August 29, 2010

Gourmet Gift Baskets - the name says it all! {giveaway}

GIVEAWAY CLOSED - PENDING WINNER VERIFICATION



When you really want to give someone a special gift, nothing is as impressive as a gift basket all wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. A gift basket with several small items instead of one large item just looks more impressive, don't you agree?

Gourmet Gift Baskets has taken this idea to its apex. You won't find a more impressive selection of items in a ready-made gift basket. Gourmet Gift Baskets very generously sent me the Classic Snack Gift Basket so I could see for myself just how delightful their products are.
Our best-selling snack gift basket comes with a host of award-winning gourmet snack foods that are sure to satisfy any taste bud! Designed to be perfect for one but enough for a group, all the items inside are share-friendly and utterly delicious! Our snack gift baskets are the perfect gift for any occasion and are the safest bet for when you are not sure what to send! Don't take a chance, send this snack gift basket from GourmetGiftBaskets.com. Your snacks basket will arrive on time and we guarantee they'll love it!

That's not just advertising hype. I was given the opportunity to try this basket for myself and I can't tell you how impressive it is! This is their best-selling snack gift basket for a reason - it's chockfull of delicious snack items that you won't find just anywhere.

This basket sells on their website for $59.99 - a very reasonable price for the amount of gourmet snack items included, plus basket and packaging. Your lucky snack gift basket recipient will feel like royalty when they get this.


Here's a list of what's included in the Classic Snack Gift Basket:

· Dipping Pretzels by East Shore Specialty Foods - 6 oz. - East shore is known for their plump and salty pretzel sticks which are meant for dipping.

· Raspberry Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip by Robert Rothschild Farm - 7.8 oz. - This Robert Rothschild pretzel dip is a delicious blend of juicy raspberries, clover honey and tangy mustard. Not only does it have a distinctive flavor, but it's also all natural. Kosher and gluten free.  
· Key Lime White Chocolate Chip Cookies by Brent & Sam's - 7 oz. - Made from scratch, these cookies have a crunchy style and are tangy yet sweet to the taste. The key lime flavor is perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the white chocolate chips.

· Almond Pecan-dy Crunch by Morley Candy Makers - 9.25 oz. - This gourmet popcorn by Morley Candy Makers is renowned for being one of the best. With whole almonds and pecans, the irresistible buttery toffee evenly coats every bite.

· Salted Peanuts in Box by Feridie's - 7 oz. - Feridie's uses only the best of Virginia's peanuts, the top 2% of the crop each year. Once picked, they are roasted in pure peanut oil and salted to perfection.  
· Petite Cheese Biscuits by Salem Baking Co. - 1.5 oz. - Savory, bite-sized biscuits that are baked with finely milled wheat flour and extra-sharp aged cheddar cheese. They are accented with the delicate crunch of toasted rice and a hint of cayenne and paprika.

· Metropolitan Trail Mix by GourmetGiftBaskets.com - 4 oz. - Our metropolitan mix is all natural and contains exotic fruit like papaya and pineapples as well as raisins, cranberries and bananas. It also has whole peanuts, almonds and pepitas.  It's a natural and delicious snack!

· Buttered Peanut Crunch by Old Dominion Peanut Company - 10 oz. - These peanut squares by Old Dominion can be found in all of our snack gift baskets, made with a bit of brown sugar and only the freshest grade AA butter. These ingredients combined with lightly salted peanuts make for a scrumptious and crunchy treat.

· Peanut Roll by Dillon Candy Co. - 3 oz. - Dillion Candy starts their roll with a fluffy nougat center which is covered by a distinct layer of caramel and is then rolled in lightly salted peanuts. This amalgam of texture and flavors makes for the most delectable of peanut rolls.

· Coconut Bar by Oskri Organics - 2.2 oz. - This bar is 100% organic, made of only fresh coconut and rice syrup. It has a delicious crunch and is sure to satisfy any coconut lover; that's why you'll find it in our gourmet snack foods baskets.


I love nuts, so it's no surprise that the first thing I dug into when I finally finished admiring the pretty packaging was the Almond Pecan-dy Crunch. Wow!! I have never tasted fresher, crispier, more perfectly coated and seasoned toffee popcorn in my life. The addition of toasted almonds and pecans, also toffee-coated, is just icing on the cake. Definitely my favorite item in the basket and I'll be looking for Almond Pecan-dy Crunch by Morley Candy Makers. This could be addictive!

Next I tried the Cheese Biscuits. My basket had parmesan-artichoke-garlic cheese biscuits, so I'm guessing that different baskets might have different flavors of these. But no doubt they will all be as delicious! These cheese biscuits are delicately crunchy, but then seem to melt in your mouth. So yummy! A tiny bit salty for my taste, but that could simply be the mix of parmesan, artichoke and garlic. Still yummy, and definitely gourmet level.

The dipping pretzels by East Shore Specialty Foods are better than average pretzel sticks. They are crispy and light, without that heavy "burnt crust" flavor of most commercial varieties of pretzels. They stood up perfectly to the Raspberry Honey Mustard Dip by Robert Rothschild Farm, which I found a little too thick and sweet for my taste. I'm also not a big fan of raspberries, so this won't be something I'll eat often, but there's no denying the freshness and quality of the product (the jar says "refrigerate after opening" - that's your hint for freshness). For those who love raspberries and something sweet and tangy, this would be perfect.


When I opened the box of Buttered Peanut Crunch by Old Dominion Peanut Company, I just expected "peanut brittle". Was I ever mistaken! This is far and above mere peanut brittle. The taste is buttery and delicious with just the right amount of sweetness, while the texture is light and airy and just crispy enough to be a delicious crunchy snack. Love it!

The Key Lime White Chocolate Chip Cookies by Brent & Sam's was, to me, the piece de resistance. It sounds like an unlikely combination, key lime and white chocolate, but Brent & Sam's have created the perfect blending of flavors, and each nibble is sheer heaven!

The trail mix, peanut roll, and coconut bar were all delicious as well, and certainly didn't disappoint. What I was most impressed by is how fresh all the products are. Sometimes when you buy a gift basket like this, you have to wonder how old those products are, how long after manufacture did they sit in a warehouse somewhere before being assembled in the gift basket, and then how long before that gift basket made its way to you or your loved one. Well, that's one thing you don't have to worry about with Gourmet Gift Baskets. All their products are the freshest available, and they sell so many gift baskets that none of them sit in a warehouse for very long at all. You are guaranteed to get the freshest items, delivered promptly and carefully packaged to prevent damage. Can't ask for more than that!

So remember GourmetGiftBaskets.com whenever you need a gift to impress someone or just to show how much you care. These wonderful gift baskets are a terrific expression of your feelings, and I can tell you from experience that they are made with quality ingredients and assembled with loving care. There are hundreds of varieties of themed baskets, something to suit everyone. When your gift list deserves the best, the best is GourmetGiftBaskets.com - just remember that name and your gift-giving problems are solved!




~~GIVEAWAY~~
Gourmet Gift Baskets is giving one lucky reader a classic snack basket like the one I received! Lucky you!! This giveaway is open to US and Canada residents.

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries. Winner will be determined by using Random.org. Entries will be verified before winner is contacted, so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. And PLEASE leave an email address in your comment if it is not publicly visible on your blog! Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.




~~Mandatory~~
Visit GourmetGiftBaskets.com and tell me a gift basket you found there that would be perfect for someone you love. Please don't copy from someone else's post! :)

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

THREE ENTRIES if you "like" Gourmet Gift Baskets.com on Facebook and leave a comment there about a gift basket from their website that you love. Then come back here and leave three comments as your entries. Be sure to tell me your Facebook name so I can verify.

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see left sidebar) Be sure to make five separate comments to get all the entries.

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady Leave your Twitter id. Be sure to leave three separate comments.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

#Giveaway #Win snack gift basket from GourmetGiftBaskets.com--When only the best will do! @tnshadylady Pls RT http://bit.ly/bF5uC6 ends 9/14

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see right sidebar) Be sure to leave five separate comments.

THREE ENTRIES each if you subscribe to my email updates and/or rss feed. (see left sidebar) Tell me what email address and/or reader you use. Three entries for each one, so leave three separate comments, or six comments if you do both.

TEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or linky or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify. Be sure to leave ten separate comments.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Tuesday September 14, 2010. Giveaway open to US and Canada residents only please. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

Remember to leave separate comments for each method of entry! For instance, if you follow me on Twitter, leave THREE comments with your Twitter ID. This is the only way to be sure that you get all your entries.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample from Gourmet Gift Baskets gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. (Thanks Brian!) No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.



August 28, 2010

Trim Treads - let the shoes do the work! {giveaway}

GIVEAWAY CLOSED - PENDING WINNER VALIDATION



Most of you who read my blog know that I've had hip replacement surgery not once, but twice. On the same hip. The second time, rehab was excrutiating. After slicing into the major muscles a second time, it was difficult to near-impossible to recover the normal use of my leg.

The muscles are still weak and nothing I do can strengthen them beyond a certain limit. That's just as far as they will be able to go, and I've pretty much accepted that. But it means I have difficulty walking any distance or length of time.

And isn't walking supposed to be the best exercise? Well, not for me, not if I can't go the length of a city block without muscle fatigue and that lumbar "lurch" setting in.

So I was at a loss as to what kind of exercise I can get that doesn't put undue stress and strain on already taxed-to-their-limit muscles.

Until I discovered Trim Treads.

Trim Treads are revolutionary. These extraordinary sandals are designed to use and strengthen core muscles that aren't normally used. Their unique design is intended to:

- Increase leg strength.
- Lengthen muscles.
- Help prevent injury.
- Ease pain from plantar fasciitis naturally.
- Greatly improve circulation in the legs and feet, reducing swelling.
- Cut exercise time in half.
- Help you burn calories and lose weight (with proper diet).
- Improve posture and lessen low back pain naturally.
- Greatly improve balance and inner core strength, improving back health.
- Create healthy looking lower extremities.
- Exercise your lower body while you are doing everyday activities.
- Can be worn any time, any place (except sandals and boots in wet weather or while driving).
- Inexpensive.
- Make exercise enjoyable and affordable.
- Increase your health awareness.
- Allow you to exercise when you don't have the time.

The first time I put Trim Treads on my bare feet and stood up, I nearly busted my butt. I admit it. They have a rather extreme design cut, but that very design is what benefits you. So I just took my time and got used to balancing on them before trying to walk. It's kinda like walking on tiptoes - or rather like walking on very short stilts. I tried to keep my balance on just the part that was touching the floor, because if I allowed my ankles to rock normally, I felt the sensation of toppling over.

So I warn you that it does take a little getting used to. But I am happy to say very little. After I felt that I had my balance, I took a few tentative steps. It felt awkward at first, I'll admit...but that went away quickly the longer I kept them on.

I walked to the kitchen and washed dishes while wearing them, gently rocking back and forth while standing in one spot (and having the sink to grab onto if I felt myself teetering a little!) and let me tell you, I could instantly feel the muscles being used. Not stressed and pulled and abused, just used. I could tell these were muscles that I don't normally use in my daily routine, or at least I don't use them to quite this extent.

After a couple of days, I was no longer teetering and tottering and feeling like I might fall flat on my face. You do get used to them, and they do give your muscles a workout. Now I try to remember to wear them every day, even if it's only for a few minutes at a time, as I'm doing dishes or laundry or whatever. I wouldn't dare try to wear them on stairs or even outside, at least not until I become more used to them, but let me tell you, even just 5 minutes a day will make a big difference!
There is a lot of information on the Trim Treads website. I urge you to go read about these marvelous sandals and decide for yourself if they might be something that could help you. With my two hip replacements and severely weakened leg muscles, I know I'm not the ideal person to be recommending these for the average user. But if they work for me, imagine what they'll do for you!

Trim Treads does caution that they run a full size larger than what you expect, so if you wear a size 7, order a size 6. If you wear a half size, go to the lower full size when you order, for instance if you wear size 7 1/2, order size 6. You don't want them feeling loose at all; they need to fit rather snugly to insure safety and full efficiency.

They are very well made and will last a long time. Comfortable too. I was a little leery of getting that soreness between my big toe and the next toe that you get when breaking in new flipflops, but that hasn't been the case at all. Except for the workout your muscles are getting, you hardly know you're wearing them at all. At only $39.99, they are a bargain as far as at-home exercise equipment!

Aside from the sandals I received to try, they also come in clogs and boots. For the more adventurous among you, you could wear these in public as "real shoes". I prefer to wear them in the comfort and privacy (and security) of my home. To each his/her own!




~~GIVEAWAY~~
Trim Treads is giving one lucky reader a pair of sandals like the one I received! Lucky you!! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY!
Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries. Winner will be determined by using Random.org. Entries will be verified before winner is contacted, so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. And PLEASE leave an email address in your comment if it is not publicly visible on your blog! Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.



~~Mandatory~~
Visit Trim Treads and tell me something you learned about these amazing sandals other than what I talked about in my review. Please don't copy from someone else's post! :)

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

ONE ENTRY Tell me which Trim Treads product would make a great gift for someone you know and why.

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see left sidebar) Be sure to make five separate comments to get all the entries.

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady Leave your Twitter id.
Be sure to leave three separate comments.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

#Giveaway #Win Trim Treads exercise sandals - Let the shoes do the work! @tnshadylady Pls RT http://bit.ly/bhig7e ends 9/9

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see right sidebar) Be sure to leave five separate comments.

THREE ENTRIES each if you subscribe to my email updates and/or rss feed. (see left sidebar) Tell me what email address and/or reader you use. Three entries for each one, so leave three separate comments, or six comments if you do both.

TEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or linky or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify. Be sure to leave ten separate comments.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Thursday September 9, 2010. Giveaway open INTERNATIONALLY. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

Remember to leave separate comments for each method of entry! For instance, if you follow me on Twitter, leave THREE comments with your Twitter ID. This is the only way to be sure that you get all your entries.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample from Trim Treads gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the products. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.



The Sweetness of Life


My sister has this great old house built about a hundred years ago. It has an octagonal porch with a porch swing. She's also decorated the porch with lots of wicker furniture with brightly-colored cushions, outdoor lanterns, ferns, etc.

It's a wonderful "outdoor room".

This summer an old childhood friend was back in town for a visit. Since he had recently got married, we were anxious to visit with him and meet his new wife.

So we decided to have a little "meet and greet" reception on my sister's porch, with just a small gathering of friends and family, wine, cheese, grapes and Pepperidge Farms Milano strawberry cookies.

The party was a huge success. I can't think of many things better in life than spending a summer evening outdoors on the porch with a gathering of close friends and family. Good company, good wine, good food... It doesn't get much better than that!

Everyone was sorry to see the evening end. One of life's sweetest moments now only lives in our memories and the photos we took.

But now every time I taste a Pepperidge Farms Milano strawberry cookie with dark chocolate, that sweet moment comes rushing back to me and I can relive a bit of that evening, even if time and distance have separated us once again.

Funny how a simple thing like eating a cookie can bring back a rush of memories of a wonderful time. But these are no ordinary cookies. These are Pepperidge Farms Milano strawberry cookies. This fabulous little cookie deliciously pairs luscious strawberry filling with rich, dark chocolate for an irresistible, sweet indulgence that brings a moment of satisfaction to any day. And guess what? They go great with both red and white wine!

Create your own memorable sweet moments! Remember to pick up Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies for your next get-together and watch the sweetness unfold. Then you too can savor the memories as you savor the cookies in the future.

And now you can save $1.00 when you use this coupon to purchase Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies! Be sure to visit the Pepperidge Farms Milano Facebook page for more great discounts and offers.


New England Coffee - it doesn't get any better than this!



I'm a coffee junkie. If I don't have at least two cups of coffee first thing in the morning, I'm cranky and listless the rest of the day. Caffeine really doesn't make me jittery like it does a lot of folks. But still it gives me enough of a jumpstart to my day to make getting going a little bit easier.

You see I'm something of a sluggish bear in the mornings. Yes, it's true. Just ask anyone in my family. :) Recently I read something that kinda made sense to me, because it said that some people experience a very low drop in blood pressure while sleeping so that they are groggy and slow in the morning before the blood gets pumping again. I think that describes me very accurately.

I've always envied those folks who jump out of bed rarin' to go, or awake from a fifteen-minute power nap fully refreshed. Not me. Naps just tick me off and make me mad. Unless I can sleep until my natural circadian rhythm says it's time to wake up, if my sleep is interrupted by an alarm clock (every freakin' workday) then I'm cranky and slow to get started. Can't help it. Just me.

So coffee is not just a luxury, it's a necessity.

Imagine my delight when New England Coffee sent me several packages of their coffee to try! I couldn't believe how generous they were. I received six packages in six different varieties to try. And I started trying them the very next morning.


The New England Breakfast Blend was my favorite. It had a hearty flavor while still being smooth as you would expect from a breakfast blend. I was very impressed that it didn't have a bitter aftertaste like some coffees. New England Coffee's Breakfast Blend is a mix of Central and South American beans, medium-roasted to perfection. Love it!


Second favorite was San Francisco Blend, a bold mix of Kenya and Sumatra Mandheling beans French-roasted for a darker, more robust flavor. Yet still not over-powering or acidic. Perfect for those times you need a real coffee pick-me-up!


I also tried the Blueberry Cobbler flavored coffee, which surprised me because I really didn't expect to like it at all. But New England Coffee Company is masterful at achieving just the right blend of flavors. While this isn't a coffee I will drink often, it would be a nice change of pace now and then, and definitely a nice after-dinner cup.


Hazelnut Creme was delicious! I use hazelnut-flavored coffee creamer a lot as it is one of my favorite coffee flavors, so I expected to love this coffee--and I did! Definitely will be purchasing that in the future.

New England Coffee also sent me a couple of varieties of decaffeinated coffee to try, and to be honest I'm not a big decaf fan but these were also very delicious and would be perfect for late-night or whenever you really don't need the caffeine stimulus but still want a satisfying cup of coffee.

There is not a doubt in my mind that New England Coffee is a cut above all other coffees. They have mastered the art of blending different beans and roasting them to perfection. You will never get a "bad" cup of New England Coffee! And you won't believe the prices--about what you'd pay for garden-variety coffee brands, but with the flavor of specialty coffee. Only $5.49 for a 12-oz. bag! That's definitely the best deal I've found in a long time!

New England Coffee is available in many retail stores and you can also order online. If you are a coffee connoisseur or just a coffee lover like me, I strongly urge you to check out New England Coffee for yourself. I love trying new coffee blends and brands and flavors, but I think I just found my new favorite brand!

Here's a bit about the company taken from their website --


New England Coffee is owned and operated by a third generation of the Kaloyanides and Dostou families and has been providing quality and service for over 90 years. Our beliefs in the highest standards of customer service and product quality have been passed on in the true tradition of family business.

In the early years, we were located in a building at the corner of Milk and Broad Streets in Boston, where hand-roasted coffee was delivered by horse and wagon. Our first truck was purchased in 1918 and other family members started to join the business. In 1966, after outgrowing several homes in succession, we finally settled into our present location at 100 Charles Street in Malden, Massachusetts.

Today we occupy five buildings and have hugely expanded our manufacturing and packaging capabilities. While we've grown to become New England's largest independent coffee roaster, our philosophy and goal are still the same - to buy and sell premium coffee and provide the best service possible.

Our methods are not cutting edge. In fact, they're antiquated by most people's standards. And we wouldn't change a thing. It's the only way we know how to make sure that you'll always enjoy a consistently great cup of coffee.

As fine coffee becomes more and more integral to the American way of life, we will continue to indulge you with our consistent tradition of good taste.


Believe it. And try New England Coffee for yourself. I know you'll love it like I do!

Disclaimer: I was provided samples of New England Coffee gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. (Thanks Kathleen!) No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

August 24, 2010

SafeSocial.com - new for teens!

As a parent, your children's safety is your first priority. But in today's digital age, what can a parent do to protect their kids online as well as off?

These days, your teens' "friends" aren't just the kids hanging out in your family room - they're also the hundreds of contacts on their online "friend" and "buddy" lists. Did you know that more than 50 million teens (ages 13-17) are online worldwide? Or that the average number of "friends" on a list is 130? The totals are much higher for many teens.

SafeSocial, a new AOL product that launches today, can help you protect your children, even if you aren't a social media expert. SafeSocial helps you:

· Find out where your child has online accounts

· Know who your child is "friends" with online

· Get notified if your child is in a conversation about violence, suicide or drugs

· See photos your child has posted online, and others' photos in which your child has been tagged

Another benefit? You can monitor all this activity without being a "helicopter parent." Your child will have to agree to be monitored, but you won't need to connect with them on the social media accounts, or hover over their shoulders in person.

Here's a link to a video explaining how SafeSocial works and why it's so important

And here are screenshots of how the SafeSocial dashboard works and allows you to monitor online activity

PLUS! A free 30-day trial of SafeSocial


"Overall, social networking is an integral part of many teenage lives and an opportunity for your kids to learn to express themselves in a creative and responsible fashion," says Regina Lewis, AOL's Consumer Advisor and expert on making technology work for you. "It's too big a trend to ignore. You can embrace it with SafeSocial on your side."

For more information, make sure to visit SafeSocial.com. AOL consumer advisors Regina Lewis and LaToya Drake are available for interviews as well.

August 18, 2010

Win an iPod Touch at Big Daily Sales!

Hey y'all!

I wanted to pass this site along to you. It's called Big Daily Sale. They have one item on sale every day. The deals are usually really good, and go so quickly that sometimes they'll even have two sales at super-low prices. The shipping is reasonable too, not like so many other places. It's definitely worth your time to check it out.

They are also running a contest where you could win a free iPod Touch, so make sure you stop by their site and sign up for a free account and also for the newsletter.

The newsletter is awesome. You get it once a day by email to notify you about that day's sale item. You can always opt out later, but then you might miss the perfect gift item for someone you love. Make sure you sign up for it when you stop by the site. I get it every day so I never miss a sale. It's completely free to sign up for, and they even toss in coupons and stuff from time to time just for subscribers.

I can't tell you how many real bargains I've found in the Big Daily Sale. I have half my Christmas shopping done already!!

AND they have this really great "bonus points" system too. Every time you make a purchase, you get 100 points added to your account that you can use to pay for future purchases, even shipping! Can't beat that with a stick!

If nothing else, it's fun to read their product write-ups - hilarious stuff. Definitely some witty writers over there!

So check it out - and make sure you sign up for the newsletter! Wouldn't want you to miss the next

Big Daily Sale


August 16, 2010

Skinned Knees: A CSN Stores Giveaway!

I love CSN giveaways! Here's another one for you to enter -

Skinned Knees: Win $40 GC to CSN! ends 8/21

Organize your makeup! Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer {giveaway}

GIVEAWAY CLOSED - PENDING WINNER VERIFICATION

If you read my review of Sheevaun Moran's meditation CDs, you'll know that I have a hard time with organization and... well... clutter.

My makeup collection is a jumble. I've got products I never even use anymore because I never see them when I'm applying makeup. It's hard to find things when they are all jumbled together.

Does your makeup look like mine? Or maybe you have a drawer that is chock-full of makeup. That's where mine was until I decided to dump it all into a basket for my vanity top. But it's still a jumble...

Well, ladies, I've got the perfect solution for you! It's called the Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer and it's available from Lips-N-Eyes for only $24.95!

Take a look --

It even has a clock! That's great for keeping tabs on the time as you get ready for your day (or night).

This is one handy little organizer. There are holes for just about all your makeup necessities, and a shelf on top for storing those odd sized items that don't fit the holes.

Lips-N-Eyes suggests organizing your makeup by putting lip items on the left and eye items on the right, with compacts and other flat items in the rectangular pockets in the middle. See the different sizes? You can put lipsticks, eyeliner, pencils, brushes, mascara, what have you. There's a spot for everything. And if some of your items are too short for the depth of the hole, just pack a couple of cotton balls into the cavity to take up some of the room and then add your item.

They even include a handy instruction sheet to help you out --

It's a simple idea that is executed in a very original and workable manner. I was able to de-clutter my countertop in a matter of minutes.


You'll notice there are still a few empty slots on the left - those are for skinny lipliner pencils or thin lip gloss. Time to go shopping again to fill up those holes! Nature abhors a vacuum. :)

So if you want your vanity top to go from cluttered to organized, the Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer is for you! It would also make a great gift for the gal who has everything... and just needs a place to put it.

The Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer comes in four supercool colors - Arctic White (which is what I received), Antique Ivory, Pastel Pink, and Sea Green. It sells for $24.95 plus shipping, but right now the Sea Green organizer is on sale for only $14.95!! I love the Sea Green color. It would be great to have two of these organizers, one for lips and concealer, and the other just for eyes, maybe even another just for brushes, eyelash curler, etc. It's so nice to have everything easily at hand and not all jumbled together!

ALERT! Back to School sale on the organizer will begin Thursday August 19 and continue until September 1. Get the organizer for only $19.95!!

Lips-N-Eyes also offers a complete satisfaction guarantee. Their goal is that you are completely satisfied with your purchase. If for any reason you are not satisfied, simply return your purchase in its original packaging, with your receipt, within 30 days after receiving your merchandise. (Shipping costs will be refunded only if the product was damaged during delivery or if they shipped the wrong item.)

And it has a Lifetime Warranty. All Lips-n-Eyes Organizers are guaranteed against defects in materials and workmanship. Normal wear and tear, damage due to misuse, alteration to the product or negligence is not covered. To request a replacement, please email customer service for instructions. (see their website for help)

If you have a problem with clutter, especially where your makeup is concerned, then you can't go wrong with this handy little organizer. I love mine and highly recommend it to anyone who needs help getting organized. Plus it just looks supercool sitting on your countertop!

Take another look at the before and after --


...and look at the time on the clock. In about 15 minutes, my makeup was organized and my countertop was de-cluttered! How's that for efficiency! :)



~~GIVEAWAY~~
Lips-N-Eyes is giving one lucky reader an Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer in the color of your choice! Lucky you!! This giveaway is open to US residents only please.

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries. Winner will be determined by using Random.org. Entries will be verified before winner is contacted, so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. And PLEASE leave an email address in your comment if it is not publicly visible on your blog! Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.


~~Mandatory~~
Visit Lips-N-Eyes and tell me what incident happened that caused Kermetta McGarity to invent the Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer. Please don't copy from someone else's post! :)

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:
Since many of you are not bloggers or tweeters,
I want to offer you some extra entries as well.

1. For another entry, tell me which color of the Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer you would choose if you win.

2. For another entry, email this giveaway to a friend and carbon copy me cc: tnshadylady(at)gmail.com. You'll get an extra entry for each person you email about this.

Bonus entry if anyone you sent an email to enters the giveaway and states in their comment that you sent them.

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see left sidebar) Be sure to make five separate comments to get all the entries.

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady Leave your Twitter id. Be sure to leave three separate comments.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

#Giveaway #Win Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer - De-clutter and organize your makeup! @tnshadylady Pls RT http://bit.ly/cEJ2tb ends 8/28

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see right sidebar) Be sure to leave five separate comments.

THREE ENTRIES each if you subscribe to my email updates and/or rss feed. (see left sidebar) Tell me what email address and/or reader you use. Three entries for each one, so leave three separate comments, or six comments if you do both.

TEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or linky or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify. Be sure to leave ten separate comments. YOU CAN DO THIS DAILY!

Giveaway closes midnight CST Saturday August 28, 2010. Giveaway open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

Remember to leave separate comments for each method of entry! For instance, if you follow me on Twitter, leave THREE comments with your Twitter ID. This is the only way to be sure that you get all your entries.

If you are not the lucky winner, remember that you can purchase the Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer from Lips-N-Eyes. It's a great investment for yourself and makes a great gift! Back to School sale on the organizer will begin Thursday, August 19 and continue until September 1. Get the organizer for only $19.95!!

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample Ultimate Cosmetic Organizer gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. (Thanks Kermetta!) No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

August 15, 2010

Making pasta at home is a breeze with ATG! {giveaway}

GIVEAWAY CLOSED - PENDING WINNER VERIFICATION

When I see those cooking shows on tv that show someone making their own pasta, kneading the dough, then rolling it out thin and yet thinner still in one of those pasta machines that also cuts the pasta into recognizable noodles, I'm always envious.

Making my own pasta at home has always been something I've wanted to do. So when ATG Stores offered me the chance to review a product and host a giveaway for my readers (more on that later) I knew exactly what I wanted to review.

A pasta maker.


ATG Stores very generously sent me the Prago Traditional Pasta Machine. Since this would be my first time ever to make pasta, I enlisted the help of my mother. Four hands are better than two, and hey, she's got a much nicer kitchen than my crappy little apartment kitchen!

I chose the plain pasta recipe, which is simply 3 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of warm water, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix this into a dough, let it set for about 15 minutes, then the pasta making can begin!

Setting up the machine was easy. Even though this was our first time for both my mother and myself, we went by the simple directions that came with the pasta maker and had no trouble setting it up or figuring out how it works. It's really really simple. We were both a little intimidated at first, but the ease and simplicity of the machine quickly alleviates all doubts you may have.


There's a handy C-clamp included so you can clamp the machine to a table or counter top. I highly advise you to do this so that the machine isn't moving around all over the place. Then just attach the cutter mechanism to the main unit (it simply slides into place), stick in the handle, and you're ready to make pasta.


The basic recipe makes quite a bit of dough, and as you roll it out and keep making it thinner, you will see that it makes a lot of pasta. We split it up into 4 sections and worked with each section at a time so that our workspace wasn't overly crowded.

There are 7 settings on the rollers that press the dough thin. The instructions advise you to start with 7, run the dough through a few times, then gradually move the numbers down, running the dough through again and again. The lower the number, the thinner the pasta. At the 2nd and 1st settings, the dough is so thin you can almost read through it. This would be good for very fine angel hair pasta or even pastry dishes where you want a very very thin crust.


For spaghetti, use from 3 to 5 to get the thickness of the noodle that you prefer. We were so fascinated by how easily the machine thins the dough that on our first batch we went all the way to 1 and the pasta almost fell apart before we could cook it, that's how "dainty" it is! So it may take a bit of experimentation to get just the right thickness that you and your family prefer.


When you've got your dough all flattened out nicely, it's time to run it through the cutter. That part is easy too. Simply move the handle from the rollers to the cutter mechanism and do the same thing, running the dough through. It automatically cuts the dough into thin strips.


The length of the dough piece you put in will determine the length of your noodles. Since this was our first time, there was a lot of trial and error, and we found that it really makes things a lot neater if you trim your dough into nice straight edges first. A simple kitchen paring knife does that job easily.


The instructions suggest that you hang the pasta noodles to dry before cooking. They will dry pretty fast. We didn't really have anything appropriate to hang them on, so we cooked them fresh as is.


Fresh homemade pasta takes only a fraction of the time to cook that store-bought pasta takes. Make sure you use plenty of water and get it to a full rolling boil before adding the pasta. Depending on the thickness you chose for your noodles, it will cook very quickly. We were a bit skeptical of this at first, so our first batch came out overcooked and a bit mushy. The next time, we let the noodles cook for no longer than 3 minutes and they came out perfect. So again, experimentation is key, because it really depends on your personal preference.


Just for the sake of variety, we served the noodles with alfredo sauce and regular spaghetti sauce. Don't they look good enough to eat? :)


Overall we were both impressed with how easy it is to make your own pasta with this pasta maker. It takes a little longer, sure, but isn't that what makes it special? And no preservatives! A great family activity that even the kids can participate in. Spend a Saturday making up several batches, let them dry completely, then store for later use.

And wouldn't that make a great gift! A bag of homemade pasta noodles and a jar of sauce in a nice little basket would be a fabulous and much appreciated gift.

Hmm... I think I just figured out what to give those people on my gift list who are so hard to buy for...



~~GIVEAWAY~~
ATG Stores is giving one lucky Shady Lady reader a $50 gift certificate! Lucky you!! This giveaway is open to US and Canada only please.

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries. Winner will be determined by using Random.org. Entries will be verified before winner is contacted, so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. And PLEASE leave an email address in your comment if it is not publicly visible on your blog! Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.


~~Mandatory~~
Visit ATGStores.com and tell me what you would purchase if you win this gift certificate. Please leave a link to the item, along with your email address. You must leave a link to an item you found on the ATGStores.com website. (Getting the link is easy: once you find the item you want, click in the address bar at the top of your browser and copy the URL. That is the direct link to the item you chose. Then just paste that into your comment. Let me know if you need help doing this.)

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

Since many of you are not bloggers or tweeters, I want to offer you some extra entries as well.

For an extra entry, tell me if you've ever made homemade pasta and what your experience was like. Got any tips for me?

For another entry, email this giveaway to a friend and carbon copy me (cc: tnshadylady(at)gmail.com). You'll get an extra entry for each person you email about this.

Bonus entry if anyone you sent an email to enters the giveaway and states in their comment that you sent them. One entry for each referral.

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow the ATGStores Blog http://ourblog.atgstores.com

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see left sidebar) Be sure to make five separate comments to get all the entries.

THREE ENTRIES if you become a fan of ATGStores on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/ATGStores

THREE ENTRIES if you "like" me on Facebook http://facebook.com/tnshadylady

THREE ENTRIES if you follow @ATGStores on Twitter http://twitter.com/ATGStores

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady Leave your Twitter id.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

#Giveaway #Win $50 GC to @ATGStores! Over 500 stores! Shopping online has never been easier! @tnshadylady http://bit.ly/9pgPW2 ends 9/15

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see right sidebar) Be sure to leave five separate comments.

THREE ENTRIES each if you subscribe to my email updates and/or rss feed. (see left sidebar) Tell me what email address and/or reader you use. Three entries for each one, so leave three separate comments, or six comments if you do both.

THREE ENTRIES if you subscribe to ATGStores Email List

TEN ENTRIES - Post this giveaway on your own blog with a link back to this giveaway and also a link to ATGStores.com. Leave me a link so I can verify.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Wednesday September 15, 2010. Giveaway open to US and Canada only. No PO boxes please. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

per sponsor: Anyone who is currently hosting an ATG Stores product review or giveaway is not eligible to enter.

Remember to leave separate comments for each method of entry! For instance, if you follow me on Twitter, leave THREE comments with your Twitter ID. This is the only way to be sure that you get all your entries.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample product from ATGStores.com gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.