Saturday, December 24, 2011

Disney Movie Codes ~ FREE

Courtesy of My Dallas Mommy

Disney Movie Rewards members can earn 5 points daily until 12/25.

Just visit ABC Family’s 25 Days Of Christmas home page, and click on the Deck the Halls box. (Right hand column near the bottom of the page.) Click on that to be redirected to the Disney Movie Rewards page to claim your points today!

12/23-25: 25DOCFJKARJF

* Codes posted Monday through Thursday are valid 9:00 a.m. PT – 8:59 a.m. PT. Codes posted Friday are valid 9:00 a.m. PT through the following Monday 8:59 a.m. PT. Limit one code per member account per day. Must be a Disney Movie rewards members. Promotion ends 12/25/11 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Caught Santa!

Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.

In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via Facebook and Twitter.

Last-minute shoppers can purchase Gift Cards and eGift Certificates for loved ones with children, making a great gift idea even if you don't have kids yourself.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cheerios Holiday Cheer ** GIVEAWAY **

When our troops are called to serve, their families must rise to meet the challenges of service as well. To thank them, Cheerios® and the USO have partnered in a postcard campaign that spreads Cheer directly to these honorable military families and supports USO programs.

Here’s how it works:
  • Now through November, 2011 at your local grocer, specially-marked boxes of Cheerios cereal will feature Cheer postcards on the front of the box. Consumers can simply cut out the postcard from the Cheerios logo, write a message of thanks on the back, add a stamp and mail the pre-addressed card to the USO. The USO will deliver the Cheer card to military families across the country.

  • For each postcard received through November 2012, Cheerios will make a $1 donation to the USO to help fund programs that support military families.

  • To kick off the campaign, Cheerios has already donated $150,000 to the USO and will donate up to an additional $100,000 based upon the number of postcards received from specially marked boxes now through November 30th, 2012.
Sending a “Cheer” postcard is a simple way to say thanks and lift the spirits of our country’s military families. So, take a moment out of your day to spread some Cheer and send a message of thanks!

Enter now to win:

  • 1 Cheerios cereal bowl
  • 1 Cheerios cereal spoon
  • 1 cereal dispenser
  • 1 “Cheer” box of Cheerios

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amelia's First Cereal

Amelia started her Earth's Best organic cereal yesterday!

Hopefully this will help her digestive issues as well as her awful sleep habits!

Christmas Lights in Texas

You know they always say that everything in Texas is bigger, right? Check out this Christmas lights display that is in my neighborhood!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Caillou Toys Prize Pack **GIVEAWAY** ($90)

As many of you know, I am a proud author and reviewer for A Nation of Moms!  Here is my most recent review and giveaway.

For every mother of a preschool boy or girl, the name Caillou is instantly recognizable!
Caillou is a preschooler who delights in the small wonders of the world around him, embellishing everything he sees with his rich imagination.

With a focus on role-playing and make-believe, Caillou toys and games help spruce up reality with a healthy dose of imagination so your kids will be inspired to make up adventures of their own.

Noah and I had the great opportunity to receive and review some fantastic (and new) Caillou toys ~ a small "cherry on top" being right after his birthday and right before Christmas!  We received a 14 1/2" Caillou doll, a Caillou Fireman's House and a Caillou Learning Train.

An actual Caillou doll for your son or daughter to play with!
  • Head, hands and feet made of vinyl
  • Removable shirt and hat
  • Hours of fun using the imagination and stimulating creativity
  • Improves sociability and language
My Thoughts:
When I presented Noah will all of his new Caillou toys to play with, I allowed him to choose which toys he wanted to play with first ~ The Caillou doll was his first choice.  I like that all of the exposed parts of Caillou's body are made of vinyl, for easy cleaning.  In addition, his shirt, hat and shorts are removable (as Noah proceeded to show me as soon as I finished untying Caillou from the packaging). This doll is a nice size and fits easily into the playtime of girls and boys alike.

You'll enjoy spending some time with Caillou as he leaps in his firetruck to rescue friends in need. This Caillou Fireman Pack Playset is crafted with
 outstanding detail. Caillou to the rescue! Help Caillou put out the fire and save the day!
  • Fire station
  • Fireman car with fire hose
  • Caillou fireman figure
  • Cat figure

My Thoughts:
This Fireman's House is a great little toy.  The one drawback to the design, is that the whole toy is small - and its parts are many - and even smaller.  Even as we speak, I couldn't tell you where all the little pieces are.  The toys do comfortably fit inside of the house, which has a collapsible rear to allow the fireman's house to open up into the playhouse, as pictured.  Noah is 2 and I would not recommend this toy for a child his age - it would definitely suit a child that is much older.

Caillou Learning Train:
Little ones will love exploring the many activities featured with the Caillou Learning Train.
Caillou and his little sister Rosie love exploring and learning about the world around them. Now little ones can explore right along with them using the Caillou Learning Train. They'll delight in watching Caillou move up and down as the train rolls when they wind the green key.
  • Squeeze the steam to hear it squeak
  • Move the colorful bead shapes along the bar
  • Move the bell on the detachable train car to hear it ring, and more
  • Includes Caillou and Rosie figures
  • Dimensions: 14" x 6" x 9"
My Thoughts:
Of all the toys that we were so blessed to receive, this was, by far, Noah's favorite toy.  My favorite feature of the train is the ability to wind up the train and it takes off! (Note: In our play with this toy, the train does not work on carpet, only hard surfaces.) The Caillou train and caboose easily separate from one another. Some drawbacks to this toy, in my opinion, was the ability of Caillou and his sister to each disassemble into the interlocking pieces, as I felt that this is too many pieces for this age.  Also, the flag had a lot of difficulty staying on during normal play.  I did, however, love how the steam cloud squeaked, how the bell rang and how there were moveable shapes on the back of the engine!
Noah's Overall Impressions
After having a few days to acclimate to the Caillou toys, the interest in the fireman's house diminished quickly. With this said, though, I believe that this is only because it is not yet quite age-appropriate for him.  The Caillou doll has become best buddies with Noah's "Charlie Bear" in our living room and the train is played with on a daily basis.

Mommy's Overall Impressions
I was impressed with the toys, for the most part, despite some small quirks that are mentioned in the reviews above.  I did find it quite time-consuming and difficult to extract the toys from their packaging - and in the end - there was SO much packaging!  Granted, it all ended up in the recycle bin, but I wish that there was a way to reduce the amount of unnecessary packaging associated with the Caillou toys.

The quality of the toys, especially the train, was great and I believe that the integrity of the materials will last quite a while.  I would definitely consider buying some of the Caillou toys for some of our little preschool friends on their birthdays ~ and would recommend them to my mom friends as well.

I would be very excited to see the rest of the Caillou toys line in person! There is a great variety of new toys in this collection, including the Squeaky Bath ToyBathtime Vehicles, a Treehouse, Tractor and Farm, Puzzles, DVD's and the ultimate gift ~ the Caillou personalized cape!!
Click here to "Like" the Official Caillou Facebook page or purchase the all-new Caillou toys!

WIN IT!  Win this entire prize pack valued at $89.97 courtesy of Cookie Jar Entertainment!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Recipe: Toad in the Hole

Yes....the title is deceiving, but this meal was SOOO good and suitable for kids as well!


Recipe Courtesy of All You Magazine

Photo taken by me :)

  • YIELD: Serves 4
  • PREP TIME:10 Minutes
  • BAKE:40 Minutes
  • COURSE: Main Dishes


  • 8 chicken or turkey sausage links (about 1 lb. total)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat milk


1. Preheat oven to 475ºF. Place sausages and onions in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and toss with oil. Bake until lightly browned, turning once, about 10 minutes.
2. While sausages are baking, whisk flour and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, mustard and milk in a large measuring cup, add to flour mixture; whisk until smooth. Carefully pour batter into baking dish with sausages and continue to bake until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes and serve.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 411
  • Fat: 20g
  • Saturated fat: 5g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbohydrate: 26g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 197mg
  • Sodium: 1355mg
All You DECEMBER 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Christmas ADVENTure

Christmastime is upon us. As much as we would like to believe that Christmas is about family and presents, Christmas is only here and celebrated because of one history-altering event - the birth of Christ. In these preceding weeks, it is a time to celebrate the season of Advent and prepare for the true meaning of Christmas.
I've always struggled with activities to introduce in our home to help us to appreciate and understand what this time is about, but after some good research and time, I would like to share with you some activities that you could also share in your home!
Feel free to leave a comment to share your own family traditions on how you share the story and the meaning behind the true celebration of Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Paula Deen’s Toffee Gooey Butter Cake

Two years ago, I attended a Christmas bake exchange and this is the cake that I ended up taking home. I must say that I DIED AND WENT TO HEAVEN!!!

This Paula Deen cake is - by far - the best dessert I have ever eaten. 

Since then, I have made this multiple times and decided to share with you! 



Vegetable oil cooking spray
  1 (18.2- ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 large egg
  1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  2 large eggs  
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (1 pound) box confectioners’ sugar  
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 cup toffee bits


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.

In the bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. 

Pat evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, eggs, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar and butter. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Fold in the toffee bits with a spatula.

Pour the filling over the cake mixture and spread it evenly. Bake until the center is just a little bit gooey, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into pieces and serve.

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

Borax - Dangerous but with Alternatives

Well shoot!

I was so excited about finding that homemade dish detergent - and then I was made aware of a new finding that Borax is actually pretty harmful!  

Here is an article from Natural Home Magazine that helps explain the problems - along with some alternatives:

Bad news for Borax users (myself included): The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports this week that breathing or touching the mineral—a much-used ingredient in green cleaners—can cause skin and eye irritation and may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system. The EWG recommends staying away from the naturally occurring salt, a frequent ingredient in cleaners and beauty products. Borax is not a green cleaning ingredient, as many have been led to believe,” EWG senior scientist Rebecca Sutton reports. EWG offers alternative  tips on green cleaning.

At Natural Home magazine, we’ve been recommending borax as a safer alternative to the harsh chemicals found in traditional cleaning products for more than a decade. Borax removes mildew and stains and gives homemade laundry detergent a little extra boost. We included it in our recommended arsenal of good green cleaning products in the current issue. Well, darn.

If you make your own cleaning products—as a way to avoid potentially harmful industrial chemicals—EWG recommends simply omitting borax. Natural Home has several borax-free cleaning recipes in its arsenal and recommends baking soda as a safe, nontoxic alternative to borax for cleaning and deodorizing. A few simple tips:

--For an all-purpose homemade cleaner, dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water. Sprinkle baking soda directly on a damp cloth or sponge, and scrub.

--Add some dry salt for an extra burst of power. This can replace most abrasive cleaners.

--Scrub mildewed or stained surfaces with baking soda.

--Use vinegar and lemon juice to remove mineral deposits and wax or grease buildup. Dilute them in water (use equal parts white vinegar or lemon juice and warm water) to clean glass or stainless steel.

--To clear clogged drains, pour some baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by 3 cups boiling water. Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a bubbling, fizzing chemical reaction. (Do not use this mixture in conjunction with a toxic drain cleaner!)

Read more:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I found this article by perusing!!!!  I am addicted to that site.

This article and the recipe for homemade dish soap comes from Simply Designing.

Need a Pinterest account?  Leave me a comment with your email address!

Wanna see how well it works?  Here's my before and after!

Amazing huh?  (Yes, this is really embarrassing to admit my glasses were so gross looking!  I hated having people over because they were just yucky.  Of course, every one's glasses here look like no one was judging...but it bothered me that my glasses looked like that!)

After making it, found a cute jar to put it in and then cut some brown vinyl letters so everyone would know what was in the jar.  Then I couldn't help myself, I added vinyl on the top to say how much to use. 

And then, because I am super lazy and didn't want to have remember my recipe, I cut brown vinyl for the back of the jar with my recipe!  (I love love love using vinyl for things like this!!)

And just like magic, my dishes are now clean!!  And this is definitely a cost effective way to wash dishes too.  

Here's the How To:

Home Made Dishwasher Detergent
  • 2 c borax
  • 2 c Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • 2 c lemi shine*
  • 1 c kosher salt
I found the borax, washing soda and lemi shine all at my local Walmart.  They were near the laundry and dish soap section that are currently combined at my store because they are in the middle of a remodel.  But you should find them in similar places in a similar kind of store.  Kosher salt was with the baking items.  

(I forgot to take a photo of the items but here is what they look like to help you find them!)

Borax, Multi-Purpose Cleaner (4 lbs 12 oz/76 oz/2.2 kg) Arm & Hammer Super Wash Soda, Detergent Booster 55 oz (1559 g) 
Lemishine Super Concentrated Powder Morton coarse kosher salt 3 lb
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed.
  2. The citric acid in the lemi shine will make everything get a bit hard.  The first time I made this I put it directly into my container and it all got really really hard.  I had to use a knife to get it out.  So I suggest letting this mixture sit out in a bowl for a couple of days, stirring often.  You will still get a few little "balls" of detergent, but that is just fine!  You just don't want it all in one big piece!  Believe me, this is the best way to go!!
  3. The lemi shine suggests running an empty dishwasher cycle with just that in order to clean your dishwasher.  I followed their directions for good measure!
  4. Fill your rinse aid spot with white vinegar.  (This is sooo much cheaper then your typical rinse aid and makes a big difference in how your dishes will turn out!)
  5. Use 1 tbs of detergent per load of dishes.  I do about a 30/70 split with 30% in the pre-wash spot and 70% in the wash spot.  If you don't have a prewash spot, you can put it all in the wash spot.
*You can experiment with the lemi shine amount.  The original recipe I found and modified called for only 1 cup but said to add more if you have hard water.  I have really hard water, so I ended up using 2 cups and my dishes came out sparkly and shiny!!

I love my sparkly clean dishes!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Recycled Paper and 4 Other Alternative Gift Wrapping Ideas

Courtesy of

Feel better about that big pile of wrapping paper Christmas morning. Try these recycled, reusable and upcycled wrapping papers, ribbons and cards.

By The Daily Green Staff
Of the Earth
Made with at least 50% recycled content from fibers derived from the Himalayan lokta bush (not from trees), Of The Earthwrapping papers come in both solid colors and festive patterns. The fiber keeps paper strong enough to be reused, making this a doubly sustainable choice. Holiday papers also come with embedded wildflower seeds for springtime planting ($3.78 per 20x30-inch sheet) and the online retail store offers sustainable ribbons, including the "eco-twist" designs pictured here ($4.99 for an 8-yard spool).
Photo Credit: Of the Earth
Fish Lips Paper Designs
Fish Lips Paper Designs's holiday gift wrap is made from at least 50% post-consumer recycled paper content. It will make even the worst gifts look fun and exciting! Printed with soy-based inks, this paper has a smooth satin finish in a plethora of unique patterns and motifs ($4 per 22x33.75-inch sheet).
Photo Credit: Fish Lips Paper Designs
Botanical Paperworks
At Botanical Paper Worksevery paper product is made from recycled office paper with embedded wildflower seeds, so you can plant your Christmas cards and tags (about $1-$2 each) as soon as spring comes. Now, that's a gift that keeps on giving.
Photo Credit: Botanical Paper Works
Lucky Crow Gift Bags
Use, reuse and reuse again. There's nothing wrong with regifting these fabric gift bags from Lucky Crow ($4-$14, depending on print and size). In fact, it's encouraged.
Photo Credit: Lucky Crow
Your Own Recycle Bin
Who says you have to buy paper, anyway? The Daily Green shows you how to use newspaper, takeout menus, bags and, yes, even Jello boxes like these from the Beans Things Etsy shop for an unforgettable alternative gift wrapping (and gift opening) experience.
Photo Credit: Beans Things