Monday, May 31, 2010

Giveaway: Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice

When I was in college, one of my favorite cheap meals was white rice with a can of vegetables (usually corn) mixed in. Even now, when I recreate that college standby I get a little nostalgic for my roommates. That wasn't a very healthy meal though, for lots of reasons.

Now that I am an adult though, our family has been eating whole grain bread for at least a few years. I stopped buying white bread about the time Charlotte was born. It was an easy transition and now I find white bread sandwiches pretty boring because of the lack of texture and flavor. I tried to make the switch to brown rice in our quest to be healthier, but it has been a less smooth transition. Brown rice just doesn't have the same mouth feel as white rice.

Fortunately, Uncle Ben's has a solution coming in July that pairs the fiber of brown rice with the taste and texture of white rice. This makes me happy, especially since I am back on Weight Watchers again and need to make sure I get lots of fiber in my diet.

Advantages to this new rice product extend beyond the 5 grams of fiber though. This rice cooks in about 10 minutes! This is a good thing for busy moms like me (even if I am busy by choice and not because I have to be). These will be available in stores in July and the flavor choices will include Broccoli Cheddar, Taco, Sweet Tomato, Garden Vegetable and Creamy Chicken.

I was lucky enough to receive some extra boxes of this new rice along with an Uncle Ben's apron to giveaway. The winner will receive 1 apron and 2 boxes of Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice.

How to Enter: There are four ways to enter and you can do any of them you like, for up to four entries:

  1. Leave a comment telling me how you like to eat your rice.
  2. Subscribe to my RSS feed, and leave a 2nd comment telling me you did so, or already are subscribed,
  3. Link to my giveaway on your own blog, leaving another comment with the permalink to you post, or
  4. Share this giveaway on Twitter and leave a 4th comment letting me know you did (copy & paste this suggested text: Win a Uncle Ben's Gift Pack from @FamilyMusings
That's it. 4 ways to win and 1 lucky winner. This giveaway will end Sunday, June 13th at midnight. Read all contest rules here.

FTC Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Uncle Ben’s and received samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate. I also received some additional samples and and another apron that I shared with a couple of friends.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coloring Pages

Charlotte has long enjoyed coloring, even if her attention span for it is shorter than I'd like. Recently, she has been wanting to draw people and I thought it would be a good idea to capture her pictures for posterity. I labeled the drawings in case you need any help identifying the important parts.

And this is the one I colored. :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Easy Teacher Gifts

Earlier this year, I discovered an easy to make teacher gift. These gifts can be highly personalized and fashionable. I helped teach a room full of 60+ woman how to do it and I've made several on my own. As a matter of fact, I made six of these easy teacher gifts earlier this week for Charlotte and Mary's  MOPs teachers.

They are decorative clipboards. Here is your supply list:
  • 1 plain clipboard (not the plastic kind)
  • 1 bottle of modge podge
  • 1 foam paint brush
  • scissors
  • cardstock of your choice 
  • nail file
  • clear acrylic spray sealer
  • old newspaper to cover your table

Step 1 - Design your layout. You can keep it simple and just use 1 or 2 sheets of paper. But they look more fashionable and designer-ish if you get creative. Think about interesting ways to cut the paper. Consider that a design might be best near the bottom so the thick paper does not mess up writing.

Step 2 - Cut out the space at the top for the actual clip part of the clipboard. If I am making more than 1 or 2 at a time, I prefer to make a template that I can trace on the back of the paper to make this part easier.

Step 3 - Remove paper from clipboard and apply first coat of Modge Podge directly to the clipboard. A thin layer is all you need. If your layer is too thick, your paper might buckle and that isn't very pretty. (Note: If you've never worked with Modge Podge before, just know it is sticky like glue and can damage the finish on tables. To be safe, just lay out some newspaper or an old sheet to protect your work surface.)

Step 4 - Apply a thin layer of Modge Podge to the back of the first sheet of paper. By putting the Modge Podge on both items, you make it easier to  slide the paper into the right place in case you put it down wrong.

Step 5 - Apply Modge Podge to the rest of your paper items and place wherever you like.

Step 6 - Allow to dry. A thin coat should be dry in about 15 minutes. I don't think a second coat is necessary, but if you have a lot of small pieces, you might want to add it.

Step 7 - Since you didn't obsess about getting the corners of your paper perfectly matched to the corners of your clipboard, now you get to use the nail file to file the edges off. This is the easiest way to take care of those corners if you want to save your sanity. Wait until the Modge Podge is dry though before you do this step.

Step 7 - Spray a clear coat of acrylic sealer over the clipboards.

Step 8 - Give to the gift recipient and be prepared for lots of thanks!

Ideas for paper include buying a "scrap pack" that is already coordinated (if you are fashion challenged like me). You could also create a theme for the kitchen by using food themed paper. Or if the clipboard might be used to track chores, you could work on that theme with your paper choices too.

These easy teacher gifts can also be embellished with stickers and ribbon. One friend uses ribbon to tie a nice pen to the top of the clipboard.

What is your favorite teacher gift?

(I wish I had better pictures, but my camera was in the shop when I had these made. These were taken with my cell phone. Phooey!)

Wordless Wednesday - Brother and Sister Part 2

I am a junior in high school (16 years old) which makes my brother a freshman (14 or 15 in this picture). This is when we lived in Deltona and he sang in the show choir (yes, he was a gleek!). The wrist brace was from an injury with the rifle on the Reflections color guard. And I would be remiss if I didn't call your attention to my purse, sitting on the swing. Awesome, isn't it?!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Baseball Season Again!

We love going to Flying Tigers games here in Lakeland. They are our very own minor league team and our family always has a good time when we go. Recently, we invited my father-in-law to join us and we think he enjoyed it as much as we do. I have been playing around in Photoshop elements recently, and here are some of the pictures he took, with some help from PSE.

One thing I like to do is make sure Charlotte has plenty to keep her occupied. While she loves the game, it does move kind of slow for a 2 year old. I found these neat sports drinks at Walmart that are round and come with a baseball shrink wrap. They are only 15 calories and she gets to have a special "baseball drink," each time we go. You can kind of see her holding one in this picture.

A happy family picture. Each Friday night at the home games, our team gives something away. Two weeks ago it was the green Flying Tigers shirt Bruce is wearing. On the evening of this game, we all got a pink Flying Tigers shirt to support breast cancer awareness. Notice though, Charlotte is wearing her baseball shirt that we had made for her on our trip to Nicaragua last year. 

Charlotte loves to give Mary love. Sometimes she is very earnest in her squeezing.

Recently Mary likes to be serious for the camera. I can't seem to get a smile out of her no matter how hard I try.

Do you have a minor league baseball team in your town? Ever been to a game? I highly recommend it. They are cheap and a ton of fun! And, it won't bother anyone if your kid wants to run around! Chances are, there are plenty of empty seats.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Family Musings is Now No Follow Free

After thinking about it for a long, long time, I decided to make Family Musings a Do-Follow blog. If you do not have a website or blog, than this really won't matter to you. For those of you who read and do have a blog or website of your own, this now means that whenever you leave a comment, Google, and other search engines, will give you link credit. This improves your websites ranking on Google. Consider this my small part to help the community.

That being said, if you came to this blog because you want some Do Follow action, please make sure you leave a comment that is relevant to the post. Don't just say, "great blog," or "thanks for sharing." If your comment does not contribute to the "family musings," then I will delete it. And I am the ultimate decision maker on whether or not a link stays.

(You link, I follow icon courtesy of Design Mivox.)

Cheesy Grin

Charlotte has pretty much always been a ham for the cameras. Now though, she has developed this cheesy grin. What do you think?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

On the Road to Healthy

I think I might be crazy, but I've decided to take up running again. You may not know it, but in 2006, when I was 8 weeks pregnant with Charlotte, I ran the Disney half-marathon with my friends Angela and Kelly. She is a runner. I am not. But I did it. Well, I jogged the first 8 miles and split the last 5.1 miles between walking and jogging. As soon as I got to the end (3 hours and 5 minutes later) I swore I would never do it again.

Then, one day a couple of months ago, Charlotte grabbed my hand and said, "run with me Mommy." And I did. And for some reason, it kind of felt good. So I started thinking about running again. Then I realized, I can't run and wear a baby at the same time (I'm not as awesome as my friend Kelly who wore her 2 year old during the Disney half!) So I set out to find a jogging stroller.

After a lot of research, I decided the BOB Revolution Duallie was the one that fit my list of needs best - high quality, turning or locking front wheel, fits in my Ford Focus trunk, individual canopies for each seat, and a cool color. Unfortunately, it happens to be one of, if not the most expensive double jogging strollers on the market. I worked hard, but I found the money and was able to buy it. My local running store, Fit Niche, made it possible by honoring a competitor's 20% off coupon.

Ask me how many times I've run with this fancy new stroller. Go ahead. I dare you.

The answer is none. (But I have used it for walks several times.) I learned something about myself - unless someone is meeting me to run, I'm not going to do it on my own. I need a group. A herd. So, I am signing up for a Self-Concepts Couch to 5k running class that starts next week.

Look for me at the back of the pack. Pushing two kids in my awesome new double jogging stroller!

(Oh, and in case the FTC was wondering... this post isn't sponsored. I had to buy this stroller all on my own. Fit Niche didn't even give me 20% off in exchange for space on my part of the web. They just did it to be nice and would probably do it for you if you find monitoring Mommy blogs for undisclosed marketing makes your rear end spread a little. Sometimes I write about things I love for free.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Catching Up Part 3 - World of Reading Festival

I wasn't at this event. My mom and husband took Charlotte to the annual Junior League World of Reading Festival. So all you get is pictures. Bruce can chime in later with stories if he wants to. (Oh, I was in Miami that day for a funeral. Maybe I'll share more about that later, when my brain is done looking at pictures.)

Boogying on stage

Giving G-ma lots and lots of love!

Climbing to the top of the slide. Apparently the lady operating this game didn't think Charlotte could do it.
She proved her wrong. And didn't get any help. You go girl!
Running through the obstacle course with the bigger kids...

And how could it not have been a good day if it ended with eating ice cream in a swing?!

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Mother's Day Gift

Last night, Charlotte probably didn't even realize it, but she gave me one of the best Mother's Days gifts I could imagine.

As we were praying together at the end of the day, I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to pray for.

She replied, "that I would be better at obeying you." I nearly cried right there! And you know I prayed for that too! Charlotte was so sweet and sincere when she asked.

And remember a year ago, when I shared how Charlotte uttered her first 3-word phrase on Mother's Day 2009? (Don't feel bad if you don't remember, Bruce reminded me.) Well, she has come a long way since then. To hear her utter sentences with 8 or more words is pretty normal around here. And she can sure string a bunch of them together! Charlotte has the gift of gab from her momma!