Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ninja Coffee Bar Review

To say that I love coffee is an understatement! But as a stay at home mom, homeschool teacher, and one income family, I simply cannot afford to indulge my coffee addiction by frequenting the big chain coffee houses and paying about $5 per cup! Our family is no stranger to the different coffee machines available. We have tried so many, from Kuerig to Tassimo, and while we enjoy the ease of use and quick nature of these types of machines, the costs for the pods and cups was becoming pricey for us "multiple cups a day" drinkers. So, when I had the oppurtunity to test out the new Ninja Coffee Bar, I jumped at the chance! So, here goes, what I really think about the Ninja Coffee Bar.

First of all, upon receiving my Coffee Bar and unboxing it, I couldn't help but notice all the extras that came with it! Not only do you get the machine itself, but also a carafe, tumbler, coffee measuring scoop, milk frother, and a recipe book filled with so many yummy coffee creations!

The set up and getting started were super simple, and I loved how easy it was to read the directions and manual.

Now let us talk about the features and performance of this machine. You can brew a cup, travel mug, half carafe, and full carafe, all by the twist of the dial on the front of the machine! So easy! I love this function, because I can control how much or how little coffee I make, and can make enough for company or just myself. All you need to do is lower the attached "stand" for mugs, and then fold it up when you want to use a travel mug or carafe. Another feature that I love, and that you wont find in many of the other pod/cup type machines, is the "drip stop" button. This allows you to stop the machine mid brew, even if only brewing a cup. Which was great for me because I didn't know quite what to expect from the first cup I brewed and needed a larger mug, so I simply used the stop drip function and was able to replace the mug and continue brewing with no problems. And this machine is fast. Did I mention it is fast? Because it is, and to coffee lovers like me, that is priceless!  

This machine also offers a variety of brewing options. There is Classic Brew which gives a smooth rich flavor, Rich Brew which is richer than the Classic and gives more intense flavor so you can add you favorite flavorings or milk and not lose the flavor of the coffee. Then you have Over Ice Brew which gives even more richness by increasing the coffee concentration to make up for melting ice so you don't get that watered down iced coffee mess! And lastly you have the Specialty Brew setting which gives the highest concentration of coffee. It is like a coffee extract that you can use much like espresso to make layered drinks like the coffee house ones. My favorite is the Rich Brew, and this tends to be my daily brewing setting. I find it is the perfect amount of boldness to match with my cream and sugar without being overly bitter or strong.

Another feature is the Delay Brew setting. This allows you to set a time for your machine to brew and is perfect if you are short on time in the mornings. You just load it with the necessary amount of ground coffee and set the timer, that's it! It will be ready for you when you programmed it for. And the Stay Warm function keeps the bottom plate warm for the carafe so that your coffee stays warm until you can get to it. 

So, what is my favorite feature of this machine? The fact that I can use my favorite ground coffee and still have quick, easy, delicious coffee! No more wasted money on pods and cups that can only be used for their designated machine. Not to mention the amount of waste I am saving from the pods and cups that are left over. This machine has truly made my mornings quicker, more time efficient, and yummier!!! I recommend this Ninja Coffee Bar to anyone who likes quick and delicious coffee!

And while I received this product for free in exchange for my HONEST review, that does not change any of my opinions of this machine. I have enjoyed this machine, and look forward to using the book of recipes to make some awesome "coffee house" inspired drinks!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

DIY Jewelry Holder Out of a Salad Bowl!!

When I got the chance to try the new Spicy Southwest Salad from Chick-fil-A I was excited because I LOVE spicy food! This salad was the perfect combo of spicy, crunchy, tangy, and just plain satisfying! I actually had to split the salad with my husband because it was so substantial. But, this post is NOT about that amazing salad! I want to show you how I upcycled the salad container into a "snazzy" jewelry holder/tower. I started out with the container and a paper towel roll that I cut in half.

I started by hot gluing the half of the paper towel tube to the bottom inside of the bottom of the bowl in the center. Then, I hot glued the lid upside down to the top of the tube, trying to get it as close to center as I could. After that, I sprayed the entire thing with white spray paint. I added some embellishments with white ribbon around the tube and crystal beads along the bottom of the tube. I also took the other half of the paper towel tube and cut it in half length wise to have a rounded area to display my bracelets. I hot glued that into the center of the "Chick-fil-A" square on the lid. I painted this part gold and also the rims of both the bottom and top. I also added gold and pearl/crystal bead embellishments along the top and bottom parts of the bowl. Then, I just filled it with my favorite jewelry, draping the bracelets on top of the new display and hanging my long earrings on the outer rim of the lid. This is a fun and functional way to personalize and organize your jewelry! I hope you enjoyed my DIY! :) #chickfilamomsDIY

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Medieval Times Orlando

When I was given the opportunity to attend the Medieval Times dinner show in Orlando, Fl I was ecstatic! My husband and I were celebrating our 11th anniversary and our first ever weekend away from our two small children. I have had a love for dinner shows and theater my whole life, so to be able to share this type of experience with my husband was priceless! I am going to take you through my whole experience, beginning to end, so you can experience it with me. But don't worry, I wont give away all the surprises!

On arriving to the location of the show, you can't help but be overwhelmed with excitement at the sight of the castle themed building:

Inside the castle is just as unique and true to theme as the outside! We arrived about an hour and a half early, as suggested, and were able to move freely around and look at all the beautiful decor without too much crowd.

Also upon arrival, you check in and find out where you are sitting, which is determined by a specific color. That is also the color of the knight you will be cheering for. At check in they will also give you a paper crown to represent your color and knight. Most were happy to wear their crown with pride, which we absolutely did!! We were in the green section, so you guessed it, we were cheering for the Green Knight!

After check in you can have your picture taken with some of the characters, which they will take for you. We opted not to purchase that picture because we chose a different photo later in the night, which I will show you soon.

Another reason to arrive early is to take advantage of the village outside the back of the castle. Here you will find a Torture Museum, as well as many rooms and buildings set up to replicate the Medieval era.

One last advantage to being early is to watch the Knighting Ceremony. People with special events or occasions can arrange to be "knighted" by the King himself!

Now, lets go into the main arena!! They will call in each section by color, and when yours is announced you go to your seat. It is set up by color and in rows:

At your seat you will see a place setting with a plate, bowl, and cup. 

That is it, there is NO SILVERWARE! But don't let that scare you, it is actually fun to eat with your hands, and surprisingly easy with the food they serve! I was too excited and forgot to snap a picture of the food, but I will tell you it was very good!  Here is a pic from their site to give you an idea:

The King's feast included garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potato, pastry of the Castle (which was an apple turnover) and beverages. The food is brought out to you in "waves," first the soup then the bread and so on. The amount of food was surprising and we actually couldn't finish all of it.

While enjoying the feast, you will experience almost two hours of jousting, swordsmanship, thrilling hand-to-hand combat, displays of extraordinary horsemanship and falconry as part of an exciting story.  Remember to cheer loudly for your knight, it is encouraged! 

I wont give all the surprises of the show away, just know you will be very entertained! This was so much fun for my husband and I, so we decided to purchase the photo they took during the show (they come around and snap a photo at your seat) to remember it forever!

We cannot wait to take our kids the next time we go, they will LOVE it! 

OH, I almost forgot to tell you, OUR KNIGHT WON!!! 

I received the tickets to Medieval Times Tournament for free in exchange for my HONEST opinion. All thoughts are my own, and I really had an amazing time!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our Time4Learning Experience

My daughter (6 years old and in 1st grade) loves to learn! But, she also loves to be "self-taught," which can bring up some issues if we are not using the right curriculum in our homeschooling. We are a part of our local counties' homeschool program, which means we still have testing, field trips, and criteria that the rest of our county has, we just get to do our lessons from home. This has been great, but the curriculum they use is basically tons of book work for me, the mom/teacher, that I have to in turn teach her. This became a problem since my daughter doesn't like to be "taught at." She enjoys one on one time, but really thrives when she is able to lead herself in lessons and reading. When the opportunity came about for my family to try, we jumped at the chance! 

We were able to set her up for 1st grade in math, which is one of her more difficult subjects, but the areas where she thrives and is advanced in, like reading, we could let her do lessons in 2nd grade. This was great for us because we were able to really customize her schooling experience. She loved the animated and interactive lessons. They drew her in and really made learning fun! I loved the fact that in order for her to play games on the site (still semi-educational games) she had to really work on her lessons for at least 15 minutes. This gave her incentive to finish her lessons, and that made us both happy. I loved being able to see her progress and how she was doing in the parent's section. This type of learning really worked well for her independent nature.

I was also able to sign my son (4 years old) up for pre-k. He loved the games and songs, and they really helped him to retain what he was learning. The pre-k area is much more animated and silly, but at 4 years of age, it was perfect for him! He loved being able to go onto his "big boy school" just like big sis!

The system for Time4Learning is easy to navigate. I like that it keeps all the progress for you, so when it comes time for the yearly assessments, you simply print off what is needed. This experience was an eye-opening one for our family, and we can't wait to see where else Time4Learning takes us!

I was able to try out Time4Learning at no charge to bring you this review, but all the opinions are my own and completely honest. Thanks for learning.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Super Hero Party

Here is a breakdown of our Super Hero Training Party!

The Decor:
I wrote all about the decor and crafting I did over here!

The Costume:
I was so excited to throw my son and his cousins and friends one of the best "Super Hero Training" parties ever! I spent months crafting and creating fun decor and games, but wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do about his costume. While I love to sew and craft, I felt that he would want the "real deal" costume. I was able to work with and get my son an awesome Superman costume! I was worried because some of the reviews of this costume were less than favorable, but we were pleasantly surprised! The chest was a hard type plastic chest molded to look like muscles, and since it is the "Man of Steel," I thought this was perfect. My son enjoyed having his buddies punch his chest just to say "That didn't hurt at all!"  The costume also had lights around the "S" symbol, and this was a nice extra. The cape had velcro to attach it, but there was no part to actually velcro it to the suit, we solved this issue with safety pins.

Costumes4less was a pleasure to work with. We ordered my son the size we thought was going to work for him, since he is a bigger 4 year old, but quickly realized it was way to big! With only a week until the big party, I was worried we wouldn't get the new one in time. I was wrong! We were issued a refund to order the correct size as soon as we generated a return label for the one that was too big, and the new one arrived well before the party. Costumer service was a joy to work with, even when I was having a "crazy mommy moment!"

My son still enjoys dressing up and running around the house like Superman!

The Food:
My sister and I love to have good food at any party we throw, so this was no exception! We wanted to combine our children's favorite foods, while still offering healthy options. AND meanwhile, keeping with the hero theme.

*Hero Cupcakes- Cupcakes with candy melt symbols (I made them)  on top
*Thor's Hammers- sharp white cheddar cubes with pretzel rods
*Wolverine's Kabobs- pineapple and grape skewers
*Wonder Dogs- hotdogs
*"CRUNCH!"- chips
*"POP!"- popcorn
*Apple Crisps- Brothers-All-Natural bags of apple chips
*Apple Slices- Crunch Pak Apples
*Iron Man Punch- fruit punch and pineapple juice
*Captain America Energy Drink- fruit punch and blue Mnt. Dew

We were honored to have Brothers-All-Natural send us some goodies for our boys! The adults loved these!! They also offered a 15% discount coupon code for you guys! Just use DisneyParty15 and get free shipping anywhere in the Continental US!!

Crunch Pak was also gracious enough to send us some awesome coupons to pick up some healthy superhero snacks!!! The boys and moms loved having this sweet and healthy treat! We love the caramel that comes in the apple packs, it makes you feel like you are indulging while still being healthy!

This party was a thrill to throw, and the boys are still talking about it! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Super Hero Training Party Ideas and Decor- Disney Side @Home Celebration

For our second Disney Side @Home Celebration this year we decided to throw the special boys in our lives a Super Hero Training Party! This being because our Disney Side is all about Super Heroes with a 4 and 6 year old in the house, and Papi of course! We have had to postpone the party many times due to illness making its rounds through our family and friends lately, but are so excited to finally be throwing it this weekend! Here are some of the things we have worked on and have ready to go! I did receive a box full of amazing things to throw the perfect party, see the contents here, but for this party most of the things were handmade by me. :)

 These are some old jars that I decoupaged some tissue paper to the inside of. I painted the outsides to represent different heroes. I used a big pickle jar for Hulk since he is the biggest.

 For one of our training activities, the boys will throw Thor's Hammer as far as they can. This was super easy to make. I used a floral block, purchased at Dollar Tree, and carved a little of the ends to give it the shape of Thor's hammer and painted it grey. I also painted a paper towel roll brown and inserted it into the block with some hot glue as well. I don't have a picture, but I ended up wrapping some ribbon around the "handle" to give it a leather looking effect.

These are favors for the boys to take home. We will be taking group photos of the boys in their Hero costumes with a Polaroid which will fit perfectly in the frame! These were wooden frames bought for $1 and then I used old comic books (which I got for .50 at a local comic book store) and Mod Podged them to the frames! So easy and a true keepsake!

 This is the cupcake tower I made from cardboard boxes wrapped in tissue paper and then decorated with construction paper buildings, spider, and Superman symbol.

 This "Phone booth" was made from an old refrigerator box, thanks to my dad, and painted red. I just cut out some windows on the door and painted on some fake windows as well. The heroes will enter this box dressed in their "regular" clothing and emerge in their Hero outfit!

 This was my attempt at free handing a Spiderman. Once cut out and put on the wall, he actually looked kind of cool!

 Here is one of the Training Kits each boy will receive. They contain notebooks and crayons, for taking top secret notes, a can of silly string, for our Web Slinging challenge, a light saber flashlight, hero dog tags, and much more!

 This is our city scape, made from old cardboard boxes and a table cloth,  for taking some awesome photos of the Heroes in action! The yellow lantern will have a Batman symbol on it soon! :)

 These are the cupcake toppers that I am still trying to perfect! I am outlining them in melted candy melts, remember the smoother side is better, but the Superman will only be able to be used right side up unless you flip the image!

 I used Dollar Tree boxes that I just hot glued some felt pieces on to make hero symbols. These will hold party favors and odds and ends for the party.

Here are some felt pillows I "threw" together to decorate the lounging area of our party!

 These are some wooden pegs I bought at Hobby Lobby, remember to always check for the 40% off coupon before going, and then I just hand painted them. I actually used clear finger nail polish to seal them and give them a nice shine!

We used the HP packs I received to create the invites. The invitations for the party went out in an envelope with this stamped across the front to make it more "authentic!" All the boys really loved these invites!

I can't wait to see all the boy's faces when they see what we have in store! I will follow up with some pictures of the actual party as soon as it is over! :)

Big Hero 6 Viewing Party- Disney Side @Home Celebration!

I was so excited to be chosen to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration again this year and receive a box full of awesome things to throw a great party! If you missed the post about all the contents of the box just click here.  This year we decided to throw not just one party, but 2!!! The first of which was a Big Hero 6 viewing party for the release of the movie. Here are some of the things we did to celebrate one our family's favorite Disney movies!

 I printed out some Baymax faces and laid plastic wrap over them and traced his eyes in melted chocolate and then used royal icing to fill in his face.

Then I transferred the royal icing faces to some yummy sugar cookies to get the perfect Baymax cookies! :)
 This was my first attempt at cake "carving" and decorating. I printed a template of Suited up Baymax and cut my cake to the shape. I used Twizzlers and some melted chocolate for the details.

 The menu was very laid back and casual, a BBQ!! We enjoyed grilling out in the beautiful weather and then after dinner we were all set for the main event, the MOVIE!

 We snacked on cake and cookies while enjoying Big Hero 6 on the big screen!

Oh, and we had fresh popped popcorn as well! Honey Lemon couldn't resist!!! :)