Archives for June 2010

Pop-Tarts Sprinklings Review & Giveaway

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Pop-Tarts.

I have to admit that when I first heard about the new Pop-TartsĀ® Ice Cream ShoppeTM Vanilla Milkshake flavor of Pop-Tarts, I was intrigued. After all, we love the Pop-Tarts in our house. Our little guy wouldn’t eat anything except Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts for breakfast when he was three, and I personally have a soft spot for the Pop-Tarts-as-dessert option. So needless to say, the Vanilla Milkshake variety sounded promising.

And do you know what? They are TASTY. The combination of the pastry crust and the vanilla flavor makes for a Pop-Tart that reminds me, honestly, of a really flavorful pie crust. That’s not to say that the Vanilla Milkshake flavor wouldn’t be great for breakfast or for a snack (I have a seven year-old who will vouch for the snack-time deliciousness), but the first time I tried it I thought, “Ooooooh – this would be so good as the crust for a dessert.”

And that, my friends, is how Vanilla Milkshake Sundae Pie was born.

It’s so simple to make – and the kids in your life will clap their hands when you brighten up their 4th of July with this special dessert treat.

Okay. They may not really clap their hands. But they’ll love you forever. And that is even better.

Pop-Tarts Vanilla Milkshake Sundae Pie

4 Vanilla Milkshake Pop-Tarts
2 pints vanilla ice cream (any flavor would work, actually), softened
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 container chocolate syrup
1 container Reddi-Whip (optional)

Arrange Pop-Tarts in bottom of 8×8 casserole dish (you’ll have about a half of a Pop-Tart left – I like to sample the leftover half, purely in the interest of quality control, you understand). Spread ice cream on top and smooth out to make a level surface. Cover and return to freezer for 10 minutes. Remove from freezer, then cover with strawberries in whatever pattern you’d like. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Cut and serve, then squirt a little Reddi-Whip on top. Makes 8-10 servings.

Oh, it is festive. Look!

Granted, I was in a little bit of a hurry when I made this one, but I think it was a hit with the family, don’t you?

If you’d like to enter to win a $100 gift card courtesy of BlogHer, just answer one simple question in the comments:

What’s your favorite dessert to serve on the 4th of July? Homemade ice cream? A fresh, juicy watermelon? A flag cake?

I can’t wait to hear all of your great ideas, and be sure to check out the BlogHer.com special offers page – you have 9 other chances to win!

You can find the official rules right here, and you can find all sorts of great dessert ideas on the official Pop-Tarts Sprinklings site. If you’re wondering just how creative you can get with Pop-Tarts, you need only look at the Sprinkly Ice Cream Bites.

Happy 4th, y’all!

Hodgepodge

– Now I certainly can’t claim that Monday night’s episode of The Bachelorette scarred me for life, but I can say that Tuesday morning one of my very first thoughts centered on Kasey and his impromptu a cappella serenades and how I would like to respond to him.

Ooooooh, Kasey / You might want to re-thiiiiiink / Serenading your daaaaaaates / Because it makes us hide our heads behind our pillooooooooooows / And scream “OH NO PLEASE STOP IT” at the TVEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

And yes, I know that little ditty didn’t rhyme. BUT NEITHER DID KASEY’S.

Good times.

– You know how y’all made all those great suggestions for movies that Melanie and I could watch at the beach? I ended up renting It’s Complicated, The September Issue and The Chronicles of Narnia – and do you know what? When we got to the condo, there was no DVD player. Now how’s that for irony?

– Sunday night I decided I wanted to print some pictures from last weekend’s wedding, and since I’d gotten an email from Walgreens about a Father’s Day photo special, I clicked over. As it turned out I didn’t need the Father’s Day special at all, because apparently if you’re a new online customer at the Walgreens photo center, you get 25 prints free. No catch. Just free. And sure enough, I picked up the prints Monday morning, and they cost a whopping zero dollars and zero cents. Thought some of you bargain hunters might like to know that.

Nobody asked me or paid me to share that info, by the way. I’m just a tremendous fan of free.

– Yesterday afternoon I watched the season premier of The Next Design Star, and I have some thoughts. First, it seems like they’re trying to make the show more about the talent and less about the drama. Second, the season premier had sort of an Apprentice-type feel. I thought the adjustments to the format were a welcome change of pace after last season when the contestants seemed to have a tough time standing out and showing their unique point of view.

I’m also watching The Next Food Network Star, and as always, I adore it. I think Aria is the early favorite – but I like Aarti a lot, too. I’m so fascinated by people who can cook that a mediocre episode of TNFNS or Top Chef (haven’t watched the season premier yet) is better (to me) than just about anything else on television.

Are y’all watching any of these shows? Have any favorites yet?

The Internet Can Solve Anything

Listen.

Your comments about the mystery bird on our deck made me laugh and clap my hands. I just hooted. And not because there was an owl outside. Because I think if I learned anything from this whole experience, I learned that THE BIRD WAS NOT AN OWL.

Based on the the links y’all left in the comments, I do think we were dealing with some sort of peregrine falcon, aka the “duck hawk.” And it makes total sense, because about three weeks ago we put a squirrel feeder on our deck. The squirrel feeder has been a source of endless entertainment for us (I had no idea that squirrels were so limber! or that they loved corn!), and it has also attracted a fair share of chipmunks. The chipmunks don’t try to get food from the feeder; they just hide behind flower pots and wait for the squirrels to drop something.

ANYWAY, the bird on the deck looked almost identical to a picture of a juvenile peregrine falcon. I guess that maybe the falcon was doing a test run from the nest, or maybe he/she was after a chipmunk. Regardless, about thirty minutes after I posted the picture, the falcon plunged off of our deck, and there was a great deal of high-pitched squawking afterwards (one less chipmunk in the neighborhood, maybe?). But what really cracked me up was that as soon as the falcon flew away, a squirrel popped his head out from behind the closest tree, and his eyes were like saucers. I think he may have sighed.

And here’s what fascinated me more than anything else: did y’all know that the peregrine falcon is THE FASTEST ANIMAL ON EARTH? That it can fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour?

I just had no idea. It’s like my whole backyard is a classroom, and I’ve been skipping school for years.

And quite frankly if I had known that the fastest animal on earth was going to show up on our deck on a random Tuesday morning, I would have, at the very least, offered him some Gatorade and perhaps even an energy bar of some sort.

While wearing a flower pot on my head, of course. Not to mention protective arm gear.

Edited to add: here’s a bit of news that has absolutely nothing to do with really fast birds: I posted my final Tropicana Juicy Rewards post yesterday, and if you’d like to enter to win a $50 Visa gift card courtesy of BlogHer, just click on over.

Tropicana Juicy Rewards – Post 6

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Tropicana.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Melanie and I took our kids to the beach for a few days. We were looking forward to spending a whole lot of time on the beach and in the Gulf, but once the oil spill started moving in in the direction of northwest Florida, we knew we’d better have a little bit of a back-up plan in terms of how we were going to spend our days.

Before we left home we checked the Juicy Rewards site to see if there were any nearby family fun centers/amusement parks where we could entertain the kids in light of bad weather or, you know, OIL. There was actually a really nice arcade/putt-putt/go-kart place just a few miles from our condo, so we redeemed points, printed out coupons, and figured we’d head that way at some point during our beach trip.

We had two great days on the beach, but by the third afternoon, the tar had started to roll in. So the next morning, we grabbed our coupons, sunscreened the kids, and headed out to play a little putt-putt. My expectations weren’t very high, but I figured if nothing else our excursion would be good for killing some time.

Much to my surprise, we had a BLAST. We used buy-one-get-one rewards for putt-putt and go-karts, and those rewards made a huge difference in our overall cost. The place where we went was super-nice, really kid-friendly, and a great diversion in the midst of more than a little sadness about what was happening in the Gulf. It was as hot as blue blazes on the putt-putt course, so the air-conditioned arcade (with Icees!) was a balm for our sun-scorched souls. We loved the go-karts for big kids and for little kids, and the bumper boats were the perfect way for the kids to cool off at the end of a long day.

Big fun indeed.

It was such a great way to spend the day with our kids, and Melanie and I were so grateful that we remembered to print off the Juicy Rewards coupons before we left home. The memories we made that day will stick with us for a very long time. Just thinking about it makes my heart smile.

What about you? What’s something fun you’ve done with your family this summer? Tell me about it in the comments, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a $50 gift card courtesy of BlogHer.

Be sure to visit the other participating bloggers’ reviews on the BlogHer.com special offers page (you have seven chances to win!).

If you haven’t signed up for Juicy Rewards yet, you can earn a free rewards point after you set up your account. Here’s how:

1. Go to http://www.tropicana.com/
2. Set-up your Tropicana Juicy Rewards account
3. Visit the “Enter Codes” page within the site and get started with:
BLOGG-HER11 *
*This one-time use code is valid for new accounts ONLY. Must be entered within 6 hours of creating your account.

You can find more information on the official site, and here’s a link to the official rules.

This giveaway is now closed.

Various Thoughts And An Unexpected Bird

The last few days have been a little on the hectic-but-good side, what with getting home from the beach, driving to my hometown for all the wedding festivities, then coming back here and having some time to hang out with my brother, sister-in-law and nephews (much to our delight). Honestly, when I got out of bed yesterday morning it felt a little weird to not have anywhere to be / anything to do / anyone to see, but I’m grateful for a couple of days to recharge before the next wave of summertime crazy starts.

But none of that is the point, really, because internets, I need your help solving a nature-related mystery. A couple of minutes after I sat down to type this post, some sort of eagle-esque creature swooped down and landed on our deck (and I mean that very literally). I’m not very strong with the birds, which is why the first thing I did when I spotted the ginormous wing span angling for the deck railing was to say, “Alex! Come look! It’s an owl!”

Please don’t mock me.

Anyway, it keeps cleaning its feathers and calling other birds (it’s kind of a high-pitched call – definitely not a “hoot”), and now I’m wondering if it’s hurt or sick because it’s just sitting on the deck and not going anywhere. So basically I’ve now transferred all manner of co-dependency TO A BIRD. Is it lonely? Is it missing its bird people? Does it need medical attention? Should I alert the nature authorities?

Here’s what it looks like.

Thoughts? Advice? Ornithology tips?

The bird is still squawking, by the way. And sitting on the railing.

I’m terribly concerned.

A Southern Garden Wedding

Our weekend was filled with all manner of wedding-related fun, mainly because the bride-to-be was Mary Allison, a very special friend who’s been a big part of our family’s life since, well, she looked like this.

I have such fun memories of Mary Allison and her brother when they were little. I babysat them whenever I was home from college, and they were such sweet children. Now they’re all grown up and don’t really let me take them to the library or put them in the kiddie pool or feed them pot pies for lunch anymore, but they’re still just as sweet as ever. So when Mary Allison got engaged last year and set her wedding date, there was no question where we would be on June 12th. And since every child in our extended family was in the wedding party, it made the day even more special.

The wedding was at Mary Allison’s parents’ house, which also happens to be where my husband and I had our wedding reception thirteen years ago. Over the last few months Mama has updated me on what Mary Allison’s mother, Robbie, has been doing to get ready for the big day, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for how absolutely gorgeous the setting would be.

It was breathtaking, really. Mary Allison and Robbie thought of everything, including monogrammed fans wrapped in coordinating ribbon and a lemonade table at the entrance to the backyard so that guests could enjoy a cool drink after they found their seats. Hydrangeas were in full bloom, pots were overflowing with calladiums, daisies and impatiens, and arrangements of fresh flowers were everywhere.

My cousin Benji’s daughters were precious as flower girls. Not to mention that the fellas in bow ties – my little man, my nephews, and my cousin Paige’s little boy – were so proud to stand with Mary Allison on her big day. They just adore her. And I think that my parents and my aunt were tickled to have all of the grandchildren in one place.

It was a sweltering day – one of the hottest I can remember – but Mary Allison never lost her cool. She was a gracious, beautiful bride.

And we’re thrilled for the new Mr. and Mrs. as they start their life together.

Here’s to their happily ever after.

Amen.