Lifestyle * Travel * Food

Oct 19, 2017

Get An Early Start On Your Holiday Shopping With Our $100 Fall Giveaway

I can't believe that we are nearing the end of October already. I always say that once November comes, you might as well kiss the year goodbye. The time goes so quickly and the holiday season gets into full swing. I am not ready! Are you ready? In the event you're ready to get some early holiday shopping out of the way, we have a great giveaway for you. I've teamed up with a group of fabulous bloggers to give you the chance to win $100.

It's so easy enter. Check out the details below. 

How to enter: There are 10 Instagram accounts. Follow one or all but the more accounts you follow the more entries you’ll receive. If you’re already a follower of an account, claim that entry! This giveaway starts October 20 at midnight EST and ends November 4 at 11:59 PM EST. Entrants must be USA residents and at least 18 years old. One winner will be randomly selected from all qualifying entries and contacted via the email they provide. The email will come from joannegreco at gmail. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The prize is $100 in Paypal or Amazon online gift card, winner’s choice.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Oct 18, 2017

How to Minimize Health Risks When Using Harsh Cleaners in Your Home

As our knowledge of chemistry advances, we find better and better ways to efficiently clean our surroundings, especially our homes. However, unbeknownst to many of us, these cleaning agents may be doing harm not only to the harmful microorganisms they claim to eradicate, but also to our health and the health of our loved ones. Discover what you can do to protect yourself and your family from possible respiratory problems caused by these chemicals.

Know Your Products
Image via Flickr by yourbestdigs
The best way to protect yourself is by knowing the enemy which, in this case, are the harsh chemicals. For example, resources across the web talk about harsh chemicals causing breathing problems.

Before you buy a cleaning product, read the labels and find out if the chemicals included can cause health problems. Learn to look for signs such as a danger or poison label. Some may have a label that notes the ingredients are corrosive or may cause burns.

Wear Protective Gloves and Mask

If you can’t avoid using certain chemicals, then you should take steps to physically protect yourself. Wear a plastic apron if available so that you will not get soaked with corrosive chemicals when you clean. Use gloves and a mask not only when you are using chemicals, but also when you are uncertain of the chemicals included in your cleaning products.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Most chemicals can harm you when you breathe the fumes they produce. Cleaning products can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Even under room temperature, they can evaporate and turn to harmful fumes. Wearing masks can protect you, but ultimately, proper ventilation is essential. Before cleaning, open doors and windows to allow harsh fumes to escape.

Clean Your Home Regularly

If you clean your home regularly, dirt, bacteria, and molds are less likely to accumulate. Do not fall into the habit of cleaning only once in a while. In these cases, you may be tempted to use stronger and potentially more harmful chemicals to ensure a deeper cleaning. Cleaning regularly also gives you an opportunity to find out whether the products you use have not expired.

Follow Safekeeping Procedures

When you need to store cleaning products in your home, follow the instructions on the label. Make sure that these containers are tightly sealed and out of the reach of children and pets. Make sure you know which products to store in well-ventilated areas and which are better placed in locked cabinets. Place flammable products such as paint thinners in cool, dry areas.

While you need to have a clean household, taking care of your health is important. You can take many steps such as making your own household cleaners instead of using store-bought products. Consider searching for more ways to reduce the use of chemicals; you can also talk to other families in your own community for different ideas and suggestions. By following the tips presented above, you can minimize the health risks brought about by using harsh cleaning agents in your home.
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Oct 17, 2017

Local Food Find: Famous Toastery Columbia, SC

For several months now, I have been following a restaurant on Instagram called Famous Toastery Columbia. For some reason I assumed that it was located in downtown Columbia or even further away. Turns out that it is super close to where I lived, so the husband and I went for a breakfast date. Being newbies, we were overwhelmed by the menu. They have a lot of options for breakfast including everything from shrimp and grits, to pancakes, French toast, and omelets. Unlike most breakfast joints, Famous Toastery serves up the perfect brunch-worthy cocktails. Deciding what to order was hard. 

My husband already had the idea of pancakes stuck in his head so he went with the apple cinnamon pancakes paired with turkey sausage, and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. The word lobster caught my eye from their weekend special menu, so I went with the lobster scramble with potatoes on the side. I also splurged and got a Bloody Mary because I was feeling a little fancy. 
Isn't this cocktail so pretty? It was so delicious and full of zesty, spicy goodness. 
Our server brought over a small basket of homemade cornbread with a delicious apple compote type concoction. We decided to only take a nibble to save room for our meal. Trust me, I would have devoured all three pieces if I could! We didn't have to wait very long for our entrees to come out. Everything was presented so nicely and the server was super sweet and accommodating. 


I'm a huge potato lover so I had to take a bite of that first. Oh man, it was perfectly cooked with the right amount of seasoning. The lobster scramble was everything I hoped it would be. It had nice pieces of lobster nestled inside the soft scrambled eggs, along with some veggies. I loved this dish! The hubby was so happy with his pancakes and turkey sausage. We both were impressed with that made-from-scratch taste you normally don't get from most chain places. We were also pleased to see how many non-pork and non-meat options were available. Perfect for vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. 
We will definitely head back to Famous Toastery, northeast Columbia location to try out some of the other menu items. The food, drinks, and service were all excellent. It's a perfect spot for a girl's brunch. I know my daughters will love it! If you're ever in Columbia, SC, you should check out Famous Toastery for yourself! There are also locations in a few other states as well. 

I did not receive any incentive to post this review. We simply enjoyed our meals and wanted to share our review with you. Thanks for stopping by today. 
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Give The Gift Of Khortytsa Vodka This Holiday Season


The holiday season is quickly approaching and will be here and gone before you know it. It's time to start making those gift lists for family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. One of my favorite gifts to give to my over-21 friends is the 'gift of spirits'. Vodka is one of the most popular adult beverages that is the base of many of the cocktails we love. Whether it's a martini, mule, or in a Long Island iced tea, you have to start with the good stuff.


I was introduced to brand I have never heard of or tried recently. Ukraine’s famed Khortytsa (KHOR) Vodka is the world’s third-largest vodka brand and is now widely available in the American market. They offer a few different varieties and I received a cute gift pack with a bottle each of the Platinum and Pepper Honey Hot varieties.


The packaging makes this an excellent choice for easy gift-giving. You can simply add a bow or put it in a decorative bag, and you're done! If you want to make it a bigger gift, you can include items for mixing such as cranberry juice, tomato juice, a jar of olives, or a nice glass for serving.

My favorite way to enjoy Khortytsa Platinum vodka is shaken with either 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice, garnished with an orange slice. It is super smooth and kind of 'hits you' after the fact. Any vodka lover would enjoy the sophisticated and smooth taste. I am often surprised that a vodka at a lower price point can actually be this smooth.

Here are some details about each variety:

  • This holiday season, the brand is available in a variety of gift boxes that feature a 750-mL bottle and a 100-mL sample.
  • Khortytsa Platinum, which is the most popular item in the line, is available in a handsome gift box with a 100-mL sample of Khortytsa Platinum for a suggested retail price of $14.99.
  • Khortytsa Honey Pepper, which offers a spicy zing to a variety of cocktails, is also available in an attractive gift set with a 100-mL on-pack of Khortytsa Platinum for the same price.
  • A gift pack of Khortytsa Ice, specially formulated to be served frozen -- with the bottle turning blue when chilled -- features two branded shot glasses for $14.99.
  • Finally, Khortytsa De Luxe – the line’s “super premium” vodka for connoisseurs -- has a stunning new gift box for a suggested retail of $19.99.

I am really loving these prices, especially for gift-giving. I can really stay within a reasonable budget.

For more information on Khortytsa Vodka, as well as recipes visit www.khor.com. Be sure to follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for product updates and promotions.
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Oct 7, 2017

Entenmann’s® Little Bites® Are Ninja Approved #LoveLittleBites

Today's conversation is *sponsored by Entenmann’s® Little Bites® and all opinions are my own as always. 

It's October, and many of us are getting into the fall festivities with Halloween on the way! Whether it's pumpkins on the porch, scarecrows on the driveway, or a festive wreath on the door, the fall season is here. Candy is one of those things that is in abundance with it being Halloween time. My little guy does not eat candy (crazy, I know!), but enjoys the occasional treat. Entenmann’s® Little Bites® pumpkin muffins are the perfect treat that he actually enjoys. 
Little Bites pumpkin muffins are available for a limited time, so we will have to stock up while we can. I am not the biggest pumpkin fan, but these little muffins really are delicious! They are baked soft and moist using real pumpkins, and are only 180 calories per pouch. They never contain high fructose corn syrup or trans-fat, which makes this mom very happy. Of course, portion control is always a good thing. I just have to make sure I indulge in one pack, and don't try to sneak a second. Who can resist those little moist, delicious bites of yumminess? I know I surely can't! My son has become the latest Little Bites pumpkin muffin fan. Look at that sweet face šŸ˜ƒ
We love some of the original varieties of Little Bites including blueberry, chocolate chip, and fudge brownies. It's the perfect grab-n-go breakfast, lunchbox snack, and would be perfect for class parties or as Halloween treats. I'm always down for non-candy treats. Any kid would love Little Bites in their Halloween sack.


Be sure to connect with Entenmann’s® Little Bites® on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Giveaway: One lucky reader will win a $25 Visa digital gift card (for online purchases only) and (3) coupons for $5.00 off the purchase of any Entenmann’s® Little Bites®. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on October 22, 2017. Please follow all rules in the Rafflecopter widget and be sure to use a valid email. One winner will be selected and contacted via email to claim prize. Please be aware that Mom Files is not responsible for any lost, stolen, or damaged prizes. Good luck!

*The coupons for product redemption, information, and gift card have been provided by Entenmann’s® Little Bites® so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about Entenmann’s® Little Bites®. The opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not reflect the opinions of Entenmann’s® Little Bites®
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Oct 4, 2017

Signs It's Time For A New Water Heater

A household water heater works behind the scenes in every home. This appliance doesn’t get nearly the credit it should for keeping our lives running smoothly and comfortably — hot showers to name one benefit. For something that's not particularly glamorous, when this appliance fails, it’s guaranteed to cause a bad day for everyone. Watch out for the following four signs it’s time to call the pros and consider installing a new, energy-efficient water heater.

Hot Water Is Not Consistent
Image via Flickr by r.nial.bradshaw

Have you been finding yourself taking quicker showers and skipping your leave-in conditioner treatment? Are your dishes not getting clean when the dishwasher finishes a cycle?

First, check to see if you've tripped the circuit breaker or if the water heater pilot light is out. Are both OK? Next, have a home services specialist take a look at your water heater to decide if the heating coil needs replacement. If it does not, you may need to find a new water heater for your home.

You Can't Remember When Your Water Heater Was Installed

Some appliances can operate for a long time, but a water heater isn't one of them. The age of your household unit can indicate the likelihood that it will need replacement. Think about when your water heater was installed. If the installation date is beyond your memory — or longer than 15 years — you're likely facing a replacement.

You're Hearing Noises

Can you hear a musical serenade coming out of your water heater when you turn up the heat on your shower? Have you noticed that your previously clear water is murky, rusty, or sandy? Does the water have a metallic taste? Sediment and residue from hard water can cause a knocking or popping sound as the water heats. Hard water can also leave a residue in pipes, taking a few years off the life of your water heater.

If you’re hearing knocking or have sandy water, a technician can flush the system as a first step before fully replacing the unit. If your water has become rusty, the rust is a sign that the inside of your unit is breaking down and particles are entering your household water.

Your Water Heater Is Leaking

Have you noticed a small leak or small amounts of water near the unit? If so, you'll want to call a service tech as soon as you can. A slow leak can quickly turn into a flood — and nobody wants to deal with that mess.

Maintaining your water heater never seems to top our list of to-dos until an emergency arises. Watching for the above signs and calling a service tech to inspect your water heater are critical to saving yourself the headaches of a cold shower. You don't want to face that reality on the morning of an important job interview or the day your super-critical in-laws arrive.

Beyond keeping your shower hot, consider the energy efficiencies gained with a new unit. The money saved could be enough to splurge on a new pair of shoes. Who’s the hero now?
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Keep Your Family #GermFree24 With Zoono GermFree24

CLOSED
Today's conversation is sponsored by Zoono USA. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you're a mom, you know how much effort goes into planning and packing for a trip or quick getaway. It might often times look like you're going away for two weeks when it's just a weekend trip. I mean, you can't leave home without all of the essentials, right?

It's almost the same situation for when we get ready to leave the house just to go to the grocery store. Moms have to make certain to be prepped for those just in case moments. We have experienced times where we took our little one out for a quick grocery run, and he came home sick out of the blue. I mean, we homeschool so how did he get sick? Germs can linger anywhere and it's unfortunate that you can come in contact with them without any clue.

There's a great way to combat germs before they take over by using Zoono GermFree24 Hand Sanitizer.


This hand sanitizer is an FDA-compliant, water-based formula that kills 99.99% of germs on contact and keeps killing them for up to 24 hours. Yes, you read that correctly, 24 HOURS! It bonds to your skin’s surface and sets up a nano-molecular layer of “pins” that physically impale and destroy germs on contact. Can you believe that it stays on even with hand washing or sweating? This is so far from your traditional hand sanitizer that stops working the moment water hits your hands.


GermFree24® has been proven to provide long-lasting antimicrobial protection against a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses (such as influenza), fungi and mold. Over that time period, you might touch hundreds of surfaces, each covered with tens of thousands of microbes, half of which will stick to your hands. Here’s a breakdown on some of the germs you may encounter over a 24-hour period:

  • Doorknob: 8,643 bacteria
  • Computer mouse: 79,000 bacteria
  • Remote control: 17,000 bacteria
Yikes! That's a whole lot of icky germs and bacteria and think of how often you come in contact with those everyday items. My son loves that it doesn't have a bad scent since he's very sensitive about smells. It's also not sticky at all and leaves no feeling of a film on your hands. The fact that you only have to use it once a day means you are using less, which makes it a great value. 

Zoono products are available on Amazon. You can currently purchase Zoono GermFree24® 50ml Foam Hand Sanitizer ($6.99) here, and the 9ml Spray Hand Sanitizer ($13.99 for a 4 pk) here. I keep the spray in my purse for when I am on-the-go and is perfect for travel. I think this is the perfect hand sanitizer for teachers to keep in their desk for their personal use. It's great for the workplace as well. They make wall dispensers that I wouldn't mind having in my house. 

Reader giveaway: Would you like to try Zoono GermFree 24 for yourself and your family? Enter to win a gift pack for Zoono GermFree24® 50ml Foam Hand Sanitizer, and the 9ml Spray Hand Sanitizer as well as a $25 virtual Visa gift card so you can stock up on more Zoono products for the flu season. Enter below: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and will end on October 16, 2017. Please follow all rules in the Rafflecopter widget and be sure to use a valid email. One winner will be selected and contacted via email to claim prize. Please be aware that Mom Files is not responsible for any lost, stolen or damaged prizes. Good luck!
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