April 13, 2011

Cooking with Coca-Cola

I think we all have those distinctive tastes and smells that instantly take us back to childhood. For me, it's the taste of Coke. We had soda in our house from time to time growing up, but whenever we went to my grandmother's house we loaded up. To this day, when I open a can of coke I feel like it's Thanksgiving or Christmas at my grandparent's house. My grandmother shops at Sams Club and bought Cokes in bulk, so there was always plenty to go around. I was always afraid of drinking it too much during other times of the year and losing the "special" factor that I always associated its taste.

As I've gotten older, I've learned that there are tons of other great uses for Coca Cola, aside from a dinnertime beverage or a tasty Coke Float. Have you ever tried Ham Steaks marinated and baked in Coke? Mmmmm, super tasty and delicious. It's an oh-so-easy adaptation of the classic tastes of Coke.

If desired, you can marinate the ham overnight in the refrigerator. I like to place the ham in a large zip-lock bag or sealable container and then pour in half a can of coke. Let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, you can drain out the Coke from the marinade and place the ham in a baking dish. Pour half a can of Coke over the ham and cover. Bake for 4-5 hours at 275.

The Coke gives the ham a nice flavor and I think helps make it more tender and juicy. Plus, it’s super, duper easy. As the busy mom of a preschooler, I’m always on the look-out for easy family recipes.

There are tons of great ways to incorporate this fun soda into everyday family recipes. Now that summer is quickly approaching, why not try a Coke Pop?  Pour a can of coke into a popsicle mold and stick it in the freezer until they are solid. If you don’t own plastic popsicle molds, you can always fill a Dixie cup with soda, cover the top with saran wrap and stick a popsicle stick down the center. When the popsicle is frozen, simply peel away the paper cuper.

What are some ways your family cooks with Coke? Check out www.cookingwithcoke.com for more ideas!

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“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Coca-Cola® blogging program. If I am one of the first 100 blogs received by SocialsMoms, I will receive a $25 gift card. For more information on the program,click here." 

Bright Beginnings now available on Diapers.com

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PBM Products for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Diapers.com offers a hug assortment of baby care products and they've recently started carrying Bright Beginnings formula. They also offer an organic, milk-based formula which includes DHA and ARA which help support healthy brain and eye development. I was fortunate enough to be able to nurse my son, but it's great to have options to provide nutrition to the little ones we care for if the mother is unable to nurse or does not desire to. You can read what other parents have to say about Bright Beginnings Formula by checking the reviews on Diapers.com. 

Bright Beginnings also offers Premium, Gentle, and Soy formulas in addition to their Organic selections. You can by individual cans or even purchase formula by the case. There are tons of great promotional codes out there for Diapers.com to help save your family money when you buy on diapers.com.  

Feel free to visit Bright Beginnings on Facebook where you can learn about the product and online deals. I've found that company Facebook pages are fantastic ways to learn about money-saving promotions and new products and services. You can even take a look at the nutrition content labels for their various formulas. 

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April 12, 2011

Where does the time go??

First off, I want to apologize for being a bit of a negligent blogger over the last few months. Things have been absolutely crazy in our house the last several weeks. Since January, we have purchased our first home and we are just weeks away from welcoming home baby boy #2. The last several weeks have been a flurry of activity and busyness.

I don't know why I have felt the urge to totally renovate the house while in the third trimester, but the urge had to be satisfied. We have now painted the kitchen, living room, office, master bedroom and bathroom. I've swapped out light fixtures. Re-tiled and painted a built-in bar. Wall-mounted a television in the living room. As of last night, I also sewed curtains for the nursery. I plan on posting pictures of my frugal home improvements on the blog as I get the time. I'm a big fan of cheap DIY projects (my budget is a big fan of them too!)

So now after a frenzy of activity, this mama is pooped. So what am I doing during nap-time? Writing on my blog. Who cares that there are dishes in my sink and that my laundry basket is overflowing. . . they'll still be there in five minutes.

I'm so super excited to meet this little boy. This pregnancy has just absolutely flown right by! Pretty soon our family of three will become a family of four. So, bear with me if posts are a little scarce over the next few weeks. I promise I'm not giving up, I'm just going to be focusing on family for a bit (and on recouping the sleep I've been missing for the last several months)!

April 7, 2011

Spring is in the air! Outdoor furniture has arrived at Pier 1

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I have LOVED having a backyard in our new home. After a year in an apartment with no yard, my whole family has thoroughly enjoyed having a bit of outdoor space to call our own. Unfortunately, we have absolutely no outdoor furniture. 

Pier 1 has recently released this season's newest outdoor furniture products. There are some super cute new things available. I'm on the lookout for some seating and a small table. Some of the items on my wishlist include the Banana Settee and Armchair.  A great outdoor entertaining/seating area would be on my list of must haves for the Spring season. Fortunately, a lot of the furniture, rugs, and wall art is actually indoor/outdoor which means I can also use it in my sun room during the colder winter months. 

If you already have outdoor furniture, you can always easily update your look by changing out the seat cushions. I like the Deluxe Kaeden style, which range is price from $24 for a seat cushion to $90 for a settee cushion. A new cushion can give your outdoor seating a completely new look. There are also a ton of cushions currently on sale! 

I also love the look the outdoor double Papasan chairs. It looks like a great way to enjoy a spring evening. There is room for two, and plenty of comfort with the tufted cushion. They also offer something called a Swingasan, which is basically a hanging papasan chair.  You can purchase a chair stand so that you hang swing just about anywhere. 

There are a ton of great products from Pier 1  to help make your outdoor living space one of your favorite places to spend your spring!

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April 6, 2011

Yay for Peeps

I think we've all had them at some point in our lives - those fluffy, yellow, marshmallowy little birds known as Peeps. I remember getting them in my easter basket as a child. They were pretty much a staple every year. I would try to make them last as long as possible. A little nibble here, a little nibble there, but inevitably they'd be gone withing 5 minutes.

As I got older, I got a kick out of sticking the pink bunnies in the microwave and watching them mutate into giant bunnies a la Ghost Buster's style. Sure, they're pretty much pure sugar, but they are also an Easter basket right of passage.

There are tons of fun things to do with Peeps. Our local MOPS group is considering an Easter craft which creates an edible diorama - S'mores in a jar.

1. Take a basic mason jar.
2. Crumble up a sleeve of graham crackers.
3. Place 2/3 of the graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the jar.
4. Add 1/4 cup of M&Ms - using green ones make it look like grass, but any holiday colors would be equally festive.
5. Arrange 8-12 peeps (bunnies work great)around the perimeter of the jar.
6. Place the remaining graham cracker crumbs in the center of the peep circle to help hold them in place. You'll want to press the crumbs down to help it stay more secure.
7. Add 1 1/4 cup of M&Ms on top.
8. Top it off with 1/3 cup of Brown sugar and fill any remaining space with M&Ms.

Here's what you can put on the tag:
Holiday S'MORES
1. Empty contents of the jar into a bowl. Cut the peeps into bits with kitchen shears or
cut up with a knife. Return the bits to the mixture. Mix well.
2. Melt 1/2 cup butter; add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour this over the dry ingredients,
mixing well. Pat into a greased 8" or 9" square pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15
minutes. Cool and cut into bars.

Sounds pretty tasty, huh! I first learned about this from a site called designswithheart.net. There is a huge collection of jar based recipes for gift giving and since Peeps come out for a variety of different holidays, these jars can be customized all year long!

Did you know that Peeps now has an online store called Peeps & Co. where you can find all sorts of fun candy inspired products!

Enjoy this exclusive offer for SocialMoms: Use this promo code at checkout - SMSPRING11 for 20% off all of your purchases until 5/4/11!


“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and PEEPS blogging contest, for a chance to get a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”