Lifestyle * Travel * Food

Sep 30, 2013

Kindergarten class photo and updates

It has been a while since I have posted about my family. I have been utilizing my time wisely. It has been amazing having a good portion of the day to myself and I make every minute count. A lot of people assume I have all of this "extra time" with everyone at school and work. The truth is, I have been working harder and time seems to slip away each day. By the time I think I am making a dent in my to-do list, school pick-up time creeps up and my day goes into the next phase of busyness. I always wish I could have about 2 more hours each afternoon. 

William has been loving school. He leaps out of bed each morning without me having to wake him up and he is always very enthusiastic about it being a school day. It has gotten to a point that he arrives to the car in the afternoon in tears. He cries because he is not ready for the school day to end. Here I was thinking that it would be a long and hectic day for him. I was so wrong! 
They took school pictures a few weeks ago and although I am not a fan of them, his came out so cute! I can't believe he smiled nicely. I have the hardest time these days getting him to cooperate for photos. I volunteered on picture day and it was fun getting back into the swing of being involved in elementary school. William's class is the absolute sweetest. The class consists of 6 boys and 14 girls. It is so cute seeing William with his friends and it was a long time coming. His teacher says that he has a lot of friends and everyone enjoys being around him. We are so glad that he has no issues adjusting socially. He loves being around the other kids and has really gotten into the whole school routine. Around school he is known as having the best smile. It's wonderful having such a happy and content kid. His sisters were the same way.

I am thrilled that I am the classroom mom. I love helping out with anything I can. I really look forward to all of the fun activities, field trips and connecting with other parents this school year. It feels like the time is already going by so quickly.

How is the school year going so far for your children?
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Sep 23, 2013

New Green Giant™ Veggie Chips and a $25 Publix GC giveaway #spon #myblogspark

The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix® and Green Giant™ through MyBlogSpark. 
Green Giant™ Veggie Chips are a brand new snack that are made of real vegetables and sweet potatoes. I received all 4 varieties and it was so hard to choose which one to try first. I went the Garden Ranch Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips. They looked very textured and seasoned. I popped the first one in my mouth and was pleasantly surprised with the nice ranch flavor without the heavy salty taste you get from most chips. It has the perfect crispy, crunchy texture and if you're not careful, you can easily eat half the bag. Of course, I know nothing about this. 

Green Giant™ Veggie Snack Chips can be a smarter snack since they are made with real vegetables and real sweet potatoes
o With 17 grams of whole grain per serving (14g for Sweet Potato Chips, 18g for Ranch) 48 grams of whole grain recommended daily.
o About Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips only: 40% less fat than regular potato chips Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips only (6g per 28g serving) have 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips (10g per 28g serving).

These are really good for every day snacking, lunchboxes, movie munchies or even as a team sport snack. It's a chip you can feel good about giving your kids. You can purchase Green Giant Veggie Chips are many stores nationwide, including Publix Supermarket.

One Mom Files winner will win a great prize pack consisting of 4 bags of Green Giant Veggie Chips in Garden Ranch, Barbecue, Zesty Cheddar and Sea Salt varieties, as well as one $25 Publix gift card. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends on October 6, 2013 and one winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!
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Sep 20, 2013

Wendy's Chicken Flatbread Sandwiches #6SecondsFlat Sweepstakes #sp

Thanks to Wendy's for sponsoring this post and for the opportunity to try Wendy's Chicken Flatbread Sandwich. 
http://linqia.cc/a5538d3
Wendy’s Flatbread Chicken Sandwiches are back for a limited time. Try both flavors, Asiago Ranch (it has bacon on it) and Smoky Honey Mustard (only 370 calories). I tried the Asiago Ranch and loved it so much! Right now 6 seconds could win you $6,000 in Wendy’s #6SecondsFlat Sweepstakes.

Tell Wendy’s what you think about their flatbreads in a Vine or Instagram video then send it @Wendys (through twitter, Instagram or Vine) with the #6SecondsFlat tag and the my custom hashtag @momfiles6. Each week of September, one lucky winner will be randomly selected to receive a $6000 prize.

Visit the sweepstakes landing page for more information and view the “official rules” at the bottom of the page. Below is an example of a video I made. How easy is that?



Wendy’s is handpicking the best video entries to re-post from their official Wendy’s social media accounts to be featured on the contest website.

Be sure to check out the sample videos on the 6 Seconds Flat landing page by clicking on any of the video squares. Don't forget to include my custom hashtag as well @momfiles6.
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Sep 18, 2013

Easy Recipe: Sweet & Spicy Cabbage with Pork

I was chatting with my friend Krystel from Army Wife 101 yesterday and was looking for some dinner suggestions. She talked about a cabbage and ground pork dish she made before and I came up with my version of it. I posted a photo of it on Instagram and received several messages and texts to share the recipe. Here it is:

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground pork (you can also use ground chicken, turkey or beef)
1 head of cabbage chopped
1 small chopped onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
2 scallions sliced thinly
your favorite dry seasonings. Here are my favorites.
about 1 teaspoon of 5 spice powder (optional)
1/3 cup of Frank's® RedHot® Sweet Chili sauce

What to do:
Add your ground meat in a hot pan and season to your liking. I use a potato masher to help separate the meat and make it in more uniform crumbles. Cook until brown and add your onion, garlic and ginger. Saute for a few minutes and drain any fat from pan. Now you add your cabbage and cook it down until it gets a bit tender. From there I add any additional seasonings and my Frank's sweet chili sauce. Toss in your scallions, simmer for a few minutes and you are done! Serve with Jasmine or brown rice.

This is a crowd pleaser for sure. I think I will try it next time with kale. This meal takes 30 minutes or less to make, perfect for busy weeknights.  If you try this dish, please let me know how it turned out. Enjoy :)

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Sep 16, 2013

Tips for buying a home

Everyone dreams of owning their own home, but buying one is a lot of work. Just preparing for homeownership is a massive undertaking that can seem daunting. There are processes that you have to go through before you can even think about looking for the home you want to buy.

Budgeting and banks
First, you have to know exactly what your budget is and how much you can afford to spend. The banks will need this information before they will even think about giving you a mortgage loan, so have it all ready. The difference can sometimes help in negotiations with a seller for a better price on the home. Make sure that you are pre-approved not pre-qualified. Research diligently through different lenders as well. Make sure you get the best possible mortgage and interest rates.

Look into the area
You will have to know what you need as far as size like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. You will have to take into consideration schools, transportation, and stores as well. If you prefer public transportation, you will have to make sure that you are near to the local pick up. Do you want the local stores to be close at hand? The Local Records Office can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods you are considering, so make sure to look them up.

Contract a buyer's agent
The housing market changes constantly. Even though we are recovering from the housing crisis from a few years ago, you will want to do plenty of research. You don't have to have a real estate agent and honestly, agents work for the seller not you. However, you can contract a buyer's agent if you wish. A buyer's agent will ensure you find the house you want for a good price and actually works for you.

Look for homes
Look at a lot of homes before you make an offer for one. You want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and not just settling for what you think you can afford. After all if you are paying that much money to buy a home, you want to be happy in it. Likewise, don't allow an agent to push you into a house you can't really afford either. Just because you qualify for it, doesn't mean you should buy it. You could overtax yourself and that will lead to trouble later on.

Once you make an offer and it is accepted, there are several steps that have to be taken. A home inspection to check the foundation, construction, heating and cooling system, electrical etc must be done. This is important so that you and your bank know that the home is sound.

You will have to buy homeowners insurance and bring the document with you to your closing along with your down payment and another check for closing costs unless you have negotiated for the seller to pay them, you will be responsible for those.  The closing should take about an hour and when you are finished, you will be the proud owner of a home of your own.

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Sep 11, 2013

Publix Breakfast Savings going on now! ($25 GC Giveaway) #myblogspark

**CLOSED**
Winner is Crystal- congratulations! 

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix® through MyBlogSpark.

The Publix Breakfast Savings Event is going on right now! This is a great opportunity to stock up, especially now that school is in session. 
I was lucky to find Quaker Oatmeal on sale buy one, get one free. I bought 8 boxes since my kids eat it daily. There are some coupons available for some breakfast items to save even more. Check them out here

There are many items on sale like Aunt Jemima Pancake Syrup, General Mills Cheerios Cereal, Kellogg's Nutri-Grain bars and more! There are so many convenience items that help make school mornings a little easier. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

To help you stock up on some breakfast items, one Mom Files reader will win a $25 Publix gift card. Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends on September 20, 2013 and one winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

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Sep 10, 2013

IHOP® restaurants offer Stuffed French Toast in 2 new varieties

IT’S A SWEET START TO SEPTEMBER AS IHOP RESTAURANTS INTRODUCE TWO NEW VARIETIES OF STUFFED FRENCH TOAST, SEPTEMBER 9

New Peach Vanilla and Strawberry Vanilla Toppings Add a Fresh New Twist to this Delicious Classic


GLENDALE, CA. – September 9, 2013 -- IHOP® restaurants, which created a new breakfast classic when it introduced Stuffed French Toast—delicious cinnamon raisin French toast with a sweet cream filling—has found a new way to top it!  Beginning September 9th, guests can enjoy two new varieties of this favorite dish:

·         Peach Vanilla Stuffed French Toast
A warm slice of cinnamon-raisin French toast stuffed with sweet cream filling, dipped in lightly sweetened vanilla batter and grilled until golden brown, then topped with glazed sliced peaches, vanilla cream drizzle, powdered sugar and finished with creamy whipped topping.

·         Strawberry Vanilla Stuffed French Toast
A warm slice of cinnamon-raisin French toast stuffed with sweet cream filling, dipped in lightly sweetened vanilla batter and grilled until golden brown, then topped with glazed whole strawberries, vanilla cream drizzle, powdered sugar and finished with creamy whipped topping.

 They join IHOP’s regular varieties of Stuffed French Toast— glazed strawberries, cinnamon apple and blueberry compote.

“When we introduced our Stuffed French Toast, we instantly created another unique IHOP classic,” said Natalia Franco, Senior Vice President, Marketing, International House of Pancakes, LLC.  “And now, just in time to celebrate the start of the fall season, we’ve come up with two new sweet, rich  variations on this favorite that guests are sure to love.“

The new varieties of Stuffed French Toast can be ordered as a separate menu item, or as part of one of IHOP’s famous 2 eggs any style made to order combo breakfasts, all served with hash browns: 

Ultimate Bacon & Sausage Combo
Ham & Eggs Combo
Bacon & Eggs Combo
Sausage & Eggs Combo
Regular Combo
Egg Combo

And, as a perfect complement to any of these choices, guests will want to try two new flavored coffees:

·         Salted Caramel Iced Coffee –a delicious proprietary recipe that captures the distinctive sweet and salty combination of salted caramel.
·         White Chocolate Flavored Hot Coffee—our famous brewed International Roast coffee flavored with the distinctive sweet taste of white chocolate, topped with whipped cream.

These flavored coffees will be available for a limited time through November 3rd.

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PANCAKES, LLC
For 55 years, International House of Pancakes, LLC has been a leader and expert in all things breakfast and a leader in family dining. The chain is highly competitive in its menu offering, serving 65 different signature, made- to-order breakfast options as well as a range of meals under 600 calories.  Beyond offering “everything you love about breakfast, SM” IHOP® restaurants have a wide selection of popular lunch and dinner items, as well. IHOP restaurants offer guests an affordable, everyday dining experience with warm and friendly service. As of June 30, 2013, there were 1,593 IHOP restaurants in 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Under the licensed name IHOP at HOME® consumers can also enjoy a line of premium breakfast products available at leading retailers. IHOP restaurants are franchised and operated by Glendale, Calif.-based International House of Pancakes, LLC and its affiliates. International House of Pancakes, LLC is a wholly-owned subsidiary of DineEquity, Inc. (NYSE: DIN).  For more information or to find an IHOP restaurant near you, please visit www.IHOP.com.  Follow IHOP on Facebook and Twitter.

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Perfect for moms on-the-go, Ju-Ju-Be "Be Right Back" back pack (Review & Giveaway)

 **CLOSED**
Winner is Jammie- congratulations! 

Are you a mom-to-be or have a little one? I remember when I had my babies, I had the tacky, boring baby bag that all new moms carry. By my third child, I gave up the baby bag all together and went with my regular purse instead. Times have surely changed and now you can find bags and accessories that fit your fashion taste. Ju-Ju-Be bags are made for not only looks, but have great function and durability. I received a "Be Right Back" smart back pack in the Platinum Petals print from their fall line of bags. This back pack is so pretty and has so many great compartments inside.
I made a short video to show you all the great features of this bag. 


I really love the variety of sizes and shapes, as well as colors and patterns that Ju-Ju-Be has to offer. There is definitely something for every taste! With having a little one in kindergarten, I know I will get great use out of this bag for field trips and outings. I love having my hands free and also having all I need with me. Now that I think about it, this is idea for when we go to the State Fair or on day trips. My high school daughter is even eyeing it for herself! She was saying how sturdy the back pack is and she would be comfortable putting her Chromebook in it. I think she better not get any ideas about taking MY bag! 

I am so pleased that the sweet folks at Ju-Ju-Be are letting me host a giveaway for one Mom Files reader to win a Be Right Back bag {$140 value!} in their choice of pattern. I know you want one! Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway  

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on September 24, 2013. One winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

I received a bag of my choice for review purposes. All opinions are my own as always.
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Sep 8, 2013

Introducing Blister the Velociraptor from VTech’s Switch & Go Dinos® (Review & Giveaway)

**CLOSED**
Winner is Mary Somerville- congratulations! 

I was provided with a sample to review by VTech. All opinions are my own as always. 

My son loves dinosaurs. He has so many books, toys and even apparel with dinosaurs on them. Another thing he likes a lot is any type of air craft. Anytime he hears something flying in the sky, he runs to the window to investigate. When we received Blister the Velociraptor from VTech’s Switch & Go Dinos®, he was so excited! His first reaction was, "Wow! Look at the cool helicopter!". When he looked at the box and realized you can switch it into a dinosaur, he was pumped. We couldn't get it out of the packaging fast enough!
Blister the velociraptor is unlike any other of his dino toys. This one makes sounds, speaks, lights up and can be a dinosaur one minute, and a helicopter the next. The helicopter sounds are so realistic and even the dino roars are a bit scary! William loves it and loves to push it around since it will make continuous sound with motion. 
He likes to go up and down the dark hallway floor at night to light the path for Blister to go on a hunt for 'food'. He can play with Blister for close to an hour at a time and really enjoys all of the fun features. Check out this short video to see how it works:

   
The ultimate kid’s toy, Switch & Go Dinos® easily transform between a dinosaur and a vehicle in a few simple steps.Each of the collectible Switch & Go Dinos® feature high-quality electronics and a unique transformation feature to provide a 2-in-1 imaginative play experience. In dinosaur mode, sound effect buttons emit realistic dinosaur sounds and phrases that teach facts about each dino, providing kids with fun and enriching playtime.

Additional Dinos in the Switch & Go line include Jagger the T-Rex™, SkySlicer the Allosaurus™, MC Roar the Giganotosaurus™, Stompsalot the Amargasaurus™, Quiver the Stygimoloch™, Torr the Therizinosaurus™ and Akuna the Velociraptor™ - collect them all!
Be sure to connect to VTech on Facebook

Do you have a dino loving kid at home? How would you like to win one of these fun Switch & Go Dinos® for your child? Go enter: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to US Residents only and ends on September 19, 2013. One winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!
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New Fall Line from eShakti and a Giveaway (2 winners) CLOSED

CLOSED- 
 Winners are Team Jacob and Alicia- congratulations!


It's almost my favorite season of the year, Fall! I am really looking forward to some crisp, cool air and the sights and smells of all things Autumn. I was excited to get to check out the new Fall line from eShakti and got to pick out a dress of my choice to review. I had the hardest time choosing because I am a big fan of very classic and vintage dresses. The most unique thing about eShakti is the customization. You can choose from standard sizes or go with detailed sizing for a more precise fit. Depending on which dress you go with, you have options of pockets or no pockets, removing embroidery, dress length, sleeve style and even what neckline you prefer.


I have ordered a dress in the past and found that they run a bit small. I went with a size 8 and picked out the Victoria dress in black. I was attracted to the ruffles on the top and the overall feminine flow of the dress. I decided to keep the same sleeves and length and opted for a lower neckline. I also liked the idea of pockets so I kept that too. I absolutely LOVE the fit of the dress! I feel like this dress was made just for me. My family really loved the way I looked and think I picked the perfect style. I was surprised at how perfectly it fit and the side sash really completed the look. I liked how the ruffles continued along the back. I can easily dress things up with some accessories or even wearing my hair up. You can't ever go wrong with a little black dress!
I have my eye on the eggplant color in this same style. One thing I am really happy about is that I went with a larger size. I normally can wear a women's size 4 but something told me to go with the 8. It was perfect! Be sure to check out eShakti on the web, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

I am so excited that the kind folks from eShakti are offering a giveaway for two Mom Files readers to each win a $50 gift card. There are so many styles, colors and pieces to choose from! Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway is open to Canada and US Residents only. Giveaway ends on September 22, 2013 and two winners will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

I received a dress at no cost in exchange for an honest review and to help spread the word about the new fall line. All opinions are my own as always. 

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Sep 3, 2013

Get ready for the Publix® Fresh Savings Event with a $25 GC Giveaway

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by Publix® through MyBlogSpark.

Right now through September 12th, you can find savings on produce, bakery items, meat and eggs with the purchase of *participating items to get ready for the final days of summer exclusively at Publix® Fresh Savings Event
*PARTICIPATING ITEMS: General Mills Cereals Cheerios® (14oz), Betty Crocker® SuperMoist Cake Mixes and/or Frostings, Old El Paso® Dinner Kits, Hellmann's Mayonnaise (22oz or larger), Diet Pepsi (2 liter), Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Onion, Aunt Jemima® Syrups (24oz) and Pancake Mix (2lb), Breyers® Products, Tostitos® Tortilla Chips (9oz or larger)

My family loves having Mexican night often so I know I will take advantage of the Old El Paso dinner kits as well as the Betty Crocker cakes mixes for making cupcakes for dessert. Oh, and I can't forget the Breyer's ice cream! Publix prices are great and often you can find coupons for a lot of the items that are a part of this sale. I know I will be stocking up! 

One Mom Files reader will win a $25 Publix gift card to take advantage of the great deals at Publix.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to US Residents only. Giveaway ends on September 12, 2013 and one winner will be selected at random and contacted via email to claim prize. Be sure to follow contest rules stated in Rafflecopter widget. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

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