Saturday, December 31, 2011

The New Year's Eve Traditions We Keep

Ever since I was little my family has been doing a very specific set of things on New Year's Eve. I never thought of them as traditions back then, more like a weird and annoying list of chores my mother made us do. That might have had something to do with the fact that a huge part of the list was household chores because one of her biggest traditions was that the house be eat off the floor clean. 

Because I am always interested in the traditions that others hold, I always ask. Some of the things I have heard are similar to things my own family does and others are just odd and funny. 

Here are a few of the New Year's Eve traditions we keep, and a couple others we have done when traveling or visiting other families. 
  • I mentioned that my mom had us all cleaning, everything in the house had to be clean, extra clean. If there was anything dirty, piled up, stashed etc, it had to be dealt with. Mom always said that if the house was clean for the new year then it would be clean throughout the year. 
  • Everyone had to be wearing new clothes, shoes, jewelry, and be cleaned up and looking spiffy. Apparently doing so meant we would not go without for the year.
  • So that we would not end up broke in the new year, we all had money on us.
  • There had to be food, lots of it. I don't ever remember their being anything exact, but we had a very nice meal and everyone had a chance to pick a dish, their favorite. Like everything else, plenty of food at midnight meant that we would have plenty year round. 
  • Speaking of food related traditions. My family rang in the New Year in St. Peter's for the new millennium. I remember for dinner that night we had lentils and ham because that was what the restaurant was serving its patrons to bring them good luck and fortune in the new year. 
  • Then there are the grapes, 12 of them, but I don't recall that ever having to do with luck. 
  • And finally, the kissing. Everybody had to kiss everybody else because then your love and affection for each other continues. 
In the past I have heard some funny and odd traditions like putting fish scales in your purse or wallet, not allowing any red heads or blondes into the house, pot banging, throwing open the windows, color coded underwear, and burning munecos. 

The one thing that is important to me personally, is that I am ringing in the new year with my family. It doesn't matter if we are celebrating at home or out, as long as we are together. I know this is important to a lot of people, but I also understand that there are those that it really doesn't make a difference to. Sure the party is not wild or crazy, but that's not always important. As luck would have it, my closest friends all feel the same way and celebrate the day at home with their families too so I have never gone a year feeling like I missed out on some great party. 

What are your traditions? Any I didn't mention?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hershey's Cookie Party! Chocolate Fudge Cookie Recipe

When was the last time you went to a cookie exchange? And why does this tradition only happen during the holidays?  Cookies are way too good to only be exchanging during Christmas!

Hershey's knows how important and fun family time can be for everyone, and they totally get that its not just about the exchange, but the getting together to bake, laugh, and eat. This year, The Hershey Company helped me put together a gathering for friends and family so we could bake together!

Hershey's has tons of cookie baking ideas on their website (Check them out here), and we ended up combining them with some of our favorites, like the Bolitas Magica Kisses that were very familiar to Chocolate Fudge Cookies.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Smuckers Cinnamon Strawberry Jam Twists

Smuckers jams are my favorites (besides the jam flavors that I experiment with and make myself) and the only brand I can use on buttermilk biscuits. Even though I cook year round, I tend to bake a lot more as soon as fall comes and the mood extends well past the holidays and into late winter. Today, I decided to make something with the jars of jam Smuckers sent me to try out-- Cinnamon Strawberry Jam Twists (a recipe I memorized from a magazine but never turn out as pictured). Fabulous!

What You Need
1 Puff Pastry Sheet
1/4 cup jam
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gift Ideas for the Art and Architecture Buffs

There are a lot of art and architecture buffs on my Christmas shopping list, so I am always looking for fun, useful, and even educational gifts that are art related. Here are a few gift ideas for the art and architecture buff in your life, all of them are from my own list to buy others and myself!

Facade Tea Towels
I bought my first tea towel on my first trip to London. I love tea, but never use a tea towel and didn't want it hanging in the kitchen as a kitchen towel so I turned it into a throw pillow.  Been buying whimsical ones ever since and using them for everything but what they are meant for. Found these Facade Tea Towels a while back and have been stuck on what I would do with them. Any ideas?
Facade Tea Towels, $22,

Modern Art Memory Game
My mom taught me everything I know about art, and not just because we were h

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Antiquing in Illinois: The Shops of Ridgefield

Photo Credit: Shops of Ridgefield
 Ridgefield is and isn't an entirely new area to me, funny how we can go places that we never even knew was a place to be. Now that we moved a little further west, we have explored a little more each season and gone antiquing, shopping, and just visit areas that are entirely new to us. Call me crazy, but this city girl loves small towns too-- plus they are the best places to find vintage anything.

After having seen ads for The Shops at Ridgefield a few times, I talked mom and the girls into an antiquing trip. Without knowing it the girls and I had wandered into the Ridgefield area several years earlier.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Astronauts Falling and Other Random #Space Stuff #NASA

If you didn't already know it by now, I am a total space nerd. Always have been, always will be. There are so many things in life that are undiscovered, untouched, and unknown, but out of all the things that anyone could possible want to learn and know more about, its space that absolutely has me breathless and inspired.  

Today VSL tipped me off about a space video that went up on YouTube about a year ago called, Astronauts Falling on the Moon. You never get to see that part, in all the moon footage I have seen, if there were any they were pretty buried and so spread out that it would be hard to find them. The video brings them all together. Check it out:

And since I am going on about space stuff again, I figured I would add other random Space stuff that I have come across lately or in the past.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2nd Annual Chicago Food Film Festival Coming!

I hate that everything in Chicago always happens on the same weekend, and that is exactly what this coming weekend looks like with the arrival of the 2nd Annual Chicago Food Film Festival. With this being the third film festival I have attended here in Chicago in as many months, I thought I was all pooped out, but it's a food film festival, people. 

The festival runs November 18-20th, mostly at Kendall College and at either noon or 7pm, though everything is subject to change. Doors open 15 minutes prior to each showing and you need to be 21+ to enter, and able to prove it. Here's a quick description of each offering in the food film festival:

Friday, October 28, 2011

No Longer Unwanted #SocialChange

I'm sure you've all read it by now, 300 young women in India decided to change their names from Unwanted. Even though I don't know a single one of these girls, I am extremely proud of all of them. It is a hard thing for me to imagine being a child and not just feeling unwanted, but knowing that it is so. 

One of the reasons Dickens has been a favorite author of mine since childhood was because he planted this seed in society about children. He made everyone think about they way they treated them, used them, begrudged them. Dickens really changed the way children were brought up, protected, and cherished.  We need another mirror. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick #Halloween Cupcake Decorating Ideas

In my last post I shared a recipe for Caramel Apple Cupcakes with y'all and it got me thinking about all the other Halloween cupcakes I have made in the past. More often than not we end up going to a Halloween party at the last minute or have folks call and let us know they are on their way.
Click to visit my newest lens and don't forget to vote!
It has been forever since I put together a Squidoo lens, and all the ones that I did make I deleted years ago for some reason. Making cupcakes with the twins this past weekend had me thinking of all the super quick and easy Halloween cupcake decorating ideas I have tried and I decided to put together a lens. 

If you are looking for something quick to throw together for a party this weekend, check it out. And if you have a Squidoo account, do me a favor and Like it because Squidoo has changed a lot and lenses are only featured now once you have gotten 20 other Squids to like it. 

BTW, I foresee a lot of lens making in the future. The process is so streamlined that it is actually tons of fun.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Caramel Apple Cupcakes! #Halloween #Recipe

Don't these caramel apple cupcakes look delicious? That's because they were!!

Earlier this month we celebrated the twin's 15th birthday party, which is as important as celebrating your Sweet 16.  None of us has had a big quince, our parents didn't really push it and none of us pushed for one either. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

#Fitness Tip: Biking Exercise for Hips & Outer Thigh

I have been biking a lot more since I got my Terry Symmetry and we moved closer to the bike trails, but I noticed that I need to work my hips and outer thighs out before I ride. I don't usually workout or stretch at all before hitting the trail, but yesterday I decided to look up an exercise that would work my hips and thighs out. 

Found a move called the Skater Squat that actually made a lot of sense for cyclers, so the girls and I tried it in the parking lot before riding. I did a few free standing and then used the bike racks to balance myself for the next few. Really did the trick and thought I would share for those of you looking for a good move to add for your hips. Going to use it myself from now on. 

From Spark People:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It Was A Taboo & Carnaval Kinda Day! #LatinMusic #Musicalatina #Music

Most people start their day and choose a playlist to go along with how they are feeling when they step out the door.  I am the total opposite. Generally, I get up, randomly pick a couple songs to play, one sticks, deciding the kind of day I am going to have. Weird, I know. 

Today, Taboo, was the second song on shuffle. Perfect! It's totally a Taboo kinda day :)

Its funny because no matter how much I tell myself its enough with Don Omar, Pitbull, and Daddy Yankee, I keep coming back to their music. Its just so addictive. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Feast of the Hunter's Moon Tribal Inspired Look #Fashion #History #Travel

Every year, there are these fabulous living history rendezvous that occur all over the country. Here in the Midwest they are usually held at or near pre- or post- colonial forts, include a Native American and/or military aspect, and most of the time they are near a body of water-- think river. They are also tons of fun!

This past weekend I went to The 44th Annual Feast of the Hunter's Moon, held at Historic Fort Ouiatenon Park near West Lafayette, Indiana. My family has been going for years, but I have always had something going on in the past and was never able to make it-- won't happen again. This particular rendezvous is one of the oldest in the Midwest, and is how most of the others got started-- Fort de Chartres, for example. It re-creates the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans that took place here in the mid- 1700s when Fort Ouiatenon was occupied. 

You can read all about it here, and maybe even plan your own trip next year! 

Here are some snapshots from my day:
Loved all the beading, and beautiful Native American beading is what got me into making jewelry when I was younger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New #Recipe! Sweet & Savory Chicken

So mom called and said she bought chicken tenders. If I wasn't planning on making anything else I could do something with them for dinner.  Alright! 

Normally I would batter and bake, bread and fry, or cover them in mole. I was too tired to do the first, have stopped making anything fried, and we were out of mole. Dad wanted something Mexican-- the usual-- but the girls and I wanted something along the lines of sweet and sour chicken. 

I had a copy of Every Day With Rachel Ray next to me, from October 2010, so I started flipping.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sugar Shock Cinnamon Roll Pancakes #Recipe #Cooking

Thank you Stumble Upon! The girls decided they wanted to have pancakes for breakfast this morning and they could not find our handwritten recipe, so I got online to look it up. Started stumbling and a recipe popped up for Cinnamon Roll pancakes! 

The site was, a great resource for original recipes for the family. The recipe was super easy to follow and replicate, and I was super glad that it did not call for all these ingredients that we did not have on hand. Really it was just the basic, butter, eggs, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cream cheese.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum to Offer Free Admission on Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day!

It's no secret that I am very passionate about the subject of history, and growing up in the Land of Lincoln has turned me into a Lincoln and Civil War buff/nerd.  In fact, today I spent the afternoon crying inside that I did not have a couple spare hundred dollars on me because I happened across the most incredible used book store that had shelves and shelves of you're never gonna find anywhere else books. 

But back to the topic of this post.

Friday, September 16, 2011

#WhatsBlooming Thursdays, Walking in the Wild #Gardening

I didn't forget to posts this weeks #WhatsBlooming post, I just got busy and then decided it could wait till the morning. So, this is this week's #WhatsBlooming Thursday on Friday. 

I think late summer is actually the best time for wildflowers, more seems to be blooming now and I love the bright oranges and yellows that dominate.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My #Target Still Has #Missoni, Just Nothing I Want

As most of my readers, friends, family know, I am not a label whore. However, I have always been attracted to Missoni because of the bright colors and design that is used in the clothing. So, when I heard that Target was bringing the designer into the fold, I was as excited as all the crazy fashionistas out there. 

I was not crazy enough to brave the crowds first thing in the morning on Tuesday though-- the time at which otherwise super nice women turned into a pack of dogs and will claw you with their perfectly manicured nails. The twins and I did stop in sometime in the afternoon though, after the dust had cleared, and I was super surprised to find that there was actually a lot of stuff left at my Target store.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Maya #Indie Film Series Comes to #Chicago

Great films are harder and harder to find, but I am fortunate to live in the city of Chicago where the welcome mat is pulled out for film festivals, series, and events. Today, the Maya Indie Film Series rolled into town and will be showing seven films at AMC Rivercenter 9 including (click to watch the trailers!):
  • All She Can
  • Without Men
  • Forged
  • Where the Road Meets the Sun
  • Blue Eyes
  • Sympathy for Delicious
  • Di Di Hollywood
This year the series features films from

Thursday, September 8, 2011

#WhatsBlooming Thursdays, Beauty in a Fading Garden

Yesterday I got the girls outside to help me clean up the front garden a bit and I was so happy to hear Catherine say that even though the garden was dying, it was still beautiful. Christine then added that it was a different look, but it was just as pretty. 

So glad that they see what I see, and it gives me hope that they will love gardening as much as I do.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The One In Which We Got To See #NASA History #Atlantis

I am so glad I was able to make the trip to Florida for NASA's final shuttle launch, and super psyched I got to take my sisters along with me. Not only was it a once in a lifetime thing, but it was a trip that I know they will never forget.

I know I have neglected sharing those pictures and stories with all of you, but I'm getting it done now! 

As soon as Bush reinstated shuttle launches a couple years ago

Thursday, September 1, 2011

If I Can, You Can...

The things we do for the things we love....forget about the people we love for now because this is about things, k. I love pickles. I love pickles more than I love some of the folks in my life :) 

Last year, after reading and thinking about it for a year, I ventured into that weird world of canning. It went better than I thought it would, and we had cute little jars of apple jalapeno jelly, cherry jam and enough apple butter to last a year. I did that! 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Young Love by Mat Kearney, The Relationship Album

It took me less than a minute to remember who exactly Mat Kearney was, but only because I am better with the names, lyrics, and chords of songs that I am with the name of the artist that sings them--- I know.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Smart Group Called The Clever Girls Collective

Not that long ago there were many sleepless nights, stressed out days, and countless hours spent waiting and wondering. If you have ever had anyone in your family, or that you love, just go and try to drop dead on you in the course of a beautiful morning, then you might know what I am talking about.  Aches and pains took my daddy to the doctor, and then in for a scan for what they thought was a slipped disc, and then rushed right into the hospital for an abdominal aortic aneurysm-- among other things. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What's Blooming Today

Taking that vacation at the peak of summer meant missing some of the best blooms in the garden. The bright orange Asiatic lilies, yellow daisies, and red geraniums galore. Missed all of it. 

But after a couple years of trying to whip the gardens around the house into shape-- there's the herb, shade, rain, water, sun, lawn, drive and rock gardens-- I can now enjoy something at every point of the season, and fall, spring and winter too!

Friday, August 12, 2011

#Perseids - Chasing Your Starlight!

Tonight is THE night of the year. The night I wait all year for. The night I scout out potential viewing sites year round for. And tonight there will be a full moon. A full moon that is directly overhead at midnight :(

227 images taken during the night of the Perseid Meteor Shower, combined in to one image, using the free startrails.exe. Nick Ares from Auburn, CA, United States

If you are lost, tonight is the night we pass through the Perseids meteor shower, my meteor shower (my dad gave it to me right before my birthday when I was little).  I catch it every year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Send Me Away With the Words of a Love Song

Halfway through Kentucky the song, If I Die Young by The Band Perry, came on over the radio. I was already familiar with the group, but it was the first time any of us heard this song.  If you haven't heard it yet, it's a beautiful song sure to stir up tons of emotions if you have ever known someone that has died young. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gimme Some of that Disney Magic

When we set out for Florida the word Disney was not in our vocabulary. Yes, without telling the girls I had priced a couple days at Disney, but between the cost, the plans we already made, and the fact that I had to be back in Chicago, I knew there was no way.

There ended up being a little Disney magic at work for us anyway. On our very last day in Florida, the girls and I were treated to a day at Walt Disney World!  Our Disney Magic came in the form of very thoughtful family friends, and their generous friend and then friends of those friends.

It's safe to say we are quite taken, and totally addicted! The day was so much fun.....see for yourselves. 

1st stop, Hollywood Studios!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Funny T-Shirts For Women at Supergoodtees!

I've mentioned Supergoodtess in the past, but now they have a whole new line of funny t-shirts for women!  Many of the slogans that are used on shirts aimed at men have been rephrased or redone for women.  And then there are tons of all new shirt designs and phrases that are done just for women. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Off Shoulder Happiness

When I was younger, a lot younger, my grandmother would give me these beautifully embroidered off shoulder tops for every gift giving occasion. At the time I hated them, because they were handmade and very different from anything any of my friends wore or would ever wear. Now I wish I still had the dozen or so brightly colored tops that used to hang in my closet. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's In a Nickname?

Got into a conversation with an old bloggie friend last night about all my nicknames. If you have spent any amount of time with me around the family and certain friends, you know that I have more nicknames than most. It has something to do with my family's obsession with names & naming things, but even so, I have twice as many nicknames as everyone else in the fam. 

My friend's reasoning for this was that I really am someone different to everyone in the fam, and the names reflect those relationships.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anytime Scarf, The Place to Find the Perfect Accessory

I have found another great online shop, this time a place to shop for one of my favorite accessories-- Scarves! Anytime Scarf is stocked with a huge selection of scarves for every season, every style and every budget.  Many of the pieces are named for and inspired by popular fashionistas, fashion flicks and celebrities. 

Some of the most popular brands and designers are included in the inventory, with scarves that have been seen on air or on celebs taking center stage so that you can easily recreate a look you've seen.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shoulder It! Online Bag Shop

Is there anything that is more fun than shopping for purses?! Shoulder It! is an online bag shop stocked with cute purses of every kind. Timeless pieces, classic looks, trendy and fun and flirty are all part of the collection of purses that this shop stocks. 

Depending on your style and what you like, there is something in every price range from luxurious leather pieces to beach canvas.  Shop by style to find exactly what you are looking for, from shoulder to boho to cross body bags, every size and style has been chosen to fill the pages of this shop.

Shoulder It takes the best from every season and puts together a selection of purses that you will have a hard time choosing just one from. On top of that, all the purses have been tested out by the staff in order to sift out the good from the bad and bring you only those handbags that you are sure to love and will be sure to last. 

Shop at Shoulder It if:
  • you love shopping for purses
  • quality leather handbags are meant to be carried on your shoulders
  • you need something new for this season and the next 
  • a practical and durable purse is all you can think about!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unus Sed Leo's Etsy Shop Grand Opening Giveaway!

I am so excited about finally opening my Etsy store that I am celebrating with a giveaway! I am slowly but steadily filling the shop with my vintage and handmade finds- don't want to list it all at once- so keep watching for beautiful things.

Here's how this is going to work, the giveaway starts today and ends July 31st. From now until then I will be adding items to the store everyday, so if you do not see something that you like and want to win now, keep watching.

Vintage Metal & Mother of Pearl Collar Necklace
Scarlet & Azul Hinged Cloisonne Bangle
Vintage Enamel Peony Earrings

Sergio Lub Triple Chevron Cuff
Vintage Art Deco Wooden Bangle

So, what exactly is the giveaway? Well, to celebrate someone will win one item of their choice from my store, up to $20. Remember, new things will be added every day!

How to Enter:
  • Share this post using the Tweet or Facebook Share button at the top of this post (1 x daily each). Drop the link in a comment along with an email for me to contact you if you win.
  • Etsy Love If you are an Etsy user add my store to your favorites (click on the banner above) or any item you want to win. Let me know what you favorited in a comment below, for obvious reasons you can only favorite once for each item, but check back for more items all month!
  • Tweet/FB Check out any item from my store that you want to win and then Tweet or Like it on FB. You can do this directly from the Etsy post, bottom right. Drop the link in a comment for me. 
  • Blog about this giveaway, add a link. Tell your readers to let me know you sent them & if they win, you win! 
  • Friend me on Facebook, Like this blog or Follow me on Twitter (1 entry for each)
Don't forget to come back and see what else has been posted, or follow me on Fb to catch new items as they go up!  

Contest ends 7/31 at midnight PST. Winner will be notified via email & has 48 hours to respond. I will do everything I can to contact the winner before choosing another, so make sure you leave me a working email address. Winner gets to choose any current store listing up to $20. Good Luck!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Have an Etsy Store: Vintage and Handmade Finds

I am always talking about my cool vintage finds and the handmade jewelry, accessories and clothing I create! And I am constantly getting emails and comments from friends that they want whatever it is I find or requests to watch out for. So after a lot of ho-humming I decided to just bite the bullet and open my own virtual store on Etsy!

My store will include both vintage and handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories and home decor. A lot of the handmade stuff that I do is upcycled too, so you will be seeing a lot of that. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wigs and Hair Extensions from Laissez Faire

Known as the online hair superstore, Laissez Faire, is a trusted site for quality wigs, weaves and hair extensions, and all the supplies you need to get the hairstyle you want. Both synthetic and real human hair are sold in every color imaginable from more brands than any other online retailer carries. 

If you use hair extensions and are not satisfied with the current brand or supplier, be sure to check out the products available.  The extra strands give you the freedom to experiment with your look,

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Review: My Sweet Mexico, Not So Sweet

My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats 
I was so excited when I found, My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats because it had recipes for all of my favorite dulces, plus lots of other stuff that I have been wanting to try. Over the last two months or so, I have been trying to replicate the recipes within. None of them are working!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Gardening How To: Gardening Around Hardscapes

When we first moved into our home, it looked like a jungle with some serious hardscapes in need of gardening. The one good thing about the various garden areas, were the struggling and scattered perennials that were still fighting through the weeds. I was able to garden around the hardscapes in our yard, including a guardrail, a driveway and driveway landscaping. 

One reclaimed corner of the yard
If you have some hardscapes in your yard that could use a touch of gardening, it is not that hard. Here's what I did:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Star Fruit, Pineapple and Mango Salsa Recipe

Last year I shared a quick dish that I fell in love with, mango salsa with chicken, and the salsa from a local store was delicious enough that I was content enough to buy instead of make. This week though, I found a recipe that took the mango salsa over the top, in this awesome book called Growing Tasty Tropical Plants. 
 Growing Tasty Tropical Plants: *in any home, anywhere. (like lemons, limes, citrons, grapefruit, kumquats, sunquats, tahitian oranges, barbados ... tea, black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, an

Monday, June 20, 2011

Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products a Bargain for Allergy Sufferers

This post brought to you by Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

Anyone who suffers from seasonal allergies knows how expensive name brand health products can be, and this is why I love that the Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products are such a value packed bargain.


When I found out that Walgreens was going to be offering a new Allergy medication, Wal-Fex, I was eager to try it and bought it immediately. For years I have been using other Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products, saving myself money, but have pretty much stuck with the same allergy medication for fear that nothing else would work quite as well. However, after speaking with one of the pharmacists and reading the product information, I was assured that it would work just as well as the name brand I was paying about 30% more for.

For several days now I have been using the Wal-Fex and have yet to notice any difference or feel any of the side effects that allergies can cause. I certainly do not miss the price tag for my old brand either. I truly am happy that like other Walgreens brands, this product, and most others, has the same active ingredients as other national brands. The pharmacist at my store took the time to compare ingredient lists with me and in addition to recommending it, he let me know about their 100% satisfaction guarantee!


If you have never tried Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products, now is the time to do so and one of these blog giveaways for Walgreens gift cards is a great way to start! One program that I had no clue about is the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™ which provides wellness services to local communities, so I, and you, can feel good about your purchase.


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Universal or Disney? What's Best For Teens?

In the middle of all this planning, debating and number crunching a new issue has arisen. Do we consider Universal instead of Disney? Don't get me wrong, we have always wanted to do Disney, there is just something about the place. But, when I consider Disney next to Universal, and consider what the girls and I really love-- fast, crazy rides-- it seems as if Universal would be the better fit for us.

Now all of this is purely conjecture at this point because I still do not know if I am going to have enough to throw in money for tickets. The costs around this trip keep rising and I sorely underpriced a lot of stuff and we changed the return trip to include a couple stops. Still, I would like to see this part of the trip happen, and I am really going to try and make it possible.

The ticket prices to Universal are much better than Disney, but like Disney the better discounts come with a four to five day ticket over a one or two day. However, there is no way I would be able to do a four day, even split up, regardless of the savings or if I can pay for it. It would just be way too much walking for me and I know that if I tried to even force the two days in a row I would be off my feet for two weeks.

With as weak as my knees have been lately, and with the fall I took a couple weeks back, I am not even sure I can do all the walking that one day would require. I am hoping there are wheelchairs because I would probably have to make use of one. My ankle and foot will not be completely healed by then and it is the constant walking on my knee that causes it to pop. The last thing I want is for it to happen away from home and then I would not only be unable to walk, but driving would be impossible as well.
I love roller coasters, but I would have to have the girls wheel me around and then just stand in line for the rides. I know that that would definitely help.

Anyways, for girls that love big thrill-- Disney or Universal?

Oh, and I have not asked the girls which they prefer because as far as they are concerned this is purely a space coast and Florida Keys vacation with as many days spent at and on the beach as possible. I don't want to have them consider something that might not happen, but I am sure if I sprung it on them, they could bring themselves to leave the beach for the 2 days :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Florida For Families Guidebook Reviews & Recommendations

I love the internet, but I never take a trip without reading a few travel guidebooks-- I love them. For our trip to Florida, I have been grabbing and reading anything that covers Florida for Families. The twins might be 14, and too old for any child prices at attractions, but this is going to be a family themed trip with lots of opportunities to learn and have fun. 

There are two books in particular that I have grabbed, neither is Disney heavy which is why I grabbed them. The first is from travel leader, Fodors, and is called Frommer's Florida With Your Family.
 Frommer's Florida With Your Family (Frommers With Your Family Series)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Painfree Swimsuit Shopping With Teens, Finally!

Ever take teens swimsuit shopping?

I am so relieved that I was able to go swimsuit shopping with the twins and keep all my limbs, my sanity and get in and out of the store in a little over an hour. If you remember last year, or the year before, shopping for swimsuits with the girls was not fun-- Missy refused to try anything else on when I sarcastically agreed with her about being fat, Catherine put a curse on me and Christine pulled a karate move.

Knowing that both girls were going to need new suits for the summer and that the longer we waited, the less that we would find, I decided to try things a little differently this year. Here's what we did:

Talk About What Is and Is Not Allowed
This has always been a sticking point with Missy, but the twins are just coming into their own and this is really the first time they are buying a suit that they wouldn't use on a swim team (sporty Speedo's) or a cute one piece that mom or I chose for them. Before we went out or looked at anything online we talked about what they could and could not pick out, for us, it's no strings or thongs and the tops have to cover their chests entirely. 

Limit Your Teens to A Couple Stores
I think a huge part of the reason we have never been able to swimsuit shop together successfully in the past is because the girls had too many options. Limit them to one or two stores, but make sure the stores you choose have plenty of style options. Stores like Target and Old Navy sells several tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched. 

Browse the Online Selection
I made the girls browse the online selection for the stores we were heading to for two reasons. First, it gave the girls an idea of the different styles and prints that each store had so they could talk about what style suits would flatter them the most.  Second, I'm trying to teach the girls about shopping smart and how to spend versus save-- the book, A Purse of Your Own: An Easy Guide to Financial Security is a great book for teens & young women-- so this gave them an idea of how much they would be spending.

It worked! And it was totally painfree :)

The girls knew what they were looking for, had an idea of all the patterns that were in the styles they liked so we walked in, grabbed them and went straight to the fitting rooms. Both settled on the same suit, but they did end up deciding that they wanted to pair the top with cute board shorts to wear in the water (with bottoms they already owned because they won't be showing).

Here's what they settled on, From Old Navy
These they paired with colorful board shorts that had a brown background.

I love the support that is included in the top, something you don't see on most suits, but there is support on the side and the cups. I hope this will prevent any suit rolling etc.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Help Me Celebrate Summer With the Summer Blogger Block Party!

To celebrate the start of summer, I joined up with several other blogs to bring lots of great giveaways during the Summer Block Party. The event will last till  June 21st, and is hosted by, Tatum, from Tatum's Family Reviews.
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Each of the giveaways that I will be hosting has the possibility of extra entries when you check out and Follow/Like/Follow each of the blogs. (I'll be sure to link back to this page with each giveaway.

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Please use Hashtag #SBBP

And like us on Facebook!
Tatum's Family Reviews

Monday, June 6, 2011

Trying to Plan a Trip to Disney

Does anyone have any Disney vacation tips for me? Do you have any idea how incredibly crazy complicated this is? Seriously, I wanted to title this post, How to Perform Major Surgery on Yourself.
When I mentioned that we wanted to make a trip down to Florida, I mentioned that I wanted to stop for a day or two at Walt Disney World with the girls, if I could afford it. Last year my brother and I were seriously considering a trip down, treating all our sibs to a vacation, but then my brother lost his job last Jan and after a couple months was still not employed. We changed the plans to take a vacation much closer to home, to Wisconsin Dells-- which was so much fun!

Because we would be in Florida already, I would love to surprise the twins with Disney. No one in the fam has ever been, but I know that everyone has had the desire to go at one point or another. 

The thing is, I won't know till right before we are leaving if I will be able to afford it, so it will definitely be a last minute paid for thing-- which might end up being more expensive. I would like to know everything that I need to know about the visit either way, even if I do just end up buying the tickets when we are there. Two day tickets for the 4 of us would end up being over $600, and that is without any of the added perks or options. Not staying on property would not get us the extra hour options at the start and end of the day, we would have to pay to park both days, no water park, hopper etc. 

If we were to stay longer, and at one of the resorts, the savings are a lot more significant, but that would cost a couple grand and I don't have that on top of what I would need for the rest of the trip. Plus, I can't take that much time off.

Trying to plan out this portion of the trip though, is crazy ridiculous. I have been scouring forums, websites and even picked up a couple books from the library-- but OMG, I don't understand half the lingo. Most of these folks in there have been every year, and there is just so much information to digest. It really is overwhelming. 

It is impossible to keep everything straight. Seriously, information overload. I wish I was more obsessive about things, but I tend to be nonchalant about planning vacations and trips since I grew up in a family with a family business and we never knew when or if we were going to vacation until my mom started throwing things into a trunk. Seriously, the last time we went to Mexico I was on my way home from school when my mom called to say that if I wanted to come, I had an hour to get home and pack before she left. It was also the trip my dad said she would never take and didn't believe her till we were pulling out of the driveway and he ran into the house to grab his wallet and a toothbrush, lol-- nothing else.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How to Make Cassava Cake

With all the new gardening books and cookbooks I have been flipping through lately, I have had the chance to try out new fruit and veggies-- like cassava. I have been reading a lot about cassava and was surprised to find out that I have actually already had cassava cake!

Every year my family attends the Simbang Gabi festival here at our church, in addition to other cultural events around Christmas time. One of my favorite dishes is this lovely cake that the Filipino community

Armani Jeans: Always the Right Trend

Armani Jeans is one of the few designers out there that has made casual wear a classic look.  No matter how the trends change, this designer always has a place among them, largely in part to the chic style and cut of each and every piece that make up the collection. 

This year is no different, and I really have fallen in love with several pieces including dresses, tees and Armani jeans. There are even a few mens tees that I wouldn't mind owning too!

Among my pics for this season are 
For a night out on the town

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rachael Ray Nutrish Just 6 is Zorro's Choice!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nutrish for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
When was the last time you had to sit down and pretend to eat dog food in order to trick your stubborn dog into eating it too? Me? When I received a sample of Rachael Ray Nutrish just 6 dry dog food.

When I adopted my dog, Zorro, I didn't know how many bad habits I would have to work on. Zorro's eating habits, table feeding, and what he would eat were just one of his issues, but because I want Zorro to be happy AND healthy I know I have to be just as stubborn as him.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Worth a Look: PhotoPic Sky Survey

The girls and I are in total space mode right now as we anticipate traveling to Florida to watch the final space shuttle launch in July. I have always been into space exploration and astronomy, and since I drag the girls along with me, they are pretty into it as well. 

This really neat website called, PhotoPic Sky Survey, just landed in my email inbox today, and I am so jealous and inspired. Seriously, Wow! You have to visit the site to understand what I mean. 

Photopic Sky Survey
The site is a project by, Nick Risinger, and is the product of a year long photographic endeavor in which Nick traveled 60,000 miles. Sky Survey is a single night sky photograph, composed of over 37,000 synchronized shots, void of light pollution.  It really is incredible, and reminds us all of the place we have in the universe. 

Finding areas that are without any light pollution up here is hard, but I do recall many sleepless nights in the rain forests of Costa Rica spent staring up at the incredibly illuminated (and different) night sky. 

It's worth a look.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Free Jamberry Nail Shields!

A friend just shared this deal with me and I know that I have a lot of friends and readers that will appreciate me passing it on prior to my next deals and steals roundup, and before it expires. Right now, you can score some free decorative nail shields, like the popular Sally Hansen nails, from Jamberry Nails. 

A set costs $15, but the 50% deal makes them $7.50 and there is a ten dollar credit to the site for new members. You will have to enter your credit card information to verify shipping and billing, but it won't be charged, and if you just order the one set its free with credit remaining (you can order up to 2 sets).  P.S. I just checked my card and there is no transaction. 

$7.50 for $15 Worth of Decorative Nail Shields from Jamberry Nails:

This deal is almost over, so check it out now.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Budget Friendly Eco-Beauty: Cooling Cucumber Toner Recipe

I am fortunate enough that I have to do very little in the way of skin care in order to keep my skin looking and feeling great. Seriously, if I do much more than wash with a gentle cleanser I risk throwing off the perfect balance that my skin seems to naturally have. But, I have noticed that a gentle toner doesn't hurt and it really does help when I need a quick skin perk. 

I have been through many a bottle of toner, and I try to only use natural and/or organic, but honestly, I have more unused bottles of toner sitting under the sink than I care to admit to.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Tees, Please! Tucci Store Stocked With Designer T-Shirts

Tucci is an online store that stocks the designer t-shirts that everyone is looking for. That's not all though, the website has hundreds of handpicked designer pieces for both men and women from many of the most popular labels out there. Everything from jeans to dresses to skirts to jackets, shoes and accessories can be found. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Planning a Road Trip to Florida

The girls and I are headed to Florida, hopefully! I know I have not talked about it much, but with dad's surgeries and my grandfather's failing health we have had to postpone everything-- and I mean everything. However, because we want to see a shuttle launch and the final shuttle launch is scheduled for July, we have to go now or miss it.  Seriously, it has been gloom and doom for months now, with the reality of and expected deaths of both family members, so while it is semi-calm I want to be able to nab a few minutes of fun with the twins.

Right now my mom is prepped for a last minute flight out or road trip to Texas.

Monday, May 16, 2011

FitFlops For Women- The Perfect Summer Fitness Accessory

When FitFlops for women first came out, I really did ignore the reviews because it seemed hard to believe that a shoe could do as much as was claimed. However, after getting my own pair of fitness flip flops on a whim, and because they were on sale, I quickly changed my mind. Once you get used to the slight changes, they are very easy to wear and you don't even feel the difference, but you definitely will see the change.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garage Sailing on a Saturday!

I had an hour to burn this morning while Missy was taking an exam at the local college, so I decided to spend it garage sailing! I was actually debating between looking for a couple garage sales and going to a coffee shop because I only had $5 cash on me (and didn't feel motivated to hit an ATM) and it was cold and threatening to rain.  So glad I went with the sales because I found some great stuff. 

Today I found:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Biker Boots for Women- Website Review

Nothing says summer like a ride on a bike! To make sure that you have everything you need to head out, check out for sexy biker boots and apparel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shake Hands With a Hero Today!

Thank you to Procter & Gamble, Kroger and the USO for sponsoring this blog post and the Shake Hands With A Hero initiative. Please click here to learn more about this program. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.


When I was a Girl Scout, my hometown