March – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

March 2012

Energize Your Day with Kraft {Giveaway!}

I’m really excited to have been selected as a 2012 Kraft Foods Blogger – not only because it means I get to try great Kraft products early on, but also because I get to share news and great giveaways with you guys! I’ve, like most of you, grown up eating Kraft foods (who hasn’t had Kraft Macaroni & Cheese?) and it’s great to see that they’re continuing to come out with food products that people will really enjoy.

For my first post, Kraft sent me a package with tons of great things to help me energize my day – and YOU get the chance to win the very same items for yourself! I’ll tell you more about that below, so keep an eye out!

I was especially excited to get this package because now that I’m getting further along in my pregnancy, I have the need to snack throughout the day. I’m trying to be conscious of what I eat, so having some quality options is crucial for me to make smart snack choices!

We eat a LOT of peanut butter in our house. The boys want PB sandwiches for lunch pretty much every day, and Brian and I have started bringing them for our lunches at work, too. Oh and don’t get me started on our love of peanut butter with apple slices – Yum! I’m already craving some now.

Speaking of peanut butter – these peanut butter pretzels are my favorite! They’re so good and are easy to throw in my purse for a mid-morning snack.

Another snack we got to try is this caramel popcorn with a twist – it’s got a cinnamon creme drizzle! The cinnamon cuts the sweetness and adds a nice layer of flavor. These are a great sweet treat!

Kraft suggests using these marshmallows in hot chocolate or with ice cream. Can I just say I would be fine eating these on their own? They reminded both Brian and I of marshmallows from a favorite childhood cereal, and I have to admit that on a couple of occasions I’ve just poured a small handful for a treat. They’re SO good, and they’re little so they’re easy for kids to eat.

The Crystal Light energy-on-the-go sticks are great for busy moms who have a lot on their plate! I’m avoiding caffeine right now but I can already envision the day when these will be useful (can anyone say “complete lack of sleep from being up all night with a newborn?)!

I also got two coupons to try Milkbite Milk & Granola Bars (you’ll find them in the refrigerated section, by the way) and Fresh Take, which is a cheese and breadcrumb mix you can use with chicken to add amazing flavor. I have my coupons ready to go and will let you know in a later post what I think of these products. I know I’ve been curious about the Milkbite bars since seeing the commercials on TV!

Of course, beyond the food and Crystal Light I also got an adorable zebra-print lunch tote (seriously looks more like a purse than a lunch box, but it’s insulated and everything – awesome!) and a 14-piece Sistema food storage kit that I absolutely LOVE. Check out how the fork and knife are built right in to this one piece:

I hope you’ll go out and try some of the things I shared with you in this post – we enjoyed everything so much that we’ll definitely be making repeat purchases (we’re already out of the pretzels!) on our next grocery trip. But, of course, you also have the chance to win a package of your own!

One lucky reader will win the same package I received, which includes:

  • Insulated Lunch Tote
  • 14-piece Sistema food storage system
  • Snackwells Peanut Butter Pretzels
  • Snackwells Caramel Popcorn with Cinnamon Drizzle
  • Crystal Light Energy-on-the-go Sticks
  • Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Bits
  • Planters Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Coupon for Milkbite Bars and Fresh Taste

This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Thursday, April 12. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post telling me which of the new Kraft Foods products you’re most excited to try!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: As a Kraft Delicious Byte blogger I received package photographed above. All opinions are honest and are those of me and my family. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. This program is not administered or sponsored by Kraft Foods or its affiliates. The prize package will be fulfilled by Kraft Foods or its agency.

RSV Awareness

When each of our boys were born, we were very germ-conscious from the start – we had hand sanitizer at the door of our hospital room for people to use before holding our fragile newborn! With C I was especially worried since swine flu was making headlines everywhere, and hormones only exacerbated my fear of him getting sick. Thankfully neither of the boys have ever experienced any serious illness, especially while they were still newborns. It’s definitely wise to be cautious with the spread of germs when small babies’ immune systems are still so immature.

Our third child is due this fall, and I’ve already thought about the fact that he or she will be SO little during the height of winter, when sickness seems to spread especially quickly. We will definitely be taking a lot of precautions, especially with having two preschool-aged children in the house too!

One of the biggest threats to new babies is a very common virus called respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. This virus can be especially concerning because it’s extremely common and spreads very easily. RSV can live on surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, countertops, toys, bedding) for several hours and is often spread through touching, hugging and kissing. Because of this, almost 100% of children contract RSV by their second birthday. In most older children, RSV runs its course with mild symptoms similar to the cold or flu, and many parents may not even know their child has the virus. But in very young babies—and especially preemies and those with certain lung and heart diseases—it can lead to a serious respiratory infection.

A few facts about RSV that all parents, caregivers and loved ones should know:

  • Almost every baby will contract RSV by age 2, but only 1/3 of moms say they’ve heard of the virus.
  • Serious RSV infection is the leading cause of infant hospitalization, responsible for more than 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 500 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV occurs in epidemics each fall through spring. The CDC has defined “RSV season” as beginning in November and lasting through March for most parts of North America.
  • There is no treatment for RSV, so it’s important for parents to take preventive steps to help protect their child (e.g., wash hands, toys, bedding frequently; avoid crowds and cigarette smoke).
  • Certain babies are at an increased risk of developing serious RSV infection, so it’s important to speak with a pediatrician to determine if a baby may be at high risk for RSV, and discuss preventive measures.
  • Symptoms of serious RSV infection include: persistent coughing or wheezing; rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths; blue color on the lips, mouth, or under the fingernails; high fever; extreme fatigue; and difficulty feeding. Parents should contact a medical professional immediately upon signs of these symptoms.

If you’re a parent to a newborn, there are a few tips you can try to suggest for visitors:

  • Wash your hands frequently—upon entering the home and especially prior to holding the baby. Parents, and the new baby, will appreciate it.
  • Leave toddlers at home, especially during the winter months. Young children, especially if they attend day care or preschool, often carry germs and viruses, like RSV, that are easily spread.

If you’re a guest that can’t wait to meet a new baby, consider these suggestions:

  • Call before you visit. New parents need time to set up a routine and bond. By giving them time to do so before you visit, you are respecting the new family.
  • Postpone a visit if you feel that you may be getting sick, have recently been ill or exposed to illness.
  • Remember that parents know best. If you feel they are being overprotective or overly cautious, just consider that only they know what’s best for the health of their new son or daughter.
  • Offer to do something to ease their responsibilities as they spend time as a family, such as laundry, cooking or dishes. Sleep-deprived moms and dads will appreciate your help!

You can learn a lot more about RSV and prevention at www.rsvprotection.com, and check out this infographic for more details:

It’s easy to overworry about your child, especially your first. Instead of worrying, just be preventative and watch out for signs of RSV or other serious illness – then if your baby does get sick, you’ll be able to be proactive in getting them treatment as soon as possible.

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of MedImmune and received promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

I’m a Chuggington Conductor!

The boys have loved playing with trains for quite a while, which means that they were pretty thrilled when they discovered Chuggington. So I’m especially excited to announce today that I’ve been selected as one of 20 Chuggington Conductors! That means throughout the year I’ll be updating you on Chuggington news, plus hosting some really fun giveaways (one is right around the corner)!

Speaking of Chuggington news, the third season premieres this Monday, March 26 at 7:30 a.m. EST on Disney Junior, Disney Channel’s programming block designed for kids age 2-7 and their families! They’ll be introducing three new characters: Piper, a new Trainee, Decka, a double decker Chugger who works in the city, and Skylar, a new trainer with a very “wheels-on” teaching style.

     

If you haven’t ever watched Chuggington before, here’s a brief summary of what the show’s all about (that way you’re all up-to-date for the premiere on Monday, of course!):

Chuggington is a CGI-animated series that follows the adventures of Wilson, Brewster and Koko, trainee engines, each with their own unique personality and learning style. The series is set in a world much like our own with cities, villages and diverse cultures and geography. Entertainment and enjoyment are at the heart of Chuggington, but embedded within each story are important educational and developmental messages centered on learning and social-emotional development.

Visit the Chuggington Website for a huge variety of fun activities! You can also connect with Chuggington on Facebook and Chuggington on Twitter. Stay tuned for traintastic news and giveaways to come!

Note: I’m a Chuggington Conductor! Information for this post was provided, but any opinions are honest and are my own. I was not compensated for this post.

Second Trimester!

I can hardly believe that I’m already in the second trimester – my pregnancy with C flew by, but this is seriously ridiculous! I guess this time around I’m too busy to think about being pregnant a whole lot. With my first pregnancy it felt like it dragged on forever. I scrapbooked my pregnancy, if that tells you anything. Here’s hoping I remember to take any belly pics at all this time around.

I’m at this weird stage right now, though. I don’t have nausea anymore (wahoo!) so other than still being tired & falling asleep early every night, I don’t have symptoms. And it’s too early to really feel the baby move. I Googled it (I Google everything), to see if I’m normal for thinking this stage is weird, and found out I’m not alone. I do have an appointment Monday and they should use the Doppler to let us listen to the heartbeat. I should mention that I am hungry all.the.time, which means I do a lot of planning to bring mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to work. So anyway, I guess I’m not entirely symptom-free. I’m just apt to worry. :)

Since we have two boys, I’ve been asked quite a bit if we’re hoping for or were trying for a girl. I totally blame pregnancy hormones but I have to admit I get a teensy bit defensive when people ask that. I love having boys and it sometimes seems like that question implies that two boys is subpar, so hopefully we’ll hit the genetic jackpot this time and get a girl. But my rational, non-hormonal side does not get offended, because I know what people really mean. To answer the question, we’re completely on the fence. Another boy would be great and would fit right in. We know what we’re doing with boys. But a girl would be fun, too (and would probably be more prone to getting pedicures with me down the road than the boys will). It’s kind of nice to have this mindset, because we’ll be equally excited no matter which sex the ultrasound reveals. To be completely cliche, we are just praying for a healthy baby. True story.

Things are plugging along. Brian turned 30 at the beginning of the month, and the boys decided he needed a Star Wars party. I called around and found a bakery that would do a Star Wars cake (tired=no homemade cake!) and this is what we got:

An air-brushed cake with a plastic stand and figurines with light sabers. I wasn’t impressed, but the boys (Brian included) liked that the light sabers actually lit up, so I guess you’d call it a hit. All in all he had a great birthday with a party that included breakfast foods (his favorite).

J started soccer, which has definitely been a rollercoaster ride. He liked it a lot at first, but the first game ran long and it was windy/dusty, so then he decided he didn’t like it. At his next game, he literally stood on the sidelines and cried, refusing to play. We had a long talk about supporting your team and sticking with something, and we went back to practice this week (with a Sonic slush beforehand to sweeten the experience) – and he had fun! So here’s hoping this weekend’s game is a success. And doesn’t he look adorable in his uniform? I love that the boys on the team are so little that their shorts meet the top of their socks.

Another thing we’ve been dealing with lately is that the boys have decided they can’t stand getting water in their eyes when we wash their hair at bath time. Mind you, J was doing just fine for a long time, but C pitches fits and J’s decided to present a solid front, I guess. So, when we were picking up some soccer gear we grabbed goggles to try. The boys were in love with their gobbles and wore them all around the house.

Not, however, big fans of wearing them in the bathtub. Oh well, we tried. They’ll just have to suffer through!

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re also in the midst of selling our house right now. It’s really been a blessing that we got an offer and have moved forward past the option period and everything! I’ll be 100% excited about it once we actually close, but for now I’m cautiously excited. I’d prayed that it would work out for us to move before the baby is born, and it’s looking good for that to happen!

That’s about all that’s going on in our neck of the woods. I get frustrated sometimes because I have a heap of ideas (J’s big into saying he has a “heap of cars” or a “heap of Legos” lately, so I figured I’d give it a try) I want to share on my blog. And I totally missed posting a March cleaning calendar. But I’m excited for April and hope to post at least a couple of crafts and/or recipes – the things I like to post about best.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – I’m excited for a picnic at the park with my guys tonight. Yay for pleasantly warm Texas days!

Del Monte Sneaker and Wii Giveaway

In an effort to motivate people to get healthy by exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables, Del Monte Fresh Produce will give away 500 pairs of sneakers and 10 Nintendo Wii New Super Mario Bros. Pack game consoles and Wii Zumba Fitness during March to Del Monte Fresh Produce Facebook fans.
The “500 Sneaker March Giveaway,” hosted on the Del Monte Fresh Produce Facebook page, will randomly award 500 sneakers to Del Monte Facebook fans who enter the contest and ten (10) Wii packages to people who get two (2) of their friends to sign up.
To Win Sneakers:
Step 1: “Like” Del Monte Fresh Produce on Facebook.
Step 2:  Enter sweepstakes and sign the pledge to make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables and exercise more frequently.  You will automatically be entered to win one of 500 pairs of sneakers.
To Win the Nintendo Wii New Super Mario Bros. Pack Game Console and Wii Zumba Fitness:
Step 3: Click on the “Sneaker Giveaway” tab then the “Invite Friends” to share news about the giveaway with your friends.
Step 4:  Get just two (2) friends to enter the sweepstakes and you will be automatically entered to win the Nintendo Wii New Super Mario Bros. Pack game console and Wii Zumba Fitness
All entrants will be encouraged to sign a pledge to exercise at least three times a week for thirty minutes and, as the USDA recommends, make half their plate fruits and vegetables.
Del Monte Fresh Produce is committed to providing consumers with quality fresh fruits and vegetables, which are key components in leading a healthy lifestyle. The “500 Sneaker March Giveaway” was created as a way to encourage Del Monte Fresh Produce fans to exercise as well.

Meaningful Beauty Follow-Up

For several weeks now I’ve had the opportunity to try skin care products from the Meaningful Beauty line. I have to say, it’s been really nice to have a reason to focus on taking better care of my skin! I was also surprised how easy it was to keep up with a five-step treatment. It made me realize that half of the challenge of finding time is just DOING it.

I’ve been really happy with the products. The cleanser is lighter than a lot I’ve tried before, but it does a great job of making my skin feel refreshed (and of getting makeup off at the end of the day). The moisturizer is awesome – it never once caused me to break out, which SO many moisturizers do, and I noticed almost immediate results if I put a little on whenever my skin felt dry. I think my other favorite product in the line is the eye cream. I’m noticing a few smile lines around my eyes, and I know tissue around eyes is especially fragile, so I want to be sure and take preventative measures there. I can tell a slight difference, although I don’t know if it really shows in the photos:

Before:                                                                       After:

    

Of course, the “Before” photo was taken first thing in the morning and the “after” was in the afternoon – I definitely look more awake in the second photo! But I can see a little difference in the lines under my eyes and on the outside corners. Overall, though, the main effect is that my skin feels healthier and doesn’t feel dry like it can tend to at this time of year.

I’d want to try Meaningful Beauty for an even longer period of time before making any claims about its ability to reduce signs of aging, but I can say 100% that I was satisfied with the regimen. I think it’s a great system for busy moms because it outlines what you need to do morning and night – and neither routine takes a long time to complete. You’re able to take care of yourself easily, which can definitely be hard to do as a mom (especially a mom to young kids, who like to burst into bathrooms at any given moment).

If you’re interested in Meaningful Beauty, you can find out more on their site.

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a test drive campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Meaningful Beauty and received a 5-step treatment kit to facilitate my review, a second 5-step treatment kit to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Yoplait Lactose Free Prize Pack {Giveaway!}

I love yogurt, milk, and ice cream but they can really bother Brian’s stomach if he consumes too much. There are a lot of people who are lactose intolerant and have to miss out on dairy. Now Yoplait has a solution for those people:

Yoplait has announced its new Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt! Inspired by the Yoplait yogurt we know and love, Lactose Free comes in four delicious flavors – Strawberry, Peach, French Vanilla and Cherry – and contains 50% of the recommended Daily Value of calcium, with vitamins A and D in every cup. Lactose Free contains no artificial sweeteners and can be used in some of your favorite recipes – like chocolate crème brulee and strawberry cheesecake. What does it feel like to say YES after saying NO for so long? Find out by saying YES to Yoplait Lactose Free. It’s a little taste of freedom. Be one of the first to try new Yoplait Lactose Free. Click here to enjoy a coupon for $0.30 off Yoplait Lactose Free!

One lucky reader will win a Yoplait Prize Pack:

  • A VIP coupon to purchase Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt
  • Lunch tote
  • 2 Gel packs
  • Individual bowl
  • Spoon

This contest is open to all US residents 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Friday, March 16. By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Comment on this post answering this question: What flavor of Yoplait Lactose Free yogurt are you most excited to try?

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Disclosure:  Prize pack, information, and giveaway have been provided by Yoplait through MyBlogSpark.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pie Cookies Recipe {Yum!}

As a child (oh, and let’s be honest – even well into adulthood) I was a big fan of Little Debbie’s oatmeal cream pies. They can be a little too sweet for me sometimes, and when I came across a recipe on Pinterest it really appealed to me to try a recipe that’d be fresh and have a little more depth of flavor. These are great! The cookies have a little spice to them from cinnamon and molasses, which balances out the sweetness of the filling perfectly. The only challenge is making sure you get them baked just enough. Too much, and you’ll have crispy wafers; too little, and you get doughy cookies that won’t hold up.

Cream Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats

Cream Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons very hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In large bowl, cream butter, sugars, molasses, vanilla, and eggs.
  2. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  3. Add to the creamed mixture; mix in the oats.
  4. Drop dough by the tablespoon on ungreased sheets.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes,or until just starting to brown around the edges.
  6. They will look moist; don’t overcook.
  7. While the cookies bake prepare the filling.
  8. In small bowl, dissolve the salt in the hot water, then set aside and allow to cool.
  9. Combine marshmallow cream, shortning, powdered sugar, and vanilla in med bowl; mix on hi until fluffy.
  10. Add the cooled salt water and mix well.
  11. Spread filling on flat side of one cookie, and press second cookie on top.

PS~These cookies are REALLY good on their own, too – you could add in chocolate chips, raisins, or any other favorite if you’d like.

Chef Boyardee-licious & Easy Recipes

We love to cook, and if we had all the time in the world we’d do a lot of from-scratch cooking. Unfortunately with work, soccer, and other mid-week happenings, we’re often too strapped for time (and energy!) to spend hours cooking.

I recently got the chance to host a Chef Boyardee party and showed friends how quick and simple recipes using Chef Boyardee can be. My husband has fond memories of eating Chef Boyardee growing up, but he said he remembers eating it as it was, so trying it in a recipe added a new dimension.

I’ve been excited to have our Chef Boyardee party ever since getting our party kit filled with aprons (big and little) a chef’s hat, coupons, recipes, bakeware, {absolutely adorable, colorful} mixing bowls, measuring cups and notepads!

We tried two of the recipes – Chili-roni and Ravioli Lasagna (by the way, be sure and go here to see a ton of great recipe ideas!), both of which seemed really easy and like something the kids in the bunch would like, too.

Right off the bat I loved that I didn’t have to buy much. Some cheese, some beans & tomatoes, and of course the Chef Boyardee items! Each recipe called for some spices too, but I had them on hand.

We used two cans of Beef Ravioli for the lasagna, and two cans of Beefaroni for the chili. Both were incredibly easy! For the lasagna, it was just a matter of layering the ravioli mixed with tomatoes and Italian seasoning, ricotta (or, as they suggested, cottage cheese mixed with spinach), and shredded Italian-blend cheese. Voila! It took about 5 minutes to assemble and then I think 20 minutes in the oven. Super easy!

As easy as the lasagna was, the chili was even easier! We just opened cans, put them in the pot and let them cook away – Beefaroni, fire-roasted tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans, tomato sauce, cumin and chili powder. This would be something you could throw on the stove as soon as you get home and let it simmer until you’re ready to get to the table! And both recipes are perfect for little chefs to help with.

I really liked both dishes. I think I’d like adding some sauteed onions and fresh parsley to the lasagna to add in more flavors to it, but even as it was we all enjoyed it. The chili was the favorite of the night for the adults, though. The flavors were great and had a little bit of a kick. What I love about the chili is that you can keep the ingredients on hand to make in a pinch.

Don’t forget, you can get Chef Boyardee recipe ideas to try! Click here to get started.

If you’re like me and love to cook, you’ll also want to know about a fun recipe contest through Chef Boyardee:

  • Enter the Make it Boyardeelicious Recipe Contest on the Chef Boyardee Facebook page for a chance to win a grand prize of free groceries for a year. The Facebook Contest page is here.
  • Now through March 11, 2012 (you still have four more days to enter!), you can submit an original recipe that uses Chef Boyardee as an ingredient. Just upload a photo of the recipe, and share why your family loves it.
  • Each week, a winner will be chosen based on creativity, all-family appeal, ease of preparation, and palatable appeal by an expert panel of judges.
  • The weekly winner receives a $500 prize as well as $75 in Chef coupons.
  • Each of the top ten finalists from all the accumulated weeks will have the chance to win the grand prize of free groceries for a year. The winner will be chosen based on a combined score of taste points and voting.
  • The voting period lasts March 26-April 8, 2012. Voters get entered into a daily sweepstakes for the chance to win $100. Share it on Facebook and get an extra sweepstakes entry!

Note: I wrote this review while participating in a In Home Party campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chef Boyardee and received product samples to facilitate my party and review, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

 

{Giveaway!} Going Bananas for Bananagrams Games

Brian and I LOVE playing games – we have a whole armoire filled with them, and started our collection back in college. At Christmas, we both got each other Bananagrams for a stocking gift, because my friend Amber and her husband introduced us to it a while back and we loved it! It’s a great game for two or more players, and we actually rang in the New Year playing Bananagrams!

So, of course I was really excited when I got the chance to review the whole slew of games from Bananagrams! We decided to have a game night with our friends and try out the Pairs in Pears & Appletters games since we hadn’t tried them before.

PAIRSinPEARS  is a word construction game for ages six and up where players race to make pairs of connecting words in matching patterns.  PAIRSinPEARS comes in a pear-shaped cloth pouch, containing four full alphabet sets in four beautiful distinct patterns.  The game provides educational fun for children learning vowels and consonants, alphabetical order, word construction and pattern recognition.

At first it sounded like this would be too easy to me, but once we started playing and I realized how quickly you had to work to complete your pairs, we had a lot of fun with it. It did take us a little while to figure out the rules…

But then we realized Bananagrams has videos for each of their games explaining how to play. I really love that feature! I think it’d be great if they included QR codes on instructions so people could go straight to the videos with their smart phones.

From a design perspective, I think the tiles for this game are pretty! Love the different patterns:

We also played Appletters:

APPLETTERS is a domino-like game for ages six and up where players connect letters in lieu of dots.  The game comes in an apple-shaped cloth pouch containing 110 ivory-like tiles.  In addition to the version for a younger audience, the game also includes instructions for more adult play – APPLE TURNOVER™ for an extra challenge and APPLESCORE™ for word lovers who like to keep score.

We liked this game, but it did seem a little similar to Bananagrams with some extra features (like the turnover option). There was also the added challenge of only being able to build your word on the last tile played. Overall we enjoyed it!

We also got to review Zip It! I love that this game is for two players, because it’s something Brian and I can play on our own. And it is QUICK, so you can fit in a game quickly and easily! Since the games are packaged in little pouches, they’re all easy to bring along with you.

The last game we got was Fruitominoes, which is a twist on classic dominoes by adding fruits to the design.  The boys think this is SO fun, and it’s especially great for little ones like C – they’re too young to do a whole lot of counting, but it’s easy to see that pears match up with pairs, for example.

Guess what?! You can win your own set of delicious fun…

One lucky reader will win an entire set of Banagrams games, which includes Bananagrams, Pairs in Pears, Appletters, Zip It, and Fruitominoes! This giveaway is open to all US residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Wednesday, March 28. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite fruit is and which game you’re most excited to try!

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: Bananagrams provided the games for us to review and is providing games for the giveaway. All opinions in this post are honest and are those of me, my friends and family. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

It Turns Out Falling Asleep at 8 Every Night Isn’t Great for My Blog

And WHY am I falling asleep at 8:00 all the time?

I’m PREGNANT! Baby 3 is due in September. We are all really excited, especially J who has temporarily (probably permanently in his mind) named the baby Ninja. I’m 12 weeks today, so hopefully the tiredness will get a little better soon. I’m actually still up after 9:00 tonight because my sweet husband let me nap for FOUR hours this afternoon.

Aside from that, we’re on the roller coaster ride of selling our house. We’re feeling cautiously optimistic right now but I’ll wait to update until things are certain. Regardless, the task of keeping the house clean and showing-ready is no easy task, especially with two little boys who seem programmed for scattering toys as quickly and broadly as possible.

Between that, a huge project at work, and prepping for Brian’s 30th birthday this weekend (the boys decided he should have a Star Wars party), I’ve totally fallen behind on blogging. I’m glad to be back! I have a couple of fun giveaways to post this week along with an Easter craft idea.

I’m trying a Pinterest recipe idea this week – pepperoni pizza monkey bread. I think it sounds like a fun take on pizza that the boys will really like.

I packed away our bundt pan in an attempt to declutter the kitchen cabinets, so I’m going to be a little creative with execution and I’ll let you know how it turns out. Somehow I think it’ll be hard to go wrong with bread, cheese, pepperoni and garlic butter.

I’m also participating in a campaign to try out Chef Boyardee products in recipes, so watch for a post later in the week sharing our thoughts on that! We’ll have some friends over and let the kids help us cook, so I think that will be fun for everyone.

See you soon – hope you all have a great start to your week!