actually, entering can be as easy as sharing a pic on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #sharewhatsgood.

How does your family connect around mealtime or at various times throughout the day?

 

Pot Pie Casserole


It’s been about 3 weeks since the kids have gone back to school. So far they all appear to be settling in quite well and are all happy with the way things are going for the most part… they still complain about all the homework and having to get up so early (and going to bed on time). Personally, I love it! We’re back on a regular schedule and I don’t get any calls halfway through the day asking what they can do or if I’ll bring lunch home for them.

There is a downside though… and that’s nobody is home to clean up while I’m at work or to take something out of the freezer for dinner when I forget. So this means that I have think ahead and be prepared and this does not always happen. Even if I am prepared dinner can sometimes be a rush because somebody has something going on and has to leave or will be late getting home. I hate having to rush dinner because then it doesn’t always lead to a good meal or us sitting around the table having those end of day conversations that I enjoy.

This week there wasn’t much rushing (although the husband was late more than once) and we were able to enjoy dinner together. Remember when I mentioned thinking ahead and being prepared? Well, I did that this week. Sunday I roasted a couple of chickens and made homemade gravy and those leftovers went into another delicious meal that I made. Chicken Pot Pie casserole topped with Pillsbury Biscuits! It was probably the best dinner all week because there was not a single bit left in the pan… nothing. Someone even licked the spoon clean (not me this time)!

pot pie casserole

My intention was to make it super easy on myself and follow this recipe from Pillsbury but I didn’t because homemade gravy is awesome in pot pies and a great deal better than something from a can. I followed the basic recipe that Pillsbury and used a rotisserie chicken and what I had left over from our dinner earlier in the week, along with carrots, celery, onions, peas, and a potato. Of course it was topped with this light and flaky Pillsbury biscuits.

The biscuits were light, flaky, and so tender… so good that I barely had enough for the whole family! This is definitely one that is considered the perfect comfort foods for fall & winter.

What’s your favorite comfort food?

You can download a great recipe booklet from Pillsbury that’s full of recipes using Grands Biscuits. Make sure to try the Grands Unsloppy Joes… they’re amazing!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of General Mills. Compensation was provided by General Mills via Clever Girls Collective.

Clean, clean, clean! #LetsTalkBums

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cottonelle.

cottonelle logo

Okay, so let’s say your in the bathroom doing your business and it’s a somewhat messy situation and to start off with the toilet paper is less than stellar. Not only that you have to use like half of the roll to get the job done. Not. Fun. At. All. To top it all off the amount of toilet paper that you have to use clogs up the toilet and you’re left standing in the stall pondering what to do next. So, you get it all flushed down and go on about your day.

Seriously, what is the point of making and buying cheap toilet paper?

But something isn’t quite right… you no longer feel all that clean and your options are rather limited.

Have you ever tried to get a wad of toilet paper barely damp and use that? Hilarious I tell you and rather useless.

But those people over at Cottonelle picked up on this plight and created their own version of baby wipes but for the entire family and best part of all is that they’re flushable! Yup, flushable.

cottonelle tp and wipes 2

Pretty cool, huh? Well, I didn’t think so when they first came out. I thought what in the world… why would anyone every buy flushable wipes? What is the point? Obviously I was not thinking clearly at the time.

You see, we buy baby wipes and our littles ones are running around with the cleanest, freshest bums around while we adults use regular toilet paper after doing our business and probably don’t have clean or fresh bums. Why?

I finally gave in and when I was potty training my son over a year ago and  I bought some because they’re flushable and way easier to use than regular baby wipes. Anyway, one day I decided to give it shot and from then on out I was sold! I mean it was a little weird at first using a wipe at first but then it was just part of the routine. Clean, clean, clean!!

Also, it’s kinda been my secret because I’ve kept that cute little upright container there in the bathroom but I haven’t told anyone else about it and just let them assume that they’re just for my son (who also loves them by the way). I should probably tell them that they can use them too, right?

Give it try… it’s not that weird I promise.

cottonelle tp and wipes

Cottonelle wants to get you talking about your bum and on a better way to clean “down there” by using the Cottonelle Clean Routine. By combining the use of Cottonelle Toilet Paper and Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths, the Cottonelle Clean Routine is a revolutionary way to keep your bum cleaner.

Are you ready? Don’t be shy! Visit http://www.facebook.com/cottonelle to learn more about the Cottonelle Clean Routine and join the clean routine conversation.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cottonelle.

 

 

FAB Review & Giveaway

sponsored

So you know how you’re supposed to change your toothbrush every 3 months? Well, how many people do you think actually remember to do it? Okay, I’ll be honest… I don’t know the answer but I don’t do it. I always forget until I go to the dentist and they give me a new toothbrush and by that time it’s been 6+ months and my old toothbrush is starting to look pretty rough.

Now you don’t have to remember! How you ask?

floss and brush

FlossAndBrush.com makes it easy to always have new toothbrushes every three months. How? By paying just $1.00 per month, per person in your family, FlossAndBrush.com will ship a box of fresh, quality toothbrushes and floss to your home – one for each member of your family. And the toothbrushes are top quality, age-specific, and dentist approved.

There are few different packages that you can choose from so you always get the right toothbrushes for yourself and your family.

Adult, Youth, and Kids  Floss and Brush Packages ($1.00 per month per family member):

• Made in America

• Micro Tip

• Compact Soft

• Dome Trim Bristle Design

• Micro Feathered Bristles

• Interdental Bristle Design

• Floss is made in America, Mint, Waxed, 60 yd, Shred Resistant, and Clinically Proven

Adult Brush and Whitening Gel Package ($2.00 per month per family member):

• All the perks of the adult brush

• Gel made in America

• Same high-quality sold in dental offices

• Uses carbamide peroxide

• Fast results

• Gel contains potassium nitrate, which helps eliminate sensitivity

With all of that included and not having to remember to go get new toothbrush for everyone in your family how could you not smile!

If you want to learn more about Floss And Brush you can check them out on their social media channels. They’re on Twitter, Facebook, Vine (FlossAndBrush), Instagram, and Pinterest!

The Giveaway!

The giveaway is valued at $107 and includes the following:

  • 1 Free Annual FAB Membership (every three months, a new toothbrush and 3 month supply of flows will arrive at your winner’s doorstep)
  • 1 Free Annual FAB + White4Life Memberships (this includes not only a toothbrush and floss every three months but each shipment will also include FAB’s professional grade whitening to be used in custom whitening trays)

How to enter!

  • Visit FAB’s Pinterest page and repin an image from any one of the “Smile Boards” that makes you smile. Include a description in your pin that explains why it makes you smile. Include the #FABsmile hashtag in the pin. Come back to this post and share the link to the pin in order to enter for a chance to win.
  • Sign up for FlossAndBrush.com’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/17Tjoof.
Fine print… The giveaway ends at 11:59pm on August 27th. One winner (US only) will be selected via random.org and notified. The winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email before another is selected.

I took part in the campaign as part of the Mom It Forward Bloggers Network. All thoughts & opinions are my own and was compensated by receiving products from Floss and Brush.

The Snugg – iPad case review

When my husband gave me an iPad one of the first things that I did was start looking for cute and functional covers that didn’t cost an arm & a leg. It wasn’t the easiest task and I spent a lot of time reading reviews on various different covers/cases. One of them was The Snugg and the reviews were good, bad, and in between so I was torn when they asked me to do a review.

Some of my pre-requisites for the cover were that it had to be cute, not just plain old boring colors/prints, it had to be like a stand so I could watch my shows, it had to protect the corners/edges, and most importantly… it had to withstand a toddler. This last one was super important since he broke my iPhone.

This what I learned… It’s pretty freakin’ awesome! Those that complained about it either got the wrong case for the iPad that they have or they are the kind of people who nit-pick at every single detail.

The Snugg

When I first got it I checked it out pretty closely for some of the things that people complained about… poor stitching and the smell. Both of which I didn’t notice. It was a solid product that did not smell or look like it has been hastily put together. I slid the iPad in and used the Velcro to hold the edge down and it was perfect.

My iPad fit in their rather snuggly and there was no chance at all that it was going to slip out and it was protected on all the sides and corners. I was able to easily access all of the buttons, the cameras were not covered and neither was the speaker.

There are some pretty nice features in it as well. It folds so you can use the case as a stand, which I did to view a recipe and let my son watch one of his shows on it. There is also an elastic strap so you can slip your hand in it to hold it so you don’t drop it, there is a place to hold a stylus, and the cover is magnetized so that when you close it the iPad goes to sleep.

So far this is the one of three cases that I have used for my iPad and by far it has been my favorite. Would I recommend The Snugg to someone? Absolutely. Especially since my son dropped my iPad while in the case and it was just fine.  Yes, it is most toddler proof!

What is the best case for an iPad that you’ve used so far?

Court Yard Hounds – A Review

When people mention the Dixie Chicks the first thing that probably comes to mind was the political statement (“we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States [George W. Bush] is from Texas”) made by the lead singer, Natalie Maines, during a 2003 show in London. While this angered many people I was one of the few who really didn’t care.

I was always a fan of the Dixie Chicks and when I think of them I remember the music, especially Goodbye Earl. I was even lucky enough to see them at Lilith Fair (my favorite concert of all time) and what was so special about that was calling by daughter while they played so she could hear them. She wanted to see them so badly and she was just too young to go to a concert at the time. She still loved it.

Out of the Dixie Chicks splitting came the Court Yard Hounds.

After a few years away from the limelight and the Dixie Chicks, the two sisters, Emily Robison & Martie Maguire, were ready to get back into the studio with the creation of Court Yard Hounds. Amelita, out now, marks the Court Yard Hounds’ second album. Containing 11 new tracks, Robison and Maguire took a different approach with Amelita than their debut album in 2010. This album contains a new perspective, which is due in part to time passed since Robison’s divorce. “I’ve been freed of all of those time-heals-everything kind of things,” says Robison. “Now, I’ve opened up to other ideas and ways of looking at life and the world. I think it’s not only a more hopeful album, but it’s more… well fun.

CYH_Cover

I’ve listened to the album several times now and while it is completely different there is still a bit of the Dixie Chicks left that I can still hear. It’s just a little more… tame. It doesn’t have that same upbeat twang that was typical of the Dixie Chicks. Honestly, at first I didn’t like it because I thought that it would sound more like the Dixie Chicks and was disappointed that it didn’t. But the more that I listened to it the more I realized that they’re not same band and that the only thing that they have in common is two of the same band members.

Court Yard Hounds

The Court Yard Hounds’ new album is a clear statement of who the girls are as artists, defining their sound as a band, with soaring songs that are personal, yet familiar and widely relatable. The album can be purchased on Amazon or  iTunes right now.

I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

Back to School with Zulily!

It’s just about that time again…. back to school! Come September we will be back in full swing of books, paper, pencils, and new clothes & shoes.

Do you have everything you need?

zulily Back to School

With 4 kids I’ll be back to school shopping through October because even with well detailed lists there is always something more that is needed or something that we forgot.

This list is printable so grab it so you don’t forget everything!

Have you done your back to school shopping yet? 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links because I have to pay for blogging conferences somehow.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad – #SummerPastabilities Recipe & Giveaway

Summer time is a time for cookouts, picnics, and one of my favorite things… pasta salad. Actually, pasta in general is one of my favorite things warm or cold, topped with a vinaigrette, smothered in cheese, or mixed with my famous tomato sauce. It’s one of the perfect foods out there that you can eat year round and every one in the family loves. You know…. now that I think about it I have never met anyone that doesn’t like pasta.

I took one my daughter’s favorite things, pesto sauce, and created a summer pasta salad with it. Something light and full of fresh seasonal veggies. But pesto alone wasn’t going to cut it and I knew that it would need something a little more to cut the sharpness of the flavor, especially if I wanted everyone to eat it at dinner.

Adding something to the pesto to make it a little creamy was exactly what it needed. Instead of the typical mayo or salad dressing that tend to end up in pasta salads I used Greek yogurt to help lower the calories, add a zing to it, and of course the creaminess that I was looking for.

creamy pesto pasta salad ingredients

Creamy Pesto Pasta Salad – #SummerPastabilities

Ingredients

  • 10oz box of Hodgson's Mill pasta (I used bow ties)
  • 6oz container of 0% (low fat) plain greek yogurt
  • 4oz prepared pesto - I bought a 6oz jar and used about 3/4 of it
  • 1 small red onion - diced
  • 1 zucchini - sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes sliced - I used about a dozen or so
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. Make sure that salt the water though because this is the only chance that you get to season the pasta and yes, it does make a difference in the taste.
  2. In a small box mix the pesto and yogurt together.
  3. When the pasta is cooked drain it and run cool water over it for a minute.
  4. Pour well drained pasta into a large bowl and gently stir in the pesto dressing.
  5. Mix in the veggies carefully so you do break them up.
  6. Top with some parmesan cheese when you serve it.
https://www.withjustabitofmagic.com/creamy-pesto-pasta-salad

The veggies in this can be mixed up, changed, and eliminated all together if you want.

creamy pesto pasta salad

This creamy pesto pasta salad was a hit! My daughter absolutely loved it and I’m sure that it’ll all be gone before I get home from work tomorrow too.

Have you tried Hodgson’s Mill pasta yet? It’s delicious! It’s 100% natural, certified non-GMO Whole Wheat pasta and is made with highest grade grain, produced domestically wherever available, and purchased in the United States.

Now, for the giveaway part… one lucky winner from the U.S. will get their very own box of assorted Hodgson’s Mill pasta.

·         Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Bow Tie (10 oz. each)

·         Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Medium Shells (16 oz. each)

·         Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Angel Hair (16 oz. each)

You will have all the pasta you’ll need to make your own summer pasta salad… or just make my creamy pesto pasta salad.

Mandatory entry method…

  • Leave a comment telling me what you’d make if you won.

Extra entry methods (Leave a comment letting me know that you did this)…

  • Use the handy tweet button at the top of this post to share this giveaway & recipe.
  • Pin the image of the creamy pesto pasta salad.
  • Comment on any other (non-giveaway) post

Fine Print: One winner will be selected (U.S. only) and will have 24 hours to respond to the email I send them. If they do not respond then another winner will be selected. All entries will be verified. The giveaway ends on Friday, August 23th at 11:59pm.

Don’t want to wait to win the giveaway? Here’s a coupon for $1 off any variety of Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat pasta! Coupon available at: http://bit.ly/PASTA2013

Disclosure: I was given an awesome box of Hodgson’s Mill pasta and entered my recipe in their Summer Pastabilities where I compete to win grand prizes like an outdoor grill valued at $1,400 and a brand new iPad. All thoughts, opinions, and recipe are my own.