Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Mommy Track can be a fast one - I have my own secrets to surviving...

I used to think that life was busy when Pudding Pie was a baby. There I was, "harried" (stay at home) mom to one cute baby who apparently kept me on my toes.


Four plus years later, I snort at my na├»ve laments. I now have a far better idea of what ‘busy’ means - and I understand that life is only going to grow more tightly scheduled as Pudding Pie grows. Four years later, there’s always something going on: dance class, soccer, swim lessons, play dates at home and away, trips out of town, doctor visits, shopping for groceries, cleaning house, cooking meals, clearing out closets, attending my own classes and, oh yes, working two different jobs.

I’ve become far more creative with my time than I ever was as a happily self-absorbed single gal with no child. These days, (from my multi-tasking, eat-on-the-run, sleep-little and schedule-a-lot perspective) I marvel at the vast tracts of time I once frittered away doing nothing at all. (I'm also a tad wistful...)

I’ll quit now, in case you think I’m whining. Really, I wouldn’t change a thing (OK, maybe one or two teeny weeny little things, but that’s it!) The raising of Pudding Pie has turned me into a far more efficient being than I ever imagined possible.

I try to stay one step ahead, I always have a small backpack in the trunk packed with emergency supplies for Pudding Pie. I am also never without several bottled waters in the trunk – it’s just hot forever where we live.

I don’t forget about the mama either. I have my own 'survival kit' tucked into my purse. Unzipper the side pocket and you’ll find travel size deodorant, chap stick with sunscreen, a mini tube of sunscreen for faces, eye drops, breath mints, neutral lip gloss, facial oil blotter sheets (great for getting rid of the shiny sheen), and, more recently, pantyliners.

Having this little stash on hand keeps me looking and feeling fresh in just a few quick steps and, although the list sounds long when I detail it, these essentials make a tidy little pile that takes up no room at all – my purse isn’t very big!

You don’t believe me. After all, that’s quite a few items – and how can pantyliners take up no room at all?! Well, I’ve recently begun using Carefree Acti-Fresh liners. These liners are now 40% thinner than the previous Carefree Body Shape liners, but up to twice as absorbent. Thinner, yet more absorbent? I like it!

The Carefree Acti-Fresh liners are designed with everyday wear in mind, and they are just perfect for my survival kit. Individually packaged and folded up so they truly are teeny tiny, I think nothing of tossing an extra five or so into my purse - not that I need nearly that many, as the liners have an odor control system that purports to keep the wearer feeling fresh for up to eight hours.

If you’d like a chance at winning yourself a sample of Carefree Acti-Fresh liners, leave a comment telling me one essential ‘freshen up’ item that you like to keep handy in your purse. The contest closes at midnight on Thursday, May 5th. Good luck!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Carefree and received a product sample and gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Wordless Wednesday

Easter Cutie.
For more Wordless Wednesday posts, visit 5 Minutes For Mom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Easter Party With Bugs!

At our pre-Easter play date last week, we were overrun by bugs! – HEXBUG Nanos! Yes, last Wednesday morning, Pudding Pie and I were the happy hosts of a HEXBUG Nano Easter Party. We had a blast and I think it’s safe to say that our guests did too.

Each party guest received a limited edition HEXBUG Nano, complete with mini, removable bunny ears, and packaged in a little Easter egg - unbearably cute!

The delighted kiddos were also given their own bug baskets to color and personalize and, once the baskets were assembled (with help from the bigger party attendees), each HEXBUG Nano had its own fabulous custom carrier!

No party is complete without tasty treats. Among the snacks offered: Dirt Cups - complete with wiggly worms – and cheese cubes with pretzel 'bunny ears'. (Both snack ideas courtesy of Mommy Parties.) Our new bug owners were a hungry bunch and they munched their snacks before we began a few bug-themed activities.

After filling hungry tummies, the kiddos lined up for a race, featuring them getting down on their hands and knees and using only their noses to roll their easter eggs all the way to the finish line. It was hilarious watching their earnest attempts to keep their eggs on course for victory!

Once we had ourselves a winner, we moved onto the next activity. This time, each little competitor and their newly acquired bug competed individually and was timed, with the winner being determined by who managed to complete the race in the fastest time.

Each child began by turning around in a circle a few times (not too many times!), and then hopping like a bunny to a designated finish line. Some of the hopping resembled more of a sprint, with an occasional hop thrown in…

Once at the finish line, the children had to place their bugs onto the top level of a HEXBUG Nano Spiral Starter Set and (very excitedly) cheer and cajole until their bug emerged from the bottom of the spiral - and the designated mom clicked the stopwatch. It was the very determined Francisco who emerged as the victor this time – to the chagrin of his brothers…

After the races were over, the kids played with their HEXBUG Nanos, and the remainder of the playdate was punctuated with shrieks and squeals as various bugs escaped their new owners and went racing across the kitchen floor.

The party was a huge hit and the bugs are a never-ending source of amusement! The only problem now is that Pudding Pie wants more...

Cuddle Cottage was chosen to host an in-home party for HexBug Nanos through Mom Select and Mommy Parties, and given the materials and samples to do so.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smarter snacking in my quest for the bathing suit body & Aloha! to a chance for a trip to paradise

Summer isn’t here yet, but where we live it is already swimming weather. This is cause for jubilant celebration by Pudding Pie - splashing around in the pool is her number one favorite activity. I love to swim too, I just wish I had more time to find where I’ve mislaid my bathing suit body. I'm still encased in a fair amount of those winter pounds, and they don't go well with the bathing suit.

I do know this: I won’t find that elusive bathing suit body by launching into any unrealistic eating (starving) regime. Been there, done that, and failed spectacularly every time. As soon as I inform my body that we are on a new, “no fail” quest to slough off the pounds, I feel weak and unbearably hungry - I don’t usually make it past Day One.

These days, I’m trying a new tack. I’m allowing myself to eat when I’m hungry – and my winter body is slowly losing its clout! OK, I confess, there’s a little more to it. Yes, I’m eating when I feel hungry, but I’m being a tad smarter about what I eat. I’ve stocked up on the fruit, veggies and other low-carb snacks and I’m using them as my weapons against the predictable cravings.

One of the weapons in my snacking arsenal is Old London Melba Snacks. These low calorie treats, made with all-natural ingredients and whole grains are perfect for keeping hunger pangs at bay and they can be dressed up in so many different ways. Visit Old London for some great recipe ideas - ever heard of Tiramisu Melba? or how about Lasagna with Rosemary and Olive Oil Melba Toast? Or, my favorite, Chocolate Pistachio Crunch using Sea Salt flavored Melba Snacks... Who knew such possibilities existed?!

If you favor a simpler approach, you just can't beat melba snacks spread with Hummus – try a Spinach and Artichoke Hummus, or Roasted Pine Nut Hummus – tasty!

My family recently had the chance to sample the Spicy Cheddar Bagel Chips, the Whole Grain Sea Salt Melba Snacks and the Wholegrain Melba toast. Pudding Pie didn’t care for the Spicy Cheddar flavor, or the Sea Salt flavor, but she loved the Wholegrain melba toast spread with butter and a sliver of roast chicken! Hubby scarfed up the spicy Cheddar melba snacks and declared this flavor his favorite. I enjoyed the taste and the texture of all three flavors, but I did lean heavily toward the Sea Salt Melba Snacks. I found the Sea Salt flavor super tasty, and I loved how well they paired with my Hummus.
I have another reason for wanting to expedite the process of morphing back into my bathing suit body: I’ve entered the Aloha Old London Sweepstakes and I’m planning to win myself an all-expenses paid Hawaiian vacation!

To inspire healthy living, Old London has launched the “Aloha Old London” sweepstakes and will send one winner and a guest to on an all-expenses-paid trip to Oahu, Hawaii for four days and three nights of sun-soaked bliss! The winner will have the chance to bask in the sun, enjoy the spa and be treated to private cooking lessons at the Chef Mavro restaurant.

For more information, and if you’d also like a chance at winning, hula over to and enter the sweepstakes now through June 30th, 2011.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Old London and received product samples and a gift certificate to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday can't beat it.

(Visit 5 Minutes For Mom for more Wordless Wednesday.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hello to UBP 2011 Blog Hoppers!

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Hello! - And welcome to all Ultimate Blog Party 2011 blog hoppers!

I'm Belinda, mom to Pudding Pie, and I hope you're having as much fun as I am at the UBP 2011! When my four-year-old princess isn't keeping me on my toes (when she's finally firmly tucked into bed...), I enjoy trawling the blogosphere and connecting with other mom bloggers.

I was a stay-at-home mom, but went to work as a nanny when Pudding Pie turned two. I needed an income and I didn't want to be away from my precious girl, so working in childcare was the most logical choice. Two years later, I'm not looking back - we have the extra income, Pudding Pie has playmates all day long and we still spend our days together - perfect!

Wordless Wednesday

Pudding Pie in her rodeo gear. (Note the bling...) Check out 5 Minutes For Mom for more Wordless Wednesday

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Paint it Purple!" With Welch's Grape Juice

Did you know that March was National Nutrition Month? In honor of this, Pudding Pie and I participated in the Welch's Paint it Purple! contest. The contest required that we take part in a "purple" activity, using Welch's 100% Grape Juice using Concord grapes. I browsed Welch's Recipe Box online and decided that we'd try our hand at making the Grape Infused Fortune Cookies.

The recipe didn't look that difficult, and how fun to have grape flavored fortune cookies! We gathered ingredients and began our project with enthusiasm.(Observe the beginnings of our very purple batter.)

However, somehow, we lost our way during the recipe and the outcome was not exactly what we'd hoped for. It is possible (but I am not pointing fingers), that my sous chef engaged in some improvisations that she declined to share with me.

Our fortune cookies were not the crisp, thin and perfectly folded objects of perfection that we'd imagined. Instead, they were decidedly thicker and they stubbornly refused to be folded without breaking in half - every time. Pudding Pie was not heavily impressed. (Observe the look of disdain.)

The red muffin pan displays our entire end result - we persevered in spite of increasingly grim results.

Luckily, Pudding Pie brightened up when she got to taste the first cooled down cookie. She pronounced it "not too bad" - and she loved having her fortune read to her.

Grape-Infused Fortune Cookie travails aside, Pudding Pie enjoyed sampling the
Welch’s 100% Grape Juice made with Concord grapes. She declared the juice “yummy” and became an instant convert – I know why – it is sweet, sweet, sweet!

I was pleased to learn that a half cup of this juice is equal to one full serving of fruit - a stress-free way to help us meet her recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, half of what is on our plate should be fruits and vegetables - easier said than done when feeding a four-year-old diva. It’s not that she dislikes fruits or veggies, it’s just that she gets distracted and meal times turn into a marathon. She almost always ends up not getting through the food on her plate, and I worry that my child is not getting what she needs to grow. I was thrilled to discover that the juice has no added sugar. Actually, I was quite surprised because it is uber sweet – right up Pudding Pie’s alley!

The Concord grape offers not only natural antioxidants, but also a mix of plant nutrients (polyphenols), which could benefit heart health. Including heart healthy food in our kids’ diets is not only essential to their growth and development, but I’m told it could also shift the trend of nearly half of all Americans who still don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.

In honor of National Nutrition Month,
Welch's is spreading the word about resources it offers to help us and our families navigate toward healthier lives:

Welch's Family Vine Tool: A tool to help trace and understand your family’s heart history, since it is not just diet and exercise but genetics too, which affects your heart. This site informs readers about research on the health benefits of the Concord grape in areas like heart health, cognitive health, immune system health and more.

Welch's Recipe Box: Check this out for great grape- and grape-juice inspired recipes. (You'll find the Grape-Infused Fortune Cookies here...)

Check out Welch’s on
Twitter and Facebook for more ideas and coupons.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Welch’s and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a gift code to thank me for taking the time to participate.