Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chocolate Eclair Cake

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 large box (5.1 ounces) vanilla instant pudding
3 cups milk
1 8 oz. container cool whip
chocolate syrup

1.  Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ Pyrex dish.

2.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter in water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in flour. Mix in one egg at a time, mixing completely before adding another egg. Spread mixture into pan, covering the bottom and sides evenly.  Try to get it up the sides of the pan the best you can.

3.  Bake for 25 - 30 or until golden brown.  You may want to check it occasionally, you don’t want to overcook the crust.  Remove from oven and let cool (don’t touch or push bubbles down).

4.  Beat cream cheese in a medium bowl.

5.  In a separate bowl, beat instant pudding and milk.  Once thickened, slowing add pudding to cream cheese and beat until there are no lumps.  Let cool in the refrigerator.

6.  When the crust is completely cooled, pour filling into crust.  Top with layer of cool whip and chill until ready to serve.  Before serving, add chocolate sauce to top.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

My oldest turned 8 this weekend.  Time goes way too fast!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Get A Clean Start to 2014 with Purex - Win $1000!

Let Purex start your new year off in style! We’ll take care of
your new wardrobe and detergent needs for all of 2014. Enter here to WIN $1,000 towards a new wardrobe and a year’s supply
of Purex detergent!

New Year New You - Win a Fitness Tracker From Purex!

Stay fit & fresh this year with help from Purex. Enter to WIN a Basis Fitness Tracker & a year’s supply of Purex Crystals! Purex Crystals do not interfere with moisture wicking fabric; they work great for all your sportswear! Let Purex help you stick to your resolution this year. Enter here for your chance to WIN!

New Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze - A Review, Contest, & Giveaway!

Close your eyes and experience a sensation that is sweeping laundry nation with NEW Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze

Escape your laundry room and take a trip to the fresh, open mountains where flowers bloom, birds sing, and the sun rise and gentle breeze are sure to put a smile on your face.  This is the essence of NEW Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze.

Infuse your laundry with long-lasting freshness:
  • Clothes smell fresh for weeks, not days
  • Does not reduce the absorbency of towels
  • Natural formula is safe for your family and environment
Do I have you convinced to try this new amazing scent from the Purex Crystals family?  When I first opened the bottle, the scent was amazing.  A very cool, calming scent that made my clothes (and my laundry room) smell amazing!  One of the best part about Purex Crystals is that you add it directly to the wash when you start your load of clothes as your fabric softener.  Its easy and convenient! 

It is also safe to use in all washing machine types.  I have an HE washing machine and it works great on my family's tough laundry.  Need a laundry routine for amazing smelling baby and kids clothes?

For the stubborn smelling laundry that all of us Moms have, try using my laundry routine to eliminate odors:  Borax, Purex Detergent, with Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze.  Your clothes will come out clean and smell amazing for weeks!  Think about clean sheet night with Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze, you will be whisked away to another place when you lay your head down to sleep at night!

I'm a Purex gal, and this is another amazing product and scent from Purex.  I love how economical Purex products are, yet they clean and freshen your laundry like more expensive brands.  Do you want to try Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze for yourself?  I am giving away 3 coupons for a free bottle!  Go and enter below, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Crystals Fresh Mountain Breeze in exchange for a product review.  However, as always, all opinions expressed here are my own.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

8 Year Old Birthday Treats

Okay, I'm going to be brutally honest here, the one thing I despise are those little bags of stuff (junk) kids bring home from birthday parties.  I always end up throwing most of the stuff away and I feel really bad.  One exception is all those pencils I seem to accumulate.  I collect those and them give them to teachers to give out as prizes (ha ha ha)!

So my oldest is having a kids birthday party this year for his 8th birthday.  I know I needed to put together gift bags for the kids, but I wanted it to be useful items (and on a budget).  This is what I came up with:

Here is what was included and how it breaks down in cost.  I was able to get all this stuff at Dollar Tree.  The theme of his party was Monsters University and I found these really cool fruit snacks which just made the gifts!  I needed to make 12 gifts.

Green Plastic Cups - Came in pack of 4 for $1 each = $3 total
Monsters Fruit Snacks - Came in a pack of 3 for $1 each = $4 total
Straws - Came in pack of 6 for $1 each = $2 total
Vanilla Wafer Packages - 20 in pack for $1 = $1 total
Smarties Candy - 20 in pack for $1 = $1 total
Suckers - 20 in pack for $1 = $1 total
Tissue Paper - 20 sheets in pack for $1 = $1 total

 So overall, I spent $13, so it was a little over $1 each to make the party cups!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year with Organization! Get "A Mom's Guide to Home Organization" Today!

Are you frazzled by your family's hectic schedule and chaotic household? Then try Debbie Lillard's "A Mom's Guide to Home Organization." This book walks you through simple processes and tips for organizing your time, your stuff and your space. The second half of the book addresses how to teach your children the life skill of being organized.
Written by a busy mom for busy moms.

Monster Jam - Quicken Loans Arena Feb 14-16

Quicken Loans Arena Feb. 14-16

Advance Auto Parts Monster Jam, starring the biggest performers on four wheels: Monster Jam monster trucks! The twelve-feet-tall, ten-thousand-pound machines will bring you to your feet, racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through! Monster Jam provides a massive night's entertainment tailored perfectly for your family's budget, and these colorful, larger-than-life beasts are sure to capture the hearts of both young and old.

Save 25% off of tickets using code: MOM25. Get Tickets Today-
Not valid on Front Row or Gold Circle seats. Not valid on Friday night. No double discounts. Service charges, handling and facility fees may apply.
My boys and I cannot wait to go!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode – Book Review

I was ecstatic when I was asked to participate on the launch team for Crystal Paine’s new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  I have been a long time reader of Crystal’s blog, Money Saving Mom, and have implemented a lot of money saving practices she talks about on her blog including setting a budget, using coupons, and paying off debt.  I still check Money Saving Mom multiple times per day to see the deals that are posted, coupon match-ups, budgeting tips as well as a glimpse into her daily life with her family. 

As a full-time working Mom with 3 kids ages 7, 5 and 18 months, I often (very often) feel like we are living in survival mode.  I just said to my husband last night, “why does it seem like when you think you are caught up, there is more laundry to do, more dishes to wash, more food to prepare, and more toys to pick-up?”  Life with 3 kids is hectic enough and I know that I put a lot of extra stresses on myself as a Mom (and a woman) on what I believe “ideal” should be in my life.  I often feel frazzled and cannot even think what I have to do next without literally taking a “Mom time-out” to collect my thoughts.  If you often feel like me, then I highly recommend reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode which officially launches on January 21st.

The first chapter of this book is titled “Stop Trying to Do It All”.  This is the chapter that really spoke the loudest to me.  The quote I took to heart was when Crystal’s husband spoke to her and said “Crystal, you know that you are the one who is bringing most of this on yourself.”  Yes, we bring most of this onto ourselves.  We over commitment ourselves, we try to be “Supermom”; yes we do it to ourselves!  Crystal stresses how we need to learn to say “no” and not over commitment ourselves to the point that we are living in “Survival Mode”.  I wrote an entire blog post on this realization, check it out here.

The second chapter, “Say Yes to the Best” plays off the concepts in chapter one.  We need to pick and choose what is best for ourselves and our family.  Saying “yes” to one thing, will force us to say “no” to another commitment.  We have to determine our priorities in life and build our schedules around them.  From this chapter, I was able to write out my priorities for 2014, and I now reference them when I am making decisions on my daily schedule.  Crystal also challenges her readers to create a daily routine which includes margin room.  “You need breathing space for when life happens”.  Isn’t this the truth?  You may have your day perfectly planned down to the minute, and then the baby gets sick and everything is thrown off schedule.  This is where it is so important to have margin room as well as give yourself some grace if your day does not go as planned!

The third chapter, “If You Aim at Nothing, You’ll Hit it Every Time”, talks about the importance of goal setting in our daily lives.  I am a manager of nine people at my workplace and every year we sit down and create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound) goals.  We then take the time to review our progress mid-year and at year end.  “If you don’t know where you’re aiming, you’re going to lack direction and purpose.”  The funny part is, I never set real goals at home.  My husband and I always had ideas in our head on what we wanted to accomplish, but we never really sat down and wrote down goals with action items!  This has changed and now I have a list of 10 goals in 2014, check them out here!  The important part for me is accountability, I have them listed on my blog and I am committed to do a monthly check-in.  For our debt reduction goals, I have them visibly posted for my husband and I with monthly check-in’s so we can see our progress. 

In chapters four and five, discipline and knowing where you are going is discussed and how this will help you achieve your goals.  If you are trying to reach a lofty goal, you need to make small changes on a daily basis.  Crystal gives the example of committing to run a 5K race.  Every day she had to make strides to complete this goal.  If your goal is to reduce spending, you perhaps will have to take baby steps such as first cutting your grocery budget.  From there you can gain momentum to move forward and strive towards your goal.

Chapter six, “Manage the Homefront” was the other chapter that really spoke to me personally.  Crystal discusses home management topics such as meal planning, freezer cooking, and cleaning techniques.  But my personal take-away from this chapter is controlling the clutter.  “I truly believe that the less you have, the less time you spend on upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning. Either you can control the clutter or the clutter will control you.”  I wrote an entire blog post on this concept here.   I am currently on a mission to control the clutter in my house.  I know I often feel overwhelmed when I look at all the stuff in our house and how I have to constantly clean it up!  I have come to the realization that with 3 kids you have a lot of stuff, but I often feel like we are at the point where we have too much stuff.  This is another one of my goals, to get rid of clutter on a continuous basis!

The final chapters of this book are more about encouraging the reader who is feeling like they are failing in life and how you can make a difference.  Crystal gives a lot of creative ideas on how to make more time if you feel like you simply do not have enough in the day as well as making a difference in the world.  She talks about how she and her husband are truly good stewards of their money and give a lot of their time and resources to others in need.  If you are a reader of Money Saving Mom, a lot of this information may be stories you have already read on the blog. 

Finally the book concludes with a chapter about taking time for you.  I believe as Moms we get so wrapped up in our “Mom roles” that we forget about ourselves!  I have personally created a goal for myself this year.  As I was reviewing my goals, there was really nothing for myself.  We need to treat ourselves once in a while, make time for ourselves, do things we love by ourselves or with our friends, otherwise we will burn out all too quick.  Crystal also talks about making real in life friendships with other women and Moms.  In this digital age, we have a lot of Facebook friends, but how many do we have that we can go enjoy a cup of coffee with?  I believe this is really important to get offline and go back to real, true friendships (hence one of my goals)!

As a personal note, if you are at the point where you are feeling deeply depressed, I encourage you (as well as Crystal) to seek professional help.  This book is a great starting point to getting your life back in order, but some of us may be at the point, where we cannot even start to implement these principles in this book because we are so deeply depressed.  I personally suffered from a bad case of post-partum depression after the birth of my 3rd child.  I was in an awful place and my Mom encouraged me to go see my doctor.  This did wonders for me to get back on track.  If you are at that point, I’m encouraging you to make that appointment with your doctor first!

Overall, this book is a really good read.  Several chapters spoke directly to me as a person and now I am implementing a lot of the suggestions in this book.  It is a great starting point if you are looking for more order in your life or are looking to make substantial changes in the year to come.  I highly encourage all Moms to at least read it once.  Even if you think you have it all under control, you may still learn a thing or two or find a practice you want to implement!
You can preorder the book here or the kindle version here.  If you preorder the book now, you will receive $125 in freebies, check out the link here.


I was provided a review copy of the book and was not compensated in any way for this honest review.  All thoughts are my own.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Egg in the (Avocado) Hole

If you love avocados like I do, I really suggest you try this amazing (healthy) breakfast.  I also think it would make an really good item for a brunch, but it is a little labor intensive to make.

1 avocado
2 large eggs
olive oil
salt & pepper
feta cheese

1.  Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet.
2  Slice avocado in half and remove pit and skin.
3.  Place avocado inside down on pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and allow to cook about 5 minutes on medium heat.
4.  Flip avocado halves over and crack an egg into the middle of each half.  Try hard to get the yoke in the middle.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water to the pan and put a lid on it.  Turn the heat on high and allow the egg to cook for 3-5 minutes.
5.  Sprinkle feta cheese on top of egg along with salt and pepper.  Replace the lid on the pan to allow the cheese to melt.


Sign up for the FREE Say Goodbye To Survival Mode Live Conference Call on January 7 (space is limited!)

I’m so excited for Crystal Paine to be hosting her first ever Live Conference Call on January 7, 2014 at 9 p.m. EST and I’d love to have you join me! This Conference Call is free and can be accessed by phone or a streaming web audio player.
On this call, She’ll be sharing about some of the key lessons from my book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Plus, they’ll open up the floor for any questions you have for me — on any topic!

I have been participating on the launch team for this book and I have participated on another call wth Crystal.  She is very energetic, open, and provides wonderful insight to her listeners!  Space is limited and I highly recommend you jump over to Money Saving Mom to sign up now!  I can't wait!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge

I'm joining Money Saving Mom for the 12 Months to a Healthier You Challenge.  Each month we will focus on one area.

12 Months to a Healthier You Focus Areas for 2014

Here are the focus areas planned out for each month of 2014:
January: Exercise Regularly
February: Eat More Fresh Fruits & Veggies
March: Drink More Water
April: Cut Back on Sugar
May: Get More Rest
June: Create a Morning Routine
July: Read More
August: Go to Bed Earlier
September: Declutter Your Home
October: Cut Back on Caffeine
November: Keep a Gratitude Journal
December: Simplify & Say No
So for January, I need to start exercising regularly again!  I have good times and bad and lately, I have fallen off the exercise wagon.  I have all the excuses, I work full-time, I have 3 kids, I have no time!  The truth is?  I have time, I just have to give-up something else (like TV or Facebook) and jump on my treadmill.  I am committing to 30 minutes of vigorous walking at least 3 times per week!
Are you joining?

One Word

Over the last 2 days, I have seen it floating around Facebook to choose one word as a motto in 2014.  I also stumbled on a post over at Only A Breath, that also discusses this one word motto and she also gives you the ability to make your own button (see mine above?)

The word I chose for 2014 is Cherish...
... Every moment of every day

To me this means...
  • My kids are only young once, let the dishes set and play with them.
  • Take in all that God has given me and thank Him daily for it.
  • Tell my husband on a daily basis how much I love and appreciate him.
  • Take time to call my Mom and let her know just how much see means to me.
  • Take pictures of my family and look at them and organize them so that I can Cherish the moments later in life.
  • Take time for myself and Cherish the quiet and solitude.

Do you have a one word motto for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Goals

I am making a real, conscious effort to set goals in 2014 and stick to them.  The best way I can think of is to hold myself accountable on a monthly basis.  Be sure to check back in the first of every month to see my progress as well as link up your progress. 

1.  Relationship with God - Do one activity a month to strength my relationship with God (going to mass on Sunday does not count).
2.  Relationship with my Husband - Go on one date night a month with my husband.  Plan an overnight trip of at least 2 nights away to take in 2014
3.  Family Time - Do one activity as a family once a month.  Take one family vacation and one long weekend getaway in 2014.
4.  Relationships with my Kids - Do a one-on-one activity with each child each month (3 a month).
5.  Declutter - sell at least 5 items per month.
6.  Debt - Pay off Debt #1 and reduce Debt #2 by 50%
7.  Me Time - Say "no" to one extra commitment a month.  Do an only me or "girls night" activity once a month.
8.  Budget Buster - Keep library fines to under $5 for the entire year (this is so hard for me).
9.  Work/Life Balance - Friday at 5 pm - until Monday at 8 am - do not check work e-mails (I am off the clock).
10.  Have an online business (this idea has been in my head for over a year) fully functioning by the end of 2014.  I need to take one giant step every month to achieve this goal!

What are your goals in 2014?  Feel free to leave a comment or link up!

Good Luck!

Happy New Year 2014!

Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year 2014.  The new year always brings a fresh start along with new goals and aspirations.  I hope all your dreams come true in 2014!