Friday, January 30, 2009

Mmm Mmm Good

Campbell's Soup invited 11 bloggers...

and your truly

out to their world headquarters in Camden, NJ to talk with us about some of their products. Although bad weather on the east coast messed up a lot of our travel plans, we all made it out there ok. Eventually. Thankfully, my flight was just delayed a couple hours and I was able to pass the time at the airport bar texting my friend. OK, so I had a drink at an airport bar too. I even showed off my article in Good Housekeeping to one of the gentlemen there. In fact, I gave him my card and told him to pass it on to his wife. Yes, yes, I am shameless. Meanwhile, there was another guy at the bar who was drunk and telling everyone about his 3 ex-wives.

When it was time to board the plane, I was one of the last people on (because I hate getting on early and just standing there waiting for people to put their stinkin bags away and SIT DOWN!) So, I walk to my seat and who is sitting in the seat next to mine? That's right - the drunk guy with the 3 ex-wives. Thankfully he passed out 2 seconds after take-off. I shoved him against the window and had a decent trip.

I thought my driver was going to have a heart attack walking out to the car. I'm probably the most out of shape person you'll ever meet, but this guy was breathing so hard, I was like, "Can I just carry my suitcase? Please? Do you need to sit down or something?" Yikes!

So, I got to the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphis (gorgeous hotel, btw!), got all checked in, and ordered me a cheesesteak 'cause when in Philly... It was as big as my head and I could only eat half of it, but it was de-lish!

I don't know why I feel the need to take pictures of every hotel room I stay in, but I do!

Huge bed to myself and you know what I did in my sleep? I piled pillows up against me as if they were Brooklyn. @@

Nice big bathroom with no toothpaste globs in the sink

My basket full of goodies from Campbell's. Yum!

Thursday morning we jumped on a bus and headed over the river to New Jersey and Campbell's. When we got there, a fire alarm was going off so he had to sit tight for a while. I personally thought it was refreshing and nice outside despite the fact the natives said it was freezing. (It was 35 degrees) I just laughed at them and said, "I can get a suntan in 35 degrees!"

10 of the 11 of us. Deb joined us a little later.

On the bus, ready to go!

I just thought this was a cool sculpture.

There were so many really cool looking buildings, but I didn't have any time to sightsee.

I have a ton to share with you about Campbell's, so I'm going to spread it out over a few days. For today, here's Chef Tom Helsel with a demonstration on how Campbell's makes their chicken soup. Yum! I wish you guy could smell this video. Mmmm, it smelled SO good in this kitchen! It's like watching Food Network and he's got some great tips for making yummy homemade chicken soup if you feel inspired to do more than open a can.

(I'm sorry if this video isn't working right now. I've been trying to get it to load since 9:00 last night. I fell asleep waiting for it to process. If it still isn't working, I'll mess around with it some more tomorrow.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fireproof Winners

Here are the winners of the Fireproof DVD!

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-01-24 07:34:12 UTC

274My Semblance of Sanity said...
There is also a book - a workbook of sorts called the LOVE DARE - We were given the book by friends who saw the movie, but I don't want to start it until WE see the movie!It's making HUGE changes to many marriages, and in today's world...that's saying something!

(I swear this was entirely random!)

34Jen said...
I would love to win this DVD. Thanks! :)

398Rose said...
I would love to see this movie. We still haven't seen it. We just don't go to the theater very often, way too much $$$ involved. It's why we have a 60" tv, lol.

189Jodie Walter said...
i would love to see this

450Amanda E said...
I really want to watch this movie - I loved Facing the Giants! Crossing my fingers that the random number generator picks my number!

19JourneytoFamily said...
Oh I'd love to win one of your giveaway copies! I've been wanting to see this movie.

44Lisa said...
I would love to see this movie, as I am struggling with my marriage as well. I just hope and pray that I can remember to check back here for the winners list. Thanks again and I pray that your situation improves according to God's will.

378Cassandra said...
I would love to see this movie! It looks really good.

69Tina B. said...
I'm reading the book, The Love Dare, and it is AWESOME! Would love to see the movie that inspired the book!

520Janna said...
I'd love a copy - I heard such awesome things about this movie. I come from a firefighter family - Dad's retired and my brother is a captain. I'd love to pass it on to them after I've watched it!

279MistryUnique said...
Alright - I'm afraid that lusting over Kirk Cameron might distract me, but I'll take that chance...:D~ Misty

523Rachel said...
I've heard this movie is amazing! I'd love to have a copy:)

468Becky said...
We saw this movie in the theater. It's great and I love the humorous little tidbits with the next door neighbors! I would love to win a copy for our church library

9Amanda said...
I so want and NEED this movie!!!! You and Joe are in my thoughts!

403debbie said...
Your giveaways are awesome!

205Denise said...
I would love to win this movie. I cant see my husband watching it any other way. So please pick me!

347Chawksgirl4ever said...
would love to win one of these thsnks jnb in ca

322Firelizards said...
Wow! 20 copies? Maybe I can win one! :) Thanks!

101.:Bree:. said...
I hope and pray things get better for you!DH and I were going to see it in the theater, but never made it. A friend recommend we see it, and I want to, but buying it (or winning it) would be the best! :)I hope I win!*hugs*

186akhughes said...
I pray that God will heal your marriage and you will be able to stay together, not just to stay together, but because God has given you love for each other and knit your hearts together.

Congratulations! Please email me HERE with your shipping address by Monday night. If you didn't win, I hope you'll consider either buying a copy or renting one when it comes out on the 27th.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Oh crud. I screwed up. Shocking, I know. I meant to write that I'd pick a winner for the Johnson's giveaway and the PTA gift card giveaway on Tuesday, January 20th. I accidentally wrote the 27th in my posts, however.

Since I already picked and posted the winners, I'm going to go with them. However, since I wrote that the winners needed to check back in on the 27th and would have 2 days to contact me, I'll wait until the 29th to hear from them.

I'm so sorry about the confusion. Boy, I wish my brain worked as well as it did before I had kids.


Here is the winner of the Johnson's Baby gift basket!

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-01-21 08:01:07 UTC

Aleta said...
I thought I was done with 'No more Tears' and now I'm due with #4 in March!!! LOL! Would love to win this gift basket!

And here is the winner of the gift card for the PTA movie store!

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-01-21 08:04:04 UTC

DeT said...
I never knew all that--thanks for the education. I'd love to get the kiddo some more videos. He's just now getting addicted to television so anything to encourage the habit is appreciated.

Congratulations to both of you! Please email me HERE with your shipping address by Thursday night so I can get these sent out to you right away!
Thank you to everyone for reading and leaving comments! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Clementines from Spain - part 2

OK, none of the Clementine winners came forward, so here are 5 new ones...

133AlehouseGirl said...
I literally, just today, blogged about my 2 1/2 year old's new found love of clementines. I think it's kismet. :) Hope we're one of the lucky readers.

54Ben and Melissa James said...
Yummy! I have one child that won't touch these but another that can't get enough!

198tchulick said...
My family loves clementines. I send in my kids lunch.

13Jenn said...
My hubby LOVES clementines- and that cheesecake looks so yummy!!Thanks for the great giveaway!!

213Sondie said...
We love clementines here too! Oddly enough we bought a 3 lb bag of california clementines last month, but they just aren't as sweet as the ones from Spain.

Let's try this again. Please email me HERE with your shipping address by Tuesday and I'll get these shipped out right away.

Friday, January 16, 2009


A while back, I mentioned on my blog that Joe and I were having marital issues. A few of you have asked how we're doing. Not great. I don't want to get into all the sordid details on my blog because my blog is to make people laugh; not cry. I have no problem sharing pictures of the pig sty boys' room. I can tell everyone what a bad mom I was and how guilty I felt when Lexi got hurt under the garage door. But I'm not comfortable sharing the personal details of my marriage. Thanks for understanding.

Anyway, the issues have been around for many, many, many years and they're not going to disappear overnight, if ever. Although, I have to thank those of you who suggested we see the movie FIREPROOF. Fireproof is from the makers of Facing the Giants (another good movie). The movie was awesome!

At first, I said, "Well, I liked the movie and I can absolutely see how it could make a difference in a couple's marriage, but that's not the case here." Well, it's been a few weeks since we saw it and I've since changed my mind. I think it actually did make a difference in Joe. Little by little, I've seen some changes in him. Will they last? Is he really changing things now? And is it too late anyway? Only time will tell, but there's definitely something good working in him.

If you have a good marriage, watch it with your spouse. If you have a marriage that could use some work (I think that's most couples) WATCH THIS! Even, if like me, you're headed to divorce court, take a chance and watch the movie together. If it doesn't change the way you think, then what have you lost? Nothing. But you might be surprised. They've received literally thousands of letters from men saying they wanted to date their wives again. In fact, you can read many of them HERE.

Here's a trailer...

And HERE'S a page with extra resources for you to check out (like the Love Dare book featured in the movie.)

Fireproof comes out on DVD January 27th and you can preorder it HERE. I highly recommend it. (Oh yeah, make sure you have a LOT of tissues handy when you watch this movie.)

And just for my readers, I have 20 Fireproof DVDs to give away! Leave me a comment here and I'll choose 20 random winners on Friday, January 23rd. Please remember to check back in on the 23rd because winners will have 2 days to give me their shipping information. If I don't hear from the winners, I'll choose new ones.

Happy Birthday No More Tears!

It's the 50th anniversary of Johnson's No More Tears trademark formula! That means that in some families, three generations of mothers have used Johnson's No More Tears products on their children. 50 years! That's a long time. This is what was going on 50 years ago...

In 1959, there were about 4,245,000 births in the U.S. Today, a baby is born every 7 seconds, resulting in about 4,138,349 births a year.

The national population in 1959 was about 178 million. That number has since climbed to a whopping 303 million in 2008.

The average age at which an American woman has her first child has reached to an all-time high of 25.2. This rate is expected to rise, seeing that women are waiting until their late 30s and 40s to have children. Women in 1959 were having babies much earlier, at the average age of just 21.6.

By the end of 1959, the number of children per woman was 3.7. The most recent data shows that today the number of children per woman has decreased to about 2.0.

With the Baby Boom generation underway, finding a name in the 1950s that no one had proved difficult. The most popular names in 1959 were Michael and Mary. The top baby names in 2007 were Sophia and Aiden.

With the price of unleaded regular gas averaging $4.11 a gallon in 2008, it's hard to believe that it was only 25 cents a gallon in 1959.

The average median income in 1959 was about 5,417. Today, the average is roughly $58,407.

In 1959, the average cost of a new home was about $12,400. Today, one can expect to purchase a new home for at least $267,300.

The postage stamp in 1959 cost only 4 cents. With the current price of a stamp at 41 cents, we are lucky to have free Internet access.

And this year, Johnson's is introducing two new No More Tears products: Johnson's Bubble Bath & Wash, and Johnson's Head-To-Toe Foaming Wash. Both contain an updated, even more mild No More Tears formula. I have a Johnson's gift set, including the two new products, plus a whole bunch of classics (Retail value $70!) to give away to one lucky reader! Just leave me a comment here an I'll pick a random winner on Tuesday, Jan. 27. Please check back in on the 27th to see if you've won. You'll have 2 days to email me your shipping information. If I don't hear from you, I'll choose another winner.

PTA Video Store

I have to admit, when I think of the PTA, the Harper Valley song starts playing in my head. After that, I think of "the perfect moms" who run the PTA, making you feel like a loser for wanting to help out in some small way. You know who I'm talking about - the thin, exquisitely dressed, perfectly coiffed and made-up moms who have the perfect 2 children who are on the honor roll and involved in 20 extracurricular activities; the mom who doesn't forget about events and stop at the grocery store on the way there to pick up a package of cookies; the mom who makes Martha Stewart recipes for class parties. I'm sure a lot of you know what I'm talking about here. Seriously, that was about the extent of my knowledge about the PTA.

Awhile back, I had to opportunity to speak with April and Kate from the National PTA. They set me straight. Did you know, not all school are involved in PTA? Some schools have PTOs, for example. This is not the same thing as the PTA. I had no idea. I thought it was all the same thing!

The PTA is a national organization. It's the largest volunteer parent organization in the U.S. They have more than 5 million members devoted to the success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. The PTA prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in the PTA is open to anyone.

And did you know there's a PTA video store? I had no clue! They sell only family friendly movies so you don't have to worry about adult content when you order from their site. While browsing titles this morning, I saw several for only $8.99! I know a lot of people rent movies, but when it comes to kids' videos, I like to own them. Why, you ask? Because kids like to watch the same movie over and over and over and over and over again until you can recite the entire thing in your sleep. And it's nice to have a babysitter some quality shows on hand to entertain your little ones now and then. Brooklyn threw a fit the other day because she wanted to watch Phineas and Ferb. It wasn't on TV right then and she's too young to get the concept of "YOU CAN'T WATCH IT IF IT ISN'T ON TV!!!" It's nice to have DVDs of some of their favorites shows on hand. Really nice. Trust me.

You can check out the video store here! And you can buy gift cards, which are great to have on hand when your kids are being constantly invited to birthday parties week after week. Kids can pick out their own movie and parents can know that they'll have a G or PG rating. And when you purchase a card, a percentage of the proceeds go toward the PTA.

I have a $20 gift card to the PTA movie store for one lucky reader! Just leave me a comment here and I'll select a random winner on Tuesday, Jan. 27th. Please check back in on the 27th to see if you've won because you'll have 2 days to contact me with your shipping address. If I don't hear from you, another winner will be selected. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inkheart, Dunkin' Donuts & Clementines from Spain!

OK, I'm a little overwhelmed with deadlines and life and stuff right now. I feel like I'm just chasing my tail. So, I'm combining a few pieces of info in this one blog post so I can get back to finishing up my manuscript.

First, have you read the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke? Two of my kids are reading it now and they're both totally into it. There's a movie coming out based on the Inkheart trilogy this Friday, January 23. Inkheart is a family-friendly fantasy adventure (rated PG) that sends a father and daughter on a quest through worlds both real and imagined. It looks cool! My kids can't wait to see it! I'd actually like to see it too since it stars Brendan Fraser and he's my boyfriend (shhh, he doesn't know it yet). You can see a preview HERE.


Next on tonight's agenda is Dunkin' Donuts. (Oooo, actually I could really go for a cuppa coconut coffee right about now. Be right back...) I seriously did just run out for a cuppa coffee when I picked my son up from church. Mmmm. Anyway, back to what I was saying.

Dunkin' Donuts introduced DDSMART last summer. This is a line of better-for-you menu items. Options include the new Egg White Flatbread sandwiches, Latte Lite, a reduced fat blueberry muffin and others. On January 26 and 27, Dunkin' Donuts is virtually opening the doors to its kitchens for the first time. Dunkin's culinary experts will participate in a special Facebook event to answer any questions about DDSMART, listen to suggestions for other options that could be added to the DDSMART menu, and share thoughts on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle no matter how busy life gets. You can join in the conversation January 26 & 27th!

Also, from now until February 3, participating Dunkin' Donuts stores nationwide will offer an Egg White Flatbread Sandwich for only $1.99 when you buy a medium cup of coffee (get the coconut!) The Egg White Flatbreads are available in two varieties, Turkey Sausage and Veggie. Both have fewer than 300 calories, with nine grams of fat or less, and are served on wholesome toasted multigrain flatbread. Mmmm!


I'll get to the winner's of the clementines in a minute, but first, if you're in the Boston area, Clementines from Spain invites you to a free cooking class with Ceci Carmichael, former Food Network host of “Calling All Cooks". The event is this Saturday, the 17th at the Museum of Science (Skyline Room) in Boston, MA. Register for the class HERE and enjoy FREE admission to the museum for you and your family!

And here are the winners of the crates of clementines from Spain!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-01-14 02:17:12 UTC

101Amy said...
Clementines are the best! I always hide a few for myself otherwise I wouldn't get any as the kids and Hubby will eat them all.

145Dawn said...
Love 'em! Don't usually last long in my house. Don't get them nearly often enough due to price.

276Becki said...
We buy huge bags of cuties every shopping trip. I put these things on the counter and even if they are right next to the cookies, everyone always grabs clementines first. Yummy we love them and I want to try ones from Spain! I hope I win.

172katie said...
Yummy, the cheesecake recipe looks really good.

119Anonymous said...
Love, love clementines! the color, the smell, the taste! Janejanegreene

Congratulations! Email me HERE with your shipping address by Friday, the 16th and I'll have them mailed out right away. :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Oh My Darlin', Oh My Darlin', Oh My Darlin'...

Want a great snack idea? Clementines from Spain! They're small, portable, easy-to-peel (my kids can easily peel these without help), yummy, and good for you!

I love these Clementines because they're seedless, or very nearly seedless. And unlike some varieties of oranges, you can easily chew these. I hate oranges that are impossible to chew. I always end up spitting out globs of that membrane separating each segment. These Clementines from Spain aren't like that. They're de-lish!

Clementines from Spain are also a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium. They're sweet and juicy, but only have about 50 calories each!

Not only do they make great after-school snacks, are perfect for lunchboxes and late night munchies when you crave something sweet, but you can use them to spice up your favorite recipes. In fact, here's a recipe for a cheesecake that is awesome!

Clementines from Spain Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

For the crust:

3 cups gingersnap crumbs
1/4 cup of golden brown sugar
2 teaspoons Clementines from Spain zest
6 tablespoons melted butter

For filling:

4- 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Clementines from Spain juice
4 tablespoons Clementines from Spain zest
3 tablespoons flour
5 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

To prepare the crust:

In a large bowl, mix together gingersnap crumbs, brown sugar, Clementines from Spain zest and melted butter until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer mixture to 9” spring form pan and press down so that the crumb mixture covers bottom evenly and comes up the sides of the pan an inch. Place in refrigerator until ready to fill.

To prepare the filling:

In a large bowl using electric mixer, blend cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Gradually add sugar, Clementines from Spain juice, Clementines from Spain zest and flour, making sure to scrape down the sides of bowl. Mix thoroughly.
Add eggs one at a time, continuing to blend until mixture is smooth.

Remove crust from refrigerator and fill with cream cheese mixture.

Place in the center rack of oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lightly golden and firm in the center.

I've got 5 crates of Clementines from Spain to give away to 5 readers! (You have to be a US resident for this contest.) Just leave me a comment here and I'll choose 5 random winners on Tuesday, January 13. Good luck!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

LeapFrog Tag Reading System

I recently reviewed the Poingo reading system. Since then, I've had the chance to review the Tag reading system from LeapFrog, so I can accurately compare the two.

With both systems you use a pen-like instrument to touch words and pictures on the pages of special books. This pen then reads the book to you. By touching the different pictures on the pages, you bring the book to life. They're both very compact systems requiring only the pen and a book. They both come with a USB cable so you can download content for more books right from your computer to the pen.

An advantage of the Poingo system, in my opinion, is that the pen is more ergonomically shaped and more comfortable to hold. I also like the end of the Poingo pen better as it's more contained than the Tag one which has a small tip that sticks out. My kids have a tendency to press down a little too hard on the books at times and the Tag pen leaves indentations on the pages.
An advantage of the Tag system is that there are many more books available than the Poingo system. The Tag system has 20 books and games right now. Poingo has 6.

Another thing I like better about the Tag system is the voice with which the stories are read. Maybe this is just personal preference, but with the Tag system, the Dora Goes to School book (for example) features Dora's, Boot's, Map's, etc. voices. The Poingo books are read by the same voice. The voice isn't annoying to me, but it isn't great either. The Tag system was definitely better in that regard.

With the Tag system, you can touch the page and have the whole page read to you OR you can touch individual words and have them read. With Poingo, you don't have the option of touching individual words. It will just read the whole page. Both systems have hidden games and sounds in the pictures on the pages.

And you can use headphones with the Tag system. For parents who have way too many noise making toys, this can be wonderful! Or if you've got 2 kids who both want to play with some noise making toys in the car and they keep yelling at each to "be quiet so I can hear!", this is a nice feature.

And lastly, there's the price. The Poingo starter set (pen and 2 books) retails for $34.99. The Tag starter set (pen and 1 book) retails for $49.99. Of course, on the LeapFrog site, there always seem to be sales and specials though. Like buy 3 books, get the 4th free, or buy the Tag system and get a set of headphones free.

So, basically, what I'd love to see is the LeapFrog Tag system and all it's advantages, but with the Poingo's pen design and lower price. That's not too much to ask for, now is it?