Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cleaning Up Our Picnic Tables with Fabuloso #MiFabuloso #Ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MiFabuloso #CollectiveBias

This is our second spring in Northwest Arkansas and, while I've never been a warm weather girl, I'm determined to get outside and enjoy the abundant sunshine {and humidity---yikes!} that's already started bringing 80º days our way! Last summer, one neighbor gave us this glass top picnic table and another gave us a plastic picnic table for the little kids. After a rainy, muddy winter, they needed some serious cleaning up before we enjoyed our first outside barbecue. We'd never used Fabuloso® multi-purpose cleaner before, so we decided to check out the lavender scent. Michael scrubbed them down and, in just a few minutes, they were sparkling and ready for picnicking!

I found Fabuloso® all-purpose cleaner in the cleaning aids section at Walmart. The price was great for the large quantity of cleaner in the bottle and there were several scents to chose from.

I grabbed a bottle of Lavender and a bottle of Limited Edition Spring in Bloom. These will be great to use when I want to clean my floors, the windows, even my car. I like stocking up on affordable products so I'm ready when I'm surprised by the cleaning urge. Ha!

Once Michael had the tables clean for us, we spread out our table cloth and enjoyed a delicious barbecue supper. See my sparkly table edge? Looking fabulous! I'm really looking forward to lots of picnics outside this spring and summer. I've already had my first tea party!

The kids enjoyed their picnic supper at their new, clean table. They loved how it smelled like lavender and I feel much more comfortable having them eat outside when things are clean. I know "dirt won't hurt", but bird poo is sort of yucky to be dining over...

Have you used any of the Fabuloso® cleaning products? Which big cleaning project in your home would be made easier by multi-purpose Fabuloso®?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tea and Cake and Strawberries and Peonies

Welcome to the {Not Just} Homemaking Party! A couple weeks ago, Lynzie, Selah, and I were out shopping and came across the sweetest tea shop. You know I just had to go in and I found such pretty things! (Yes, I was sure to tell Jamie all about it when I got home...Mother's Day is coming soon! Turns out, he already knew about it and that's where he's been buying my tea the last year and a half. Ha!!) It was a hard choice, but I decided on this adorable Strawberries & Peonies Tea For One. Isn't it gorgeous?

Inspired, I made a delicious Strawberry Tea Time Torte. Ok, I made two...there are 11 of us, you know... 

This is just the first of many tea parties to come this spring and summer. I'm inspired and ready to relax with beautiful things!

Thanks for linking up with The Homemaking Party!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Strawberry Tea Time Torte #PourMoreFun #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias

Last Saturday, Lynzie, Selah, and I went shopping for some fun accessories for Lynzie's Spring Formal coming up this weekend. We stumbled on a tea shop and I just had to go in. I found an adorable peony and strawberries tea-for-one and knew I couldn't leave the shop without it! Inspired, I came home and created this pretty Strawberry Tea Time torte using the new Kool-Aid Easy Mix I'd purchased the day before.

I found three flavors of Kool-Aid Easy Mix at Walmart in the boxed juice and drink mix aisle. Tropical Punch, Grape, and Cherry are some of the best Kool-Aid flavors, and I can't wait to try out this new way of making an old family favorite. The new Kool-Aid Easy Mix is really convenient, as I just add water. Now I can make one glass for myself, or a whole pitcher to share---a refreshing, affordable, summertime treat! 

My torte recipe is a new twist on an old favorite, as well. My family loves it when I make this dessert and, thanks to Kool-Aid Easy Mix, I was able to eliminate a few steps, minutes, and ingredients.

Strawberry Tea Time Torte
16 oz. pound cake mix + ingredients to make the cake
1/2 c. Kool-Aid Easy Mix
2 TB lemon juice
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 c. milk
12 oz. whipped topping
3.4 oz. instant cheesecake pudding mix
strawberries and lemon to garnish

Preheat oven to 350º and spray two 8 or 9 inch pans with nonstick spray.  Prepare cake mix according to the directions on the package and spread evenly into prepared pan.  Bake about 20-22 minutes, until done and cool completely.

Once the cake is cooled, slice the tops off to make each piece flat on top. If your cakes are thick, you can slice them in half, horizontally, for more layers.  

Prick the cake all over with a fork and then brush them evenly with the Kool-Aid Easy Mix. Whisk cream cheese and lemon juice together until smooth, then whisk in milk.  Spoon whipped topping over top of this mix but don't mix in.  Sprinkle with pudding mix and then mix it all up well.

Place one cake piece on a serving plate and spread some filling mixture on top.  You can use a decorating tool to make the edges pretty, if you'd like.  Repeat with each layer.  Garnish with fruit, flowers, or herbs.

Once the cake was cool, this torte took just minutes to put together. It makes a beautiful tea time treat. I'm thinking of making one for my next book club meeting. Kool-Aid Easy Mix made it much easier to make and it tastes great too! How will you enjoy Kool-Aid Easy Mix this summer?

Our Dog Adoption Adventure #NudgeThemBack #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NudgeThemBack #CollectiveBias

Sometimes the things of every day life bring the biggest adventures. That's how it was the day we went to pick up our new Yorkie puppy, Mr. Darcy. I've written out his story below, but first let me tell you about his new favorite treats, new Nudges® Grillers. We love to reward Mr. Darcy for obedience and tricks by giving him a nice treat and Nudges® Wholesome Dog Treats come in several different flavors so there's always something fun to choose from.

Selah and I found Nudges® at Walmart. Depending on your store's selection, you can choose from Nudges® Grillers in chicken or steak flavors or Nudges® Sizzlers in Chicken Bacon or Beef & Cheese.

We bought Mr. Darcy the steak variety as steak sounded really good to me at the time. Ha! These have a real meaty texture, look, and smell. There's no reason he can't have some "real food"-inspired treats, right? With meat as the number one ingredient and no artificial flavors or fillers, I feel good about giving him this snack, in addition to his regular nutritious dog food.

I've never really been a pet person. When my husband suggested we get a dog, shortly after our marriage, he was met with adamant refusal from me...and I continued to refuse for the next 13 years. However, though I might have been a match for him then, 13 years later I was no match for him and seven children. Jamie and the kids wanted a dog---an inside dog---and I finally had to give in. Jamie got online and found a Yorkie breeder and we planned a day to go pick him up. 

Adoption day was quite the adventure for our family. It started with our first ferry boat ride across Washington's Puget Sound. We drove our Suburban onto the ferry and everyone piled toward the front of the car as we enjoyed our front row view of the gorgeous 45-minute ride. Then we drove around a gorgeous, wooded bay area, drooling over the beautiful Victorian homes and quaint tea and book shops. I had a feeling Jamie was coaxing me with this beautiful scenery---hoping I'd not totally lose it when he presented me with a stinky, slobbery, fur ball.

I had no idea the adventure we were in for once we reached the breeder's home. The last five miles leading up to her house were densely forested and wound back and forth on themselves. There was not another car in sight and I'd begun to wonder if we'd drove into another dimension---it was definitely Twilight Zone-ish. Finally, Jamie found the home and pulled into a clearing that served as their driveway. The house was large and resembled a mountain resort cabin. I was impressed. Jamie went in to take care of business and the kids and I stayed in the car---thinking he'd just be a few minutes.

It wasn't long before I noticed, through an upstairs window, some activity going on. Curious and bored, I focused in on the window and soon realized that I was watching two older teen boys completely beating the snot out of each other. I've never seen anything like it---well, unless you count weird '80s boxing on tv. Before long, one guy was down and the other guy just kept hammering on him. Finally, he stood up and looked out the window straight at me. Then he turned around and disappeared---leaving the room, I assume. By this point, I had already told the kids to look away and I was starting to fear for Jamie. It had been a good 45 minutes or so and he was still inside. This woman was supposed to have had over 30 puppies, but I'd not seen or heard any puppies---or any woman. Was this an insane asylum we'd been tricked into driving to? Was Jamie the next victim of the murderous man upstairs? I got into the driver's seat, turned on the car, and put it in reverse, keeping my foot on the brake. As much as I loved my husband, I had seven children to protect too---and I was ready to book it out of there as fast as possible if that guy came outside.

Thankfully, Jamie made it out safely---and Mr. Darcy, too. I can't say I particularly like him all the time---but I do love him. He's definitely a part of the family and we're all glad to have rescued him from the crazy house. Mr. Darcy loves his new Nudges® Grillers snacks and the kids love to take turns helping him practice his tricks and giving him a treat when he performs well. We're also planning on looking for new Nudges® Jerky Cuts at Walmart. We love variety in our treats---and so does Mr. Darcy!

Do you have a wild and crazy pet story? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sugar-Free Homemade Bread Recipe

Today my mom is sharing her photo and recipe with us for Sugar-Free Homemade Bread!

The USA is one of the few countries that add sugar to their everyday bread baking. Sometimes I like to make this sugar-free bread. It is especially good to form into a roll and serve french bread style with garlic butter! ~~Christy

Sugar-Free Bread
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup hot water
1 tsp salt
2 TB vegetable oil
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast in hot water, add salt and oil. Add flour, as needed, to work into a soft ball. Let it rise for 2 hours in a greased bowl covered with a towel. Knead again, form into a loaf,  and set dough in a greased loaf pan to rise, covered, for about 1 hour. Bake at 400º for about 25 minutes.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Make Scented Writing Paper with Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™ #LongLastingScent #ad #cbias

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LongLastingScent #CollectiveBias

I love finding new-to-me products to try out in my home--it's fun to have something special and new to use in my homemaking. This past fall, I posted about using Suavitel® fabric softener and today I'm trying out Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™. They're in-wash scent boosters that give your clothes a fresh fragrance for weeks, offering five times lasting fragrance compared to wash loads without it. 

Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls™ come in two scents: Fabulous Field Flowers and Soothing Lavender and should be used in your wash cycle along with Suavitel® liquid fabric conditioner and your detergent.

I love the two scents offered, especially the lavender, as spring is just starting to hit NW Arkansas and I'm inspired to make my yard pretty with flowers and my home comfortable with clean, fresh-smelling linens.

I found Suavitel® Fragrance Pearls and liquid fabric conditioner in the fabric softener section at Walmart. I found a sample of Fragrance Pearls on my fabric conditioner bottle so I was able to try out both scents. 

My mom and I have a special "thing" about lavender. Whenever we're out together and come across something lavender-scented, we pick up one for each of us. Since we moved 1,800 miles away to Arkansas, mom and I don't have the chance to go out shopping together much, as we only see one another a couple times a year. One way our family likes to keep in touch is by writing letters. Inspired by the fresh lavender scented Suavitel®, I wondered if I might be able to use it to scent some Victorian-style writing paper.

I poured a little bit of pearls in a small porcelain bowl (use porcelain or glass---so it won't hold the scent) and placed it in a large zippered plastic bag, along with my paper and envelopes. After a couple hours, I removed the paper and was super excited that my plan worked. Now I have lovely, lavender paper for my next letter to mom!

Which Suavitel® scent are you looking forward to trying out?

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Adorable Spring Outfits from OshKosh #ImagineSpring #IC #ad

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for OshKosh B’Gosh. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Spring is here and it's time to pull out the warm weather clothes here at the Coller house. I've been doing the "big clothing switch" all week---and finding that these kiddos are just growing way too fast! I love adding bright, new outfits to the kids' wardrobes and these styles from OshKosh are perfect for the bright, sunny days of spring! OshKosh is not just about denim---although they do have the World's Best Overalls. OshKosh also offers great styles based on the idea that kids should have fun being kids. 

Several years ago, I did a photo shoot with Avalon and Liam in their new Spring outfits, so when presented with the opportunity to outfit a couple of my kids again, I decided to do an updated shoot with these two. Here they are in their super cute Easter outfits from OshKosh. Avalon is wearing a Heart Print Poplin Dress and Liam is in a coral Piqué Polo and Classic Fit Uniform Twill pants in navy.

These adorable Pink Glitter Loafers are Avalon's new favorite shoes. She's worn them every day with everything! OshKosh carries several cute pairs of kids' shoes and lots of accessories to complete your kids' sweet springtime looks.

These brown Boat Shoes are Liam's first dress shoes and he feels so grown up and handsome in them. They're great for an outdoor adventure.

Avalon picked out a second outfit, as well. She'd been wanting a new skirt for a long time and found this really cute blue tiered maxi skirt. It's got a really fun print and matches a lot of tops that she has. She chose this cute flag graphic tee to go with it. There are tons of sweet tees at OshKosh this spring. Refresh your senses with some pretty prints and unique styles grounded in the American heritage of a happy, healthy childhood.

 Make sure to visit the OshKosh website for a coupon for 25% off your purchase of $30 or more and check out this store locator to find an OshKosh store near you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dove Advanced Care Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Dove. I received a product sample and promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Has anyone tried out the new Advanced Care Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant from Dove? It provides 48-hour protection and offers soft, smooth underarms. I'll be sampling it this week so I'll be sure to let you all know about my experience. I've been using the same stuff for as long as I can remember so it will be fun to try something new. With the weather getting warmer and me making all kinds of exercise goals, (yep, I am!) I just might need something a little more powerful. Ha!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Beef Enchiladas

Today my mom is sharing her photo and recipe with us for Beef Enchiladas. Yum!

I am honored to have my mother-in-laws recipe for beef enchiladas. This is my husband's favorite food.

Mary's Beef Enchiladas

3 pounds ground beef
1 sweet yellow onion
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Brown meat and chopped onion in large skillet and season to taste.

1/4 cup oil
4 TB flour
16 oz tomato sauce
2 cups water
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

20 flour tortillas
1 1/2 pounds grated cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Then stir in flour and whisk till light brown. Add tomato sauce, water, and seasonings and simmer until it thickens slightly. Add more water as needed. Turn off heat on meat and sauce and let sit until to cool enough to handle. Pour a small amount of sauce on a cookie sheet and dampen flour tortilla on both sides. Put a large spoon of meat on center of tortilla and sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Roll and put in baking dish. Repeat with all tortillas, placing them close together so that they're touching. You will probably need two 13x9 dishes. Pour any remaining sauce on top of rolled tortillas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Keeping Germs Under Control on Family Play Days #PurellWipes #ad #cbias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PurellWipes #CollectiveBias
Now that the weather is nice, our family is spending a lot more time outside. We love to go to the park, friends' houses, and explore lots of local historical sites. It's hard to be spontaneous with this big group, but I try not to get overly-obsessive about planning. Sometimes though, it's the little things that will make or break a fun day---and dirt is a big one for me. Today we spent some time at a friend's house in the country and, since I knew the little ones would be outside, I brought along these PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes

For me, there's nothing grosser than kids getting filthy outside and then sitting down to eat a picnic lunch or have a handful of chips. On the other hand, when they're playing outside and getting muddy, I don't want them walking through the house over and over to wash up. (I'm sounding a little OCD here, aren't I?) Having the container of wipes out saves clean floors from getting dirty and germophobe moms from freaking out at lunch time.

Another place I like to take the PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes is out on our field trips around the area. This may look like a regular ol' group of clean and pristine children---but what you don't know is...

Just a short time before this photo, they'd discovered a fire pit down an old trail and came back up looking like Peter Pan's Lost Boys. A container of wipes in my bag takes care of the problem fast so I can continue to get adorable pictures of them enjoying the summer sunshine!

PURELL® Hand Sanitizing Wipes are a new product that can be found in the household cleaning section of most Walmart stores. They come scented or fragrance-free in 70-count and 35-count containers and are convenient for home, work, or in the car for messy adventures.

It's really nice to be able to pass around the container of wipes for a quick clean up they can do themselves. Formulated to remove dirt and kill illness-causing germs on the hands and face, they're perfect for those times when both cleaning and sanitizing hands is needed.

Check out the Purell® Loyalty Program to earn points toward prizes to keep you healthier, and make sure to grab a coupon and save $1.00 on any PURELL® Wipes canister or save $1.00 on any two PURELL® Products.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Prepping My Home for Springtime Entertaining #WicklessWonders #ad #cbias

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WicklessWonders #CollectiveBias
The weather is turning warm and humid, the trees and shrubs are blossoming, and Walmart is just about sold out of flower bulbs---it must be spring! As much as I love the cold weather, I really do like spring, too. Mostly because it means I can pull out all my pretty decorations! I love to decorate with birds. They symbolize new life---a beautiful reminder. The newest addition to my bird decor collection is this AromaBreeze Fan Fragrance System. I love using scent-producing decorations in my home and this one is like none I've seen before.

AromaBreeze can be found at Walmart in the candles and warmers section. The Fragrance Halos that go with it are located right above them and there are tons of scents to choose from. I went with fruity since I love the fresh scent and atmosphere it brings to my springtime decor. This photo was taken at the Bentonville Walmart, but if your store hasn't stocked them yet, it's easy to buy online, as well.

Selah couldn't wait to check out our new fragrance system. We were both really surprised at how large and pretty it is. This one is Peaceful Perch and it measures about 10 inches tall. I love the shabby metal design and the sweet little bird swinging inside. Super cute!

I've just begun hosting monthly book clubs in my home so I've been coming up with themed decorating ideas for each month. Here's the one I did for March. I think this fragrance system would make an adorable centerpiece because---get this---it doesn't require a cord! There's a cord included, but there's also the option to run it on a AAA battery. Isn't that awesome? I can put it wherever I want!

I like the AromaBreeze fragrance halos better than the wax melts I usually use because the unit does not warm up the fragrance halo---instead it blows air over it for immediate fragrance release. I love fruity scents in the spring and summer, so I grabbed these two to try out: Strawberries & Cream and Tropical Fiesta. 

Each fan unit comes with instructions both on the box and in a paper booklet. It's super important to read the instructions carefully so you'll be able to operate and display the unit safely. It was really easy to install the fragrance halo. I just removed the canopy from the fan unit, secured the halo in place, and replaced the canopy. Simple! Here's a short video that shows you how to do it: http://cbi.as/4kcq.

Because the unit uses no heat, it's safe for every room in the house---even kids' rooms.  No flame or heat means I feel more comfortable about leaving it in the living room when I'm not around. I love how stylish and clean this is, too. Since the halo does not melt, there's no wax or soot residue to clean up. I'll definitely be considering more of these for other rooms in my house. They'd make great Mother's Day gifts, as well.

Where will you put your AromaBreeze? Let me know in the comments below.
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