Dec 10, 2010

My Unique Christmas Ornaments

Some of you may have noticed that I've been MIA lately and for that, I apologize. My fiance and I have recently been entrusted with the care of two little ones, a boy age 4 and a girl age 3. We received these little angels a bit unexpectedly and as you can imagine, it was quite an adjustment. Although my 7 and 9 year old have been very helpful, I have forgotten just how much work the little, little ones can be!

That said, I hope everyone is having a fantastic time decorating, holiday shopping, and making Santa lists. This is my FAVORITE time of year (not favorite weather, but what is Christmas without that freezing wind that threatens to rip the skin right off your bones?)...in fact, my sister says that during the holidays, the 'elf' comes out in me. It's true...I have the Christmas spirit.

One of my favorite family traditions is ornament gifts. Each year, the kids get a special ornament from Mom and Dad, and Mom and Dad give each other a special ornament as well. Aside from that, if I see a unique ornament, I HAVE to snatch it up. I have a bit of an unnatural obsession with ornaments, especially if they are different than the typical Christmas ornament. I thought it would be fun to show you some of the ones I've collected over the years.


Just after Hurricane Katrina, a couple in Key Largo sent my family a Christmas 'love' package, and this ornament was in the box. I was in love with it immediately and it has been on my tree every year since.



I have a bit of a thing for peacocks, and I saw this lady online and HAD to have her.



Another peacock that I couldn't resist.


I saw this ship ornament at a local boutique store and we made eye contact...it was love at first sight.


This little Santa was at Michael's when I was shopping for crafts. It was so glittery; it beckoned to me from across the store. Look at Santa's sweet little face!

I LOVE Christmas ornaments! And here is how they all look on my tree, complete with the TRILLION-feet paper chain the kids and I made last year:

So, what does your tree look like? Do you have a hodgepodge of different ornaments like I do or is your tree themed with precise colors and types of ornaments?

Oct 10, 2010

Want to Win a Chi Air Pure Pink Flat Iron? Valued at $99...

I am the new follower of A Jeweled Life, a wonderful review and giveaway blog. She's offering readers the chance to win a gorgeous Chi Air flat iron valued at just under $100! Check it out here.

Oct 7, 2010

Rar! Monster T-shirt Giveaway from GirlzLyfe.com

The air is getting cool, the leaves have changed colors, and it's so close to Halloween! It's my favorite time of year, and to celebrate, I've partnered with Girlz Lyfe to give away a fantastic Rar! Monster T-shirt to one lucky winner. If you don't know about Girlz Lyfe, you have to visit and check out their line of completely awesome accessories.

They have everything, from things for the pets...
...to the best jewelry on earth...


...fashionable clothing...


...and novelty items.


Girlz Lyfe is the perfect place to go when you want to get some Christmas or holiday shopping done, or you want to reward yourself with a treat or two! Veronica from Girlz Lyfe has generously offered one of my lucky readers the chance to win the Rar! Monster Tee in your size.
How to Enter: You must be following this blog to enter. Simply 'like' Girlz Lyfe on FB, and leave a comment that 2 Lil Muffins sent you.

Extra Entries:

  • E-mail subscribe to this blog. - 2 Extra Entries
  • Make a Girlz Lyfe purchase and leave a comment telling me what you purchased. - 10 Extra Entries
  • Comment on any other post in this blog (leave a comment detailing which ones). - 1 Extra Entry for Each comment, 1 comment per post.
The giveaway will end October 19, 2010 at 8PM EST and the winner will be chosen by random.org. Good luck all! Remember to make sure your e-mail address is visible in your profile, or that you leave it in the comment. Also, leave 1 comment for EACH entry so they will all be counted.

Oct 6, 2010

Top 10 Feel Good Songs

Feeling a little low? Never fear - music is here! For centuries, music has been a great way of fighting off the blues...or at least documenting them in a melodic way. When you need a quick pick-me-up, check out the top 10 feel good songs below.

10. Queen - We Are the Champions



Corny? Em...absolutely not!

9. Fleetwood Mac - Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow



Who is more beautiful than Stevie Nicks? No one.

8. Johnny Nash - I Can See Clearly Now



If this one doesn't make you feel good, you need a hospital!

7. My Girl - The Temptations



"He needs his glasses. He can't see without his glasses!" - Oh...the point was to feel GOOD. Nevermind.

6. Survivor - Eye of the Tiger



For the record, I absolutely KILL this song on Guitar Hero. ;-)

5. Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl



Try not to sing along. Go ahead.

4. Natasha Bedingfield - Pocket Full of Sunshine



Great melody...toe tapper.

3. Mista - Blackberry Molasses



Sigh - Brings back memories!

2. Jackson 5 - I Want You Back



Spirit-lifting!

Drumroll, please...

And my choice for #1 Feel Good Song of all time...

1. Joan Jett - I Love Rock and Roll



By the way, have you seen her lately? She hasn't aged a day!

It was super hard to choose only 10, considering I am a music fanatic...leave a comment and tell me your favorite 'feel good' song of all time.

Oct 1, 2010

New Etsy Shop Items

I've added some new items to my Etsy shop...have a look!






There's a lot more, too! If you want to check out the other hair clips and paintings, click here. I hope you like them!

Sep 27, 2010

Review of Kidzsack: The Eco-Friendly Backpack You Can Color!

Art is super important to me, whether it's painting, drawing, coloring, sculpting, writing - any kind of art.

I honestly believe that children benefit when they're exposed to many different kinds of art, and when they're given the freedom to be creative and to try many different kinds of art. When I was given the opportunity to try Kidzsack, I was so excited!

What is Kidzsack?

Kidzsack is a backpack created from 100% eco-friendly materials, including recycled plastic bottles. The outside of the backpack has a printed picture for your child to color. You can pop it in the wash and your child can color it over and over again.
There are several different designs you can choose from, including a sports theme, a jungle scene, a beach picture, and more. We received the ballerina kitties scene to try out. (Total WIN for my daughter, who snapped it up immediately!)

How'd We Like It?

The Kidzsack comes with 8 non-toxic markers that your child can use to color the picture, which I thought was super-neat. Sure, it's just markers, but the fact that they're included is a mini bonus for this product.The kiddies went right to coloring (with made-up rules that my son was only allowed to color the leaves and surrounding pictures while my daughter colored the cats. Yep, they made up this rule because a.) my son thought he was too macho to color cats in skirts and b.) my daughter wanted the privilege of doing that!)

I loved the fact that they had so much fun coloring the bag. They worked together until they had the picture filled in and colorful. In fact, my son was already asking me to buy a boy-themed bag for him. I had reservations, though. See, one Christmas, my daughter got one of those bears you can write on and then wash...except when you put it in the wash, all of the marker didn't come out.

I figured the Kidzsack would be the same way, but I was wrong. It looked brand new when I took it out of the washer. (Lazy Mom Confession: I didn't look for washing and drying instructions so I was hesitant to place it in the dryer. I just let it dry flat on the counter rather than risk the dryer.) The kids loved it, which is what I really look for in any product that is designed for kids. It's not enough for the moms to think it's a great idea - the kids must love it too!

The one thing we did notice is that the bag is quite small. If your kids are in pre-school or kindergarten, it would be perfect but for bigger kids that have to carry folders and books - it's probably not going to be large enough. That didn't matter here, because my daughter used it as an overnight bag when she went to stay the night with her grandparents. After that, she shoved little girl make-up and various other things in it and has been carrying it around ever since.

We give Kidzsack a big thumbs up, and couldn't have been happier with it. My partner, Yona, also reviewed a Kidzsack with her adorable nephew, so jump over and check out her Kidzsack review. This is a PERFECT Christmas gift, so if you're shopping for little ones, keep it in mind. Stop by the Kidzsack website to check it out further and pick up one for your little ones today.

Note: I was not monetarily compensated or compensated in any way for this review. Kidzsack sent me a free product to review and provide my opinions on. All of the opinions in this post are 100% mine and uninfluenced by the company that created Kidzsack.

Aug 27, 2010

Funny Friday #2: "Tell Them I'm the Gardener!"


When I was in 5th grade, I tried out for cheerleading. We had to stay after school, and our parents were supposed to pick us up a few hours later. I should first tell you that the school I went to was filled with kids who came from upper-class families. Everyone drove the newest shiny cars, all the kids had the nicest clothes, etc.

So, the day before the tryouts, our car breaks down and has to be taken to the shop. "What are we going to do?" I asked, over and over. "Oh, we'll figure something out," my parents answered. I should also tell you that our neighbor, and one of my dad's good friends, drove this truck - if you want to call it that.

Let's just say that if it had been a horse, it would have had to be shot. It was several different colors, slathered in Bondo, had broken mirrors and the sound...it was what I imagine the apocalypse might sound like.
After the tryouts, my friends and I walked toward the front of the school, where the car-riders got picked up at.

We were sitting there chatting, laughing and carefree, when I heard it. It came from around the corner..."PUTT-PUTT-PUTT-PUTT." The ground practically shook with the noise. Immediately, I knew...this sound was somehow for me. Son of a horse, I thought. I looked around quickly, calculating my chances of escape.

It was too late. That *truck* pulled around the corner, looking like absolute death warmed over - like the evil ghost of something that used to resemble a vehicle. My eyes automatically went wide and I looked to either side of me. This is where everything turned slow-motion. I could see one of my friends' eyes get wide too, and sloooooowly, she mouthed, "OH MY GOD."

I wanted to die. I didn't move for a few minutes, but there was my dad in the driver's seat, waiting for me. Shit. I thought about running, but looking at his face, I changed my mind and stood up with all the courage of someone going to face their horrendous, torturous death. Now, if it was bad until this point, it gets even worse. Why, you ask? Because the passenger side door on this monster did not open.

This meant that right there, in front of my friends, my father had to get OUT of this thing, and let me climb through the driver's side, before he got back in and pulled away. While I was dying a thousand deaths of embarrassment, my father got out of the vehicle. Obviously, something showed on my face...

...because my dad looked over at the kids, and then back at me. He whispered encouragingly, "Just tell them I'm the gardener." Thanks, Dad. I'm sure that'll work. To this day, he believes it was a character-building experience...I believe it's the cause for deep-rooted fears involving Bondo and gardeners.

Little Handfuls: Can You Handle the Cute?

Recently, I won a giveaway hosted by a woman named Liza Adams. The giveaway was for a beautiful little bear named Peaches. I was instantly in love...

I should tell you that I have a bit of a thing for bears. Before Hurricane Katrina, I collected tiny bear figurines - little bears wearing Halloween costumes, daddy and mommy bears, Valentine's bears...I had a ton of them. After the collection was demolished, I never really picked it back up again, but after discovering Little Handfuls, I think I may have to start all over again.

About the Artist:

Liza Adams is a mommy of 3 from New Zealand, and began needle felting about 6 years ago when she purchased a kit from a local craft show. I think it's safe to say she found her calling, because her bears are absolutely precious!

Now, I won't even pretend to know how needle felting works, but I think these bears have a distinct look that makes them so much cuter than the majority of 'teddy bears.' In addition to that, Liza manages to give every single one of her bears a different personality...

This is Cinnamon. Doesn't she look like she's waiting patiently for you to join her tea party? I love those eyes, with so much personality and sweetness.

Meet Bella and Buddy. I absolutely adore that little hat and those big feet! Buddy is probably one of my favorites...he's just so darn cute. He definitely demands an "awwww!"

This is Pippin. What beautiful colors! And I love that nose.

This is Abner. Look at the expression on his beautiful face! Am I the only one turning all mushy and gushy from the absolute cute-ness of these bears? Well, if you want to see more, you can visit Little Handfuls on Flickr, and you really should because you have no idea how hard it was to choose which bears to post here - they're all so darn adorable.

Also, if you want to start your own collection of these sweet and charming babies, visit Little Handfuls on Etsy.

Question: Do any of you collect anything, and if so, what?

Aug 24, 2010

$25 Gift Certificate Winner - Girlz Lyfe - New Winner

Unfortunately, I've had to pick a new winner because I haven't heard back from our original one :( So, the new number is...

The winning comment is:

Ava said... 4

yummy tote bag!

Congrats Ava! I've sent you an e-mail and you'll have 48 hours to respond!

Aug 20, 2010

Funny Friday #1


It might make me a terrible mother, but when my kids were smaller, I loved hearing them mess words up. In fact, it was very difficult for me to correct them because they sounded so darn cute.

For instance, when my son wanted to say 'basketball,' it came out 'spacketball.' Or, 'balloons' were 'abloons.'

When we were teaching him about 'clocks,' he somehow made it come out sounding like 'fuck.' We'd say, "Where's the clock?" and he would point excitedly at the clock on the wall, shouting, "Fuck, fuck!" We'd point to the numbers for him and count them out - "1, 2, 3..." and so on.

We were shopping one day, and my son was in the front of the shopping cart. We maneuvered around the crowds of people to get to the produce section and my son spotted the fruit and vegetable scales. Thinking they were clocks, he points very excitedly and starts screaming, "FUCK, FUCK, Mama. FUCK!" Being so used to him saying this for clock, and immediately knowing he was referring to the scales that he thought were clocks, I nodded enthusiastically and said, "That's right, man!" and I give him a high-five.

When I looked up, several people were staring at me and one older woman was looking at me as if I were the scum of the earth. It registered then that these people were seeing me vigorously encourage my 2 year-old to curse like a sailor. With burning and bright red cheeks, I turned to my son and began immediately correcting him...what I should have been doing all along. "CL-ock. CL-ock, Christopher."

With bright eyes and what was evidently a great desire to get it right, he said very slowly, "C-ock."

Del Monte Freeze and Eat Fruit Chillers ReviewTubes


It's HOT...so very, very hot. There's nothing better (just ask my kids) than a yummy popsicle on a hot summer day. However, most popsicles are basically nothing but sugar. Sure, this is fine once in a while, but when your kids are like mine and bounce off the walls at 90MPH when they've had too much sugar, you start to look for alternatives.

When I spotted the Del Monte Freeze and Eat Fruit Chillers, I thought, hmmm. So I decided to buy them and try them out on *the* pickiest critics alive - my 2 lil muffins. Here's what we thought:

Price: The price is ok. You get 8 in a pack for around $1.99 - as opposed to probably 20 regular popsicles in a pack for the same price. My kids like to have these as 'after school' snacks, so I can almost make a whole week with one pack, or 2 bucks...BUT they never last this long! Ha!

Taste: I didn't just rely on my kids' for the taste test, because I enjoy a great popsicle now and again as well. ;-) In comparison with regular popsicles, the Del Monte Freeze and Eat Fruit Chillers win hands down! Whereas a normal popsicle tastes like frozen kool-aid, these taste like frozen fruit smoothies. We bought the Strawberry Snow Storm and they were very full-flavored and delicious.

Nutrition Comparison: The calories in a normal popsicle and the Fruit Chillers are about the same - around 50. However, the Fruit Chillers are actual frozen fruit sorbet, so you get some good vitamins in there as well. For instance, the Fruit Chillers have 25% Vitamin C, whereas popsicles have 0 Vitamin C.

The Fruit Chillers have 1g of dietary fiber, whereas the popsicles have 0. Popsicles have about 3g of Carbohydrates, while the Fruit Chillers have about 13g of Carbs. Also, the Fruit Chillers have about 50g of Potassium, while popsicles have 0.

We haven't tried the other flavors yet, but I can't wait. All in all, I love these and I think they're a great way to get in a bit of fruit instead of just a ton of sugar. The taste is definitely better than popsicles, and although the price is a little higher, I believe it's well worth it! I'd highly recommend these for your little ones...or even yourself!

Aug 14, 2010

Winner - $25 Girlz Lyfe Gift Certificate

We have a winner, folks...You'll find the winning comment below:

MissTM said... 70

forgot to post this twice too.
8/4 Tweet
http://twitter.com/TeeTee_Baby/status/20355600950

Congratulations, MissTM!!! I'm sending an e-mail now to get details. Don't forget - if you entered Yona's giveaway, you can check now to see if you've won over there. :-)

Aug 10, 2010

Hypothyroidism: One Little Problem and a Ton of Big Symptoms


I've recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and after researching, have discovered that it's much more common that I originally thought. In fact, many people (especially women) suffer with some degree of hypothyroidism and don't even know it.

I thought it would be a great idea to share my story, and maybe it will help others out there who may be experiencing the same symptoms I did...

What is Hypothyroidism?

Your thyroid is a gland that controls many different things in your body, mainly your metabolism. Hypothyroidism means that this gland isn't producing enough hormone to control those necessary processes. Many times, this happens due to an autoimmune disorder that causes your antibodies to attack the thyroid gland. Sometimes it can happen due to thyroid cancer, or other conditions that leave the thyroid damaged.

Symptoms I Experienced:

I'll start by saying that for many, many years, I have been unable to tolerate cold. When others in the room were comfortable, or hot even, I was wrapped up in blankets with my teeth chattering. Sometimes, I would feel 'bone cold,' meaning I was just absolutely cold all over and couldn't seem to get warm at all. During these occasions, the only thing that seemed to help was a hot bath - and I took LOTS of those.

Another thing I noticed for many years was that I didn't sweat like other people...most things that would cause others to start dripping barely affected me. I thought I was blessed - ha! Also, there were times when I would just be completely tired - as if my batteries suddenly drained, leaving me absolutely fatigued. However, other than this, I felt okay. I didn't have much trouble maintaining my weight, even when I wasn't actively doing any exercise programs regularly.

However, several months ago, I began to feel really ill. I noticed that my concentration went from excellent to not-so-good to completely non-existent. I was grouchy, tired ALL the time, and always cold. Now, when I say tired all the time, I don't mean I felt like sleeping. I don't mean I could have taken a nap and that I felt lazy. I mean that it was HORRIBLE - it was an effort to move...just getting up to walk across the room felt like an insurmountable chore. This does not work when you have 2 children...and so on top of feeling terrible, I felt guilty because it was all I could do to muster up the energy to give them meals, etc.

I didn't think too much of this, because I've always had issues sleeping at night. I figured it was just catching up to me. Soon after, the muscle cramps started. It started with a few muscle 'spasms' - what felt like a charlie horse in different parts of my body - arms, sides, etc. Within a few weeks' time, I was having a very difficult time with anything. Putting on a shirt or buckling my seat belt would make muscles in my arms and sides 'seize' up, and it was incredibly painful.

I had also started gaining weight - this I blew off, thinking...I'm getting older, I work at home on the computer...I just need to exercise more. I also had a few really bad migraines...I mean, I thought I'd had migraines before those headaches, but apparently not. These made me feel like my skull was going to split open, and I was actually vomiting throughout both of them. It was the muscle cramps that really got to me. I started to think something was really wrong. One day (after the realization that I needed to exercise more), I decided to go for a walk. I got my MP3 player and took off out the door. I didn't get very far at all (embarrassingly) before my legs didn't want to work anymore at all.

Both of my legs became so exhausted...it was like I was losing the ability to use them. It was terrifyingly painful. I turned around and began to go home. I honestly wasn't sure whether I would make it home. My legs were in so much pain and it felt like I was walking around on tree trunks. It was hard to bend them, and each time I moved them, the muscles screamed in agony. When I did make it home, I was in tears. My family thought perhaps it was because I didn't exercise regularly. This didn't sit right with me...sure, I wasn't a marathon runner, but I have 2 kids so I'm fairly active. My little 'walk' didn't even amount to the number of steps I would take to run in the grocery store and grab something for dinner - and I felt completely paralyzed.

I can confidently say that by this point, more than one of my family members probably thought I was going nuts. Still - I called the doctor and made an appointment. A friend of mine pointed out that lack of potassium could cause muscle cramps and fatigue, and I thought there was a possibility I was anemic. When I explained to the doctor what was going on, I was told that there was probably nothing wrong with me - I was 27 years old and fairly healthy. She said that I might need more calcium, but she agreed to do blood work.

When the blood work came back, and the doctor told me that my thyroid numbers were low, I was so relieved. I was so thankful that there was a name for what was wrong with me, and that it could be controlled. However, she told me that most people don't complain about muscle aches and cramps when they have thyroid issues. Interestingly enough, after doing my own research, I found that it was one of the most commonly listed symptoms.

Medication

So, I was started on Synthroid 25mg. 5 weeks later, a blood test showed I was still too low. I was moved up to 50mg. Another blood test revealed that I was still too low. I was moved up two more times, and am now taking 100mg a day. I will have another blood test in a few weeks to determine whether my numbers are good or I need a higher dosage.

Within a few weeks of taking the Synthroid, the muscle aches were completely gone - a HUGE relief. However, it took much longer for the pain in my legs - every time I walked, I had that same exhausted, horrible pain in my legs. Now, I still feel it occasionally, but it's nowhere near as bad. I've also started to lose the extra weight I gained. I feel fairly okay, but I am still having some weird symptoms.

One of them is random swelling and pain - I've had this happen in my feet, my fingers and wrists, on my sides (near my ribs) and in my knees. It happens out of the blue, and the affected area turns red and hot, along with the pain and swelling. Most of the time, it goes away overnight. This is something I plan on discussing with my doc at my next checkup, and I guess I'll have to hope that she is willing to look into it. I also get extremely tired still, from time to time, but I still have more energy than I did have. Overall, I'd say I feel about 70% better - but I'm still working on 100%.

All THAT From One Little Problem?

This is what I was thinking - how in the world can one little problem cause so much pain and so many symptoms? For a while, I was really thinking that there was something SERIOUSLY wrong with me. I expected to get some horrible diagnosis...I was even scared to visit the doctor. But hypothyroidism can cause so many symptoms - it's just unreal. In fact, if it's left untreated for a long time, sufferers can actually go into a fatal coma. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Feeling tired, fatigued - This can range from just fatigued to being so low on energy it's debilitating.
  • Gaining weight.
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Muscle aches/pains.
  • Irritability
  • Being intolerable to cold.
  • Menstrual irregularities.
  • Constipation.
  • Headaches/Migraines.
These are just a few of the common symptoms. I really recommend you read this article, which goes into the many bodily processes that are governed by or directly affected by the thyroid. I am so glad that I'm feeling better, and I hope that as we get the proper dosage of medication going, I'll feel even better than this. With hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism being so common, many women could be feeling horrible and blaming it on not enough sleep or the need for more vitamins.

A Bit of Funny:

While none of this is really funny, I have to point out some of the differences I've been experiencing since taking the medicine. I found out that I am not blessed and that I DO sweat. I also don't experience that 'bone cold' feeling anymore - and lately, I've felt our Southern Mississippi heat more than I care to. I will suddenly start fanning myself and saying, "Geez! Is it hot in here to everyone else?" That's when my loving sweetheart yells, "It's just your thyroid kicking in!" Ha! It's actually NOT my thyroid kicking in - it's the medicine, which I'll most likely have to take every day...forever.

Another thing I've noticed is that my metabolism has definitely increased...I am hungry. A lot. I guess this is okay, since I'm still losing weight.

If you're experiencing the symptoms above, have your doctor do a blood test and check out your thyroid performance. Because many doctors don't have the commitment necessary to really find out what's wrong with their patients (especially when initial tests come back clean because hypothyroidism can be difficult to diagnose), it may be necessary to shop around for doctors, or to find a great endocrinologist. This may be what I have to end up doing. I'll keep you updated on how I'm feeling, and in the meantime will hope that this post might help someone who could be having thyroid problems and not know it!

Image Credit: http://www.righthealth.com/topic/Congenital_hypothyroidism/Images

Aug 9, 2010

Keurig B-30 Mini Brewing System Giveaway

I am trying my darndest to win a Keurig...not too long ago I tried to win the super duper system from a particular blog, but didn't. Now, Real Moms is giving away a mini-system which is just PERFECTO for me. So, I'm trying to win that one.

If you want a shot - go here and enter.

Aug 7, 2010

2 Lil Muffins Presents: The Top 10 Hottest Celebrity Stud Muffins

As an ode to the great art of procrastination, I will now delight your senses with my picks for the most gorgeous men...and trust me, this isn't some spur-of-the-moment list. I've studied these men PA-LENTY (research, of course) in an attempt to bring you only the highest-quality stud muffins. Without further ado...

10. Edward Norton

I have absolutely no defense for this at all. I just think Edward Norton is incredibly hot.

9. Colin Farrell

Colin is one of those guys who can be completely hot one second and totally not hot the next. However, accents make me weak in the knees (ESPECIALLY IRISH ACCENTS) and so...he makes the list. Also, if you haven't seen Ondine, that is such a cute movie!

8. Jared Leto

Ok. Let me tell you my little Jared Leto story. First and foremost, I was a HUGE fan of the MTV show My So Called Life, where of course Leto played the heartthrob Jordan Catalono. I was probably about 14 when this short-lived show aired, and I was in L.O.V.E.!! Many years later, when Leto formed the band 30 Seconds to Mars, I was able to see them live at CPRfest, a local concert event that happens here yearly.

It just so happened that the band was kicked off the stage early because the main act was ready to go on - and Jared was NOT happy. He was ranting over by his trailer when yours truly passed by and became STAR STRUCK...and actually had a conversation with him. Got a hug and a CD too. Yay me!!!

7. James Franco ♥ ♥

I can't help it - as you'll see with one of the celebs that's much, much closer to #1, there's just this thing about the dark, mysterious type that is irresistible!

6. Gerard Butler ♥ ♥

Hot. Accent. "This is SPARTA." If you've seen 300 or P.S. I Love You and didn't develop a crush on Gerard Butler, you're a stronger woman than me!

5. Jason Statham ♥ ♥ ♥

Bad boy. Accent. Alpha Male. He makes bald look hot.

4. Leonardo DiCaprio ♥ ♥ ♥


I've had a crush on Leo for YEARS - like, since the Romeo + Juliet days. Now, some of you will argue that Leo is too 'pretty boy-ish,' but to that, I say, Blood Diamond. If you haven't seen him in this movie, you must. It's that rugged, butt-kicking thing that makes our feminine instincts kick in - you know, the ones that point us in the direction of the alpha male. Hot.

3. James McAvoy ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I adore James McAvoy. He is absolutely gorgeous, and has a delicious accent. Also, the movie Becoming Jane is probably #1 or #2 on my favorite movie list.

2. Orlando Bloom ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Just 100% totally and completely adorable.

1. Johnny Depp ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥



Oh my. My oh my. My, my, my. I absolutely LOVE Johnny Depp, and have since forever. He is absolutely the hottest male celebrity alive, and seems to just get hotter and hotter. The coolest thing about him - he doesn't tout himself as being sexy, and deliberately takes roles that actually downplay his looks, but we all know what's hiding under the Mad Hatter's make-up, don't we?

I honestly think that Johnny Depp will hold the title of 'sexiest male celebrity alive' until...well, until he dies. And he's so sexy, that he may have the power to hold the title even after that.

Ok - so, in the comments below, tell me who would make your list, and what you think about mine!!!

iPad Giveaway!!!! (Ends September 6, 2010)

If you've had your eye on an iPad, here's your chance to get one FREE. GirlzLyfe.com is giving away 1 iPad and the entry process is SUPER easy...

Enter the iPad Giveaway Here!!!

While you're there, you need to check out their ADORABLE items - they have back-to-school stuff, eco-friendly accessories, jewelry, and so much more. The greatest thing is that the prices are VERY reasonable. Plus, a purchase earns 10 extra entries in the iPad giveaway.

Don't forget to enter our $25 GirlzLyfe.com gift certificate giveaway, too!

Aug 2, 2010

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy...

What brings me joy?

- Finding a hand-written letter in the mailbox from a friend or loved one (as long as they're not asking for money.)

- That moment during a great meal when I'm comfortably full and satisfied (just before things start to get uncomfortable because I've taken a few bites that I really didn't need.)

- Chocolate (covering cherries, drizzled over granola bars, in milk, in coffee, in cake-form, dark and light, baked in cookies, and pretty much every other way. I don't really discriminate.)

- My Children (even when they're trying to kill each other, embarrassing me in public, asking for insanely expensive electronic items, and refusing to go to sleep.)

- The Love of My Life (even when he's embarrassing me in public, asking for insanely expensive electronic items, and refusing to go to sleep.)

- Fantastic books (especially ones that allow me to pretend I'm a butt-kicking half-vampire, apocalypse survivor, governess at an estate with a ruggedly handsome master who's hiding a crazy wife in the other wing of the mansion, parter of the mists that lead to a secret island, or other such delicious things.)

- Writing (and envisioning my name on the New York Times bestseller list.)

There you have it...so, what brings you joy?

This post is part of SOYJOY‘s What brings you joy contest. Learn more here.

$25 GirlzLyfe.com Gift Certificate Giveaway (CLOSED)

Let me just start by saying I LOVE the Girlz Lyfe shop! They have the cutest stuff, and it's all reasonably priced. The owner, Veronica, is super nice, and has agreed to do another giveaway with us - so one of you lucky readers gets the chance to win a $25 gift certificate.

Since everything is such a great price, you can choose from a ton of items for just $25 - or, add to it and get even more goodies. Girlz Lyfe has great gift items and things for the home along with all that fantastic girl merchandise. Or, pick up something for your favorite pooch. There are things for little girls, grown-up girls, and even baby girls!
One thing I love about the things in the store is that they're not seen everywhere - so if you purchase a necklace or a t-shirt, it's not likely that you're going to see someone else wearing it. Also, they have a ton of items that are whimsical and funny.

You really have to browse through the store to get a real appreciation of what's available! It's a miracle that I haven't bought them out of everything they carry! So...without further ado...

How to Enter: Follow this blog publicly, and visit the Girlz Lyfe shop. Browse through the adorable items and let me know what you'd purchase with your gift certificate.

Extra Entries:

  • "Like" Girlz Lyfe on Facebook and leave a message on their wall, saying 2 Lil Muffins sent you. (2 Extra Entries)
  • Follow Girlz Lyfe on Twitter and tweet about this contest. Leave me a comment with the link to the tweet. This can be done daily. (2 Extra Entries)
  • E-mail Subscribe to this blog and confirm, or leave a comment if you're already a subscriber. (1 Extra Entry)
  • Purchase an item from Girlz Lyfe and leave me a comment with the details. (10 Extra Entries)
  • Sign up for the Girlz Lyfe newsletter (left of the website, little blue box). You'll get discount details and much more. (1 Extra Entry)
  • Want another chance to win AND another entry here? Enter Yona's Girlz Lyfe giveaway and leave me a comment letting me know you did. (1 Extra Entry)

Good luck everyone! The contest will end 8/12 at 8PM and the winner will be chosen by Random.org. Please remember to leave a comment for EACH entry so it will be counted - and don't forget to add your e-mail address if it's not on your public profile.

Jul 26, 2010

2 Meals Under $10 + How to Save Money on Groceries


Whether you're a victim of our economy (who isn't?) or you're just cheap like me, saving money on groceries and other needed items is a definite PLUS. Lately, my lucky guy and I have been discussing ways to place even more money than usual in savings, so that we have it when it's most needed.

One of the things we'd like to save money on is eating. We've already started the process by limiting the amount of times per month we eat out, but we still spend a chunk of change each week at the grocery store.

Thinking about it caused me to try and come up with recipes that are good, but are really cheap. Below are just 2 of the recipes that I've been using. They're really good, but it costs $10 or less to make them.

Meat and Veggie Pie

This is my kids' favorite meal, and they're super-picky! It's also really good for the meat and potatoes guy.

Ingredients:
  • 2 cans roast beef and gravy (found in the canned meat section, about $6)
  • 1 can mixed veggies ($.75)
  • 3-4 cups prepared instant mashed potatoes (about $1)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about $1.50)

Open the cans of roast beef and gravy and spread it over the bottom of a casserole dish or baking pan. Then, drain the mixed veggies and spread that on top of the meat. Next, layer the mashed potatoes on top of the veggies and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the mashed potatoes. Place in a 350-degree oven until the cheese is thoroughly melted. Prep time and cook time is about 25 minutes total. If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it!!

Super-Easy "Homemade" Chicken Pot Pie

Another favorite, and so easy to make.

Ingredients:
  • 1 Whole Chicken (about $5 total)
  • 1 diced and cooked potato (about $.50)
  • 1 diced and cooked carrot (pennies)
  • 1 can of peas (about $50)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (about $1)
  • 1 serving Jiffy pot pie biscuit mix (about $.75 to $1.00)
  • 3/4 cup milk (pennies)

Cook the whole chicken in boiling water for 1-2 hours. Pick the meat from the bone and preserve anything over 1 and 1/2 cups to use for another meal. After you've diced and cooked the carrot and potato, add this to the chicken in a large bowl. Add half the can of peas and the cream of chicken soup. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water and stir so that your mixture is creamy. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix the Jiffy mix (about 1 cup) with the milk. The consistency will be thin. Place the chicken and veggie mix into a baking pan and pour the Jiffy mix on top. Place in a 375-degree oven for 1 hour.

Tips for Saving Money on Groceries:

Food is mucho expensive. Until I get to the point where I'm growing all of my own veggies and completely shunning meat of any kind, I'm using a few different methods to save money at the grocery store. First and foremost, clip coupons. You don't have to use EVERY coupon; just the ones that cover products that you're definitely going to use. If your store has double or triple-coupon days, go shopping then and you can save tons of money. I've actually ended up getting free products using this method.

For some items, I buy store-brand rather than name-brand. Granted, some store brands simply will not work, but some things are okay to do this with. For instance, I've found that cereals, milk, canned veggies, syrup, etc. are all okay in the store-brand. However, I absolutely must have name-brand teabags, coffee, sauces, and other things like that.

Always save your leftovers. At the end of the week, have a hodge-podge meal containing all the leftovers. This is a great way to shave some money off your grocery bill. Also, thinking cheaper when you create your grocery list can help. Plan out your meals one week at a time, and buy only the things you've put on your list. Some stores also price-match, so if they have the same item that a competitor has on sale, they'll match the competitor's price. If you have any other tips for saving money on groceries, please add them here!

Image Credit: qmnonic on Flickr

Decorating a Nursery? 3 Adorable, Must-Have Baby Products + Baby Shower Gift Tips

If you're awaiting a sweet little bundle of joy, there's no doubt you're spending time creating a magical place for your baby. I loved decorating the nursery in anticipation of both of my little ones, and now, it seems like everyone I know is getting ready to welcome a brand new baby into their families. Whether it'll be soft yellows, baby blues, or precious pinks, finding adorable and affordable baby products can help you make the nursery a special place for your little one.

CoCaLo Orchid Grace 6-Piece Bedding

This set is absolutely precious! The cozy bedding is perfectly pink, with accent colors in cranberry, green, and purple. It includes the bumper, dust ruffle, quilt, valance, fitted sheet, and diaper stacker.

One of the greatest things about choosing the baby bedding first is that you can then decorate the room around that bedding. For instance, anything with green, purple, and the cranberry color would coordinate perfectly!

Oopsy Daisy Too My ABC's Wall Art

This wall art is absolutely adorable! It contains the alphabet, as well as corresponding pictures. What I love most about this item is that it can be used for a long time, as opposed to art that is simply baby-ish. For example, this could stay in your child's room from birth until age 5 or 6.

Also, it's a perfect opportunity for you to help your toddler or small child to learn his or her ABC's. The whimsical pictures are also stimulating for your child, helping grow that brain that will soon soak up anything and everything in sight!

Baby Love Activity Mat

Starting at just a few months old, your baby is going to need significant floor time! This will help him or her learn to roll over and eventually crawl. The Baby Love activity mat is not only adorable, but your baby will love the bright colors and shapes.

It's super soft, so you won't have to worry that the floor is uncomfortable for Baby. You can also use it as your child gets older, for playtime or even naps.

Going to a Baby Shower? What to Give...

If you've been invited to a baby shower and you're not sure what to bring as a gift, you might be a little hesitant to purchase anything. Well, I'm going to reveal the absolute BEST gifts I received - and you ladies can chime in and let me know what you think a great baby shower gift is.

Receiving Blankets - Not only did these help in the beginning, when my tiny newborns wanted to be swaddled, but as they got older, they were used for EVERYTHING. Spit-up guards, chew-things for teething babies, etc. Now, my daughter uses the receiving blankets to play with her dolls! You can't go wrong with these.

Diapers - Whether the mommy-to-be plans on using disposable or cloth diapers, she can never have enough of them. Find out which route she plans to go, and you'll have a perfect gift. Also, you might want to check out diaper cakes, as they come with diapers and numerous other things Mom will need - and they're SUPER-cute. You might even look up the instructions and make one yourself so it will be really meaningful.

Gifts for Mom - The ladies invited to the baby shower are going to go NUTS in stores, poring over ribbons and lace, pinks and blues, sweet little onesies and more. This means that Baby is going to get a TON of presents. So, purchasing something exclusively for Mom is a great idea. Spa-sets, movie tickets, gourmet snacks...these are all great ideas. Anything that will help your friend feel pampered and relaxed!

So...what do you think the best baby shower gifts are?