Dec 302011

Can you believe 2012 is almost here?  It’s time to reflect on 2011 and then celebrate the New Year by setting goals and making resolutions (or not!) for 2012.  If you’re going to be having a party then you might be interested in these New Year’s Eve ideas.  Whether you’re having a big bash or some family fun there are crafts, recipe and party ideas for you.  Here are a few I like that I found on Pinterest.

Chalkboard Paint-dipped Glasses

New Year’s Kids’ Party Ideas

New Year's Eve Ideas Continue reading »

Dec 282011

I love shopping for Christmas ornaments, decor, and other items after the big day has come and gone because you can score some amazing deals.  Willow House is one company that has some great discounts on Christmas products right now. For those of you not familiar with Willow House they are a home-based company that is represented by Design Consultants – consultants like Paula Jolly who wanted to help introduce Willow House to all of you.

Willow House products are both unique and lovely.  They believe that a product should make you happy each time you use or look at it. Good design should be accessible and affordable, because the days of fussy and overpriced products are gone forever.  And like their namesake willow, Willow House sways with the trends but are not overwhelmed by them.

I’ve been checking out their “Seasonal” sale and found this Roxy Reindeer Cheese Plate and Spreader that I’d love to have. It was originally $39.96 and is now marked down to $11.96.  I’d fill the plate up with crackers and use the spreader to help serve my hot artichoke dip. From the Outlet section, I’d like to have the Gramercy Triple Dip Stand, regularly $19.96, now marked down to $7.96.

I recently received the Wirework Treasure Trio and I have lots of plans for them next year. In addition to filling them with small wrapped candies, I think I’d like to use some reindeer moss in one, maybe some tiny round glass ornaments in another.  I think the round and star one could also be used for an extended season by filling them with “wintery” items, like acorns, evergreen trimmings, etc.  They’re very sturdy and seem like the would hold up to multiple seasons of usage.

I received a product in order to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine and my family’s.

Dec 232011
My third week of Nutrisystem is down – and so am I.  Down another half pound, that is!  I know 8 ounces might not sound like much to be excited about, but it’s eight ounces towards my goal and not away from it, so I’m happy.
One of my favorite food items this week: the pantry Flatbread pizza.  It was amazingly yummy, and as we’re supposed to add a few fruits and vegetables each day, I topped mine with lots of mushrooms and a few leaves of baby spinach.  So good!  Another favorite?  The pound cake.  I saved one of my fruit servings during the day and added a couple of chunks of fresh pineapple to it as sort of a deconstructed pineapple upside down cake.  It made a great dessert.
This past week the Nutrisystem Nation Bloggers also had the opportunity to try three of the new Chef’s Table Dinner Collection Meals (there are seven in all).  The Chef’s Table Collection uses new microwaveable steamer bag technology to help create some of the tastiest microwave foods possible.  The entrees include Citrus Barbeque Glazed Pork, Steak Tagliata and Moroccan Inspired Chicken.  The meals were created by the Nutrisystem Celebrity Chef Culinary Council; members include:
  • Tony Mantuano, chef/partner of the only four-star Italian restaurant in Chicago, Spiaggia; a James Beard Foundation winner for Best Chef of the Midwest and a finalist on Top Chef Masters Season 2
  • Michael Solomonov, owner of Philadelphia’s award-winning restaurant Zahav, 2011 James Beard Foundation winner and contender on Food Network’s hit series,“Iron Chef America.”
  • Kent Rathbun, owner of award-winning Texas restaurants including: Abacus, Jasper’s, Shinsei, Rathbun’s Blue Plate Kitchen and KB’s Woodfire Grill; thrived in the national scene as a winner on Food Network’s hit series, “Iron Chef America.”
  • Mark Estee, owner of newly opened CAMPO in Reno; also known for his dedication to local products and his acclaimed restaurants in Nevada and California.
  • Carmen Gonzalez, known in the culinary world for over 20 years as a talented and award-winning chef, as well as for fusing Puerto Rican influences with modern American cuisine; most recently a finalist on Top Chef Masters Season 2.
The Citrus Barbeque Glazed Pork was really great – a nice amount of kick without being overpowering, and came with a roasted corn salsa that I liked.
The other piece of exciting news? Nutrisystem has a new face, and that face belongs to…
Janet Jackson!  She is helping Nutrisystem kick off SUCCESS, the most comprehensive weight loss program to date.  The SUCCESS approach is designed to help take the weight off and keep it off through frequent, portion-controlled, balanced nutrition and low Glycemic Index eating.  The SUCCESS program offers Nutrisystem’s largest ever assortment of signature artisanal fresh-frozen meals (including those new Chef’s Table dinner entrees); new chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and coffee advanced protein shakes; the introduction of a personalized “My Daily 3™” physical activity program; and increased personalization and flexibility through transition and maintenance plans that help consumers manage their weight on their own.  I’ll have more info on SUCCESS for you when my new kit gets here next week.
My Tally:
Previous: -5 lbs
Week 3 – .5 lbs
Total: -5.5 lbs
Please stop in and check on my blogger friends and see how their journey is going:

Passport to Frugal

Want to lose weight and get healthy on Nutrisystem?  Join today by calling 1-888-853-4689 or by visiting

As part of the Nutrisystem Nation Blogger program, I am receiving my meals for free in order to facilitate my reviews.  I’m receiving no additional compensation and all opinions are 100% mine and my family’s.

Dec 202011

2011 Holiday Gift Guide – Suggestions For Teens/Him/Her
(Be sure to check out all the other great Gift Guide items and giveaways here.)
We enjoy most of those singing shows that are on TV – you know, the ones that pluck people out of relative obscurity and give them a chance to be a star?  A1 even considered trying out for one when they came to town a few years ago (she should have; that girl can sing).  So when we had the chance to try out the new Sing4: The Hits Edition, I knew it was going to be a winner.
Sing4 is unique in the fact that it’s the first singing game with high-precision lyrics that can tell the difference between actually singing and just humming.  It also comes with 40 songs from artists like Train, the B52s, Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood, Michael Bublé, Queen and many others.  You can also download additional tracks to give you even more to choose from.  The game has four modes: Solo, Duet (sing together, each taking a different part; highest score wins), Battle (up to four compete by singing the same piece, highest score wins), and Co-op (combined score; everyone sings the parts they’re best at).
The words come up on the screen, just like karaoke.  And once A2 pointed out to us that the next line of lyrics was on the screen in the line under the current lyrics, we were all much more successful.  The bars that are superimposed on the video (see below) let you know if the notes will be high/low or go up/down and also give you a sense for how long the sound should be held.  You’ll also get instant feedback – like “Perfect!” and “Try Harder!”.
We’ve had a lot of fun with this game.  There is a good mix of songs, so everyone is able to find something they like or at least remotely know the words to.  I am glad, too, that there are more songs available via download (I hope they add more soon, too).  Everyone took a turn – some braver (younger) folks took a few.  Even Baby C. was doing her little “dance” while everyone sang.  There was a lots of friendly competition; I have to be honest and say A1 and A2 kicked our butts.  Still, it’s nice to be able to find a game the whole family can play together.
Sing4 is also sponsoring a contest right now.  You could win $10,000 just by singing one of four songs and uploading your video.  Videos must be uploaded by January 31st, 2012; visit their YouTube page for more info.
Where to Buy:
Sing4: The Hits Edition retails for $39.99; Amazon also has it with free shipping.
Want to Win?
One winner will receive a copy of the game plus the microphone.  To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a product in order to facilitate my review.  No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine and my family’s.

Dec 202011

2011 Holiday Gift Guide – A New Christmas Book

(Be sure to check out all the other great Gift Guide items and giveaways here.)

New Christmas Books - The Night After Christmas
I know you’ve heard me say a number of times how much I love books, and especially Christmas books.  Now someone has found a way to extend the joy and excitement that comes with Christmas stories; there is “The Night After Christmas” book.
“The Night After Christmas” picks up where the iconic “The Night Before Christmas” book leaves off.  It takes you back to the North Pole with Santa after the presents have all been delivered and the children are all snuggled in bed with their new gifts.  I always wondered what Santa did on Christmas night – and now I know!
Baby C. has let me read this to her a few times and she loves the illustrations.  I’m sure this will find a home in our yearly reading rotation.  I’ve heard from a few others that it’s quickly become a much-loved book in their homes.  I think you will love it, too.

Where to Buy:

“The Night After Christmas” is available in both soft cover ($8.99) and eBook ($0.99) form from retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and

Want to Win?

Giveaway closed.

What is your favorite “new” Christmas book?

I received a product in order to facilitate my review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are 100% mine and my family’s.