Sunday, November 22, 2009

Easy Way to Spruce Up a Brownie Mix

Today we are getting together with the extended family for a pre-Thanksgiving celebration. I have been a bit under-the-weather this week and haven't been up to preparing food to bring along, so this morning was a last minute rush.

I decided to go with an old standby for "in a pinch" situations. I use a simple boxed brownie mix and prepare it by the instructions on the box except that I add in about 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped up chocolate candy bars. Basically any type will do. Today I used up leftover Halloween candy. Then to make them look more special after they are cooled, you can use a sifter to sprinkle the top with powdered sugar.

Voila! You have a yummy dessert that looks nice and it takes very little effort!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Aloha Friday - What Are You Thankful For?

Today's Aloha Friday question is an easy one for me. The question is "What are You Thankful For?" I am very thankful for my wonderful husband who left a job he loved and an area he lived in all his life to move with me to my home state of Minnesota. I'm also thankful that while our finances are in no way close to being in order, we at least have a paid-for home and have the security of always having a place to live. I'm also thankful for all the rest of my family and especially my wonderful year-and-a-half-old nephew - - he is the most special little one ever. Gee, I am thankful for a lot more....thanks Kailani for making me think about it today! Chillin' in the kiddy pool

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Super Easy & Delicious Biscuit Recipe

I made these biscuits for dinner last night. I love that they are so quick and easy to make and they tasted delicious. You might want to make a double batch because they will fly off the table!

Easy Biscuit Recipe

2 C flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 C oil
2/3 C milk

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Mix all dry ingredients together. Put the oil in a small boil and add the milk, but do NOT mix together. Move liquid into dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Knead a couple of times (I just used a spatula, not my hands) to form it into a ball. Roll out dough to 1/2" thick between two pieces of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Cut into 10-12 squares. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until very lightly browned. - - I spread the tops with butter for the last 2 minutes of baking.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Maclaren Stroller Recall

I want to help spread the word about this stroller recall because I use a Maclaren stroller for my nephew, so I figure there are a LOT of other people who also use them. It's a great stroller, but according to the recall the hinge mechanism poses a fingertip amputation hazard!!!

Read the details of the recall here. They are resolving the problem by providing a free repair kit.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

KISS Alive 35 Concert Tour

Last night I went to the KISS Alive 35 Concert in Minneapolis. I have to admit that I wasn't a KISS fan when I was growing up. My friend Gina's brother Pat was a big KISS fan and that fact actually scared me a bit. I recently reconnected with him on Facebook and admitted to him how much that disturbed me about him when I was little. Of course when I posted on Facebook last night that I was going to the concert his reply was "You're going to hell."

I really had a great time. As most people know, KISS really knows how to put on a show. Besides the rockin' music the special effects were awesome with lots of video, moving stage parts and pyrotechnics. Even though we were up in the "nosebleed" seats, I could still feel the heat from the fire plumes on the stage. Two cool highlights of the show were when Gene flew up on TOP of the upper stage lights and also when Paul flew across the audience to a small stage in the center of the arena. You can check out a tiny bit of video from that below:

Lots of Giveaways on the Other Jinxy Blogs

I just wanted to bring to your attention all the giveaways going on right now on the other Jinxy Blogs. Here's a full list:

Beauty by Jinxy Visine Total Eye Soothing Wipes (Ends 11/10)

Thrifty Jinxy Silk Heart Health (Ends 11/13)

Thrifty Jinxy Chocolate: A Love Story (Ends 11/13)

Thrifty Jinxy 16”x20” Rolled Canvas Print (Ends 11/13)

Beauty by Jinxy How to Be Famous Giveaway (Ends 11/15)

Thrifty Jinxy "Baby Guitars" and "Dog & Buttefly" (Ends 11/18)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bejeweled - My Addiction Confession

Is anyone else addicted to playing Bejeweled on Facebook? I started playing it a month or so ago because I saw a lot of my Facebook friends playing. I don't know what it is, but I start playing and I keep wanting to play more, and more and more. I have fun playing and really enjoy it (obviously) but what a big time suck! I know there are many more productive things that I could be doing instead - - i.e. doing actual work or even just reading a good book. But, hey, I guess I could have worse vices, right?

Monday, November 2, 2009

See the New Freebies at Thrifty Jinxy

If you're not a regular reader of Thrifty Jinxy or Beauty by Jinxy, be sure to go check them out because there are a lot of recently posted freebies. They don't last forever, so go get them while you can!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Has Come and Gone - A Recap and a Rescue Story

So, Halloween is officially over. How was your holiday? We had a nice Halloween this year. The one thing I regret is that I was too busy all month to pull out the boxes of Halloween decorations, but I did have some fresh pumpkins on the porch and had one "light-up" pumpkin for the window.

On Thursday night my sister, brother-in-law, and I took my 17-month-old nephew to a community Halloween party. He looked just adorable dressed as a little monkey. He had a good time playing games and just staring at all the other kids dressed in costumes.

Last night, Halloween, we went to visit friends who had a Hallowienerfest for dinner. They made hot dogs and served them with lots of toppings. We had a good time, but had to hightail it out of there to get home and pass out candy to our trick-or-treaters! I love seeing the kids in their costumes every year!

Later in the evening, our Hallowienerfest friends came over to our house to hang out and we drove across town to a block that is known for their Halloween displays. They really go all out with lit-up yards full of spooky scenes. On our way home we were more frightened by a dog running in the road. My husband had to slam on the brakes not to hit it and it continued running around our car and along the road once we stopped. At one point it was running straight head on at another car coming toward us. My husband flashed his lights and honked his horn, but the driver seemed oblivious. They came within inches of hitting the dog. My friend's husband and I got out of the car to try to corral the dog, a young black lab. I was able to get her by the collar, but there was no tag. We were near a neighborhood and I could hear other kenneled dogs, so thought she might have escaped from there. I tried walking and holding on to her collar, but it was too difficult and she was too energetic, so my friend's husband just scooped her up and carried her in his arms. We walked to the house with the kennel while my husband drove the car over, but no one was home there. But, on that block we could see someone walking around a few houses down. I told my husband to drive over and see if they were looking for a dog. They were!!! So we handed off the dog to them, they were very thankful, and we were happy the dog was safe. We had gotten so scared by seeing the dog almost hit by multiple cars (we're all big dog lovers too) that our hearts were still pounding until we got home. That was more Halloween scare than we needed!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

“Once in a Blue Moon” by Eileen Goudge - Book Review

I recently finished “Once in a Blue Moon” by Eileen Goudge. From the book's description:

"Lindsay and Kerrie Ann are sisters who have known hardship from an early age. Without guidance from their neglectful mother, their only aid came from an unlikely source, a retired exotic dancer by the name of Miss Honi Love. When the girls’ mother was sent to prison, Miss Honi tried unsuccessfully to save them from being separated and sent into foster care.

Thirty years later, Lindsay is still trying to reconnect with her sister. The owner of a bookstore in the sleepy California seaside town of Blue Moon Bay, she was lucky enough to have been adopted by a loving couple. Unbeknownst to her, Kerrie Ann has suffered a very different life. Bounced from one foster home to the next, she ran away as a teenager before becoming a drug-addicted single mother. Now, newly sober, Kerrie Ann is fighting to regain custody of the little girl who was taken from her.

Neither sister’s expectations are met when they’re finally reunited. But as the two sisters engage in the fiercest battles of their lives, they are at last drawn together despite their differences, restoring belief in the unshakable bond of family."

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were engaging and the story took several interesting (although slightly predictable turns). The setting in a small town on the Pacific shore and Ms. Goudge’s descriptions of them supported the story well. My main criticism of the book is that I think it would have been stronger if the story was told only from the point of view of the two main characters, the recently reunited sisters. Several chapters were told from the viewpoint of their love interests and this seemed to detract from the cohesiveness of the book. Since I enjoyed this book, I'm now going to read out Eileen Goudge's Woman in Red - I hope it's just as good!

DISCLOSURE: This book was provided to me at no charge by the One2One Network.

Hasbro Customer Service Experience Update

Last week I posted about my great experience with Hasbro customer service. I just wanted to report that the replacement toy came already yesterday! That was quick turnaround.

On a related topic, there is a toy sale going on at with lots of toys on clearance and also the opportunity to get $10 back on any purchase of $25 or more of toys. See the details on the deal HERE.

Wordless Wednesday - Just Call Us Joey & Chandler

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - What do You Think?

So, what do you think of the new season of "So You Think You Can Dance"? I haven't seen much of the audition episodes, I usually don't enjoy those as much as the "real" competition once they get down to the top 20.

Tonight was GREAT! I am really impressed with the quality of dancers this season. It seems like they keep getting better and better, season after season. I was surprised to see Russell having to "dance for his life" tonight - I though he raelly did a good job. I'm glad he'll be back again next week. I think my favorite tonight was Karen and she's from Fort Lee, NJ - I used to work there, so maybe I need to root for her!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper - A Review & My Customer Service Experience

My 17-month-old nephew has the Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper and I must say it is one of his favorite toys, second only perhaps to the Playskool Busy Ball-Tivity Center, which he still plays with daily even though he has had it almost a year. (See that picture below.)

Anyway, the real reason for my post is to mention the awesome customer service we received from Playskool. A few weeks ago the Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper started to "act up". At times the balls would not pop out at all. That progressed to the fan not even moving, etc. After putting in new batteries, the problem was actually worse and the music wouldn't even play.

So, yesterday I called Playskool customer service. I didn't really have my hopes up for a resolution, but called anyway. My call was answered immediately with no hold time (that was a shocker!). The representative was very nice and professional and asked for me to fully explain what was wrong with the toy, when it was received (it was a Christmas gift), etc. After I gave him all the info he requested, he put me on hold for about a minute and then came back on the line to say he was going to ship out a new one!

The whole process was so easy and painless and it really makes me appreciate the fact that Playskool stands behind their products. We have a lot of years of toy buying ahead for my nephew and with this great experience Playskool will definitely be tops on the consideration list!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why I Love Dairy Queen Blizzards

I just got back from Dairy Queen and am very happy because I had a Blizzard. What I like about Blizzards is that they have so many different flavor combinations, plus speciality flavors depending on the time of year. Right now they have a Pumpkin Pie Blizzard with pumpkin pie blended with soft serve ice cream and pie crust pieces, topped with whipped cream and nutmeg. I was so sure that I was going to get that after my meal, but when the time came I was really craving chocolate.

Besides craving chocolate, I was also craving nuts (I like a sweet/salty combination). I love the peanuts at Dairy Queen - the Spanish peanuts with the husks on them - yum. None of the Blizzard flavors had exactly what I wanted, so I created my own mix of hot fudge and peanuts. It was delicious and that's why I like Blizzards - you can basically create anything you want. I'm in a happy Blizzard mood!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Enter to Win a Game Day Prize Pack at Food for 5

Do you have a favorite Game Day Recipe using Frito-Lay products? If so, think about a way you could make it a bit healthier and submit a comment over at Cat's blog Food for 5 and you could win a prize pack with all the items shown below!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tropicana Trop50 Juice Beverage Review

Let me start out that I have always been a big fan of Tropicana Orange Juice. I love the taste and, when I don't have to share with my pulp-hating husband, I love their Lots of Pulp version. Their newest offering is Tropicana Trop50 Juice Beverage.

It's made from fresh oranges, not concentrate, and contains 50% less sugar & calories than orange juice. It's sweetened with PureVia, an all-natural extract of the stevia plant.

I tried it this morning and, frankly, I didn't like it. It just tasted TOO sweet. It reminded me of Sunny D or a similar juice drink. I'm all for less calories and sugar, but I think I will stick to just adding water to my regular Tropicana OJ. My husband, however, told me he's glad I don't like it because he does. He liked that it seemed lower in acid and didn't give him acid reflux or any other icky stuff that he sometimes experiences with orange juice.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that it has added Vitamins and Minerals. From the product info, it includes: Potassium Citrate, Calcium Hydroxide, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Beta-Carotene, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Magnesium Phosphate, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Vitamin D3, Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6).

So, my final opinion is that I won't be buying this anymore, but if hubby ever gets himself to the grocery store, it will probably be in our fridge again.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thrifty Jinxy Review Team - Reviewer Opps

50% Off Your Entire Purchase of Activity Books & Kits at! Use D9K8X7Y at checkout

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eating Right Kids from Safeway Review

I recently had the opportunity to try some of the new products in the Safeway Eating Right Kids line of foods. Eating Right™ is a new brand of healthier foods found exclusively at Safeway and featuring Looney Tunes characters .

There are over 60 different products including frozen entrees, juices, bagged salads, snacks and lots more. They're healthier, yet very convenient options, to help you to feed your family better without doing a ton of work.

The Eating Right products also feature the "Spot Your Needs" system, which uses color-coded spots that each correspond to a specific dietary attribute such as >high fiber, low sodium, low fat, multi-grain, and more. It makes it easy to "spot" the particular benefits of each food, just by glacing at the packaging.

Thanks to Team Mom we received the Eating Right Kids Chewy Bars, Microwaveable Pasta Cup, Fruit Cup and Apple Juice. These are all packaged in just-right, kid-sized portions and are made to appeal to a kid's palate. We enjoyed them all, especially the fruit cup!

You can check out the full line of Eating Right Kids products at your local Safeway store, or view product information online at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Check Out "Durham County" on ION Television

I'm happy that the new fall TV season is here and I'm always anxious to check out the new shows, or at least shows that are "new to me". I haven't yet seen "Durham County". This award-winning show is a one-hour crime-drama series that follows the troubled world of Homicide Detective Mike Sweeney (Hugh Dillon, CBS' "Flashpoint"). Sweeney becomes personally involved in a murder investigation after moving his family to quiet suburbia for a fresh start when his partner is killed and his wife Audrey (Helene Joy) is diagnosed with breast cancer.

"Durham County" is ION Television's first original series. It's season premiere already passed on September 7th, but you can check out all new episodes Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. It's preceded by one of my all time favorite shows, "Criminal Minds", so I will definitely have to give it a try.

For more info, check out Durham County Secrets, to view exclusive clips, sound bites and photos. You can also upload your own secrets, view secrets from others and send them to a friend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Cards for Kids and Moms from Hallmark - Review & Giveaway

Hallmark has two new lines of cards, focusing on Moms and on Kids. The "Edge of Motherhood" line features humorous cards that celebrate some of the "less than perfect" moments of motherhood. These cards are a fun way to share the lighthearted side of motherhood with a friend and offer a few words of encouragement.
For the kids, there are new encouragement cards, perfect for offering support or a confidence boost for special moments like taking a test, trying out for an athletic team, a dance recital, or the first day of school. Some of the kid cards even have sound clips that play when they're opened. The cards are available at Hallmark Gold Crown stores and other retailers where Hallmark cards are sold.

Hallmark sent me a selection of cards to check out and they're great. They are all bright and fun and the mom cards are hilarious. The kid cards have very cute designs and the sound cards are super fun. And they aren't just 2 second sound clips, they continue to play for a while. With prices starting at just $.99 and the sound cards starting at $2.99 they are reasonably priced as well.

Giveaway: Two lucky Thrifty Jinxy readers will each win a collection of Five Edge of Motherhood cards and five Encouragement for Kids cards from Hallmark. To enter, just fill out the simple form below with your name and e-mail address.

Rules: All entries must be received by 11:59 PM CST 9/23/09. One entry per person, except for extra entries (see below). Entrants must be at least 18 years old and reside within the United States. Winner must respond to the winning e-mail within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected.

Extra entries: You can get up to 7 extra entries in the giveaway by doing things like subscribing, following, tweeting using the button below, etc. Click here to see how to get your extra entries.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Good and Evil

Good and Evil
(I do have to add some words to make a disclaimer that Jinxy is NOT the evil cat in the picture!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

American Le Mans Series at Elkhart Lake, WI - August 2009

We had a great time this weekend! We drove to Elkhart Lake, WI for the American Le Mans series. My husband's friend works for the BMW Racing Club and was nice enough to get us tickets. I have never been to any type of auto race before and wasn't sure how I would like it. I liked it a lot. One of the reasons I probably liked it was that we didn't just sit and watch cars driving by for hours. The track itself was not what I expected. It is a long, 4-mile track, that meanders through a park-like setting. I couldn't believe how huge the place was! There was also a "carnival-like" atmosphere. All of the different car manufacturers and other race team sponsors had tents with displays and promotional events (meaning we got some free stuff like t-shirts too!) There were a lot of different types of races with different types of cars, which really kept things interesting.

I have to say that my very favorite part was the food provided by BMW hospitality. We had fantastic meals with a variety of entrees, pasta dishes and fantastic salads. Saturday evening was barbecue night with brats, BBQ ribs and lots of great sides like corn on the cob and unique potato salad. I will be bummed out going back to my own cooking starting today.

Overall I had a GREAT time and am hoping we can go again next year!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

"Off Season" by Anne Rivers Siddons

Be sure to visit Thrifty Jinxy to check out "Off Season" by Anne Rivers Siddons. I haven't yet finished the whole book to do a full review, but I love what I have read so far and will be back to fill you in once I'm finished! While you're at Thrifty Jinxy, you can also enter to win one of five copies to be given away courtesy of Hachette Book Group.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thanks to Daisy Gray Design for the Background!

I want to give a thank you to Daisy Gray Design for this super cute Blogger background. She has a wide variety of backgrounds that are all FREE. She also has instructions to add the designs onto your blog. Have fun browsing!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

T.G.I. Friday's Give Me More Stripes Program

T.G.I. Friday's has a strong customer loyalty program called "Give Me More Stripes". For each $1 you spend, you earn one stripe. One you earn 100 stripes, you receive a $8 food coupon. This is all good, but it's not my favorite part of the program. My favorite part of the program is all the coupons they send via e-mail. This summer it seems that every other week or so they send a coupon to buy 1 entree, get 1 free. I think that's a great deal! And you still earn stripes on the entree you pay for too.

You can find out more about "Give Me More Stripes" and register here. Just for signing up you will get a FREE appetizer!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Extra Entries for Reader Giveaways

For all reader giveaways at Beauty by Jinxy, you can gain extra entries by doing any or all of the following:

1) Blog about the giveaway on your blog with a link directly to the giveaway page. Then, fill out the giveaway form a second time putting the URL for your post in the "extra entry" field.

2) Subscribe to the Thrifty Jinxy Reviews newsletter (see the upper right hand corner). Then fill out the giveaway form again time. If you subscribe via e-mail, put your subscriber e-mail address in the "extra entry" field. If you subscribe via an RSS reader, put your user name in the "extra entry" field.

3) Follow Thrifty Jinxy Reviews in Blogger/Google Friend Connect - see right side bar. Then, fill out the giveaway form again with your username in the "extra entry" field.

4) Stumble the giveaway post & then fill out giveaway form with your StumbleUpon name.

5) Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and fill out the giveaway form again with a link to your tweet.

6) Click on the buttons on the right side bar to follow in Twitter or on Facebook (or both) and then fill out the form again with your username for Twitter/Facebook.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pillsbury New "Simply" Cookies - Review & Coupon

Pillsbury has introduced the new "Simply" line of cookies. They are ready-to-bake cookies made with simple, wholesome ingredients like flour, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. They have 0g trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives.

I was sent a free coupon to try out Simply and was happy to find them in my store. (They are very new and our store doesn't always have the latest things!) I'm usually not a huge fan of ready-to-bake cookies, but I really wanted a dessert the other night and did not feel like baking from scratch. I baked half of the package of twelve. They turned out so yummy! I find that most ready-to-bake cookies usually end up fairly thick and not that appealing. These spread out nicely making a thin cookie that is crispy on the edges and moist and chewy in the middle. They really remind of of the cookies I used to have at my best friend LeAnn's house back in elementary school. I always thought her mom made the best cookies! The other thing they remind me of (and trust me this really IS a compliment) are the cookies we used to get at McDonald's when we lived on the East Coast. They had the "fresh-baked" cookies that were always warm and gooey with the crispy edges. That's one of the many items on my husband's list of complaints about me dragging him to live in Minnesota - - he really misses those cookies.

Anyway, if you would like to try these cookies for yourself, you can print a $1.25 coupon through this link. If you have already tried them or give them a try, let me know what you think!

New Chex Mix Bars

Have you tried the new Chex Mix Bars yet? This delicious snack combines crunchy Chex pieces, pretzels and peanuts with chewy and indulgent ingredients like caramel and chocolate. And if that´s not enough, they have less than 150 calories per bar and provide at least 8 grams of whole grain per serving (48 grams recommended daily)! A great combination of the ingredients you love, Chex Mix Bars are a tasty treat that will leave you feeling satisfied and guilt-free!

MyBlogSpark sent me Chex Mix Turtle Bars to try and I must say that they are yummy! I love a salty and sweet combination and that's what you get with the combination of the salty peanuts and pretzels and the sweet chocolate and caramel. I also like the gooey/crunchy combo. It's like getting the best of both worlds in one snack. (It also makes a great after-dinner dessert!)

Check out this review over at Thrifty Jinxy and also enter to win two boxes of Chex Mix Turtle Bars for yourself! (Ends 7/10/09)

Welcome to Thrifty Jinxy Reviews

Welcome to my new review blog! Don't worry, I will still be blogging regularly over at Thrifty Jinxy, but I wanted to add this new spot for doing reviews that won't fit over at the "original" blog. Thanks for joining me!