October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!!

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October 29, 2010

A foggy, Tree Falling Week

This week has been crazy. With Halloween coming up, I've had the kids parties to bake for, costumes to finish getting. I've completely forgot to get Halloween candy though, how on earth does that happen!?
We've had heavy fog, plus days on end rain which left us scrambling to stay dry everyday to school. We lost a jacket, one shoe and even keys this week due to this rainy craze. We also keep waking up to this heavy fog.

Our street, though  in person the fog is much thicker and you really can't see 10 feet in front of you.

Even though you can't see it, this is my children's school, and the soccor Field. It's spooky some days as it's super quiet. Behind the school is a mountain, dare you to find it :)

If you look in the back, there's kids within the fog. The camera doesn't seem to pick up the amount of it, but it was interesting to walk through.

Along with the heavy rain, I came back from from the park to see this, our tree uprooted itself.

It's hard to see, but that's our massive persimmons tree,which is now leaning right over onto the fence.
The tree is now Crushing my Garden  :(

My plants!!!!!!!!!

To the left is the rest of my garden plants, the right is now the tree which is rushing my cucumber, peppers, and 4 tomato plants.
It's near the end of the garden season at least. We've got the rest of my heirlooms and big beef steak tomatoes away from the damaged tree thank goodness. Picked most the peppers and cucumbers as well, so there wasn't that much taken away. We also had frost this week, crazy I know. The tomatoes close to being ripe were split completely open due to the quick dip in temperature which didn't help to the already crushing vegetables. I saved what I could, and am covering the plants over night to keep it from frosting anymore. So, not all was lost.

Plus, I do have this

Happy Coffee!

Have a Safe Halloween everyone, enjoy your weekend!

Don't forget the CSN Giveaway Ends Halloween night Oct. 31st, Enter

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October 27, 2010

Cheesy Fun

What's not to like about cheese? There's so many things you can cook, bake and do with cheese. So why not have some more Halloween fun with it? :)

These are two easy Spooky fun ways to dress up a  meal for Halloween. Spooky Sloppy Joes, and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches!

Here's a recipe for Sloppy Joes

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 celery ribs with leaves, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1-2/3 cups fresh crushed tomatoes (you can use canned, )
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon steak sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon paprika
8 to 10 hamburger buns, split
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook beef, onion, celery and green pepper until the meat is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender; drain.
Add the next nine ingredients; mix well. Simmer, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each bun.

Tweak The ingredients to your tastes!

I just took sliced cheese and used Halloween cookie cutters to cut the shapes out. Place on the hot Sloppy Joes and serve.

 Use smaller cookie cutters to cut the middle of the bread out, using both pieces to make a smaller sandwich as well as a big one. No use on wasting the bread when you can make cut little sandwiches! The cheese tends to really come out the smaller ones though.
The thing to remember is don't put the top of the bread on .Grill the bottom half with the cheese on it (don't flip it) while you are grilling the top half of the sandwich by itself.

When both are finished place the top half of the bread onto the cheese half and press gently so it'll stay.
I added some tomatoes to make a face or two!
 Have a Spooky Day!

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October 26, 2010

Halloween Taco Salad!

This recipe came from Taste Of Home, I love having fun with food. The kids just seem to eat more when it looks more fun :)

I made the mouth and eyebrows with tomatoes. Shredded cheese for some crazy hair, and sour cream (or ranch dressing along with olives for the eyes.
The recipe is called EyeBall Taco Salad, but I gave it a mouth so , lets say Halloween Taco !

2-1/2 pounds lean ground beef (90% lean)
3/4 cup water
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 package (12-1/2 ounces) nacho tortilla chips, crushed
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
4 cups torn iceberg lettuce
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
10 slices tomato, halved
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
10 whole pitted ripe olives, halved
In a Dutch oven, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Place tortilla chips in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan; sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Spread meat mixture over top; sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake at 325° for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
Top with lettuce and onion. Cut into ten 5-in. x 3-in. pieces. On each piece, arrange two tomato slices for eyes; top each with a dollop of sour cream and an olive half.
Have fun and Enjoy!

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October 25, 2010

Creating A Monster!

We made some Pom-Pom Monsters :-) These are super easy, and they aren't just for Halloween either but I thought I'd share. If your planning on a Halloween party this could be a fun craft for the kids to do.

 I used some big and small colored pom-poms for the Monster's body. The rest is anything you've got, buttons, smaller balls, feathers, pipe cleaners for the legs and arms, confetti and other simple shapes. The kids had a blast with it, and they came out so cute!

We glued on the arms and legs, just simple pipe cleaners.

My Son Taped them on, he tried taping everything on again!I'm still not sure if his is 4 armed, or 4 legged, either way he did a good job!  

My Daughter gave hers a cute flower hat!

One Starry eyed Flower Monster

Meet my sons 3 eyed, 4 armed Monster!
There's no limit to what you can use, and really no limit to what the kids can come up with! Have fun and enjoy getting sticky with the kids :)

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October 21, 2010

Fun & Easy Halloween Foods

This week just seems to get crazier with each passing day. From missing homework, to reading drama's, frantic lost keys, regular destructive messes, spills, drops, falls, and toys stuck in the vacuum yet again. You name it, it's happened this week. Not to mention nearly losing my voice and chasing one or two, of my kids when they think it's funny to run the opposite direction of me. If I didn't silently scream to myself, I'd most likely be ripping my hair out at this point. We're at the terrible 3's, 5's and the Mr 8yr. old, "I'm not listening to you because I'm tough" stage. Not about to forget my littlest one, 18months, is constantly finding new ways to be sneaky. Sometimes I think she's got some sort of booster on her back, cause she's there one second and on the table next, or worse, learning to unlock doors!!
   Seriously, I don't think this week can get any worse, as it's hit new levels of crazy today. Luckily today was left overs for dinner. I really didn't have to do much to make anything but still, dinner is a war zone around here. Some days it's most likely the worst time of the day. Not that I don't love every second with my kids, (I do, I do, I DO!!)  It's just some days....ugh, I want a nap, or a cookie. Maybe both!

  On to the easy Fun dinner, we had left over Mummy and Spider dogs, thanks to Pillsbury dough and the ever loved hot dogs. We stopped using the refrigerated biscuits a long time ago as I'm no longer a fan of pre-made, but in times of need (this week was one of them!) They honestly come in handy!

Mummy Dogs and Spider Dogs

  The idea of this is to take the dough, (I used the new small biscuit rounds, and unrolled them). Wrap the dough around the hot dog like a Mummy, and bam, cook it in the oven till it's golden brown. Cook according to the package.
  When it's done you take ketchup or mustard, anything else you want and make some eyes.  Last year I made these before we went Trick or Treating, and am very glad I did. We really ate and ran, but it was enough to feed the kids. Serve them with some veggies and dip to make the whole dinner finger food friendly and keep the kids happy!

The Spiders, or as my kids called them. Lumpy Fat bugs, I used the Pik-Nik original Shoestring Potatoes. Just stick them into the cooked dough and it's as simple as that!

This one is too cute!
I'll have some more Halloween Treats and ideas coming up !

If you missed it, check out the Monster Shells Recipe here

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October 20, 2010

Tips for an Inexpensive and Fun Tailgating Party

Fall is a great time to gather with family and friends for a fun tailgating party. While tailgate parties may be informal events, they require a bit of thinking and planning to make sure everything comes together smoothly --and inexpensively.

Here are some tailgating ideas to help you plan the best tailgate party your money can buy:

1. Location, Location, Location

The first thing you want to do when planning your party is to decide on your event location. It can be the parking lot of the football stadium or even back at your own home. Chances are very good that the location will not add very much to your expenses. But some of the things you want to keep in mind is making sure it’s easy for your guests to find, convenient and it will facilitate a football party theme.
2. List the Party Essentials

One of the most important things you can do in order to save money on your tailgating party is to plan ahead and to make sure you bring everything you need to avoid the last minute run to the store. This requires making a complete list of essentials you will need like: drinks, tailgating food, party utensils/plates, garbage bags, a grill or gas burner for cooking, tables, chairs, and coolers to keep food cold or containers to keep food warm. Every little thing that you remember to bring to the party translates into one less last minute expense you have to make once you are at your tailgating spot.
3. Shop Smart

Perhaps where you have most potential for saving money is in the food area. The food that lends itself very well for tailgate parties include: burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, chili, potato salad, home made salsa or dips. Foods like potato salad, chili, dips and salsa can be prepared in advance and for less, if you make them yourself. Save money when you buy ground meat for burgers and hot dogs by buying them in bulk at your area wholesale clubs.
4. Show Your Team Pride

Just because you may be having a tailgate party in a parking lot doesn't mean you don't get to decorate the area. Make sure to ask friends and family to decorate their cars, bring their team flags and other items to decorate the area, and of course to make sure to wear their favorite team colors. You can also go to your local Dollar store and pick up the Team's colors in streamers, balloons, paper plates and more! And if this is a family friendly event, the kids will love taking home a balloon as a souvenir, or use it as a game for the kids. Let them decorate the balloons with faces.
5. Easy Clean Up

As the start of the game draws near make sure to wrap up the party and clean up the area to restore it to the way it was before you got there. In addition to bringing your own garbage bags, don't forget to bring some food storage containers for any left over tailgating food you may still have to take home for family leftovers!

Have fun cheering for your favorite team!

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October 18, 2010

EcoStore USA Review

Rare is a label that you can pronounce all the items on it's ingredients list. Half of them unknown, the other half scary enough it makes you cringe. From cooking, to simply cleaning, I've changed the way I do things.
My attempts to go green have moved slowly but none the less have moved forwards.
 With four kids, four very active kids there's always a mess. They eat non-stop, they make a mess non-stop, they get hurt left and right and what does a Mom do? I myself can't use cleaners, or most of them as I get a skin reaction, or my eyes start burning. Three out of my four children have sensitive skin and simply being in the same room as a certain cleaner or even candle burning will cause something to happen. In the past eight years, things have flipped upside down as far as what I bring into the house.

 My children come first, with them in mind I've searched high and low for friendly items that will be safe and comforting to use in and around the house. Not just friendly for the earth, but friendly to us in the long run!
 From diapers, to simple soap and lotion to things I use in the garden for our own vegetable garden, I've come across some wonderful products that I'm proud to be able to use.

The past month I've been reviewing two items from EcoStore USA. Not having to worry about toxins or chemicals that will bother someones skin is amazing. I've tried more than anything to stop using my dishwasher and do things by hand (not always possible, but I give it my best) We use a lot of dishes, but have you ever read the things used to clean those dishes?! Ever see the residue on those dishes you eat with!? That irks me beyond anything, it's really horrible to think about my children eating off of things like that. Or me for that matter. EcoStore USA has become a new tried and true product in our house, and I plan on sticking with them for all my other uses.

My first product from Ecostore USA is the Dishwash Soap.

   Used everyday, it's gentle on my hands, yet it's keeping my dishes super clean. It doesn't take much either to get a whole sink full of dishes done! This one bottle is still pretty full for the amount of dishes I wash everyday. It has a wonderful smell, yet not over powering and it's completely plant based. I love that I don't have to slap on lotion after each sink ful of dishes washed, and no redness from using it so much either. Normally I end up putting lotion on and that stings my skin so much due to the left over dish washing soap. It feels just like putting lemon juice on a paper cut, it stings that much. With the Ecostore Dishwasher soap it hasn't happened once! I'm very grateful to find a gentle cleaner I can use without worry.

The second product I was extremely excited to use was the Baby Shampoo. My youngest has many reactions to several soaps and washes, even if they are for sensitive skin. I was hoping this would be a keeper, and it is! It's got a wonderful scent, and so soft! I use it with all the kids and I couldn't be happier with it. Plant based and no nasty chemicals, I don't have to worry about anything irritating any ones skin. No dyes at all either. Yet another worry off my back when I reach for this bottle. It's a lot to worry about and stress over when you've got children with sensitive skin. Though it's not "for" sensitive skins, or made for it either, my personal use out of this has been there's just no reaction from it's use. So this Shampoo is here to stay!

EcoStore USA has many products, from baby care, bath & body, pet care, even your garden as well as household products! They have spent more than 15yrs perfecting plant based products which are better for your families health as well as our own planet.
 Say no to Nasty Chemicals and find some new green products you can feel safe about using in your home with your families!

*I received the items mentioned above from EcoStore USA to provide an honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation, and I was not required to write a positive review. Any opinions expressed are my own.*

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CSN Giveaway! *Closed*

From kitchen ware, furniture,  home decor to beautiful wardrobes, CSN stores has it all and then some! If you are like me you're already thinking about Holiday shopping and for one of my lucky readers you'll  have to chance to start early this year!

 If I had the chance to get anything early it would have to be some sort of dining set, or perhaps bake ware. I'm hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, so I'll definitely need some extra things.This set caught my eye

Along with about 5 others, alright so I can't choose! It's hard! CSN has over 200+ stores to choose from, so there's something for everyone there. Find a holiday gift for your loved one, a friend or family member. You could possibly even find a little something just for you! :)
Winner Is
JENNIE! Comment #19


Here's Your Chance to win a $35 CSN Gift Certificate!

Thank you to CSN for sponsoring this giveaway. I have not been compensated in any other way for this post. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

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October 16, 2010

It's Time for seeds!

The garden is still booming, I still have many tomatoes on the vine that are ripe or going to be ripe in the coming weeks. The weather this year has been wacky, the last few weeks it's gotten past 100, and the very next day we have nothing but fog and it's nearly 20 degrees difference.
 My peppers finally came in, though the growth was stunted a bit from the weather we got enough. Squash just finally finished though it looks like it's still trying! There's still a good month left in the garden possibly if the weather stays this warm, a little more. We've enjoyed eating from it everyday, I've canned so much I'm making regular trips to pick more jars up nearly every week :)
End of the year harvesting should also include harvesting seeds for next years garden. Not all are very difficult, though some can be time consuming, like squash and cucumbers, the rest are fairly easy.
Here's an easy and simple way to harvest your own tomato seeds.
Find a branch on your tomato plant with flowers that haven't budded yet. The reason for this is that all tomatoes are self pollinating but a few varieties can be cross pollinated by insects and wind.  Cover this branch with cheesecloth or a light polyester fiber.  Remove this cover when fruits begin to develop, tag your stem so you will know which tomatoes you need to pick for your seeds.

I don't do this for one simple reason, my kids would yank the cloth off and it would end up with a torn branch. It doesn't matter to me (really) if my tomatoes are cross pollinated. But if you want to make sure you have a pure harvest of the tomatoes and not a cross cover them .

Now it's time to pick your tomato and save it's seeds, depending on your type of tomato you may need to pick more than one.

Now it's time to cut the tomato in half. Do it across the center, not up and down.

Scoop out the pulp sends

Place them in a dish or jar. Pour a little water in to jar or dish, At least to cover the mixture.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap with some slits cut through the top.

Set the dish or jars away from anywhere you'd be walking. This will start to smell real bad in just a day or two.Let it sit to ferment for 3-5 days till it starts getting moldy. 

After it is covered in mold, carefully scoop the mold out and pour more water into the dish or jar. The good seeds will sink to the bottom. Scoop everything else out and pour remaining into a strainer.

Run under water until the pulp is gone and all you have left is the seeds. Set on a paper towel  and rub any gel that is still around seeds off. Set out to sit for another 3 days.

Now that you have your seeds all dried, label them in a small packet for easy usage next year!

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October 15, 2010

Stay Tuned for CSN giveaway!

I'm giving you a head's up on next weeks CSN giveaway! Selling a wide variety of items CSN stores offers, baby products, kitchen gadgets, home decor, to wardrobes and more! CSN has been generous to offer one of my readers another gift certificate. 
 If you want a chance to win a gift certificate to use at any of the  their 200+  stores, be sure to check back at My Side of Life next week! Holidays are coming up, this would be a great way to start your shopping early at nay of their online stores! 

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My Arbonne Review

Kids take the life out of you. Sure they put a bunch back into you with smiles, hugs and their love, but physically they take alot out of you. I wouldn't trade my new gray hairs for anything but I wouldn't mind looking a bit more awake some days that's for sure. Lack of sleep is one thing, but when it shows on your face it's hard not to ignore it. I'm not old at all, still under thirty here and proud of it!
  I received a 5 day sampler from Arbonne to try out .  The RE9  Advanced Sample pack had Smoothing Facial Cleanser which felt wonderful and refreshing! Regenerating toner, which I could only use once, I have sensitive skin so most toners do irritate my skin. This one wasn't as much as others, but I can't fully say much about it as I only used it once. The intensive renewal serum, put some life back into my skin. It's like lotion only much more creamy.
   The Corrective Eye Creme, oh how I loved this. Out of all the samples, the eye cream won me over.I'm really not one for make-up, or anything other than simple lotion for my face, but this got me. Within a day, my face just felt totally refreshing, and smooth unlike my almost normal dry. I didn't look tired! Say no more to what I call "Mommy Eyes". I loved it, and with the last of the samples, the Moisturize made the rest of my skin feel completely soft and smooth all around, without much time spending on my face I felt truly refreshed after using the cleanser.
   My skin is usually dry, mostly because I scrub it and am out the door not a few minutes later. I'm a busy Mom, really , and I do wish I could devote more time to myself but it's not always possible. Arbonne though, seems to have put some bounce back into my skin and easily at that. I love how soft my skin feels after using any of the products. You don't even need to use much, just a small tiny tab, and your ready to go. That's a wonderful thing!
 Arbonne uses only botanical ingredients, which is free of any nasty chemicals. They hold many different product lines, from anti-aging, body, skin, face as well as Baby products and more! You can check out their website here
 Would I recommend Arbonne? Sure, I really would, but for me, a Mom of four, it's a tad pricey.

*Disclosure-  I received the Re9 Samples so that I could review them, no other compensation was given. I did not have to write an positive review, Any, and all opinions are my own!*

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October 14, 2010

Halloween Time!!!

I love Halloween!
 So much that I make a month long thing of making Halloween crafts or having fun with my food :) Which I'll be blogging about in the coming days! I'll have Spooky foods, treats, and crafts!
Each year we carve some pumpkins of course,

 This year I've started to carve out pineapples!!

We make , OK I make cupcakes & cookies, while the kids get to decorate them before we head out to trick or treat!

Each year it always gets bigger and better, of course. As the kids get bigger they are able to do more, and they enjoy more crafty things if they are able to help . This year I promised they could help pick out the candy, and what ever is left over from trick or treating will be made into some post- Halloween Treats :) Talk about sweet deal!

Hershey's always has the best deals! They have multiple candies in bags, or just your favorites.Either way Hershey's is always a winner pick in this house! :-) We tend to love the Halloween shaped items, like the batty york peppermint patties or the Reese's peanut butter pumpkins. Nothing says yummy like a spooky fun treat!

Disclosure: This post was written in hopes of winning a Hershey's gift pack from the MBC!

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