Product Reviews

This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Post. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

Since I was a little girl, string popcorn and cranberries to decorate the tree was a holiday tradition. Now my little ones like to add their own special touches by suggesting new ingredients to make our garland special. This year we’re writing holiday words, messages, and phrases using Alpha-Bits cereal.

Alpha-Bits (1 of 1)Encouraging My Kids to Play with Their Food!

This is one of my favorite holiday traditions. We always make hot chocolate, along with our bowls of popcorn, and put in a holiday movie. Then, we start stringing and showing off our creations to each other.  And, of course, while we create, we eat! We snack on popcorn and cereal! It’s such a frugal activity that is great for families and fun for everyone.

Holiday Garland

Ingredients

  •  Alpha-Bits Cereal
  • Popped Popcorn (Plain, No Butter)
  • Cranberries (Fresh)
  • Embroidery Floss (Strong, but Not Too Thick)
  • Needles (Fat with Rounded Ends)
  • Scissors

Alpha-Bits (1 of 1)-2

Directions

Making Holiday Tree Strings is all about creativity. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Simply cut a long piece of string and thread your needle. To help kids, you can tie the thread onto the needle, but keep your knot small. Tie the end of your thread, then begin stringing on your ingredients. Once you’re done, remove your needle, tie the other end, and place it on your tree like garland.

What Are We Learning

  • Spelling or ABC’s. Use the Alpha-Bits to spell Christmas words, message, and phrases on your string like “Merry Christmas”, “Jesus”, “Santa Claus”, and “Gifts”. For younger kids, you can simply create your ABC’s. Kids will have fun reading it and showing off their work throughout the season.
  • Patterns. Create patterns with your ingredients. You can create patterns based on letters, colors, or the ingredients themselves.
  • Counting. When creating patterns, count ingredients to make strings that include items likes 5 popcorns, 1 cranberry, 1 word, 1 cranberry, and 5 popcorns.
  • Sorting. Sort ingredients by color, letter, or even broken ingredients that won’t string well.
  • Coordination. Stringing ingredients takes a bit of hand-eye coordination, especially for little ones.
  • Teamwork. This activity is great for families. Working together to build your strings, makes it much more fun!
  • Safety. It’s important to show kids the right way to handle a needle, even if it’s rounded and less likely to hurt them, along with scissor safety.

Tips & Ideas

  • Long needles work best. For younger kids, you can use a larger, rounded-end needle so it won’t hurt if they poke themselves.
  • When threading popcorn, stick the needle through the fat puffed part of the popcorn. It won’t easily go through the kernel pieces.
  • Add other ingredients. Just make sure they won’t spoil on your tree throughout the season. Things you can include are:
    • Classic pretzels (just put the string through one of the openings, don’t try to stick the needle through them or they’ll crumble.)
    • Marshmallows
    • Gum Drops or Jelly Beans
    • Post Honeycomb Cereal, Mini-Cinnamon Churros, or Waffle Crisp
    • Food Coloring (toss popcorn or cereal in food coloring to add color)

Sponsored by Post via the Mom It Forward Blogger Network and written by In Good Cents. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Cans Get You Cooking. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

cannedtalkinlockup

While my family loves fresh fruits and vegetables, we always keep a lot of canned food on hand, since it stays good for longer and it great to grab when creating quick family meals. That’s why it’s great to know that, according to the University of California, many canned fruits and vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.

For great ideas on using canned food to create quick recipes and more about canned foods, make sure to follow Cans Get You Cooking on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

Taco Pizza Recipe

Taco Pizza (3 of 3)

Ingredients

  1. 1 Can Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Mild Green Chilies
  2. 1 Can Bush’s Black Beans
  3. 1 Packet Old El Paso Taco Seasoning
  4. 1 Pound Ground Beef
  5. 1 Cup Chopped Lettuce
  6. 1 Pizza Crust
  7. 1 Cup Shredded Cheese

Directions

Place the Pizza Crust on a pizza pan and cook as directed in the oven. While it’s cooking, cook the ground beef in a skillet and add the Old El Paso Taco Seasoning as directed. Once both are done, begin layering your toppings on your pizza crust and serve warm. Top with sour cream, guacamole, and.or salsa, if desired.

Add a side of Old El Paso Spanish Rice to make it a meal.

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Sponsored by Cans Get You Cooking as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Indiana Dunes. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

Indiana Dunes Country will always be one of my favorite spots to get away in Indiana. It’s natural beauty, family-friendly environment, and small-town feel is just the perfect combination of relaxing and invigorating.

DCIM100SPORTBeautiful, Intimate DunesWalk Inn

Indiana Dunes country has great places to stay from the intimate DunesWalk Inn to Inspiration Wood, which is great for retreats and family reunions. Plus, there are so many family-owned shops and restaurants, like Lucrezia Cafe, that go above and beyond when it comes to customer service.

DCIM100SPORTEnjoying Authentic Italian Pizza at Lucrezia Cafe

But for me, the best part of Indiana Dunes Country will always be the absolute beauty of nature that surrounds you. You can cool off at the always chilly Michigan Lake and enjoy a day at the beach, get in touch with your inner kid while you check out the miniature trains at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, or get your exercise running up dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park.

DCIM100SPORTSliding down Devil’s Slide Dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park

DCIM100SPORTPlaying in Michigan Lake and looking for Indian beads and shells

DCIM100SPORTWalking through the marsh at Indiana State Park

Read more about our visits to Indiana Dunes country and enter to win a giveaway to start making your own Indiana Dune Country family memories!

Sponsored by Indiana Dunes and conducted by In Good Cents. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Raise.com. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

I love gift cards, since they are like cash, but I have received a gift card that I’d just never use. Unfortunately, gift cards aren’t one of those gifts you can exchange or even return, so you’re stuck with it. However, Raise.com now offers you a place to sell unwanted gift cards for cash.

Plus, you can use Raise.com to save on your holiday shopping by buying discount gift cards in their marketplace. You can gift them as gifts, use them to finish your holiday shopping, or even keep them yourself.

It’s easy and it’s FREE to sign up and get started!

For a limited time, use the coupon code RAISE75 to save $5 on your purchase of $75 or more. Offer expires March 31, 2013.

Sell Gift Cards for Cash

Have gift cards you got for holidays, but will never actually use? Or old gift cards that still have a value? You can sell gift cards online for cash!

Set Gift Card Price

The best part is – it’s super easy and you’re in control of the price, discount, and delivery. Raise.com even pays the shipping for you or delivers the gift card electronically. Gift cards must be over $20 in value to be eligible.

Benefits of selling gift cards for cash on Raise.com

  • You set the price and discount of your gift card.
  • Adjust the price of your gift card at any time to help it sell faster.
  • Print pre-paid shipping labels from home to mail gift cards free of charge.
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  • Get paid by check or PayPal once shipping is confirmed.
  • Raise.com takes a 15% flat commission fee from sellers.

Get Discount Gift Cards Online

Making money is great, but you can also buy discount gift cards on Raise.com for your friends, family, or even for yourself to save money.

Great Ways to Use Discount Gift Cards

  • Dinner & movie gift cards for a frugal date night
  • Hotel & travel gift cards to save on a vacation
  • Help with your holiday shopping budget
  • Save even more on your deal shopping at grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Splurge on yourself
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Discount Gift Cards

Current Discount Gift Cards

  • Benihana Gift Card – Up to 10% off
  • GAP Gift Card – Up to 10% off
  • Land’s End Gift Card – Up to 10% off
  • Justice Gift Card – Up to 16% off
  • Regal Cinema Gift Card – Up to 12% off
  • Target Gift Cards – Up to 7.5 % off
  • Walmart Gift Cards – Up to 3% off
  • And many more!

Benihana Discount Gift Card

Benefits of buying discount cards on Raise.com

  • All gift card balances are verified before placed on sale.
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Sponsored by Raise.com. While I did not receive compensation, I did receive a gift card for my time sharing this service with you. Some of the links within this post are sponsored links. Please read our disclosure policy for details..

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This sponsored post was written by me on behalf of Lunchbox. Regardless of compensation, all opinions are 100% my own.

When it comes to hair, we have all types in our home. With two little girls who love to try out new styles, this can be a bit of a challenge for me, since I cut and style the girls hair myself instead of paying salon prices.

My oldest, Ady, has very thin blonde hair that has a bit of wave if she really works with it, but tends to hang limp if she doesn’t.

My youngest daughter, Izy, has much thicker hair with a bit of wave to it, but at the young age of 5, she still has wispy baby hairs that are so soft and often refuse to cooperate.

(Photo Credit: Photos by Mare)

 

On the other hand, I have hair that is so thick every time I visit a hair salon it’s almost guaranteed that the stylist will tell me at least 10 times that my hair is the thickest she’s ever seen and often charges me more.  To add to that mess, my hair is naturally don’t-sit-behind-me-in-the-movie-theater-especially-on-a-humid-day curly. Basically, on a good day, my hair is somewhat controlled chaos.

It took me a long time to embrace and love my hair, but as I aged, I learned that styling products are important. Depending on what you’re trying to get your hair to do, the right styling products can make all the difference.

Nexxus brought us the challenge of trying out some of their products while attempting a few of their  summer hair styles. The hairstyles were all sleek and straight, which long ago would have had me running scared. Straightening my hair use to take hours and usually didn’t last long. But, I found some secret weapons.

First, I struggle with split ends, so I was thrilled to see Nexxus Pro Mend products designed to tackle split ends in my goodie box! They did make it a lot easier to get a smooth look. In fact, I’ve already added these to my list of favorite hair styling products.

With the help of my very old Conair Styler Dryer and the right straightening products, I’ve mastered Nexxus Smooth Sleek Hair style after just blow drying, complete with flipped up ends, so there’s no need to spend extra time with a straightener or curling iron. You definitely need a good frizz defying product, like Nexxus Frizz Defy Line to pull it off and keep the look though. Acheiving Smooth Sleek Summer Styles with  Nexxus

My daughter’s didn’t go simple though. Ady wanted to try out the Nexxus Elegant Side Chignon and though her hair was a lot shorter than the models, it still turned out cute.

Izy was longing for the Nexxus Weekend Chic side ponytail. This one didn’t turn out as well for us, but that’s because my tiny test-subject was extremely wiggly.

We even went on to try our own Nexxus summer hair style with three tiny buns in Ady’s hair.

You can check out all the Nexxus Summer Hair styles and get FREE step-by-step styling instructions on Walmart’s website.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any Nexxus coupons, but you can find Nexxus products at Walmart at their always low price!

Sponsored by Lunchbox and conducted by In Good Cents. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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The grill tends to bring our family closer together during the summer and makes cooking so much more fun.

Cooking in our wide-open backyard while the kids play squealing and our dogs run around it such a different experience than cooking in our small kitchen during the cold winters. The smells and sounds are invigorating, plus I can cook while practicing cartwheels with my 7-year-old, watching my 5-year-old’s swing performance, and playing baseball with my 3-year-old.

Tonight, before we all piled on one couch with popsicles in hand (the best summer treat) to watch the Summer Olympics Opening Ceremonies, we headed outside to create a traditional summer family dinner with pork ribs, corn on the cob, zucchini, and baked beans – all on the grill.

I broke out my new Barbecue! Bible, which I love, because it breaks down all the different types of flavorings for meat and how to use them in detail. Since I can’t do anything by-the-book, I slightly altered a recipe for a rub. Plus,  I found a simple sauce to flavor the vegetables that I wasn’t even looking for, but couldn’t pass up.

Our meal took an unexpected turn when we realized I may have added too much Cayenne Pepper to the rub. Suddenly it became a challenge to see who could go the longest without the relief of a drink of milk after taking a bite of their pork rib. Embarrassingly enough, my 3-year-old son got the Gold Medal in this event.

What brings your family closer together for meal times? And how did your family get ready to cheer on this year’s U.S. Olympic Team?

Ragin’ Cajun Rub Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Cup Paprika
  • 3 TBSP Fresh Ground Pepper
  • 1 TBSP Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 TBSP Dried Thyme
  • 1 TBSP Diced Onions
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 1 TBSP Honey Barbecue Sauce

Directions

Mix all ingredients together until blended well. Place your meat in a freezer bag. Pour in the Ragin’ Cajun Rub. Shake until the meat is covered and refrigerate at least 8-24 hours before cooking your meat on the grill or bake in the oven.

This rub works well with chicken, pork, or turkey.

Garlic Butter Vegetable Baste Recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 TBSP Butter
  • 3 Cloves Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 TBSP Fresh Ground Pepper

Directions

Melt butter, then mix in other ingredients until well blended.  Add to vegetables before cooking or while cooking as a baste.

In Good Cents is a Table Talk Contributor, sponsored by the  Indiana Family of Farmers. While I was not compensated for this post, I was provided with tools to enjoy some delicious summer food for inspiration. For more information, please read our terms & conditions and disclosure policy.

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