Friday, November 26, 2010

What I like to do with Thanksgiving leftovers - Curried Turkey Soup

I shared this recipe a few years a go but it is one of my favorite recipes to use up some of those Thanksgiving leftovers.

Curried Turkey Soup (I doubled the amounts below so that there was a large amount)
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 cup minced onion
4 - 8 tablespoons flour (depending on the amount of mashed potatoes used)
5-6 cups of stock, warmed
optional ingredients: mashed potatoes (used to thicken), broccoli, asparagus tips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large cup of diced turkey (I usually add more, you really can't have too much in the soup in my opinion)
4 tablespoons minced parsley

In a large stock pot, melt butter and stir in curry, cook for 1 minute. Add the onion and cook for about 10 until soft but not browned. Stir in flour, cook for 2 minutes and remove pot from heat and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Vigorously whisk in hot stock, return to hot stove and simmer for one minute continuing to whisk. If using mashed potatoes, add those in now 1 tablespoon at a time until desired thickness. stir in cream while simmering slowly, season. Stir in turkey and other optional veggies, bring to a simmer again, sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Do you have any special recipes that call for Thanksgiving leftovers? Care to share them in the comments?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

77kids Holiday Sneak Peek & Charity Launch - Giveaway

Today we attended the grand opening and holiday sneak peek & charity launch at the brand new location of 77kids in Ross Park Mall!  77kids is part of the American Eagle family and they have clothing for children from size 0-3 months to children's size 14.  The designs are fresh and fun!  Everything is constructed well, reinforced, and the pants have adjustable waists (score!).

Our main purpose for attending was to be introduced to the store and learn about the launch of their holiday charity efforts.  Watch this video for an overview of how you can donate from in the store:

In addition to donating in the store you can also help to raise money for local children's hospitals by making your very own snowflake once a day between today - December 14th!  77kids is asking for 100,000 snowflakes to be made so that they can donate an additional $25,000 to local children's hospitals, this particular store is donating to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.  The BEST part is that for every snowflake you make you are entered to win gift cards (they are giving away one $77 gift card DAILY!!!) and one lucky person will win a winter block party for them and 77 of their closest friends!  Sounds like a blast!  Making a snowflake takes about 2 minutes and the kids can have fun with this too!

77kids has graciously offered a $50 gift card for me to give to one of my lucky readers! Will it be you?  Submit your entries until 11:59 pm December 2nd!  I will contact the winner the following day and you'll have 48 hours to reply, if you do not reply I will have to move on to the next person on the list.

Here's how to enter:

Required for Entry - 
* Make a snowflake here and "like" 77kids on Facebook or Follow @77kids on Twitter.  Leave a comment here telling me you created your snowflake and either "liked" or followed.  INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN!  

Bonus Entries - You'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME!

*Tweet this: 
"@CaraRolinson is Giving Away a $50 gift card to @77kids! #77kids  "
Leave a comment here letting me know you Tweeted INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR TWEET and EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Share your snowflake on Facebook.  Leave a comment here letting me know you shared INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Follow Me with Google Friend Connect, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via GFC then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

* Follow Me on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via Twitter then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

****I was compensated for this post.  However, my thoughts and feelings on 77kids, their stores and their charity launch mentioned above are my own and are 100% honest to how I feel about them.****

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Traveling... again... Marie Callender's to the rescue! (review and a giveaway!)

******   CONTEST CLOSED AS OF 12/1/2010 ********

Well, Chris is at it again!  He's out of town for 11 days and I'm home alone with the kids daydreaming of traveling to Prague with my family one day.  The good part, we're on the upswing with only 4 days left!  whoo!  When Chris travels I look for easy meal options. I keep things simple as best as I can and I usually order out once (or twice).  I also use some frozen foods to help us save time too!  That's why when I was asked to do this review of the new Marie Callender's meals I JUMPED at the opportunity because the timing could NOT have been any better!

Marie Callender's just launched a new product called Marie Callender's new Baked Meals!  They are family sized meals that appeal to the whole family.  I had the opportunity to pick a few meals to try and I would like to report back there was NO disappointment what-so-ever!  I picked Creamy Chicken Alfredo with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Scalloped Potatoes & Ham in a Creamy Swiss Cheese Sauce and Southwestern Style Chipotle Chicken Bake.  I liked all three, the Southwestern Chipotle Chicken Bake was my favorite though.  There are three others that I am interested in trying too especially the Chicken, Spinach, and Mushroom Lasagna (doesn't that sound YUM?)

All of them can be baked in a conventional oven or microwave.  I used the microwave heating option for all three and was impressed with the outcome.  You know when you bake something cheesy and creamy and the edges and peeks get a nice golden color?  Well, they achieved this in a microwave dish!  How? I have NO clue!  

I used these meals as the main portion of our meals, I added salad and a fresh vegetable as sides to complete each meal.  They fed the three of us perfectly (with some left over too!) and the boys actually asked for seconds!  THAT never happens!

Other than the really flavorful ingredients, another HUGE selling point is the price!  These retail for a little less than $6.00!  That means you can feed a family of four EASILY for $10 or less using Marie Callender's Baked Meals!  I think that's GREAT!  

In addition to asking me to review their new baked meals they have given me some AWESOME coupons to giveaway to my readers!  The winner will receive the following: (2) coupons, each good for (1) FREE Marie Callender's Bakes AND a few other coupon goodies too!  **** This giveaway runs until November 30th at 11:59 pm.  Winner will be announced December 1st!

How you can enter:
Required for Entry - 
* Leave one comment below sharing what Marie Callender's Baked Meal you would like to try (You can flip through the options here) INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME SO THAT I CAN CONTACT YOU IF YOU WIN!  

Bonus Entries - You'll get ONE EXTRA ENTRY for each of these below, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each of them noting what you did AND INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME!

*Tweet this: 
"@CaraRolinson is Giving Away Marie Callender's Baked Meals Coupons! Come join the fun: "
Leave a comment here letting me know you Tweeted INCLUDE A LINK TO YOUR TWEET & EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME.

* Follow Me with Google Friend Connect, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via GFC then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

* Follow Me on Twitter, leave a comment here letting me know you followed me INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR TWITTER NAME. (if you already have connected via Twitter then just leave a comment stating this is the case)

****I was compensated to write this review.  However, my thoughts and feelings on the products mentioned above are my own and are 100% honest to how I feel about the product.****

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jour 280 - Audio assignment

As most of you know, I am currently taking classes.  This is for an assignment.  Don't judge, it's the first time I've mixed something together using real audio mixing tools and not multiple tape decks and the record button on a boom box....  to quote a fell "burgh blogger" please just bloop bloop bloop to the next post ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - W1D2

My vision:

1. I am an energetic mom, I feed my family healthy home cooked meals and fresh foods daily.  I'm happy and smile and rarely yell at my kids.  My house is clean and tidy inside and out.  I am relaxed and not controlling of my kids and husband.  My clothing is need and tidy and I look fashionable and put together. If my clothes fit well, I feel good!

2. my visual perspective.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - W1D1

1. My Should's:

I should do 1-2 loads of laundry a day - including folding.
I should take junk mail directly to the trash instead of setting in the table, end of the counter, in the roll-top or with the bills.
I should clean up lunch as soon as we're finished eating.
I should wipe down the table after every meal.
I should sweep the dining room floor at least once a day, preferable after dinner.
I should make the beds.
I should plan meals a few days in advance.
I should get up earlier than the kids.
I should drink more water.
I should workout today.
I should vacuum the stairs and 2nd floor waaay more often than I do.
I should be a little more patient with my kids and cut down on the yelling.

2. Writing it in stone:

I have decided to create a better household by correcting my deficiencies.  I will do so by decreasing my procrastinations, getting up earlier, preparing my families daily needs in advance and not so last minute.  I will create more time for me and my running, knitting/crafting.  I will have a cleaner home and more time for quality relaxing with my family.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Total Mom Makeover - Intro

A few weeks back I mentioned my lunch with Libby's and motivational mama Hannah Keeley.  Within that post I mentioned I received a copy of Hannah's book Total Mom Makeover.  AND I had promised that I was going to start the program and share my progress with my readers.  Well the day has come, I'm kicking off this program today!

*** Before you read on, please consider a small donation to the right over there --------> in the Libby's Feeding America box!  I don't usually ask for such things but really, $5 can provide a whole stack of food to hungry families and children in need -  yep 5 bucks! The amount of a latte and a muffin from your favorite coffee shop!  Skip the excess for one day and share the wealth with folks in need.  Thank you! /end promo plug

Back to my post here and please note, yes, I received this book for free but my choice to share this endeavor with you is unprovoked by Hannah.  I see a worth while adventure and I am merely sharing like I usually do.

(OK really back to business here) The cover of the book states it is "The Six-Week Plan to Completely Transform Your Home, Health, Family, and Life"  I want to first point out that I'm in no way unhappy with where I am in my life!  I love my family and taking care of my children, I love my social life and for the first time EVER I love my job (the one outside of being a stay at home mother).  However, those of you who are close to me know that there are some aspects in my life that I need to work on.  Keeping house, ranks up there at the top! Taking care of myself and my needs, both physically and mentally are also in the negative space here. Most of these negative spots come from we will say an very strong urge to procrastinate.  I'm quite organized, I can set up a file system and keep that going and I keep my work very organized, it's the stuff that I can stash away in my home, like laundry and dust and papers from my kids school that get stashed into the roll-top desk and my inability to plan a meal before 5pm on a daily basis these are the things that keep rearing their ugly heads and making my day-to-day home making an utter disaster most of the time.

As I mentioned, Hanna's book is a Six-week plan, she suggests to step 1, get a journal (this here blog is going to serve as my journal), step 2, set aside a specific time each day to read that day's section in the book and at the end of each day I will have a few exercises to complete in my journal.  They will be quick lists to make and/or thoughts to help reflect on, these will be my short posts that I'll share with you here.   As I progress, I may or may not to share EVERY single day with you.  I'm pretty open about myself and my life so It won't be a matter of the content being to private but instead it may not be worthy of a post.  I may also combine days into one post to keep things less cluttered around here.  I also want to add, I'm crazy busy here these days.... I hardly have time to sit and tune out over a cup of coffee and blog reading... so if my journal posts are full of typos and messed up grammar, please don't hold it against me, they are journal entries and well dammit they aren't going to be perfect!  Because I just don't have the time to be perfect....

If you are interested in trying this plan too, Hannah's book is available via Amazon over there in the right column of my blog.   Again, this is NOT a paid post and all future posts about my advances in the plan will remain that way as well.  I'm sharing link love with Hannah and her book merely because she is a good person, an inspirational mama and friend!

An Introduction and Review: Arctic Ease

Whew busy times are upon me!  Two weeks ago, I was contacted by my colleagues at Chemistry again (They are the folks to introduced me to Steaz & Beano's!).  They were looking for social media outreach help with their client Arctic Ease and I said sure!  I am currently managing their Facebook and Twitter outreach.   

A brief introduction to Arctic Ease, they offer wraps and pads for cryotherapy (cold therapy). From their website, "The specially treated wraps and pads absorb heat energy from the body to cool the covered area. The absorbed heat is then lost to evaporation, which allows for the sustained cooling effect of Arctic Ease."  They can be used in place of ice packs, frozen peas and (HEY MAMA'S) Boo Boo Bunnies!  For a full description of the product feel free to check out their site, it is FULL of useful information about the product! 

Arctic Ease wraps can be cut to size and wrapped around the problem area including legs, knees, ankles, wrists AND can be used to treat those toddler head bumps! They are non-toxic, reusable and made in the U.S.A.!  

In my running experiences, I haven't had much of a need for icing afterwards (or so I thought).  I don't run long distances, I usually average 2 miles per run.  However, I HAVE noticed if I ran in the morning by the evening my knees were achy and my legs were restless...  annoyingly so.  So this past weekend I put my own Arctic Ease wraps to the test.  I wrapped ONE knee, the one that usually feels the most achy and restless.  I wrapped it within an hour of finishing my run, then packed up the kids and the hubs and went for a hike.  I wore the wrap for 3-4 hours and was amazed at how cold my knee and surrounding leg felt.  When we got home, I took it off, put it back on the little roll it came on and placed it back into the resealable bag with a tablespoon and a half of water to rehydrate it for next time. 

Afternoon passed, evening passed and by night I had none of my usual achy and restless knee (on the side I wrapped).  The knee I did not wrap DID have it's usual bit of achy/restlessness. Yes, I performed a scientific experiment and this knee was my control.  

Wearing the wrap didn't inhibit me in the least bit, I hiked, I played with my kids and was comfortable the whole time.  The ability to be mobile AND treat my knees at the same time is priceless for a mother of two very active kids.  

Overall, I give this product a THUMBS up!  I was impressed by it's ease of use!  No need for clips as it sticks to itself as you wrap thus no need for clips or pins.  

We are currently looking for active and runner bloggers for to write product reviews, if this is something you might be interested in, please leave a comment or email me and we can discuss it further.  Arctic Ease is also giving away registrations for the 2011 Chicago Marathon, you can enter by checking out their Facebook page and following the Chicago 2011 tab.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Look Into Barefoot Running

As you all know, I'm fairly new to the running arena.  What I'm not new to is knowledge of proper footwear for specific jobs and sports.  A wise woman once said (paraphrased) 'You should always use the proper tool for the proper job' (this wise woman is Martha Stewart in reference to her fine work in the kitchen).  I realize her advice may be a bit simple and obvious but that same advice should be used across all parts of our lives.  If you need to dig a hole to plant a tree would you use a snow shovel?  If you needed to paint a wall would you use a hair brush? If you wanted to take ballet classes would you purchase steel toed work boots? No, no and no!

As I mentioned above, I'm not new to the knowledge of  proper footwear for specific jobs and sports.  A little about my background...  My father, Ted Colaizzi, is a Certified Pedorthist (C. Ped.).  What does Certified Pedorthist mean? Let's first define Pedorthic - (ped-or'-thiks) -the design, manufacture, modification and fit of footwear, orthotics and devices to alleviate foot problems caused by disease, overuse, or injury. A C. Ped. has fulfilled and maintains specific educational requirements to be certified by the Board for Certification in Pedorthics (BCP).  Without getting all preachy, and just to illustrate how involved my family is within the Pedorthics and just to further illustrate why I know what I know and why I have decided to write about this today...  

My parents (along with my late grandfather) have owned and operated their business servicing the foot and ankle community for over 75 years.  As a child growing up in a household where my parents owned their own business, an evening never passed without a conversation between my parents about what happened at the store today.  I got to know the regulars and quite a few technical terms just because of the conversation.  Because of that conversation I believe that I have a much deeper understanding of how the food and ankle function and I even understand the logic behind how to treat minor issues. With this knowledge I also learned that the proper shoe for the job was not just a preference but a necessity.  Running is one of those necessities.  

Back in May after I spent a few months watching a few friends train for the Pittsburgh Marathon (half and relay) as you know I bit the bullet and decided to give Couch to 5K a shot.  BUT while most people might have just laced up their old sneaks and get out on the road, I threw up the caution sign and called my dad.  I asked if running shoes and their internal support could break down after years of getting dusty in a closet.  His answer was YES.  I then told him my plan and a little about the program and he solidified my urge to wait until I had the proper shoes and told me to come in so that I could be fitted for a new pair.  

As most of you know, when I get a crazy hair up my arse to do something 9 times out of 10 I want to run out and do it NOW, right this minute!  I had to wait a week and a half before I got my new shoes... My dad didn't have my wide width in stock (understandable really) so I had to wait for the order to arrive.  I was so geeked when my shoes came in that I drove over there THAT day to pick them up so that I could start C25K that afternoon.

A few weeks into C25K I started to see other bloggers mention a book called "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall.  These blogs and the book mention barefoot running.  I was intrigued to say the least but not because I wanted to try it.  This coming from the girl who can barely walk around the cement pool deck for fear that I MIGHT step on a pebble or that the cement might be too hot.  I wanted to read more because I felt there may be some folks out there who might think these ideas sound like good ones (which in a way they kinda do good) but if executed poorly they could result in serious injury. 

So I started to read.  I will admit I didn't read the entire book (I haven't read for pleasure in years due to lack of time why start now....) but I read large portions (there is a LOT of story telling and I skipped over some).  In short the book's author decided to follow a hidden tribe of runners who are known to be superathletes.  Barefoot running is their game as is harsh dessert conditions and distances like you would never believe.  The book and the stories were admittedly interesting and enjoyable but the barefoot running suggestions is downright scary.  

It is suggested that as we evolved as humans we all ran barefoot.  And yes that is a fact.  They suggest that this new barefoot movement is a throwback to how we are supposed to run and that the addition of running shoes actually harms our body's inherent ability to run correctly.  Step back and think about that for a second.  It makes sense right?   I will admit, it kinda does.  However with a second look, it's easy to realize that it really doesn't make much sense at all.  Consider this, as we evolved there were desserts, grassy fields, beaches and dirt paths.  No roads, no paved trails, no tracks.  Impact on those surfaces even if they were harder like dessert, does not compare with the hardness of a brick street or asphalt trail or paved road.  Foot/heel and ankle impact on these man made surfaces play a HUGE role in the current injuries that will occur from barefoot running.  

Barefoot running is something that if you are interested in trying will take a LOT of conditioning and commonsensical thought about how and where you plan to train.  Instead of going completely barefoot consider wearing a pair of Vibram's, take training slow slow slow.  As runners I'm pretty certain we are all pretty in tune with our bodies and can feel it immediately when something goes wrong.  If you start to feel pain, stop.  See a doctor and put your running shoes back on.  

I've talked to my father about this topic quite a bit and we both are in the agreement that it's not a smart idea.  Injury is inevitable and the risk is not worth it.  Heck the risk of injury is high as a runner to start with, why would you want to put more risk into it? 

Yes this is a family blog - but sometimes we get to be adults

This post is not going to fall within the normal topics that you usually find here. But that doesn't mean it's not a family friendly topic.  Most of my readers are moms and most of them are married.  The topic below is something that in my opinion is perfectly normal for a married couple to engage in.

We all like to have a little fun in the bedroom right?  In fact if I were to take a guess I would guess that since most of us have children we have had fun at least as many times as we have children right?  I also know that as a parent time for such activities are sometimes pushed to the bottom of the list.  Reasons may include a sick kid or a busy work schedule, maybe things are a little stale or just being too tired at the end of the day for some personal one on one time with your husband or wife right?  Sometimes all it takes to awaken things in the bedroom is something new to play with together or some fun sexy clothing or really anything else your little heart desires to help spice things up in the bedroom.

I wanted to share a site that I first came across last winter, Eden Fantasys.  Their site is clean and well organized with LOTS of options.  I'm certain that there is something for everyone on this site.  They carry items in all price ranges and provide written and video reviews of most every item on the site.  That is something that I find to be quite helpful.  There is also a cool points program you can sign up for, you can get points for just looking around their site.  You can also set up a wish list that you can share with your husband or wife - involving them in the choice can be a fun way to spice things up right?

I was contacted to do this post by Eden Fantasys (and was provided compensation in the form of a free item from their site) and I decided to do a post for them based on that fact that I HAVE actually used their site in the past (a few times) and I trust their company.  The customer service has been top notch and the quality of the items has also been exactly as they portray on their site.  If you're looking to get back into the bedroom with your partner in crime or to spice up the exciting relationship you already have give Eden Fantasys a look before you make your next adult toy or sexy lingerie purchase ;)