Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Like your Keurig? You'll Love your K-Caps!

Reuse your Keurig K-Cups!

Are you wondering what that little disk-like item is? I think it looks like one of the coolest inventions ever!!! It's called a K-Cap. Is that enough explanation? I didn't think

A K-Cap is a handy-dandy little gizmo that allows you to re-use the K-Cups in a Keurig brewer! I am so very excited to try these! I adore my Keurig, but I don't adore having to purchase a new box of K-Cups every couple of weeks at a cost of about .50 a K-Cup! The coffee is good, and of course, it's a lot less expensive than going to the 'Bucks, but I can buy a bag of Dunkin' Dark and brew it for a lot less than .50 a cup!

And then along came the K-Cap. This wonderful invention actually allows you to remove the foil cap of a K-Cup, carefully rinse it out, refill it, and then cap it and brew fresh coffee. Amazing!! I have always hated watching the waste as I drop those K-Cups into the trash can after a single cup of coffee is brewed, and I am completely enthralled with the idea of re-using them in such a simple way!

If you are a Keurig user like me, this is definitely a concept to investigate. You can purchase the K-Caps in several different quantities by visiting their website. The website itself is great, too. You can read the specifics on the K-Cap, view a video that explains them even better, or even learn how your blog can earn you free K-Caps to try.

I can't wait to give these a whirl. When I receive them, I will post about them and tell you how much I love them, because I know I will. :-) In the meantime, please visit K-Caps. If you love your Keurig, I bet you are going to be as excited about them as I am!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thinking About Spring

I can look out my front door and see snow on the lawn across the street. The local forecasters are talking about anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow that is on its way to us and will arrive this weekend. I'm so tired of winter already!! So in order to escape (albeit temporarily) my thoughts have turned to my future garden.

I have a patch in my backyard that was plowed for a garden. It was a bit of a disaster last year because I had major surgery in February and wasn't able to commit the time to it that it really needed, since it was the first year it had been tilled. So grass took over and some of the plants didn't make it and it was basically rather sad. This year, however, I've already begun to prepare. I've covered the area well and added mulch so the grass is at a minimum. I have a diagram and definite plans of what plants are going where. And I will definitely spend more time out there this summer, probably even recruiting my children to learn to "work the land."

I'm excited about gardening this year! I hope to be able to freeze and can a lot of vegetables that we can use over the colder months. This will help us in so many ways. My kids are not fond of commercially canned products, but anything I've canned myself is devoured. It's a good thing I enjoy canning! :-)

Interestingly enough, while I've been contemplating my garden, I received an email from a company called Hometown Seeds. They have a very interesting product called Survival Seeds. This are NON-GMO seeds that give you a variety of easy to grow vegetables. The packet includes the following seed packets:

Lincoln Peas
Detroit Dark Red Beets
Kentucky Wonder Brown Pole Bean
Yolo Wonder Pepper
Champion Radish
Lucullus Swiss Chard
Black Beauty Zucchini
Waltham Butternut Winter Squash
Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach
Scarlet Nantes Carrots
Long Green Improved Cucumber
Rutgers Tomato
Golden Acre Cabbage
Romaine Paris Island Cos Lettuce
Golden Bantem Sweet Corn
Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion

It looks like a great assortment for any garden, and it is a HUGE assortment! I'm thinking this might be great to purchase with a friend and share the seeds. I don't know about you, but I certainly don't have 3/4 of an acre to garden! :-)

Check out the website and see if the Survival Seeds suit your needs for this year's planting. Let me know if you get them!

DISCLAIMER: Hometown Seeds offered to send me a free packet of survival seeds for posting about their website. I have not tried their products yet, but this looks like a great assortment of seeds. The opinions expressed are my own, as is the time and work I will put into my garden this year!! :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Counting Blessings

Today has been one of those days that cause me to take pause and ponder all the blessings in my life. Shortly after awakening this morning, I learned some news about the daughter of a dear friend. On Monday morning, the 10-year-old will be undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor on her brain that is nearly as large as a softball. How terrifying is that? I can't imagine enduring my baby going through that. My heart and prayers go out to this family, and I thank God for my healthy children.

Then this afternoon I came home to find cars all over the place along my street and wondered what in the world was happening. A bit of online searching revealed that my neighbor across the street passed away a few days ago. Family and friends called on his wife throughout the day and I looked out the window a bit ago to see her lights turned off. My heart aches for her as I think about her going to bed alone, terribly missing her husband of 56 years. Yes, he had a full life, but she is still left behind with tears and memories. I visited her briefly today and she cried as she spoke of their life together. I am so sad for her, and I thank God that my family is intact. Yes, my husband can be extremely frustrating and difficult, but he really is a blessing in my life and I wouldn't trade him for anything, even though it's a good thing nobody asked me to trade him when he was being such a butthead yesterday!! ;-)

We never know when our lives will suddenly change, for the better or the worse. And tomorrow is not a promise, but a gift. I'm going to make a conscious effort to not forget this. Yes, I know I will have days when I toss gratitude out the window, but I hope it won't take me long to remember days like today. And I hope everyone reading this has more blessings than he or she is able to count.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Haven't Been to the UK Lately - or Ever!!

Just like a large percentage of the population, I am anticipating a tax refund. The Federal Government told me that they expected it to appear in my account on the 12th, which is tomorrow. So today I checked my bank account online to see if it was showing yet as pending. It wasn't. But when checking the account, I happened to look down at the balance on my bank-issued credit card and was surprised at the balance.

See, that particular card is my "paranoid card." I use it only for online purchases, because of the fear that someone might manage to steal my account number when I shop online. I still shop, but I reserve one credit card for the purpose of paying so that I don't have multiple account numbers out there in cyberspace. Lately I've been thinking that I'm a little silly to do this, since I've never had a problem with online shopping or stolen credit card numbers.

That all changed today. When I pulled up the account, I saw two charges: one was some sort of UK charge and the second was a processing charge that was applied because I used my credit card over in another country. I racked my brain trying to figure out what I might have charged that was overseas and how in the world it had come up that I had actually BEEN overseas when I made the purchase. I called the bank and got a representative.

Ready for the funny part? She informed me that this particular company was an ESCORT SERVICE in the UK!!!!! I assured her that I had NOT made this charge and she transferred me to the fraud department. After quite a hold, I got another representative who was a bit more surly. She asked me if I was absolutely sure I had not made this charge. When I said I was, she then told me that the company also had a dating service division and asked, "And your husband? Could HE have made the charge?" Wow. He happened to be standing right here, so I informed her he absolutely did not. Not only would he NOT have used a dating/escort service, but he SURE has not traveled to the UK anytime recently, or anytime in his LIFE, for that matter! Insane!

Sadly, this is the third time that Identity Theft has reared its ugly head in my life. Many years back, a coworker of my husband copied all of his personal information from the work computer system onto an application for a cell phone and obtained a phone in his name at her address. She charged up thousands of dollars in calls and stuck us with the bill, conveniently disappearing when it went to collections. We ended up having to settle, though if we had had the money, we could have easily fought it in court (she had taken a cell phone contract out of the provider's office which the contract outlined was forbidden), but we just couldn't do it. Then just a few years ago, I signed up for a Capital One credit card and before it even arrived in the mail, someone charged a new computer on it! That was quickly fixed, but I admit that I have never felt safe using that credit card after the experience!

If you've never experienced an incident of identity theft, consider yourself very lucky! But be careful anyway. Always check your accounts regularly and report any suspicious charges right away. It will probably be easy to fix, but it's still an unsettling experience. And never take anything for granted...just because it's never happened to you, it still might.

Consider this your Public Service Announcement of the day. :-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

My New Favorite Cereal

Ever since I heard that there was a Chocolate Cheerios out there now, I have been curious to try it. I've almost bought it a couple of times, but being who I am, I had to tell myself to wait until it was on sale. Besides, I rationalized, it's good can it really be?

Yesterday I received a wonderful surprise. The mail carrier left me a small box by my downstairs door. It was clearly marked "Pssst!" which is a General Mills program where people can join and get information (and sometimes samples) of new and improved General Mills products. I am a huge General Mills fan (how can I not be, being the Box Tops for Education coordinator at the girls' school???) and so I joined Pssst! as soon as I learned about it.

I opened the box, not sure what I might find, and was very excited to find a full size box of the Chocolate Cheerios. I'm actually not sure who was more anxious to try them - me or my daughters! We were all eager to sample them, and I opened the box yesterday shortly after receiving it. The first thing I noticed was that these Cheerios are coated with a light crisp chocolate glaze. It isn't powdery, and definitely isn't overly sweet. My 9 year old said that it had the same kind of chocolate flavor as Cocoa Puffs.

Personally, I thought that the flavor and texture were excellent. That coating is absolutely perfect, affording a very pleasant chocolate flavor but not like most sweetened children's cereals. Then I tried a bowl of them with milk, and I am officially hooked! They did not soften in milk, retaining the light crunch, and they tasted fantastic! And the milk!! It was so very, very good! Chocolate Cheerios is a fun adult cereal. You get the fun and flavor of a kids' cereal without all the sugar and sappy sweetness.

The only problem I have with the Chocolate Cheerios is that my kids like them as much as I do, so I can't keep them for myself. Usually when I buy a more healthy adult cereal, I keep it on the cabinet shelf and eat it at my leisure - the kids leave it alone. Not the case this time! They are definitely enamored with this new Cheerios product, so if I want to keep it for myself, I'm going to have to buy it when they are in school and hide it somewhere safe! :-)

I definitely would suggest that you give Chocolate Cheerios a try. It's already on my grocery list for my next trip. I've always liked Cheerios, but they were never on my list of favorite cereals...until now!

Just for fun, here is a website that features some fun recipes you can make with the Chocolate Cheerios. I probably won't get that far, as they are just too good as a cereal that they won't last long enough for recipes!

NOTE: I was not asked to post this or compensated in any way. I received the box for free as part of my participation in Psst! and enjoyed the cereal so much that I wanted to share my thoughts with my blog readers.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Where Went the Waffles?

Did the bunny take them?? lol

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably read my tale of the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009. I found it comical that people were panicking about a lack of canned pumpkin when the grocery stores were practically bursting with bins of fresh, wonderful pumpkin. Seriously - it isn't hard to roast a pumpkin yourself! But, I digress.

The latest saga is the Waffle Shortage of 2010. What I've gathered is that there was some flooding at a couple of Kellogg's plants that manufacture Eggo waffles, and it will be quite some time before these plants are up to speed again. And this is a crisis?? Wow. I didn't realize that life couldn't continue without frozen waffle products! Did you??

Waffles are a tasty product comprised of very basic ingredients that I bet you have on hand right now! You'll need things like flour, eggs, a little sugar, salt, milk, and baking powder. You can even use Bisquick to make it easier to mix the batter! Of course, you will also need a waffle iron, but those are pretty easy to find, both at your local discount retailer (read: Target) or for very little money at a secondhand store. If you want the more Eggo-type waffles, you will want to get a regular waffle iron, and not a Belgian variety.

If you can cook pancakes (and anyone can do THAT!), you can certainly create yummy waffles. And if using the iron is a hassle, you can make a full batch one afternoon, wrap them with waxed paper between, and pop them in the freezer to enjoy in the future. You can even toast don't need Eggos!!

Of course, if making a batch of waffles is a bit too much of a hassle, or you can't locate a waffle iron (read: you don't want to go shopping), visit your local First Watch (or other breakfast place, but none can compare) and order up a crisp, hot, golden waffle. I promise you there is no shortage of waffles at First Watch! Of course, once you taste your first First Watch waffle, you'll never be able to go back to Eggo.

Want a waffle yet???

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

God's Little Princess Devotional Bible Review

I recently received a beautiful children's Bible to review from Thomas Nelson Publishers, through BookSneeze. As you can tell from the picture above, this is a gorgeous book that would appeal to any young girl. As a matter of fact, my 7-year-old saw it the day it arrived and immediately wanted to have it. I told her that Mommy needed to look at it first for a review, and she bothered me at least twice a day to ask when she could have it! :)

After two days of this (I was running around like mad that week with no time to sit down and read), I told her to go ahead and look at it, and just bring it back to me. She took it into her room and came out a few times to share stories with me and show me various pictures and things she was learning. It was adorable! This Bible is written perfectly for her, in wording that is on her level and with stories that give her things to ponder and wonderful learning experiences.

The book is colorful and every page is appealing. The artwork is refreshing and the graphics are very girly and cute. It asks questions that a younger child can answer (such as, "Do you know how to put up your toys when you're finished playing?" and "Did you know that you are a princess-in-training?") and teaches the reader how to apply Biblical principals to her everyday life. There are even some role playing activities to encourage family togetherness.

While this Bible is not designed to teach children actual Scriptures, it is a beautifully written book that will help them to learn how the Bible applies to their young lives and to help them learn to make good decisions in their lives, at their ages. It would be a perfect gift for a young girl.

Here is the publisher's description:

Girls long to be loved and adored, and give their heart to their hero. God is that hero! The characteristics focused on in this Bible storybook will help your little girl blossom into the princess she was created to be. Virtues to create beauty such as compassion, sharing, and truth are highlighted in fun and engaging ways. The perfect format for girls to learn about their destiny as a daughter of their King. Features included are: Beauty Secrets, Bible Princesses, My Hero (Scripture promises), Take a Bow (Easy plays that are Bible-focused), I Adore You (Put girls energy to use with songs, scripture and worship), Royal Truths, Down In My Heart (Scripture Memory), Princess Charming, Worthy of Love (Ideas to show how to love her royal subjects: family, siblings, friends and those in the community).

Sheila Walsh has done an excellent job of bringing the Bible to a younger set, those girls that are just beginning to make their own decisions and understand how their actions can affect others. I am thrilled to have this book for my daughter and she truly enjoys it. The lessons she is learning now will last her a lifetime. This is a lovely step for young girls to teach them about God and his Word.

Disclaimer: As expressed early in the review, I received a complimentary copy of "God's Little Princess Devotional Bible" by Sheila Walsh in exchange for doing this review. The opinions expressed are completely my own.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nutritionists Say Fiber is Important....

But be sure you read your labels carefully!!! :-) I made a bit of an error today in my eating habits. I was doing really well on the fiber front: breakfast was a bowl of high-fiber oatmeal, and for lunch I had a small bowl of potato soup with a hummus pita (the pita bread was also high fiber). Not bad, huh? But then for dinner, I made soft tacos. I had some "Carb Balance" tortillas in the freezer, so I pulled them out, figuring that would be good to finish up my 20 grams a day. I didn't bother to look at the label.

After dinner, which consisted of two of these tortillas, I was putting things away and happened to flip over the tortilla bag and noted that EACH tortilla contained ELEVEN grams of dietary fiber. Shocked, I started calculating and reviewing labels. I ended up having nearly 40 grams of fiber today! That is double what is recommended.

I suppose eating double the fiber grams is better than eating double the fat grams, but I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about tomorrow! LOL!