Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ZonePerfect 2014 Blog Forward Challenge #1

Every year, I make resolutions. 
I resolve to eat healthier, become more active, save money and get the house and my life organized.

Every year, I fall off the wagon after just a few weeks.
In an act of rebellion, or maybe just lack of will-power, I fall back on bad habits.  I stuff my face full of junk food, plant my butt deeper into the sofa, resort to tapping into our meager savings to catch up on bills, and just ignore the clutter to the point that the piles of bills and junk mail are near spilling from the drawers and shelves.

I'm not proud of my past behavior and realize that for me, jumping into all of the lifestyle changes, that I honestly do want for myself,  immediately after the stress of the holidays is just too much for me to handle.

This year, I decided that I would put off those resolutions and give myself two months to recover from Christmas before beginning the challenge of changing ME.

This year, I joined the ZonePerfect 2014 Blog Forward Challenge to help me along the way and as my two month "break" is coming to a close, I am very excited to get started!  Over the course of the year, ZonePerfect will send me challenges and I'll post them here for all to see! Way to keep accountable, huh?

Today I am sharing Part 1 of the ZonePerfect 2014 Blog Forward Challenge.  This is where I share my resolutions and also a letter to my future self.

Here are some areas of change (resolutions) I will be working on around here:

  • Eat Healthy.  
Eating healthier would please me right now.  Cutting back on the junk food, if not cutting it out completely, would be a huge step.  I will be incorporating more meatless meals into our weekly menu plans while loading up on veggies.  Drinking more water will also be something I will be working on in the next several months.  Hummus with veggies, salads,  and ZonePerfect Bars (the Dark Chocolate Almond are my favorite!) will be (and have been in recent weeks) a part of my daily routine.  
  • Stay (Become?) Active.  
In November, when we brought the Christmas decorations down from the attic, my treadmill was moved from the living room to make room for the Christmas tree.  The new location of the treadmill was just for storage purposes and cannot be used as the space is too tight.  Out of sight-Out of mind, the large piece of equipment never made it back to a more convenient location.  During the next couple of days, I will be working on finding a new location for the treadmill so then I will have no excuse to not put it to use!  
  • Save Money.  
Living on one income, saving money is a huge challenge in itself.  We don't live extravagantly and there really isn't much we could cut back on in order to save.  Like last year, I have automatic transfers set to our accounts to transfer money into our savings account each week.  While the $10 per week we save each week isn't much, the money has come in handy when unexpected expenses pop up.  Starting in March, I've increased our weekly savings to $15.  I'm also doing the 52 Weeks of Savings Challenge that I was unable to complete last year.  
  • Get Organized. 
Oh goodness!  I don't even know where to begin to start on this one!  I'm lazy.  I'm a slob.  Plain and simple, I'm a lazy slob.  That's it!  I've confessed!  Laundry, paperwork, toys, everything!  I need to implement everything has a place and everything in it's place....but sometimes it's the finding a place for everything that's the big problem.  This is something I plan on working on a little each day.  I'll be having a 100 item de-clutter challenge again in the near future!  Let me know if you want to join in!  

  • Be a Better Wife and Mother. 
There are days I feel as if I am just going through the motions when it comes to caring for my family.  Not putting in any extra, just the bare minimum of what needs to be done.  Nothing more, sometimes less.  This is my JOB and if I were working outside of the home with this work ethic, I'd have been fired a long time ago. This needs to change.  I need to start putting in more time and effort around here, I owe it to my family.  I owe it to myself.    
  • Take Care of Me.  
I am beginning to realize that if I don't work on this final resolution, I don't have a chance at succeeding in any of the other changes I want to make this year.  I need to take care of myself both physically and mentally in order to take care of anything or anyone else.  I'm not sure how much I want to share about this particular resolution just yet....

Here is my letter to future me.  

Now, when I am feeling discouraged or maybe a little defeated, I can look at this letter to myself and feel encouraged to keep reaching for my goals!  

Disclosure:  As part of the ZonePerfect 2014 Blog Forward Challenge, I will receive complimentary products and information to assist in reaching my goals.  I will also be entered into a contest when I complete the entire challenge.  Product opinions, resolutions and my plans for reaching those goals are all honest and my own.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Five Most Common Cold Sore Triggers and Orajel(TM) Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment

While I'm a life-long cold sore sufferer I never gave much thought to what triggers the ugly, painful blisters.  I just figured if a cold sore was developing, then I must be getting sick.

Recently, I learned that there are a variety of different things that can trigger a cold sore.  Here are the five most common cold sore triggers:

  1. stress and fatigue
  2. fever or recent infection
  3. exposure to sun, wind or cold
  4. injury to the mouth
  5. menstruation or pregnancy 

Over the years, I have tried a couple of different cold sore treatment options, but for the most part I just suffered through and counted the days until it healed and went away.  All the while hoping it would be a long time before a new one appeared.  

This fall, I was offered the chance to try Orajel(TM) Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment.  Since I almost always end up with a cold sore over the holidays, I knew it wouldn't hurt to give it a try.  Since the single dose vial is so small, I put in right into my purse so I'd be prepared. Well, I guess it just figures that since I am ready and armed with a cold sore treatment that I have not yet developed one this winter.  Very strange since this has been a pretty bad cold and flu season.  

Anyway, I still wanted to tell you all about this product just in case you aren't as lucky as me so far this season.  

Orajel Single Dose is a unique cold sore treatment that provides instant pain relief and begins healing in just one dose.  

When you purchase Orajel Single Dose, you receive two vials of the cold sore treatment.  Each vial of Orajel Single Dose is designed to treat one cold sore at a time.  The additional vial is provided to address the potential of a recurring cold sore or a second outbreak.  

Although I still haven't had the chance to try the product, the Touch-free applicator is my favorite part! It helps clean the site of the cold sore and the affected area.  The single dose, one-time vial is mess free and easy to use!  

The touch-free feature, mess free aspect and small size make Orajel Single Dose very convenient to use!  

Orajel Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment also contains a topical pain reliever that is used to numb the affected area allowing you to treat the cold sore without pain or irritation.  

For more information about this product visit Orajel Single Dose online.  

Note:  Topical pain reliever provides temporary pain relief.  Also, this product is not clinically proven to shorten total healing time.  

Disclosure:  Product information and a free sample has been provided by Smiley360.  All opinions are my own.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Centrum® Flavor Burst® Multivitamin Chews Review

Normally, I am not one to take a daily multivitamin.  Never a fan of attempting to swallow the large horse-pill-sized vitamins that I was more familiar with, then afterwards feeling as if it was lodged in my throat for most of the day.  Anytime I would purchase a bottle of vitamins, they usually were forgotten about after a week or so.  I mean, really?  Who wants to go through that feeling every day?

Knowing that I wasn't getting enough of the vitamins my body needs through the foods I eat, I knew I needed a multivitamin.  When I was given the chance to try Centrum Flavor Bust Multivitamin Chews, I figured it was worth a shot to give them a try.

I tried the pineapple and grape flavors was very surprised at the great taste of the chews!  The pineapple chews are my favorite of the two.  They weren't chalky or grainy which has been my experience with other chewable options, instead they were sweet and fruity with a hard outer shell and a soft, chewy center like a piece of candy!

While food or water isn't necessary when taking the chews, I take mine each day after lunch, since that is the time of day I mostly crave sweets.  This way, I am curbing those sweet cravings while getting my multivitamin in each day!

I was also surprised at just how easy they were to take!  No more horse pills for me!  From now on, Centrum® Flavor Burst® Multivitamin Chews are my multivitamin of choice!

Do you want to give them a try?  Click here to register to receive a $2.00 coupon!

Disclosure:  While I received a free sample of the product described above via Smiley360, all opinions and thoughts are honest and my own.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday ~ Winter Edition

My favorite part of a snow storm is sitting by the fire with a big mug of cocoa while looking out our back window at the trees coated in fluffy white snow.

Earlier this month, while Joe and Grace played in the snow out front, I ventured out back to snap a few pictures.  Nothing fancy since I just have a small, point and shoot type camera.

Aside from taking these photos and maybe a couple of trips to get the mail from the end of the driveway, Grace and I have only been out of the house twice this month!  Cabin Fever doesn't even begin to describe our moods these past weeks!  We've spent a lot of time dreaming of warm sunny days and chatting about our plans for a fun-filled summer!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

We eat a lot of chicken at our house and I'm always on the look out for new ideas to keep us from getting bored.

 The nice ladies over at Gooseberry Patch are hosting a blog hop featuring chicken recipes. I've linked up a couple of my recipes and cannot wait to try a few that have been shared by others.

They've shared the code, so you can see what's everyone is cooking right here. Or you can link up your blog post if you have a chicken recipe that you'd like to include!


Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup

While I try to prepare most of our meals from scratch, or as close to scratch as possible, I do cheat a bit when it comes to chicken.  Each week, we purchase a rotisserie chicken when we buy our groceries. Although, I have found the perfect way to cook a whole chicken, sometimes it's just easier to pick up one that's already prepared.  Not only does the rotisserie chicken make a great "home cooked" meal when served with a big bowl of Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and some steamed veggies, I love having the leftovers in the fridge.  Perfect to have on hand to add some protein to a leafy salad or to add to soups or pot pies.

Need more ideas for preparing chicken?  Check out this post for more than 100 chicken recipes!

Over the weekend, I made some homemade chicken stock using the bones from 2 rotisserie chickens.  One was still pretty meaty and the other was picked over really well!  When the broth was made and about 2 cups of chicken set aside, it was time for soup!  Good timing too since I was starting to feel a bit under the weather...and with the weather we've been experiencing, it's no wonder!

Since we've already had a few pots of chicken noodle soup so far this winter, I decided to try a soup loaded with veggies and some barley.

Chicken Vegetable Barley Soup

  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped 
  • 1 cup baby carrots, chopped 
  • 3 potatoes, diced 
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, chopped
  • 9 cups chicken stock (I used homemade) 
  • 3 cups water 
  • 2 bouillon cubes (optional) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tsp. 21 Season Salute 
  • 1 cup cut green beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup barley 

  • I started with partially cooked veggies.  Just steamed for a little while to soften them up a bit.  You could steam them in just a little bit of water or even some of your chicken broth/stock.  
  • To your veggies, add the remaining ingredients.  
  • Bring to boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  
  • Simmer for about 30-40 minutes until barley is tender.  
  • Remove bay leaf and serve.  

I've shared this recipe on the following blog carnivals and linky parties:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hamburger Barley Soup

Being snowed in today calls for a pot of soup on the stove and a cake in the oven!  I love having a pot of soup simmering on the stove all day.  After several pots of Chicken Noodle Soup this winter, I think we're due for a nice, hearty beef soup.  Wanting to use what I have in the freezer, I decided to try making a barley soup using ground beef instead of the beef cubes I usually use.  The result seemed to be a cross between Hamburger Soup and Beef Barley Soup.  So good for this cold day.

Hamburger Barley Soup 

  • 3/4 lb. ground beef 
  • 2 celery ribs, diced 
  • 2 potatoes, diced 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1 tsp. garlic
  • 6 cups beef broth 
  • 1-2 cups water 
  • 2 tsp. Italian Seasoning 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbs. Ketchup
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce 
  • 2 tsp. Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper 
  • 3 cups frozen vegetables 
  • 1/2 cup barley 
  • In a large pot or dutch oven, cook ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink.  Drain grease.  
  • Add the fresh vegetables, stock, water seasonings and sauces.  
  • Bring to boil.  Cover and reduce heat.  
  • Allow to simmer for about 1/2 hour or until the vegetables start to become tender.  
  • Stir in the frozen vegetables and the barley.  
  • Allow to cook for another 30 minutes - 40 minutes.  
  • Remove bay leaf and serve.  
  • I love how easy it is to throw this soup together but did consider how much quicker it would come together if I had used pre-cooked ground beef from the freezer.
  • I used 3/4 lb. of ground beef to help keep the cost down on this soup, like I tend to do with a lot of recipes lately.  But this soup is so full of veggies and barley, you could really just use 1/2 lb. without noticing.

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