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Entries from October 2012

Fall Inspiration And How-Tos With Miracle-Gro® And The Gardenieres!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

(1) Miracle-Gro


Today, we're talking about Fall gardening inspiration with Miracle-Gro® and the Gardenieres™!

The Gardenieres are hand-picked green thumbs led by Master Gardener William Moss. They're real-life gardening enthusiasts with real-world experience when it comes to growing... anything! They'll be covering the country, inspiring the rest of us to get out and garden, facing unique growing challenges and meeting us online, in social networks and even, occasionally, in our own neighborhoods! They want to help us make this the most remarkable, conversational, and enjoyable growing season ever!

One thing I really want to get into is creating our own potted herb garden. Watch the video above to see how it can be done. I can't wait to get started! I've always wanted to be able to just clip my own fresh herbs when I'm cooking, right there on the spot, instead of going to the trouble and expense of buying them and, too, risking them going bad before I even get a chance to use them. Having my own potted garden will be great, and Hubs is excited about it, too, since he does most of our cooking!

For this project, the Miracle-Gro products needed will be:


- Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, which is ideal for all kinds of container & potted plants, feeds plants for up to six months with Miracle-Gro Continuous Release Plant Food, and has rich, organic materials to improve drainage and air flow; and,


- Miracle-Gro LiquaFeed, which makes feeding the potted herbs as easy as watering, feeds plants through both the leaves and roots, and is good for use with flowers, veggies, and trees & shrubs, too!

If you want to try this or any other gardening project this Fall - or later - head on over to the Miracle-Gro Facebook page to talk with other gardeners about your project and share stories!

Find beauty in the Fall with Miracle-Gro and the Gardenieres. Join me, and let me know in the comments what gardening project you're excited about starting (or finishing??) this Fall!


Visit Sponsor's Site

Century21 Contest: Win A Trip To New York City AND A Shopping Spree!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of CENTURY 21 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.


The world-famous Century 21 Department Store would like to invite you to enter for a chance to win a $500 C21 wardrobe makeover and a two-night stay at the iconic Empire Hotel in New York City!

Click this link to enter: Empire Hotel sweepstakes!

For over 50 years, Century 21 has been THE spot for world travelers and in-the-know New Yorkers alike to go and find high fashion at incredibly low prices. There are awesome brands, like: Marc Jacobs, Giorgio Armani, See by Chloe, Valentino, Ferre, Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Giorgio Armani Kids, Armand Basi, Faconable jeans, Oscar de la Renta, Malo, Lucky, Guess, DKNY, Columbia and Calvin Klein - all up to 65% off retail, 100% of the time!!

I grew up going to NYC all the time and have been there many times, but I've yet to check out Century 21! I can't wait to go and check out all the deals in person! Can you imagine what I'd bring home?!  Have you been to C21? What did you get??  If not, what would you buy?

If I went, here are a few items I'd love to snag, now that I'm a member - you should sign up to get the daily deals emails, too - below:

GRACIA Open Blazer

(Sorry for cutting off your face, Model)

How sweet is this GRACIA Open Blazer for $35.97 - 63% off retail!

RUBY ROX Rhinestone Pickup Hem Dress

This RUBY ROX Rhinestone dress for Sophia, for $26.97 at 50% off retail,

RUBY ROX Pickup Hem Dress

This RUBY ROX dress for Chloë, also 50% off at $27.97, and

KENNETH COLE REACTION (Boys 4-7) 3 Piece Jacket Pant And Shirt Set

this KENNETH COLE suit for Jack, at $47.97 (40% off retail), would make great outfits for our Christmas picture this year, I think!

WAVERLY 70" x 72" Essence Shower Curtain

I really might have to snatch up this WAVERLY shower curtain - it's only $9.97, 34% off retail. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Check out Olivia Palermo and Stacy Keibler shopping at Century 21:

Stacy Keibler 2.JPG (2 documents, 2 total pages)OLIVIA.JPG (2 documents, 2 total pages)

Wouldn't it be fun to rub elbows with them and Kim Kardashian or even LiLo (that's Lindsay Lohan, btw) at one of the two Manhattan locations? Century 21 can be found at Lincoln Square (1972 Broadway) or Downtown (22 Cortlandt Street). Maybe George Clooney would be with Stacy Keibler, mmm... okay, focus, Melanie! ;)

So you want to join me and enter to win the Empire Hotel sweepstakes, right? I just did - let me know if you did, too!

Good luck!


Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday 9: Over The Rainbow


Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

1) Do you ever fantasize about flying, beyond the rainbow or anywhere else?

YES!!! I dream about it, too! If I could choose a superpower, flying would absolutely be it.

2) Do you think you have seen The Wizard of Oz more than 10 times?

Yes, I definitely have. It was a staple growing up in my house.

3) Which Wizard of Oz character would you most like to dress as for Halloween?

Dorothy, natch. I would rock that costume, too!

4) What will Trick-or-Treaters get when they come to your front door?

Erm, silence. We're going trunk-or-treating at our church this year instead. And I always hand out the good stuff! ;)

5) Did you ever TP a neighbor's house or indulge in other acts of Halloween vandalism as a kid? (Don't worry, that statute of limitations is up.)

Nope, never that I can recall. About five years ago, Rob and I threw about an entire carton of eggs into the street for kicks, though. Don't ask me why; I was probably manic at the time. No telling why Rob went along with me.

6) Who annoys you more -- people who never respond to your texts/emails, or those who never look up because they're always checking their texts/emails?

Definitely the former. I detest being ignored!

7) Who was the last person you hugged?

Chloë, before her flute lesson this afternoon, partially because we were both freezing...

8) What two colors do you like to wear together?

Black and red when I'm feeling sexy, earth tones when I'm feeling, you know, earthy.

9) Did your alarm clock wake you up this fine Saturday morning?

No... my husband did... ;)

On that note...


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments

Link up here if you've got bits and pieces floating around in ye olde brain this week!

I've had a busy week. For starters, we've all been sick, especially the kiddos, so I proclaimed it Fall Break and gave them the week off to lie around in bed and cough an stuff. I was sick, too, in the same way and gastro-intestinally (TMI?), so I did a lot of sitting around. I wasn't sick on Monday and, feeling pretty good, so I did a ton of laundry and cleaning house. Then I went downhill, so ... this will mostly be a pictorial of our week.

Live in the vineyard

On Sunday, I went (by my lonesome, because we didn't have childcare) to the qualifying party for the radio station I to which I listen to send someone to Live in the Vineyard. I just KNEW I was going to win the trip, but alas and alack, I came in tenth out of about 11 times as many people. Close but no cigar. At least I got a $20 gift card to a wine shop and the latest Matchbox Twenty CD out of it - not to mention a very strong gin & tonic that had me announcing something kind of embarrassing, on the microphone, to the ENTIRE room.


Also on Monday, aside from cleaning and attending to sick kids - and speaking of sick kids, actually - I signed up to be a Point Radio change bandit to benefit The Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD). You can look at the sidebar on the right to see how much I've raised and (please, please, please) donate a buck or two to my efforts. I fervently believe that if I'd had my twins at CHKD, Robby would still be alive; aside from that, Jack has had surgery there, and Sophia has been followed there for her ongoing breathing issues, as well, so I help them out however and whenever I can. I'd greatly appreciate your support!

Change bandit


Since I fell sick on Tuesday, and Chloë especially was ailing, I canceled their instrument lessons and spent time on eBay in between nursing sick chirren. I've had a good month: over $700 in sales! Woot!

On Wedneday, Rob's and my Halloween costumes came in, so we tried them on:


Oops, that one's not for trick-or-treating. Heh heh heh. Let me try again:


I kind of hate this picture, because I look fat in it, but whatevs, it's fun. We still haven't decided where we'll go trick-or-treating -- definitely not here in the new neighborhood -- or even if we will, as opposed to trunk-or-treating at church, so I guess with five days to go, I better figure it out! At least we've only eaten ¼ of the candy I've bought for handing out!

On Thursday, I really didn't feel well, so I skipped Jack's Cub Scout pack Halloween party and sent the rest of the family without me. The kids were SO excited to dress up in their costumes:


Sophia is going as a pretty princess (yes, I will be buying more appropriate shoes for her before Wednesday night!);


Jack's a dangerous dinosaur (LOL I just realized I left the tags on his costume; d'oh!); and,


Chloë's a cute kitty cat. Guess I need to find some black shoes for her, as well!


Group shot, including our landlord in the background. Argh.

I'm on my way out for therapy in a bit, so I'll leave you with some cute shots of the adorable tommy-kittens Sophie and I rescued a week ago.


That's Pepper on top and Ginger on the bottom.


A trio of cuteness!


Soap cuddlng Ginger, "her" kitten, while studying her guitar lesson book.


Chloë mimicking Jack's portrait with the kitties.


Me canoodling with my "grandkitties," looking an awful lot like my mum in this photo, face-wise.


And finally, Pepper peeking out of Rob's camo work pants pocket! Aww!

That's it from me. Hopefully after therapy I'll be able to do some visiting of y'all Fragmenters, too!


Aloha Friday


Kailani & Pals link up here for Aloha Friday posts.

My question for you this week is:

Are you a good driver?

I used to consider myself one, until I got "Penelope," our Honda Odyssey, two years ago. I don't know why, but it seems like I'm trying to destoy the poor thing!! Oy vey.

What about you? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great weekend!


Sunday Stealing: The You Don't Know Jack (And Other Cheese) Meme, Partes Uno Y Dos


Jes' like I skipped out on Saturday 9 last weekend, I did the same with Sunday Stealing, so likewise I'm fixin' ta do both week together in this-here post and uh muh guh I've been reading too much Tom Sawyer to the kiddos at night...!

Sunday Stealing: The Who Are You Meme

1. What is your biggest pet peeve?

At the moment, it's Typepad. I had a long answer written out, but it randomly deleted itself. I'm not going to repeat it, because, as I once told my deaf sister and husband, "I don't repeat myself for you." Ha, I'm SUCH a B!TCH!

2. Where and when were you born?

Picture it: Sicily, 1926. Oh, wait, that's The Golden Girls. RIP, Estelle Getty. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. I don't mind sharing that my DOB is 9/8/76 which, IMHO, seems like it should be awfully easy to remember. "Should" being the operative word. I was born just outside of The Big Apple.

3. Where did your parents meet?

They met online before there was online: through a dating something-or-other, like a service or something. Yeah, that's it, a dating service. IN The Big Apple, from whence they both came.

4. Do you have any siblings? What are/were they like in four words?

I have a half-sister whom I've never met, a full sister, Stacey, who merits the occasional mention here on Ye Olde Blahg, and formerly two step-sisters with whom I no longer speak. In four words: Stacey wins by default. Hee!

5. Where do you live now, and with whom?

I live in what's known here as "America's First Region," a term which always up-cracks me, formerly known as Tidewater but now known as Hampton Roads. Futurely known as "The Place Smellyann Once Graced." Heh. I live with an almost-retired Navy sailor, aka Rob, aka Hubs, and ¾ of the children we produced together. Oh, and of late, SIX DAMN FELINES, now that I've gone and rescued these two cuties from the middle of the road in the middle of the night at the middle of ... yeah, I'm out of middles. ::Looks down:: Wait, no, I've plenty of middles...


The new babehs' first bath! Awww. (No, they didn't like it, but they both pooed all over themselves, ewww.)

6. What is your occupation?

I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mother of the afore-mentioned kids, one of whom just officially started middle school and has the attitude to match! Oy to the vey.

7. Write a full description of yourself.

I have. It's called this damn blahg. Read more of it and you won't need me to answer this question, dangit.

8. To which social class do you belong?

Go f*ck yourself. That one. Heh. I'm klassy, see? See?

9. Do you have any allergies, diseases, or other physical weaknesses?

I don't know why, but this question made me laugh out loud. Okay, so, you really want to know? All righty, then, let's have at it:

Allergies: I answered that yesterday. Scroll.


10. Are you right- or left-handed?


11. What does your voice sound like?

It's high-pitched, like, shrill and stuff. When I Viggle, erm, nothing, just to rack up points, and I talk through the Viggling process, three times now it's come up with Jersey Shore as the show I'm watching. No, I'm not bragging. Heh.

12. What words and/or phrases do you use very frequently?

They all have four letters.

13. What do you have in your pockets?

Nothing, unless you count my hands, checking, a coupla seconds ago.

14. Do you have any quirks, strange mannerisms, annoying habits, or other defining characteristics?

Quirks: I tried asking my husband to list them, because I know I have a lot, but he's a freaking dumbass who can't wrap his feeble mind around the concept of limiting it to the called-for length of this post. Does that help?

Strange mannerisms: "What's the difference between a Strange Mannerism and a Quirk?" asks Hubs. I have to agree.

Annoying Habits: "You HAVE to be right, at all costs." - Hubs

"That's not true, we're still married. And I am always right." - Me

Other Defining Characteristics: "Cute as hell, smart as shit, and funny as all get-out." - Hubs. Again, I have to agree. (See, I'm funny.)

Sunday Stealing: Who Are you? Part 2–The Growing Up Meme

15. How would you describe your childhood in general?

 It sucked ROYALLY after my mom died when I was seven. Before that, it was pretty blissful. She was an angel. I have her on The Pedestal of Maternal Perfection. After that, I buried myself in school to get away from my craptastic family. 

16. What is your earliest memory?

I'm three years old, happy as can be, running and laughing with my arms up in the air all the way down the hall to my mommy. I don't remember why.

17. How much schooling have you had?

I have a New York Regent's diploma from high school. I have a B.S. with a double major in Marine Science (our honor society, no lie, was Rho Rho Rho, which I absolutely loved!) and Biology (Beta Beta Beta), and a minor in Chemistry, from the University of Miami. Graduated with Honors and in the Golden Key Society.

I did an internship in Fisheries Biology at Mote Marine Lab before working for a year and a half on my Ph.D. in Biology studying the functional and ecological morphology (aka "Ecomorphology" (a wiki link, which is of great humour to me!) of elasmobranch fishes (aka sharks, skates & rays) with the premier scientist in the field, before realizing I wanted a life more than the constant publish-or-perish and writing for grant money stress, so I left, to many peoples' shock and chagrin. Plus, I felt inadequate, so it was then that I joined Mensa to re-establish myself - to myself - as an intellectual, empirically academic individual, and yes, sadly, I needed to pull out that card and look at it almost every day.

I worked on the (sickeningly - to me - less rigorous) Master's in Science Ed. program at the same school for a semester after leaving my prestigious doctoral program, but I lost my scholarship in doing so, so I needed to take some time off to earn money to return. It was during that time that I met Rob. We eloped two months after meeting and got pregnant on our wedding night, so I've never gone back. I plan to go to law school and practice Family Law until I get a judgeship in that field, once the kids are grown.

Whew! Oh, and I'm CPR-certified. Hee.

18. Did you enjoy school?

Did you read the above? Yes, it would be quite untrue to say anything less than that I adored it. I'd be the Perpetual Student if I could afford to be.

19. Stop and count, since you were born until today; how many homes have you
lived in?

Nineteen, not counting moving in and out of the same places multiple times. The number would skyrocket exponentially if I did that.

20. While growing up, did you have any role models?

My three or four best friends' seemingly normal, unconditionally-loving parents, and my grandparents filled that position.

21. While growing up, how did you get along with the other members of your family?

Heh. I may be in therapy forever thanks to my upbringing. It's a wonder I'm "only" bipolar and not schizophrenic, or have Multiple Personality Disorder, or something... although I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop. :/

22. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Forever, I'd wanted to be a marine biologist. And for a while, I can say I was...

23. What were your favorite activities 3 years ago?

Let's see. Probably: Hanging out with my family, wasting time online, and, okay, rapidly losing massive poundage, since I'd just had my surgery!

24. As a child, what kinds of personality traits did you display?

I was and remain painfully shy around those I didn't/don't know well. I'm horrible at small talk; I think it's the dumbest thing ever, sorry. I was and remain freaking hysterical around my kindred spirits. ;) I was probably bipolar from my tween or early teen years on, although it's only been six years since I was finally diagnosed. I was and remain impulsively suicidal when the slightest things go wrong, though a good cocktail of meds now help to control those impulses. As a very young child, until Mom died, I was joyous, sweet, kind, loving, and an all-around great kid. I'm in therapy to return to being that person, whom I believe I was born to be.

25. As a child, were you popular?

The smartest and funniest people in the room gravitated toward me. Especially when I was by myself.

26. When and with whom was your first kiss?

Kenny, when I was 14, at Tri-County Mall in B'ville, NY. It. Was. Awesome.

27. Describe any influences in your past that led you to do the things you do today.

I talk to my therapist about that. You don't have the time. TRUST ME ON THIS! You've already had an eyeful here, anyway. ;)

28. What’s next?

Next, Hubs retires, and we skip town the beginning of March, to wend our way westward to San Diego. He'll begin nursing school, and we'll all begin exploring our newfound surroundings. I simply cannot wait!!!!

Well, that was quite sobering for me. Reflective. Memory-lane tripping. I'm off to get a Diet Coke refill and a hug from Hubs, if I can wake his narcolepic arse...

See y'all next week!


Saturday 9 Double Header: The End Of The Innocence & Ain't No Other Man

 Since I was MIA last weekend on Saturday 9 and Sunday Stealing (no comment on that), I'm going to do both weeks today and tomorrow, m'kay? You're cool with that, right? Good. Let's go.


Link up here if you're playing along with the rest of us jokers!

Saturday 9: The End of the Innocence

1) "The End of the Innocence" is one of Crazy Sam's favorite songs. Do you like it? Loathe it? Or is it before your time?

Sadly, I can't claim it's before my time. It's Don Henley - what's not to love??

2) Obviously Don Henley was a smoker back in the 1980s. Do you smoke? Are you a former smoker? Or did you never start?

I'm going to alienate some people here and say that smoking and intelligence are mutually exclusive in this day and age. No, I never started, TYVM. ;)

3) Childhood is generally considered an innocent time. In what town did you spend yours?

Psht. Innocent, mine was not. I split my childhood between the greater NYC - including nearby Jersey - area and Central New York.

4) Do you abide by "innocent until proven guilty?" Or did you come to your own, pre-trial conclusions about famous defendants like Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson?

I wasn't there; I don't know what really happened. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

5) Is there an old TV show whose cast you'd like to see reunite?

Sadly, Three's Company and The Dukes of Hazzard have lost crucial members, so I guess I'll be kinda sorta lame and go with Friends. Or what about Cheers? They're all still alive and kicking, right??

6) Do you know how to ride a horse?

I have ridden a horse, but I suppose that is a different question. I've never been taught, per se.

7) You're ordering ice cream. Cup or cone?

As long as it's sugar-free, fat-free yogurt instead, a spoonful or two out of a cup will have to suffice these days, thanks.

8) Do you believe a gentleman should help a lady with her coat?

Yes. I do. It's just the nice thing to do. In my marriage, chivalry is most definitely not dead. ;D

9) Which search engine do you use most often?

Swagbucks is ALL I use, so I can get lots of free moolah, woot!

And now for last week's post:


 Saturday 9: Ain't No Other Man


1) Do you believe there's only one person (and there ain't no other) for you? Or do you think we can truly love several partners over the course of our lives?

I don't think there is THE ONE for anyone. I just think if you happen to find "The One," it's the first "The One" you ran into, happily for you, but that there are many more out there with whom you'd be equally (or more) compatible. Is that unusually cynical and unromantic of me? I suppose it is, but I've always felt that way.

2) Do you have this, or any other, Xtina song on your iPod/mp3 player?

Nyet. Unless you count her appearance on Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger," which I do have.

3) Christina Aguilera won a Grammy for her performance of this song. What do you deserve an award for? And who would you thank in your acceptance speech?

I would thank Wonderful Pistachios for my award for "Most craps taken in a single week as a result of eating salty nuts." Heh. TMI?

4) Christina Aguilera has her own brand of perfume. Do you have a fragrance or scent you regularly wear?

I wear a variety of Jafra scents. I mix it up, like, every other day. Nothing floral for me, though, blech.

5) Do you have any allergies?

I'm allergic to Anceph (an antibiotic), Percocet, and Bullshit.

6) There's an older lady who proclaims during a TV commercial, "I will give up beer, bread, wine or soda but I won't give up Life Alert!" No, we're not going to debate her diet. Instead the question is: What are some of the staples that are always on your grocery list?

I have three kids 11 and under, so: milk, mac & cheese, and fruit snacks. :\

7) What's your favorite sitcom of all time?

The Big Bang Theory kills me every time! I lurve it. LURVE.

8) When it comes to your socks, do you prefer solids, stripes or prints?

I don't give a crap if they even match, as long as they fit. This coming from a size 6-foot owner who wears sox maybe half-a-dozen times a year. I don't care if there are ten feet of snow on the ground; gimme my Crocs flipper-floppers! (Although if there are ten feet of snow, chances are I'm in the wrong latitude.)

9) At what age do you consider a person "middle aged?"  And when do they transition to "old?"

Oh, God. I can't answer this. My husband just turned 40. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!



Aloha Friday


Aloha! Link up here if you've got questions for Kailani and friends today!

My question for you this week is:

Do you have a low-flow toilet? Either way, what do you think of them?

My answer:

We have one. As an environmentalist, in theory, I think it could be a great idea. However, in practice, I find they SUCK @$$!!!! Ours CONSTANTLY backs up and has to be plunged to within an inch of its life, and our landlord has even knocked some off the rent because of it! It's RIDICULOUS, gross, and a constant source of irritation and frustration for me. TWO THUMBS WAY DOWN. Ugh.

On that happy note, have a great Friday! ;)


Product Review & Sample Giveaway: nectressé sweetener

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NECTRESSE™Sweetener for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

This blahg thing definitely has its perks, and one of those came my way in the mail the other day:

Nectresse product family.jpg

I received an entire 40-count box of NECTRESSE™Sweetenerpackets, a brand-new product from the maker of Splenda! I couldn't wait to try it on a great recipe, which I will eventually do, but since our kitchen is still in flux from our recent prolonged move, I had to settle for a really great cup of coffee. Okay, three.

First, of course, I brewed some French Roast.

Then, I added two packets of nectressé, since the box tells me "each packet provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar," and that's plenty, right?

Added a little milk...

Et voilá! The perfect cup of coffee!

I took a sip, and noooo... it was not quite perfect. I have a very demanding sweet tooth, I'm afraid, and that French Roast proved rather bitter. So I added two more packets of sweetener, and then, my friends, that cup of coffee was perfect. I had two more in quick succession, which is why I'm wired enough to stay up all night and am writing this post at 0500! (Note: That's from the coffee, of course; there is no caffeine in nectressé.)

I really can't wait to try some actual recipes with this good stuff, which, incidentally, also comes in a canister:

Nectresse product family.jpg

...such as this Peanut Butter Granola (YUM!)

Peanut Butter Granola

or this tiramisu! Hello, does that not look good?


Here are some fun facts about NEW nectressé:

  • It's the only 100% natural sweetener made from real fruit - monk fruit extract, available where you shop.
  • It's got zero calories and can be used in cooking and baking, in all your favorite recipes that call for sugar.
  • It's 150 times sweeter than sugar, so you need less to get the same leve of sweetness in your recipes!
  • It's available NOW in groceries, drug stores, supercenters, and online, with an MSRP of $3.99 for the 40-packet box or $6.99 for the canisters.
  • Lisa Ling is the nectressé spokesperson! Check out this video to see what she has to say about it:

I have to agree with Lisa. I'm not a diabetic, but as someone who has had gastric bypass surgery, I am required to use a sugar substitute. Nectressé really fills the bill! I love that it's made from real fruit and is all natural, but I really love the taste! I think you will, too.

Wanna try a FREE SAMPLE of NEW nectressé? Of course you do! Just visit this page for your FREE sample of NECTRESSE™SweetenerSweetener and fill out your information. Bam! Your sample will be on its way to you, just like that. Let me know what you think of it; I'd love to know your thoughts on this tasty new product!

I'm loving it! Excuse me, now, I'm off for another cuppa java. ;)


Visit Sponsor's Site

Bzz, Bzz: SMARTFOOD Selects Snacks Product Review

I'm back again with yet another awesome campaign product from BzzAgent! This time, it's the munchies, namely, SMARTFOOD Selects all natural snacks. I received three products in my BzzKit to try:


The first was a small bag of Feta Herb Hummus Popped Chips. I (reluctantly, I might add) shared some with Hubs, and we both agreed they were delicious. He was mighty surprised to like them, since he is not a ginormous hummus fan, like I am. The bag was gone far too quickly! The chips were fresh, crispy and full flavor. I have been on the lookout for them ever since - especially since SMARTFOOD snacks are on sale at Rite Aid right now. My store down the road doesn't carry their products yet - wahhh! - but I've requested them!


(Sorry for the blurry picture, oops!)

The second bag out of the box was opened immediately after we finished the first. I meant to share these Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Chips with Rob, too, but unfortunately for him, he left the room for a few minutes, and I wolfed them down before he could get a single one. Too bad for him; I know he would have loved these, too. Delish!!


Finally, we received this big bag of Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn. I will say that Rob didn't like this as much, saying, "The only sweet popcorn should be caramel corn," but boo to him, because the kids and I snacked on this and loved it so much, I've since used the coupon provided in my kit - together with a Rite Aid store coupon in their Flu Shot booklet - at a different Rite Aid I happened to stop in and find this at, happily, (no popped chips there, either. Bummer.) to buy two more bags! We're almost done with those, too, so quickly have we gobbled these down.

So have you tried these delicious, all-natural snacks made with smart combinations of real herbs and spices yet? If so, what did you try and what did you think? If not, what are you waiting for?! Get yourself a bag or three and let me know what you like - or not - in the comments below.

The bottom line for Team Odette: YUM, bring on more SMARTFOOD Selects!!


Bzz, Bzz: Glade Expressions Product Review

 Have you tried the (fairly new) line of Glade Expressions products yet? Well, as a BzzAgent, I have been given the opportunity to try them out and get the word out about what I think of them. I bought them in all four scents I found available (more on that in a sec) a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn't until last night that I finally got a chance to start trying them out.


I love, love, love apple-scented anything, so the first product I decided to open was the Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser Starter Kit in Fuju Apple & Cardamom Spice. It was a pretty simple set-up, with the holder and diffuser card included in the package, and the only thing that needed to be done was inserting the card into the holder:


The only problem we encountered was that the directions said you were supposed to press the diffuser card into the holder until it clicked, which neither Rob nor I were able to accomplish. No click. So it's just resting in there, unclicked, but it's still quite effective that way! The apple-scented oil was immediately wicked up and started filling our home with the most wonderful scent! Even our four litterboxes, always stinky, were no match for this little guy. And the design blends right into the décor, too, which in our house is minimal at the moment - but still! ;)


I didn't want competing scents going on, of course, so I opened the Fragrance Mist in the same scent next. It's so easy. You just squeeze the top and it sprays a mist in your chosen fragrance out into the house. I don't really need to use it much with the diffuser in play, but I do squeeze it anyway, every once in a while, for a little scent boost when I want to smell it even more! Seriously, these smell GREAT.


I'll probably try the Pineapple & Mangosteen next, since I love fruity scents, and then there on the left, you can see what the Fragrance Mist refill looks like, in Cotton & Italian Mandarin scent. That sounds good, too, doesn't it?!


The final scent currently available is Lavender & Juniper Berry, which I plan on trying last.  I can't wait to see if they all smell as delicious as the apple & cardamom one, not to mention work as well. Being a fan of Glade products, I feel confident they will perform to my expectations!

So let me now if you've tried these, or plan to try them anytime soon. If you're nearby to me, I might even gift you with a set of your own - just ask! ☺

The bottom line? I love these new Glade Expressions products!


Neon Tiki Tribe Party!

Disclosure: In exchange for this review, I was provided with a party kit including the materials shown herein, by MommyParties and Neon Tiki Tribe. No monetary exchange took place. As always, all opinions are my own.


I'll explain that in a minute. But first, what's a party without some snacks? We started off with pizza bites:


Yes, the glasses were part of our kit. Everyone had fun wearing them!


We selected from purple, green, and gold glasses. It was like Mardi Gras in here!


Rob and I wore the t-shirts, since they were adult-sized, and it was just us for the party as everyone else called out with the latest bug to go 'round. We look adorable, I know. ;)

Now for the Neon Tiki Tribe, whose members include, from Left to Right: Mowah, the strongest; Tia, the smartest; Zeke, the leader; and, Dar, the fastest. Each of the four of us (Sophia was also out sick!) picked a character to be for the remainder of the party.

So. What IS the Neon Tiki Tribe? Tiki stands for Thoughtful, Intelligent, Kind Individual. It's a series of children's stories about issues relevant to kids with a moral involved in each story. Right now, there are three books available, and we received one for everybody, along with character posters:


The good guys, Neon Tiki Tribe members, battle the Evil Ku Tiki Tribe in each of the stories, so in addition to having a moral issue to discuss at the end of the story, good triumphs over bad each time. We received posters showing the bad guys, too:




First, we read Tiki Beach Battle! to introduce ourselves to the characters and the special powers each one gains when they put on their sunglasses. What's also cool about the books is that they use a Dyslexic-friendly font as well, since Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 kids. Pretty thoughtful!


We stopped to discuss the moral of the story over our shrimp cocktail. Hey, it went along with the beach theme of the story, so why not?


The kids clamoured for more, so we read Dog Rescue Mission! second, again taking turns. After that, I interviewed Rob and the kids about the characters, their powers, and the themes of the stories. We had fun seeing who could come up with the right answers the fastest!


Lastly, Chloë - our bookworm - read Bullies: Playground Push-Around to the rest of us by herself, while we followed along in our own books. We discussed the stories some more and related them to our own lives. After that, we called it a day!


If this sounds like something you could use in your own lives, schools, or other kid-related groups, head on over here to the Neon Tiki Tribe Store to see what books merchandise are available.

Enter Promo Code: Tiki300 to get 25% off your order!

Thanks to Neon Tiki Tribe and MommyParties for this fun and educational party experience for us. And yeah, I'm totally going to wear my glasses when I go out to the store tomorrow. Hee!


Sunday Stealing: This Bud's For You Meme

This is the last Sunday Stealing with Bud as host, with a new host taking over. Best wishes to both of you!! Link up here if you're playing along this week!

Sunday Stealing: Stealing's Last Meme with Bud

Smellyann, der!

2010 Honda Odyssey, but if I could I'd have a Smart For Two and/or a Miata convertible! ;)
43. BEST DATE YOU'VE EVER BEEN ON? (IF MARRIED, before your present spouse)

Gosh...I really have to think back. Okay, picture it. I'm 20 years old, just out of college (yes, I graduated without being "legal," suck) and out with my male roommate and three other guys - just the five of us! Back then they stamped your hand to get into clubs if you were of age, so they would turn around and rub their stamps on my hand to get me in with them. We went out to about 3-4 bars and clubs, and the two hot guys in the group hit on me the whole time. When we got back to the house we were renting for the summer, they were fighting over who... well, let's just say I had a good night. ;)
It was just a few hours ago, actually, and I cried my eyes out over something Hubs did. I don't really want to say more than that.
12-hour shift, running the front end (cashiers and baggers) of the Publix in Coral Gables, FL, where I worked through college. Probably after another night of clubbing. I had toooooo much fun in Miami!

I'll be your typical girly-girl and say it's a toss-up between Dirty Dancing and the original Grease. Two of the very few things to which I know all the lines - including the songs!

Does singing at church count? I sang at our baptism last weekend! (Or was that two weeks ago, now? Time's racing!)

I shall refer you to #44, if you please.

My "satchel," as dubbed by a friend of my over-one-shoulder purselet, my iPhone, some sort of lip balm, keys, and usually a wad of coupons and 1-3 kids, these days! Oh, and my giant 7-11 keg o' Diet Coke.

Gotta be my iPhone. Lub lub lub lub lubbit!
Hip2Save! Saves me beaucoup bucks.

Not only no, but HELL NO. Ick, puke, blech.

Yes, actually.

Not really, although I am a Virgo and I epitomize it, so who knows. Not I, said the fly.

My hubs

Yet again, Hubs, and absolutely FILTHY! I cannot share it here, sorreh! ;)
Head to toe: glasses, nose ring, scarf, shrug, tank top (yes, I am dressed rather oddly at the mo'), brassiere, PJ pants, and Crocs flip-flops. Yeah, I'm going Commando. TMI?

Summer! No contest there. Some like it hot.

When it ends :\

To be perfectly frank, I haven't spent enough time there to make that call.

I was supposed to go to a LASIK consult and then church tonight, but we did neither because 5/5 of us weren't feeling well. Tomorrow, we are all going to a big co-ed baby shower, and the kiddos are so stankin' excited to be included!

At peace with myself. Happy. Content.

The one thing in my life I really regret is not getting up out of my hospital bed and demanding that ultrasound when I knew my twins were in trouble. I'll never stop believing that it could have saved my son's life. :(

Right now, no, because I have a headache from crying. Aside from migraines, those are the worst.

I'd go dive the Great Barrier Reef in an instant if I could.

My mom played the organ, so I took lessons on it after she died, to keep it up. I never got very good at it. I'm trying to learn to play flute along with my 11yo, Chloë, but her talent already far surpasses mine. And I had a few dirty jokes in there, but nah, too easy.

I do, yes.
The song "Not So Bad a Dad After All" from Phineas and Ferb. Hee.
I attempted to take over Saturday 9, but the position was already filled. I felt Stealing would be more demanding of my time, which I don't have enough of to give it justice.
Cheers, y'all! Bud, good luck with the book! I'm outie.

Saturday 9: Sam's Last Stand

So this is the end of the line for the current version of S9, but apparently someone's going to start taking it over starting next week, and I'm eager to see who it will be! Meantime, post here if you're playing along this week!

1. If you could experience any life form that was not a human of your sex, what would you pick and why?

I would be a Bald Eagle, soaring high and majestically, swooping low when I desired and rising high again, and revered by all Americans. Yeah. That's what I'd be.

2. Do you believe in the American Dream or has it passed through time?

I think that what was known as the American Dream in the past has changed in the minds of each generation, so that now the younger folk each have their own version in their minds of what it means to them.

3. It's been asked before, probably weekly, but what's irritating you today?

Right now, it's the mess the kiddos left in the kitchen last night. Ugh! I hate to even go in there and see it!

4. What do you think you'll end up looking like? (A picture would help.)

Well, here's what I look like right this second:


So, I imagine eventually, I'll end up looking a bit like this:



5. Has anyone told you that you could not do something?

Sure. The thing that sticks out in my mind was an older male pediatrician telling me that I, a mere stay-at-home mom, could not possibly understand the medical stuff and to "leave the doctoring to" him. I filed a complaint against that @$$hole. Smelly don't play dat!

6. Is there anybody dead that you'd like to talk to?

Sure. Having lost my mom at such a young age (me 7, she 33), there are so many things I'd love to tell and especially ask her. I have a long list; I wouldn't know where to start, so please don't give me a time limit!! Also, my baby boy, gone 9½ years now - I'd like to check up on him and see that he's okay. I know he is, though; he's got my mom and plenty of others to look after him! ♥

7. Have you ever done volunteer work?

Yes, for five years I wore many hats with the Girl Scouts, including my younger daughter Sophia's Troop Leader for the last two years. Before that, from 2004-2010, I ran my own charity, CARE Package, Inc., in memory of my afore-mentioned son, Robby. I did everything from administrative to production, including getting it set up as a 501(c)(3) non-profit public organization all by stupid stay-home mom self! ;) I had a lot of help on the production end, though, especially from mamacita, aka my MIL! ♥ I've done other do-gooding that I'd like to keep to myself, though.

8. Have you ever walked away from a job and regretted it?

I gave up my Ph.D. program with the premiere biologist in the field of ecomorphology, the most renowned in the world, after working my ASS off to get there, and it shocked a lot of people, including myself. I just didn't have the passion for it anymore, after all. I have regretted it many times since, but if I hadn't done that, I probably wouldn't have the life I have now, and I consider myself lucky that I do.

9. How did you find Saturday 9?

I can't remember how I stumbled across it. Perhaps I was in my big meme phase and was looking for more to do? I think that's it. Or maybe I ran into it on someone else's blog? But I think it's the former.

And that's it! Cheers to you, "Crazy Sam" and gang, and best of luck with your future endeavors (to quote many a yearbook signature). To the rest of you, happy weekend!


Aloha Friday


Link up here if you've got questions for Kailani & Friends today!

My question for you this week is:

Do you help the homeless when you can, or do you generally brush them off?

If you read my last post, you'll see why I'm asking. I try to be altruistic when I can - giving of myself by donating blood to the American Red Cross, or my hair to Locks of Love when it gets long enough - though I realize I'm diminishing that altruism both by deriving pleasure from it and by telling you, so I'll keep some more things I do to myself. ;)

What about you?

Have a great weekend!


What Goes Around, Comes Around

Such has been said to and about me before by someone close to our family in a negative way, and it has stuck in my head ever since, but tonight I'm going to relay a story that is not meant to toot my own horn but rather share how it got turned around into a positive saying for me this evening. Here it goes:

You all know how I am a crazy coupon lady and do my wicked-awesome deal shopping at the drugstores week in and week out, right? In Virginia Beach, I used to rotate which stores I went to for the Big Three (CVS, Rite Aid & Walgreens), because the customer service was just "meh" at all of them anyway, and I hated to bother the clerks with my stacks of money-saving coupons routinely. Here, though, now that we've moved to Portsmouth, I've found wonderful customer service employees at all three stores and am loyal to one store for each one. And so I return, sometimes several times a week, to do my deals with these lovely folks who have come to know me as a fair and honest couponer trying to do her best to save a buck and put food on the table for three kids.

That being said, there was this crazy glitch with the Wellness Rewards program at Rite Aid, where I was supposed to get a $10 +UP coupon back, and it wouldn't print out no matter what I purchased. (I decided not to blog about my deals anymore, incidentally, due to lack of interest except on the part of Yours Truly! You can thank me later.) I finally called Corporate this morning and asked what items, specifically, qualified for the $10 reward to print. They gave me an extensive list of items that were supposedly part of the offer.

So this morning, I did three different transactions, purchasing some of those brands, and the dang $10 +UP still didn't print for me. Fortunately, I had coupons so my OOP (out-of-pocket, you'll remember) expense was minimal, and I'll use the items, but it was frustrating!

My day proceeded with teaching the children, taking them to their music lessons, and then coming home for a nap, so it wasn't until this evening at 9 PM - an hour before the store closed - that I remembered that $10 deal was ending tonight and I had one more chance to make it work. I called Corporate again to see if I could get that list one more time, but they were closed already. So I gathered up a few more coupons for some different brands that were mentioned this morning, and headed back over.

First transaction, no dice. Argh! What the heck?! I asked the cashier if she had any idea what products were supposed to generate the coupon, since corporate didn't know and the manager on Sunday didn't know, either. She had no idea, so she asked the manager on duty, who is well aware of me and my couponing and is a couponer herself. She didn't know, either, so she went to the office to do some research while I tried another set of products.

Second transaction, still no dice. Bah! Now I was both frustrated and, oddly, entertained. It was like a challenge to me, now. Nothing in the ad gave a clue to what would generate the reward, and the manager and I walked the store to try and figure it out. We couldn't, so I tried one last-ditch effort and bought something totally off-the-wall, yet still useable for our family, to try and generate that $10 coupon. (Keep in mind that my total OOP for all of this was still less than a buck, so it's not like I was throwing good money after bad, here.)

Third transaction was a repeat: nothing. I gave up! But the manager wouldn't let me leave empty-handed and took pity on me, though I asked nothing of her. She said she hated to see me buying all this stuff, spending "all this money" (which I really wasn't, but okay), and not getting my $10 coupon. She did some tippy-typing in her computer and ended up handing me the ten dollars in cash. She was so frustrated that she couldn't help me make it work, but I didn't want to take it and risk getting her in trouble! She insisted, so I accepted it, signed her sheet, thanked her a bunch, and left the store satisfied. Still mystified, but whatevs.

After that, I drove the half-block around the corner to my 7-11 to refill my giant keg of Diet Coke. There are always homeless men there, hitting me up for money, but I never carry cash. Never.

After I came out of the store from buying my refill, a large man I'd never seen there before came up to me with hunger in his eyes and a handful of change in his outstretched hand. "Excuse me, pretty lady," he said, "can you spare 37¢? I'm trying to get a hot dog."

I totally forgot about the ten-spot I had in my purse, so I told him that the most I could give him was a few pennies. I reached around in my coin pocket and fished out about a dozen pennies, handing them over with my apologies. He thanked me, and then he asked me, "If I give you this money, would you buy me the hot dog, ma'am?" I thought about it for a half-second, if that, before I agreed.

"Are you very hungry?" I asked him. He said yes'm, he sure was. I brought him into the store and asked him what he wanted. He said he would get whatever I would let him get. I told him to get two hot dogs, then, because they were cheaper for two than for a single one.

"Do you mind if I get a small hoagie then, instead?" he asked. Since it was about the same price, I told him to go ahead. He ran over, held up the hoagie, and I nodded. He rushed back into the line with me. After a few moments, he said, "What's your name?" I told him, nicely, "You don't need to know my name." He said, "Okay, I understand, I just wanted to pray for you and say 'God bless you,' and thank you." I told him he was welcome, and then he asked if he could get a Gatorade, too. I told him to go ahead, and he ran over to the drink coolers.

In a moment, he was back, holding up a bottle of 7-Eleven-brand water. "I wanted to get the cheapest thing, ma'am," he told me. I said it was fine if he wanted Gatorade, but he was sticking with the water.

The line was long, so we had to wait yet. After another minute, he piped up again: "Miss, do you mind if I get a back of chips to go with my hoagie?" I was amused, now, because I could tell he thought I was more well-off than I really am and was taking advantage, but his eyes... they were hungry, so I told him to get something that was 99¢ and pointed out all of the options in case he couldn't read. There were plenty, so he selected something and was finally content.

At last, it was our turn at the register. In a booming voice that embarrassed me, he told the cashier and pretty much the whole store that "my new friend here" was buying him dinner. The cashier was new to the store, not one that knows me yet, and she said she didn't believe him. He insisted he'd just met me, and she still didn't believe him. I didn't care either way, but I told her it was true to be supportive of him. She laughed and said, "Sure." Whatever that's about!

I put the receipt in his bag and told him to have a good night. I walked past Q, the other cashier I'm friendly with, and he called out to me, "That was really nice of you!" I smiled at him.

The homeless man then came rushing up to me and said, "Let me walk you out to your car, miss. It's the least I can do." I told him I was right outside and that it wasn't necessary. He was firm, so I let him walk me to the van door. He opened the door for me and leaned in as I was getting in, saying, "God bless you, ma'am. Drive home safely and make sure you wear your seatbelt."

I was touched by his words and smiled at him. I said, "Have a good night, sir. It will get better." He nodded and replied, "I know it will, now. Come here and give me a hug!" I'm a hugger, myself, so I had no problem with that. I let him hug me, and he was sweaty and a little smelly, but I didn't mind. He probably hadn't been able to shower for a while, and today was hot. Inwardly, I wished there was more I could do. I told him good-night, again, and he reiterated to me to drive safely and wear my seatbelt. With that, I smiled and shut the door, driving home the three blocks to our house.

I smiled to myself the whole way home, thinking, one good turn deserves another. And then, when I was pulling up into the driveway, I remembered the unexpected $10 bill I'd gotten at Rite Aid and the three other hungry men who looked at me forlornly when I walked out of the store with the one man I helped. Our larder is quite full to bursting right now, thank God, so now that I've shared this story with you, I'm heading back to go feed the rest of the men some hot dogs with my ten bucks. I can't stand the thought of hungry bellies when it would take so little from me to help.

Why yes, yes I am a hippie tree-hugger librul. And I hope to stay that way. Have a good night. I will.


Sunday Stealing: The End Is Near, Parte Dos

Link up here if you played along late, like I am!

It's a tie between "I'll pay you back" and "I didn't cheat on you!"


I really don't care, although red-headed guys are pretty cute, huh?


My husband, natch, followed closely by Sis, Dad and Therapist.


Participating in our weekly family meeting, which is the highlight of our week, often.


I plan to have a bunch - a bunch!! - of excess skin removed from losing over 200 lbs.


Because it's on Sunday Stealing, and I'm a thief, der.


My smile ;)


Not much, I'm not a big drinker these days and am definitely not dependent on it.

I have three living and one in heaven. I'd have 10 more if I could!


Not anymore, but my kids do!


I do; I think it's rather nice, although arthritis is starting to take its toll. :(


December 28, 1991, when my boyfriend Jembaman and I were both 15.


I've thought about this a lot, and I honestly don't know if I would. It depends on what I was looking for in the friendship.


To me? Sure, but they're a very small part of the whole package of importance, for me.


I yell, I swear a lot, and occasionally, I throw things. Throwing things is fun, but it's rarely a good idea in the end, so I don't recommend it.


I consider Miami to be the home where my heart is, but I'm really crossing my fingers that when we move to San Diego, that love and longing will be displaced.


Too easily, and that naïveté often gets me into trouble!


No, never. (Sarcasm used.)


No, never... and it's NOT on my bucket list, for once. ;)

Have a great week, y'all