Tuesday, March 30, 2010


A week or so ago I wrote about the fact that I was lucky enough to be asked to be a hydraSense ambassador and that I received a box full of their products. Let me tell you a little more about the products and then I have a great deal to pass on to you!

I have been using hydraSense products as an adult for several years. Congestion Relief is a mist of seawater that really helps with my sinusitis. It took a little bit of getting used to, but it does a great job of cleansing the nasal and sinus passages without any medications. There are three strengths of mist to choose from according to your comfort level and you can use it as often as you need to without worrying about rebound congestion.

Needless to say I was very pleased when hydraSense came out with products for babies and kids, and we have used the Easy Dose nasal drops since Grayson was a baby. Saline drops are often recommended by doctors to relieve nasal congestion, and the hydraSense drops and sprays are easy to use and effective.

Their most recent product is genius - hydraSense has developed a new type of nasal aspirator that works so much better that the old squeeze-blub type. I was always afraid of sucking too harshly when I used it, and I know that Grayson and Sam both hated it. The hydraSense nasal aspirator uses mommy (or daddy!) powered suction to gently withdraw excess mucuus from baby's nose. Yup, you literally suck it out! Now, it's not nearly as gross as it might sound, because there is a filter that stops any mucuus coming into the inhalation tube. It works really well, you can see the mucuus you are removing and is so much gentler for baby! You can watch a short video on how it works here.

If you would like to try the hydraSense aspirator, go here and sign up for the hydraSense Dophin Club. When prompted, enter the code MC2010 to get a coupon for $8.00 to be used towards the purchase of the aspirator (a savings of OVER 50%!) You will also receive a welcome package as well as special coupons and offers! It's a great deal and a great way to keep everyone in your family healthy without drugs. Give it a try and feel free to spread the news AND the coupon code to all your family and friends!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Yup...that time again. I am happy that I only have to plan for four dinners this week as we are heading out to see my in-laws for the long Easter weekend. It's not a vacation per se, but I'll take any excuse to stay in a hotel with a pool and not have to cook for 3 days!

Monday: Dijon Baked Chicken, Rice and Broccoli

Tuesday:  Grilled Hamburgers, New Potatoes (simply boiled and served in skin with butter!) Baked Beans, Veggies and Dip
Wednesday: Homemade pizza (we never did get our pizza made last week!)
Thursday: Clean out the fridge night or Breakfast for Supper!

I'll also be doing a bit of baking this week to take along in the car with us - Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Here's the recipe we like for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. It makes 1 dozen medium/regular size muffins and 1 dozen mini-muffins. I think I got it from a "Company's Coming" cookbook of my mom's but I didn't write the source down (now I know better!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Grease 12 regular muffin tins and 12 mini-muffin tins, or use paper cupcake liners.

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking POWDER
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk
3 mashed bananas
Place first 5 ingredients in large bowl, mix well and set aside.

Beat egg then add in oil, milk and bananas. Pour this wet mixture into the dry mixutre. Combine only to moisten...batter will be very lumpy!

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Depending on your oven's hotspots and the way it behaves, you may have to take the mini-muffin tin out 3 or 4 minutes early. Watch for the muffins to get a light golden brown, then check for doneness with a toothpick and take out of oven.
We love these for snacks anytime, but especially for road trips!!! They freeze and pack well. Enjoy!

And make sure to check out all the best menu plans and recipes on http://www.orgjunkie.com/

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I love that we are getting into the season for fresher produce and lower prices! I visited the new Wal-Mart Supercentre the other day to see if it was as good as everyone said and I was thrilled! I have shopped for staples and dairy products at Wal-Mart for a while now as their prices are lower even than many grocery stores sale prices, but I didn't like having to stop at another grocery store to pick up meat and produce. Anyway... when I was at Wal-MartI picked up a pound of strawberries for $1.97 - a buck cheaper than anywhere else! - as well as bagged salad and cantaloupe at really good prices. I had a look at their meat, but I'm not so sure I am ready to buy Wal-Mart meat! Has anybody tried it? Any comments?

I have a sick little boy at home today so I better get moving. Here's what we're eating this week...

Monday: Ginger-Orange Salmon, Rice and Steamed Mixed Veggies

Tuesday: Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches and Oven Fries, Veggies and Dip

Wednesday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Green Salad

Thursday: Parmesan Chicken (I add grated parmesan cheese to extra-crispy Shake & Bake) Rice, Broccoli

Friday: I am heading to a crop so they boys will have a buffet of leftovers!

Saturday: Grilled Steaks (hot-dogs for he boys as they don't like steak) Baked Potatos, Asparagus if available or mixed Veggies.

Sunday: Since we are heading out of town for Easter, I might have the whole family up for a little pre-Easter supper - Roast Turkey, Mashed Potatos, Stuffing, Carrots, Peas, Fresh Rolls, Green Salad and a Strawberry Swirl Cake for dessert!

As always...the best menu plans and recipe ideas are on http://www.orgjunkie.com/!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Freebies and Swag

The Fed Ex guy came to my house today with a box for me. I signed for it and tried to remember what I had ordered. When I opened it, there was a package of Chips Ahoy cookies! (Maybe a $4.00 value?)  I forgot I had taken a survey not long ago and had indicated that. yes, I would be willing to try out some cookies and report on my "findings"! What a nice surprise! We opened them, did our taste test, filled out the short survery and now can enjoy the remaining cookies. For FREE!

A little later, the postman delivered our mail and another box for me. This time it was a selection of products from Hydrasense (probably a $40.00 value)  - again for FREE. I had signed up to receive coupons and was chosen as a Hydrasense ambassador. They sent me a large sampling of products as well as a code I can share with other moms for significant savings (more on that at the end of this post!)

In the past few months I have also received free full size laundry detergent ($8.00 value), cereal ($5.00 value) and cleaning supplies ($6.00 value). How you ask? It's easy! Surveys & Product Testing! And I have also recently discovered another nifty site where I can earn items for free just by using the internet. Read on my friends!

I have done a lot of Focus groups in my time - the pay was good, but you had to leave the house and spend at least an hour or so answering questions and discussing products or services or ideas with a group of strangers. Then recently I found out about TNS  - a huge marketing research firm which does online surveys through http://www.mysurvey.ca/. You can sign up for an account and have surveys delivered to your inbox. Each survey gives you points which you can redeem for CASH, Air Miles or other products and services. Sure it takes a while to build up enough points, but the surveys are usually quick and easy, and you get the odd little perk like those free Chips Ahoy cookies! Money Saving Mom also has a list of survey sites you can check out, but many are for US residents only. Although you won't get rich completing surveys, I think you can makea few extra bucks or get some nice little perks and gift certificates this way.

Product Testing:
There are a variety of product testing opportunities you can easily sign up for. A while ago I signed up on http://www.urbanmoms.ca/ as a Go2Girlz product tester (that's who I tested Sunlight Green Clean laundry detergent and Affresh cleaner for). My recent delivery of Hydrasense was courtesy of  http://www.momcentral.ca/. In exchange for the prodcut, you are asked to answer a series of questions and provide your opinion on the product. Ifigure we as moms do that anyway...we are always telling each other about our latest find, or to stay clear of such-and-such a product becuase it's no good.  

You can also check out this posting that lists current and upcoming surveys and product testing opportunities. It's nice to get a freebie once in a while, especially when it's soemthing you already use or are interested in using, and usually the products are family/children oriented!

Intrigued by a post by Jen of Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, I investigated and signed up for Swagbucks. Swagbucks is an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called "Swag Bucks", which can be redeemed for exclusive swagbucks.com merchandise. For example, you can redeem 450 swagbucks for a $5 gift certificate at Amazon.ca. I have been using the swagbucks toolbar as my search engine for about 3 or 4 days now and already have 285 swagbucks. At that rate I can probably earn and redeem for a GC by next week. And I haven't even scratched the surface of this yet...I know you can earn more swagbucks by completing special offers etc., and also by referring people. SO...if you are interested in getting a few freebies just by doing what you normally do when surfing the internet, click on the banner below. I will earn a few swagbucks by referring you and then you can pass on the info to others in your own circle of friends and family and earn points for yourself! 
Search & Win

I will keep updating you with how my accumulation is going as well as any tips and tricks I may find out in the process!

Hopefully you will get a few freebies based on this information! So, now I am off to have a free cookie and suck the yuckies out of my 22 mo. old's nose! What fun!

(PS...I will be posting the information on how to get an $8.00 coupon for Hydrasense in a separate post later tonight so it can be esily referred back to! Check back later on! (or, become a follower of mine so you get all the info easily. Hey I haven't done too much about getting followers...should I? That's a decision for another day I guess!)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Done Deal!

It's official...the house is ours! It passed all inspections and appraisals with flying colors and we signed off on everything last night! We are thrilled and so excited!

I am sure the excitement will pass however when I start to sort and purge and pack. Did I REALLY choose the word simplify as my word of the year????

Monday, March 15, 2010

This and that and food!

Good Monday morning!

I had a very good weekend - I was at an all-day crop with lovely ladies on Saturday and a nice family day yesterday. It was gorgeous weather and we got out to the park and did a bit of spring cleaning. Even the fact that we lost an hour of sleep didn't bring us down!

Not too much news on the new house front...the inspections and appraisals all went well and we have signed off on one condition with just one more to be finalized by Wednesday. Hopefully we'll be closing the deal and celebrating on St. Pat's day!

And I am hopeful that I may find out my placement for next fall from the school board this week. I talked with my superintendent last week and she was saying that admin appointments will hopefully be complete over the next couple of weeks. It would be nice to know by Easter.

On the scrappy front, this week I am teaching the second class of the SDU course at Michaels as well as getting ready for the HUGE Crop 4 Kids charity event on Saturday. 100+ ladies will be there and I need to get my class materials and make & takes together. I have two posts almost ready to go for the website as well...one for the organization series and one for our limited St. Pat's day Page Pak. It's been far too long snce we have had some new material up there!

Hopefully after this week (ie: the house conditions and major crop) are over, I will get started on the packing and the hunt for a nanny. I am a little nervous about that one!

Anyway...getting organized for the week also means getting a menu planned, so here it is:

Monday: I head off to teach tonight, so a Rotisserie Chicken picked up from the grocery store along with Potato Salad, Fresh Buns and Veggies & Dip makes an easy meal all of use can eat at different times. I also will use some of the chicken for Chicken Salad sandwiches later this week.
Tuesday:  Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta, Green Salad

Wednesday: Saucy Baked Chops, Baked Potatos, Broccoli. The broccoli will be our green food in honor of St. Patty, but I think I will also do some cupcakes with green icing for dessert!

Thursday: Chicken Salad sandwiches, Veggies and Dip

Friday: Homemade Pizza - I make the dough in the bread machine and topped with tomato sauce, lots of cheese and some cold cuts like pepperoni and ham. A Caesar Salad for Shane and I, and Veggie Sticks for the boys round it out.

Saturday: Another night I am out for the Crop 4 Kids, but I think Shane can manage cooking some Fish Sticks and Oven Fries for him and the boys!

Sunday: It's been a long time since we had a nice family dinner so I will have my dad and Shane's mom over for Roast Beef, mashed Potatos, Yorkshire Puddings, Carrots, Broccoli and Gravy. Yum!

As always, you can find the best meal plans every Monday at http://www.orgjunkie.com/!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Big News

Yes, the big news I alluded to is that we found a house! A wonderful family house. On a cul-de-sac within a circle. Next to an awesome school. With a workable kitchen, stainless steel appliances and a gas stove (oh my!) With a sunny south facing, private, treed back yard. I am definitely excited and I think I am in love!

The story behind it is quite a coincidence. As you know we have been looking for a new house casually for quite a long time and with more focus in the past month. Most of the houses coming up on the market just weren't cutting it, and the one we did like went so fast that we didn't have a chance to put an offer in. I knew we would find one eventually, but I was getting a little frustrated.

Bu never underestimate the power of "putting the word out". My dad happened to be talking to a friend of his from church and his friend said "Oh, my son is going to be selling HIS house...maybe Noreen should get in touch with him" and they kind of shared a laugh about it. But when dad mentioned this to me I immediately wanted to contact the son to find out more. The house sounded great, was in our price range and was so close to a school that I really had hoped the boys could go to. It turned out that the seller had gone to the same high school as I did and we had a lot in common. We chatted for a while and I arranged with him to go and see the house. I loved it right away and brought Shane back to see it. We agreed that it was a great fit for our family and decided to put an offer in. The seller accepted it, and we are just getting inspections and appraisals done right now. Hopefully by the end of the week it will be all wrapped up!

We had never done a private sale before but it was easy and we couldn't ask for a better experience. I am so looking forward to moving our little family into this new house which will grow with us and accomodate us for several years to come.

Keep your fingers crossed that it all pans out and I will report back as soon as it is a done deal!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Quick menu plan

Quick post...big news to follow tomorrow, but for tonight, just wanted to post the menu for this week:

Sunday: Manicotti, Salad, Garlic Bread

Monday: Rotisserie Style Crock Pot Chicken, Rice, Steamed Veggies

Tuesday: Speedy Salsa Chicken Quesadillas, Veggies & Dip

Wednesday: Hamburgers with Fixings, Baked Beans, Coleslaw

Thursday: Jambalaya (I use Zatarains rice/spice mix and add leftover chicken and flash frozen shrimp), Green Salad

Friday: Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches, Oven Fries, Mixed Veggies and Gravy

Saturday: Leftovers

Back tomorrow to let you in on our news!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Reno update

It's March! How did that happen? February flew by and here we are on day 6 of our house update. So far, so good! Here's what we've accomplished:
  • The electrican changed out some light fixtures and fixed a couple of wonky plugs.
  • We have new flooring in the front entrance, kitchen, ensuite bathroom and the back hallway.
  • Although we didn't replace all the interior doors, we did go ahead and replace all the door casings to a nice wide profile molding, and all the doors will get a fresh coat of paint.
  • Missing closet doors have been replaced and all the baseboards in the house were changed out to a more substantial 4 inch trim that will be painted the same white as all the rest of the trim.
  • Half of the painting is done and it is all looking pretty great!
The biggest issues have been trying to keep a 20 month old toddler out of work areas and finding a quiet place for him to nap. Grayson had two nights of "camp-outs" in the basement while his room was being painted and Sam is in a playpen in our room tonight as his room was painted today. The kitchen is 95% done, and it is nice to have all the appliances back in place...we have just about had it with take-out! And I am sick of cleaning...every evening after our contractors leave I get out the vaccum and cleaners and get to work! Needless to say, scrapping and computer time have been non-existent!

The hunt for our next house continues, and although we aren't seeing much come up on the MLS, we do have a lead on a private sale. A friend of my dad's son is looking to sell his home. It seems to be in a good location, but we'll see. The conditional sale on the house we really liked hasn't gone through yet, so there may be an outside possibility that it will come back on the market.

I have spent a fair bit of time in the basement with the boys in the last few days and have started purging and organizing things like the boys clothing, tools and reno supplies etc. I have come across a lot of decorative objects that haven't been used at all in this house and was considering tossing them, but since I am thinking of possibilities for the next house, I reconsidered and decided to keep them until we finally pruchase one. I have started following a few home blogs and am enjoying dreaming a little bit about redecorating and cozi-fying our next place. I never really loved this house and sadly, I didn't put a lot of effort into decorating and prettying it up. I hope I will LOVE our next house and will put more attention into how it looks and more importantly, feels.

Because the kitchen was out of commission last week many of the meals I had planned weren't made, so most of the menu plan for this week will be a revamp of last week.

Monday: Leftover Chinese Food...hopefully our LAST take out meal for a long time!

Tuesday: Skillet Cheeseburger Pasta, Veggies and Dip

Wednesday: Cheesy Tomato Fish Bake, Rice, Green Salad

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Pizza (homemade this time - not take out!) Caesar Salad

Saturday: Grilled Steaks (Grilled Hot Dogs or Chicken for the boys since they don't like Steak!) Baked Potatos, Asparagus

Sunday: 2 Step Pork Chops, Mashed Potatos, Mixed Vegetables

As always...get inspired with hundreds of meal plans at http://www.orgjunkie.com/!