Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Big Sis' 12th Bday and her Girl Scout Cookie Oven


Happy birthday to my sweet Big Sis who turned 12 on Sunday. She's smart, she's sporty, she's artsy, she's sweet with equal parts sassy, which isn't necessarily a good thing. lol. She will argue any point she doesn't like into ground until you just wanna give scream but can be the sweetest, most tender-hearted little thing ever. She started the day off with her breakfast of choice (chocolate chip pancakes and grits - sorry I made them too milky, though!) and went to church with Nana. Church is something she's been really wanting to start going to but something we've been meaning to do, but just hadn't made the time for yet - (bad us!) and thank you Nana!


She played a basketball game against one of her BFF's team (her team won but barely - it teetered back and forth the whole time)...
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.... went to a magic show at DPAC followed up by an impromptu dinner w/ good friends who also just had a bday 2 days before. Nice photo bomb, Little Sis...


... and went home for the best damn homemade yellow cake I've ever made (stay tuned for the post)!! ... and she finally ended her busy day with a Girl Scout Cookie Oven. Pretty good day in her book. Can't believe that this little thing is 12 already.


Big Sis didn't ask for a ton for her birthday...


but the things she did want pretty much left us with only one option: the Girl Scout Cookie Oven. Grroooaan - I cringe at the thought of those things even though I desperately wanted one as a kid myself. She wasn't gonna get a motorized scooter (you got legs for that girl), a mini fridge in her room (wth? LOL!!) and iPhone 5 (yeah, not happening). Not wanting to load her up with gift cards to places I really don't like going to, the default choice was the oven. Note: she originally wanted the Easy Bake Ultimate Oven where you can at least bake a variety of foods, not just cookies, but every last food packet they sell for that may contain peanuts and tree nuts! BOO ON YOU HASBRO! You just lost out on our money! At least there was another nut-safe option out there although it ONLY bakes cookies. Note: they do sell a couple peanut butter cookie varieties, but the peanut butter is only added during the baking process by the lucky owner of this oven, therefore, the packets do not contain peanuts. This was a huge relief to Little Sis who is allergic to peanuts.

I was also a bit weary about the oven because this girl has zero desire to help cook/bake with me in our kitchen (unlike Little Sis who is the opposite!), so what's the intrigue about this silly toy that only makes treats out non-wholesome ingredients that will inevitably just end up sitting around?!?! Oh yeah, treats. lol. Well, it's her birthday and who knows...

Well, when she opened it up, she was thrilled beyond thrilled and leapt out of her chair to dole out hugs. Ok, we'll take that!

After much pestering, we got a batch of Thin Mints going the next morning (NOT the night before at 9pm at night!), but I didn't have much time before I had to leave and we only got through the cookie baking part. I told her she had to wait until I got back home to do the frosting part. But when I returned, she greeted me with this adorable, excited, sweet, happy face (Little Sis had one as well) and my heart just melted.


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She and her Little Sis had followed the directions and finished them off all on their own while Daddy was working from home upstairs. I no longer cringed at the thought of owning one. And the cookies were actually pretty tasty, and dare we say, better than the real thing?! ...at least in our humble opinion. Who woulda thunk it? At an average cost of $10 a pop so far for a 1.5" cookie, they'd BETTER TASTE good! lol!

Maybe buying her this cringe-worthy toy wasn't such a bad idea. Hey, maybe it will foster a love of cooking, or at least baking! One can only hope! :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

To get one of your own, check out these Target Links by clicking on pic:


Or these for those of you who prefer Amazon:

      

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards $20 Giveaway

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I have to admit, when approached about this campaign, I was a little leery. I'm pretty picky about my dessert bars and there have been very few of these pre-packaged treats that I've liked. So, of course, I went to my local Publix with my $0.50 off 1 box coupon and grabbed of all three varieties to test out before accepting this campaign. After all, I can't peddle something I don't like, right? I was lucky and they were even on sale for 2 for $4, so I got a double bargain! I think it was meant to be! :)


I eagerly took pictures of them all...


and even neatly laid them out to decide which one I would try first....


I dove straight in for the chocolate cookie bar and lo and behold, much to my delight, it.was.DELICIOUS! Pure Indulgent bliss in a bar, Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards bars are a sweet new treat to cater to your cravings. :)


Then I taste-tested the other two. Of course, I HAD to, right? :) and found that they were quite tasty as well. Loved the crunch of the candy-coated chocolate chips and the caramel center of the brownie, but the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar was definitely MY favorite.


The only down side to these bars is that THEY MAY CONTAIN PEANUT INGREDIENTS which meant that, sadly, Little Sis could not partake in this taste-testing. She got her own little treat and the rest of us (my hubby and Big Sis who is allergic to tree nuts but not peanuts) decided it was best to do our taste-testing at a more discrete time.

The hubby and Big Sis both gave these bars a huge thumbs up. This is no surprise for Big Sis who has yet to meet a treat she doesn't like, haha, but it means a lot coming from the hubby, who went in for more later that night. He's usually VERY selective about how he spends his calories!

Now, as much as I like to make my family treats from scratch, that just isn't always possible. And sometimes, at night, when I'm relaxing, watching tv w/ the hubby after the kids are in bed, I just want a little something sweet (which is almost always followed by a little something salty, haha), so it's reeeeeally nice to just be able to walk over to the pantry and have a little something sweet, a little something yummy and a little something very easy to stuff my face with. :)


The next day, I helped myself to a little "sweet reward" while the hubby was at work and the girls were busy with other things. After what's been a crazy busy time of managing contractors working our our Outdoor Living Project, very slowly recovering from a tailbone injury and just having come back from a week's vacation to first Savannah for Big Sis' soccer tournament in the freezing cold (yes, it can snow in Savannah and kids will still play soccer in 32 degree weather!) and then Disney for a few days, I couldn't wait to sit down to a quite moment of coffee, cookie bar and solitude. Aaaaaah, it was the PERFECT combination.


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With that, it's GIVEAWAY time! Enter to win $20 via PayPal!!

NOTE: You must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via random.org and will be contacted via email upon giveaway completion so be sure to leave your email addresses! :) Giveaway ends February 12, 2016.

Here are 3 ways to enter:

1. Pretty pretty please with lots of sugar on top click on this link: Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards Bars and then leave me a blog post comment telling me which bar you'd like to try!

2. For a second entry, leave me another blog post comment telling me how/when you might sneak one of these treats into your day!

3. For a third entry, share this on Social Media any way you'd like (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc) and leave me a link to where you shared it in the comment section!

And be sure to check out these COUPONS for $0.50 off one box of Sweet Rewards Bars.


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)


This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays


Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Neerja's Avocado Black Bean Salad




Many years back, when our girls were little, I'd sometimes hang out over at my neighbor Neerja's house while our girls played. I'd sit, we'd talk, I'd watch her cook up some delicious Indian food for dinner and I'd taste test. Yum! Though this isn't necessarily an Indian dish, it is one she'd serve up as a side with dinner and it one of my favorites. So fresh, so easy, so healthy, so delicious!

Neerja's Avocado Black Bean Salad
shared by My Epicurean Adventures

Ingredients:
2 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 ripened avocados, cubed
1 pint washed and sliced grape tomatoes
1/4 cup diced cilantro
1/2 lemon (or lime) squeezed
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Directions:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and serve!

Enjoy!


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Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

     

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reuben Sandwiches for 8


My mom raised me to be a Reuben lover and now I am raising my kids to be the same. :) To be honest, it happened accidentally. One day we were at a deli and I ordered one. A delicious one. As I was enjoying my sandwich, first Little Sis came up, watched me eat if for a bit and then asked for a bite. Ok. I shared a little bit of it with her. Then Big Sis came over and said she'd love to try some too. And lo and behold, the both loved it and I lost half of my Reuben, just like that. But that's a small price to pay to have a new generation of Reuben lovers. lol. I love that we can all enjoy them together!

Just this past weekend, we had some friends come and stay with us for the weekend. On the menu for lunch Sunday were Reubens with Progresso soup and boy, were those Reubens a hit!


8 Reuben Sandwiches
by happyvballgirl of My Epicurean Adventures

Ingredients:
16 pieces of Rye bread (pumpernickel rye swirl is my fave because it's so yummy and pretty)
1.5 lbs sliced/shaved corned beef
1/2 lb swiss cheese
sauerkraut
Russian dressing
butter

Directions:
  1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Butter one side of 8 slices of bread and place the bread butter side down on a cookie sheet.
  3. Divide corned beef slices out evenly among the 8 pieces of bread.
  4. Place 2 slices of swiss cheese on top of corned beef.
  5. Top with generous amount of sauerkraut and Russian dressing.
  6. Place 2nd slice of bread on top and butter the top side.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy and toasted.
Enjoy!

I actually prefer to pan fry these babies, just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, but when you're making 8 at once, ain't nobody got time for that! Baking them worked out just fine and way quicker.



Nothing like a good ol' Reuben with a bowl of Progresso's chicken noodle soup I had just loaded up on using my coupons from Publix!


Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some items used in this post. To see a full list of my favorite bento gear and such, just visit my "Products I Love" page! :) Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)

       

This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays
Tuesday's Table
Anyonita Nibbles' - Tasty Tuesdays
What Kids Eat Wednesday
The Party Bunch

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Girls' Bathroom Organizing

Whow... I just happen to be putting this post together during a Target sale! How convenient!
My "Easier-to-clean" Girls' Bathroom Makeover. Not that earth-shattering but it's making me less grumpy to have to clean their bathroom. lol.

Let it be known that I hate house cleaning and my least favorite chore is cleaning the girls' bathroom. I don't mind our master bath nor the 1/2 bath as much, probably because we don't get toothpaste all over the place like one particular child seems to do! Plus, all the crap I have to pick up off the counters to clean just drives me crazy... which is why I decided the girls' bathroom needed a little makeover. Not one for beautification, but for ease-of-cleaning. It got an "Easier-to-clean" makeover. haha.


With this suction caddy I bought from Target, the majority of their "stuffs" now hover over the counter space which means there's a LOT LESS STUFF to have to mess with to get the counters clean. I did go out on a limb and got this little rotating caddy to hold some essentials like reusable bathroom cups (see: my reduce/reuse/recycle post), q-tips and hair thingies to place on the counter, though. I don't mind having to move a FEW things. I'm not THAT lazy. :)

This particular caddy seems to only be available in store, but here's a similar one, from the same manufacturer using the same awesome PowerLock suction cups:

 
And a VERY similar one from Amazon. If you follow this link, it leads you to a bunch of other really cool suction cup caddies:



We also have a lot of family and friends that come for visits throughout the year and I thought it was time to make our bathroom a little more visitor-friendly, as well. We've had as many as 7 or 8 family/friends come to stay with us at a single time. Of course it's more fun if we all stay together, but that means the girls' bathroom gets extra busy! We typically have the girls use our bathroom during that time and offer it up to others as well, but we've found that most people seem prefer using this one, except for my bro who doesn't seem to mind at all, lol. So, I've done a few things to make those visits go a little easier, like extra towel hooks similar to this over-the-door one as well as this more sturdy one that's screwed in and can be offset from the other one to hang our new Nate Berkus™ Bath Towels in colors that coordinate with the rest of the decor! :)


  

I don't know about yours, but our house came with the most useless 2nd full bathroom shower "shelving" ever. They are more like little ledges and are all too narrow and ever-so-slightly sloped so that nothing ever stays on them for long. Soap bars and shampoo bottles are always slipping off. In addition, my husband installed a really nice removable shower head which also means don't bother hanging any kind of useful shower caddy off of it because it won't work.

So up until now, the girls either stored their shampoos and such on the floor of the tub or in the shelf next to the tub which was starting to rust with all the water drippings. I finally decided it was high time to do something about this, too. I went to Target and loaded up on 2 awesome shower caddies by InterDesign that hang by suction. I was wary of things hung up by suction cups, though, because what would be worse than hearing all of their shower accessories come crashing to the floor in the middle of the night? Rest assured, the suction cups on these babies are super duper strong and even have a giant screw to make them extra suctiony. They're called PowerLock Suctions. I LOVE PowerLock suctions! They don't budge when I yank on them. Not one bit. But I am still sure to check on them every now and then to make sure they haven't loosened, and tighten them if they have. So far so good after a few weeks of using them!

And if you are lucky enough to have a shower head that you can actually hang stuff off of, check this one out by the same company: InterDesign Brushed Stainless Steel Shower Caddy


Amazon has some caddies very similar to the ones I got from Target, with the PowerLock suctions and all!

 

The beautification makeover itself was done almost 10 years ago, before Little Sis was even born. I painted it yellow and found the cutest cats and dogs shower curtain and matching accessories from JC Penney and hand painted pictures to match. See? Hee hee.


Here's that shelf that's starting to rust. Nothing a "hospitality basket" and some washcloths can't hide! :)


And a final look at it all. We had our first house guests since I put this stuff up just a few days ago and my makeover was actually noticed AND mentioned! It a got a thumbs up! Woo hoo! Thanks so much for noticing and the nice words about it, Carlene! You made my day! ;)


I just went to clean the bathroom and was actually excited about doing it! It wasn't nearly as painful and almost enjoyable because it was so easy. Well, I'd say that was a huge success! :)

Be sure to take advantage of Target's Bath Sale while you're shopping!

Bath Sale: Spend $100, save $25; spend $50, save $10 with promo code REFRESH plus, save up to 15%. Valid 1/17-1/23

Target Clickable Links:


     
    

 

Here's a similar Cats and Dogs shower curtain, but it's not the same. It's cute, though!

 

Thanks so much for stopping by and please feel free to make my day by leaving me a comment, joining my blog in the top right corner or liking my on Facebook at MyEpicureanAdventures - the more the merrier! :)

Christine, aka happyvballgirl :)

Here are some affiliate links to the products I love and use on a daily basis. Well, I don't use ALL of them everyday but I do use at least 3 every day... you know what I mean! :) Feel free to ask me about any of 'em! Any purchases made through these links earns me a little extra cash to support my bento habit, which my hubby would really appreciate. haha! So thank you!!! if you choose to use any of 'em! :)


This post has been shared at:
Homemade Mondays


Disclosure: Affiliate links are used on this blog. :)