Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning to Wash Out Winter with BISSELL® plus Giveaway!

Now that the daily temperatures are beginning to feel like Spring weather, it is time to start my Spring Cleaning and #WashawayWinter from my carpets! To tackle this big chore, I picked up a BISSELL® Portable Spot Cleaner and BISSELL® Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula 2515.

My carpets get a lot of traffic. I have 3 young children who spend a lot of time playing on the floor. We also have a new puppy and 3 cats sharing this space. After a Winter of use, even with taking shoes off at the front door, our carpets are very dirty.

Cleaning the carpets is my least favorite household chore. I vacuum the living room daily, but now that the sun is streaming in with Spring, I just can't ignore those spots on the floor.

Call them mystery stains, they come from sippy cups, snacks, sticky fingers, etc.

We have used Upright Carpet Cleaner Formulas before to clean the living room carpet, but this was my first time using this particular Febreze® Formula. We have used Febreeze before on our couches and chairs to help with pet odor, so I was excited to use it on my carpet. This is a 3 in 1 formula to help remove deep down dirt, gunk and lingering odors.

I know BISSELL means business, just check out this behind the scenes in the BISSELL Chemistry Lab and Scotchgard™ Demo.

Now, I am a little embarrassed to show you my before photo of the living room carpet.  I was long overdue for this carpet cleaning. I also knew we had some tough spots to tackle. 

First we used the cleaning solution as directed on the bottle. We used the spot want to treat the tougher spots before running the upright machine over the whole area. The spot cleaning wand made this task go quickly.

The Febreze® Formula smells fresh and did a great job at making my whole living room smell fresher and finally ready for Spring entertaining.

As you can see, the same spot of carpet, right in the middle of our living room, looks much more inviting after the spots and stains have been deep cleaned out. Yes, I was very impressed. My husband, who did all the hard work, was also happy with the results.

If you have kids, pets, or just carpets in desperate need of getting the dirt and grime of Winter washed out, be sure to check out the BISSELL® Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula 2515.

BISSELL®  put together a convenient Spring Cleaning Checklist to help you get started with your own cleaning. I know I have several more things to check off the list, but I love having a handy place to look for staying on track! 

Giveaway Time!!!

BISSELL is offering two product bundles (including a BISSELL Deep Clean Lift-Off and BISSELL Professional Deep Cleaning with Febreze® Formula) as a giveaway (across all communities).  2 winners will be chosen at random from the comment on all the blogs on this campaign. Best of luck!

To Enter:

Just comment below with your favorite Spring Cleaning Tips or Tricks!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Savory Monkey Bread Stuffed Bundt #BundtBakers

My youngest, it turns out, just loves bread. I think he may be re-awakening my passion for dough and yeast. He definitely has inspired me to give my poor neglected sourdough starter a little love.

One of the things I have wanted to make for a while is Monkey Bread. The savory variety has really caught my interest and with the new-found love of mini pepperoni in our house, I knew it was time to get baking. Monkey bread seemed like the perfect treat to serve my guys this past weekend.

It was warm, flavorful and helped to make our whole house smell amazing!

It also happened to be the perfect thing to whip up in a bundt pan.... I haven't been able to justify a "Monkey Bread" flute pan yet, and perfect for this month's bundt challenge.


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page

 We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. The theme for April is "Hidden Surprise" - Bundt cakes with fillings or stuffing. There was no constraint on filling and flavor choices.The only requirement was that the cake be filled/stuffed inside. 

Anshie from SpiceRoots was our host for this month. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to

Now, on to the monkey bread.

I created mine with a little help from my bread machine. It is such a time saver on the dough cycle. Just dump everything in your bread machine pan as directed by the manufacturer.

Then when it is done I sprayed my bundt pan and started dividing the dough. I created walnut-sized balls of dough, just big enough to cover a small cube of cheese. This recipe made about 28 balls. Wrap each ball around a little Mozzarella cheese, then pinch it closed.

Then I made my seasoning mix and got a dish with olive oil. Roll each ball to cover with oil and seasoning, then place it in the bundt pan.

I layered the seasoned balls of dough in the pan and added in some mini pepperoni and finely grated Parmesan Cheese.

Doesn't it look good?

Then I put this in the oven to bake.

Once it is cool enough to touch, invert the pan and serve with a bowl of your favorite marinara sauce. Use a spatula or silicone spreader to help coax any stuck bits out of the pan. I had a few little bits of stubborn pepperoni holding on for dear life!

But, it was so delicious. A great hit with both my guys.

Savory Monkey Bread Stuffed Bundt

You Will Need:
  • 1 1/8 c. water
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 c. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/3 c. potato flakes
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1/2 c. mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/4 c.. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian Herb seasoning (or a combination of thyme, oregano, parsley, basil)
  • 1 Tbsp. dry parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 c. mini pepperoni
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Combine all the bread ingredients in your bread machine, as recommended in the manual. Put on the dough cycle and let it complete through the final rise.

Combine all the dry herbs and seasoning in a small bowl. Put the olive oil in a separate bowl. 

Spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Divide the bread dough in half and then each ball till you achieve around 28 balls total. Fill each ball with a cube of mozzarella, pinch to close, then dip in the olive oil and sprinkle with the seasoning mix. Place the finished ball in the bundt pan and repeat with a layer (roughly a third) of the dough. Sprinkle this layer with 1/3 of the mini pepperoni and a little grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat with another layer of dough then more pepperoni and cheese, Finish by topping the final layer with the remaining cheese and pepperoni.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the bread is golden brown on top. Use a spatula to help remove from the pan. Invert onto a serving platter and serve with a bowl of marinara for dipping.


And my hidden surprise? Yes, melted mozzarella in each little bite of this monkey bread. Yum!

Ready to see what all the other Bunt Bakers created this month? Check out these links:

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DIY Apple Pie Spice - Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

This might seem like an out of place Fall recipe post, but I just had to share one of my favorite breakfasts this past week. Spring brings a combination of crisp morning weather and warmer afternoons. The floor downstairs are still cold on our toes and slippers add to us being able to venture forth from our carpeted upstairs to face the day.

Once Summer hits, and berries are in season locally, I will be filling my breakfast bowl with fresh berries, granola and yogurt. But, for now, I am still needing a warm and filling breakfast. This Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oat bowl is perfect.

It is also the perfect way to get back into the Daring Cook's monthly challenges. For the month of April, Sawsan from Chef in disguise challenged us to spice things up by making our own spice blends from scratch. Now, I make some of my own spice blends; dry ranch seasoning, taco seasoning, and Italian Seasoning, but there are still several mixes that I buy.

I know right? Why spend the extra money, right?

Well, this was a great nudge in the DIY direction to have me create my own Apple Pie Spice. My kids love this sprinkled over sauteed apples for their pancakes or just by the spoonful.

I have a lot of work to do on my poor neglected herb garden, but I hope to have enough to dry this Summer and Fall so I can make even more of our own mixes.

So this mix is really quite simple. Just whisk it up and store in an airtight container like a small Mason Jar.

Apple Pie Spice

You Will Need:

  • 4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
Whisk together and store in an air tight container.

Like I said, this is such an easy breakfast, yes, steel cut oats take a few minutes to simmer, but while you have that cooking go ahead and simmer some fresh apples with the Apple Pie Spice, brown sugar and a dab of butter.

Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oats

You Will Need:

  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
  • 1 Tbsp. boiled cider
  • steel cut oats, cooked according to package directions
In a skillet, heat the butter, brown sugar and apple pie spice. Toss with the chopped apples and boiled cider. Simmer gently until apples are tender. Serve over steel cut oats.


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Earth Month Ideas - Re-purposing Common Containers For Seed Starts

This  shop, to celebrate Earth Month, has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

As the days grow longer and warmer, life here on the farm begins to really pick up. There is the sound of the tractors working in the fields, the chickens scratching in the yard, and children with cabin fever just itching to get outside to dig in the dirt.

Yes, it is time to begin breaking ground on our family garden and get our seeds planted. Despite living on a large fruit and vegetable farm, I want my kids involved in our own backyard garden. It is a great way to make them more mindful of their environment, the food they eat and how all of our choices are connected.

Just across from the house you will find the greenhouses with all the starts. It is fun to peek in and see the onions and watermelon sprouts begin to push through. Here in Oregon we still have a chance of a hard frost and the greenhouse gives us a chance to create optimal growing conditions for the new seedlings.

My husband's family has farmed this area for 4 generations, I hope my children will follow in his footsteps to become the fifth generation. I want my children to be eco-friendly and aware of the needs of the land, along with the crops grown here, so they can carry on the tradition of farming.

Much like making green choices in our lives, learning to be a farmer starts early.

My husband works hard to be the best steward of this land he can be. He uses crop rotation, drip irrigation and even keeps the machinery running for as long as possible to reduce his impact on the environment.

This Allis Chalmer's tractor had a life before our farm, but with regular maintenance and a little elbow grease, it isn't ready for the scrap pile yet.

In fact, a lot of farm work involves creativity and re-purposing. Parts and implements are re-used when possible or adapted to be more efficient.

Now, we drink a lot of coffee in our house. It might have something to do with the long hours involved with farm life. I hate that I throw all those coffee pods out after a single use. So I decided to give them a new life as seed plugs. They are the perfect size and already have a hole poked in the bottom for easy drainage!

Instead of buying myself new seed trays for planting our Summer garden seeds, I turned this tray of coffee pods into seed plugs.

Tips For Re-Purposing Coffee Pods
  • Remove the foil top and discard
  • Let the pods sit and dry out for 24 hours or more. Shaking out dry grounds is much easier
  • Compost the coffee grounds for garden mulch to use all Summer long
  • Pull the paper filter out of each pod and discard
  • Fill with seed mix or potting mix to support and nourish your seedlings
  • Plant seeds in the pods that have smaller root needs
After trying to shake out several wet coffee pods, I found letting them dry out ahead of time was much easier! And coffee grounds are great to add to your compost pile so don't waste them.

Once my tray was filled with empty coffee pods, we were ready to start planting.

There is just something about kids and dirt. Planting seeds is a yearly chore that my kids really look forward to.

Since our pods are small, I wanted to plant items that didn't require a lot of room for the roots. We finally decided on lettuce and salad mix. Another great idea would be succulent seeds. We plan to plant some of those next to make indoor container gardens in the playroom.

I love the sense of pride my children take in the food they grow. You could say this was a double win for our family. We didn't have to buy any seed trays for our garden, instead we used containers we already had on hand.

We were also able to plant a variety of lettuce and salad mix seeds so we will have to buy less of those packaged salad mixes this Spring and Summer, reducing our container waste.

There are so many ways to get the kids involved with this project. They helped me pick out the seeds, plant them, and every day after school they check on their seedlings' progress. Later this Spring they will also be involved with harvesting their heads of lettuce from the garden for dinner.

Seedlings thrive when they have the right temperature and humidity. We re-purposed these salad containers to hold the coffee pods in. There are small vent holes in the plastic, so they do a great job  keeping the soil moist for the seedlings.

These little greenhouses are a great way to re-use these packages.

Another way I am teaching my children to care for their environment is by making smart product choices. I love using the Tom's of Maine products with my family because they don't contain preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or fragrances.

We switched to Tom's of Maine toothpastes a few years ago and we all have our own favorite flavor. You might remember that we switched over to using the deodorant last year. This is a brand that fits my family well.

We have several of the Tom's of Maine products in our bathroom cabinet, but I picked up the Tom's of Maine Silly Strawberry™ Fluoride Toothpaste, Antiplaque & Whitening Peppermint Fluoride Free Toothpaste, Whole Care® Peppermint and Spearmint Fluoride Toothpaste, and Unisex Long Lasting Apricot Deodorant on my last trip to Walmart. You can find these products in the toothpaste aisle and deodorant aisle.

Grab a  $1.00 off any Tom's of Maine product purchase coupon to use on your next trip to Walmart. 

Happy Earth Month! Does your family have any special eco-friendly activities planned? Or what green choices have you made recently?
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Baking with Mimi's Adventures in Baking, by Alyssa Gangeri

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review as part of Promotional Book Tours. All opinions and experiences are my own.

You all know how much I LOVE baking, well here is a great chance to share the love with my own daughter. 

mimi's adventures banner

Mimi's Adventures in Baking COVERDiscover a whole new way of learning how to bake!

Embark on a baking adventure with Mimi where she will measure, mix and bake her way to the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies!

This fun storybook cookbook enables adults and children alike to not only learn the fundamentals of baking, but to have fun at the same time. If Mimi can do it, so can you!
Buy on
Amazon | B&N | Book-A-Million | Mascot Books

  Mimi's Adventures in Baking has received the Mom's Choice Award in the Picture Book category!        


Alyssa Sparkle

Alyssa Gangeri is a Pastry Chef in New York City. She’s loved baking even from a young age. After graduating from The Culinary Institute of America she traveled north and south working for companies such as The Ritz Carlton to gain knowledge and experience of the ever-growing hospitality industry. She has also competed on The Food Network’s Sweet Genius. She developed Mimi’s Adventures in Baking as a new way of learning for the younger generation of bakers. Her love for baking shines through in this storybook cookbook. In her eyes baking should be a fun experience adults and children can share together. What better way to do that then with an interactive story that makes learning your way around the kitchen exciting and easy! When she is not making specialty cakes and pastries for her business AllyCakesNYC, you can find her in Central Park with her lively Jack Russell Terrier, Rudy and the love of her life, Jonathan.
Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Literary Addicts | Goodreads | Website | Ally Cakes
Reviewed by This is a perfect 1st cookbook for children to start learning the art of baking. There is only one recipe but it comes with a storyline. Mimi wants to bake cookies and Grandma is going to teach her the correct way!! What fun--you have to be real careful with the measurements and ingredients and you also have to know when to let a grown up take over! This little book has it all covered. Actually I might even be able to bake cookies after having read this!! This is only one in a series of books with recipes-one to a book that this chef author has written. I suggest you read about the author below-it is intriguing. Then go and pre order this book for your little chef/baker! Reviewed by Kirstin Pulioff at My Review - 5 Stars Since my daughter wants to be a chef when she grows up, I have read several cooking books and cookbooks with her, but nothing comparable to Mimi's Adventure in Baking Chocolate Cookies. What a fabulous book! Not only does this book describe the technique and recipe for baking cookies, but it also focuses on a story. There are many ways to read this story. You can simple read it as a wonderful book. You can focus on the bright illustrations. The ingredients and steps make for the perfect math focus... and it also reads as an activity book that you can read while you bake. In every way, this book earns my 5 star review... And now, I'm going to bake some cookies.

My Review

I really enjoyed sharing Mimi's Adventures in Baking with my 5-year old daughter. She is learning to read and really excited to help me out in the kitchen. Besides having cute and colorful illustrations, the book walked her through the basics of making chocolate chip cookies without being dry like a printed recipe.

We started by reading the story together.

Then we made a date to bake and re-read the story as we went through the recipe. The story included great explanations for simple skills like measuring flour and breaking eggs.

In the end, we had a great afternoon, practiced reading a cute story, AND ended up with a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies that my daughter had the confidence to make with my supervision.

I applaud Alyssa Gangeri for her creative book and highly recommend this story to give children an opportunity to learn and experience baking for themselves. I truly hope she creates more stories like this to encourage children to tackle even more kitchen skills and recipes.

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