Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Has Sprung KitchenAid Standup Mixer Giveaway ~ The Reluctant Entertainer

There is a GREAT giveaway open right now from The Reluctant Entertainer!

This little nugget of gold is sure to bring a smile to any baker/enterainer's face...

One lucky winner will win:
-Frosted Pearl 5-qt. Artisan Stand Mixer by KitchenAid
-A copy of the book, The Reluctant Entertainer
-One-of-a-kind apron from The Hip Hostess.

To enter, simply visit The Reluctant Entertainer to get started! (I did!  How could I not?!)
Giveaway will close Wed. May 2nd 2012, at midnight.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chocolate Mocha Ganache

This ganache is by far my family's favorite topping on cakes, cupcakes & ice cream.  It's a chocolate & coffee lover's dream!



Chocolate Mocha Ganache

  • 1 cup Girardelli 60% Cocoa chocolate
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
  1. Place chocolate pieces in a medium bowl.
  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds on high.  Stir. Continue to melt in the microwas at 10 secnd intervals, stirring between each, just until chocolate is glossy with small pea-sized pieces.  Chocolate will continue to melt as it is stirred. (warmed cream will melt any remaining pieces)
  3. Heat heavy cream in mocrowave for 45 seconds on medium high
  4. Once warmedi mmediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy.
  5. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cakes as a glaze.  Ganache will become thicker as it is allowed to cool. (can also be whipped or piped as it cools & thickens)

Fisher-Price ZEN Collection Sweepstakes From Lullaby Lane

Enter this Lullaby Lane Sweepstakes to win a beautiful Fisher-Price ZEN Collection!

 This sweepstakes collection includes:
  • Gliding Bassinet
  • High Chair
  • Infant Seat
  • Cradle Swing

Music, nature sounds or simulated sounds of the womb complement your baby's soothing experience, while the beautiful wood accents and earthy colors complement your home d├ęcor.

This Sweepstakes Ends June 15, 2012. 
Hurry & Click Here To Enter TODAY!
Official Rules   -  Terms

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Stroganoff with Bow Tie Pasta

This dinner is such a great comfort food and so easy to prepare. A chicken twist to the traditional beef stroganoff!

Start by slicing breasts in 1/4" thick slices and halve the longer pieces.

Over medium heat, preheat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon canola oil.  Once the oil begins to ripple, add chicken and onions/onion powder.

Allow the chicken to sizzle & simmer until fully cooked, stirring often.  You don't want to see any pink in that chicken!

While the chicken is cooking, in a large pot bring water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, add some salt.  This is the time that you get to add flavor to the pasta/noodles.  Then the pasta needs to hop in!  Give it a stir so that nothing sticks together and occasionally come back for another stir while it cooks.  Cook according to the package directions...I prefer to have it FIRM for this dish.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl combine cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and milk.

Once chicken is fully cooked and pieces are no longer pink, add mixture. Stir in garlic salt and allow to simmer 5-8 minutes.

Simmer, simmer, simmer...

Then spoon over drained pasta & ENJOY!  (Optional: Top with black pepper to taste)

Chicken Stroganoff with Bow Tie Pasta

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 6-8
Level: Easy

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup chopped onion OR 1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 - 10 3/4 ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup (or 1 family size can)
1/2 cup milk
1 package dried bow tie pasta (or wide egg noodles, traditional)
8 tablespoons dairy sour cream (or 8 oz. container)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Slice chicken breasts into 1/4" wide strips. (along the width of chicken breast, not length).  Preheat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add chicken and onions/onion powder. Allow to simmer until fully cooked, stirring often.

In a large pot add 6 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, add salt (to flavor pasta) and pour in pasta. Cook according to package directions. Drain.

While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl combine cream of mushroom soup, sour cream and milk. Once chicken is fully cooked and pieces are no longer pink, add mixture.  Stir in garlic salt and allow to simmer 5-8 minutes.

Spoon stroganoff mixture over pasta to serve. Add black pepper to taste.

It's National Pretzel Day!

I have always been and will always be a big fan of The Pretzel.  So, Happy National Pretzel Day!

In honor of this day set aside to pay hommage to that salty, sometimes sweet, often savory little twisted rope of bread we affectionately call a pretzel, I have provided some recipe links for all to enjoy.

And a quick little instructional session for making your own pretzels from Food Network's own Alton Brown.

Now it's time to get your pretzel on!

Sweet & Savory Pretzel Recipes from

Photo By
Toffee Pretzel Bark ~ (click here for all recipes pretzel related)

Strawberry Pretzel Salad ~
Pretzel Turtles ~

Photo By John Kernick
Hot Dogs with Cheddar and Sauteed Apple ~ (click here for more pretzel related recipes)

Double White Chocolate and Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies...with Sea Salt ~

Everything Soft Pretzels ~

The Final Day of Essential Swimwear's 8-Day Giveaway!

It's the final day of Essential Swimwear's  EIGHT Day Giveaway! 

For those of us who happen to have a blog, would love to have a new swimsuit for the season and love  Essential Swimwear's  style...
 the winner will receive this gorgeous Ocean Ruffled Halter Top and Ocean Ruffled Skirt!


I have become a HUGE fan of their comes hand in hand with loving things that are a bit flirty and modest at the same time.  And if you love the style from the 40's, like I do, then you'll surely see it's influence in some of these designs.

To enter:

1. Post about this giveaway on your blog

2. Comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook post, leaving the url of your blog post

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 7

Today is day SEVEN of 8 days of giveaways!

Sorry this one was a little late today...

The winner will receive the Indigo Ruched Halter Top and Indigo High Waist Bottoms, which are sure to flatter any body type and skin tone!

To enter:

1. Follow Essential Swimwear on twitter (!/essentialswim)

2. Leave a comment on  Essential Swimwear's Facebook post telling them you're following their tweets

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 6

Today is day SIX of 8 days of giveaways!

Now for our day SIX giveaway. The winner will receive the Ivory Ruffled Halter Top and Ivory Ruffled Skirt (don't worry ladies, they've double lined the top to ensure it won't be see-through when wet).

To enter:

1.  Share  Essential Swimwear's Facebook post on your facebook page
2. "Like" Essential Swimwear's Facebook on facebook (if you don't already)
3. Leave a comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook post telling them you shared

April Autism Awareness Month

I do not have a child with autism, however I have been blessed to know a few little ones who do have different levels of autism.  It seems to run rampant in children these days, especially little boys, and our society still does not know enough to have an understanding of how it effects these lives.

We all need to be educated and not just assume that a child who is having a meltdown in a store is simply acting like a brat...perhaps, just perhaps that child is battling his emotions and comprehension of something that has just occurred.

If you have not seen this video, I urge you to take the 17 minutes out of your day to watch's from a father's heart.  It made my heart break and my blood boil.

I give praise to this father who has taken steps to unveil what what occurring in his son's school many other children are experiencing this and the parents have no idea that it is going on?  How many children dread going to school, not just because they want to be home playing, but because they know that a berating of ridicule and insults are waiting there to greet them after they say goodbye to their parents?

Those that teach spend so much time influencing our children, shouldn't they be a possitive influence in their lives?  Especially to the little ones who have autism (or other hurdles to overcome).

For information on Autism, visit

Monday, April 23, 2012

Morning Stroll

This morning the weather graced the valley with a beautiful mid 70's start...and I finally got my act together and started walking again.  It hit me how much of a difference it makes in my day when I start it off with a nice brisk walk.  Something just happens...the world is a brighter, happier place and stress just melts away. (at least for an hour or two) 

I mean, how could you not have your spirit lifted when you get these little nuggets of beauty along the way?

Starting my stroll off with an adorable little duck family...there were about 8 little ducklings hidden in that center reed grouping.  Daddy Mallard was on high alert.
See those snow capped mountains in the background?

Gorgeous flowering tree along the path.

This poor little guy was working so hard to attract his mate...I hope she finally came along. (he had stiff competition from about 15 other birds below)

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 5

Today is day FIVE of 8 days of giveaways!

Now for Essential Swimwear's day FIVE giveaway. The winner will receive their Ocean Ruched Halter Top and Ocean High Waist Bottoms.

To enter:

1. Visit and "like" your favorite swimsuit (each product page has a "like" button above the description)

2. Comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook post letting them know know that you "liked" your favorite suit

Saturday, April 21, 2012

JustFab Pin It To Win It!

I love JustFab...and they are spreading a little love to one lucky bride & her entire bridal party!

1. If you have not registered with JustFab (it's FREE), click here
2. Then head over to the JustFab Pintrist account and simply repin your favorite pic from their WEDDING OBSESSION board.
3. Be sure to include these hastags in your pin: #JustFabInLove and #Wedding

Contest Ends April 30th!

Official JustFab contest notice:

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 4

Today is day FOUR of 8 days of giveaways!

The lucky winner will receive Essential Swimwear's sleek and flattering Ebony Ruffled Tankini Top and Ebony Ruffled Skirt (a $62 value).

To enter:
1. Leave a comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook  post telling them where you'll be seen most frequently sporting a swimsuit this summer (ie the beach, pool, lake, water park, etc).

To enter:

1. Leave a comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook post telling them where you'll be seen most frequently sporting a swimsuit this summer (ie the beach, pool, lake, water park, etc).

Morning Rush Tip: Premade Pancakes

If your house is anything like my house then your morning rush is ridiculous. The biggest hurdle I have every morning is breakfast...for some reason it's always a surprise that my kiddles have to eat breakfast.  Well I have an easy little shortcut for making a pancake breakfast without buying them from the frozen section of your supermarket.

Whenever I make pancakes for breakfast, which is usually Saturday morning, I make a few additional cakes and let them cook on a rack.  Do I make them from scratch? Uh, no.  I do use my favorite pancake mix though...KRUSTEAZ Buttermilk Pancake Mix. (because all I have to add is water!) They are so light and fluffy...and most of the time I am dressing them up with goodies, so that's my little trick to making them really "homey".
$ Saving Tip: Buy at the warehouse store (mine is Costco).
For approx. $8.00 I can feed my family of 4 pancake breakfasts for 2-3 months!

Once cooled, into a plastic bag and onto my refrigerator shelf they go. POW! (yes, POW!)  I have my pancakes ready for a weekday morning rush.  The best part...all it takes is 20-30 seconds in the microwave to heat them up.  (if you freeze them, reheat for 50-60 seconds)

With just the little bit of extra batter, I ease my morning rush. This allows me to have a little peace of mind and a "good mom" feeling by knowing that these pancakes didn't just come out of the freezer section and I can honestly say, "Come get the pancakes mom made for you."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 3

Today is day THREE of 8 days of giveaways!

The winner will receive our Cappuccino Ruched Halter Top and Cappuccino High Waist Bottoms.

To enter:

1. Visit and "pin" your favorite suit. (each product page has a "pin it" button for your convenience)

2. Comment on Essential Swimwear's Facebook post letting them know you pinned a suit.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

JustFabulous ~ Limited Time Exclusive Sale!

Alright, if you haven't already checked-out JustFabulous, why not?!
They have the most stylish shoes, handbags and accessories...PLUS you get a personal collection by a celebrity stylist!

Right now they are holding a Private Sale for NEW Members Only!  2 pairs of stunning shoes for $39.95!

What better time than the present to add two new pairs of shoes to your closet?  AND save at the same time!

My personal favorite for summer: Annika

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 2

Today is day TWO of 8 days of giveaways!

The lucky winner will receive the ultra feminine Rouge Ruffled Halter Top and Rouge Ruffled Skirt (which has built-in bottoms).   I LOVE this suit!

2. Leave a comment on Essential Swimwear's post telling them wha...t you'd most like to see from Essential Swimwear in the future:
a) children's swimwear
b) swimwear designed specifically for more "mature" women
c) men's swimwear
d) cover-ups

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Waste Free Lunch Kit ~ Go Green For Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, is showcasing a GREAT solution for all of that lunchbox trash that gets generated everyday.

They are showcasing EverydayJun's Waste Free Lunch Kits.  Each kit is BPA & Lead-Free and includes:
  • Messenger Bag
  • Lunch Cube
  • Beverage Bottle
Specially discounted price of  $26!  (ARV: $42.00) Click HERE for this deal!
This deal ends Mon, April 23 @ 8pm PDT.

To visit EverydayJun's site, Click HERE.

$Deal Alert$ ~ Majestic Flower Fashion Ring

I'm a sucker for shiny, sparkly things...especially jewelry.
Here's a great deal that I came across...but you'll have to hurry, this deal vanishes April 21 @ 12:00pm EDT.
Only $9.00! (ARV: $39.99)  Visit to order!

Essential Swimwear 8-Day Giveaway ~ Day 1

Today is day ONE of 8 days of giveaways!

The lucky winner will receive a gorgeous Plum Ruched Halter Top and Plum High Waist Bottoms (a $56 value). This suit flatters any figure with the layered gathering and you'll love our slimming high waist bottoms.

To enter:
1. "Like" our Essential Swimwear's facebook page
2. Share their post in your timeline
3. Leave a comment on Essential Swimwear's post telling them you've shared

Sesame Street Hits The Stage ~ Elmo Makes Music

I love stage shows. I mean, I L-O-V-E stage shows.  And my girls seem to be drawn to them too. (this makes me a very happy mommy since my hubby does not like them at all)  Well, for the Reno/Tahoe area there is a special stage show coming our way...
Click above to see Elmo Makes Music's Official Site.

Now I may not be a big fan of Elmo, but my girls are.  They can't help but touch every Elmo toy that crosses their path.  So mark your calendars... Especially if you are in my area, May 1 & 2 the Lawlor Events Center (Reno/Tahoe area) will become Sesame Street!

May 1, 2012 at 7pm & May 2, 2012 at 10:30am & 7pm
Tickets purchased online and by phone through TicketsWest will incur additional fees.
Click Here For Online Ticket Sales
Phone (775) 784-4444

Ticket prices w/ Lawlor facility fee:
$62.50 Sunny Seats
$35.50 Gold Circle Seats
$27.50 Lower Level
$20.50 Mid/Upper Level Center
$14.50 Mid/Upper Level Corners
Seating Chart

Visit Sesame Street's Facebook Page.

Show Tour Dates & Locations (near Reno/Tahoe):

For a complete list of cities & dates, CLICK HERE

Stockton * 6/19 - 7PM
Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 7:00 pm PST
Stockton Arena in Stockton, California US
Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Stockton * 6/20 - 10:30AM & 7:00PM
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 10:00 am PST and 7:00pm PST
Stockton Arena in Stockton, California US
Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Sacramento * 6/22 10:30AM & 7:00PM
Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:30 am PST and 7:00 pm PST
Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California US
Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Sacramento * 6/23 10:30AM & 2:00PM
Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 10:30 am PST and 2:00 pm PST
Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California US
Click Here To Purchase Tickets

Sacramento * 6/24 1PM & 4:30PM
Sunday, June 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm PST and 4:30 pm PST
Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, California US
Click Here To Purchase Tickets