Friday, October 31, 2014

Gift Ideas For The Chef!! #LoveCooking #Giveaway

How many of you love cooking? I love cooking, baking...anything in the kitchen working with food. Many times the items that head my wish-list for the holidays are tools and accessories for the kitchen. For any of you who are like me, or who have a relative or friend like me, here are a few incredible gift ideas for the upcoming holidays!

Love Cooking allowed me to choose a few items for review, and today we'll take a look at 3 of them. The Mrs. Fields Fill n' Flip Round Locking Layer Pan, The Cool Bake, and the Scoop N Cut Cookie Tool. I just love having an excuse to bake, and trying out new products is the best "excuse"!

The Fill N Flip is honestly my favorite. (Although it's very closely followed by the Cool Bake). I love creating cakes of all flavors and kinds, but one of my most-requested cakes is a strawberry poke cake, also known as a Jello cake. This is one of the tastiest desserts ever, but I like to add strawberries on top of the cake, with a layer of whipped topping over the berries. This gets rather messy, as I'm sure you can imagine. Inevitably the white topping is marred by specks and streaks of red, where the berry juice smeared. I now have the perfect solution to that problem, thanks to this ingenious pan! The Fill N Flip set is actually 2 pans; a layer cake set, if you will. Bake the cakes, cool, and remove from the pans. The bottom layer has a shallow "bowl" area, where you can put your filling. Berries, icing, pudding, even ice cream-whatever you'd like in the center of your cake! As you settle the top layer on, you'll notice that it has a slightly wider rim on the underside, which literally locks into place around the rim of the bottom layer! This keeps all your fillings inside, with no mess! I absolutely LOVE this pan!

My next "experiment" involved chocolate chip cookies, which of course allowed me to use both the Cool Bake and the Scoop N Cut. The Scoop N Cut is a simple yet very helpful tool. With a scoop on each end, you can choose from teaspoon or tablespoon measurements, depending on what size cookie you're making. The best part is that the scoops are made of silicone, so you can easily pop the dough out onto your cookie sheet. 

And speaking of cookie sheets, the Cool Bake is my new go-to! Using this removes an entire step from your baking process-that of moving cookies to a cooling rack. The Cool Bake has a built-in, removable cooling rack! Check out the pictures below; it's easier than trying to describe it to you! Just let me say that it works great, and has turned out amazing cookies (and biscuits) every time I've used it-which has been quite a few times in the past couple weeks!

So, have any bakers, cooks, or young aspiring chefs on your gift list this year? Check out Love Cooking for some incredible gift ideas!!

Love Cooking is giving one of our readers their choice of prize from the items I reviewed!! Choose from the Fill N Flip Cake Pan Set, Cool Bake Pan, or Scoop N Cut!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WorkIt Wednesday : MaxFlowSports Review

Hello Neighbors,

Back again bright and early this morning for WorkIt Wednesday.  What are some of you necessary items for your workouts?  Some of mine include:
  • a good pair of athletic shoes
  • a good pair of athletic socks
  • a pair of culottes/athletic skirt
  • a good headband that will actually stay on my head
  • etc. ....   
If these are some of your requirements, then let me tell you, you are going to be so happy with this next review and giveaway.

Maxflow Bands

MaxFlowSports sent me a Pink Cross Grip Headband (meant to STAY on your head), and a pair of Pacific Blue Low-Show Women's socks.  So, these solve two of my necessary items for a good workout!

Now, I have to tell you - as soon as these arrived, my older sister H. snatched the socks, and my little sister M. grabbed the headband (she loves anything and everything pink, and when it was a stay put headband, why not?!?!?)!  :)  So, I have had these for a couple days to review, but my sisters now have both of these items that I received.

Here is a little bit about the founder of MaxFlowSports... "Identify a need. Find a solution. Make it happen. This process is the mother of invention, and also the story of MaxFlowSports. While coaching high school lacrosse, CEO Steve Hines noticed that his players were constantly complaining that their hairbands always slid on their head and stretched out too quickly, thus become unusable. After performing detailed market research, Steve determined that in fact it seemed that no high performance, technically engineered sports hairbands existed in the marketplace…and the idea for the MaxFlowSports Cross-Grip hairband was born. With over a year in the development phase, the Cross-Grip hairband was birthed under high quality and performance standards, with many athletes involved in the beta testing phase. And the result was exactly what Steve intended…a high performance sports headband that stays in place, doesn’t stretch out, and is an asset to the athlete, rather than a nuisance. Along the way, Steve decided that he was not happy with the socks he personally wore while playing sports, and decided that the same thought process would work for bringing a better athletic sock to the market. If he could make a sock that actually stays up, feels different than it's competitors, and is superior in quality, then MaxFlowSports would have a winner. And success was found through the development of the MaxFlowSports Stay-Grip™ Athletic crew sock. As a matter of fact, within the first few months of being on the market, several college and high school teams have joined the MaxFlowSports sock craze. Soon followed the revolutionary Low-Show™ socks. And the reaction was the same..."these are the best socks I've ever worn!" has been heard over and over. The MaxFlowSports creative team is dedicated to bringing unique, cutting-edge sports apparel and accessories to the market for both the serious and the weekend athlete. Products that give you an edge."

M. really loves the Headband (especially the fact that it stays on for an entire workout) and H. thinks these socks are the BEST!  She uses them when we go for our morning runs, when we play racquetball at the gym, etc.  We used both of these items many times during training for our 5K, and both of these products are well worth buying for your next workout.  Make sure you visit the MaxFlowSports websites and make your purchases.  You can also Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter to stay up to date with their latest news.  

MaxFlowSports is going to send 1 of our Neighbors 
a pair of Low-Show Socks and a Headband!

I received no monetary compensation for this review and giveaway.  I did receive two products for review purposes only.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.  All text in red is taken from the sponsor's website.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brilliant Sky Toys and Books Holiday Gift Ideas

Hey Neighbors!

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is go shopping for a toy for a child, especially if they are not your own.  When I have this type of situation I like to have a store around like Brilliant Sky Toys and Books.  This is the type of store where you are greeted as you walk in the door.  There is actually someone there who can assist you in your search for just the right toy.

I was sent three different toys from Brilliant Sky Toys and Books to assist in my review.  Please remember that this review is not about the actual toys, but about Brilliant Sky and the types of toys and gifts you will find there.

Here is an example: I received Squigz.  They are little rubber shapes with suction cup ends.  Toys like this encourage imagination and exploration.  Your child can build and re-build creating whatever comes to mind.  You might even find yourself joining in!  This is the type of toy Brilliant Sky carries.

5 years ago Brilliant Sky Toys and Books decided to go through the 10,000 children's products that filled the shelves of their 17 stores and chose a handful to be named their Brilliance Awards.  This year there are 10 low tech products that were chosen.

Brilliant Sky Toys and Books:
The Brilliant Sky chain chooses its Brilliance Award Winners upon quality, the value of open-ended play and the simple beauty of a child's fascination and delight. With the huge variety of toy buying occasions coming up, there’s truly something for everyone represented in this great group of toys. From finger puppets, arts & crafts kits, dolls and building bricks, it’s evident that childhood playtime really hasn't changed that much!

Are you interested in what products were chosen this year for the Brilliance Awards?  I was!  Here is their list:
·        Squigz Starter Set (24 pieces)
·        Plus-Plus Mini-Basic (480 pieces)
·        Lottie Dolls-Autumn Leaves, Snow Queen
·        Doodle Quest
·        Create Your Own Storybook
·        Super Stadium Baseball Game
·        LoopDeLoom
·        Sew Cute Sets
·        Illustrated Adventure Stories and Illustrated Fairy Tales
·        Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls

Brilliant Sky Toys and Gifts has 17 locations.  Be sure to check the locator on their site to see if there is a store near you.  I am hoping when we go to Chicago in November that we might be able to visit one of the stores.

Here is another one of the toys we were able to try out: Plus Plus.  Your child will really have fun building with the Plus Plus pieces.  They can make a flat pattern placing these together of they can build 3-D.  Another great product to encourage imagination and play.  Speaking of being able to try out a couple of products, that is something you can experience when you stop by a Brilliant Sky Toys and Books Store.

The last item we received was the Lottie Doll Snow Queen.  I personally like the Lottie Dolls because they are a designed to look lie little girls, not adults.

Once again, I want to emphasize that this review is for Brilliant Sky Toys and Books.  Then, I want to tell you, that they are going to send the winner of this giveaway winner's choice of one of the ten toys listed above as Brilliance Awards!  Winner must live in the USA.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jamberry Nail Wraps! What Fun!

Hi Neighbors!

I am so excited too share this next product for our Holiday Gift Guide with you!  I was contacted by Sara, who is a Jamberry consultant.  My daughters were so happy when they heard about this one  They love to have girl's nights and do each other's nails, hair and occasionally spa treatments.

Anyway, Jamberry has some of the most beautiful nail wraps I have seen.  Think Holiday gift idea!  We discussed them and changed our minds more than once.  We finally decided on the Pirouette and Touch of Lace.  Remember this was a very difficult decision here.  I personally liked the Let It Snow for the holidays!

A little about Jamberry
Jamberry wraps come in two sizes.  Junior Sizes for girls 8 and under and Adult sizes.  You can tell the difference because the Junior sizes show two small nail images, while the adult show one larger one.  Jamberry wraps are easy to use.  I will explain that in a moment.    Jamberry was started by three sisters who enjoyed fashion and having their nails done together. They decided there had to be a less expensive way, and one that would last longer.  After trial and error Jamberry was formed and has grown ever since.

A message from Sara about what encouraged her to become a Jamberry consultant:
I never got my nails done because I had such a horrible time with chipping. I tried Jamberry Nail wraps and loved them. I joined because it was so hard for me to decide which ones I wanted, I wanted them all. I decided to become a Jamberry Independent Consultant to make a little extra cash but mostly for the free and discounted products. I have never done direct sales before and it has certainly been interesting.

A few extra facts:
You can layer the clear wraps over another wrap or over a jamberry lacquer. 
They are gluten free - many people dont realize many adhesives have gluten in them - but not Jamberry!
They can be applied over gel or acrylic nails
They are not tested on animals
They are non toxic
They are latex-free and non-porous which makes them perfect for anyone in the health care industry
There is no dry time, no smuding, no chipping.

Now, I like that with the wraps you can wear the same design on all your nails, or you can mix and match.  If you want to accent just one nail that is fine too!  It is easy to color coordinate and mix and match the designs.  Jamberry was very easy to use, as a matter of fact my two daughters did their by themselves.  They are 17 and 14.  Directions are on the packet that your Jamberry wraps come in and should you misplace that, you can find instructions on their website.  Start thinking Holiday gift idea!

First they gathered everything that they would need.  A blowdryer, cuticle pusher, rubbing alcohol, and of course their Jamberry Nail Wraps.  After gently pushing the cuticle back, they cleaned each nail with rubbing alcohol.  They then chose the wrap that looked like it would fit the best and peeled it off the backing.  Using the blow dryer to heat the wrap just enough to give it extra flexibility, they applied it to the nail.  Next they used the cuticle tool to rub the wrap in place.  Oh, they had a small pair of nail scissors too, this was to remove the excess wrap from the end of the nail and use a file to file off any little bit you missed.  They again used the blow dryer while pressing the wrap in place with the cuticle pusher to make sure it adhered properly.  Ta-da!  Beautiful results!  Wow, what a great gift idea!

Are you interested in Jamberry Nail Wraps?  You can order from Sara's website, but better yet, if you host a party you can earn free product.  Just contact Sara through her site and set up a party.  Start thinking holiday gifts here neighbors!  I know several people that would enjoy receiving Jamberry Nail Wraps.

Hey neighbors, seriously, if you didn't catch on yet, Jamberry Nail Wraps would make a great gift idea.  Can't decide which design they would like?  You can purchase a gift card on her site.  Talk about easy shopping!  There is a special going on if you buy 3 sheets, you get 1 free.  If you don't see one you absolutely adore, Jamberry allows you to create custom wraps.  Custom wraps are $18.95 +$6 setup fee (per order not per design) and Sara is happy to work with anyone that may want a custom design. 

One last little bit of information before sharing some really great news with you.  Jamberry does fund raisers.  If you are a club leader or belong to a group trying to raise some extra funds, consider Jamberry.  It is definitely more interesting then candy bars!

If you are interested in purchasing Jamberry Nail wraps, hosting a party or becoming a consultant, you can contact Sara, through her website, on her Facebook page SaraJams4Fun or by

My oldest daughter, who is wearing the Lace wrap, said she really likes these because they go on easy and look nice. No drippy nail polish or streaks.  They go on and look pretty.  Not to mention the cost of getting something like this done at a nail salon.

Now Sara has agreed to give the winner of this giveaway two sheets of Jamberry Nail Wraps. (Winner's Choice)  Thank you Sara!  Are you interested in this one?  Let's go then!  Enter away and be sure to share!

See you soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kid's Academy Apps for Preschoolers.

Hey neighbors!

Check out. These new apps for pre-schoolers.

Just had the opportunity to sample the Bingo ABC Alphabet Phonics.  A cute, yet simple and fun app for pre-schoolers.  I like that you can click on other objects.  There is also the ability to use the Karaoke option.

Along with The Bingo ABC Alphabet Phonics we checked out their Pre-School and Kindergarten Learning Games.  In this app children will learn to form numbers and letters.  They trace forms on the  screen and then have the opportunity to form them themselves.  The graphics will be appealing to young children.

The last app we were able to try was The Kid's Academy ABC's.  This educational app has cute characters that assist your child in learning.  We were able to guide a puppy through mazes while learning rhyming words, and other skills.  This app also has cute little graphics to encourage your child in the learning process.

Thank for stopping by today!  See you soon!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Strawberry Poke Cake, and #FoodieFriday!!

I apologize for this week's Foodie Friday post not actually being posted on Friday. Yesterday was my youngest sister's birthday-she turned 14-and as you can imagine, it was a busy day. This past year we've started doing themed birthdays for the children, and for M we opted for a Sound of Music theme. It's one of her favorite movies; she loves singing the songs, reading every book about the Von Trapps she can find, and trying to talk her siblings-including 2 brothers-into watching the movie with her!

For her birthday meal, we wanted to stay with the SOM theme. With that in mind we did some research and decided on a menu. For dinner, schnitzel with noodles. To drink, tea of course! What else would you have while you're singing the Do-Re-Mi song? In case you're wondering exactly what schnitzel is, it's simply meat that is pounded into a very thin piece, dipped in egg and flour, then coated with a mixture of bread crumbs, salt and pepper, and fried in the skillet. It doesn't sound very flavorful I know, but it was delicious! M's 17 year old sister actually made this all by herself, and M was thrilled! Of course we had egg noodles to go along with it, because you can't have schnitzel without least not if you're following the Von Trapp family's example!

The cake was my contribution to the party. (And the tea...somehow I always get talked into making the sweet tea, I think because I add more sugar than anyone else...). I used a really nifty new pan-that will be featured in our holiday gift guide, by the way-and made a strawberry poke cake. You may know this by the name jello cake, but basically you bake a white cake, poke holes all over the top and pour a jello mixture over the entire cake. You can top with fresh or frozen berries (match to your flavor of jello) and whipped topping, then chill for a few hours. This is one of our family's favorite desserts, and it worked perfectly for the edelweiss cake. After baking, topping and "frosting" with whipped topping, I made a cream cheese-whipped topping-powdered sugar frosting, and separated for the necessary colors. Using pictures my online search had pulled up, I piped an edelweiss flower on to of the cake. Not as elaborate as some of the SOM theme cakes I've seen online, but it stayed with the theme and allowed M to enjoy one of her favorite cakes on her birthday!

Obviously the strawberry poke cake can be decorated a number of ways; the edelweiss flower is only one option! Dress it up however you like, the cake is a stunning dessert that your family will love.

Strawberry Poke Cake
White Cake Mix
Eggs, Oil for cake mix
8 oz. Tub Whipped Topping
8 oz. tub Frozen Strawberries in Sweetened Syrup
Strawberry Jello Mix

Frosting (optional)
4 oz. Whipped Topping
4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Powdered Sugar

Bake cake according to directions. You can make it as a 13x9 cake, or use two 8" pans for a layer cake. Let cool. If making a layer cake, top bottom cake with defrosted strawberries, set other cake on top. Use a fork to poke holes over the entire cake.  Boil 1 cup water, dissolve jello mix. Stir in syrup from defrosted strawberries. Pour mixture over cake evenly. Top with strawberries. Frost with whipped topping. Chill for 3-4 hours before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Frosting-If you'd like to add a decorative touch to the cake, such as my edelweiss flower, blend taught frosting ingredients until smooth. Add to the cake in any design you like!