Happy Birthday Grandma!

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I’m gonna get a little personal for a second. This isn’t so much a DIY project, recipe, or one of my usual posts as it is a tribute. For those of you who don’t know me personally, we lost my mother in law to lung cancer in August. Somedays I’m not so sure it feels quite real yet so writing this for the world to see is going to be somewhat difficult for me. If you didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Lyndee, I can tell you that she was most definitely a memorable woman. She was tall and slender and as goofy as can be. She loved being silly and making people laugh. Her laughter itself was contagious, if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can almost hear it. When she was first diagnosed with lung cancer, we were all heartbroken and confused. She hadn’t smoked a day in her life, how could she have lung cancer? Shows our complete lack of awareness! The truth is, lung cancer can be caused by a whole plethora of reasons and there really isn’t a way to know for sure what caused it in her case. We do know her parents were smokers and smoked around her and in their home and vehicles throughout her childhood and that exposure to secondhand smoke may or may not have been a factor. Whatever the cause, it’s a terrible disease and watching her fight was both inspiring and heartbreaking. She was so strong through the whole thing. When she was first diagnosed, I remember all of us being very weepy but we never saw her cry. One night, I asked her, “how on earth are you so calm? I would be a blubbery mess in your shoes.” I’ll never forget her reply. She told me she had prayed about it and that God had filled her with peace. She was going to fight but she wasn’t afraid to die, she was ready when the time would come. I could go on and on but how on earth do you sum up an entire life in a single blog post. I’ll say this: She loved a lot, was loved by many, and spread joy wherever she went even to perfect strangers!

The holidays were difficult without her. Surreal almost. It was strange not seeing her across the table at Thanksgiving and strange not shopping for a Christmas present for her like usual. So, when her birthday rolled around a few days after Christmas, the kids and I couldn’t help but want to do something to celebrate her life. Unfortunately, you can’t send a cake and gifts to heaven so we had to come up with something else. Because she loved making other people smile, we decided our gift to her should be a week full of making other people smile! I typed up a little note that said:

“Our Grandma is celebrating her birthday in heaven this year. What a party that must be! She was a silly Grandma who was always doing nice things for others. Since we can’t celebrate with her this year, we are doing nice things for others as our gift to her. Please accept this random act of kindness in honor of our Grandma. Add to the party by playing it forward.”

I attached a goofy photo of her sporting a multicolored afro wig we bought her as a joke when she lost her hair to chemo and cut it into strips. We then spent the week distributing them along with different small acts of kindness in our community.

We taped quarters to vending and gumball machines everywhere we went.
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We taped microwaveable popcorn packages to redbox machines around town.
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We scattered $1 bills around the toy section of Dollar Tree for some kids to find and get themselves a little treat.
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We bought coffee for the car behind us at Starbucks and asked the cashier to hand them our note.
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We bought individual laundry detergent packs at Target and left them on washing machines at a local laundromat with some quarters.
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We also mailed crisp $1 bills to 5 random people from the phone book with our note, donated books to our pediatrician’s office (we noticed theirs were a little ragged), and left a hefty tip for our server at dinner.

We hope Grandma liked her gift and that we brought some smiles to the faces of the strangers who found the goodies. Who couldn’t smile after seeing that picture!

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You can view the slideshow I created for her services here:

20 Random kitchen products you had no idea you would need/want!

I’m a bit quirky.  I like unique things that’s for sure.  My kitchen is no exception, I strive to find the funnest and funkiest kitchen gadgets around.  I’m going to share with you my top 20 adorably fabulous kitchen gadgets that put the FUN in functional!  You just might want to add them to your kitchen collection too!

Spiffy Units of measure:

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These items aren’t just cute, they’re super functional too!

1. Mason Jar Measuring Cups

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I snagged this little bit of stacking measuring cup awesomeness at World Market

You can find them here:

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mason+jar+measuring+cups.do?from=Search&cx=0

2. Flower Pot measuring spoons

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My sister in law got me these cuties last year for Christmas from Modcloth.com.  They’re out of stock now but I managed to find them elsewhere for ya here:

http://www.hiddentreasuresdecorandmore.com/Flower_Pot_Measuring_Spoons_p/pj0305.htm

3. Tiny measuring cup

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Sometimes, measuring out the perfect amount of liquids can get tricky in the measuring spoons especially when transferring from one counter to another.  For such instances there’s this little guy.  I got it at World Market as well.  They only sell them online in sets of 3 but you can get them individually in stores like I did.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-measuring-cup.do?&refType=&from=Search

Cool fruit gadgets: 

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4.  Awesome apple slicer

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just line up your core with the center hole and shimmy down to slice and core your apple.  Push the bottom part up and it  will push all your slices up without slicing your hand.  I got this particular one at bed bath and beyond last year.  I don’t see it on their website now but they do have it on amazon.com.  I see similar products at all major retailers though 🙂

http://www.amazon.com/Prepworks-Progressive-International-Wedge-Slicer/dp/B00EZQQO8M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260073&sr=8-2&keywords=progressive+apple+slicer

5. Bodacious banana slicer

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This mellow yellow dude comes out to play quite often in our kitchen.  Yes you can just take a butter knife to your banana but this is so much better!  Just slide your banana through and squeeze and you quickly have perfectly even slices to top your waffles, pancakes, sandwiches, and other goodies!

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-102-205-017-Bananza-Banana-Slicer/dp/B004HINHKQ/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260262&sr=8-7&keywords=banana+slicer

6. Super awesome strawberry pitter

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When I saw my best friend using this little baby to make cheesecake stuffed strawberries (yes, they’re as delicious as they sound) for my baby shower several years ago, I knew I had to have one too!  My sweet bestie grabbed one for me and surprised me with it and we’ve been using it religiously ever since!  You can find it on amazon and most major retailers.

http://www.amazon.com/Adorable-Simple-Strawberry-Remover-Dishwasher/dp/B00KGNSCUQ/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260426&sr=8-14&keywords=strawberry+pitter

7.  Amazing avocado slicer

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Ugh, it’s so tough to get all your green goodness out of the avocado and slice it evenly.  I always squish it and it doesn’t go well but with this little baby, that’s no longer an issue!  Maybe my OCD side just likes the even little slices!  lol

http://www.amazon.com/Chefn-Flexicado-Flexible-Avocado-Plastic/dp/B000AXU1VA/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260493&sr=8-18&keywords=avocado+slice

8. Veggie Spiralizer

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Watching your carb intake or just want to make your veggies pretty?  This little baby is just the thing for you!  I love to make “noodles” from zucchini and squash when I’m trying to go easy on the carbs.  I make spaghetti for the girls and then whip up a low cal version for myself!  Delicious and nutritious!

http://www.amazon.com/SpiraLife-Vegetable-Spiralizer-Recipe-eBook/dp/B00L0R9R38/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260614&sr=8-4&keywords=veggie+spiralizer

9. Say Cheese slicer

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How cute is this little cheese slicer?!?!?!  I fell madly in love with it at a local gift shop and just had to have it!  You can get yourself one on amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Say-Cheese-Instant-Slicer-GAMAGO/dp/B00ICF25VM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421260901&sr=8-1&keywords=say+cheese+slicer

10. Picture perfect kitchen timer

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If you have to time something in the kitchen, you may as well do it with a cute timer!  Just sayin’!  I picked up this adorable camera lens timer at World Market over the weekend and it’s so cute I had to share!

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/telephoto+kitchen+timer.do?&refType=&from=Search

11. Magnetic Salad tongs/servers

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I can’t remember where I actually purchased these but they’re pretty stinking awesome!  They’re magnetic so you can toss your bowl of salad and then stick them together to easily serve said salad!  Plus, they are much easier to store when separate!  Double win!  Here they are on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Piece-Green-Magnetic-Salad/dp/B00DYXSJLC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261086&sr=8-1&keywords=magnetic+salad+tongs

12. Popsicle making magic

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I’m 75% sure I got these at dollar tree a few years back but you can obviously find similar products anywhere.  Keep an eye out for the kind with the little straw attachment on the end.  My girls love to make fresh fruit pops in the summer and as they start to melt, they can drink the juice from the little straw on the end instead of it running down their cute little hands!  These are pretty close on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Friendly-Popsicles-Smoothies-BPA-Free/dp/B00N7AV8ZG/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261238&sr=8-10&keywords=popsicle+mold

13. Mini condiments

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These little cuties also came from World Market.  They’re so great for lunch boxes and picnics even when you don’t want to pack an entire bottle of ketchup but need just a little squirt.

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/mini-condiment-set.do?from=Search&cx=0

14. Homemade ice cream container

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The girls LOVE to make banana ice cream.  You know, the kind where you freeze bananas, add a dash of peanut butter, cocoa powder, and milk and blend.  Yummy and not nearly as terrible for you as regular ice cream plus super fun to make! Anyway, we used to put it in tupperware to store in the freezer but this little beauty is so much cuter!  I stumbled upon this one at TJ Maxx but as you would guess, you can find them on amazon.  I in fact will be ordering a few more in the very near future!  They even have smaller individual sizes!

http://www.amazon.com/Tovolo-Storage-Container-61-3583-Pistachio/dp/B00LEO71LM/ref=sr_1_sc_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261746&sr=8-8-spell&keywords=homeade+ice+cream+container

15. Moped pizza slicer

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Don’t you hate when you use the pizza slicer and you have to go over it a couple of times because it didn’t cut all the way to the bottom?  This little guy takes care of it in one swipe with dual blades!  Plus, it’s much funner to “drive” over your pizza than it is to just merely slice it right?  I got this one at Garden Ridge last year but of course you can get yours on Amazon!

http://www.amazon.com/Kikkerland-II-Motorino-Pizza-Cutter/dp/B0096643J8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1421261900&sr=8-2&keywords=motorcycle+pizza+cutter

16. Pink piggy egg ring

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My hubby likes his eggs over easy.  YUCK!  lol  This little piggy makes it much easier for me to keep them in check.  Without it, The egg seems to go everywhere in my pan and it’s not pretty.  Maybe that’s just me!  It’s also great for breakfast sandwiches and we love those!

http://www.amazon.com/Oink-Piggy-Fry-Silicone-Ring/dp/B00JQVPG6W/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1421258056&sr=8-18&keywords=joie+oink+oink

Fun with baking:

17. Batter finger spatula

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you stick your finger in the batter and lick it sometimes don’t ya.  Admit it!  This nifty little spatula is great for mixing up your favorite muffin mix and then licking the remnants off without sticking your dirty little sausages in the bowl!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-and-Friends-BATTERFINGER-Spatula/dp/B0015MU91C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262114&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+batterfinger+spatula

18.  Speaking of muffin mixing…

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These jeans make your muffin top actually look good!  hahahahaha  Excuse the dish soap residue on them.  They need a good rinsing it seems!

http://www.amazon.com/Fred-Friends-MUFFIN-TOPS-Baking/dp/B00EIFXCA8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1421262287&sr=8-1&keywords=fred+muffin+tops

19. Killer cookie stamps

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Why should the kids have all the fun with the cookie stampers and shapes?!?!?!  This interchangeable cookie stamp set is super fun for the adult crowd.  Deliciously funny sugar cookies coming right up!

http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=33732694&cm_mmc=CJ-_-Affiliates-_-ShopStyle.com-_-11292048#/

20. I mustache you a question about your lunch

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Kids hate the bread crust.  Why?  I don’t get it.  Even I wanted my ends cut off as a child but now can eat them right up!  Mind over matter I suppose…  Anyhow, why not cut the ends off and add a little fun to that plain ole sandwich with this mustache sandwich cutter also by Fred & Friends.  Who says you shouldn’t play with your food?  NOT this mama!

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Graze snack boxes

Hi everyone! Been a while since I’ve posted anything, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth I promise, have just been incredibly busy! I have a bazillion blog posts floating around in my head that I can hopefully get to posting sometime soon. For now, here’s a quick little product suggestion for you! A couple of months ago, I stumbled upon a service that sounded interesting and I’m super excited to share with you guys! If you’re anything like me, making healthy snack choices when you’re on the go constantly can be extremely difficult. Enter Graze boxes… Graze is an awesome service that will send boxes of 4 individually packaged healthy snacks right to your door weekly or bi-weekly dependent on your preference. You can view their unique snack combos and rate them based on wether or not they sound like something you would like to try or not and they will appear in your mailbox soon afterwards. Don’t rule something out just because you’ve never tried it though. I have to say, there have been a few that sounded gross to me just by reading the description but ended up being pretty tasty. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you hate them, you can trash it via your account preferences and they will never send that particular snack to you again. You can choose from 2 different types of boxes. A “nibble” box or a “calorie counter” box. The calorie counter box only includes snacks that have less than 150 calories each! You can even change your delivery options to skip a week if you’ll be out of town or something for instance.

Your super cute graze box is small and thin so it fits in your mailbox easily.

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Open it up to find 4 individual snacks that are packaged for easy portability! I keep a basket in my pantry and dump all my Graze snacks in it when they arrive so that I can grab one, toss it in my purse, and go with a healthy snack in tow while running errands.

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The boxes are $6.99 each and that includes shipping! You can cancel at anytime so there’s no obligation to continue the service if you don’t like it. If you enter this promo code: LORIAN7WB Graze will give you your 1st and 5th boxes for free! Your credit card will be charged weekly or bi-weekly for each subsequent box!

So far, some of our favorite snacks have been:
-raspberry and coconut muffin
-spicy sriracha peas
-tropical daiquiri
-hot cross yum
-oat spelt and raisin dippers
-banana caramel dippers

If you try it out, let me know what you think!

https://www.graze.com/us/