Tsue ~ That's What She Said: September 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Home DIY ~ Fabulous Futon Give Away

If you are working on an autumn home spruce up like my family is, or simply looking ahead to the holiday, this special giveaway event is for you!  As the mother of pre-teen and teen alike, I can attest to how convenient futons are to add to your home living space.  Versatile and stylish, your guest of any age can visit in comfort both for day gathering and for those impromptu sleepover events!

AFA Futons, Mali Sofas with Pewter Frames, Entertaining Area Furniture, Futons, Stylish Futons


Of course, the best way to dress or re-dress you home is with free components and furnishing!  AtoZ Stores and 3 Princes and A Princess 2 are giving readers an opportunity to do just that!

Easy Entry Giveaway, Furniture Giveaway, AtoZ Store Giveaway
Welcome to the AtoZ Stores AFA Mali Futon Giveaway
Sponsored by AtoZ Stores  
Hosted By 3 Princes and a Princess 2

Win a Brand New AFA Mali Series Futon!

Stylish Futons, Modern Futons, AFA Futons, Futon Giveaway

This American Furniture Alliance (AFA) Mali Futon is constructed with six - position wings on the frame allowing converting from a sofa or a multi-position lounger. This is a great piece of modern furniture that is stylish and saves space. Great for the living room, den, or even the modern teen’s bedroom. The Mali Futon is available in many color and style options suitable for any decor with comfy cushion pillows. Winner can Choose any Color in the Mali Sofa/Cushion Solid Series Pewter Frame Futons  - additional styles and colors found here.


AFA Mali Futon Features:
  • Mali Flex Futon Frame
  • 6" Futon Matress
  • 2 Bolsters; 1 Back Support Pillow
  • Height: 29"
  • Width: 31"
  • Depth: 61"
  • Weight: 73lbs
This AFA Mali Futon is brought to you by AtoZ Stores where you can find everything for the home from A to Z! AtoZ Stores is a product specific website to help speed your search while offering unbeatable pricing, easy navigation and secure purchasing.

Two lucky readers will each win a AFA Mali Futon 
in any style or color 
in the Mali Sofa/Cushion Solid Series Pewter Frame Futons. 
~ A $419 value~ 

Giveaway ends October 3rd at 11:59pm EST, open to continental US residents 18+. 
To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. 
Good luck!!

I received no compensation for this publication. My opinions are my own and may differ from those of your own. That's What She Said is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. Images and information sourced from various A to Z Store websites.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chocolate Halloween Treats

Every fall I am anxious for the first day of October to roll around.  Why?  Early October is when my family starts dressing our house for Halloween!  Although it does take some time to have all our Halloween decor in place, both indoor and outdoor, we add items gradually as we progress through the month.  Our goal is to be the most festive house in our neighborhood and we certainly have stiff competition!

I can still remember the electric delight of approaching the spookiest house as a young trick-or-treater.  Too frightened to approach the door yet too enraptured to walk past, my neighbors efforts to send chills down the neighborhood children's spines was much appreciated.

Although my children, now pre-teen and teen, would be happy to take our Halloween efforts to the far end of spooky, we do try to hit a happy medium between eerie and enchanting, to accommodate our annual visitors of all ages, both the brave and the bashful.

Halloween Treats, Holiday Chocolate

Of course, there is little doubt that a significant part of the enchantment of Halloween are the sweet treats beckoning visitors, even in the often adverse Michigan weather.  There is a certain sense of satisfaction in offering the most tempting treats on the block!

This year my family is excited to have been introduced to a new chocolatier 
Established in 1949, we’ve dedicated ourselves to perfecting the superior taste and quality of our chocolate. Our belief that everyone should be able to afford great tasting chocolate is what drives our commitment to our customers, and ensures that we never compromise on flavor or quality.  Using the finest quality chocolate, innovative shapes and unique Italian foils, we’re proud to help make every moment special.

American Chocolatiers, Quality Chocolate, Holiday Themed Chocolate


Tickled your taste buds, yes?  
Madelaine Chocolate is truly as good as it looks!

Whether you are in need of a special Halloween gift for a special goblin or ghoul, decadent themed treats for your party or even unique trick-or-treat supplies to make your house the most popular on the block, Madelaine Chocolate has you covered, deliciously.

Halloween Gift Buckets, Halloween Chocolate Calenders


My family was treated to a taste of the Madelaine Chocolate line of Halloween delights and we found them beyond delicious.  The perfect blend of cocoa and sweetness, smooth and tempting.  Just right for a broad audience of palettes.  I have no doubt the Oval Ghost treat would be highly popular with trick-or-treaters, from the spooky to the spectacular.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles,  Chocolate Apples Filled With Caramel

Stay In The Know about the delicious offerings from 
The Madelaine Chocolate Company ~ made in America.


What kinds of special treats do you purchase or make for Halloween?
Do you search for unique treats for children or adults?
What are your favorite chocolate treat flavor combinations?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I received tasteful chocolate treats from Madelaine Chocolate to explore for the purposes of creating this feature. The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Some information and images sourced from various Madelaine sites.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flavors of Fall: Apple #Recipe ~ Amazon Gift Code Give Away

My family has plans to visit one of the local apple orchards this weekend and we are looking forward to creating delicious fall recipes together, as well as load up on some fresh fruit simply to munch and crunch on.  This is one of the first falls in which I do not have a student in our school's band program and must admit a bit of relief about the break from the annual band fundraiser - Apple Pie sales.

Fall Apples, Apple Desserts, Fall Desserts, Rainbow of Apples

Although I have always been happy to lend a rolling hand to the effort and there is certainly inherent fun when you combine a number of pie creating volunteers, novice adults and a 50-100 middle school and high school students, I will be happy to roll pie crust for my own family this fall.   A small part of me will miss the camaraderie, flour flying, kids squealing and apple cores all around.

Over the past several years, I am certain I've rolled out thousands of pie crusts to support the band which usually serves to dissuade me from any passion for pie making at home.  I certainly do not anticipate I will make enough apple desserts, even in the fall, to justify the need an apple peeler, however after using them during the marathon pie making sessions, I was quite impressed with how convenient they are.

Back To Basics, Amazon, Apple Peeler, Apple Desserts, Kitchen Gadgets

Even though I can create a fairly tasty apple pie, my skills still blanch in my own mother's shadow, as she is truly a pie maker extraordinaire.  Fortunately for my family, she takes culinary pity on us each holiday, creating extra pies for us to bring home.  As good fortune would have it, my family appreciates all manner of apple dessert creations, even those that are simple and right up my culinary alley.

In searching for new apple recipes to try this fall, I discovered a wealth of ideas, from simple to spectacular MichiganApples.com.  One in particular certainly caught my eye that I can't wait to try.

created by MSU Bakers from Michigan State University

MSU Bakers, Michigan Apples, Fall Desserts, Apple Desserts

Crust
¾ cup + 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
½ cup or 1 stick margarine or butter, softened
¼ cup Pioneer® sugar
½ tsp. vanilla


Blend together flour, margarine, sugar and vanilla until a soft dough forms. Press into an 8 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover bottom and about        1 ½ inches on the sides of the pan to form a nice crust.


Filling
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 whole egg
¼ cup Pioneer® sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon


Blend together cream cheese, egg, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until a smooth batter forms. Pour batter onto crust.


Topping
1 small Michigan Ida Red Apple, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tbsp. Pioneer® sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sliced almonds


Combine apples with the sugar and cinnamon; toss to coat.  Place the apple mixture on top of the filling. Sprinkle almonds on top of apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 60–70 minutes. Cool, and remove from pan to serving plate.  

                     
Refrigerate until service.


***GIVEAWAY***


Baking Supplies, Kitchen Gadgets, Online Shopping, Easy Entry Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate Code and shop for your baking needs or your heart's desire! 

This event is hosted by Makobi Scribe and Sason & Pobi and is open Worldwide to those 18+.  This giveaway will end on Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 23:59pm EST.  

To simplify entering, you can follow the participating sites via this convenient Facebook List!
More options!


I received no promotional items or compensation for promoting this giveaway event.  Sponsor is responsible for supplying and shipping the prize.  Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ are not involved in, nor responsible for this giveaway in any fashion.  Apple Peeler Image sourced from Amazon.com   MSU Bavarian Apple Torte Recipe and Image sourced from MichiganApples.com.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Easy Family Meals ~ Pepper Vegetable & Rice #Recipe

In the effort to keep my family fueled up for our on the go lifestyle, this Mom is spending more time than ever before reading ingredient labels and taking a closer look at the foods we choose for our family meals.  Meal elements that my husband and I have been considering as of late are our choices for main courses and side dishes - the great potato vs. rice debate.

Having both been raised in traditional meat and potato meal homes, adding rice as a main course or side dish to our meals is not a natural selection.  However after exploring the nutritional benefits of rice, we are certainly open to adding more kid friendly rice sides to our weekly meal plan, especially those that fit our quick weekday meal preparation needs.

Photo Credit:  IRRI Images 
Nutritional Benefits of Rice 1
  • More protein - 5g in  cup of Brown Rice, 3g in cup of Potato with skin
  • More fiber  - 4g in cup of Brown Rice,  3g in cup of Potato with skin
  • Less fat -  1.8g in cup of Brown Rice, 2.8g in cup of Potato with skin
  • More complex carbohydrates - 46g per cup of Brown Rice, 26g in cup of Potato with skin
With the nutritional benefits of adding more rice to our family meals compelling, the key is truly in finding easy rice recipes for our meal planning and dinner ideas.  This Mom certainly appreciates that so many of the rice recipes I find are also packed full of other healthy ingredients my children love, such as fresh green bell peppers.

 Kid Friendly Recipe, Easy Recipe, Healthy Recipe, Pepper & Rice Recipe, Uncle Ben's All American Stuffed Pepper Recipe
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Rice & Vegetable Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients

1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. rosemary crushed
¼ cup cornflakes crushed
3 green peppers seeded and halved
4 Tbsp. chopped parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 cup Brown or Wild Rice
1 can corn with peppers (11 oz.) drained
2 ½ cups water
½ cup chopped celery
4 Tbsp. butter


Directions

1. Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Stir in rice and salt, cover tightly and simmer until most of water is absorbed.

2. While rice is cooking, cook peppers in boiling water just until tender, about 5 minutes; remove and drain.

3. Sauté onion, celery and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Combine sautéed vegetables, corn, parsley and rosemary with cooked rice.

4. Arrange green peppers in buttered baking dish and mound 1 cup of the rice mixture into each pepper.

5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with cornflakes. Spoon over peppers.

6. Bake uncovered in a preheated 350ºF oven until crumbs are brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


Do you frequently create meals or side dishes with rice?
Does your family prefer white rice over wild or brown rice?
Do you mix it up by adding pasta and potato dishes during the week?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Recipe & recipe photo sourced online.  1 - Nutritional information sourced from Livestrong.com.  My disclosure policy..

Please Feed Mr. Bear ~ Tangy Chicken Breasts with Citrus Sage Sauce #Recipe

It's true.  I'll admit it.  Although I can certainly whip up a mean chicken stir fry and know my way around vegetarian lasagna, this Mom usually does not do the cooking in this house.  With my typical blasted day job schedule causing me to arrive home well after the rest of the family has eaten, and usually ran off to a sports practice or activity, with my husband and my split schedules, kitchen creations usually fall to him.

I certainly don't mind cooking and actually enjoy baking a great deal, however my lack of regular time in the kitchen usually means I need a bit of time to dig into a new recipe.  Although I have certainly been known to use a boxed cake mix or two, especially when on a mission to create twenty plus cakes for the school carnival, I love to carve out a bit of time to cook and bake from scratch.

To give my well-deserving husband a bit of a break, I have decided to tackle a few new recipes this weekend, to put a smile on Mr. Grumbly Bear's face and hope to hear that happy sigh of satisfaction.  What better way to satisfy a hungry bear than a delicious entree created with a touch of the goodness of honey?  I found a great listing of tasty honey recipes at the National Honey Board website and am looking forward to a bit of creation time with them in the kitchen this weekend.

Honey Recipes, Chicken Recipes, National Honey Board, Cooking With Honey, Chicken Dishes

Tangy Chicken Breasts with Citrus Sage Sauce


Ingredients

Makes 8 servings
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
 
Directions

Rinse chicken breasts under cold water and pat dry with paper towels; place in shallow baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl. Pour half the sauce over chicken and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Turn chicken and pour remaining sauce over top. Bake 15 to 20 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink in center.

Nutrition: 246 Calories * 3 g Fat Total * 25 g Protein * 69 mg Cholesterol * 28 g Carbohydrates * 62 mg Sodium * 1 g Dietary Fiber * 12% Calories from Fat *

Who is the top chef in your house?
Do you use prepared meals or do you love to create from scratch?
What are your favorite chicken dishes?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


Feeding Mr. Bear ~ Pumpkin Honey Bread #Recipe

With recent thoughts of finding some tasty ways to thank my husband for all he does and curtail his bearish grumblings, this Mom has been on the prowl for some honey recipes for my honey.  Granted, he will have to be the one to fetch any ingredients not currently in my pantry from the grocery, however I have no doubt that tempting, sweet smells from the kitchen will put a smile on his face.

I discovered a veritable wealth of honey inspired recipes from at the National Honey Board website and I can't wait to give them a try this weekend!

National Honey Board, Fall Recipes, Honey Recipes, Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin Honey Bread  
Source:  National Honey Board

Ingredients

Makes 2 loaves
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 can (16 oz.) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

In large bowl, cream honey with butter until light and fluffy. Stir in pumpkin. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into pumpkin mixture. Divide batter equally between two well-greased 9 x5 x 3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes; invert pans to remove loaves and allow to finish cooling on racks.

Nutrition: 261 Calories * 7.51 g Fat Total * 5.43 g Protein * 68.8 mg Cholesterol * 44.5 g Carbohydrates * 411 mg Sodium * 2.53 g Dietary Fiber * 25% Calories from Fat *

What are your favorite fall recipes?
Do you frequent cook or bake with honey?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Hunter Safety Classes For Older Children

I knew this day was coming, although it had certainly been relegated to the darkest corner of my mind, the area formerly known as the "I'll think about it tomorrow" section.  My son, who now stands good inches taller than his mother, is eleven years old.  It's autumn.  My husband has signed him up for Hunter Safety lessons.  This Mom is not a happy camper, yet I hold back my anguish, although not my tongue.  Not completely, at any rate.

Hunting Season, Hunter Safety

My concern is truly not in regard to the safety aspect of the course.  Surprisingly, coming from a household solidly situated in the suburbs, from a family with only female children, I, myself, took a Hunter Safety course at the age of ten.  Certainly not of my own choosing and over fervent protests.

As the eldest of three daughters, I was often relied upon to provide my father an outlet for the dispensing of his manly wisdom.  From various home DIY projects and to simple automotive maintenance and repair.  Oh, the rapture. (insert wry look).  Of course, many of the skills I learned have certainly been a great help to me as an adult, despite my eye rolling and grimaces during the lessons with Dad.  My attendance in the Hunter Safety course, however, was a great source of conflict, although a battle I had no hopes of winning.  Although safely stored, sans ammunition, with hunting rifles in the house, my father was determined that each of his daughters learn about gun safety as soon as we were of age.

The course itself was fairly benign, especially as I was not required to actually shoot anything other than clay targets.  Had my father been kind enough to wait a few years to insist upon my participation, I would have likely appreciated the opportunity to spend a number of Saturdays in a class of myself and 99 boys a great deal more.  After passing the course with 100% score on the written test and out shooting my male classmates in target practice, my father was foolish enough to think I might have had a change of heart and desire to join him on his hunting trips.  My obligation complete, I was quick to inform him that the only shooting I ever intended to do in the woods was with a camera.

Family Tents, Large Camping Tents, Hunting Tent, Cabin Tent

My concerns about my son hunting certainly have nothing to do with time spent in nature, enjoying the quiet of a crisp fall morning and time spent with ones thoughts.  As a one who has loved camping from a young age, I am the typically the first in my family to suggest we grab our camping gear, pack up the family tent and head for Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Although we have the comfort of a large camper at our disposal, I still crave a long weekend of simplistic, rustic camping.

Fawn in Grass, White Tail Deer, Hunter Safety, Forest Wander Photography
Photo Credit:  Forest Wander
Despite that I know many hunters employ solid safety techniques and follow state guidelines, my heart hurts each season that my husband pulls out his camouflage and orange gear. Bambi was the first movie I saw as a child and I often wonder if that plays a part in my solid position.  I do want to allow my son to explore the activities he is interested in and know that a trip to the woods with Dad marks a rite of passage of sorts as well as a memorable bonding experience.  At the same time, this Mom cannot help but to also present him with alternative views to hunting, not in an effort to sway his opinion, rather to encourage him to consider all angles before making decisions, a tactic that will help him to make wise choices throughout his life.

Taking a Hunter Safety course is an excellent idea for older children whose family members are hunters themselves.  It is a great way to ensure they understand that rifles are not toys or to be toyed with and how to be safe during hunting season.  Although I'll respect my son's decision regarding whether or not he will join his father in hunting, this Mom certainly won't be disappointed if he chooses to pass on the hunter orange, don a pair of hiking boots like Mom and shoot wildlife photos instead.

The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Tent Image sourced from Cotswold Outdoor.  My disclosure policy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Organic Energy With A Kick ~ @ClifBar

My dear hubs typically helps out a great deal around the house, handling most dinner meal preparation during our busy weekdays and even laundry and vacuuming in addition to the more manly duties of  lawn mowing, auto maintenance and our home remodeling projects.  Post my surgery, he has certainly been doing his best to keep up with the seemingly never ending demands on his time.  Adding all the kid chauffeuring duties and dog jogging responsibilities also to his list, its no surprise to this Mom that he needs regular kudos  and kindness to help keep him going.   Even so, even a Super Dad needs energy boosters and the best way to boost one's energy is to get solid sleep every night and to be thoughtful about the food they use to fuel themselves up.

Clif Bar, Energy, Energy Bar, Organic Energy, Organic

After putting a new Clif Bar, Kit's Organic Fruit & Nut energy bars to the test earlier this year, we simply couldn't help but to also taste another organic temptation, Gary's Panforte Fruit, Nut & Spice Bars, created to celebrate twenty years of Clif Bar goodness!

It's a pretty simple equation: put good food in – get good performance out. The bonus is that organic foods aren't just good for your body, they're also good for the planet. With a mix of whole grains, protein and fiber, Clif Bar gives you sustained energy to be in it to your limit. This bar was inspired by Gary's rides in Northern Italy and is based on an 800-year-old Italian recipe full of fruit, nuts and spices. 

Organic Energy, Clif, Energy Snacks, 20th Anniversary

Are you a food label reader?  I am!  Nothing makes me feel better than finding healthy snacks to keep my family, and certainly my poor Hubs, moving than organic products.  I love finding familiar, quality products in the ingredient panel.  If I can pronounce all the ingredients, I know I have a potential hit in my hands.

Gary's Panforte Bar Ingredients:
Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rice Crisps (Organic White Rice Flour, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Barley Malt Extract, Salt), Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Date Paste, Organic Figs (Organic Figs, Organic Oat Flour), Organic Almonds, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Organic Pears, Organic Zante Currant Raisins, Crystallized Ginger (Ginger, Dried Cane Syrup), Walnuts, Dried Citrus Peel Blend (Lemon Peel, Orange Peel, Cane Syrup, Cane Sugar, Citric Acid), Organic Almond Butter, Organic Cocoa, Spices (Organic Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Coriander, White Pepper), Sea Salt, Natural Vitamin E (Antioxidant).

Gary's Panforte, Clif Bar, Energy Bar, Organic Food, Organic Energy Bars

Of course, as with any snack or food for my family, the final proof is in the taste. My husband in particular was very taken with the limited edition Gary's Panforte bars. Fresh and moist from the package, these organic bars and filled with chunks of healthy goodness. Quite soft to eat but enriched with the desirable crunch of rice crisps as well as almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. Although the texture was similar to the Kit's Organic bars we'd tried previously, the Panaforte bars offered a delicious blend of mellow and spice. Perfect for providing my husband with a healthful treat to energize his Super Dad efforts!

Again, the Gary's Panforte organic energy bars are only available as a special, limited edition item in celebration of twenty years of Clif Bar quality. Look for them in your local stores or order online directly from the Clif Bar Store.

 Learn more about the Clif philosophy and their full product line by following them on Facebook and Twitter

I received Gary's Panforte bars to explore for the purposes of creating this feature.  The opinions above are both honest and my own.  Some information sourced from various Clif Bar sites.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mr. Bear & The 'Honey Do' List

Although I'm yet a bit salty over the death of my arbor vitae at the hands of my over zealous husband, I do have to take a moment to acknowledge what a champion he has been, especially over this past year.  Our household is typically dual income, with the exception of this past year while I've been at home recuperating from foot surgery.  Although I am certainly now available to my family and my husband at their whim, as opposed to our typical schedule which is a boon in many ways, there are some distinct disadvantages to our current situation as the Hubs would be quick to point out.  In fact, over the course of this past year, he has developed a penchant for bearish grumbling and his concerns for his own well-being are increasing.

Bear Grumbling, Zoo Animals, Mr. Bear
Photo Credit:   Ryan E. Poplin
Top Bear Grumbles ~ The Ever Present Wife

Over the past months I have certainly come to appreciate the extra time I have to coordinate our family, sans my typical 60 hour + career time, according to Mr. Bear, my skills in delegation are cramping his style.  In fact, I've noticed he is beginning to grimace each time he hears me sweetly call, "Honey", knowing full well what is likely in store.  Another addition to his 'Honey Do' List.

He most certainly has a point.  With atypical leisure time on my hands and our home mid way through renovation, I have more than enough time to consider, contemplate and create new game plans for our remodeling efforts.  Hence, the list grows.

Intrusion upon his Bear time is certainly another contender for the top of his grumble list.  In a pattern started long ago, our work schedules are typically timed to maintain the maximum parental presence in the house that our careers allow.  Although this arrangement can add to Mr. Bear's less than sunny disposition upon occasion due to lack of a full night's sleep, over the past year I have come discover there were some inherent positives to our arrangement - Mr. Bear time.  

With his arrival home from work much earlier than either the kids return from school and certainly much earlier than my usual weary end of work day, Mr. Bear had grown accustomed to have a bit of peace and solitude in the nearly empty house during the day.  Free to kick back and lounge with the Lab, relaxing with any number of guy shows, from the latest sports report to some fishing channel, Mr. Bear enjoyed his quiet sanctity.  It's not a wonder he quickly disappears to the den after work, for fear of being corralled into someone's latest grand idea. 

Honey Pot, Honey Jar, Drizzle of Honey, Honey Drips, Sweet
Photo Credit:  Siona Karen
I can certainly understand his point of view as I know how much I looked forward to the quiet evening house with the rest of the family snuggled in and sleeping.  Although he may be a bit bearish, he is still such a Prince Charming to me.  Even though his is still stuck with trips to the grocery, I might just have to add a few extra items to his list and appeal to his sweeter side with something special from the kitchen.  After all, a gal can certainly get more on her 'Honey Do' list completed when she applies a bit of honey herself!

How are the household duties shared in your house?
Do you stick to gender traditional duties or mix it up?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fall Fitness & Conditioning ~ Off And Running

It seems as though everything about this fall involves being on the run, at least since the kid's went back to school.  The Teen Diva's schedule is no exception as we fill out college applications, navigate our way through financial aid forms and she busies herself with a fall fitness schedule to stay physically prepared for Fall Ball Tournaments  In previous years, in addition to her already busy days, she has trained and competed with the Cross Country team.

Lacrosse Tourneys, Lacrosse Gear, Women's Lacrosse, Lax

This year, having narrowed down her sport focus exclusively to Lacrosse, her training and conditioning is focused exclusively on Lax competition.  Running miles each day, dashing off to practice with friends before organized practices begin and endless hours of pitching the the rebounder in the backyard keep her active and busy.  Thank goodness for the rebounder as prior to that savvy purchase, it was hours on end of thumping against the house, garage door or chimney.  For a time, I thought she might become taken by tennis, however over time, lacrosse is truly the sport that captured her heart and spirit.

Sports Unlimited, Women's Lacrosse Heads, Green Lax Heads, STX Lax Gear, Women's Lax

Never one to be satisfied with the meek or mild, the Diva has always had a penchant for the bold and daring.  This Mom is certainly glad that she has a productive means to channel her competitive spirit and natural exuberance.  Throughout her young life, participation in sports has provided her with so many gifts, beyond her Lacrosse talent.  The development of perseverance, strong work ethic, responsibility as well as time management and teamwork skills are only a few of the benefits of youth sports.  This Mom has no doubt the ability to use her energy constructively in Lacrosse has been a boon to her academic successes, as well as helped her in avoiding many of the typical perils of the teenage years.

Women's Running Shoes, Women's Trainers, New Styles in Women's Running Gear, Millet Sports

With all the benefits sports has provided to her, both now and those anticipated in the future, this Mom can certainly put up with a bit of thumping while she practices or treat her to a new pair running shoes after she's logged so many miles on the last pair.   Perhaps even surprise her with the the Lacrosse head she's been sighing about as being the "best lax head ever!".   She never fails to stay up to date on the latest and greatest sports gear.

Does anyone in your family run?
Do you or they prefer to run on or off road?
Any other sports fanatics in your family?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Lax Stick Images sourced from Sports Unlimited.  Running Shoe image sourced from Millett Sports.  My disclosure policy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Autumn Home Spruce Up @PlowandHearth $500 Give Away

The weather in Michigan has taken a chilly turn, with temperatures much lower than typical and this Mom's thoughts are quickly turning to the cozy fireplace.  Although we still enjoy many outdoor activities in autumn, once the truly cold weather hits, I am more than happy to spend some time indoors curled up with the pooch and a new book with the fire crackling away.

Plow & Heath, Fireplace, Autumn Decor, Fall Decor, Fall Home Looks

Once the kids are back in school and our schedule gets so busy with all their events, from sports practices, scrimmages and games and other activities, autumn can sneak by me in a flash!  If I don't carve out some time to dress the house with fall decor, I'll find the opportunity has passed me by and we'll be in need of a Christmas tree rather than pumpkins.

Fall Decor, Home Decor, Autumn Decor, Dried Flower Arrangements, Lavender

Although the summer season is truly my favorite, fall runs at a close second.  With the cool, crisp air invigorating all our spirits and trips to the cider mill for fresh Michigan apples, not to mention the delightful taste of fresh baked doughnuts, as long as our schedule allows, everyone in the family is up for a fall adventure.

Fall Decor, Autumn Decor, Decorative Baskets, Wire Baskets, Apple baskets

Warm, alluring scents of baked apple and cinnamon wafting about the house from the kitchen, from a family project of baking pies for a weekend treat.  Fall offers temptations and enchantments for all the senses. Of course, with so many mature trees in our yard, any special autumn projects need to be scheduled soon before our weekends are taken up with gathering up the fallen leaves; a project that typically commandeers more than one weekend.  Fortunately our Labrador enjoys romps through leaf piles nearly as much as an outing to the dog park!

Plow & Hearth, Women's Fall Footwear, Women's Boots, Chic Fall Boots,

Whether your autumn shopping entails new items to dress your home for autumn, a new look for your home's fireplace or a stylish new pair of boots to wear while kicking it up in the fallen fall leaves, Plow & Heath offers a wide range of whatever you might be seeking.  Quality products, name brands and affordable prices!

Plow & Hearth, Fall Decor, Autumn Decor, Decorative Outdoor Lanterns

From now until October 31, 2012, shoppers can enter to win a $500 Plow & Hearth Shopping Spree, to equip themselves for all their fall home and holiday needs!  

Simply sign up for the Plow & Hearth newsletter to be entered.  I've been a subscriber to Plow & Hearth for well over a year and I love receiving updates about their latest collections and special exclusive offers!   The offers available to subscribers are simply amazing!  Most recently, I received a special offer that provided a free $100 gift certificate with any purchase of $100 or more!   Free shopping?  That is right up this Mom's alley!

That's What She Said readers are further invited to enter an exclusive Plow & Hearth Gift Card Giveaway that ends on September 30, 2012!  Two fantastic chances to win!

What are your family's favorite fall activities?
Do you dress your home in autumn with any special items?
Any favorite fall recipes?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I received product from Plow & Hearth  for the purposes of exploring for creating this feature.   The opinions above are both honest and of my own experiences.  Images are sourced from Plow & Hearth's website.  Sponsor is responsible for supplying and shipping prize.  Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ are not involved in nor responsible for this giveaway in any fashion.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mom Tips: Five Easy Methods To Introduce Children To Music

I have previously mentioned with no small amount of delight, my 11yr old son has taken up the Cello this year.  Each afternoon, I enjoy listening to the rich, warm tones as he explores his new musical instrument.  Although his older sister studied the clarinet for a number of years, early work on the Cello is a good deal more pleasant to the ear.  A simple fact both my Labrador and I can agree upon.

Which instrument he would choose was a topic of much contemplation this past school year.  Among this Mom’s hopes for his choice were Bassoon, Oboe, French Horn and Cello, although I kept my preferences private less I influence his decision.   





Our school district is committed to supporting musical education and elementary school students are first introduced to the recorder.  This is an ideal starting instrument for young musicians in group settings as the recorder is simple to master and quite inexpensive.  The  musical instruction at school, combined with  our own exploration at home, time spent together in casual lessons on the piano, has helped to foster a passion for music in both my children  The opportunity to help them become familiar with simple music theory and basic note reading, focusing more on the fun of playing, rather than rigid lessons has been a rewarding experience for us all.





We are also fortunate in that our local school district, understanding how important of the choice of which instrument to play can be to the length of a child's interest in musical study, offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the musical programs offered in our district: band, orchestra and choir. Over the course of my son's 5th grade year, enabling the students to become familiar with each of the musical programs, as well as hands on exploration of a variety of instruments.  After a great deal of careful consideration, he arrived at his decision and has been quite pleased with his choice thus far.


Tips For Introducing Children To Music

Expose children to a wide variety of music genres, beginning at an early age.  Local libraries may offer a varieties of specialty music CD or DVDs and are an excellent resource for books containing images and descriptions of various musical instruments.

Talk with your children about which instruments are used in musical pieces you listen to.  Whether riding in the car, listening to the radio or a CD or even while watching a TV show or movie, ask you child if they hear any particular instruments.

Take a field trip to your local music store to see various instruments up close.  Call ahead to find out when the store typically has fewer customers and the staff will have more time to allow for personal inspections.

Create simple musical instruments and keep them available and accessible for regular use.  Paper or tin plate tambourines and small blocks of wood covered with sandpaper are easy and inexpensive to create and can be decorated as a fun craft.

Explore local theater and musical performances together.  Many theaters and performance centers offer special, low cost performance series specially designed for children.

What are your tips for introducing children to music?
What instrument do you think your child might want to play?
How does your school system introduce music to students?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall Gardening ~ Rescuing Grapevines ~ Amazon Gift Code Give Away

Much to my dismay I have found myself back on pedal restrictions which means I am left once again with the frightening prospect of sending my husband out into the gardens.  Learning a woeful lesson post his recent mishap in over-trimming my arbor vitae, this Mom is certainly taking it upon herself to take a more verbal and directive role in our outdoor projects this weekend, even if not a physically active one.

Completely outfitted with both binoculars and a whistle, I am more than happy to keep my poor husband company and take prompt and decision action to prevent further landscaping crises.  Fortunately so, as I spotted him eyeing our creeping wild grape vines with garden shears in hand.  

Creeping Vines, Michigan Grape Vines, Garden Vines, Native Grape Vines

Although my creeping grape vines enjoyed our warm and humid summer and will require a solid cutting back later this fall, with plans to create grapevine wreaths from the lengths of vine, we will wait a bit longer before any pruning takes place.  I prefer to wait until we have had opportunity to enjoy their showy fall colors draped over our fence and find it easier to cut away longer pieces of vine once the leaves have fallen.

DIY Decor, DIY Wreath, DIY Grapevine Wreath, Holiday Wreath

I find the look of the dried vine with its delicately curled tendrils so appealing and take care in trimming the vine to preserve the best of nature's sculpting, winding to feature the best pieces prominently.

Nature's Sculptures, Grape Vines, Vine Wreath, DIY Wreath, Holiday Wreath

Creating a grape vine wreath is truly very simple; an easy DIY Decor project that anyone with access to wild growing vines can quickly master.  While I prefer using my own grape vines, one could certainly use any other type of vine, even Kudzu, to create wreaths of varying texture, even interweaving varies vine types in the same wreath.

Preparing Vine
  • Cut long lengths of vine
  • Remove any remaining leaves, taking care to protect tendrils
  • Wrap in diameter slightly larger than ideal wreath size to allow for shrinkage during drying
  • Tuck new vine pieces into existing wreath to increase fullness
  • Secure with floral wire or other craft wire 
  • Dry two to three days, either indoors or outdoors in warmer climates
Decorating Vine Wreath

Supplies needed:  floral or craft wire, garden shears, craft scissors 

As desired: wire-edged or regular ribbon, silk or natural, dried flowers, pine boughs, craft supplies or paint


Adding decorative items to a grape vine wreath is simple and easy, as most items can easily be tucked within the layers of vine.  Larger, heavier items may require use of simple wire wrapping to secure.

***GIVEAWAY***


DIY Decor, DIY Holiday Decor, DIY Supplies, Makobi Scribe, Gift Cards, Gift Card Giveaway, Grape Vine Wreath

Enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate Code and shop for your DIY decor supplies or your heart's desire! 

This event is hosted by Makobi Scribe and Sason & Pobi and is open Worldwide to those 18+.  This giveaway will end on Friday, September 21, 2012 at 23:59pm EST.  

To simplify entering, you can follow the participating sites via this convenient Twitter List!
More options!

I received no promotional items or compensation for promoting this giveaway event.  Sponsor is responsible for supplying and shipping the prize.  Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ are not involved in, nor responsible for this giveaway in any fashion.  
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