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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Winners, Coupons & Discount codes!

Congratulations to my winners, listed below! Thanks to everyone for entering and helping us celebrate. Don't miss the coupon codes and links below to some goodies for those of you who didn't win.

Helen is the winner of the Bamboobies giveaway! If you didn't win, I still have a great deal for you - enter coupon code PSM20 for 20% off your Bamboobies order!

Pamela is the winner of the Angel Baby prize pack from Earth Mama Angel Baby!

Brooke is the winner of the Breastfeeding Support Kit from Earth Mama Angel Baby!

For those of you who didn't win the Earth Mama giveaway, be sure to check out the free Herbs & Breastfeeding eBook being offered and the coupons page! (to get to the coupons page, I'm sure you would want to click through my affiliate link {wink wink} then hit the sitemap link and choose free printable coupons...there is one right now for $1 off bottom balm!

Ashley is the winner of the Motherlove giveaway!

Shannon is the winner of the Sleepy Wrap giveaway!

JC is the winner of the Nakano prize pack!

Rachel is the winner of the Zizzies and Izzies Fleece Soaker 3 pack!

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A Decade Ago...

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to clean and freshen your garbage disposal

This week was one of those weeks when we were reminded how nice it is to have a functional kitchen sink...it's the little things in life, isn't it? Our sink drain got clogged sometime late Friday night. I can't tell you how much of a relief it was to run water {and even clean dishes} on Monday afternoon when it was finally clear!

Before they left, the very nice plumbers shared this tip with me, and I thought it was so easy and helpful I wanted to pass it along. If your garbage disposal needs cleaned, the blades need sharpened, or you're just getting a funky smell from the drain, try this trick!

Take a full tray of ice cubes and pack your disposal with ice. Run water in your second sink and get it piping hot. Turn on the garbage disposal and let it run, without water, for 30 seconds to a minute. Once your ice has been pulverized, switch that piping hot water over and run it through your garbage disposal for a few minutes.

The ice will sharpen your blades and help remove any food that might be stuck on the blades. The hot water will melt the ice chips and help rinse everything down the drain and away from your kitchen! If you think there might also be a bit of greasy buildup, add a few drops of grease cutting dish soap to the ice cubes.

Just like that - good as new!

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

5 ways to make homemade convenience foods more convenient

Convenience foods are particularly tempting during a hectic day, but many of them aren't very nutritious. The ones that are nutritious are generally pretty expensive. If you want to provide nutritious food to your family, the natural answer is to control what goes into that food by cooking it yourself, but that can be time consuming and at times overwhelming. Here are five tips to help streamline your "convenience" foods, which I generally think of as snack foods, but which could also be a previously prepared meal.

1. Bulk/Batch cooking - is it nearly as easy to double or triple the recipe, rather than make a single batch? If so, make extra for the freezer or pantry and save yourself some time down the road. There is nothing like laying out a frozen meal on a particularly busy day or reaching into the pantry for a stored snack before running out the door to an appointment.

2. Piggy Back - by planning to make snacks or meals that share common ingredients, preparation methods or cooking temperatures, you can save time and effort. I've written in the past about choosing a few main ingredients to include in my menu plan - by keeping some ingredients common I can reduce my cooking time as well as reuse leftovers in new dishes.

3. Process & Prepackage - take some time to clean and chop or assemble your snacks that don't require cooking so that they are ready to go when you need them. Packaging them in the size and container that you will want them in will allow you to grab and go.

4. Presentation - speaking of packaging, are you suspicious that certain family members like certain snacks as much for their presentation as their taste? Does your son or daughter always ask for the Dora pasta or Spongebob fruit snacks? In this case, try and use branding in your favor by providing a cute reusable snack bag or placing fun stickers on your containers.

5. Share - whether it's tips, recipes or an actual food swap, sharing resources makes things easier for everyone. If you have friends with similar tastes, try coordinating a play date where the kids entertain each other (or play with one parent) while the others make meals for everyone to take home!

Do you eat convenience food on a regular basis, occasionally or almost never? What tricks do you use to maximize the amount of homemade food in your diet?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

chasing the remains of summer

As much as I know I'm going to miss the warmth of summer when the snow hits, I'm loving the cool nights and the chance to pull out long folded jeans. That said, we weren't above taking advantage of a near 90 degree day this week to catch one more tiptoe through the sprinklers at our favorite park.

At the beginning of the summer, Sugar Plum would cling to my side at the sight of sprinklers!

It didn't take long for both of them to get completely soaked - and the while it was HOT out, the water was FREEZING!

Didn't she just start walking a few weeks ago? And now she's running? Someone must have forgotten to tell her she's supposed to be my baby {hold me}

This post is part of Wordful and Wordless Wednesdays

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Quick Tip - cleaning stuck on food messes

If you have kids in the house, chances are you have your share of big messes! The best advice I've read about how to clean up a big mess was from simple mom - clean it right away. That makes sense, right? With most messes, I find cleaning as we go to be very effective. But what about when your baby is just as messy as the highchair you just fed her in? I find that my biggest messes usually involve me carrying someone covered in goo straight to the bathtub...leaving a trail behind me. For these occasions, I have another quick and easy trick.

Wet a towel and place it (still fairly wet) on top of your mess. Let the towel sit for just a few minutes, and then wipe clean. You will be surprised how effectively the towel loosens a stuck on mess. Clean up any remaining mess or disinfect if necessary and move on about your day!

Do you have any quick and easy cleaning tips? What do you do when the mess maker is just as messy as the area around her (or him!)?

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Berry Nutty Oatmeal & Our menu plan

I struggle more with my menu now that I'm home and we are eating here so often. I think that's kind of silly, since I always packed my lunches...anyway, I'm trying to be more thoughtful about breakfast and lunch. This week I'm going to list a few things that we'll have on hand, and if that works I'll try and stick to it!

Breakfasts: berry nutty oatmeal (recipe below), tomato bread pudding, yogurt
Lunches: hearty turkey rice soup, turkey salad wraps, celery w/ dips (peanut butter, yogurt, cream cheese)

Monday: Chicken and Noodles, biscuits
Tuesday: Hamburgers, sweet potato fries and green salad
Wednesday: Sweet & Sour Chicken and rice with roasted vegetables
Thursday: Leftover buffet
Friday: Tuna Salad wraps and caprese salad

Berry Nutty Oatmeal
One handful of almonds (or your favorite nuts)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or pure pumpkin)
1 tsp vanilla
1 dash cinnamon
1 small squirt honey (optional)
Cook oatmeal as directed, and enjoy!

We use old fashioned oatmeal, and one of these days I want to try soaking my oatmeal, but so far I haven't taken the time. I will do it this week and report the results next Monday! :)

What's on your menu this week? What are your favorite lunch choices? (I could use some inspiration...)

For more menu fun, visit OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Zizzies and Izzies Fleece Soaker Giveaway

Hi, I'm Sugar Plum. I'm here today to introduce you to a fun etsy shop you may or may not have seen yet - Zizzies and Izzies, where you can find cute Eco Clothes for kids! My purpose here today is purely decorative, mom asked me to be the model for the fleece soaker she is giving away today. So what do you think?

You want to see the rest of it, you say? Okay, here you go.

What do you think, does this make my butt look big?

I didn't think so. That's one thing mom likes so much, the trim fit. I'm a fan of all the cute designs. Would you like to win a 3 pack of fleece soakers? To enter, visit Zizzies and Izzies and let me know which item is your favorite. Tell your friends to enter too, won't you? This is my first gig as a spokes model, and I want to show mom I can do a good job!

For extra entries, you can do each of the following, and be sure to leave an extra comment!

Share this giveaway on your website or facebook page.

Like Zizzies Britches on facebook

Follow my mom on twitter (@psmom)

Tweet about this giveaway (1x/day) and leave a direct link

Subscribe to the RSS feed for this site

This giveaway will close on September 28, 2010 at midnight, and a winner will be chosen at random. The winner can specify size and gender. US residents only, please. Good luck!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nakano Rice Vinegar {Giveaway}

One of my very first blogging buddies asked me a few weeks ago if I was interested in trying some Nakano Rice Vinegar. I love cooking with good vinegar, for the bold taste it imparts when I'm cooking light healthy meals, so I was excited to try it.

Nakano makes natural and seasoned rice vinegars, all of which are fat, gluten, and preservative free. Their rice vinegar is also low in calories and lower in sodium than other rice vinegars - by 50%! The available flavors are Original, Roasted Garlic, Basil & Oregano, Red Pepper,
Pesto, Balsamic Blend and Italian Herb.

I received a bottle of roasted garlic vinegar, and at first I was a little bit nervous about the garlic flavor - I could smell a hint of it even before I opened the seal - would it over power my food? Would my mother get within six feet of me after having cooked with it?

I put my fear aside and began looking through the recipe booklet that was included. While all the recipes looked tasty, the tropical chicken looked and sounded amazing, and I had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I made a few modifications to the original recipe, mainly because we were grilling the next day and with the oppressive heat of summer still clinging on (I know those of you who live where it really gets hot are laughing at me, go ahead, I know I'm a wimp!) I didn't feel like roasting chicken inside. I combined all the ingredients and let everything marinate overnight.

Not only was this dish easy, it was delicious! The flavor was rich, tangy and slightly sweet, definitely something I could imagine eating on vacation. I will definitely be making tropical chicken again and again. In case you would like to try it, here is the recipe:

Tropical Roast (or grilled) Chicken

1/4 cup Nakano Seasoned Rice Vinegar (Roasted Garlic flavor)
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1.5 Tbsp minced ginger (I keep my ginger frozen, and use a microplane as a quick and easy way to "mince" ginger!)
1 Tbsp minced garlic (since the microplane is out, may as well grate that garlic clove too!)
1 Tbsp dark toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp each salt & paprika
4 chicken legs (or boneless skinless breasts)

If you're going to grill the chicken, I would suggest pouring everything together in a gallon sized storage bag and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight. If you would prefer to roast the chicken, preheat your oven to 375. Brush both sides of your chicken liberally with the glaze and arrange on a roasting rack. Bake 20 minutes in the upper portion of your oven. Brush again with remaining glaze and continue baking 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Now that I had tried one recipe, I was intrigued. I went to the recipe section of the Mizkan website and looked around, and now I have several more recipes bookmarked to try. I can especially see myself using these vinegars in dressings and glazes with vegetables and salads.

Would you like to win a Nakano prize pack, including a $25 Gift Card, 1 bottle of seasoned
vinegar and a coupon/recipe booklet? If so, visit the NAKANO website and tell me what Splash tip is your favorite.

For extra entries, you can do any of the following, and leave me a separate comment letting me know:

Sign up for the NAKANO SPLASH Recipe Club to receive a free monthly e-newsletter
featuring great recipes and tips.

Leave a link to your favorite NAKANO recipe in the comment section, and include the title or description

Post about this giveaway on your website or facebook page

Follow me on Twitter

Subscribe to my RSS feed

This giveaway will close at midnight on September 27, and a winner will be randomly selected. I was provided with compensation and a bottle of Nakano Rice Vinegar for this review, but the opinions provided are strictly my own. For more information, please visit my disclosure policy.

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She Loves the Camera

And I do believe it loves her back...

I was playing around with my new camera and trying to get a profile shot for some gifts I'm working on. She just kept coming toward me, reaching out for the lens! Who knew that the most challenging part of this project (for both girls, no less!) would be capturing them from the side? It sure has been fun trying, though...

This post is part of Wordful Wednesday, and since I wasn't too wordy today, Wordless Wednesday as well!

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sleepy Wrap Giveaway

If there was a way to go back and add one thing to my collection of baby paraphernalia with Sweetpea, it would be a wrap. So many of the things I 'had to have' turned out to be unnecessary, but oh did I love having a wrap with Sugar Plum right from the get go. I am a huge fan and advocate of babywearing, as my friends with babies will tell you, but I was nervous about wearing my newborn. My sweet friend Megan pointed me in the right direction, and it wasn't long until the wrap was part of our daily routine.

One of my favorite aspects of the wrap design is that it supports baby's head while sleeping. Another is that nursing is discreet and was relatively easy for us to master. Once you put your wrap on, there is no need to take it off, unlike some other carrier designs that don't stay in place without baby. The fabric of the sleepy wrap is comfortable and strong enough to support the weight of your growing baby. (while I do not own a sleepy wrap, I did get the chance to try one at Blissdom last year)

So now the only question is, how can you win a Sleepy Wrap, right? To enter, visit their website, and tell me what wrap is your favorite.

For extra entries, leave me another comment telling me you've done any of the following:

Become a fan of Sleepy Wrap on Facebook

Post about this giveaway on your website or link to it on your facebook page

Tweet about this giveaway and leave a direct link (1x/day)

Follow Sleepy Wrap on twitter (@sleepywrap)

Follow me on twitter (@psmom)

Good luck! This giveaway closes at midnight on September 27, 2010.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Motherlove Giveaway

Motherlove has been providing quality herbal products to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers now for 20 years! Made with organic ingredients and without artificial fragrances or petroleum based additives, you can feel confident using Motherlove products for yourself and your babies.

I recently had the chance to try the Green Salve and what a blessing it was this summer when the mosquitoes came to visit. I kept it handy to spread over bug bites, scrapes, and the occasional rash, it did a good job of comforting the itches and ouches. It has definitely earned a place in this mama's medicine cabinet.
After enjoying the green salve, I went back and looked at what other products Motherlove had to offer. I am definitely going to pick up some birth & baby oil with my next purchase - lavender scented and gentle enough for mama and baby's dry skin, it is also recommended for cradle cap, which is something we occasionally need to deal with.
One lucky reader will win some green salve and some birth & baby oil of their own!

To enter this giveaway, visit the Motherlove site and let me know what product is your very favorite.

For extra entries, any of the following will provide you an extra entry. (be sure to leave a separate link for each!)

Post about this giveaway on your website or facebook page

Tweet about this giveaway, or any of the other giveaways going on this week, and leave a direct link.

Follow Motherlove on twitter

Good luck! This giveaway will close on September 25, and is open to US residents only, please.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Earth Mama Angel Baby {Giveaway}

You may have noticed the adorable link on my left sidebar and at the bottom of the page for Earth Mama Angel Baby products? Those are affiliate links, because I absolutely believe in and use these products every day. Organic and toxin free, you can feel comfortable using them for yourself and your little angels. I'm excited to get a chance to share some of my very favorite products with you - there will be two winners with this giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive all the products from the little something for baby gift set shown below, only in full size instead of trial size! I swear by angel baby bottom butter - I've often said it is the best ever, and the only diaper cream we use anymore. I also adore the angel baby shampoo & body wash and lotion, and use it for both of my "babies". I love that they are completely toxin free, and have a light heavenly scent.
And another lucky winner will win a breastfeeding support kit, which includes milk maid tea, booby tubes, nipple butter, and bosom buddies. Each provides a natural solution for problems that breastfeeding mamas might encounter at one time or another. My booby tubes were on standby at all times during the early weeks with Sugar Plum, and I still pull them out every once in awhile.

To enter this giveaway, visit the Earth Mama Angel Baby website, and let us know what product is your favorite. Then, let me know what prize you would prefer to win - I will try my best to accommodate both winners with their preference.

For extra entries, leave a separate comment after any of the following:

Post about this giveaway on your website or facebook page

Tweet about this giveaway (1x/day - make sure to leave a direct link)

Follow me on twitter (@psmom)

Follow EMAB on twitter (@EMAB_HQ)

Tweet about any of the other giveaways going on this week (1x/day - leave a direct link)

Subscribe to my RSS feed

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Bamboobies Giveaway

Are you a breastfeeding mama? If so, you should definitely enter today's giveaway!

Regardless of our eventual supply, most mamas leak the first few weeks as our milk comes in and baby and mama try and get things figured out. And if you're like me, you just might be a leaker.

When Sweetpea was born, I had no idea what to look for in a breastpad. I liked the idea of reusable products, but the ones I found in the store were big, bulky and ineffective. Even many of the disposable ones were big. I managed through the first year without finding anything I loved, and as the number of feedings reduced, so did my need for "protection".

With Sugar Plum, I had this wealth of experience in my twitter friends that I could draw from, and that is where I met Kerry from Bamboobies. As cute as the name implies, and infinitely comfortable, Bamboobies are discreet and ultra absorbent as well - the reusable breast pads I dreamed of from the start of my breastfeeding experience.

To enter this giveaway, visit the Bamboobies website and tell me what product feature is your favorite. (or list more than one if you can't decide!) Then tell me which product you would prefer to win, the original or overnight design.

For extra entries, leave a separate comment after any of the following:

Post about this giveaway on your website or facebook page

Tweet about this giveaway (1x/day - make sure to leave a direct link)

Follow me on twitter (@psmom)

Follow Kerry on twitter (@bamboobies)

Tweet about any of the other giveaways going on this week (1x/day - leave a direct link)

Subscribe to my RSS feed

Entries close on this giveaway on September 23 at midnight. Good luck!

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It's Party Time - Let's Celebrate!

There is so much to celebrate at the Problem Solvin Mom household lately! Here is what we have been (or are getting ready to) celebrate: My 2 year bloggyversary passed by while I was on "vacation" in late July. My famous grandparents had their 67th wedding anniversary - doesn't that just blow your mind? Sugar Plum turned 1 and her great grandma turned 90 a little over a week ago. Sweetpea celebrates her half birthday tomorrow. (okay, that one is a stretch, but I couldn't leave her out, right?) And our 10 year wedding anniversary is coming up at the end o f this month!

I thought it would be fun to share all the love with my readers by hosting a week of giveaways - what do you think? :) And since family is the main focus of our celebrations, the giveaways this week will be focused on family as well! There will be exciting products from Bamboobies, Earth Mama Angel Baby, Motherlove, Shutterfly, Sleepy Wrap, and Zizzies and Izzies so stop by daily and enter to win! I will be updating the links to each giveaway at this post as well.

Bamboobies Giveaway

Earth Mama Angel Baby Giveaway
Motherlove Giveaway
Sleepy Wrap Giveaway
Nakano Rice Vinegar Prize Pack Giveaway
Zizzies and Izzies fleece soaker 3 pack Giveaway
What are you celebrating?

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Taste the Rainbow, Stay Healthy!

Our garden has been a tomato producing machine this year, and we couldn't be happier! I've long said a fresh garden tomato is like a taste of sunshine! Though it gets a bit tiresome to pick 50 - 100 tomatoes a day (not counting the cherry tomatoes) it is wonderful to have such healthy, tasty goodness to eat each day, to share, and to store up for the cold winter months.

Did you know that tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, & K? They also provide fiber and protein, particularly when served my favorite way - with some basil, oregano & cheese! Speaking of oregano, Self Magazine classified it as a superfood, full of antioxidants!

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes, in case you're craving them, or maybe looking for a little variety. (and maybe sprinkle on a little oregano for good measure!)

Caprese salad

Sliced with cottage cheese
Sliced and sprinkled with goat cheese, herbs & a drizzle of olive oil
Cherry tomatoes sauteed on medium high until they "pop", then reduce heat & caramelize
Pasta e Fagioli
Stuffed with chicken or tuna salad
Roasted with eggplant, squash, olive oil, herbs & crusty bread (all together in a casserole dish!)
Nestled between a piece of crusty bread, a slice of cheese, under the broiler

How do you like your tomatoes? What is your favorite variety?

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Generations of Love

We are so blessed to have grandparents near and dear in our lives, healthy and inspiring. Sugar Plum shares her birthday with her great grandma Marty (on the right, can you believe she's 90?!?) You might recognize her as one half of my famous grandparents.

At Sugar Plum's birthday party this past weekend we snapped some pictures of her with both of her great grandmothers - I know I'm biased, but the love and beauty in these photos takes my breath away!

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