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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Giveaway: Kate's Pastries Gluten-Free, Organic Baked Goods

Time for another giveaway - and this one is soooo sweet! : )

My wonderful friend Deb sells her herbs and plants at local farmers markets. While working at the Suwanee Market, she met Kathleen, who is the owner of Kate's Pastries. Kathleen makes super-delicious treats that are heart healthy but still taste great.

She sent us a loaf of her delicious Sweet Potato Bread to sample and it was...incredible!! It's gluten-free, which I have to admit, initially made me think it might not taste as good as "regular" baked goods. Was I ever W.R.O.N.G.!!! There is so much flavor packed into each slice, and it is very rich and moist! Such a treat for breakfast or a snack. Even Mr. Picky Pants (my seven year old) asked for seconds. I love Sweet Potato anything (click the link for my delish Sweet Potato Pie recipe!), but this bread is now at the top of my Fall Favorites list!

Kate's Pastries' Sweet Potato Bread
(photo from Kathleen's Etsy shop page)

Here's what makes Kathleen's baked goods so special:  They are gluten-free and baked with natural and organic ingredients. All are homemade! Here's what she says on her Etsy page:  "We have made it our passion to incorporate natural and organically grown ingredients in all our products such as: organic stone ground whole wheat flour, organic unbleached white flour, organic flax seed, raw wheat germ, etc. Oh, did we mention that our pastries are hand-made and baked? Yes...each Kate's Pastries product is made with the T.L.C. that your tastebuds deserve. We are dedicated to giving you a unique snacking experience while keeping your heart healthy!"

Deb had the opportunity to try most everything Kathleen sells at the market, and she said it's ALL delicious! In addition to Sweet Potato Bread, she offers Banana Bread, cookies, and mini pastries filled with cream.  I plan to order some holiday treats from Kate's Pastries ~ they are just too good!

Kate's Pastries'  Chocolate Hazelnut Mini Pastries (available with or without Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Filling)
photo from Kate's Pastries Etsy shop page

Now on to my favorite part:  Sweet Kathleen has offered a $10 credit (plus shipping for the $10 in products) to her Etsy shop to one of my fantastic friends here. My Rafflecopter form makes for a quick, easy entry process!  Just click the "Read More" below to enter. 

The credit is good through December 1st, so she can be sure you have your baked goods in plenty of time for the holidays. Her yummy products are priced at $3, $5, and $7 each so you can get a couple of things with this wonderful prize!! A HUGE Thank You to Kathleen for sponsoring this giveaway ~ she rocks!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Halloween Party Food!

So it's time to share last year's get together with our great friends The Adams.  I've known Steph since December 1984, when we moved to my new high school in the middle of my junior year.  We became fast friends, attended the same college for a year together, and remained friends throughout the years.  Now she is married with a teenage daughter and we try to get together a couple times a year. (In fact, they are the ones who invited us along on the trip to Orlando the day after Christmas last year!)

Last year was our 2nd annual Halloween get together.  We do snacks, dinner and desserts, while catching up and watching scary movies.  Paranormal Activity, Mirrors, etc....  plus lots of candy, trick or treating and kids running in and out throughout the night!

So here are the pics....I can't believe I didn't get a wide shot of the food table!!

I know my Grandmother would not like knowing her candelabra holding my "bloody dripping candles"!  I simply bought a red candlestick, lit it, then let the red wax drip onto these white candlesticks (over a paper plate to catch drips).  The candelabra is one of my favorite things from Grandmother.  My sister has the other one - they sat on Grandmother's buffet and when we were little girls visiting Papa & Grandmother in Orlando, we'd always swing the crystals and listen to them clink together!! 

My coffee table served as the apps table.  We had a shrimp cocktail platter, plus fruit and veggie platters.  I made a 7 layer Mexican dip and the green goddess dressing was squirted on in circles, then added the web design over them! 

My puking pumpkin.  He's puking my turkey bacon cheeseburger filling as the dip.  I served this with small rolls to make mini sandwiches.

This pumpkin is filled with "pumpkin poop" - they are just sprinkled donut holes from Dunkin Donuts!

Jack o'lantern pizza using sharp cheddar shapes.  I'll use larger pieces of cheese next time!

More of my food table - the sticks with eyeballs are drink stirrers,  the eyeballs in the bowl are to float in drinks or just eat - they were gummy. I had extra black plastic tumblers to hold my black cutlery.    The sign in the back was from Dollar Tree.  I used a water & metallic bronze paint "wash" it to give it a more weathered look. (originally stark white!)

My zombie girl

So sad - this was the only pic I got of my soldier boy - and he literally bounced out of the frame - too much sugar!
The Aftermath of our appetizer table!
One of my hurricanes filled with candy corns and creepy spiders from Pier One!
Fall Mantle, 2010
 oops- here is another food picture....
Apple nachos - sliced apples topped with melted marshmallow fluff, drizzled with caramel sauce, then topped with chocolate chips and sprinkles!

 I hope you enjoyed this peek at last year's party/dinner.  I didn't do as much with the food as the year before, but we sure had a great night with great friends!  Can't wait til this year's event - I'm still planning the menu but it's coming together nicely!  What's your Halloween specialty? Do you host a party or go to someone else's? Leave me a comment, or better yet, a link to your ideas! : )

Free DinneRevolution E-Cookbook for my readers!!

Chef Jeff from DinneRevolution contacted me this week and asked if I would like to give away copies of his new e-cookbook to my readers.  He sent me a free copy for myself to check out, and I'm so impressed!   This book has healthy 10 ingredients or less recipes that take you less than 30 minutes to cook, including kid-friendly recipes! This awesome cookbook contains over 200 simple and delicious recipes.  Some of my favorites are the Turkey & Blue Cheese Sliders, Sweet & Sour Mandarin chicken with Cashews, and the Turkey-Turkey Club Sandwich.

Please go to here to download your free DinneRevolution E-cookbook!  I'd love it if you would come back and leave me a comment with your favorite recipe from the cookbook, too! : )

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to make Thanksgiving on a bun....

Today I had to get to the grocery store to restock - I  haven't been in about 2 weeks and we were out of milk, fresh fruit & veggies, etc.  As I wandered the aisles looking for the items on my list I was thinking about how this time next month I'll be shopping for our Thanksgiving meal - yummm!  I love the flavors of Thanksgiving - turkey, cranberries, dressing (aka stuffing) and all the other goodies we enjoy that day.  I was buying ground turkey anyway - it's a staple in my freezer, so I decided to get a can of whole berry cranberry sauce because it was on sale!  Anywho....when it came time to prepare dinner, the kids said they wanted to make their own dinners, and my husband had ribs from the deli.  I was still thinking about Thanksgiving,'s what I did for my dinner....

19 oz of ground turkey, the can of whole berry cranberry sauce, a box of turkey flavored stuffing (already had in the pantry), and my favorite mixing bowl.

I mixed it all up - no other seasonings or anything else went in - just these 3 ingredients. It was looking kind of nasty as I mixed it together, honestly.... I was really hoping this would turn out okay!

Then I started making patties.  This made 10 good sized burgers for me!

I separated the layers of burgers with foil and then put them in a gallon size freezer bag. They are in the freezer for dinner one night next week.  (I kept one out for me to cook for dinner tonight though!) 

I cooked mine in the oven rather than frying it on the stove.  I usually serve our burgers on those thin sandwich rounds that are whole grain because they are healthier than those white buns from the bakery.  Tonight I used a 100 calorie (toasted) english muffin for my bun since that is the bread I've got out now. (I usually take one package out of the freezer each week!)

I served it with a squirt of Ken's honey mustard.   Oh my goodness,  it was SO good.  It really tastes like Thanksgiving on a bun - with all of my favorite flavors in one juicy bite.   The seasonings from the stuffing mix really came through, and the cranberries were amazing! The burger was super-moist and had so much flavor.  

It will make for an inexpensive dinner when I decide to serve these burgers too - I have the bread in my freezer from a previous sale (under $1), the ground turkey was $2.99, the cranberry sauce was $1, the stuffing was from a previous sale - $1, and the Ken's honey mustard was from a previous sale - under $1. That makes 10 (counting mine tonight)  flavorful burgers for under $8 including buns and sauce!   One delicious, smart meal!  If you decide to try this, let me know what you think!  I may try this as a meatloaf soon, too - wouldn't that be amazing?

What are your favorite flavors of Thanksgiving?  Leave me a comment!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

How to make Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

I can't wait to get our pumpkins this year.  Randy loves pumpkin seeds so much! I'm going to roast ours for him in a couple of different flavors!

To roast pumpkin seeds, you'll want to rinse them off well, and let them dry.  Then you spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet that you've sprayed with Pam or other nonstick spray.  Spray the seeds with the spray as well.  Then sprinkle them with salt and roast them in the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes tops.  (you want them to be lightly browned).  Let cool.  Store the pumpkin seeds in a baggie or airtight container for a few weeks, but they probably won't last that long!! (Or at least they don't at our house!)

As I mentioned, I am going to make ours using two other flavors this year:
garlic & onion:   sprinkle seeds with garlic salt & onion powder
hot hot hot:   use salt and cayenne pepper or any spicy seasoning blend you like  (Randy has some habanero pepper powder I will probably use on these!)

You can get creative and use any other spices you like! Drizzle with lemon juice, then sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper, or try a little white vinegar drizzled on the seeds with some sea salt,  maybe even some cinnamon and sugar!

Do you roast your own pumpkin seeds? Have you ever tried using any other seasonings besides salt and pepper?  Leave me a comment and share, please! : )

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rent college textbooks, help a child get a beautiful smile!!

I learned about when one of their representatives reached out to me recently.  They wanted me to share the news about their partnership with Operation Smile, as well as the perks of renting your textbooks from them.  Even though Katie won't be in college for another year, I was really excited to learn about this great company, and even more happy to hear how they are giving back. 

Remember when you were in college and you would buy your textbooks, then at the end of the semester you would sell them back for pennies on the dollar? SO frustrating, right?  Now you can go to and rent your textbooks online for less!  (Where were they when I was in college?!)

Want to learn about some of the benefits of renting your textbooks from them? Well, how about 40% - 90% off bookstore prices?  Both new and gently used books are available for rental with free shipping both ways.  There's even a 30 day risk free guarantee  (you can return your books within 30 days for any reason and get a full refund!).  You can highlight and underline as needed in your rental books, and you have the option of buying any of the books you rent.  There are no membership fees required - it's free to sign up! Once you are registered with them you can win great prizes like textbook scholarships, monthly giveaways, shirts and more. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook for more details! has been in business since 2007, with customers on more than 5800 campuses (and counting!) across the country.  If you are in college or have a family member who is, please check out this website - it's such a great way to get the books you need and save money!

Oh, and I must tell you about their partnership with Operation Smile.  For their 2011 Making a Difference Program, they have committed to donating enough money to provide a minimum of 1000 life-changing cleft lip surgeries.  For every book rented, a portion of the proceeds is donated to Operation Smile.  If you aren't familiar with this wonderful organization, please read about some of the children who have experienced the blessing of an Operation Smile surgery.  They do such good things, and I really love that is helping them in such a generous way!

I plan to sign up with next Fall when my baby girl is ready to begin college.  Until then, I'd love to hear what you think about them - leave me a comment if you have used (or plan to use) them!  Have a great weekend y'all!

*Disclosure ~ is sending me a gift basket in return for my sharing about their company and partnership with Operation Smile.  I received no monetary compensation for this post*

Travel - A hotel close to Disney World and the beach? Orange City is your destination!

Looking for a nice hotel on the way to Disney? Want to be close to the beach? Orange City is a great stop between the two! 

A few months ago Dena, the General Manager of the Holiday Inn Express in Orange City, Florida, contacted me to see if we'd be interested in visiting & reviewing the hotel in Orange City.  I was thrilled & my kids were ecstatic ~ we love going to Florida!  Dena mentioned that Orange City is located right between Orlando &several nearby beaches, including Daytona & New Smyrna. I picked last weekend for our visit because the kids had Monday off from school for Columbus Day.

The only thing I didn't plan for/predict was a tropical disturbance coming ashore last Friday, the day we arrived!  But we weren't going to let that stop us from having a great time in Florida.  My husband had to work, so the kids (plus Katie's BFF, Lexy) and I left our home north of Atlanta at 6 am. (It's about a 7 hour drive to Orange City from our home). We drove down to Macon, cut over on I-16 to Dublin, GA, and took the scenic route down to Jacksonville, FL.  We stopped there for lunch, then headed over to A1A so we could make a stop at the beach.  The nice thing about A1A is that you get to see the beautiful Atlantic Ocean alongside some gorgeous beach homes. It's a very scenic, very calming drive!

We went to Marineland, which is the spot my family spent several Spring Breaks visiting when I was a teenager. Unfortunately, the hotel we used to stay at back then (which was adjacent to Marineland) has been demolished and replaced by a boardwalk & park.  We stopped there so the kids could walk on the beach for a bit despite the rain, wind & huge waves crashing on the shore.   

Ft Matanzas Park on A1A
We also stopped at Ft. Matanzas Park, which is very close to Marineland. You can take a boat to the fort, but this time we stopped only long enough to let David climb some of the beautiful trees there & stretch our legs a bit more!

Afterwards, we hopped back onto the interstate.  It was about an hour drive to Orange City.  The Holiday Inn Express was easy to find since it's right next to the exit! We had no problems checking in and the staff there were very helpful.  The hotel has a large lobby & gathering room, plus a nice dining room.

photo from the HI Express blog

The kids & I headed to our room on the 5th floor and it was really nice!  Two comfortable beds with both soft & firm pillows, a mini fridge, microwave, large work desk (free internet included) & a spacious bathroom awaited us.  The bathroom came complete with a coffee maker, a makeup/shaving mirror, & hairdryer.  It had everything we needed!  Our room was close to the ice machine & vending area as well as the elevators.  The hotel was recently renovated so everything looked great!

The rain was picking up, and it was time for dinner so we logged onto my computer to find some options.  There were plenty of places to choose from at our exit  We found a Tijuana Flats restaurant just down the street.  We all love their food, so that is where we went.  If you haven't eaten there, you've got to give them a try! The food is delicious, and the hot sauce bar is awesome.   Because the weather was getting worse by the minute, we took our dinner back to the room to eat & watched a little tv before bedtime. The beds were so comfy and everyone slept great! 

David woke me up before 7 am on Saturday because he was ready to visit the breakfast buffet downstairs.  It's complimentary with your room & I have to tell you that it was fantastic!  There were the usual foods you find at buffets: cereal, muffins, biscuits, toast, bagels, oatmeal, scrambled eggs (served with sausage one day, Canadian bacon the next) They also had yogurt, several varieties of milk (including skim, which is what we drink), cream cheese, etc. They offered a variety of beverages: orange & apple juices, coffee, tea & hot cocoa.  There is something for everyone, even your pickiest eater. 

David's most favorite thing there was the pancake machine.  Moms, you will seriously want to pack this in your bag and take it home!   You push the start button, place your plate under the side and soon two golden brown, freshly made & delicious pancakes come out! David loved this machine.  A very nice lady named Linda was working down there both days.  She was so sweet to David. She helped him use the machine, then encouraged him to get more if he was still hungry, which he took full advantage of!  The girls went down for their breakfast after they showered & dressed, and were also happy with all the choices available. 

Did I say that it was raining all weekend? It was pouring, actually! We had planned to visit Blue Springs State Park, but that was out of the question.  If you visit, please go to Blue Springs! It looked amazing online, I can only imagine how lovely it is in person. We'll go there on our next trip for sure.   If you are there during the winter months, you'll be able to see the manatees who winter there.  The park also offers River Cruises.

Linda told us about a flea market near Orlando, as well as some other nearby places of interest.  (There's a Zoo with a zipline close by, plus bowling & plenty of shopping in Orange City)
We ended up visiting Flea World flea market near Orlando first.  We didn't stay long because the rain was dripping through the ceiling in places & the parking lot was one big puddle.  But while we were there, my son found a Star Wars booth that sold figurines for 50 cents each - he was one happy boy!

I also discovered a fantastic booth selling dried fruits so I got my husband some mango & both of us some pineapple.  Now I wish I'd gotten more, it was so good!  If it had not been raining, we would have stayed much longer. We saw a little bit of everything for sale - birds, clothes, luggage, handbags, toys, knives & swords, collectibles, vintage items, food & much more!  (Update 2015 - it appears that Flea World has closed down)

Then it was time to stop back at the hotel for a quick break.  We decided to get lunch, then  we could drive over to the Beach so the girls could get some airbrushed shirts.   We drove through Chick Fil A in Orange City, then hopped back on the interstate.  About 30 minutes later, we were looking at the crashing waves of the Atlantic!  

It was still very stormy so the kids couldn't hang out at the beach like they wanted.  I did let them mess around on the shore for a little bit, looking for shells & posing for pictures.  I love that you can actually drive on Daytona Beach, how cool is that? There were only two cars out there on Saturday due to the weather..

After a little souvenir shopping with the kids, we decided to visit Cassadaga.  It's a small historic town located a few minutes from Orange City, known for its psychics, mediums, and spiritual healers.  The girls thought about getting a reading, but when they heard it was $40 per person at the place we stopped, they decided to pass.  It's still a lovely town that's on my list to visit again during our next trip! 

When we got back to Orange City, we had a nice dinner at Bob Evans. It's located right next to the hotel so it was very convenient.   We all love Bob Evans but there aren't any located in Georgia.  that's why it's always a treat to go there when we are in Florida!  One tradition the kids and I have is to always share an order of fried cornmeal mush with syrup - it is so good.  The girls and I ordered turkey & dressing, David decided on pancakes - yum! 

Bob Evans restaurants are consistently bright, cheerful, clean & inviting!  After dinner, we also stopped at the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery two doors down for some treats for the long ride home on Sunday.  My kids love their crazy cookies - 1/2 sugar, 1/2 chocolate chip!

Back at the hotel, the girls checked out the hotel's fitness center and enjoyed their workout.  We also brought our bathing suits but it was a little too rainy & chilly for us to use it.  

Sunday morning we ate breakfast early & then it was time to load up the car & check out.  Once again, check out was a breeze.  During our visit, each employee we encountered was helpful & customer-service oriented.  Dena makes sure everything is just right for your stay!  I know we'll be back at the Holiday Inn Express Orange City in the not so distant future!

David's favorite thing about the hotel:  The pancake machine!
Katie's favorite thing about the hotel: The  super-comfy beds and pillows!

Don't forget that you can also drive over to Orlando for the day if you want to hit the big theme parks.   Billboards along the interstate proclaim Orange City to be the  "quieter side of Orlando" and they aren't kidding. There is very little traffic, it is convenient to I-4, and it's much calmer than Orlando's sometimes frantic pace!  The drive to Orlando is really easy!

We wanted a quick getaway that didn't break the budget this time so we decided to go low-key, no theme parks.  I only wish we could have seen Blue Springs State Park & the Zoo, but you can't do a thing about Mother Nature!

Next time you plan to visit Orlando, I encourage you to check out Orange City, and the Holiday Inn Express there.  It just might become your new home away from home when visiting Central Florida.

So now that I've shared what a wonderful place Orange City is, how would you like to have the chance to visit there yourself?  Dena & the Holiday Inn Express Orange City are giving one of my readers a
complimentary two night stay at the hotel!  How fabulous is that? Click on the  "read more" link for all of the details!   If you already follow me via GFC, Twitter, FB, etc. just leave a blog post comment below stating that you do and then click "I did this" in the rafflecopter entry form for each thing you do!   

UPDATE:  Congrats to Scottsgal ~ picked your comment as the winner!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How to organize your pantry!

About a month ago I found this organizer on pinterest.   I decided that Amy from Then She Made is a genius!! I have a cabinet-style pantry in the kitchen and it can get heavy on the cans - so I loved her idea of repurposing a carton from a 12 pack of soda into a can holder!  She used scrapbooking papers, which looks gorgeous, but I had a different idea.

You know I'm a chalkboard spray paint addict, right?!  See where this is going? First, I cut a small rectangle on the back of the top - to reload the cans. 

Then I gave each container a light coat of CB paint all over (I went a little heavier on the top - not so much on the sides, since noone will see them).  The front of each container got 3 coats of CB paint.  After they dried, I brought them inside and emptied my shelves, lol!

you can see the logo through the one coat of paint this got.  I don't care - it will be front-side out in my pantry, so no one will see it!  Cut a rectangle on the top back to drop more cans in as you buy them...

Next time I'll write on the front of them while empty, standing them on their ends.  It's alot harder to write on them from the front side when they are full! I have one for my soups (but my larger cans of soup don't fit in these), one for tomatoes (crushed, puree, small cans of sauce), and one for fruits.  I'll add more for veggies as I gather more of the cartons!   This project took less than 30 minutes and used items I already had on hand, so it was easy-peasy and super cheap!  If you try my version or Amy's please link back with a picture - I love to see what other crafty mamas out there make!

These fit my third pantry shelf perfectly and I think there is room for one more!

And while I'm at it - I am going to show off some of my recycled pantry helpers I got at Goodwill & cheap containers from Dollar Tree!   My Goodwill store has a whole aisle of kitchen helpers & gadgets, which often includes little wire shelves, plastic bins, lazy susans and more.  I stock up whenever I find them!

I've donated to D's school, my husband's food drive, plus taken things to my Nana so I have let my stockpile get low.  I'll be restocking it soon so I took advantage of my almost-empty pantry shelves to move things around today to organize a bit.  I pulled out two of my Goodwill three-tier shelves and a lazy susan (all 3 cost me under $5) and put them to work!   Double click on the pics for up close look...

This shelf holds items for baking.  Three tier shelf in back corner holds smaller baking ingredients, plus extracts and an extra salt grinder.  The container holding my cornmeal mix is from the dollar store - they come in a three pack and I love them!!

Next shelf down holds large soup cans, pasta sauces, olives, dressings, canned pasta, baby food purees (I add these to everything to give us extra veggies!) , bread crumbs and olive oil .  It also keeps my large mason jar that holds all of my cupcake liners! (It's too tall for my baking shelf, so I keep it on the one below). The lazy susan lets me find pizza sauce, dressings, canned chicken or condiments easily. 

Being organized doesn't have to cost a fortune, and you can recycle/repurpose a variety of things or use items from the thrift store or Goodwill to keep them out of the landfill!  I'm back on my Flylady routines starting this week, so getting my pantry back together ROCKS!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogger problems and an update...

Is anyone else having problems leaving comments on other blogger blogs? Or getting the GFC stuff to show up? I've been trying since yesterday to follow back some new followers to my blog, and either my comments disappear as soon as i hit submit, or there is no follow button on the top of the blog (just says share!) or the GFC section is gone, despite refreshing or even closing out and coming back to the blog.  I'm getting frustrated that I can't follow folks back!! Grrrr......  I promise to keep trying til I get everyone followed back!

Katie ended up having grains of sand embedded in her eye (OUCH! the Dr said she has a very high tolerance for pain!) so we've spent two days back and forth at her office getting checked, etc. so I'm planning to draw the winners for the Shaklee contest tomorrow, and have the Orange City, Florida/Holiday Inn Express review & giveaway up on Thursday!  Y'all have a great hump day!

~*~ Aimee ~*~

Monday, October 10, 2011

Coming soon - a really wonderful giveaway!

Just checking in ~ we got home last night from a very fun, but very rainy trip to Orange City, Florida! It's a wonderful town that I know we'll visit again ~ it's right in the middle of all the fun!  I'll have a review up and a two-night hotel stay to give away (courtesy of Dena at the Orange City Holiday Inn Express) this week so y'all be ready to enter and win a Florida getaway yourselves!!

Today I'm taking Katie to the optomotrist - she scratched her eye while we were out of town and it definitely needs attention!  David is recovering from a tummy bug...welcome to my crazy life! Glad it's a furlough day at their schools today - no more time missed!

Hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun holiday weekend - check back soon for the Florida hotel stay giveaway! 


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shaklee Giveaway ~ FIVE winners!! (Ended)

UPDATE:  Congrats to my 5 winners!! Ces, Tiffany, Brittany H., Jill, and Andrea!! Emails have gone out, I've heard from Ces already, but if I don't hear from any of the other 4 winners, I'll draw again tomorrow night!  If you're a winner, pleaes check your email and get back with me ASAP! : )

Thanks to all who entered, and please check back later this week for my next HUGE giveaway - a 2 night stay in Florida!!

Happy Sunday, friends!  It's been the most beautiful Fall Sunday here in Atlanta - the temps were in the 60's and life is GOOD!  And now...I am so very excited to share this giveaway with y'all!

Erin Branscom is the sweetest lady!  She is a fun mommy blogger and a Shaklee Distributor.  She asked if I'd be interested in reviewing their Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate which is all natural and non-toxic.  Since Katie has asthma, cleaning can be dicey if I'm busting out the bleach or other stinky cleaners.  They can really mess with her, and lately I've had a problem with the fumes from bleach - I have to open every window, turn on fans, etc to be able to breathe! So a non-toxic cleaner really sounded great - IF it would clean as well as my bleach or other cleaners.  And get this - one 16 oz bottle makes 48 GALLONS of cleaner!! She sent me a vial of their Basic H2, which made two spray bottles of cleaners.  One bottle of all-purpose kitchen/bathroom cleaner one bottle of window and glass cleaner. (I grabbed two spray bottles at Dollar Tree to use for this)  I was really impressed with how much cleaner I was able to make from the small vial, and it worked great!

I cleaned the master bathroom sinks and the mirror in there, and my kitchen windows too, all with great results.  Then I tackled the fridge - it was a job I'd been putting off! Are my kids the only ones who let ketchup drip down the side of the bottle as they put it up and then it gunks up under the jar/bottle? Same with caramel sauce and chocolate was a mess in there! But the Basic H2 spray cleaners took care of the glass shelves, the walls of the fridge, even the drawers and door shelves!  I used both the all purpose cleaner and the glass cleaner to get this big job done, and now my refrigerator is sparkling clean again! And there's no strong fragrance left behind from the cleaner - that might be my most favorite thing about using Basic H2! 

     My sparkling clean fridge - love it!  No "before" pic of this - I completely forgot to charge my camera!

Erin also sent me a container of Shaklee's Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste.  Oh, how I love this stuff!! It smells like bubble gum according to my kids - very pleasant!

Now, I'm gonna make a confession.  My oven had not been cleaned in over a year.  About two years ago, the self cleaning function stopped working.  So last year I had to clean it with one of those super stinky spray on/wipe off cleaners.  Not. A. Fun. Job.   To say I'd been putting off doing that chore again is an understatement!   When I got the Shaklee scouring paste I knew the time had come to tackle this job again.

I'm almost embarrassed to show the "before" picture to you, but I want you to see how well it works! (don't judge!!)

                                                                   Gross "before" picture:

and after:

Not perfect - but almost! There are still a couple of places I may have to chisel some permanently burned-on things off, but I'm thrilled with how it looks now.  To my surprise, it was truly pleasant to clean with this scouring paste from Shaklee!! 

I love that these cleaners are natural and that they are affordable!  Shaklee has a membership option where you get a nice discount when you order products, or if you would like to become a distributor and sell these products yourself, Erin will give you extra free products for joining her team! You can contact her through her blog if you are interested in finding out more about joining Shaklee - make sure you tell her Aimee sent you! : )

So now on to the giveaway:  click the "read more" link to enter through my rafflecopter widget.  There is one mandatory entry, and lots of extra entries too.  Good luck!!

Disclosure:  Erin provided me with Basic H2 Cleaner and Heavy Duty Scouring Paste to review.  All opinions written above are my own honest feelings - I LOVE these Shaklee cleaning products!! She is also providing five vials of Basic H2 Cleaner to my winners.  No monetary compensation was received.  :  )

How to make Spooky Halloween Jars

Just wanted to put up a link to one of my favorite Halloween decorations from last year - click over for the directions & details!

I just got the empty jars out of the attic, filled them up with colored water and put them up on one of my shelves - instant spookiness for my house this year, too!  Dollar Tree has the "severed fingers" and other items you could make this with, and Michael's has the "skulls" out again too! : )  I love silly, spooky decor like this - especially when I can make it for very little money!

What are some of your favorite Halloween decorations that you put out each year?