Friday, August 30, 2013

Fitness Friday: Spin Class with Dara Torres and Fit Buds

I am super excited!!!! I get to take a free spin class with Olympian Dara Torres and review Koss Fit Buds in a couple weeks. Can we say Win-Win-WIN! I will be taking the class at The Shed Fitness in Minneapolis. You might even be able to sign up to take the class too since I notice they do not have contracts and you can drop in to take classes. Sign Up Here! 

I have never met an Olympian, so I am so excited to meet her. Plus her story is just so amazing! And then there is the added bonus that I get to sweat and get in a cross training workout! And my third win is I get to try out the KOSS Fitbuds which are designed to be used by women (33% smaller ear buds) who are active. They are sweat resistant! I am kinda hoping that they will be able to be used by my kids too! Normal ear buds don't fit well and fall out, which is frustrating for them.

Doing a HAPPY Dance!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review and GIVEAWAY: Alone Yet Not Alone

My Thoughts

My daughter and I were very excited to read this book for several reasons and I will share them with you:

  1. It's based on a true story and we both like to learn new things
  2. It is set in Pennslyvania, where some good friends just moved to and we also have other friends and family that live there and we visited last year
  3. The movie Alone But Not Alone will be in theaters starting September 27th and we thought it would be neat to read a book together an d then go see the movie and compare notes afterwards about what it different (because that's what it is all about when you read the book AND see the movie)
  4. My daughter has become a bit of a historical fiction fan that accompanied her love of the Historical American Girls and learning about them, so having female main characters that are young sisters help her identify more with the characters and want to know more about them
  5. My daughter thought it was interesting that the author first wrote her family story that was passed down through generation when she was nine years old.

About Alone Yet Not Alone (from the publisher):

Settled in the Blue Mountains of Pennsylvania, deep within America's new frontier, the Leininger family celebrates the blessings of a beautiful homestead and bountiful harvest. That is, until tragedy strikes with the beginning of the French and Indian War and the devastating raid known as the Penn's Creek Massacre.

 The lives of this simple, God-fearing family are forever altered when Barbara and Regina, two young sisters, are carried away by the Delaware tribe. Driven by their faith in God and the powerful bonds of family, Barbara and Regina hold firmly to the belief that they are never alone, even in their darkest hour, and that they will be reunited again.

Rich in historical details, Alone Yet Not Alone is an inspirational, true story of a family caught in the cross fire of the French and Indian War.

 About The Author: Tracy Leininger Craven loves history and retelling real-life stories in her historical fiction books. She also loves spending her free time in the great outdoors with her husband David and their four children.

Stay Connected
Bring Alone Yet Not Alone to Your City


To enter, just leave a comment with why you want to win this book and who it would be for. Be sure to include your email so I can contact you! WINNER WILL BE PICKED AT 11:59PM ON 9/5/13.

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thrifty Thursday: How to Freeze Eggplant

Do you have an over abundance of eggplant? Or perhaps you have been indulging in cheap prices on them at
the Farmer's Market or grocery store? Once winter comes, the price will go up and you will be thankful you got some in the freezer so that you can make some eggplant lasagna or parmigiana.

How to Freeze Eggplant
* Bring a pot of water to boil
* Add 1/2 C lemon juice for every gallon of water
* Fill a bowl with ice water and set aside
* Cut eggplant in to 1/3" slices (peel beforehand if you like)
* Blanch slices for 4 minutes then quickly transfer to ice water
* Allow slices to sit in the ice water for 4 minutes
* Drain the slices and place them in a freezer safe container

I froze them in gallon sized freezer bags and stacked in a single layer on a cookie sheet until slices were completely frozen (then you can move them and they won't be stuck together.)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Paint Pub at Owatonna Art Center

This was a fun activity to do with a bunch of girlfriends and introduce them (many of them for time) to the Owatonna Arts Center through this Paint Pub. This top painting is mine. I am not a painter, but I am happy with my project.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls

I had the opportunity to try out Woolzies Dryer Balls. Two of the main claims this product makes in regards to performance is that is will cut down on drying time by 25-30% and that it is guaranteed to last at least 1,000 loads. Well, since I had to write this review in a timely manner, I can't test the longevity of the product, but I can test out if my drying time shortens.

My first loads I used them on were towels, sheets and children's clothing. Those loads were cut by about 30%. So, I am impressed with that claim and results. By shortening the length of drying time, we can save on electric costs and electric consumption, thus saving some money. I once figured out that it cost me 50 cents per load in the dryer (that was a couple years ago, with increasing energy costs it could be more, but for the sake of doing some saving calculations, I will use this number.) So, I would be saying 12.5-15 cents per load. And if these dryer balls last for at least 1000 loads, I will be saving $125-$150 in energy costs a year.

You can buy Woolzies from their website for a cost of $34.95 (plus s/h) for the 6 balls (you use all balls in the dryer at once.) But you no longer have to buy dryer sheets. If you were purchasing an eco-friendly brand of dryer sheets (for the sake of calculations, I will use the cost on Amazon for a box of 80 sheets of an eco-friendly brand for $4). To Dry 1000 loads with dryer sheets it would cost you $50.

Amazon sells Woolzies too! At the time of this post they are actually $33.95 with free Prime Shipping. So, if you bought them from Amazon right now, you would end up saving $16 a year in costs of dryer sheets.

So, now you can see that you can save up to $166 over the course of 1000 loads of laundry in energy costs and dryer sheet costs. You could save even more if they last longer than the guaranteed 1000 loads.

I have even mentioned the environmental impact of Woolzies and need to share that with you. They are pure wool and are free of chemicals, toxins, and plastics that are in other dryer balls or dryer sheets. They are hypo-allergenic and are good to use for people with skin sensitivities. The wool is not supposed to shed from the balls.

Another thing - since these are handmade wool balls, they are not going to break apart or melt like other dryer balls can. Wool will continue to felt and keep it's ball shape.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Try It Tuesday: Boogie Wipes Teacher Appreciation Gift

I can't believe how fast summer has gone by and tomorrow I am going to my son's preschool orientation and Wednesday we have our Education Celebration Open House at the school for both kids for them to being in their school supplies, meet with their teachers, find their lockers, get signed up for the bus, put money in their lunch accounts and all sorts of other little things to get them ready for their first day of the school year next Tuesday.

As as Saline Ambassador for Boogie Wipes, Kandoo Products, and Puffs Fresh Faces, I am given free product to pass out and share and the large canisters of 90 Boogie Wipes are perfect for sharing in the classroom. 

I made up this label above that you can print off and use yourself and give your kids teachers, daycare providers or other hard working people a neat little gift. I just printed them off on paper, cut out and used double sided tape to adhere them tot he top. And just tied a little raffia around to make it seem more like a present. My kids will be presenting their teachers with these canisters on Wednesday.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Make It Monday - Simple Microwave Blueberry Oatmeal

 You can eat clean and have a hot meal very quickly. Old fashioned oatmeal can be made in the microwave and will save you time in the morning but still provide you with a nutritious breakfast.

Simple Microwave Blueberry Oatmeal
1/2 C old fashioned oatmeal
1 C unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened coconut milk or skin milk or water)
1/4 C fresh blueberries
1 packet stevia

Directions: Combine all ingredients and stir together. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and stir oatmeal then return to the microwave and cook fro 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pottery Time: My Favorite Style of Bowl/Dish

This is my favorite style of bowl to make with slab rolling and hand building. I just like the fluidness of the ripples on the edge. My last post about bowls and dishes I had a couple with the same type of edges.

To make this I slab rolled by clay out then went over the piece with a rolling texturing tool. Next I cut out a circle using a template I created on newspaper. Finally, using a bowl mold I shaped the edges in the wavy pattern you see above.

This bowl I made to hold jewelry (or whatever) for one of my friends that I gave a pottery and bead necklace to that coordinates with this bowl.

Be sure to check out my other posts about pottery pieces I have created.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: FREE Character Appearance at Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe is located within the Mall of America and is an Amusement Park of fun rides and characters. And while it does cost money to go on any of the rides at Nickelodeon Universe (read my Toddler Tuesday post about discount tickets), meeting the characters is FREE! They do take your picture and hand you a little piece of paper to go buy the pictures they took, but you can take your own pictures. Be sure to check out the Nickelodeon Universe website for the schedule of character appearances to be sure you know who is available to meet at what time/day. During the summer and school breaks there are daily (many times a day) character appearances, but during the school year it is often only on weekends and sometimes on Toddler Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Try It Tuesday: Reclaimed Wood Name Sign

So, we bought this little rustic cabin recently and are working making it our own. We wanted to keep the rustic charm of it, but make it look more rustic intentionally through decor and some updates. This is one of those projects, which was simple to do.

This project was a no-cost one. I used some reclaimed lumber that was left behind in our garage from the previous owners, sticks from out yard and a rock (apostrophe) and acorn cap (dot over the i) that I found in our yard, and some twine and hot glue purchased for other projects that was leftover.

I just cut the wood to the size we wanted and cleaned it up. I left the paint on the wood the way it was so that it helped add to the rustic quality of it. Then I just drilled holes in the top so I could tie my twine through and laid out my twigs to spell out the words and then hot glued them in to place.

Below you can see the picture of the sign as it hangs on our little rustic cabin. I wasn't there when my husband went up to work on adding some new windows and siding and trim (these were all added new to make it look more cabin-y) and hung it at that time. I have not seen it yet, but soon. He says everything looks even better in person.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Make It Monday: Crock Pot Clean Eating Asparagus Soup

Crock Pot Clean Eating Asparagus Soup
1 1/2 pounds of steamed asparagus
2 med. potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C chicken broth
plain greek yogurt, optional
chives, optional


  • Combine all ingredients in a 3Qt. Slow Cooker
  • Cook on Low for 5-6 hours or High for 3-4 hours
  • Using an immersion blend, blend until smooth. If blending in a blender, add ingredients slowly, only about 1 cup at a time
  • Top with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and chives if desired
  • Enjoy!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Fitness Friday

For the longest time now I have wanted to come up with a Friday theme that I could share on a consistent basis, and finally in a half slumber the idea came to me -- Fitness Friday. A day where I post about exercise I have done that week, or an upcoming race or fitness activity.

I am so excited to be sharing this with you now! Unless you are a reader that knows me personally, as in I real-life, you may think I spend all my time crafting and cooking and reviewing products, well, when I am not taking my family on field trips. And yes, while all that is true about me, you also don't know that I exercise daily (well, there is usually a day of rest, but is it really rest if I am swimming or hiking with my family?)

I love to exercise! It is a big part of who I am and that is why I am so excited to start sharing it with you. Maybe inspire some of you to try something new or even start exercising.

I am not a race-a-holic, so this isn't going to be weekly posts about races. I am a runner, but I love to cross train and I think exercise is fun! I LOVE to have friends workout with me. It is both a physical and social outlet for me and I am quite the social creature. Yeah!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: WEXY Eco-friendly Snack Bags

Who knew that kids would get excited over snack bags? I didn't until we received these WEXY Eco-friendly snack bags that are in different monster prints. They couldn't wait for me to open the box to these bags so they could see first hand what each of these monsters looked like.

Let me tell you what makes these bags different from others on the supermarket shelves and why you should buy them. They are BPA-Free, Biodegradable, Reusable, Recyclable, and Made in the USA.

I first packed sandwiches for the kids in these bags. I don't know if a sandwich with "regular" sized bread would fit in these snack bags, which is probably why they are called snack bags and not sandwich bags. But since I use wide loaf bread, I was able to put a half of sandwich in a bag for each of them perfectly.

I thought these bags felt like they are made with a little thicker plastic than what I have felt from many other plastic snack bags. We had no issue with them tearing either.

My kids love to open their lunch bags and see what monster they get that day. It's a fun surprise for them.

You can sign up on the WEXY website to get emails with healthy snack and recipe ideas. Plus when you sign up, they will notify you of FLASH sales they have where you can get them for up to 75% off. You can buy them from the WEXY website or also from Amazon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thrifty Thursday: FREE and Half Price Rentals at Family Video

We found ourselves inside a Family Video the other day because the stars were aligned. It has been a long time since I have been inside a video store and between Amazon Prime movies, dvds from the library and free redbox rentals, I didn't think we had any reason to go to one. But we happened to be trying out a new(ish) restaurant next door and they had signs in the window for their current promotion (now over) that said $1 New Rentals.

We picked out our choice and went to rent it and was told that for 30 days, new members get half off all their rentals! And it CAN be combined with current advertised promotions (the $1 new releases!). So, we paid a whopping 53-cents (need to include tax) for our rental of "OZ: Great and Powerful", plus it was a 5-day rental. Seriously?!?! I paid 53 cents to rent this video so that the kids & I could watch with my MIL and we were able to keep it long enough for them to watch it again and for my husband to come home and watch it too. We went back a couple more times during the $1 promotional rate and each time checked out 2 new releases for 5 days. Fantastic! My kids sure got all their watching in of some new release cartoons they really wanted to see. We won't need to rent those again for a while or buy them.

PLUS! They gave me the above sheet of coupons for free rentals and other coupons. Some really great coupons and we will probably use almost all of them!

ALSO!!!! They have a section of FREE kids videos, a section of FREE exercise videos, AND a section of FREE documentary/educational videos.

I am pretty happy with this new discovery!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Aveda Butterfly Garden at the MN Zoo

The Aveda Butterfly Garden at the MN Zoo
You still have just over 2 weeks to see this special exhibit! It is open until September 2nd
and is FREE with you admission.
The Africa Animals exhibit is also free with your admission and open until Sept. 2nd, 
and so is the Dinosaurs Exhibit open until Sept 2nd, but that one does have a fee.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: Simply Snackin' Meat Snacks

I could have posted this review for Simply Snackin' Meat Snacks within 4 days of receiving the package of six assorted meat snacks, because that was how long it took for my kids and myself to devour them and that was with us showing restraint. My poor husband didn't get to try even one bite of these, which I guess just means I am going to have to buy some. In fact, when I tried the first one I made a proclamation to my kids that I had to try every single flavor since I needed to review all the flavors. They totally bought that and I didn't have them whining to me that they wanted a whole piece to themselves. I did learn that this company is based in Wisconsin, so I might have to find out if they have any retail stores they provide to that I can purchase it from when we visit family.

The six flavors I was able to sample were:
And as I had each flavor, I kept trying to to decided which one I liked the best or the least. Well, there wasn't one that I didn't enjoy at all and I think my favorite would be a tie between the Teriyaki Beef Sirloin with Pineapples and the Chicken Breast with Black Bean Salsa.

After we had finished all 6 flavors, my daughter was slightly addicted and begged me to buy a different kind of jerky from the grocery store. It just wasn't the same. That other kind was dry and tough and more salty than savory. What I mean by savory is that these meat snacks are not just salted meat, they are combined with delicious fruits, salsa or seasonings to give them a savory flavor. I also love that the meat is tender. And while each stick only had 60 calories, they packed in 11 grams of protein (in the chicken) and (8 grams of protein in the beef). This was such a delicious and low calorie way to refuel with protein.

I would also be amiss if I didn't mention that they contain no artificial ingredients, filler, or added MSG. All of them (except the one with Romano Cheese) are lactose-free and four of the varieties are also gluten free.

My readers can get 10% off your order by using the discount code "BLOGGIN10" through the end of August from Simply Snackin.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.