Sunday, April 8, 2012


I am no longer going to be using this page for reviews. Please redirect yourself to my personal blog,

Barking Mad!



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Better Choices are Better for Me!

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Jimmy Dean, however the opinions and feelings expressed here are my own

As part of making much needed lifestyle changes in my own life, many of my readers know that I've kicked off my "Weight and See" goal of losing 250lbs. I'm almost 70lbs down and moving forward. So much of this journey involves making better choices in the foods I eat. For me this can be a bit frustrating as I don't have a lot of time in the morning to prepare a hearty breakfast that includes everything I need in order to fuel the busiest part of my day. I don't like milk, so eating cereal becomes an exercise in waste because I end up tossing the left over milk. This also leaves me seriously lacking in my protein goals for the day. Early morning is usually when I try and get in the most intense of my workouts for the day which includes aerobics, swimming and usually more than 35 minutes spent on the elliptical machine. I really need my morning meal to not only be tasty, but easy to prepare, nutritionally balanced and filling!

As we move towards the new year, I want to seriously kick up and intensify all of the changes I'm making...permanent lifestyle changes that will lead not only to a thinner, healthier me, but a happier me, in every aspect of my life. Spending more time working out, getting out of the house with my five year old daughter and truly enjoying my life! Spending an inordinate amount of time fixing breakfast and then trying to figure out how many calories are in it and whether or not I've met my protein goal (protein is vitally important as it aides in the production and repair of muscle...muscle which is sometimes stressed or even damaged during intense workouts. If you aren't getting adequate protein in your diet, your body may use it's protein stores as fuel rather than for building and repairing muscle.), is more than I have time for.

Trying to balance my time and nutritional needs has been stressful to say the least. Come on moms out there...we all know that the mornings are sometimes the most stressful part of our day! We've got little ones - or even not so little ones - that demand our time, we're trying to get them ready for the day and off to school, get ourselves ready to face the day. That's just one of the reasons I was so excited when I found Jimmy Dean D-Lights breakfast sandwiches and breakfast bowls!

I can get everything I need for under 300 calories whether it's a Turkey Bacon Bowl or a Turkey Sausage Reduced Fat Croissant - my personal favorite. I can pop the sandwich in the microwave and in less than two minutes I have 17 grams or protein in a really yummy sandwich that only has 290 calories. I usually have 8 ounces of fresh squeezed orange juice (110 calories - such a treat for me, but I love it!) and 5 small strawberries, for a total of under 500 calories! Most important, I haven't spent the better part an hour cooking or preparing something that would give me the same protein packed breakfast and be something I enjoy and don't end up pouring down the drain. Oh and did I mention it's really yummy? I love turkey sausage and I've been using Jimmy Dean's turkey sausage products for the last year. Regular sausage is not only filled with fat, but to me, it can be too highly seasoned and too salty! I don't find that to be the case with Jimmy Dean's turkey sausage products. Lower fat, full of protein and tasty all equal better for me!

Choices...real meaningful choices that lead to permanent change in order to live a healthier more enjoyable life that balances my need for time and nutrition, doesn't have to be difficult. I was so happy to find the Jimmy Dean Breakfast D-Lights. It's a good choice for me that fits in so well with my ultimate goal of a healthier, balanced and enjoyable life!

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What sort of better choices are you making for yourself this year that will lead to a happier you in the New Year? I'd love to hear what you're going to be doing! Leave me a comment telling me how you're incorporating better choices and you'll automatically be entered into a contest to win a $100 gift card! This giveaway runs from 12/28/2010 to 1/30/2011. Good luck!

No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) Read the official rules for alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Visit the official rules.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Didn't Want to Like It

This is a sponsored review by BlogHer and Newman's Own.

I am extremely picky when it comes to pizza.   Maybe that's an understatement.   I like my pizza a certain way and that way only.   I grew up in southern California and we had a little pizzeria that my parents frequented and I loved the Sicilian-style pizza that we'd get a couple of times a month.   I can still remember the mouthwatering meld of flavors, the fluffy - but not doughy - crust, the mounds of cheese, the huge slices of pepperoni and spicy Italian sausage, thick black olives, crispy bell peppers,  and then even more cheese on top of that.   That's what I considered great pizza!  

When I was younger, I might even have referred to those pizzas as a "religious experience."  They were just that good!  One of my best childhood friends even called those pizzas, "Slap your mama good!"   Since then, I've measured almost every other pizza I've had, against it.  Most, if not all, have fallen short.   Having just recently moved from Maine to New York, everyone told me that the pizza here was "to die for" and that once I had a slice of "genuine New York pizza" I'd never eat any other kind.  To make a long story short, I am still alive and will probably remain so if I never have another slice of "genuine New York pizza" ever again.  

Being that my pizza standards are high (by my own estimation), it's not a leap to assume that frozen pizza is not high on my list of things I enjoy or even purchase...that was, until I had the opportunity to try a couple of Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizzas.   Why the openness to trying something that obviously didn't come from that tiny pizzeria in southern California?   It's simple, my family are huge fans of Newman's Own spaghetti sauce!  If I don't spend all day making my own sauce, I always have Newman's Own on hand.  We also love Newman's Own popcorn and lemonade.  I reasoned that if the spaghetti sauce was that good (and it is!), why not try the pizza? 

I was a tad hesitant because in my mind, pizza should not be "thin and crispy" should have a thick hand tossed crust and not crumble like a cracker when you bite into it.   I really wasn't sure what to expect when it came to the pizza, especially being that it was a frozen pizza.  Let's be honest.  Most frozen pizzas taste like the cardboard they're placed on.   I'm not sure whether it's the lack of quality ingredients that go into them, or all the additives, but they just don't taste good.

My husband Gareth, a very discerning Brit, was even more skeptical than I was when it came to a frozen pizza.   Pizza, in general, in the UK, where he grew up, is not even a fraction as popular over there as it is here.  In all the time I lived over in the UK, I can't even remember seeing frozen pizza stocked in most grocery stores.   In general, Gareth doesn't like pizza and will suffer through a slice or two of cheese pizza only whenever we have it delivered.   For the most part, he'd prefer to not eat it.   Frozen pizza is even lower on the list of things he enjoys suffering through.  It's understandable that he wasn't very excited when I told him that we were going to be eating a couple of frozen pizzas for dinner one night.

I took the two boxes of Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizza out of the freezer and set them on the counter.  I bought the Four Cheese and Pepperoni pizzas.  I looked over the list of ingredients and was pleasantly surprised to see that these pizzas have ZERO trans fats and no artificial ingredients either!  "NO" doesn't just stand for "Newman's Own" but it also represents NO modified food starch, NO sodium nitrate, and NO modified corn starch.   The only aspect of baking these pizzas that surprised me is that it's not recommended that you use a cookie sheet...meaning you have to place them directly on the oven rack.  I was worried about melting cheese and pizza toppings falling to the bottom of my oven and then burning, thus creating a huge mess.   That didn't happen! 

I set the timer, made a tossed green salad, set the table and had my preschooler wash her hands before we ate.  By the time we were all done setting the table, the timer went off.   I opened the oven and I have to admit, the smell was wonderful.  Not what I was expecting.   The cheese was bubbly and the sides of the pizzas were a beautiful golden brown color.  As we all sat around the table and took a couple of slices of pizza you could tell, just by looking at one another, that we were not expecting the pizzas to be anything special. 

The first person to take a bite was my uber-picky 4-year-old preschooler.  She instantly proclaimed she "loved it!"    Then came my husband who, after a couple of bites, declared that he wouldn't mind if we had this more often.  What a shock that was, coming from the man who doesn't really like pizza!  Then it was my turn.   What a surprise!  It tasted unlike any frozen pizza I have ever eaten before.  It honestly was that good!  I've never had a thin and crispy pizza crust and I loved it!  The flavors of the cheese and tomato sauce were intense but not overwhelming and the pepperoni on the pepperoni pizza wasn't overly salty yet it was spicy and so good!   I actually ended up really liking the thin and crispy crust!   I wasn't overwhelmed with mouthfuls of dough - like I normally am with a regular hand-tossed crust.   We liked this pizza so much that I went out and bought a couple more Newman's Own Thin and Crispy pizzas to store in the freezer for one of those nights when pizza sounds good and we don't want the expense or all the added artificial ingredients that come along with having a costly pie or two delivered!  I might even go as far as to call  Newman's Own Thin and Crispy Pizzas, "Slap your mama good!"

In celebration of my delicious new find I am going to be giving away a Newman's Own gift basket valued at $75.   All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and tell me what your favorite pizza toppings are.    You can find the official BlogHer/Newman's Own contest rules here.

Now, go treat yourself to one of these awesome pizzas!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Tales From the Windowsill

A little whimsy, a dash of daydream, and a sprinkle of pixy dust; that pretty much sums up my life-long love of Tinker Bell.

From the first time I saw Peter Pan with my Aunt Meta and begged her to take me to see it again and again, to sitting and watching it over and over and over when Disney released it on VHS; Tinker Bell was as integral to my life as was the childhood Winnie the Pooh books I grew up with, and like the books, I still fancy her to this day.

My Aunt Meta and Grandma used to tell me stories about how Tinker Bell and her sister pixies would come and visit them in the middle of the night. They’d perch themselves upon their windowsill and wait for the telltale flash, flash, flash, among the dusty blue hydrangeas. Every once in a while Aunt Meta and Grandma would sneak through the open window with Mason jars in hand and attempt to catch the elusive pixie and her sisters. I pictured them in their long old-fashioned nightgowns, giggling softly to one another as they’d sneak up unbeknown to the pixies and try to capture one.

Little did I know what they were trying to catch were, in fact, fireflies. Growing up in Southern California, fireflies were something out of fairy tales, and almost as magical as Tinker Bell herself. While I’d never seen a firefly I knew they existed and it was much the same with my beloved Tinker Bell. If I believed hard enough, and with just a pinch of pixie dust, sure enough, she’d be flitting outside my very own window one night. I wasn’t lucky enough, as a child, to witness the enigmatic creature. Yet I still hung onto my love of Tinker Bell and all things pixie.

Several years later when I was living in central Ohio, I was walking outside at dusk and thought I was seeing things; flash, flash, flash… Then, out of the corner of my eye, there she was! Tinker Bell! Not only was she there, but so were her sister pixies, in force! I stood there for some time, bewitched and bedazzled as they flitted about in the early evening as the sun set on the western horizon. I watched them dance and flutter from the mauve petals of the late spring roses to the happy yellow faces of the Gerbra daisies, sprinkling a bit of pixie dust on each petal they alighted upon.

I was momentarily transported back to a time when I’d sit by my window as a little girl while the breeze blew my curtains against my cheek, and imagine the soft strains of invisible harps and flutes accompanying the pixies as they danced and sang. In my adult world, I knew they were but fireflies, but I stood there, part woman, part child and reveled in being privy to a sight few humans ever witness…Tinker Bell herself and her sister pixies right there before me in the luminous hours of twilight, gracing me with a dance.

It is with as much, if not more, enthusiasm that I share my love of Tinker Bell with my not-quite 3 year old daughter, Gaby Rose.

Peter Pan is a bedtime favorite in our house, and we are especially excited whenever we glimpse sightings of Tinker Bell on television! I watched with amazement as Gaby Rose witnessed Tinker Bell for herself this summer, for the very first time, outside on our back deck.

Dusk was settling in, here along the New England coast, and as the waves crashed against the shore and the gulls soared overhead, she and I watched the tiny pixie dash between flower and leaf, and I listened to the excited squeals of delight as Gaby Rose sang to the pixie. I like to imagine that Tinker Bell sang back to her, in a voice that only my wee one could hear. The twinkle in my daughter’s eye was proof enough for me that pixies and especially Tinker Bell are real! In fact, I’m almost certain that the morning after Gaby Rose saw her first pixie, I saw the tiniest bit of pixie dust left behind on the leaves of the rose bushes that line our backyard. It might possibly have only been a firefly darting between flower and leaf, but deep inside my soul lies a child who sings out to the pixy in our back garden, and she reaches out to my daughter and encourages her to do the same.

You and your children can share in the magic as well! The long awaited and much anticipated Tinker Bell movie will be released on DVD and Blue Ray on October 28th! Maybe you and your little ones will catch a glimpse of my friend, Tinker Bell, too!

Don't forget to check out the sweepstakes where you can enter to win a Tinker Bell DVD!

This is a compensated post in partnership with BlogHer and Disney in honor of the new release, Tinker Bell, which will be available on DVD and Blue Ray on October 28th.