Saturday, November 30, 2013

GIVEAWAY and Review: Reed and Barton Serving Set

I was beyond thrilled to be able to review this set from Reed and Barton. Everything you see pictured in the above picture (exactly!) is what I chose to review, the carving set, the steak knife set and the accent dish. There were different choices of steak knives and the carving set, but I wanted them to match each other as well as match my existing set of serving pieces and my "fancy" in the silverware in the nice silverware chest. I enjoy hosting nice sit down dinners and we used to have regular dinner parties with friends (before kids) and hopefully will again. We do have a couple opportunities a year that we host a nice dinner or holiday meal and I get out our china and silverware and all of the serving pieces stored away in the hutch. I have quite the collection already and was so happy to add these pieces to them because I didn't have an elegant set of steak knives or carving set. One of my readers is going to win there own set of all 7 pieces!

Reed and Barton Hammered Antique Carving Set: I love the teardrop handle on these pieces. It fits perfectly with our nice silverware set. It feels good to hold these in your hand and use them. You can tell when you hold them in your hand that they are a quality made product. They have enough weight that you can tell they are not cheaply made and are a solid piece. There was one other design of carving set available from Reed and Barton.

Reed and Barton Hammered Antique Steak Knife Set: There are six different sets of steak knives to choose from at Reed and Barton, but I really wanted a set that matched the carving set and fit the look of my nice silverware. Both the carving set and the steak knife sets are dishwasher safe. Just like the carving set, you can tell these are quality made. Both sets are made with heavy gauge 18/10 stainless steel.

Just a couple of pictures for you to see the carving set in use at Thanksgiving at my in-laws house. I can't wait to use it to carve up our Christmas ham at our house. We have our own Christmas Day dinner at our house that I make for our family.



We didn't have a need to use the steak knives to cut up things at Thanksgiving dinner, so we used them to spread butter and they worked perfectly for that as well.

You can find out more information about Reed and Barton online:

Reed and Barton Accent/Bread Dish: This is about 11 x 5.5" for its dimensions and for me it is too small for bread (I like my bread and like a larger dish of it!), but it would be perfect for a small mini loaf of bread. I think this would be perfect to set out a dish of mints in or some holiday candies.

These are the boxes that each of the pieces came in. You may be wondering why I am showing you them, but if you noticed in the pictures above, they each have nice spots to places the sets back in to place inside this thick and sturdy box. I find the best way to keep my nice pieces nice is to return them to their original boxes and store them that way. This beautiful packaging is wonderful for gift giving as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Advent Tree of Activities

You could simply make this Advent Tree as a countdown to Christmas Day, but why not include activities. On each ring, I have written an activity we will do that day. All of my activities, I have shared on my 25 Days of Christmas Check List.

I chose to make this project on my own because I wanted to surprise my kids with the activities on each slip as the look at them daily (starting from the bottom.) But you could do this with a child.

All you need to make this project is 4 pieces of construction paper (2 green, 1 red, 1 yellow) and either tape, glue or staples (I used staples) to close each ring. Cut the strips the short way on the construction paper (you can get 10 strips per full sheet of construction paper) and assemble in the pattern as you see above. You will need to cut out 19 GREEN, 5 RED, and  1 YELLOW.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fitness Friday: Putting On Weight!

Pppppfff! Not that kind of weight! I am not complaining about gaining weight or saying I need to gain weight. I am actually pretty happy with where I am and insurance charts confirm that. So, I'm good. What I am talking about is increasing my weights in my Strength and Bootcamp Classes.

The past few days I was thinking about what I was going to share with you for my Fitness Friday post this week and then I went to Strength Class and increased my weights. My arms were trembling by the end of class, during the stretching at the end and were still trembling on the drive home that I couldn't hold my arms at 10 and 2, I had to rest them on my lap and hold them at 6. It wasn't just the fact that I went up in weight, but that combined with the goal of the instructor to get us to completely fatigue our arms today. I would say that she succeeded!

It was just a few short months ago that I was lifting weights 3 pounds heavier than what I have now. I was lifting 12 pound weights in each hand and now I just moved up to 9, which means I had to drop down to 8 pounds weights after a few months of not having Strength and Bootcamp classes. Yes, I did do my Shred video 1-2x weekly which uses weights in addition to running 3x a week (remember I was training for my half marathon, so I had looooong runs!) and yoga 2x a week, but that wasn't cutting it.

So, now I am putting on weight! My goal was to move up to 9 pounds in each hand before Thanksgiving and then my goal will be to move up to 10 pounds by Christmas and hopefully back to 12 pounds by Valentine's Day. These goals give me something to work towards as I don't have any pending races that I am signed up for until next May (don't worry, there will be some, I just am not a huge fan of outdoor winter running.) Goals are good for me.

What kind of fitness goals do you have?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Owatonna Lighted Holiday Parade

The Lighted Parade is an annual tradition in Owatonna, MN and kicks off Hometown Holidays in town that includes many other events over the next couple weeks.
It is a fun little parade that is about a half hour long and the kids can get some candy and meet Santa.

Does your town or a neighboring town do some fun special events for the holidays?

GIVEAWAY" Glasstic Water Bottle

The Glasstic Water Bottle Company would like to give my readers a chance to WIN their own Glasstic Glass Water Bottle. If you remember, it was about a month ago that I did a video review of the water bottle. You can read  my review of Glasstic water bottle and please leave a comment!

Besides my reviews, you can find out more information about Glasstic Bottles online at:



a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given nothing in return for providing this giveaway. I previously received a bottle to review and was later asked if I would like to do a review for my readers. No monetary compensation was received.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Try It Tuesday: 25 Days of Christmas Check List

As an alternative to the Advent Calendar where the kids gets candy or small trinkets, I would like to offer up experiences to enjoy the holiday season together. Some of the items on this list will work for everyone, and some you may need to change. I typed these out in order we will do them because I will be putting them on our Advent Tree, and so I looked at our calendar to see what events I had planned for us so that I would have them matched up with the appropriate day. Some of these events might not be options for you. I also added Do 5 Flips with mom because my kids like to do flips off me and I don't always offer it up much, so it would be fun for them to have me offering it to them.

I hope this list gives you some ideas on how you can create special experiences with your children this holiday season.

Monday, November 25, 2013

GIVEAWAY and Review: Jammy Jams - Hair Metal Goes Lullaby


I enlisted my husband and my son in helping me review Jammy Jams - Hair Metal Goes Lullaby. A couple things you need to know about this release and the other ones from Jammy Jams is that they are an instrumental release, there are not words to the songs. But if you are a fan of hair metal or were once upon a time, you will recognize these instrumental versions. Another thing you will notice is that they are a single instrument sound, like that of a music box, which I think may be very calming to children as they are falling asleep. One lucky reader is going to receive a Digital Download Card like the one featured above that contains your own access code. This might make a great baby shower gift or Christmas present for a new baby.

If Hair Metal isn't your thing but you still like the concept of a the instrumental music box renditions of songs you love (or used to love), you are in luck because they have releases in a variety of renditions including Lady Gaga Hits, Christian Rock Hits, R&B, Hip Hop, Pop, 90's Alternative, Classical and their Best of Album.

Information from Jammy Jams:

With their fourth release, “Hair Metal Goes Lullaby”, Jammy Jams elevates lullaby music to a whole new level of awesomeness. Whether you are a child of the 80s or are shopping for a little one born yesterday, these gentle lullabies will captivate and delight. You have to listen to believe that songs originally performed by heavy hitters like Mötley Crüe or Bon Jovi could be transformed into these incredibly peaceful and comforting arrangements. Like a hug from your best pair of spandex pants, Jammy Jams’ soothing sounds embrace, providing the reassurance needed for you or your little dream warrior to slip into a cozy slumber.

Track Listing:

1. Every Rose Has Its Thorn (originally by Poison)

2. Gypsy Road (originally by Cinderella)

3. Home Sweet Home (originally by Mötley Crüe)

4. I Remember You (originally by Skid Row)

5. Lay It Down (originally by Ratt)

6. Honestly (originally by Stryper)

7. Livin’ On A Prayer (originally by Bon Jovi)

8. Dream Warriors (originally by Dokken)

9. Jet City Women (originally by Queensrÿche)

10. Here I Go Again (originally by Whitesnake)

(A phyical card like pictured above will be mailed to you)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Make It Monday: Strawberry & Cream Stuffed French Toast

Strawberry and Cream Stuffed French Toast
1 loaf of french bread (day old works great!)
8 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
8 oz plain greek yogurt
1 C sugar
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
8 large eggs
1 C milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon


  • Spray 13x9 pan with non-stick cooking spray
  • Slice french bread in to 1/2 slices (my pan fit 8 slices, so I cut 16 for a top & bottom)
  • Place one layer of bread in the bottom of the pan
  • Beat together cheese, yogurt and sugar until fluffy
  • Spread cheese mixture on top of first bread layer
  • Place strawberries in a layer over the cheese mixture
  • Top with second layer of bread
  • Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon until well mixed
  • Pour egg mixture over all of the ingredients in the pan
  • Cover and set aside in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 1 hour
  • Enjoy!

Review: Lancome DreamTone

I had the opportunity to review Lancome Dream Tone through She Speaks Up. I seems like I am in the target age demographic for reviews of moisturizers and skin color correctors and wrinkle creams. I am old enough that I am noticing changes to the skin on my face and eager enough to want to do something about it. And if Nora Ephron is right (in her book I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman), when I turn 43 my facial problems head south and just get worse.

Actually, I think I have pretty good skin for my age and is relatively blemish free (except those couple of pimples I get that time of the month) when I have baggy eye issues (today's picture below shows I am having a good eye day, although I am afraid as I get older the baggie eyes will get worse - hey! If anyone has a baggie eye solution they want me to review, I am totally your demographic and am eager.)

The timing was off on this review for me. It was really hard for me to tell if it corrected my coloring and tone because my summer tan was fading and it pretty much faded now. I might have to do a follow up review for you because now that I am back to a pasty white (yes, it will only get worse through our MN winter) I will notice any imperfections in tone and dark spots in my skin. So, as much as I would love to tell you this product delivered as promised, I can't say that yet.

What I can tell you is that it was a good moisturizer. It absorbed quickly and covered evenly. This is going to be a good moisturizer for me to use this winter. In the summer I tend to look for things with an spf so I have sun protection, but in the winter I do  not need that as I am not outside as much and when I am there isn't much not covered on my body (sometimes I wonder why we still live in MN, but I will totally change my mind as soon as there is enough snow on the ground to start enjoying winter sports.)

The lotion does have a pink tint to it (mine is for fair skin) so the coloring in it leads me to believe it will correct tone. And because it is winter in MN, my skin is drying and so I did immediately see the dryness diappear and give my skin a glowful (I'm making that a word!) appearance. Like I said, I will continue to use the product because it is working as a great moisturizer and I will see if it it follows through on it's color correction claims now that I am back to a pasty shade. If I do see that it works, I would them contemplate the $98 price tag, which is a little steep for me. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Loom Knit Ribbons Scarf

This is my holiday scarf to dress up a plain top but have some pizzazz to my holiday wardrobe. I saw this Red Heart Boutique Ribbons Yarn on the website and thought it was pretty and wanted to make my own on the loom. The only problem was that I couldn't find any patterns or tutorials on how to use this yarn with anything but knitting needles. So, it was up to me to come up with my own loom knitting pattern to be able to use this yarn.

To make this scarf, you can use a long loom or a circle loom. You only need 7 pegs to cast on. You will be casting on with the yarn coming to the outside of the loom. The yarn has thin segmented running edge that you will cast on the pegs. Place a segment on one peg, skip the 2nd peg, cast on the 3rd, skip the 4th, cast on the 5th, skip the 6th, cast on the 7th. Skipping every other peg is necessary to allow the ribbon the ruffle together. Then cast on your second row just working backwards. Make sure you start with the next segment in the yarn when you cast on the 7th peg and continue to your first peg and still skipping pegs 2, 4 and 6. Next you will yarn over on your pegs that you cast on. Continue to cast on another row and then yarn over after each row. Continue until you have achieved your desired length.

As you continue to make it the yarn with compress up width-wise and make the ruffled ribbons you see in the picture. To finish, cast off by putting the loop from peg 1 on peg 3 and yarn over, then peg 7 to peg 5 and yarn over, then peg 3 to peg 5 and yarn over. Finally, the yarn that is on the last peg, cut the segment and tie it in to secure.

I only had to use 1/2 of a skein, so you could easily make 2 scarves with one skein. One for yourself and one as a gift! :)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flower Adorned Winter Loom Knit Hat

I used Bernet Alpaca yarn to make this hat. I doubled up on the yarn thread and pulled from the center and from the outside to make it a thicker hat. I wasn't going to have quite enough in one skein to make this a solid grey hat, so when I realized this I stopped doubling the strands and added in some cream colored yarn (same brand and kind) and added in a grey and cream stripe, and then added the grey back with the doubled up strands and finished the hat with solid grey on top.

If you want to make this as a solid hat, then I suggest buying 2 skeins of yarn.I used the green knifty knitter loom to make this. If you are making the hat on the red or blue loom, one skein will be plenty, but if you are using the yellow loom then you definitely want two skeins. And if you don't know how to Loom Knit, check out my Introduction to Loom Knitting and also be sure to check out all the things I have made with Loom Knitting.

The tutorial on how to make this flower was something I found on pinterest, although I did hand stitch my pieces together instead of gluing them so that I could make this a machine washable hat.

Next month I will be sharing on Northern Cheapskate of how you can make this Quick and Easy Loopy Scarf.

Friday, November 22, 2013

GIVEAWAY!!!! $25 NAPA Autocare Cash

About NAPA AutoCare


The Holiday season is rapidly approaching, and for a lot of us that means it’s ROAD TRIP time! Long trips can be taxing on your vehicle, which makes it even more important that it’s kept in tip top shape before you take-off.

The question is... do you know what it takes to keep up with your vehicles needs? How “car competent” are you?

Our friends at NAPA AutoCare Centers have created a quiz for you to test your Car Competency before you take the trip. Test your knowledge on basic auto care mainte-nance, and download some pro-tips along the way. We asked some of our ASE Certi-fied Technicians for 6 simple, and perhaps little known, pro-tips that will help you protect one of your biggest investments… your car!

To make this all even better, we are going to give you a $25 NAPA Cash card to givea-way to one of your followers! This card is good at any of your neighborhood NAPA AutoCare Centers. Get a taste of the premium, friendly, certified, and guaranteed work that NAPA AutoCare Centers provide.

Here’s what you can expect on your visit:

- NAPA AutoCare Centers use ASE Certified techs. This means that you can trust that your car is being serviced by knowledgeable professionals, specifically equipped to help with all your needs.

- Our AutoCare Centers offer The Peace of Mind Nationwide Warranty which includes a 24-month/24,000 mile warranty on qualifying repairs and services. This means you get to have all of the benefits that come with doing business with a locally-owned business, but still have your work certified and guaranteed nationwide!

- With more than 15,000 locations nationwide, there is a NAPA AutoCare Center that is close by and ready to take care of all your vehicles your family owns.

• Are You Car Competent? QUIZ - When it comes to vehicle maintenance, are your auto smarts running at full throttle or are you spinning on your wheels? Take the quiz to see how your car care knowledge stacks


• NAPA AutoCare Mega Tips PDF - Whether you’re an auto newbie or a car care veteran, NAPA AutoCare Centers have got you covered for all levels of service and repair. Print this list of Mechanic Mega Tips and keep it handy for when you need it!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. I receive no product to review either. This is just a giveaway for my readers to have a chance to win this prize!

Each household is only eligible to win ONE $25 Napa AutoCare Gift Card via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

GIVEAWAY and Review: 1 Girl Nation Debut Album

If you have a girl in your home or that is special to you, you are going to be interested to learn about 1 Girl Nation and their self-titled debut album. My daughter and I have been enjoying listening to this album in the car (I often get made fun of for trying to dance while driving - don't worry I am just moving my arms a bit - also, my kids have an understanding that they have to let me sing in the car or I will sing in public around them.) This album is such fun to sing to.

What I just love about this new band, 1 Girl Nation, is that they are singing about being a good person and living a Christian lifestyle and keeping God in your life. I don't need to worry about the lyrics in their songs and what message they are sending to my daughter because all of their songs are sending a positive Christian message.

While I can't control what my daughter hears on the school bus or what is pumped in to the pool during swim practice, I can control what she hears at home and in my car. And while I admit that some of the music I listen to is not something I want her to listen to, as long as I have a CD along with me I can pop it in and give her something with a positive message to listen to. I still need to download it to her mp3 player for her (I have to find that cord that goes from the player to the computer as it is MIA - ugh!)

My daughter loves the upbeat pop sound of the band and that they are a group of cute girls. Young girls and preteens (even me) are drawn to attractive looking people (even if we don't admit it out loud) and young girls will often dream about if they were that person. In an age where some of the role models for girls are causing a media frenzy with provocative dancing and scantly-clad bodies, it is nice to have a band of girls that are dressed to show their individual personalities and dressed appropriately and are having fun just hanging out together in the video.


You can listen to all the songs and buy them on Amazon or iTunes!

Find out more information about 1 Girl Nation online:


a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in 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."

Fitness Friday: 1000 Burpee Club

Join me & some friends in doing 1000 Burpees by Christmas or New Years!

I joined in on a 1000 Burpee Club that was started by my friend Molly who is the owner of Dynamic Fitness (some Friday soon I will tell you all about Dynamic Fitness and the classes I take there! - she posted about it on the business FB page.) and it is not too late to do your own 1000 Burpees! We started ours last Saturday, so you are a little behind (we are supposed to be done on Christmas) but it will be easy enough to make up or just start now and extend yours you will have done 1000 Burpees by 2014. If you START TODAY you will do 25 Burpees every day through December 31st. How awesome would it be to start 2014 saying you finished 1000 Burpees!

Now, you could approach these burpees in one of two ways. You could do a classic burpee, or do one that incorporates a push-up in it when you are down on the floor so then it's like a bonus move! Now you have 1000 burpees AND 1000 pushups!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thrifty Thursday: At Home Colored French Manicure Using Kid Stickers

 Have you noticed the trend for a Colored French Tip Manicure? You can easily do this at home, using kids stickers! Really!

As a SAHM, I don't find a salon manicure to be a good way to spend my money because I chip the manicure or break my nails so easily as I play with my kids and do things around the house. I do like a nice salon pedicure though. :) I am not nearly as hard on my feet as my hands.

It's simple! Just place circle stickers on your cleaned fingernails (wipe clean with remover to remove the oils).
Then paint polish over the ends. The stickers help you create a nice clean arched line. Paint on two coats. When they are dry, remove the stickers and paint over the entire nail on each of your fingers with clean nail polish.

GIVEAWAY: The Melodic CD "Effra Parade"

I am excited to provide a giveaway to my readers for the debut album titled "Effra Parade" from The Melodic. ONE LUCKY READER WILL WIN A CD OF THEIR OWN!! Will you keep this for yourself or giveaway as a Christmas present?

They are an English afro-folk-pop ensemble who will released their debut album Effra Parade on November 5th. It is the follow up to the band's acclaimed EP, On My Way, with the track of the same name. English newspaper The Observer described The Melodic as "Incredibly beautiful, with harmonies and rich instrumentation that make you want to dance and cry at the same time," while in the US the band has drawn comparisons to indie darlings Beirut and The Decemberists. They've made it to America, are currently touring and just had their first late night tv appearance with Carson Daly.

Remaining Tour Dates Include:
11.22 The Belmont – Austin, TX

11.25 Local 506 – Chapel Hill, NC

11.26 The Earl – Atlanta, GA

11.27 High Watt – Nashville, TN

11.29 Motr Pub – Cincinnati, OH

11.30 Zanzabar – Louisville, KY

12.1 Mothlight – Asheville, NC

12.2 Strange Matter w/ Vikesh Kapoor – Richmond, VA

12.3 IOTA – Arlington, VA

12.4 The Saint – Asbury Park, NJ

12.5 North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA

12.6 Cafe Nine – New Haven, CT

12.7 Middle East w/ Vikesh Kapoor – Cambridge, MA

12.8 Higher Ground – South Burlington, VT

12.09 Mercury Lounge – New York, NY


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received no monetary compensation for this post. I am not reviewing this album either and did not receive the album. I am just providing a giveaway for my readers to have a chance to win this album.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Little Black Dress Affair - Vintage Flair

This was a ladies' fundraiser event that was formal. It is an annual event and each year they pick a different kind of flair to dress up with. This year it was vintage. Each year there is also a different organization that benefits from funds raised. This year those organizations were the Steele County Clothesline and I.R.I.S (Infants Remembered In Silence). These are pictures of myself with friends (we had a group of us and got our own table) at the event. Super fun time! Next year's event is on November 22nd and the flair is Purple. I didn't remember hearing who it would benefit. They had a photo opp area with props! Of course, we did partake in that.