Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lifebank USA (and a Baby Monitor giveaway!)

LifeBank USA contacted me to help them promote their Uniden Lullaboo Video Baby Monitor giveaway, and more importantly inform parents all about cord blood banking and how valuable it can be to your child and other loved ones.  LifebankUSA is giving away THREE  top rated, Uniden Video Baby Monitors, valued at $105 each.  To enter this contest,and read more about LifeBankUSA visit LifeBankUSA on Facebook.
 
With every one of my pregnancies, I considered cord blood banking.  It felt like an insurance policy, something I may never need but would offer peace of mind.  And if I ever did need it, I would be eternally grateful to have it.  I still, to this day, regret not having cord blood stored away in case (heaven forbid) we would ever need it.  
 
Maybe it's time for another baby.  Just kidding, kind of.   

Mothers want their babies to be safe.  We child proof just about everything and read food labels.  We take them to the doctor and watch them sleep.  Cord blood goes well beyond baby proofing, it can be a valuable resource if your child is in an accident or gets sick.  Cord blood has been proven to save lives. 
 
Cord blood banking enables you to collect and preserve potentially lifesaving stem cells, which could one day save the life of your child or another blood relative. You can bank even more stem cells by collecting them from two usable sources of stem cell-rich blood; the umbilical cord and the placenta. This is called Placental and Cord Blood Banking, and LifebankUSA is the only company to offer this service. Whether you choose Placental and Cord Blood Banking or Cord Blood Banking alone, there are many important reasons to choose LifeBankUSA.  
  
Don't forget to share this giveaway with moms you know, and good luck!!

The 2015 Disney Dining Guide

Dining at Disney World can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. With this 2015 Disney Dining Guide, you can learn what's new at the parks, the best places to eat, and even the best times to dine. Ready to get the inside scoop?

New Eats at Disney World Resort

Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
At Trader Sam's you are invited to explore a mysterious yet inviting tropical oasis. The lounge, modeled after the themed lounge at Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California, serves tiki-style cocktails and food with a Polynesian flair. Set to open spring 2015.

Harambe Marketplace 
Animal Kingdom
African dishes with a street-inspired spin are the hallmark of Harambe Marketplace, a quick-service food option with walk-up windows. Shady spaces to eat, coveted on those hot Orlando days, surround the marketplace – a definite bonus. Opening spring 2015.

Starbucks
Disney's Hollywood Studios
You may think Starbucks isn't a big addition, but this is Disney – so think again. The new coffee hotspot, named the Trolley Car CafĂ©, lets you sip your favorite Starbucks latte all while immersed in a throwback trolley-car-themed atmosphere along Hollywood Boulevard. For coffee lovers in need of caffeine, it's a must-stop. Open February 2015.

STK, The Boathouse, Morimoto Asia
Downtown Disney
Three new restaurants open at Downtown Disney in 2015 as it continues its transformation into Disney Springs. All will be located at The Landing, the first phase of the project. STK, a modern steakhouse with a chic vibe, does not have an opening date yet. However, The Boathouse, an extravagant lakeside eatery, will open spring 2015. Then, this summer, look forward to the fusion creations of Chef Morimoto at Morimoto Asia.

Best Places to Eat at Disney World

Princess Pick: Cinderella's Royal Table
Magic Kingdom
Reservations: 407-939-3463
Price: $$$ ($30-59 per adult)
When to Go: Breakfast
Raise your hand if you want to explore Cinderella's Castle. (I do! I do!) With reservations at Cinderella's Royal Table you can not only dine with the princess and her friends, but be surrounded by a fairytale setting straight out of a storybook. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are available, but breakfast is the best time to go. Why? Because you start your day at the heart of the park with a true pinch-me moment. Reservations are required and can be made 180 days in advance. Make yours as soon as you have your vacation dates set to ensure an invite.

“Edited to add: Cinderella’s Royal Table is closed for renovations as of the first week of February, but according to Walt Disney World, they expect to re-open it in early spring."

Character Choice: Crystal Palace Buffet
Magic Kingdom
Reservations: Phone: (407) 939-3463
Price: $$$ ($36 to $59.99 per person)
When to Go: Lunch
You can't beat Chef Mickey's Breakfast at Disney's Contemporary Resort. But, if you are inside the Magic Kingdom a nice second choice is the Crystal Palace Buffet. Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and friends will greet you during your meal. It's a memorable character meet-and-greet meal with easy-to-get reservations and much less hassle than Chef Mickey's Breakfast. Reservations are not required but are recommended.


Best Kept Secret: Tusker House Restaurant
Animal Kingdom
Reservations: (407) 939-3463
Price: $$$ ($30 to $59.99 per adult)
When to Go: Lunch (characters do not appear during dinner)
Many visitors have no idea you can have lunch with Safari Donald Duck and friends at the Animal Kingdom. The interactive lunch, set in an open-air market, combines laughs and photos with Disney characters with an all-you-can-eat buffet. The above-average buffet food is made better by unique African dishes. Reservations are not required but are recommended.

Most Wanted Reservation: Be Our Guest Restaurant
Magic Kingdom
Reservations: (407) 939-3463
Price: $ ($14.99 and under per adult – Lunch), $$ ($15 to $29.99 per adult – Dinner)
When to Go: Lunch and Dinner
Dinner reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant are currently the hardest to acquire, and for good reason. Stunning in its recreation of Beast's Castle (from Beauty and the Beast), snow falls on the Alps outside three movie-scene themed dining rooms. It's a transportive experience, especially if you're a super fan of the movie like I am. Make reservations as far as 180 days in advance. If you can't score dinner reservations, opt for the quick-service lunch. There will be lines for the French fare, but they are worth it.

Kid-Friendly Seafood Selection: Coral Reef
Epcot
Reservations: (407) 560-7864
Price: $$ ($15 to $29.99 per adult)
When to Go: Dinner
Kids can turn their nose up at seafood, but at Coral Reef everyone will be happy. The menu lets the little ones order their favorites like mac ‘n cheese, while parents can dine on seared Mahi Mahi. The wrap-around aquariums are as attention-keeping as they are scenic, so fidgety kids will keep busy. Reservations are accepted, I recommend booking at least one week in advance.
I hope this takes some of the work out of planning the culinary side of your next Walt Disney World trip. Happy eating!

Ashley Dickey is Reserve Orlando's travel expert, visiting Orlando to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Target Cartwheel


Last year, I discovered an app called "Target Cartwheel."  I stumbled upon it somehow, like everything else in life.

The app is fairly simple, although when I first started using it it did take me a good few minutes to get going.  Okay a few good days.  Basically, the Cartwheel app is just a place chock full of mobile coupons.  You can browse the categories, which are fairly descriptive, and select offers such as 5% off bagged apples, or 15% off Cherokee tops for boys.

When you choose an offer it goes into your "Cartwheel."  Think of a cart full of offers.

You get so many "slots" to put your offers in, and as you continue to use Cartwheel you can open up more slots to save.  The more you save the more offers you can choose.  When you go to the check out, the cashier scans the Cartwheel barcode on your phone to apply your savings and discounts to whatever you bought.

You don't fumble with coupons, you just flash your Cartwheel barcode.  If you also have Target mobile coupons, you can combine these.  You can even use manufacturers coupons.

Cartwheel offers aren't going to save you hundreds in a month, but a few dollars every time you shop will add up.  I promise.  I saved over $170 in my first five months of using the app. There are great offers if you pay attention - I scored Halloween costumes at 50% off last year.  BEFORE Halloween.  Cartwheel had a two day offer running and I took major advantage.  The app has become a "see how much I can save with Cartwheel" game.  To date?  One year after download?  Over $400!

If you're a Target shopper, consider downloading Cartwheel, because using it will make you even happier in Target.

Hard to believe, but true.

For the record Target has no idea who I am.  Well, the local Target does because I'm there every day.  I'm just saying that I shared this because I love to save.

And I know you do too.  Try the Cartwheel app and let me know what you think!

Check out my post "Save BIG at Target" for even more moneysaving tips!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding the Magic in Winter

January is crawling along.  Every year, Christmas ends and January arrives and by March 1st I feel like I might go insane.  I yearn for warm sunshine and fresh air.  I start to get such bad cabin fever I'm willing to charge vacations I can't afford just to remedy the situation.

Don't worry I always cave.  I plan the whole vacation and then something inside of me is still smart enough not to pull the trigger.

This year I'm trying something new.  I'm making every effort to embrace the winter season.  It's a time to slow down and recharge.  There is no other time of year pajamas are quite as useful.  Snuggling with my kids to keep warm is a nightly occurrence.  Comfort foods and crock pots become essential to my well-being.

I've decided these are all good things.  It's not so bad spending time inside and setting the DVR.  There is something magical about snow falling and an early sunset.  Little things like getting in a warm car become big things.  And this winter rather than bitch and want to claw my eyes out I'm realizing there are bits and pieces of this season that aren't so bad.

I'm learning to love the sweatpants and appreciate the early nights.  My feet adore warm boots and there is nothing like a soft oversized sweater.  When the sun is out and the air is warm we run all day long.  This time of year?  We run much less.  When the weather is bad we're forced to stop and stay home.  All of us.  

And that's when memories are made.

Before we know it we'll be firing up the barbecue with friends around us celebrating the start of summer.  And maybe, just maybe enduring these long, cold months will make that first barbecue so much sweeter.

Stay warm.  Snuggle.  Call it a night early.  That's what gets us through until the warmth returns.  Having an excuse to stay home isn't such a bad thing.  We need it every once in awhile.

It's all about attitude. 

Cheers and have a blessed week!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

3 Ingredient Turkey Meatballs

One of the very few bonuses to winter in my house is that my family actually gets home cooked meals.  Every year, from June through September, I go on a cooking hiatus.  I do this for two very good reasons:

1.  I refuse to stand in front of a hot stove without central air-conditioning.
2.  I love, love, LOVE to eat out in the summer.  I love to be out.  I love the sunshine and warmth and not having to put my kids in coats and armor to survive the sub-zero temperatures.

It's called "everyone get on your flip flops and get in the car."  Ah, heaven. 

This week, because it's winter and the house is freezing, I cooked up a house favorite.  These Turkey Meatballs make the cut because everyone eats them.  I have two kids who dip the plain meatballs in either barbeque or ketchup, and I have two kids who eat them jazzed up with sauce and mozzerella cheese.  All munchkins eat the warm rolls I add on the side.

And hubby?  He eats them as meatball subs.

Win-win-win.

And me?  I love them because they have only three ingredients.  Simple, easy and delicious.


1 lb ground turkey
Squeeze ketchup (about 2 tablespoons)
3/4 cup plain (or Italian) bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray baking dish with nonstick spray or drizzle olive oil on bottom and set aside.  Using hands, mix all three ingredients in a large bowl.  Shape turkey into 2" balls, and line in a baking dish.  Bake at 400 for 40 minutes until center is done.

Serve with red sauce, plain or make subs.  Add mozzerella cheese and warm rolls.  If you have salad mix serve with a salad.  The possibilities are endless.

Stay warm and remember...it's almost the weekend!


*a much loved repost*

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Progress

Progress. It’s a word I never thought much of until recently.
While sitting at a gymnastics private lesson, I was listening to my daughter’s coach work her through her vault. Vault is her worst event, and I say that because she hasn’t really improved her score in two years. She is good for a solid 8.5 every meet, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. She saw an 8.9 at one meet and I almost fell off my seat. She's kind of "stood still" with her technique. Nothing better, nothing worse.
After one of her many vaults that session, her coach pulled her aside and told her he saw progress. Truthfully I didn’t see too much of a difference in that particular vault, there was a smidge but not much.  
But to him, that’s all that mattered.
He praised her for the progress, no matter how small. He reminded her that’s all he cares about. Progress. That’s it.
Lately I’ve been thinking about that concept. I realize how hard we all are on ourselves. We set these gigantic goals and we ride our kids hard about doing better. Imagine how much more fulfilled we’d be if we focused on the progress instead of the big picture? Leave the big picture for long run and let every day be about the progress.
It’s important to look at the journey, and I know I get too caught up in the end result. This week I started drinking that Detox Water. I eat like garbage, I know I do. And I decided that drinking a few liters of this water a day couldn’t hurt.
Here I am, four days in and I see so much progress. It all stemmed from deciding to drink Detox Water. I stuck with it and in one week I drank about 5 less cans of soda because of that dang water. One small change leads to another. And before you know it you’re accomplishing things.
The key is constantly stepping forward. If you step back twice, step forward three times. We may not see much of a difference, and some people may see nothing.
Remember the vault. I sat there, and my thoughts were “Eh, that was a little better…”
But my daughter’s coach? He pulled her aside and what I heard was, “NOW THAT’S PROGRESS! That’s what I’m looking for! That’s all I care about.”
Progress people. We don’t need to ban sugar and promise to exercise an hour a day til the end of time. We don't need to reorganize and restructure our houses and fight our kids about every little thing they aren't doing.
How overwhelming.
We need one less cookie every afternoon and a walk around the block every night. And when that’s natural? Take away another cookie and add another loop around the block. If your kids are struggling in something? Praise the smallest of accomplishments. If they left fifteen juice pouches in the living room last week focus on the five they cleaned up this week.
When you add up tons of small accomplishments over a stretch of time you see big changes. Focus on the progress, no matter how tiny and small and unnoticeable.  Every night, let's hit the pillow and think about the small changes we made. Instead of thinking of what a miserable failure you were at something, think of what a kick ass job you did of turning down that cupcake.

Progress. It's a pretty cool concept.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Skinny Mom Detox Water

I'm not big on resolutions.  Every day I go to bed and reevaluate how I did as a mom, friend, daughter and wife.  I'm constantly reminding myself when I can better, which is often.  My radar isn't off 364 days of the year and then on New Year's Eve it turns on and scans through all the improvements I need to make.

Not how I roll.  Too much pressure. 

Even though I'm not a resolution gal, I do find myself exhausted and ready for healthier food in January.  The holidays take their toll and post Christmas I take a good hard look at myself and I know it's time to crack down.  The pants are tight, the skin is dull.  I haven't exercised in months and I start to look ahead to Spring.

Isn't that what winter is all about?  Magic and lights and wonderfulness all December and then January through April stinks worse than monkey farts.  True story.

I found this detox water on Skinny Mom, and I decided it was just what I needed.  I know I don't have the willpower to detox on raw food or juice for days.  But a water to cleanse the system and flush some of the December toxins?  Sign me up.

I whipped up a gallon of this today, and it was pleasantly refreshing.  I drank only this water from the time I woke up to late afternoon.  When I drank my first glass my rings were snug on my ring finger...you know that feeling?  A few hours later I had peed about 6 times and my rings could have slid off they were so loose.  

Even better?  I'm actually laying in bed craving more - which makes me excited to get up and detox again tomorrow.

When I find something I love I always share...I don't know Skinny Mom (although she seems pretty snazzy) or have any incentive to post this recipe.  I recommend discarding leftover and making fresh every morning. Skinny Mom has nifty pitchers with fruit on one side...I just make it all together and drink away.


  • ½ gallon spring water
  • ½ grapefruit, sliced
  • ½ cucumber, sliced
  • 2-3 mint leaves
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • ½ lime, sliced

Cheers!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year Recipe: 10 Minute Healthy Flatbread Pizza



A few years ago I stumbled upon Flatout Flatbreads.  They make a killer pizza.  They are jam packed with protein and fiber, and they are Best Life Bob Green Approved.
Bob Green takes the work out of the healthy food scavenger hunt that is the grocery store.  He's a great man. 

Before I go any further, I need to stipulate that I don't eat well.  I am in no way offering nutritional advice with these pizzas.  I'm about as qualified to offer nutritional advice as I am to fly a plane.  Which is not qualified at all. 

I don't eat much, and 70% of what does pass my lips is sugar. 

That being said, I do make an effort to make the other 30% of food I eat healthy.  And to help with any other nutrient deficits I toss back a few Flintstones.

And since I plan on posting Valentine cookies and candies in the next few days, I felt it necessary to arm you with an easy, healthy, low cal menu option.  I eat low cal healthy meals and snacks and then sit down with eight servings of ice cream at 11pm.

Makes no sense.  I know this.  But in my Mommybrain it works.  

I make these flatbread pizzas for Hubby with a salad and he makes no complaints.  He loves these little guys.  Which makes them ideal for a quick and easy dinner.  Which makes them ideal for a day I'd rather go to Target than to the grocery store.

I am providing approximate nutritional information below.  Read it an weep happy tears.  You can look forward to a killer flatbread that is easy on the waist.  

Flatbread Pizza

1 Lite Italian Flatout Flatbread 
2 tbsp Prego Healthy Heart Traditional Sauce (or similar)
1/4 cup finely shredded pizza cheese

Toppings: 
1 tbsp bacon bits (other ideas: chopped turkey pepperoni, diced onions, cubed ham)

Heat oven to 350.

Place flatbread in oven for 2 minutes to crisp crust and then remove.

Lay flatbread on tinfoil and spread sauce, sprinkle cheese.  Add topping(s).
Place flatbread back in oven and cook for another 5-7 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and bubbling.

Remove and enjoy immediately.  I beg you.  Don't answer the phone and ruin your chance to eat these hot out of the oven.  I grab a soda and dive right in.  No fork or knife or class.

You won't be disappointed with my calorie saving lunch/dinner menu option.  I promise.

**This is NOT a sponsored post.  I like what I like and I wanted to share.** 

Nutritional information (approx) for 1 Flatbread Pizza:
19 grams protein
8 grams fiber
225 calories