Tuesday, March 31, 2015

10 Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids Featuring Strong Princesses

Lately, I have heard a lot of negative thing about princesses. We talk about princess complexes and bratty behavior which leads to the idea that we shouldn't let out children pretend to be royalty. In our house, I have seen the complete opposite. We talk about how princesses are strong people, how they need to help people because they are in a position to. We talk about how being important it is for a princess to be kind and polite. Pretending to be a princess has never limited by daughter because we had always made sure to read stories about strong girls and strong princesses. These books are my favorite read aloud books featuring strong princesses and girls and all of them have wonderful messages for both boys and girls. 
  1. Princess Academy by Shannon Hale- Miri has grown up on Mount Eskel, it is a quiet life until the King's Priests chose the mountain as the home of the next princess. Each village girl is required to attend a strict princess academy, for when the prince comes in a year to pick his bride. Although Miri is small and feels like she doesn't contribute much to her family's work in the quarry, she finds that she can contribute in much bigger ways. This is one of my favorite princess reads, the main character is endearing and for once you aren't rooting for her to end up with the prince.  
  2. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This is hands down my favorite Cinderella story. If you have seen the movie, don't let it keep you from reading this book to your kids. It is clever and funny. There is still the same basic cast of characters, Ella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters but in this version you add in some crazy fairies, ogres and giants too. Ella was cursed by a fairy when she was a baby with obedience. She has to follow any direct command that she is given, which could including hurting herself. Ella must figure out how to break the curse before she does something truly dreadful. 
  3. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). This fun series is about a princess who likes to fence and practice magic and doesn't want to marry a boring prince, instead she runs off to live with the dragons instead. She becomes a dragon's princess and actually talks the knights who come out of rescuing her. At first Cimorene finds herself doing household tasks for her dragon, Kazul, but eventually she finds herself doing magic and saving the entire Enchanted Forest. 
  4. Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George- When Creel's aunt offers her to a local dragon in hopes that somebody wealthy will rescue her and bring money to the family, Creel decides not to stick around and rescues herself. She strikes a bargain with a dragon, that includes her freedom and an odd pair of slippers. The slipper cause trouble all over the place until the put the fate of the whole nation at risk. Creel must figure out what the slippers do and how to save the country before it is too late. 
  5. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale- When Ani is sent to a foreign land to marry a foreign prince, she thinks life couldn't get much worse. Then her lady in waiting leads a mutiny and takes her place. Ani becomes a Goose Girl to the queen and must figure out a way to save herself and the country from the pretend princess. 
  6. The Frog Princess by ED Baker- Princess Emeralda is nothing like a stereotypical princesses and she does not want to marry Prince Jorge at all. When Emma is convinced to kiss a frog to help him turn back into a prince, she is turned into a frog instead. In a story for unlike the Disney version, Emma must fend for herself on her adventures. 
  7. Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George- Castle Glower isn't like your typical castle. It adds rooms and secret paths and Princess Celie loves to take the time to map out the magical castle. When the king and queen are ambushed and her beloved living castle is put to sleep, it is up to Celie to protect her home. 
  8. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine - Princess Meryl is very brave. She plans to rid the kingdom of ogres and all manner of unpleasantness. Princess Addie is timid and fearful of everything. When Meryl contracts the Gray Death, Addie must put aside her fears and set out on her own to find the cure. 
  9. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale - Lady Saren is to be locked in a tower for seven years because she refuses to marry Lord Khashar. She brings a maid, Dashti along to be her companion during this time. Dashti surprisingly doesn't seem to mind the arrangement, she is grateful that she knows she will be fed for seven years, but whens he finds rats in the flour and mold on the cheese, Dashti must find a way for them to survive. 
  10. Fairest by Gail Carson Levine- Aza isn't a dainty princess, in fact she is a plain peasant and in a land that prizes beautiful faces and voices more than anything else, she sometimes feels out of place. Aza does have a gorgeous voice and the talent of being able to throw her voice to sound as if it is coming from anywhere in the room. A passing duchess invites her to court and then the queen who has a plains singing voice insists she stays so that she can use Aza's voice as her own. Aza must learn to stand on her own feet and use her voice for good instead of allowing it to be used by the evil queen. 
I do have to include a shout out to The Paper Bag Princess, although it is a picture book instead of a chapter book, I think it is one of the best princess stories of all time. Can you think of any other books featuring strong princesses? 

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Monday, March 30, 2015

3 Ingredient Berry Lemonade Pie

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PourMoreFun #CollectiveBias
3 Ingredient Lemonade Pie | HousewifeEclectic.com
 I am a big fan of lemonade pie. It is creamy and full of summery fun flavors. It makes me want to grab a blanket and read outside while I enjoy it. I have always made this pie using pink lemonade and while it is good, I LOVE it with the  Country Time Berry Lemonade, it just adds something extra summery to the flavor.
The absolute best thing about this pie is how fast and easy it is to prepare. All you need is three ingredients and you have a WOW worthy recipe.

 You will need: 

  • Half Gallon of Vanilla 
  • Country Time Berry Lemonade Starter
  • Graham Cracker Crust (You can make your own if you want to use more than three ingredients) 

 Scoop the ice cream into the bowl for your mixer or another large bowl you can use a hand mixer in. I like to open the box of the ice cream and then slice it into chunks because it is faster than scooping. Make sure you don't put the entire box of ice cream in one chunk because it has the potential to fly everywhere. Add about three-fourths of the container of Country Time Berry Lemonade Starter, I found mine at Walmart. I like to refrigerate the lemonade beforehand to make it easier to combine, but it isn't necessary. Mix the two ingredients together on low until they have a well mixed creamy texture.
 Spoon the mixture into the graham cracker crust. You make have some extra. Smooth the mixture down with a spatula. Return the pie the freezer and freeze for at least 1 hour to help it set up. Slice the pie and serve immediately.
 The really fun thing is that you can great this pie in any of the new three flavors by Country Time. There is Berry Lemonade, Lemonade and Half Lemonade, Half  Iced Tea.
These lemonades are flavored with real lemon juice and have 50% less sugar than the leading sodas. What I love about them is that you can make them by the pitcher or by the glass. Since you only use about three-fourth of the bottle in this recipe, I didn't have to waste the rest of the starter, I just made a few glasses instead of a whole pitcher. 
The Lemonade Starters are shelf stable and don't have to be kept in the freezer which is great for camping and picnics. You can find them in store by the Crystal Light and other powdered drinks. 

Be sure to check out more delicious recipes from Kraft Foods here. Which one is your favorite?
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Friday, March 27, 2015

16 places you are forgetting to clean

This post has been sponsored by Swiffer. All opinions are my own.

Every spring we break out the trash bags, dusters and mops in an attempt to get rid of all the dust mites and allergens that have collected in our houses over the winter. Even though we think we are being thorough, oftentimes we are missing frequently-used surfaces that can aid the spread of allergens and germs.

Here are 16 things in your house you need to make sure are on your spring cleaning list.

1.Kitchen Sponge. You use it to scrub your dirty dishes and then just toss it back in your sink. Your sponge is a breeding ground for bacteria. Make sure you are sanitizing it in a bleach solution frequently and then toss it when it starts to look dingy.

2. Stuffed Animals. Wash stuffed animals frequently. If your house is anything like mine, your kids' stuffed animals get dragged all over the place and snuggled frequently. They can be full of dust. Make sure you wash them in hot water frequently to remove any germs and dust. You can spray them with Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer to keep allergens away in between washings.

3. Couches and Chairs. We so often vacuum our floors and completely ignore the couches. All of your couches and chairs need a good vacuuming to remove dust mites and allergens.

4. Mattresses and Pillows. We change our sheets frequently, but we ignore the other parts of our bed altogether. Make sure you vacuum your mattress frequently and wash your pillows in hot water.

5. Ceiling Fans. We can't see the top of them, so we often forget just how dusty they can get. To get them clean without spreading dust all over your room, either use a pillowcase or a Swiffer Duster. Swiffer Dusters trap 70% of inanimate allergens — more than 3 times more than a feather duster.

6. Behind the fridge and other kitchen appliances. Who really wants to pull their appliances out and clean? Not many people, but so many germs and allergens are hiding there and do you really want those germs in your kitchen with your food?

7. Your remote control and phones. You touch them every day, but do you ever sanitize them? You should. Phones are often the most germ-infested surface you touch throughout the day. Give your phone and remote controls a quick wipe down with a sanitizi
ng wipe to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs. There are special wipes for phones too so you don't damage them.

8. Window tracks. Our windows usually get a good spring cleaning, but we often forget about the tracks. Scrub them with an old toothbrush to keep your windows opening and closing well.

9. Dirty Clothes Hamper. You throw your soiled clothes in it, so it's obviously dirty. Make sure to wipe your hamper our or wash your laundry bag to keep bacteria from spreading. Make sure not to use anything with bleach so you don't ruin your clothes.

10. Makeup brushes. You use them on your face and then throw them back in your makeup bag. Make sure you thoroughly clean your brushes frequently to prevent breakouts on your face.

11. Purses. Your purse is one of the dirtiest things you will touch all day. Wipe down the outside of your purse with a disinfecting wipe and don't place your purse on the floor.

12. Knobs and Light Switches. They are some of the most frequently touched surfaces in our homes, but we tend to ignore them in our cleaning routine. Make sure to wipe down all the switches and knobs regularly.

13, The Garbage Disposal. Think of all of the things you put down your disposal, just sitting there and breeding bacteria. It makes me shudder. Make sure to run your disposal at least once a day to prevent anything from sitting down there for very long and clean it a couple times a month by running orange peels through it.

14. Salt and Pepper Shakers. Do you wash you salt and pepper shakers before you refill them? You should. Studies have found cold and flu viruses on them, and you handle these shakers often.

15. Vents. Make sure you give all of your vents a good cleaning, especially your dryer vent. Build up in your dryer vent has the potential to cause a dryer fire.

16. Broom and Mops. Make sure you are cleaning your broom and mop frequently. If you don't, instead of cleaning your house you are just spreading the germs around. I prefer to use a Swiffer with dry and wet cloths instead of a broom and mop because then you throw away the germs after each use instead of chancing spreading them around your house again.

Did you know, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a lot of people don't spring clean correctly? Instead of removing allergens, all they are doing is spreading allergens around and making their house a haven for them. Select Swiffer and Febreze products are now certified asthma and allergy friendly, including the Swiffer Dry Sweeper, Unscented, which traps up to 70% of inanimate allergens; the Swiffer duster and 360 duster, unscented, which traps two times more dust than a typical dusting cloth; and the Febreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer which reduces up to 95% of inanimate allergens.

As someone who has asthma, keeping my house dust and allergen free is a very important part of life. It allows me to breathe easier and use my inhalers less. I love that these products are asthma certified and I am starting to use them in my home.
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles with Homemade Baked Tortilla Strips

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles| HousewifeEclectic.com

Eating healthy is a goal many people share, but it's hard, right? Not only is it difficult to find healthy meals, but so often these so-called healthy meals are full of ingredients you've never heard of. And even if you find recipes with ingredients you know and enjoy, they're often so devoid of balance that you're still starving after eating.

But eating healthy doesn't mean depriving yourself of filling foods you enjoy. Healthy eating is about balance, portion control and replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier alternatives.

This cilantro lime chicken zoodles dish is a great example of a healthier meal. It substitutes traditional pasta for zucchini noodles (zoodles), dramatically cutting down on carbs and boosting your veggie intake. And with the flavorful chicken, you won't be hungry after eating.

But if your family isn't used to lighter dishes, they may feel something is lacking. That's where the homemade tortilla strips come in handy. While these aren't terribly healthy, they're better than most store-bought options (both in flavor and nutritional content) and add a great textural element to the dish.

2-3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
3-4 zucchini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 jalapeño, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Homemade Baked Tortilla Strips
6 corn tortillas
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

Homemade Baked Tortilla Strip preparation

  1. Cut the corn tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips. Place individually on a cookie sheet.
  2. Mix together the oil, chili powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, salt and cumin. Use a brush to lightly coat the tortilla strips with this mixture.
  3. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the tortilla strips become crisp.
  4. Remove the tortilla strips from the tray and allow to completely cool.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles| HousewifeEclectic.com

Cilantro Lime Chicken Zoodles preparation

  1. Cut off both ends of each zucchini. Cradle the zucchini in one hand and use a julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles. After a few strokes you will reach the seeds and the peeling will sound different. This means it's time to turn and repeat on another side. Continue until the zucchini has been peeled, leaving you with a plate full of zucchini noodles. Throw away the core with seeds.
  2. Heat a skillet with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil on high heat. Saute the garlic and jalapeño for about a minute. Add the chicken and continue to saute. When the chicken is close to being cooked through, add the salt, cumin and black pepper. 
  3. Remove the chicken, garlic and jalapeños onto a plate and set aside. Be careful not to remove the juices, as you will use them in the next step.
  4. Place the zucchini noodles in the skillet and saute for about 2 minutes, mixing the zucchini noodles well. (NOTE: if there is not enough juice left from the previous step, you may need to add a little vegetable oil).
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the chicken, garlic and jalapeños. Finish it off with the cilantro lime juice. Top with the homemade baked tortilla strips.

This dish is so flavorful that my wife didn't add salt. Not once. This is a miracle since she adds salt to everything. The zoodles are light, yet filling. They have a texture very similar to traditional pasta and it's hard to notice you're even eating a veggie.

If you don't own a julienne peeler, you can accomplish a similar effect with a grater, vegetable peeler or a knife, but the julienne peeler makes it so much faster, and with better noodle consistency. And if you love this dish as much as my family did, it's definitely worth purchasing the peeler. Happy Zoodling!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | HousewifeEclectic.com

I am not a chocolate girl. It's true. Most of the time I don't each chocolate at all unless it is paired with another delicious ingredient. Peanut butter on the other hand, I could eat by the spoonful. My mom's chocolate chip cookies are so delicious that I have never cared that they were chocolate, they were just that good. This week my husband suggested we added a hint of peanut butter to them and it took them from amazing to incredible. The perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter. A match made in heaven. 

You will need: 

  • 2 1/2 C. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 1/2 C. shortening 
  • 1 C. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag peanut butter chips

Cream butter, shortening and sugar together until it is fluffy and the sugar is dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla while these are mixing. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add both kinds of chips. 

Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. The cookies may look slightly under cooked when removed from the oven, but they will continue to cook as they cool. This will ensure a softer cookie. 

What is your favorite kind of cookie?
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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Best Books To Read Aloud to Your Children

As a child, my mom read aloud to us every night. We started with books like The Boxcar Children and Dealing with Dragons and eventually as we got older moved on to books like Great Expectations and Tarzan. It is one of my favorite memories and one that I knew I wanted to continue with my daughter. We started reading chapter books aloud a couple of years ago and we have developed some favorites. These are all books that your kids will love!

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. This is hands down my favorite Cinderella story. If you have seen the movie, don't let it keep you from reading this book to your kids. It is clever and funny. There is still the same basic cast of characters, Ella, the evil stepmother and stepsisters but in this version you add in some crazy fairies, ogres and giants too!
2. The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks by Nancy McArthur. This book had as rolling on the floor as kids. What's not hilarious about a plant that eats your dirty socks? This book is about two brothers a neat freak and a walking disaster area and the crazy sock-eating plants they grow together. I loved it as a kid and so did my brothers.
3. Harry Potter by JK Rowling. We have started reading Harry Potter with my 6-year-old and she is completely captivated. She can't stop giggling about Moaning Myrtle living in a toilet and she brings me the book begging for one my chapter. Since my daughter is still a kindergartner we are only planning on reading the first three together for now and then we will hold off until she is a bit older.
4. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  The first book is a story of survival of four children after their parents die, the subsequent books are children friendly mysteries that take the main characters Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny all over the place. My daughter absolutely loves this books.
5. The Magic Tree House Books by Mary Pope Osbourne . These are perfect beginning chapter books to read out loud. They have a picture every few pages and are relatively short. When my daughter is really interested in one of them we can read about half of a book in one night. The main characters are brother and sister and go on all sorts of adventures in the magic tree house including to see dinosaurs and knights.
6. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). This fun series is about a princess who likes to fence and practice magic and doesn't want to marry a boring prince, instead she runs off to live with the dragons instead. She becomes a dragon's princess and actually talks the knights who come out of rescuing her. I haven't read this series to my daughter yet, but it is on my list for sure.
7. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverley Cleary. How can you forget this classic? My husband was actually the one to read this book out loud to my daughter and it was so much fun to listen to them giggle while they read.
8. The Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My daughter absolutely loves these books. She is fascinated by all the stories of panthers and bears as well as harvesting and surviving the winter. She played Laura Ingalls Wilder for a long time after we read these books. They gave us the opportunity to try many old games and dig up fun recipes to make.
9. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I always shake my head when people talk about how much they love the old Willy Wonka movie, because it is nothing like the book. Both my daughter and I love the crazy fun way that Roald Dahl wrote Willy Wonka. This book is just plain fun.
10. Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. I have actually read this one out loud to my daughter twice. She loves the performing penguins and we had lots of fun looking up penguin facts while we read this one.

Other great read aloud books: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl, Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, Amber Brown is Not a Crayon by Paula Danzinger, Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene, The Hardy Boys by Mark Turner , The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, Dragon Slayers Academy by Kate McMullan, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Seriously perfect for about 4th grade,) Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, Holes by Louis Sachar, Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George.

What are your favorite read aloud chapter book?
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Leftover Ham Pillows

Ham is delicious. It is. The one downside, of course, is the leftovers. It doesn't seem bad at first -- ham is good so leftovers will be great, right? -- but it's amazing how long it takes to use up that leftover ham.

It's hard to find good ham recipes too. Well here's one that's delicious, doesn't taste like leftover ham and will fill up your family: leftover ham pillows. It's a twist on one of my childhood favorite meals, chicken pillows, and it's wonderful winter food.

1 pkg crescent roll dough
1 1/2 cups leftover ham, cut into small cubes
1 cup mushrooms, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Black pepper
Garlic salt
1 Tbsp butter, melted
Bread crumbs

  1. Combine the ham, mushrooms and cheeses into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the mayonnaise, adding dill, pepper, garlic salt and parsley to taste.
  3. Lay out the crescent dough into individual triangles.
  4. Place a small amount of mixture in the largest section of the triangle. Roll the dough into a pillow, pinching all ends so the mixture is sealed.
  5. Roll each pillow in the melted butter and then coat in bread crumbs. Place each pillow on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the outside is a light golden brown.

Serve with rice and peas.

This is a quick and tasty fix, perfect for those winter nights when you're too tired to make something, but know you should.

Friday, March 20, 2015

World's Best Guacamole

Guacamole is one of my all time favorite foods. I make it for pretty much every occasion. Is is perfect for Taco Tuesdays and I love it with breakfast burritos.

When we lived in Texas, I set out to find the world's best guacamole. Something simple without all of the extra stuff, but amazing. We tried recipe after recipe and we finally settled on one we love. This recipe is fresh and just needs avocados, a onion, jalapeños and a little bit of lemon juice. The perfect combination.

You will need:

  • 3-4 medium Avocados, with the skins and pits removed
  • 1.5 medium jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped (seeds are what make your jalapenos hot, so make sure to seed them well unless you want super spicy guac.) 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped (optional, but I really like it) 
  • 1/4 of an onion finely chopped
  • salt

Add the onion, garlic and the jalapeños to the food processor and chop to make sure everything is really fine. Add 3 avocados and then chop again. Taste your guacamole, if the onion or jalapeño is too strong, add the fourth avocado. Lastly add your lemon juice and mix until everything is a smooth consistency.
This guacamole is perfect for dips, grilled cheese sandwiches and of course burritos.

Are you a guacamole fan?
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Boost Your Twitter Visibility with TwitShot

For a social network that is all about saying it fast and saying it short, Twitter has evolved a lot over the years. While text-based tweets are still the norm, the big push now on Twitter is to include images in tweets. That way when you're scrolling down your feed, the tweets with images grab your attention, encouraging you to read the tweet.

According to a recent Twitter blog post, tweets with images see a 35% increase in retweets. This makes tweets with images more effective than mentioning other users, adding hashtags or even videos, at least when it comes to increasing the number of retweets.

The problem is, it's kind of a pain to do. To add a picture to a tweet in the traditional way, you have to write the tweet, add the URL to the site and then upload an image. This means you had to already download the image from the site. I thought Twitter was supposed to be fast?

Or you can use TwitShot. This free site, bookmarklet, Chrome extension and iOS app makes adding pictures to your tweets a piece of cake.

Using the bookmarklet or Chrome Extension
  1. Visit the TwitShot website to install the Chrome extension, or drag the bookmarklet link to your bookmark bar to use much like you do the Pinterest bookmarklet.
  2. Find a website you'd like to tweet.
  3. Click the TwitShot bookmarklet or the extension icon.

    This will bring up the tweet dialog box within the TwitShot page. From here, TwitShot will analyze the page for possible tweet-able images.

  4. Select the image you want to include (the image does count toward your total tweet character limit, so you may have to adjust your tweet text after adding the image)

  5. Tweet

Using the iOS TwitShot app
Right now TwitShot is only available on iOS devices, but hopefully it will get Android support in the future. Having the app is very nice. While you won't ever necessarily need to directly open the app itself, it makes itself incredibly useful by adding support within the Safari web browswer.

Let's say you're browsing the web on your phone and come across a great article you'd like to tweet. Instead of doing the traditional method, use TwitShot instead:
  1. Press the "more options" icon that looks like an arrow pointing up out of a box.
  2. Scroll right until you see TwitShot. Click on the TwitShot app icon. This will open the tweet inside the TwitShot app

  3. You will see how many images TwitShot was able to find by analyzing the web page. You can scroll through the images until you find the one you want.

  4. When you're ready, press Tweet.
Not only does TwitShot add images to tweets, I actually find it makes the whole process of tweeting easier. Plus, it's more engaging for my followers.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 Things You Are Spending Too Much Money On

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MarchIntoSavings #CollectiveBias
10 Things You Are Spending Way Too Much Money On | HousewifeEclectic.com

We decided this is the year we are finally taking our kids to Disneyland. Our girls are jumping up and down excited, but as we plan more and more of our trip, we have begun to realize just how expensive a magical vacation can be. As we have looked over our budget we have found some places we have been throwing money away and they might just be the same places that are preventing you from taking a magical vacation too! 

Exercise Equipment or Gym Membership you aren't using. When was the last time you walked into your gym? If it has been a month since you have been to the gym, it is time to look into cancelling it. It may be nice to have a gym you can go to if you want to, but if it's weeks or months between visits you would be better off paying by the class or finding a workout you enjoy doing outside of the gym.

Television. How many of your channels do you really watch? Are there just one or two shows you want to catch each week? You might save a lot of money each month by cancelling the cable and go with a subscription service. Between Netflix and Hulu you can catch just about anything. There's also a great new service called Sling, which allows you to stream select cable channels on your device for a lower cost than a traditional cable bill. 

Food and Waste. How often do you buy groceries and then throw them away a couple weeks later? When I buy things like meat I like to write down what is in my fridge on a small whiteboard so those things don't get forgotten and wasted. At the end of each week I go through my fridge and see what still needs to be used and what should be moved to the freezer. 

Insurance. Is the premium you're paying going to cost you much more than fixing the item? Good insurance is really important on your big ticket items, like your car, but on smaller things like a phone ask yourself if the insurance premiums and the deductible on the phone are going to end up costing you more in the long run than just replacing the phone. 

Credit Cards or Debit Cards. Using a credit card with high interest rate is a pretty obvious problem, but your debit card could be giving you fits too. A lot of debit cards have a specific number of transactions you have to make or there is a fee. Some banks will waive this fee if you use direct deposit; you just need to ask. 

Kids Presents. The first time my daughter went to a birthday party I spent a lot of the present for the birthday kid. When I got to the party I realized the birthday kid was just as happy with the presents from the dollar store. Now when my daughter gets invited to a party we take $5-$10 and head right to the dollar store. I love to get things kids love that get used up, such as crayons, stickers, coloring books, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. Now this might not work for teenagers, but kids love it.

Software. We live in the day an age of great online software. Unless you really need the professional version of a word processing or photo editing software, you can probably find a free online version that will work great! 

Your Debt. If you have a large amount of debt and are all only making the minimum payments every month, you are spending too much money on the interest every month. Add as much as you can to the paying down the debt with the highest interest rate first and work down from there. 

Medications. There are generics for almost every single medication out there. You might be paying more for the same active ingredient and not even know it. 

Holidays. You can give your kids a magical Christmas without paying a premium price as long as you plan. Do you remember the Christmas of Tickle Me Elmo? Everyone wanted one of those toys and the closer it got to Christmas the harder they were to find and the more expensive they got. Those who had planned ahead were able to buy the toy for a more affordable price. I start putting away a little money every month and looking for items I think my kids will like in July. It helps us to stress less about where the money is coming from in the budget and I am not racing around on December 23 looking for a Frozen castle.

Cell phone Plan. So many people are paying for elements of their cell phone plan that they don't use or are paying for overages because their plan is too small for them. Switching to Walmart Family Mobile is a great option because they offer unlimited talk, text and data, which includes up to 500 MB of 4G LTE Data for $29.88 a month. Having an affordable unlimited plan will save you money initially on the plan and in the future because you won't have hidden extras. 

One thing that I really love about Walmart Family Mobile is how affordable their smart phones are. In this day and age, everybody needs a smart phone and I can't lie, I am really hard on mine. Twice I have left phones on top of my car and then driven off. Replacing a $700 phone is a nightmare and really frustrating.

Walmart Family Mobile has phones like the Evolve 2 for $39.83. The phone features a lightweight design, a place for a micro SD card and both front and rear facing cameras. The phone does have a smaller megapixel camera, at 5MP, but the call quality is decent and overall would be the perfect smartphone to give to your teenager.

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/aafid or your local Walmart for current pricing.

What kinds of things do you do to save money?
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

BBQ Oven Pork Chops

BBQ Oven Pork Chops| HousewifeEclectic.Com

If you are looking for a easy way to make BBQ Pork Chops in your oven, look no further. These chops come out fall apart tender and they take very little prep work. They are almost as easy as throwing them in a crock pot.

You will need:

  • A pan with deep enough sides to allow the pork chops to sit in water (I usually use a 9x13)
  • Water
  • White Onion, sliced
  • Pork Chops
  • Salt and Pepper
  • BBQ sauce, I love to use a honey BBQ sauce

Layer onions on the bottom of your pan. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and then lay on top of the onions. Add just enough water to cover the pork and then put the rest of the onion slices on top. Cover the pan with tinfoil and bake at 450 degrees for one hour.

Remove the pan from the over, uncover and drain off the water. Pour BBQ sauce over the meat and put the chops back in the oven for 5 minutes on broil. This will set the BBQ Sauce.

We typically serve these chops with mashed potatoes, peas and cheddar biscuits. It is one of our favorite Sunday meals. Do you have a favorite Sunday meal?
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Taste The Rainbow Cupcake

Delicious and Easy Rainbow Cupcakes/ Housewife Eclectic.com
I love St. Patrick's Day. It is a low stress holiday that involves lots of rainbows and fun little crafts, but nothing huge. It makes it the perfect holiday to make fun food, because you aren't worried about making a huge dinner.

Every year, I let my daughter help make Rainbow Cupcakes. Nothing is so fun as the multi-colored creations. This year we wanted something different for the top of our cupcakes and so we opted for Skittles. Skittles are actually perfect for cakes. Setting the Skittles in the frosting softens them up and makes them the perfect bite.

You will need: 

  • A Cake Mix and everything to make the cake
  • Everything for the Frosting Recipe Below 
  • Skittles (I buy the HUGE bags so I don't run out)

Almond Icing:

  • 1/2 Cup of white vegetable shortening
  • 4 C. Powdered Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Water or Milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure Almond extract 
Add all of the ingredients to your mixer and mix until a even consistency. 

For these cupcakes I baked the cake according box directions. I frosted them simply without any special tips because I needed a mostly flat surface to work with. I found if I laid the Skittles flat on the cupcakes, I could get three rows to fit or if I stacked them on their sides I could fit four rows comfortably.

My 6-year-old absolutely loved these cute cupcakes and they are so easy to make that she can help me pull them together.

What do you  make for St. Patrick's Day?
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