Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thunderstruck Blu Ray DVD Combo Pack Giveaway!!

Kevin Durant is already a huge NBA superstar and now he can added movie star to that list. In Thunderstruck he plays himself in a kind of new take on Freaky Friday. He switches bodies with a klutzy 16 year old. Not only do they switch bodies, they switch talent as well! This allows Brian, the boy Hart has switched places with, to become the star of his high school basketball team while Kevin Hart can't make a shot to save his life! This is a great movie for the whole family with some great lessons to be learned. Thunderstruck will be available on DVD on December 2012- Just in time to make a great Christmas gift for the basketball fan in your life!!

In conjunction with the upcoming release of the movie, Warner Bros. has come up with a fun app for fans! See how many free throws you can shoot and unlock clips of the movie, learn 7 Thunder-ific tips for kids that will give you some great basketball pointers or watch the movie trailer.

Warner Bros. wants to give one lucky reader of Cristi's Reviews the chance to win their very own copy of Thunderstruck! Enter via the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure- I was provided promotional materials for this giveaway by Warner Bros. Any opinions stated are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Goody Spin Pin Review

When I found out I was going to get the Beauty Blogger's Vox Box from Influenster full of great beauty products, of course I was super excited to try out ALL of the awesome products included. I was THRILLED to see Goody Spin Pins included. I was a little bummed that my hair is just shy of the right length to get a bun up, but I know I could try them out in my 5year old's long hair!

The perfect opportunity to do so was a while back at a Halloween gathering in our neighborhood. My daughter was going as Rapunzel and and I needed to put her hair up in a bun so I could get her Rapunzel headband of hair on her head. It took me less than 5 minutes to get the pins in her hair, which is extremely fast when you are fixing a little girl's hair! But where longevity is important these little pins delivered. We were out for about 5 hours and her hair stayed perfectly in place the entire time. When I was ready to take them out, I was afraid that the spiral design might cause me to pull on her hair a little, but it didn't and it didn't seem to hurt getting them out of her hair at all.

I can't wait until my hair grows a little so I can try them in my own hair. I plan to include these with a few Christmas gifts for the college aged girls in my family that I know would appreciate the quick fix of the spin pins, but that their hair will still look cute! I highly recommend these to pretty much any woman who likes to throw their hair up in a bun or who has a little girl. Say goodbye to bobby pins!

*Disclosure- I received one or more of the above mentioned products. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Happy Trunk- Subscription Box for Kids!

Special delivery! Mail carriers be warned, there may be a stampede for the mailbox when The Happy Trunk packages are delivered!

The Happy Trunk brings a carefully curated box filled with art supplies, crafts, and science activities for hands-on projects for kids ages 3 to 11, each month, delivered right to your door. Every month a new themed box of goodies will appear full stocked and ready to be ripped open by your young explorers. All materials and know how is included, to really engage the kids in fun and learning activities as well as spending quality family time together.

The Happy Trunk boxes are two tiered: the young kid boxes geared towards kids ages 3-7 years, and the big kid boxes for ages 7-11 years. The young kid and big kid boxes are structured differently, to suit these appropriate age groups. Every project in our boxes are designed by early childhood educators and parents, and tested by our very own team of kids.

The Happy Trunk boxes can be purchased as a month-to-month, 3, 6 or 12 month subscription. Our boxes also make great gifts for birthdays, achievements or holidays. Additional materials can be purchased for siblings. Our boxes are not just popular with parents but also grandparents, sitters and homeschoolers. My Readers Get 50% off a 3-month subscription to The Happy Trunk. A $58.95 Value, Promo Code: HT3F50 #kidscrafts

Subcription boxes are so much fun! I love that these art boxes for kids are out! So much fun to be had!! This box full of art supplies would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the little ones in your life!

*Disclosure- I may receive a free box in exchange for mentioning this promotion

KLUTCHclub Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday Holiday Specials!

Subscription boxes have been all of the rage this year and I don't seeing that trend changing any time soon. I personally really enjoy them. The idea is that you get abox full of various products from various companies to try for a discounted price. For me, it's like getting a fun box full of gifts every month!

One of my favorite boxes is KLUTCHclub. Now there are both KLUTCHwomen and KLUTCHmen boxes, making it even easier to get products that might appeal to you. KLUTCHclub is the only subscription box devoted to health and wellness!

Today on Small Business Saturday, consider supporting this unique company and treating yourself to an inovative way to try new things. KLUTCHclub is offering several deals this weekend:

Deal for Small Business Saturday (code good from today through Monday!)-
  • 25% off the "Best of" KLUTCHclub box using code BB25 
Deals for Cyber Monday-

  • 15% off month with discount code CYBER15
  • 20% off 3 months with discount code CYBER20
  • 25% off12 months with discount code CYBER25
Not only is KLUTCHclub a box full of goodies for yourself each month, they offer gift boxes as well, so you can share the fun with others! The "Best of" Box would make a fun and different Christmas gift!


*Disclosure- I am a KLUTCHclub ambassador and will receive a comission if you decide to use one of my above links to make a purchase. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Everest Nutrition Krill Oil Giveaway (2 Winners!) + One Week Samples Available While Supplies Last!

Earlier this year, I had the wonderful opportunity to review Everest Nutrition's Krill Oil. This is a high quality krill oil supplement and I definitely saw in difference in many areas of my health (mostly the dissipation of pms symptoms as well as an improvement in skin health.) I am a huge fan of using krill oil as an every day supplement that even when I became a vegetarian, this was the one thing I couldn't let go of!

I am excited once again giving me the opportunity to share their fabulous product with you, this time with TWO bottles to give to two very lucky people! Enter via the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win and see the benefits of Everest Krill Oil first hand.

Even if you aren't one of the two lucky winners of a full month's supply of krill oil, I have great news!!! Right now, you can get a free week's supply at while supplies last! Just scroll down to the bottom of the website's homepage click on the red banner and fill out your information to get your free sample! Hurry, these samples won't last long!!

And if you would like to read it, here is my original Everest Nutrition Krill Oil Review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure- I was provided complimentary products of one or more of the aboved mentioned products. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Friday, November 16, 2012

No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig- Book Review/Blog Tour + Win a Kindle Fire!

About the book:

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger. Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend- Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her true purpose in coming to New York.

She's then thrust into a world with subterfuge, veiled threats and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guider her even nearer to locating her brother-but they also bring her closer to destruction- as those who want to kill him track her footsteps. With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke...a man she's grown to love?

My thoughts:

There were several things that drew me to this novel that should not make one lick of difference! The first was that the author is a fellow Texan. I will always, ALWAYS support my fellow Texans. The second is that Cara and her brother are twins. This doesn't play into the story at all, but since I am mom to a pair of twins, stories that include them always interest me. And the third reason I was drawn to this book...which incidentally does that this would be my first Christian suspense novel. I am a huge suspense fan, but honestly I did not know the genre existed within the Inspirational market.

All of that said, I was thoroughly pleased with this novel. It was an easy read, that took me just a few days time to get through. This was definitely a page turner. I was unsure of Rourke the whole novel, was he going to disappoint Cara in the end? Or would things turn out the way she hoped since she had fallen hard for him? It was a fun ride to see what happened all along the way as we meet other characters and find out not everyone is who they seem. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys being on the edge of their seat and enjoys a few twists and turns along the way. There is also a love story, so I would recommend this as well to those enjoy that sort or thing.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author, and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from Romantic Times. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, TX.

Connect with Elizabeth Ludwig on her Website
Connect with Elizabeth Ludwig on Facebook

See what other bloggers are saying about No Safe Harbor

Elizabeth Ludwig is celebrating her new book with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at a Facebook Author Chat party on 12/6.

One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 5th. Winner will be announced at the "No Safe Harbor" Author Chat Facebook Party on 12/6. Connect with Elizabeth, get a sneak peek of the next book in the Edge of Freedom series, try your hand at the trivia contest, and win some great prizes - gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of No Safe Harbor and join Elizabeth on the evening of the December 6th for a chance to connect with her and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!

No Safe Harbor by Elizabeth Ludwig
Enter Today 11/15-11/25!

*Disclaimer- I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of this review. I was not required to post a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Influenster's Beauty Blogger VoxBox Review

I love beauty products. I can NOT get enough of them. I think it mostly comes from not being allowed to wear makeup growing up, it's like I am making up for lost time! I will almost always accept an opportunity to try out beauty products, so I was really excited to find out that I would be one of the lucky Influenster members that received a Beauty Bloggers Vox Box. What's this means is I got a box full of wonderful, FULL SIZED products to try out and share my opinions on.

The box included:
VitaBath Pomegranate and Blood Orange Body Mist
2 oz White Barn Mini Candle from Bath and Body Works (I received Mahogany & Teakwood)
Kiss Ever Pro False Lash starter kit
NYC New York Color Individual Eyes Compact Pallette (eye shadow)
Goody Spin Pins
and I received a bonus item of Not Your Mother's Kinky Moves Curl Defining Cream.

I was excited about everything in this box, there was not a single thing I did not want to try out. I thought the body mist smelled awesome and I was excited to find out that VitaBath offers a wide selection of scents and many other bath and body products as well. I will definitely be trying out some more of them.

The candle from Bath & Body works smelled amazing! I am happy that Mahogany & Teakwood is the scent I got, it is perfect for my taste. I will more than likely buy a full sized one as well and will more than likely purchase a few of these candles as gifts for the holidays. (The mid size and mini candles are on sale right now, so head to Bath  & Body Works soon to score the best deal!)

The false lashes were the most fun for me because I have never tried them before, but have always wanted to. I did have a little trouble applying the lashes to my right eye for some reason, but practice makes perfect. These lashes definitely make a huge impact on your overall eye look and for a fraction of the price you would pray for other brands, you get the same quality.

I really enjoyed the NYC Individual Color Palette. I like that the primer illuminator were included in the palette and that with the 5 complementing shades you are able to create several different looks customized to your preference. Not bad for $4.99!  I will be buying more of these for sure- and soon.

The Goody Spin Pins were a big highlight in this box for me. My hair is short right now, so I couldn't quite get them in to  make a messy bun (almost though! soon!) I did use them in my 5 year old's hair and  it only took me about 5 minutes to get them in and they stayed put all day. If these pins can survive all day in a pre-schooler's hair, they are certainly going to be easy for an adult to use. I can't wait to be able to use them myself!

I also received as a bonus item (lucky me! yay!) Not Your Mother's Kinky Moves Curl Definer. I thought it worked pretty well, but I did not care for the smell. The smell wasn't so bad I wouldn't use the product, but it also took me two seperate shampoos to get it out of my hair. Maybe I used more than directed, but for me, I would use this product sparingly.

Thank you so  much to all of these great companies and Influenster for allowing me to try all of these products and share my feedback with you. I look forward to continuing to use the good  majority of them!

Check out my Pinterest Board with pictures and more thoughts on the products mentioned in this review

*disclosure- I received one or more of  the above mentioned products in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

NYC Individual Eyes Custom Compact Review

I have always been a minimalist when it came to make up. I just didn't have the time to mess with anything other than mascara, foundation and lip gloss. As I get older and really since my kids were born, I have been dabbling a little more in other things like eye liner and eye shadow. I love playing with  my look, but I need my makeup routine to be quick.

I was super excited to see the NYC New York Color Individual Eyes Custom Compact included in my most recent VoxBox from Influenster. The palette included was filled with beautiful greys and I enjoyed playing around and seeing what worked for me. I came up with a very subtle day time look using the two lighter greys and a full on smoky look using all of the colors and the handy instructions included in the package. The coolest thing about this compact is that it also includes primer and illumination and it costs less than most compacts of the same sort. It also has staying power. I didn't notice it rubbing off at all.

The Individual Eyes Custom Compact also offers palettes for specific eyes colors as well as smokey shadows for your specific eye color as well. I know I will without a doubt be getting the central park palette the next time I feel the need for more eye shadow, I may even treat myself to it the next time I go to the store since it's only 5 bucks!

I highly recommend this line of eye shadow to makeup lovers and even to makeup newbies. It would also make a great stocking stuffer this Christmas season!

Connect with NYC on Facebook
Connect with NYC on Twitter
Connect with NYC on Pinterest

*Disclosure- I received one or more of the above mentioned products fro, NYC via the Influenster Beauty Bloggers Vox Box. I was not required to write a review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cooking Light Select Cravebox Review

I am always excited to get a new Cravebox on my doorstep. And it seems the boxes keep getting bigger! Cravebox has kind of changed up how they do things. They list the upcoming boxes and you can enter a drawing to win a spot. If you are one of the winners you pay somewhere between $12-15 depending on what the box is and you are all set. Change of any kind always seems to cause an uproar, but I kind of like the way Cravebox is set up now. It sets them apart even further from other subscription boxes and I can only assume if affords them the opportunity to work with more companies to offer even more box options. Just last week there were drawings for 3 different boxes. And yes, I entered for all three of them. :)

Anyway, I was excited to see my Cooking Light box on the porch when it arrived. This was the first box I got that I really wasn't sure what to expect, but as usual the box exceeded my expectations.

Here is what was inside:

Not one, but TWO full sized bottles of McCormick's Salt Free Garlic & Herb seasoning. I like that there are two, so I can share one with a friend. I have not had the chance to use this just yet, but I intend to immediately. I am not huge on adding salt to food, but I am a big spice fan, so I look forward to seeing what dishes I can come up with!

a full size bottle of Torani's sugar free syrup in caramel. And by full size I mean the big bottle. I am a huge fan of Torani's syrups, not only will they add flavor to your coffee or hot chocolate, they can take the flavor of your baked goods to new heights.

A bag of Tully's Coffee. I am not a coffee drinker, but my husband is a coffee fanatic, so he has been enjoying this. He said it has a very bold, strong flavor and he likes it quite a bit.

From the makers of Splenda, a new zero calorie sweetener made from Monk Fruit, Nectresse. I actually am pretty excited to try this. I like to use natural sweeteners and this one having zero calories is a big plus. I was very happy to see it included in this box

And last but certainly not least three 2 packs of Dole's fruit crisps. This was the first thing the kids and I got into. We ate it for dessert after dinner the day the box arrived. My boys ate the peach crisp and I snuck a bite- it was fantastic and my daughter and I had the apple crisp and it was as fabulous as I expected. Throughout the next few days I had the pear apple crisp for breakfast and it was also rather tasty. These were good warmed up or straight out of the pantry and each container was less than 200 calories and only contained natural products. Color me impressed.

The only thing missing was a subscription to Cooking Light, which I thought would have made an excellent addition to round the box out. I thought this was one of the best boxes yet from Cravebox, but I feel like I say that each time I get a new box. This is a good sign though, it just shows that they keep improving and keep on surprising me with the fun products that are included. 

Connect with Cravebox on Facebook
Connect with Cravebox on Twitter
More information on signing up. 

*Disclosure- I did not receive any free products in exchange for this review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Cephrael's Hand by Melissa McPhail-Book Review & Blog Tour

About the book: "All things are composed of patterns..." And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:
In Alorin...three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him...
In the kingdom of Dannym...the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord...
In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.

My thoughts: Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in McPhail's A Pattern and Shadow of Light series and this story starts the series off with a bang. This is a huge novel (I'm talking more than 600 pages) filled with a wide cast of characters in different realms of existance. At the beginning of the book there is a map and a huge dictionary full of new words and blurbs about many characters you will need to know to follow along in the book. Cephrael's Hand is a dream novel for Fantasy fans, it's a long, well thought out story of Lord of the Ring's proportions and only the beginning of the journey. I would recommend setting aside a while to read this one though, since it is super long. I did have a bit of trouble getting into the story at the beginning, but with so much to cover in one novel it is not surprising that it started off on the slow side to me. It soon picked up the pace and was pretty easy to get into after a while. Fantasy is a genre I only dabble in reading from time to time, but I thought this was quite an ambitious and well thought out first novel from McPhail.

About the author: Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid fantasy reader. A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of it's inherit philisophical expolrations. Ms. McPhail lives in the pacific northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Cephrael's Hand is the multiple award-winning first novel in her series A Pattern of Shadow and Light

*Disclosure- I was provided a free e-copy of this novel via Innovative Online Book Tours for the purpose of rendering this review. I was not required to writer a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook Review

During the cooler months of the year, there is nothing better than a nice slow cooked meal. It is a no fuss, easier way to have dinner ready and waiting at the end of the day and as an added bonus will fill up your house with the most amazing smells.

I was very excited to get the opportunity to review The Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook from Robert Rose publishing. Even just thumbing through the book, I had to dog ear about half of the pages for recipes I knew I would want to try. I have tried several since and I can honestly say there is not one recipe in this book I have tried so far that my family and I didn't love.

You might be wondering about whom the title refers to. In 1975 a group of women on a friends getaway had an idea- to compile a cookbook with the best recipes that their decades old Bridge group had so enjoyed at their meetings. The result was that the books "The Ladies of the Best of Bridge" came up with went on to be one of the best selling brands in North American Publishing.

Fast forward to present day- over thirty years later- the ladies are headed to retirement, but want their legacy to live on. They have teamed up with nal Sally Vaughan-Johnston. The majority of the recipes in Slow Cooker are Sally's, but the Ladies all approved after each appraising and critiquing these recipes to make sure they were the best of the best.

Now back to the recipes- there are so many good ones in this cookbook, it was difficult for me to narrow down which ones to share with you, so what I did was choose some from several different categories.

From the appetizer category (Nibbles, Dips and Drinks) my family really enjoyed the Cranberry Party Meatballs. It is a great fall twist on a people pleasing favorite. There was not a single morsel left on any plate the night I made these for dinner.

Cranberry Party Meatballs (page 38)
They’ll ask for this again!
2 cloves garlic, minced 2
1⁄4 cup fresh bread crumbs 60 mL
2 tbsp dried cranberries, finely chopped 30 mL
1 tsp crumbled dried sage 5 mL
1 tsp salt 5 mL
1⁄4 tsp pepper 1 mL
1 egg, lightly beaten 1
1 lb lean ground turkey 500 g
1⁄2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans 125 mL
1 tbsp vegetable oil 15 mL
1⁄4 cup grated onion 60 mL
1 cup jellied cranberry sauce 250 mL
1⁄4 cup chicken broth 60 mL
2 tbsp tomato paste 30 mL
1 tbsp Dijon mustard 15 mL
1 tbsp cider vinegar 15 mL
Use a 31⁄2 to 4-quart slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine garlic, bread crumbs, cranberries, sage, salt, pepper and egg. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add turkey and pecans. Mix well. Using about 2 tsp (10 mL) for each, shape into meatballs. In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs in two batches. (The meatballs might still be pink inside. Don’t worry; they will finish cooking in the sauce). Transfer to slow cooker. In a saucepan, combine onion, cranberry sauce, broth, tomato paste, mustard and vinegar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 21⁄2 to 3 hours, until meatballs are no longer pink inside and sauce is thickened. Set the slow cooker to Keep Warm and let guests help themselves.
Makes about 30 meatballs.
Tip: Be sure to use crumbled dried sage and not ground dried sage, which has an intense and overpowering flavor.
Tip: We use tomato paste in many of our slow cooker recipes because it greatly boosts flavor and richness. The long, moist cooking dulls other aromatic ingredients, such as onions, garlic and herbs. Microwaving or browning a dollop or two of tomato paste with these ingredients makes all the difference.
Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.
As you can tell from the cooking directions, this is meant to be a party dish. My family enjoyed it as a dinner and it is highly possible that I will take this to our Thanksgiving gathering with family. It is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Another more run of the meal recipe in the soup section is Tuesday Tortilla Soup. I don't know if it is just my friends and family or the fact that we live in Texas, but I don't know a single person who does not make tortilla soup on a regular basis. The recipe in Best of Bridge Slow Cooker is fantastic and will definitely continue to be made at my house. This may even be a great recipe to bring to a friend who has been sick or just had a baby or someone else you might otherwise bring a meal to.

Tuesday Tortilla Soup (page 92)
Quick to assemble — ideal for mad midweek mornings. It cooks all day; just add the finishing touches when you get home.
3 cloves garlic, minced 3
1 large onion, finely chopped 1
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes, 1
with juice
2 cups chopped cooked chicken 500 mL
1 cup corn kernels (no need to thaw 250 mL
if frozen)
1 tbsp ground cumin 15 mL
1 tbsp dried oregano 15 mL
Salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth 1 L
2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips, 500 mL
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro 15 mL
1 tsp chipotle chile powder (see tip, 5 mL
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice 30 mL
Shredded Tex-Mex cheese blend
or Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine garlic, onion, tomatoes, chicken, corn, cumin, oregano, 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) salt, 1⁄4 tsp (1 mL) pepper and broth. Cover and cook on Low for about 8 hours or on High for about 4 hours, until onions are tender and soup is bubbling. Stir in half the tortilla chips and the cilantro. In a small bowl, combine chipotle chile powder and lime juice until smooth. Stir into soup. Cook on High for 20 minutes, until tortilla chips are softened and soup is thickened. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.
Serves 4.
Tip: Jars of chipotle chile powder are available in most supermarkets. The reddish-brown powder is made from dried smoked jalapeƱo peppers. It lends an authentic Mexican touch to soups, stews and chilis. Regular chili powder can be substituted if you prefer to not have a smoky flavor.

Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

I save my favorite for last! I am usually not a huge dessert in the slow cooker kind of person, but the second I read the ingredients in the Banoffee Pie, I knew I would have to try it. One of the ingredients called for is Digestive Cookies, which come from Great Britain and are super delicious. Fear not, you can find them in the international section at your local Kroger (in the US anyway) and believe me, you should, they will be your new favorite cookie.

Banoffee Pie (page 300)
An irresistible British dessert. The toffee sauce is easy to make in the slow cooker.
1 can (14 oz or 300 mL) sweetened 1
condensed milk
Very hot water
2 cups crushed digestive cookies 500 mL
1⁄2 cup melted butter 125 mL
2 bananas, sliced 2
1 cup heavy or whipping (35%) cream 250 mL
Grated chocolate
Use a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour milk into a 2-cup (500 mL) glass measuring cup, cover with foil and place in slow cooker. Add very hot water to the slow cooker until it reaches the level of the milk. Cover and cook on Low for about 9 hours, until milk is very thick and caramel-colored. Whisk thoroughly, then let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cookies and butter. Pat into the base and up the sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) pie plate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Arrange bananas over chilled base. Pour toffee sauce over bananas. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until chilled, or overnight. In a bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serves 6.
Make Ahead: Transfer the cooled toffee sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Tip: For best results when whipping cream, be sure that the cream is very cold. Also, chill the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a short while beforehand. Use a deep bowl to prevent spatters. Recipes usually specify whipping the cream to soft peaks (which bend over slightly) or firm peaks (which are more pointy and upright). Be careful not to over-whip cream. If it starts to look grainy, you have gone too far. You may be able to rescue over-whipped cream by adding a little more unwhipped cream to the bowl and whipping on low speed.
Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 All rights reserved: May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Some other favorites from the cookbook are:

southwest brunch bake
unattended applesauce
turkey and wild rice soup
turkey meatball korma
butter chicken
black bean vegetarian tacos
peach cinnamon brown betty
maple orange glazed pears
rum pumpkin caramel sauce

And so many more! There are 200 fantastic recipes to choose from, giving you many new options to keep from getting bored with your menu.

You can purchase Best of Bridge Slow Cooker on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

*Disclosure- I was provided a complimentary copy of The Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook in hopes that I might mention it on my blog. I was not required to render a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.
best ever banana bread

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Win a Trip to Punta Cana (airfare included!!)

That experience you can't find the words to describe. The feeling you want to take wherever you go. Share your pictures of that unfortettable moment with Funjet Vacations and you could be featured on a billboard AND win a vacation, so you can recreate those memories all over again while making new ones to last a lifetime. Submit your photo and caption by visiting Funjet Vacations' Facebook page. The photos will go through a round of judging and the top 15 will be chosen as finalists.

  • The grand prize winner will see their photo on a billboard and will win an all-inclusive vacation to the Riu Palace Punta Cana
  • 2nd place will receive a Funjet gift certificate worth up to $500 off their next vacation
  • 3rd place will receive a Funjet gift certificate worth up to $400 off their next vacation
  • 4th and 5th place will receive a Funjet gift certificate worth up to $300 off their next vacation
  • 6th-15th place will receive a Funjet gift certificate worth up to $250 off their next vacation

And make sure to vote for your favorite photo between November 26 and December 12, because one lucky voter will also win a trip to Punta Cana to create vacation memories of their own!
I don't think anyone would mind having a vacation and even better not having to pay for it! What a fun promotion from Funjet Vacations!

Visit Funjet’s Facebook page to submit your vacation photo by November 16th!
*Disclosure- I was not compensated for this post, but I will be entered into a drawing for a prize for helping spread the word about this promotion.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Friends Series Blu Ray DVD Release + Giveaway

Friends came out when I was in High School. It was one of the first tv sitcoms I got attached to and for that reason it has a very nostalgic value to me. I think that even now, watching reruns, this show is still relevant and funny and I think there is a whole new generation getting attached to it!

In celebration of the long anticipated release of the entire series on Blu Ray, Warner Brothers has come out with an app with all sorts of fun stuff to count down the days until the dvd's are released. You can take a quiz to find out which Friend character you are most like, test your Friends knowledge by trying yourhand  at trivia and relive your favorite moments by watching wonderfully funny clip! Check out the app below!

After you are done reminiscing with the fun Friends app, enter via the Rafflecopter for your chance to win afun prize pack of two oversized cappuccino mugs and a picture frame and don't forget to pick up the complete Friends box set on Blu Ray on November 13, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure- Warner Bros supplied the materials for this review and giveaway in conjunction with the upcoming Friends Series release on Blu Ray. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello Book Review

At the beginning of the summer, I challenged myself to go meatless for the month of June. What ended up happening is that I became a full time vegetarian. Well, I come from a meat loving family and my in laws are Persian, who eat pretty much mostly meat and rice, so at the few times we have been at their houses, I have eaten meat, but 98% of the time for the last five months, I have been eating a plant based diet. I LOVE variety in what I eat and I also enjoy being in the kitchen, so I am always looking for new recipes and cookbooks to try out. I have been very interested in adding more vegan recipes to the mix, but I am a little hesitant on recipes that rely too heavily on soy. I was super stoked to find the The Karma Chow Ultimate Cookbook by Melissa Costello. The first thing that drew me to it, was that the foreward was written by Tony Horton, founder of P90X, whom Costello is personal chef for. If you know who Tony Horton is, you know he is all about health and is very fit. If you don't know who he is, I suggest you look him up, but I will warn that P90X is not for the faint of heart. It takes some real dedication! I was also very excited to see that while skimming the cookbook that Costello only uses soy protein here and there and still offers many, many delicious vegan meals in Karma Chow.

The first recipe I tried, the banana chocolate chip mini muffins, has become a favorite recipe in our house. It also lead me to learn that I really like oat flour as a substitute for white or wheat flour, which is would have baked with. I have used oat flour several times since and it's now a staple in my pantry. My family also really enjoyed Spaghetti & "Meat"balls and the vegetarian meatloaf. The only thing we weren't a fan of was the quinoa brekkie bowl, but I think we just all have a personal preference for savory quinoa as opposed to a sweet breakfast quinoa.

There are so many other recipes I can not wait to try from The Ultimate Karma Chow Cookbook. I will definitely be buying a paper copy to add to my recipe book collection. I would recommend this book to any new vegetarian or vegan or even someone who eats meat who would like to add more meatless meals to their meal plan. You will not be disappointed with this delicous recipes.

Connect withKarma Chow on Facebook
Connect with Karma Chow on Twitter
Connect with Karma Chow at the Karma Chow Website

Purchase a copy of The Ultimate Karma Chow Cookbook on

*Disclosure- I was provided an ARC courtesy of NetGalley for the purpose of putting together this review. I was not required to render a positive review and all opionions are 100% my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hospital for Special Surgery

My husband and I got married in 2006, had our first baby in 2007 and added twin boys in 2009. I think the second you become a parent you are almost constantly concerned with their health and their physical well being. We have had some close calls with falls that could have ended up with broken bones, but we have always been lucky that our kids have fallen down just right to avoid a serious injury.

All 3 of our kids had some growth issues with their heads as infants. Our daughter in particular had a strange bump appear on the back of her head. We were not sure what to think about it. She was around 6 months old at the time and as a first time mother I can tell you every little thought possible went through my head, that she could have some kind of fluid or even a tumor. Once again, we were blessed that this problem corrected itself before we ever had to seek treatment for it. (We were awaiting an appointment with a specialist when it disappeared on it's own.)

I know in a few years, my kids will most likley start playing sports and I know the injury risks that come with that. When it comes to our kids' physical well being, it is comforting to have The Hospital For Special Surgery which specializes in orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation there to help them get through these bumps in the road in their young lives.

I think when it comes to choosing medical care for our children, especially where surgery or rehabilitation is concerned, the best way to being that journey is to talk to other parents who have already been there. I also think that researching the hospital or facility you are interested in is vital. The Hospital for Special Surgery is a world leader in  orthopedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation staffed by experts in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language pathology. HSS is located in New York and has also just opened CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center at the Children's Pavilion providing comprehensive, individualized care for both inpatients and outpatiens from birth to 21 years of age.

When you need specialized care, look to the professionals at The Hospital for Special Surgery.

Connect with The Hospital for Special Surgery on Facebook

Disclosure- I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hospital for Special Surgery. A small donation to a charity of my choice was made in my name as a thank you for participating. You should consult with your physician or other health care provider before beginning any rehabilitation/therapy, sports training, or exercise program.