Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Keeping Me Posted

Photo Cards for Invitations, Announcements, and Christmas
Chic and stylish holiday cards, invites, and announcements are what make Keeping Me Posted so different from other companies.  Keeping Me Posted can give you the power to create the greatest designs with very little effort.  The photo personalization tools are second to none.  Upload your best pictures from Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and SmugMug.  Many modern designs are available to choose from.  The customization tools change the font style, color, and size.  Change your pic from color to black and white or sepia to create a different look.  Preview your personalized card for free before you buy it.  If you want another design, Keeping Me Posted’s trained staff will create something special for you at no extra cost.  Top-quality thick matte paper is the paper of choice.  HP Indigo printing presses are used to create your wonderful announcements.  All cards are carefully reviewed during the design and printing stages so you can be given a wonderful product.  Give Keeping Me Posted a chance, and you will be pleasantly surprised.  Visit Keeping Me Posted today at www.keepingmeposted.com for that baby birth announcement, party invite, or greeting card.

Tuesday's Tips

I know I am probably way behind the curve in just figuring this out, BUT, yesterday I realized that my nifty little Amazon widget on the right hand sidebar, shows a FREE MP3 song each and every day in the "Our Best Deals" section at the bottom. I don't have an MP3 player, though supposedly my phone will play them, I just have to get someone to show me how to transfer them to the phone, LOL:) However, I purchased my first Free one yesterday and it shows everyone gets 5GB (I have NO idea how much that equates to!) of free MP3 storage playable on a Free Amazon player. So, you can get the music and play it for Free!!!

I decided to share it with others who may also be behind the curve because today's Free song is Ombra Mai Fu by Jackie Evancho who is the little girl that our family just adored on America's Got Talent last summer. Normally these singles are just $0.99 each (which is still a bargain in my opinion compared to the price I paid as a teen for CASSETTE SINGLES at the store, haha!). But, I do appreciate that Amazon is offering one song a day for free. Now I just have to remember to check daily to see what it is. ***Also, after purchasing this, I noticed that there is a section on the item page that shows

"Customers Who Bought This Song's Album Also Bought"

and there is a list of other singles available for free as well. I suppose you could also go to the MP3 section and search lowest price first and get a full listing of all free MP3's. I do this for my KINDLE as well, to find Free titles that I might want to read.

If you know of any other daily freebies such as these that can save others money, please feel free to leave the information in the comments. Thanks y'all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

5 Must Have Summer Getaway Kid Experiences

There are at least 5 summer getaways every kid should experience in his or her lifetime. As I mentioned in my previous post, I hope that we are soon able to travel to some National Parks with our own children. These are inexpensive and educational trips that will create life long memories for both children and parents. These are 5 other getaways that top my must have experience list:

1. Disney/Universal Theme Parks: I think this is probably a given on most people's lists, and one that I was fortunate enough to have in my own childhood, and still have fond memories of. It's nice to take kids once they are all able to enjoy the park and still believe in all of the magic that it holds.

2. The Beach: It doesn't really matter WHAT beach, as long as they are able to play in the sand and the ocean, hunt for shells, and enjoy the experience.

3. The Mountains: I grew up a few hours from the Smoky Mountains, and they are a nice getaway in the summer time. It's not melting hot, not freezing cold, and you are able to enjoy the natural beauty.

4. Sleepaway Camp: Be it with a church group, social organization, or just a camp open to the general public, it is a lot of fun to visit sleepaway camp as a child. They are able to get the beginnings of independence away from their parents for a few days, meet new friends, and gain knowledge and skills.

5. Camping: With three little boys who love the outdoors, I know this is in our future. Whether we camp 5 miles or 500 miles from home, I don't think the location matters as much as the experience. It is fun for them to explore nature, sleep in a tent, cookout over a campfire, and just spend time with the family as everyone is disconnected from electronics.

In general, I think that what most kids want in the summer time is quality family time. They want to create memories and experience with their parents and siblings, especially teenagers that act like that is exactly what they don't want, haha!

This post is part of the Alamo blogging program in my previous post, and since I unknowingly blogged about the Alamo I didn't want to write too much about it again here, but I don't want to leave it out either. The Alamo is about 10 hours from where we live, and we are hoping my husband's company takes us closer to the San Antonio area later this summer so that we can take our kids to visit. Our oldest son has Asperger's and loves everything history related, and since he is the one I home-school, I think he'd probably get the most out of an Alamo visit.The sponsor of the program is actually Alamo Rental Cars, but they always remind me of wanting to visit the Alamo, so I thought I'd throw that little tidbit in. We are expecting tornadic storms here again today and tomorrow, and the pressure changes have my Fibromyalgia all in a tizzy, so please excuse my rambling;)

About Alamo
Founded in 1974, Alamo Rent A Car is a value-oriented, internationally recognized brand serving the rental needs of airport leisure travelers. Alamo offers low rental rates and a hassle-free customer experience at the most popular travel destinations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. In addition, Alamo customers in the U.S. are able to conveniently choose their own vehicles, based upon their advance reservation and requested car class, and then simply drive away from the airport.

The Alamo membership club, Alamo Insiders, offers its members numerous perks including exclusive, member-only deals, quick and simple reservations, and frequent traveler miles with each rental.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Friday, May 20, 2011

Family Road Trips

I can't wait until my boys are just a bit older and we are able to take them on some road trips to see some National Monuments and Historical sites that are quite a distance from where we live. At the top of my list is the Grand Canyon, followed closely by Mount Rushmore. All of my kids just love watching movies and documentaries about these and other locations, and I think they'd adore seeing them in person.

For trips closer to home, we have visited Branson, family in Tennessee, and hope to travel to Texas later this summer. My husband's company is located near Austin, TX, and occasionally he has to travel there for training or meetings, so we are hoping to combine one of these trips with a mini-vacation so that we could visit this area, Houston, San Antonio, or Dallas while we are down there.

Road trips are excellent learning opportunities for those of us who homeschool some or all of our children, yet I think that my other two that attend public school could benefit from seeing some of these locations in person as well. I think that actually seeing places such as the Alamo, makes learning about them later in History easier and more exciting learning experiences.

Twizzlers shared some road trip tips to make traveling with kids easier and less painful, so I thought I'd share them with you!
According to family travel expert Emily Kaufman, “The Travel Mom,” families are starting to think past the backyard “staycation” and are rediscovering the freedom of the open road. Kaufman shares the following tips for a fun and safe family road trip:

  • Create a boredom bag. Convert a hanging travel cosmetic case into a case full of fun and hang it from the seat back in front of the kids’ seats. Consider creating fun works of art with Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel Candy before snacking on them!
  • Take your trip “online.” From GPS systems to phone applications, trips are no longer a navigation nightmare.
  • Think through the snacks you pack. Avoid packing snacks that are easy to spill like juice boxes or snacks that melt. Try plastic bottles with sports tops and bring along Twizzlers Candy or Twizzlers Nibs Candy – they are easy to share and don’t melt, making them the perfect car ride treat.
I wrote this post as an contest entry for a Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion prize pack as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club. I hope you'll take a moment to visit www.Twizzlers.com to see all the great things they have to offer!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Secret Family Spaghetti Recipe

I had the fun opportunity to take the Facebook Carrabba’s Pasta Personality quiz, and big surprise, I am Spaghetti and Meatballs, LOL:) I hope each of you will take a moment to take the quick 5 question quiz as well. Just click the link, like the page on Facebook, and the quiz will pop right up! Since my husband is Italian, this is a staple in our home, and the kids just love it. Nick, Aaron, and Joshua would eat this three or four times per week if I'd make it that often! I try to mix it up and add other ingredients in to various types of pastas so it isn't the SAME meal each time. Just changing the pasta and cheese is sometimes enough to make it different.

Your Pasta Personality is…

Spaghetti and Meatballs

You’re genuine and well loved, like Carrabba’s Spaghetti and Meatballs. Your warm and comforting personality makes you everybody’s best friend. So go for our equally popular hand-prepared meatballs over perfectly cooked imported spaghetti.

Now Nick would have a fit if I shared our EXACT secret family marinara recipe with the world on my blog, but I will tell you the primary ingredients. This core of this recipe has been passed down through generations on the paternal side of his family. His grandparents came to America before his father was born, so he is second generation American.

Secret Family Spaghetti Recipe 
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian Sausage
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar spaghetti sauce (my improvisation)
2 15 oz cans tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
Secret mixture of herbs and spices
Salt and sugar added as needed 
(I also use this opportunity to blend some veggies such as broccoli, spinach, etc that the kids don't like to eat alone, and I pour it into the sauce. Once it's cooked they don't even know it's there, but I love knowing that they are getting the nutrients that they need!)

I brown the ground beef and sausage in a pan together and drain. In a separate pan, cook the onions and garlic together until clear. In a large saucepot, mix the spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and herbs and spices. Cook on low until meat and onions are done, then add all items to the large pot and simmer on low for about 4 hours (can also put in slow cooker). If mine is on the stove, I stir in about every 30 minutes.

When it is ready just boil your pasta and serve with Italian Bread and a salad. Now this makes more than we can eat in one meal, so when it is cool, I pour the remainder into freezer bags and save for future meals. This is my base marinara sauce for every type of pasta that I make.

When we eat out, Carrabba's is often a favorite of the kids, because it gives them another opportunity to have spaghetti as a meal, and they love the kids menu. Mom and Dad like to have so variety, so I also wanted to share the following limited time special offers with you, especially since these are great and affordable prices:

Carrabba’s Signature Pasta Meals and New Limited Time Offers
Signature Pasta Meals, featuring seven distinctive dishes served with choice of soup or fresh salad starting at $10. There’s no better place than Carrabba’s to enjoy a complete Italian meal – any day of the week.

CARRABBA’S PASTA: Carrabba’s makes every pasta dish by hand with the freshest ingredients.  Pasta is cooked perfectly every time and signature sauces are made from scratch daily. Creative flavors and combinations of ingredients are part of Carrabba’s authentic family recipes as well as new creations.

LIMITED TIME OFFERS: Now through July 2011.
Featured Signature Pasta Meal:
Pasto Rambo – Named for the chef who created it, it’s made with shrimp tossed with imported Italian linguine, spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes sautéed in our basil lemon butter sauce. Lobster is available instead of shrimp for an additional cost.

Other Limited Time Offers:
Parmesan-crusted Chicken – Topped with fresh arugula and grape tomatoes tossed in a hand-prepared lemon vinaigrette, served with choice of side. Substitution of wood-grilled chicken also available. Pairs well with Estancia Pinot Grigio.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin – Three pork tenderloin medallions wrapped with prosciutto, wood-grilled and topped with an apple and fig infused port wine sauce, served with the vegetable of the day. Pairs well with Coppola Pinot Noir.

Limoncello Bread Pudding – Back by popular demand! Brioche bread pudding made with fresh Madagascar vanilla beans and a rich custard, served hot out of the oven. Topped with Blue Bell vanilla ice cream and drizzled with Carrabba’s homemade Caravella Limoncello liqueur sauce.

Now Introducing:
Peach SangriaCarrabba’s new light and fruity Peach Sangria blends Copper Ridge White Zinfandel, Absolut Apeach vodka and Patrón Citrónge with a splash of citrus. Topped with a fresh lemon wedge and strawberry, it’s a taste of the Amalfi Coast in spring.

Locations: Visit www.carrabbas.com for the closest Carrabba’s location. There are more than 230 locations nationwide.

About Carrabba’s:
Johnny Carrabba and Damian Mandola founded the first Carrabba’s Italian Grill in 1986 in Houston, Texas. Today, there are 232 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations around the country, run by passionate local proprietors focused on delighting guests with fresh, made-to-order Italian cuisine and the ultimate dining experience. Carrabba’s serves dinner seven nights a week in a casual environment that pairs innovative dishes and a complementary wine list with abundant hospitality. For on-the-go guests, Carrabba’s also offers convenient Carside Carry-Out. To learn more about Carrabba’s, please visit www.carrabbas.com.

Carrabba’s Pasta Personality Quiz on Facebook - Take the quiz to see how your personality compares to some of Carrabba’s signature pasta dishes! http://www.facebook.com/Carrabbas?sk=app_142632109083371

Follow Carrabba’s on Twitter: @Carrabba’s

Carrabba’s on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/Carrabbas

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Carrabba’s blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”