Friday, August 22, 2014

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips & Cranberries

   A couple of weeks ago I began sharing with you some recipes to help you use up the rest of your zucchini that might be overwhelming you. We have finally used all of ours up & I don't think we will be getting anymore this this will probably be the last zucchini recipe I share; BUT it may be my favorite.

   Cookies may be my favorite dessert to bake and keep in the house. Whenever I make cookies I know they'll get ate up before they go bad. They are so easy to just grab and go, where cake tends to get tossed because we can't finish it fast enough. So I was really excited when I found a recipe for Zucchini Cookies over at Two Peas and Their Pod.

Zucchini Cookies with Chocolate Chips & Cranberries

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
4 Tbls unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cranberries

- Pre-heat the oven to 350. 

-In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Set aside

- In a large mixing bowl combine butter & sugars, mix until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract. Next add the shredded zucchini. Mix until combined.

- Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, chips & cranberries.

- Drop cookie dough about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet & bake for about 15 minutes or until golden.

  These cookies were so delicious & easy to make. Definitely a go to recipe from now on when we have some zucchini to use up :) Enjoy!

  ***My simple tip: If you're ever out of brown sugar & need it, simply mix some molasses with regular sugar***

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Van's Natural Foods Review & Giveaway

  It's that time of year again, the days of sleeping in are over (if you have kids who actually sleep in) & many of us are rushing our kids to catch the school bus in the mornings. We homeschool so our days look slightly different, but our days are still a lot busier now than they've been the past few months. So we are always looking for ways to make our everyday routine easier.

   Even though we need some help in making the day run smoother, we choose not to sacrifice the way our kids eat. We want to be able to offer healthy meals & snacks , and sometimes we like to do that without a lot of fuss. I typically make my kids a hot breakfast each morning, but let's be honest sometimes it's not the easiest thing to do. Especially if your rounding up backpacks, making sure they have last nights homework & that their clothes actually match. Vans Natural Foods has some great options that my kids have simply fallen in love with.

   My children love cereal, but I don't buy it too often. Even in the Organic section it can be hard to find a cereal that doesn't have a long list of ingredients. We received several coupons to grab some free Van's products & the kids first choice was a box of the Cinnamon Heaven cereal. I was thrilled to see that it is non-gmo and only contains a handful of ingredients. The kids are crazy over this cereal & I'm loving it too. While they don't eat cereal often for breakfast, it is almost always their choice of  "before bed snack". 

   Like I said earlier, my kids love a hot breakfast; so the next thing they chose was the Van's Gluten Free Blueberry Waffles & the Gluten Free French Toast Sticks. We haven't tried the waffles yet, but my kiddos did have the French Toast sticks for breakfast one morning & they were a hit! I easily baked them in our toaster oven for just about 6 minutes and then topped them with some powdered sugar. The kids loved tearing the toast into sticks with the pre-cut lines & they gobbled them up. They didn't even ask for syrup!

 Not only can Van's Natural Foods help get your kids going in the morning, they can help keep them going during the day. They have a great snack line! We we're given the chance to try several of their snacks out and we have loved everything we've tried so far! From their Say Cheese Crackers to the Snack Bars, they've all been a hit in our home. 

  We received a few snacks in the mail along with our coupons, and these snacks went with us on our family vacation. The biggest hit for my kids & I were the Blueberry & Peanut Butter Snack Bars, they are the perfect size for the kiddos hands and they don't crumble up leaving you with a mess. Sweet Pea who is just about to turn 2 was able to easily eat these and stay mess free! For me , I've been craving peanut butter this pregnancy and these hit the spot! We all loved them so much that we picked up a box of the Strawberry & Peanut Butter Bars with one of our coupons.

 We are just loving the Van's products & are excited to have the chance to share about them with you. You can head over to your local grocery store to try out Van's items for yourself. One of you will win 5 coupons to receive free Van's products of your choice and a Van's t-shirt. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win. This giveaway will end on Thursday 9/4, Good Luck.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Personalized Gifts - Three Reasons to Make it Personal

**This is a guest post which I was compensated to publish**

Personalized Gifts - Three Reasons to Make it Personal
Whether you are shopping for a special birthday present or searching for the perfect Christmas gift, finding the right gift is always a challenge. You need to think about the personal taste and preferences of the person you are shopping for, as well as their hobbies and activities. Even when you are armed with all this information, it is easy to choose the wrong gift or pick a present that misses the mark.
You also have no way of knowing if your intended recipient already has the item you are contemplating, or if someone else is buying it as well. Perhaps that is why so many gift givers are turning their backs on ready-made gifts and looking for something a little more personal. If you are in a gift-giving quandary, you might want to explore some of the many reasons to make the personal choice.
#1 - Personalized Gifts Show How Much You Care

Getting a gift is great, but not all gifts are created equal. How many times have you received a present that left you wondering if the giver picked it up on their way to the party?
Even the best store bought gifts require nothing more than the money to buy them. Personalized gifts, on the other hand, require a whole other level of care and consideration. Givers need to think about what their friends or relatives like to do, what colors they love and what sizes they wear. The extra care that goes into choosing the perfect personalized gift is sure to be appreciated - no matter who the lucky recipient is.
#2 - Personalized Gifts Are One of a Kind

When you give your friend or loved one a personalized gift, you do not have to worry that someone else will give them the same thing. The one-of-a-kind nature of a personalized gift is one of its main appeals, and one more reason so many shoppers are looking for the personal touch.
Whether you choose a customized gift basket, an embroidered jacket or a personalized bottle of wine, you can be sure your recipient will not get another gift quite like it.
#3 - Personalized Gifts are Easy to Customize

When you buy a traditional gift, you have to accept what the manufacturer and the merchant feel are important, but their needs may not fit your expectations or that of the recipient. When you give a personalized gift to someone you love, you can customize it any way you want.

Whether your friend or relative is an avid baker, a boating enthusiast or a scratch golfer, you can customize your personalized gift any way you want. Personalized gifts are just more special, and there is a reason so many gift givers are choosing them.

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**This is a guest post which I was compensated to publish**

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spirit Shop Review

 "We've got Spirit, yes we do! We've got Spirit , how bout you?" This simple cheer was so popular at High School sporting events & even though I've been a graduate for 14 years now; I still love my school and the memories it holds.

  High School & College students especially love to share their school pride with others. The Spirit Shop is an online custom clothing & apparel store for schools, military & amateur sports teams. I received a credit to purchase some items for my family off of their website, and I was pleased to see the variety of options I had.

 Many of you know that we homeschool our kiddos, so choosing an item with a school name on it for them seemed pointless. However, I was able to start with a blank "canvas" and create them pieces that would be perfect! My boys love taking toys, books & snacks with them when we are on the go. Recently we went on a family vacation, that was going to have us in the van for over 12 way! So I knew that they would want to take some goodies with them.

 I simply chose the "Create Your Own Design" section & selected accessories, I found some great plain canvas tote bags. I took some time to create one for Lil Stinker & another for Buddy. The process was really easy & I love that I was able to customize each bag to my little one's interests. My boys just love their bags; they tossed some goodies , DVD's & books in them when we went on our trip. The bags are the perfect size for my kids and they sit nicely at their feet without taking up a lot of room, but they can reach them easily to get what they need.

   I still had some of my credit left, so I was left to decide what to purchase. I'm a sucker for a good hoodie so this seemed like the place to go. I wasn't sure at first what I wanted on the front, but then I thought 'Why not stick with the good ol High School?" . So , I decorated it simply to show where my Alumni pride lies.

  Again, the process was so easy! I am also really impressed with the quality of everything we received. I won't be wearing the sweatshirt for too much longer this fall since I am pregnant and growing, but it is so cozy & since we've had some cooler days I've had the chance to wear it a few times. 

   Spirit Shop has some fabulous items & great options for custom pieces. You can order your own directly from their website. You can even use the code SPC25P to receive 25% off of your order over $15. You will also receive free shipping on any order over $50. One of you will win a $50 credit to use in their store. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win. This giveaway will end on Tuesday 9/2, Good Luck.

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Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bag Giveaway

Are you expecting in 2014? Did you just have your little bundle of joy? Know someone who's pregnant or trying to conceive? Then this event is for you! Alex of Mommy's Obsessions is expecting her second son this October and has created an event that is perfect for expectant mothers! Mommy's Little Miracle is a Pregnancy, Newborn/Early Infancy, and Postpartum event that will be featuring everything from maternity clothing to newborn essentials, to postpartum products you must have! We highly recommend that you bookmark the open giveaway page by clicking on the image below then adding it to your bookmarks bar! Over the next three weeks you will have the chance to enter to win some amazing prizes from items for YOU and things for your little one!

Today Mommy's Little Miracle is featuring a brand who is taking the pumping world by storm and giving pumping moms everywhere the opportunity to combine fashion with functionality- Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags!

Mom's have a lot of responsibilities, but we still desire to have a sense of ourselves. Fashion & feeling like a woman is a must. This Sarah Wells Bag is one you will love carrying around because of the look & function.

About Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags

(As from their website) 

"The idea for a stylish and uber-functional breast pump bag came to me in 2011 after the birth of my daughter, Maddy. Breastfeeding was really important to me, but the transition back to work and carrying a pump brought about some challenges. Everyday I schlepped a purse and my (quite ugly) pump bag; throw in an extra case for my iPad or laptop and a lunch box and I felt like a pack mule walking down the streets of Washington, DC. I just couldn't find an "all-in-one" bag that could separately store my breast pump and everything else I needed to carry.

I suppose you could put your pump equipment in your existing purse or buy a nicer tote. But will it have special breast pump pockets, keeping equipment and bottles separate from everything else, let alone lined with easy-to-clean material, all while being fashionable? This is how Sarah Wells bags were born."

Photo Credits: Sarah Wells 

The first bag introduced by Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags is the Maddy bag! As functional as it is stylish, the Maddy measures 13" in length, 8" in width, and 11" tall, and the straps on the Maddy have an 11.5" drop! The Maddy was designed to fit most brands and models of breast pumps and although some may be to large for the convenient side pockets, they will fit comfortably in the main pocket of the Maddy bag. 

Photo Credits: Sarah Wells 

Being that most pumping mommy's take their breast pumps to work with them, they need a place to keep their breast milk cold while they finish up their day at work. While some moms prefer to use the cooler that their pump may have come with, and some store their breast milk in a communal fridge at their workplace, there are some moms who just aren't comfortable with that! For those of you who prefer discretion, you're in luck! The Maddy bag has undergone testing that shows that the side pockets of the bag can keep your refrigerated breast milk cold, or begin cooling your recently pumped milk, for up to four hours when you use proper ice packs. External temperatures do affect this though so always make sure that your breast milk is stored properly! 

There are so many great features to the Maddy bag by Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags that make this a pumping moms must have! To learn more about Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags, use this link! 

Photo Credits: Sarah Wells 

To Purchase: You can grab your Sarah Wells Breast Pump Maddy Bag for just $145.00 on Amazon! The Maddy is also eligible for Prime shipping, so you lucky Amazon Prime moms can have your Maddy bag in just two days! 

To Win: Mommy's Obsessions and Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags want to give one lucky pumping mommy (or potential pumping mommy!) a Maddy bag of their own! 

The Giveaway will close late on the evening of September 2nd. The winner will be chosen at random through  Giveaway Tools. The winner will be announced both on Giveaway Tools form as well as notified by email and announced on Mommy's Obsessions Facebook. Winner must respond within 48 hours of receiving their winner's email otherwise they will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be chosen. The winner will have their prize sent to them by Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags. Mommy's Obsessions and other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize shipment. Must be 18 years and older. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google are in no way affiliated with this giveaway. No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited by law. US Only. For any questions contact Mommy's Obsessions. Mommys Obsessions did receive compensation or product in exchange for the promotion of this event. This blog did not receive compensation for the promotion of this event. 

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Simple Zucchini Lunch

Guess what...I'm still swimming in zucchini's over here! It truly amazes me just how far one little guy goes. I'm finding that most recipes call for about 2 cups of shredded zucchini and one average size zucchini tends to give me about 4-5 cups....that is A LOT of zucchini!

  So, I've already shared with you a Cupcake & Pancake recipe...both of those were made with one zucchini & I still had some leftover! I really wasn't in the mood to bake & I knew I needed to use the zucchini quick since it was already shredded. I thought it might just make us a great lunch.

   We love sauteed zucchini in our home, but I've never shredded it to saute it ..... I knew the texture might throw my kids off a bit, but I had to give it a go.  I love a nice filling lunch for the kiddos, they tend to not eat so well at I want to get some great varieties in at lunch.

    Simple Zucchini 

about 2 cups of shredded zucchini
3 Tbls butter
2 tsp minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in your pan over medium heat
Add the garlic and cook for about 1 - 2 minutes
Add your zucchini (dried)
Season to taste
Cook for about 15 minutes

     This was a really quick throw together lunch, and I knew we needed a little something more....eggs!! That has been my craving this pregnancy. I honestly could eat them with every meal...over easy, scrambled, hard boiled it doesn't really matter & thankfully my kids love them just as much as I do!

   For this meal I decided over easy was the way to go, I thought the runny yolk paired with the cooked zucchini would be great! The kids & I just loved this lunch. Buddy , who is 6 actually asked for more zucchini because he ran out before his egg was gone. Hubs happened to be working from home this day & he enjoyed it just as much.  So , if you're looking for a quick healthy lunch  give this a go!

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