Monday, January 26, 2015

Best Spa Gift Basket Review and Giveaway!

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When you are stuck on what to get your sweetheart for Valentine's Day, remember that you can never go wrong with a gift basket!  Best Spa Gift Baskets sells spa baskets for those who want to create a spa atmosphere in your own home but can't afford (or find the time for) that spa retreat. In addition to great spa baskets, they have some delicious Valentine's Day gift baskets available now! 

I had the opportunity to review the Be My Love Love basket and my whole family was tickled when it arrived. The set includes some great gourmet food items to include sweet butter cookies, water crackers, brie cheese, chocolates and more. For the young at heart, there is also the sweetest and softest teddy bear you can imagine and a can of conversation hearts. The whole set comes wrapped in an attractive red leather basket.




I must say that we were all quite impressed with the quality of the foods inside the basket. I have a real sweet tooth so I thoroughly enjoyed the truffles. The brie and crackers were also quite delicious and helped to balance out the otherwise sweet basket. My daughter is absolutely in love with the bear which is so incredibly soft. I also adore the red basket which is way to pretty not to be reused for something else.  Every last part of this basket was enjoyable and it would certainly make your loved one happy on Valentine's Day!

Buy it here: You must order your Valentine's Day gift basket before February 10th! Shop for this and other great baskets on the Best Spa Gift Baskets website. 

Win it here:

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*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Gloss Jewelry Review, Giveaway and 80% Off Discount!

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Valentine's Day Gift Idea! 

Gloss Jewelry offers boutique-style jewelry designed to fit every style and personality. They offer a great selection from designers all over the globe, at prices anyone can afford. The jewelry is handcrafted by Artisans around the world and they have taken great care to use materials of the highest quality, while keeping our prices affordable. 


I am a total jewelry addict so I am always excited to see great items available at affordable prices. I was given the opportunity to review a stunning pair of Medieval Magic Earrings.  They are made of gunmetal and are accented with crystals. There are four squares linked together to create a very unique look. Although they are designed in medieval style, they still look stunning and will work perfectly with a cocktail dress. I was worried that they would be heavy and awkward but they are surprisingly light and comfortable to wear! 




Gloss Jewelry has so many amazing styles to choose from. I really enjoyed browsing through all of their pieces which are all so unique and stylish! I look forward to ordering from them in the future! 

Buy it here: You can get a whopping 80% off each purchase at Gloss Jewelry this month with the code NEWYEAR80. Hurry! The code is only good until 1/31/15.
Win it here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Carmex: Valentine's Day Gift Idea

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This year, perhaps you should consider getting your Valentine something besides candy. Oh, who am I kidding....you should consider getting your Valentine something in addition to

candy.  Carmex Moisture Plus offers some fun designs that are fashionable and can help you pucker up for a romantic kiss or two on February 14th.

Formulated with aloe, shea butter and vitamin E, Carmex Moisture Plus lip balm delivers a clear satin shine and relief for dry lips. These could not have come at a better time. My lips are SO DRY!  I love Carmex and have been using their lip balms for years. I love the thin, long tubes and trendy designs and was pleased to see them offering some new looks. The lip balms feel amazing on my lips and they add a slight shine, leaving my looks feeling and looking healthy. I have found these lip balms to have a little more staying power than a recent brand I was using so I had to apply fewer times throughout the day.  Not that I mind reapplying - it is a real treat for my lips! 

Buy it here: With a suggested retail price of just $2.99, these little lip balms make a great addition to a Valentine’s card or care package. These stylish lip balms are available in four patterns to fit your mood or personality!


*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to Make a Waterfall on a Cake: Jungle Baby Shower Cake

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Jungle Cake

I just finished up what has become one of my all time favorite cakes!  This is for a jungle themed baby shower and I had so much fun with this one. My daughter helped me make the fondant animals and rocks and I was thrilled with how awesome the waterfall turned out. The best part is that the waterfall was so easy to create!

What you will need:
2 tiered frosted cake
Fondant (see my recipe)
Shortening
Rolling pin
Wilton Sparkle Gel, Blue & White
Decorating spatula
Pizza cutter
Food safe paint brush

How to create a waterfall:
Cover surface & rolling pin with shortening.

Roll fondant out 1/8-1/4 inch thick, making sure the fondant's length is at least 6 inches more than that of the total height of the cake.

Using the pizza cutter, cut two straight lines to create the body of the waterfall. It does not have to be perfect - water never is! 



Carefully pull the fondant from your surface and drape it over the cake, making sure to lightly press it into the frosting.  Cut off excess using pizza cutter or knife.




Squeeze the blue Sparkle Gel onto the fondant and then use a spatula to even the gel out over the entire length of the fondant.






Using a paint brush, fill in smaller areas and sides. 

You can made some waves at the bottom of the waterfall using fondant and then cover with mixed white and blue Sparkle Gel.  

It was so simple and the effect was great!  You can add fondant rocks and decorate edges with the grass tip and some buttercream to enhance the jungle feel. I can't wait to show this one off tomorrow! 
















Thursday, January 22, 2015

Diet-to-Go Review & Discount Code

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Now that the holidays are over, I found myself with a few pounds to lose and, for some reason, I was have a very difficult time taking them off.  Our schedules have been extremely busy with both of my children involved in basketball season and finding time to prepare nutritious meals has been very challenging. Diet-to-Go is a food program that took the guessing, and even shopping, out of the picture. They offer a week's worth of meals in low-fat, vegetarian, or low-carb options and all of their meals are prepared fresh before freezing. The meals contain everything you need including side items, condiments and sometimes even beverages - this is an all encompassing meal plan! Your meals arrive packaged in dry ice in a specially designed cooler to maintain their fresh taste. Although they have created five full weeks of menus, they recognize that not everyone likes everything. They give you the opportunity to substitute meals and make changes. 



I received 5 day's worth of meals to sample and I was very impressed with the nice variety of meals included. For breakfast, there were several egg meals, such as fritata, as well as lighter meals such as yogurt with a muffin. Lunches include meals such as turkey burgers and grilled cheese while the dinners had more elaborate meals like my personal favorite, stuffed shells.  I am not one to give up an entire food group, and there was definitely a nice mixture of foods throughout the day so I really felt satisfied.

Most of the foods held up well to being frozen and reheated. Most of the time the meals, like the macaroni and cheese, tasted so fresh and delicious that it was hard to believe it could be considered a "diet" food.  Others, like the grilled cheese, did not taste as well as a freshly made meal. The veggies tasted extremely fresh and were definitely highlights in my meals. It was nice to have desserts integrated into the meals too because I have a real sweet tooth. While there were a few treats, like a brownie, just having a fruit side was enough to satisfy my cravings and help create a very balanced and tasty meal. 


Macaroni and Cheese: As you can see, food can be eaten right out of the original packaging
I will say that I was a little shocked at the calorie counts in some of the meals. They seemed unreasonably high at times and I worried that I would end up gaining. However, I found that the meals were so filing that I was not snacking nearly as much, if at all, during the day. In fact, they were so satisfying that I often could not eat the entire package of food in one setting and would use sides as snacks later after eating the main item from the meal.  There were some inconsistencies in packaging that probably need to be worked out by the company. For instance, some have calorie counts, some do not. I found a misprint on one as well, indicating that apple butter was included when it was actually a berry spread and another was labeled as chicken tenders when it was actually pasta.  None of these things are deal breakers by any means and I would still recommend giving this program a try.





So, the answer to the question you have probably been asking yourself: was I able to lose weight with Diet-to-Go? I am happy to report that I was able to drop 2 of the 3 holiday pounds that I gained during the week! I was absolutely thrilled. Not once did I feel deprived of food, almost all of the meals were quite delicious, and I did not have to cook at all! Woohoo!

Buy it here: You can sign up for the Diet-to-Go meal plan and save 25% off your first order using the code DTGA103. This is a great way to try this program out for yourself. I bet you will not be disappointed!

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces: Valentine's Day Giveaway! 3 Winners!

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I always get my kids something for Valentine's Day but  am not a fan of having sugary sweets around the house. However, a chocolate-themed book can make a great Valentine's Day gift!  Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces, by Stephanie Sorkin, is about a young boy who finds himself accidentally wearing chocolate shoes.  Throughout the book, he must find a way to solve this tasty problem. Chocolate Shoes has recently won a Mom’s Choice Award and a portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to Soles4Souls, an organization that supplies new and gently used shoes to those in need both domestically and abroad.  I previously had the opportunity to review the book and you can read my full review here

Buy it here: Buy it here:   Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces can be purchased through Mascot Books and  Amazon.

Win  it here:
 
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No compensation received for this post though I have previously worked with Ms. Sorkin on book reviews.

Last Chance: Gorton's Prize Pack Giveaway Ends Wednesday

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Wednesday is the last day you can enter to win this great prize pack from Gorton's. You can read my full post here and enter to win below. Good luck! 


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Monday, January 19, 2015

Valentine's Day Recipe: Chocolate-Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pies

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Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pies

These delicious whoopie pies are a great dessert for your Valentine! The recipe is from Kraft

Ingredients
1 package chocolate cake mix (don't use one that is too moist or has pudding in the mix, I used Duncan Hines)
3/4 cups water
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
8 oz whipped topping
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Instructions
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat first 4 ingredients with mixer until well blended. Drop 2 Tbsp batter, 2 inches apart, into 32 mounds on baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray or on wax paper. Bake 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out almost clean. Cool on baking sheets 3 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.





Beat cream cheese and marshmallow creme in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add whipped topping; beat on low speed just until blended.

Spread about 2 Tbsp whipped topping mixture onto bottom side of each of 16 cookies. Top with strawberries, add some whipped topping to the underside of the other cookie, and place cookie on top.




Sunday, January 18, 2015

How to do a Frozen Buttercream Transfer - Tutorial

Here is a really cool frozen buttercream transfer technique that you can use to copy images to a cake. 


frozen buttercream transfer
1. Find an image that you want to transfer. You can Google the image and then select and print the one you want. I chose a 1972 Chevelle for my husband and brother-in-law's cake because they both have owned them. Print it out and make sure it is the right size you want as you will be tracing it. Keep in mind, that the image will be reversed when on the cake so stay away from lettering unless you opt to print in mirror image from your computer.



2. Place the image on a hard surface (I used a cookie sheet). Take a piece of wax or parchment paper over top.







3. Fill a bag with a colored icing (I used black) and tip 1. Outline the image completely.








 4. Fill in the rest of the image with the preferred colors. I used tip 2 to achieve this. You have to make sure that the frosting is even in height across the image.







Next, place the image still taped on the hard surface in the freezer for an hour or more. Ice your cake. When the hour is up. Take the image out, flip the parchment paper over on the cake and then quickly but carefully peel the paper back, leaving the image on the cake. If you need to alter the image in any way, you will need to wait about 20 minutes after transferring the image so that the buttercream is room temperature. Decorate the rest of the cake as you desire and you are done!



Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tuggo Dog Toy Review and Giveaway

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The Tuggo™ is a patented, water-weighted tug dog toy developed by Adam Harrington after seeing his Boxer, Hailey, playing with a heavy bowling ball in his front yard. He knew that shipping bowling balls would be a problem due to the weight. By using a tough, hard and hollow plastic ball and letting the customer add the water and thus the weight, the Tuggo was born. The Tuggo provides a way for a dog to play tug-of-way with another dog or even by him or herself and is a multiple award winning product.

I have two dogs: Butch (Boxer) and Buttercup (Bulldog). It always amazes me because they seem to sense when they get something in the mail before I even open the package. When the sample Tuggos arrived, they were both eagerly awaiting the opening of the box and grew immediately excited when I pulled the larger than life toy out of the box.


The Tuggo ended up being an instant hit with both of them. I could tell that they were not quite sure what to do with it, but they recognized their two favorite toys, a ball and a rope, combined and they seemed as happy as can be. We were able to play in a few different ways with them. They each seemed to have fun gnawing on the rope and carrying it/kicking the ball around. They also seemed to enjoy a classic tug of war with us.  My Bulldog is dominant and would not allow my Boxer to actually play with her, but her protective stance over the toy indicated that she really did love it.  I am really looking forward to warmer weather and being able to take the Tuggos outside. With a little less water, I would guess that my Boxer would have a fun time tossing it around in the air like he does with other toys. 


I am impressed with the overall quality of the toy.  The rope is tough. My dogs can generally unravel a rope within a couple of days but this one still looks brand new.  The length is always quite nice and the fact that there is a ball in the middle eliminates the tendency for my Bulldog to accidentally bite my hand during a tug of war match.   I like that there is flexibility in how much weight is added to the ball. I chose a heavier weight for inside play so we don't risk the chance of the Tuggo being tossed through our TV, but we can lessen the weight if we want to toss it around outside.  It is certainly pricier than most toys we buy our pups; however, this baby is built to last and I am sure that we will have it a very long time making the price well worth it!





Buy it here: The Tuggo is available in two sizes (10’ and 7’ diameter) and three colors (red, blue and green).  Prices start at $27.99.  The Tuggo is available for sale on the company’s website and at hundreds of pet dealers nationwide.
They can also be found on Amazon.

Win it here:

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*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are my own.