Where did January Go?

January was a very busy month for me. After thirteen years as a stay at home mom, I went to work outside of the home. It was not fun. Ha ha, when is work ever fun, right? So that lasted all of about a month before I was about to go full on crazy. I won’t name the company, but the micromanaging was so rampant, that I couldn’t take it anymore. So I quit on Friday, with the full intentions of getting a new job….hopefully the next one works out better.

There were a few bright spots in the very busy month of January. I received my first *VoxBox from Influenster. untitled2

They are a website that offers the chance to review great products for free based on your social media influence. You can review products, ask questions about products you have thought about buying, try products in exchange for reviews, you get the picture.untitled

So my first box came in the mail and it was the Resolution VoxBox; it was filled with all the items listed below. Please remember, I received everything listed below for free in exchange for my honest review of each item. The opinions posted are my honest views.

untitled4Orabrush® a DenTek™ Brand

ABOUT THIS PRODUCT
90% of bad breath comes from a dirty tongue. Fight bad breath with Orabrush®! The Orabrush® Tongue Cleaner features ultra-soft, micro-pointed bristles that reach deep into the uneven crevices of your tongue to loosen stinky bacteria. The scraper then collects and removes the bacteria and residue generated from brushing, helping to keep your breath fresh.

MY REVIEW
I tried it out and while the bristles were soft, they weren’t as soft as I thought they would be. But I did find it to be effective and easy to clean after use. It sure beats using a toothbrush.

Crispy Green Crispy Fruit 100% Freeze Dried Mangountitled9

ABOUT THIS PRODUCT
Crispy Fruit by Crispy Green is made of 100% pure fruit, nothing else. Our sophisticated freeze drying process removes moisture from fresh, sweet fruit, resulting in a light and crispy treat that snacks like a chip without any added sugars or preservatives.

MY REVIEW
I didn’t like this one. Maybe it was because it was mango and I’m not a huge mango fan. So I had my family try it too. They agreed with me. I’m thinking if there is a pineapple or strawberry one, I’d like those.

untitled6Burt’s Bees Plant-Based Protein Powder, Vanilla

ABOUT THIS PRODUCT

Burt’s Bees Protein +Health Radiance with Antioxidant Vitamins A, C & E

NEW Burt’s Bees Plant-Based Protein Shakes allow you to drink in all the benefits of nature’s most powerful ingredients. All of our formulas are made with 70% organic ingredients and are non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and made without artificial sweeteners or flavors.

MY REVIEW
My son loves to come home and make fruit smoothies after school. So we added this protein powder in with one of them. It was a quick and great way for my son to get the protein he needs. The package said that each serving is made with 15 grams of plant based protein, has the vitamin equivalency of 3.5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 25% of the daily value of vitamins. So it’s perfect for those growing kids who don’t like to eat their vegetables.

We added it to a smoothie that had dairy in it, but you can mix the powder with water or a non-dairy beverage like soy or almond milk. I thought it tasted pretty good, but next time would probably add it to a milk shake rather than a fruit smoothie.  You can use your favorite smoothie recipe or try the one my son enjoyed, recipe below.


Vanilla Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients

1 – serving of Burt’s Bees Protein + Healthy Radiance Powder (Vanilla Flavor)
1 – cup of your favorite frozen fruit (we used blueberries, peaches, bananas and strawberries)
1 – 6 oz cup of strawberry yogurt
1 – 6 oz of milk ( we used the previous yogurt cup to measure out the milk)

Directions

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Makes one 8 oz smoothie. Enjoy!

 

untitled3Sabra® Guacamole Grab & Go

ABOUT THIS PRODUCT

Sabra’s award winning Guacamole is paired with the crispy, crunchy deliciousness of Tostitos® ROLLS!™ for the ultimate snack combination. This convenient 2-compartment snack is just 220 calories, leaving you perfectly satisfied without any guilt!

MY REVIEW
I’m going to be honest here. I hate guacamole. Anytime I go anywhere that it is part of what I order, I ask for that menu item without the guac. I didn’t even try this one because I won’t eat it. It wasn’t actually in the box though, but a coupon for a free one was. So I bought it for my husband who does like guacamole, it was a win-win. It’s a great idea to add to school lunches, snacks or on the go.

 

Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Bar
untitled5ABOUT THIS PRODUCT

At Orgain, we’ve made it our mission to create the cleanest nutritional products possible because we believe good nutrition is the key to gaining health and vibrancy in all facets of our lives.  We offer everything from organic, ready-to-drink Adult Nutrition and Protein Shakes to plant-based Protein Powders to Cold Brew Coffee + Protein Drinks.

MY REVIEW
This was another one that I didn’t like. It was very hard and I thought I was going to break my teeth just trying to get a bite. It also did not taste very good. I wouldn’t buy it.

untitled8popchips® ridges cheddar & sour cream
ABOUT THIS PRODUCT
Sharp cheddar, smooth sour cream and potatoes – it’s the ultimate threesome! and when they come together in extra crispy popchips ridges, you get a whole mouthful of delicious. we take potatoes, add heat and pressure, then pop! you get chips that are deeply satisfying, not deep fried. plus no grease, and no guilty conscience. 

MY REVIEW
I actually love sour cream and cheddar potato chips and was very excited to try this product. While they weren’t bad, they probably wouldn’t be my first choice. Now, with that said, I did like these chips and I would buy them again but I would probably try other flavors first.

 

Febreze ONE Fabric & Air Mist
untitled7ABOUT THIS PRODUCT
New! Febreze ONE Fabric & Air Mist gently cleans away odors with no heavy perfumes, dyes, or aerosols. Refills available. Available at Target. 

MY REVIEW
I like this spray. The fragrance of mine was orchid and it was a nice smell. I sprayed it on all the furniture in the living room. The cool thing about this product is that when it’s empty, you simply buy a refill and reuse the pump (sprayer). The only downfall is that it says it’s available at Target. I don’t know if it’s exclusively sold at Target but I never shop there. The closest one is more than 30 minutes away and it’s always packed.

 

*All of the above items were sent to me for FREE for my honest reviews. All opinions here are my own and are not influenced by the manufacturers of the items listed or the company that sent me the samples. I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

Happy New Year everyone! Now that it’s 2017, I have to remember to date everything 2017 instead of 16. I should be good by the time September rolls around…

Speaking of September, I made a soup today that is perfect for those chilly fall days, or those freezing wintery days. I always use my crockpot when making soups, or roasts, or chicken…okay who am I kidding, I use my crockpot for everything.

This soup came to me as I was cleaning out the fridge after Christmas. I had some broccoli and cauliflower left over and needed to use it some how. Today was the perfect day for it. I served it with hot rolls (Sister Shubert are my absolute favorite) but crackers would go well with it too, or even a bread bowl.


Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 32 oz box of Vegetable broth (or half gallon of water)
  • 2 – 16 oz bag of broccoli (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 block of velveeta cheese (large box, store brand works fine)
  • 1 – 8 oz block cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In your crockpot, pour in your broth or water and add the broccoli. Set on LOW for four hours or HIGH for two hours.

Remove half the cooked broccoli and two cups of hot broth and blend until the consistency is the way you want it. Pour back into the crockpot. In your blender, add the cream cheese and velveeta, cut up, with two cups of broth. Blend until smooth and then pour into your crockpot. Cook at least another 30 minutes.

Serve with dinner rolls or crackers. Enjoy!

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

For a couple of years, I was a contributing writer/virtual assistant on my friend Phoebe’s site gettingfreedom.net and sometimes I posted some of my favorite recipes. This one is a definite go to recipe for my family, year round really, but especially on cold days like today. I make this soup many times throughout the year, it’s a relatively easy and healthy recipe. I don’t add salt to it, because the broth (or bullion cubes) and butter already contain enough salt. Sometimes I add more vegetables to it, but mostly, I stick with just carrots. It’s really all in what your family prefers.

This recipe was originally posted by me in August 2013.

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours, 10 minutes

 Homemade Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 uncooked boneless, skinless chicken tenders OR 3 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 stick of butter (OPTIONAL)
  • 4 chicken bullion cubes OR 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 12 oz bag frozen carrot medallions
  • 1/4-1/2 bag of egg noodles

Directions:

  1. **IF YOU USE CHICKEN BROTH INSTEAD OF BULLION ADD IT BEFORE YOU ADD YOUR WATER. Place the chicken in the pot and fill with water almost to the top of your pot. Add the butter, chicken bullion and pepper.
  2. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
  3. 30 minutes before you are ready to serve dinner, remove the chicken from your crockpot and cut into chunks or shred it up. Place it back in the crockpot and add the egg noodles and the frozen carrots and any other frozen vegetables you wish to add.
  4. It doesn’t take long for the noodles to get soft, so don’t cook for much longer than 30 minutes.

Notes
This recipe is really very customizable to what your family likes or even what you may have in your pantry or freezer. If you prefer a really thick, creamy soup just add some cornstarch or flour to your soup. I usually mix my cornstarch with a little bit of water before I add it to any recipe,

I use about 1/4 of a regular size bag of egg noodles but you could certainly use more or less depending on what your family prefers. You could also use a prepacked frozen bag of noodles.

Is there life out there?

Have you ever heard that song by Reba McEntire, “Is there life out there?” I seriously wonder that sometimes. Is my life more than just getting up each day, getting the husband off to work and kids off to school and working around the house? Was I meant to do something else?

I’m not complaining about my life. I love my husband and my kids. My husband works very hard to provide for us, and because of him, I get to stay at home. And I’m not the type to just go out with friends. Unfortunately I suffer from a lot of social anxieties. Well, technically, those anxieties don’t have to be social. I can be a very anxious person. But still, because he works so hard, I’m here when the kids get sick or when unexpected snow days happen. I don’t have to worry about arranging childcare or asking for time off at a job I hate. Sometimes, I just wish life wasn’t so mundane. I don’t want the life of those on soap operas. I just want something different to happen on occasion. I want to feel like I made something of myself.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a writer. I love to read and write, but sometimes finding the time to read and/or to write can be harder than it seems. Just coming up with a topic to write about is a struggle. Case in point, this is my first post since January of 2015 and here we are less than a month away from January 2017.

Writing should be easy for me, I had the perfect childhood for a book. Born to an unwed teen mom, adopted at two by grandparents. They divorce three years later. I get shuffled back and forth between them until my dad dies when I’m six and his sister gets custody of me. That’s just the first six and a half years. Ha! That doesn’t even include all the craptastic things that happened in between all those important life moments. It has all the makings of a Lifetime movie; so why is it so hard to write about it.

Maybe I’m just not any good at the writing thing. Perhaps I lack the God given talent to write. Is it something you’re born with? Or is it something you work for… I think it’s a little of both, but when you’re a stay at home mom already struggling with daily life duties, how do you add writing into that fold?

I’m not really sure what the purpose of this post was. It’s almost midnight, everyone is asleep, except me and the exhaustion I feel is making me wonder things. So, is there life out there? Will I ever write a book and feel like for once I accomplished something…or will I continue walking down the same trail for the rest of my life…

Product Review: Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale

Product: Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale

Untitled2The new Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale features auto calibration technology that makes tracking your weight easy, right out of the box. With the latest generation of StepOn Activation, your body weight is displayed immediately upon stepping onto the scale, with no tapping required to turn on or activate the scale. The Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale accurately displays results in increments of 0.2 pounds or 0.1 kilograms on its easy to read widescreen LCD, and uses 4 GX sensors to capture weights up to 400 lbs. or 180 kg with industry leading accuracy. The Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale also boasts a convenient unit button that instantly changes the unit of measurement from pounds to kilograms and optionally British stones. The Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale utilizes an oversized platform, impact resistant tempered glass, and durable construction. It is designed with accuracy, convenience and ease of use in mind. It also turns off automatically to conserve battery life, and runs on 1 Lithium 2032 battery (included) for the best in performance. Your Satisfaction is 100% Guaranteed.

My Review:

I received my Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale and immediately put it to the test. I asked both of my children to step on the scale one at a time and then had them step on the bathroom scale we usually utilize. Their weight was the same on both scales within a few tenths of a pound and the reading was quick. When I weigh myself, being a larger person, I need a scale that can handle my weight. I weighed myself on the Ozeri and then I weighed myself on my regular scale and there was a 4 lb difference. My weight also wasn’t as quick of a reading as my much smaller children. I think as long as you are of a smaller weight, you will get an accurate reading. Although the scale can weigh up to 400 lbs, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone over 275 lbs if you are wanting an exact reading.

*I received a white Ozeri Precision Digital Bathroom Scale in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.*

Product Review: The Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri

Product: The Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri

UntitledUtilizing pure ceramic as a coating, the Green Earth Pan by Ozeri is one of the world’s first frying pans to achieve non-stick perfection while remaining absolutely free of PTFE, PFOA and other harmful chemicals. Conventional cookware and other ceramic cookware brands achieve their non-stick performance through a coating of PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene), a synthetic substance that has waxy properties. At very high temperatures, PTFE begins to decompose and release fumes which are documented to be lethal to birds and small pets, and which can be harmful to humans. In addition, traditional pans incorporating PTFE are often manufactured with the aid of PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoic Acid), which the EPA has classified as a ‘persistent pollutant of the environment’. With the Green Earth Pan, even under high temperatures, such harmful toxic fumes are never released into the environment. This is because the Green Earth Pan by Ozeri utilizes a 100% ceramic coating inspired by nature. The Green Earth Pan’s ceramic coating is completely free of PTFE and PFOA. In addition to being earth-friendly and ultra-safe, the Green Earth Pan’s ceramic coating is far more durable and scratch-resistant than other non-stick surfaces. With better non-stick properties, the Green Earth Pan by Ozeri allows you to saute, fry, bake, boil and braise with as little as half the amount of oil normally used, and it makes cleaning a breeze. The Green Earth Pan by Ozeri is made of the highest quality die-cast aluminum that allows for even cooking and fantastic browning without the risk of hot spots. It boasts a magnetized bottom for rapid heat transfer on induction stoves, and a heat resistant Bakelight handle. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

My Review:

I received my 8 inch Ozeri Green Earth Pan just before Thanksgiving and have used it several times. Mostly I use it for cooking eggs and have had no sticking problems with it.  It cooks well and I still use cooking spray before using it. The only thing I don’t really care for is that you are suppose to use medium to low heat while cooking and that can take forever when a higher heat would cook quicker. I haven’t had any issues with it so far. It is dishwasher safe, although it is easy enough to clean by just hand washing.
I would recommend this pan to anyone looking to buy a ceramic non-stick pan. I have had no trouble with mine, although I’ve only used it a few times.  It’s non-stick coating is better than most non-stick pans I’ve used. If my opinion happens to change, I will update my review.

*I received an 8 inch Ozeri Green Earth Pan in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.*

Album Review: Holiday Wishes by Idina Menzel

idinamenzelTitle: Holiday Wishes

Artist: Idina Menzel

Holiday Wishes, a Christmas album recorded by Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel, is out now on Warner Bros. Records.

The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” as well as Joni Mitchell’s Christmas-themed “River,” one of Menzel’s favorites.

Another highlight is a duet with international superstar Michael Bublé on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” An exclusive Target edition ofHoliday Wishes features two bonus tracks, including “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”.

Idina’s career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney’s global box-office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” After her performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

Idina currently stars as Elizabeth in the original Broadway production of If/Then.

Holiday Wishes Track Listing

Do You Hear What I Hear
The Christmas Song
Baby It’s Cold Outside (Duet with Michael Buble)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
All I Want For Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
December Prayer
When You Wish Upon A Star
Silent Night
River
Holly Jolly Christmas
White Christmas

Bonus Tracks on Target Exclusive

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Mothers Spiritual


My Review:
I love everything Idina Menzel does. Broadway, movies, music. You name it. So when the opportunity to review her new holiday album came up, I jumped at the chance.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. The snow, the hot chocolate, the food and especially the music. I love all of the traditions that come every December. Many of the songs on this album are ones I’ve loved for years and a few of the songs were new to me. I’m guessing they were written for Idina and this album. They were good but not my favorites. I love Idina’s voice and she did well with all the songs on this album but one song I absolutely detested was All I want for Christmas is You. It wasn’t anything against Idina, but that song irritates me. I used to have to listen to another artist sing it over and over again at a store I worked at many years ago. Since then I’ve never cared for that song regardless of who sings it. It somehow always becomes a staple in Christmas albums. One of my favorites on this album was Baby It’s Cold Outside. It was a duet Idina did with Michael Buble and his voice is so soothing it reminds me at times of Frank Sinatra.

While it’s not the best Christmas album I’ve listened to, I liked this album and I would recommend it to anyone who loves Christmas music. I will definitely listen to this album again and again. I could listen to Idina sing all day long.


*I received a digital copy of this album to review from the One2One Network, but was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed here are my own.*