Monday, December 20, 2010

Old El Paso giveaway

Why not set aside time at least once a month for "family taco night?" Old El Paso offers a variety of seasonings, sides, sauces, and meal kits as simple solutions for a night of catching up with the family over a delicious taco dinner. To satisfy your Mexican style cravings, the Old El Paso® line up of products includes chilies, dinner kits, dips and sides, enchilada sauce, refried beans, seasoning mixes, shells, taco sauce and salsa. The Old El Paso taco seasoning mix selection includes flavors like Burrito, Cheesy Taco, Chili, Fajita, Taco, Mild Taco and even a seasoning with 40% less sodium. For a fun twist on Taco Night, be sure to try one of the delicious recipes below.

Double Layer Tacos
Old El Paso Favorite Recipe! Layered taco shells and tortillas create the "double" in beef- and bean-stuffed tacos.

Chicken Ranch Tacos
Need a new idea for a 30-minute dinner? Here's a twist on tacos using precooked chicken.

To keep your family laughing at the dinner table, have some fun with El TacodorTM, the world´s only family taco night Game. With El Tacodor, your family can share a special night at home by challenging one another to quick fire trivia, wordplay and pantomime. Visit today to download instructions, a score card, and a challenge sheet for even more fun on family taco night!

Visit Old El Paso for news and great tips, recipes and more. Take a minute to share family fiesta photos and videos from family taco nights on the El Tacodor Family Spotlight!

You can visit to download a printable coupon for $0.60 off any two Old El Paso products today!

Want to win an Old El Paso "family taco night" prize pack which includes a packet of original Old El Paso Taco Seasoning, a Cactus Chip & Dip Serving dish, a set of 3 Fiesta Chili Pepper serving dishes and a $10 gift card to purchase your taco fixings?

Here is how to enter:

1) Share your favorite aspect of coming together for taco nights? (1 entry)
2) Which of the featured recipes are you most excited to try next? (1 entry)

This giveaway ends December 28, 2010 at 8 am. Please leave an email in your comment. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize. Good Luck.

***Disclosure-The coupon, information, and prize package for giveaway were all provided by Old El Paso through MyBlogSpark.

DEADLINE-Mail your Yoplait lids

It's our 12th annual drive, and we've increased our donation!

For every pink lid you send by December 31, 2010 Yoplait® will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, now up to $1.6 million. And we guarantee a donation of at least $500,000.

And now it's even easier to make a difference! We're expanding our efforts online, donating an additional $1.00 for every virtual lid you send to your friend on Facebook, up to $100,000, —so by adding this to the traditional Save Lids to Save Lives program, there is a potential for a grand total donation from Yoplait of $1.7 million!

Together, we've made such an impact to this cause resulting in a $25 million contribution over the past 12 years from all Yoplait's donation programs, helping and inspiring so many different lives.

So grab your friends, coworkers, yoga class or neighbors and start getting involved today.

Use our tools, or just pick up a spoon and you can help fight breast cancer. Every lid matters.

*For every lid that is mailed in by December 31, 2010, Yoplait® will donate 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, up to 1.6 million with a guaranteed minimum donation of $500,000. Help us keep up the support!

XIGO $2 Discount Code

Thanks to Maria Bailey and Xigo Health-

To receive $2 off each Xigo product you purchase, simply enter the code "MARIA" at checkout. If you order two or more units of any product, you'll also be eligible for free shipping. You can learn more and order your own supply of Xigo by visiting
Daily Immune Defense for Children
Safe and natural daily immune support for children*
245 mg serving of triple-action, patent-pending blend (beta glucans, L-glutamine, lactoferrin)
Zinc for oxidative stress support and healthy inflammation response*
Beta carotene for improved absorption of immune-enhancing vitamins*
30 berry-flavored chewable tablets
Daily Immune Defense
Safe and natural daily, year-round immune support*
490 mg serving of triple-action, patent-pending blend (beta glucans, L-glutamine, lactoferrin)
Zinc for oxidative stress support and healthy inflammation response*
Beta carotene for improved absorption of immune-enhancing vitamins*
30 Orange-flavored chewable tablets
Maximum Immune Defense
Extra-strength, occasion-specific immune support*
800 mg serving of triple-action, patent-pending blend
Beta glucans for speed*
L-glutamine for fuel*
Lactoferrin for increased immune cell activation and immune memory*
8 convenient single-dose packets orange-flavored chewable tablets

Disclosure-Informational post only.

Dial® Healthier You Week 4-Me Time

Dial Diaries Week 4-Me Time

It has been such a great experience helping you achieve better health and skin. My final tip is about finding that special time for yourself, something I like to call “me time.”

Carving out some special “me time” isn’t selfish; it’s actually extremely important to spend time taking care of yourself. Stress and poor sleep habits can contribute to health issues and lackluster skin that’s prone to breakouts.

With all of the multitasking that goes on in our busy lives, you’re probably wondering how to squeeze some “me time” into your life. First, get organized! That means scheduling your entire week, from planning menus to shopping for everything at once and cooking for the week on Sunday. When it comes to skin care, Dial® NutriSkin™ body wash cleanses and moisturizes in one step.

The most important part of “me time” is figuring out what will make you happier, even for a brief moment, everyday. Is it reconnecting with a past hobby or finding a new one? Maybe it’s taking a bubble bath, having a cup of your favorite tea while meditating or reading a few pages of that book you’ve been meaning to pick up. You’ll find yourself invigorated and energized with even the smallest amount of “me time” — I guarantee it.

- Amy

Independentmami-Me Time is very important. As my name says it all Independentmami knews her time to be Independent. I started blogging to let my feelings and thoughts out. This is my me time. My husband knows when I am blogging I am like in my own world. I releases my stress. I like bubble baths while I listen to music. It relaxes me from everything that has been happening whether good or bad. My husband also helps me relax with massages. It all depends what heals you and renews you. It has been great going through this for these weeks learning.

Disclosure-I received a product to review. I am also passing along information from Dial. These are my honest opinions.

Dial® Healthier You Week 3-Skin Care

Dial Diaries Week 3-Skin Care

Sunblock is the #1 tool most dermatologists recommend for preventing skin cancers and premature aging. If you want a tan, you can get it from a bottle or bronzing powder. Once you have embraced the daily SPF, then good skin care really boils down to two steps: Cleansing and Moisturizing.

Your facial cleanser should match your skin type and age. Your body wash should gently cleanse without stripping your skin of important oils and moisture. Choosing a body wash like Dial® NutriSkin™ will allow you to cleanse and moisturize in just one step. If you choose to use a separate moisturizer, use it directly after the shower while your skin is still damp. The moisturizer will seal in the water droplets for added hydration. In addition to the smart skin care choices you make, drinking water and eating plenty of fruits and veggies is extremely important in keeping your skin well-hydrated.

So, keep eating healthy, exercising and following these easy skin care tips.

- Amy

Independentmami-So when I went on my cruise back in early October I made the mistake of forgetting my sunscreen, the good stuff. I brought with me just my facial moisturizer with SPF and covered myself with that. I thought that would be enough, but it was not. I came back for our cruise with sun spots and was scared I had gotten skin cancer. But the sun spots went away as soon as time went by, and with the help of some creams. I will never do that mistake again. So believe me when I tell you to take good care of your skin. I also never knew how important it was to use facial cleanser. Your face gets dirty even if you cannot see it. I know, I get oily in my T zone. You have to find what works for you.

Week 4-Me Time

Disclosure-I received a product to review. I am also passing along information from Dial. These are my honest opinions.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dial® Healthier You Week 2-Exercise

Dial Diaries Week 2-Exercise

Welcome to week two! I’m Amy Hendel, your Dial® Healthier You program expert. If you are incorporating the skin healthy foods we discussed last week into your daily diet, then you are ready for the next step to a healthier you: exercise.

In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise can help to prevent heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. It supports a healthy and radiant complexion by promoting circulation, which carries oxygen to your skin and other vital organs. It also causes you to sweat, which flushes out dirt and debris from your pores and gives your skin that natural, rosy glow.

So how do you fit exercise into an already challenged schedule? First, write it down on your calendar so you are reminded of it every day. Then be smart about how you exercise. I’m a big fan of interval training: a program that involves a variation in pace and intensity. For example, try walking followed by timed challenges like hills, jogging or running. You can also do this with any cardiovascular machine like a stationary bike or elliptical with periods of increased resistance if there isn’t an incline option.

If you’re a beginner, work on building up to a 45- 60 minute walk almost everyday. Then you can reduce your time by adding in intervals like this beginner program for the treadmill:
• Warm up for 5 minutes at 3.2 mph.
• Alternate between steady walking at a pace of 3.3 mph for 5 minutes, followed by 1-minute challenges of 3.5 mph. Do three intervals like this.
• Toward the end of your workout, really push yourself for 2 minutes at 3.6 mph.
• Drop down to 3.5mph for 5 minutes, then 3.4 mph for another 5 minutes.
• Cool down for 5 minutes at 3.2 mph.

Over time, you will be able to increase your overall speed and intervals. Keep yourself challenged by switching from speed to hill challenges. And of course, remember to shower after your workout to remove dead skin cells and odor-causing bacteria. Plus, if you wash with Dial® NutriSkin™ body wash, you’ll be left with a delicious lemongrass or cherry scent and moisturized skin without a heavy residue.

Keep me posted in your Dial® Diaries and let me know how eating healthy and interval training is helping your skin, body and overall health!
- Amy

Independentmami-Exercise is very hard right about now. It is a crazy season for me. I am having to run aroudn and do so much. Luckily my sister in law and I have decided to start working out everyday together. We meet at my house and do a workout for 90 minutes. This is easy to do with a partner or a friend. We have also incorporated exercise over the weekends. I have completed Turkey Trot 10K at 1 hr and 16 minutes, and the Jingle Bell 5 mile run at 1 hr and 6 minutes. I am so proud of myself. This is fun.

Week 3-Skin Care

Disclosure-I received a product to review. I am also passing along information from Dial. These are my honest opinions.

Dial® Healthier You Week 1-Skin Healthy Foods

Dial Diaries Week 1- Skin Healthy Foods

Hi! I’m Amy Hendel, your Dial® Healthier You program expert. Over the next four weeks, I’m going to help you improve your skin and overall health. This week, let’s start with nutrition.

They say that you are what you eat, and when it comes to your skin’s health, your food choices can improve your skin’s resilience and clarity, slow the aging process and prevent breakouts. Keeping processed foods to a minimum and focusing on a diet rich in whole foods will help your skin maintain its health. Let’s look at the three major aspects of skin care:

Hydration: To keep your skin from becoming dry, drink lots of water and eat foods like oily fish and flaxseed that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure to include foods fortified with biotin like white meat chicken, eggs and Swiss chard to help your body process those healthy fats.

Blemish fighters: To fight breakouts, make sure to follow a proper skin care regimen, and include foods rich in zinc like vegetarian baked beans, garbanzo beans and pumpkin seeds.

Anti-aging: Commit to regular use of a broad spectrum SPF, and add vitamin E to your daily diet to prevent skin damage and wrinkles. Foods enriched with Vitamin E include tuna and fortified cereals. Dark chocolate, tea and watermelon contain compounds that will also help you fight skin damage.

When you go to the supermarket to buy these healthy skin-promoting foods, include Dial® NutriSkin™ body wash, which hydrates and moisturizes while cleansing your skin of impurities. Remember to share your healthy eating tips and experiences with us by posting your Dial® Diaries. At the end of this week, let us know if you are already seeing a positive difference in your skin!
- Amy

Independentmami-It is hard to be eating Healthy foods in the holiday season especially with all the goodies coming into to our office almost on a daily basis. But as hard as it is, once you start doing it you won't have a hard time adding it to your daily routine.

Hydration-I keep a water bottle next to my desk. I fill it as soon as I get to the office. I try to drink 1 entire bottle per hour. Since I am at work for 9 hours including my lunch, I should have drank my daily goal of 8 - 10 glasses by the time I go home.

Blemish Fighters-I like beans so no problem. My skin is fair. I normally dont have to many problems except you know, that time of the month. This time I am prepared by eating some beans.

Anti-aging-I really do not have a hard time with following the recommend food of dark chocolate. I love chocolate. I am only 32 but I know I need to take care of my skin now for later. My brother showed me a picture from my last birthday and I looked horrible. He said I looked like a little old lady. I normally put on SPF moisturizer especially when the weather keeps changing here in Houston. One day it is hot and the next it will be freezing.

Week 2-Exercise

Disclosure-I received a product to review. I am also passing along information from Dial. These are my honest opinions.

I'm a Dial NutriSkin Healthier You Member

So a couple of weeks ago I received a package. I was not sure what it was but when I opened it, it was a new Dial bodywash. I was chosen to be 1 of 100 bloggers. I was so excited to use and review the product.

I received the Ultra Hydrating Body Wash (Cherry Seed Oil & Mint). The bodywash is infused with microbeads. I like microbeads. I like the lightness of the product. And I really love the smell. It is also available in Grape Seed Oil & Lemongrass. After using it for several weeks now, I can honestly tell you it is a great product to use.

***Disclosure-I receive this product to review. These are Independentmami's honest opinions. It has been Independentmami tested and approved.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Community "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"

So who remember's the show Gumby? I do, I do. My brothers and I would watch Gumby all the time. Now that I am an adult I wonder where did those kinds of shows go. I was intrigued to watch Community as an animation. If you watch the show, you know how they like to do different things on their show. I like when shows get creative. Every now and again shows need to do this to keep us watching, if not they just become another show to watch, not the show we talk about. This episode was one to talk about. I really enjoyed watching it. This is what I call hilarious comedy.

Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas
The meaning of Christmas is lost and Abed's intense fixation on the holiday concerns the group in this special stop-motion animation episode.

If you missed it, you an go to and watch the show online.

I won't ruin it for you but come on... Merry Christmas or Season's Greetings... my boss just talked about telling someone at Best Buy Merry Christmas. The employee told him, she could not tell him Merry Christmas, and he told her, let me rethink this $600 purchase. She looked at him, hurried and said Merry Christmas sir!! too funny...
I love songs, and music in shows too.

The show was great laughs.

***Disclosure... I viewed this show for review and that I am a member of One2One Network.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

MommyParties™ sponsored by Mega Bloks Dragons Universe®

MommyParties ™ picked me to be a host of MommyParties sponsored by Mega Bloks Dragon Universe.

With Mega Bloks® Dragons Universe, Megabrands has taken classic play of man vs beast and brought it into a futuristic world designed to appeal to today's kids. With Mega Bloks® Dragons Universe, boys can build a world filled with cool new technology and weapons, and create awesome battles with huge Dragons, heroic soldiers, amazing vehicles and even surprise role-play elements. And with an open-ended story line, boys can ultimately decide who will reign victorious!

As soon as the boys knew what was in the box, they were trying to rip the box open. My son and my nephews loved to assemble the dragons, and soldiers. They each got to pick one to build. While the boys built their dragons and soldiers, we played the Mega Bloks® Dragons Universe CDs that we received in our Mommyparty kit. The parents received their contest cards to see if they were instant winners. We did not have any instant winners but the coupons were perfect. The parents went through the 2010 Mega Bloks® 2010 Catalog of Toys as the boys started asking for Christmas toys to be out on their wish lists. The boys had a great time battling.

Check out some of the boys:

To learn more about Mega Bloks® Dragons Universe toys, please visit

Disclosure- MommyParties and Mega Bloks® Dragons Universe provided the kit and information for this party. No compensation was received.

Episencial MommyParty

MommyParties is excited to introduce Episencial, the first skincare company to develop all natural and sustainable products specifically for today's actively healthy families and their green values.
Episencial is the first and only professional-quality, all natural skincare system created specifically for the unique developing skin type of babies and kids.

Free from the bad stuff like parabens, phthalates and fragrances, Episencial products are loaded with all-natural goodness and healthy organics. Plus, these gentle, newborn safe formulas feature an exclusive skin immune complex™ to boost the skin’s immune functions and help the body ward off illnesses.

Packaged in recycled and sustainable materials, and manufactured using solar power, Episencial products are good for your babies, kids and the planet!

I was picked as host for a MommyParties™ sponsored by Episencial. I received Episencial products, Episencial goodie bags, and Episencial informational brochures and coupons to share with my party guest and kiddos.

The party started with some wonderful food and games. We shared stories of our bath time rituals. We enjoyed each others stories.

We talked about all the products:

Episencial Sunblock Kit
SPF, lip care and after sun care in one convenient package
includes Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35, Protective Face Balm SPF 6, Soothing Cream
The Very Hungry Caterpillar art project!

Playful Foaming Wash
ultra pure hair & body cleanser
safe and gentle
soothing oat, thyme, ginkgo & calendula
won’t sting or irritate eyes!

Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath
long-lasting bubbly gel concentrate
smells terrific with real fruit juice extracts
won’t irritate eyes or sensitive places!

Soothing Cream
for eczema, itches, and bothered skin
restores lipids and enhances skin immunity
with oat extract and jojoba oil
balances skin flora with probiotics

Better Body Butter
silky soft hydrating lotion
calming oat extract and aloe boost skin immunity
avocado oil helps prevent cradle cap and scaly skin

Protective Face Balm, SPF 6
all-over relief for chapped skin & lips
provides serious, long-lasting moisture
with shea and coco butters
protects dry skin from every-day elements

Nurturing Balm
relieves & protects damaged skin
fortified with zinc, tea-tree and calendula
soothes and cools diaper rash and irritated skin

Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35
water resistant protection
chemical free for face and body (minerals!)
nourishes and hydrates with green tea
milky texture glides on with minimal white residue

To learn more about Episencial, please visit

Disclosure-MommyParties™ and Episencial provided supplies and information for the party. No compensation was received.

Hamburger Helper "Show Your Helping Hand" ***CLOSED***

According to Feeding America, approximately 5.7 million different people receive emergency food assistance from the organization in any given week.To raise awareness about the national issue of hunger, Hamburger Helper® is partnering with GRAMMY® Award-winning singer, songwriter and actor Tim McGraw to help Feeding America deliver millions of meals to local food banks through the Show Your Helping HandTM campaign. McGraw will lend his voice to the campaign through a Public Service Announcement which will be distributed nationwide. Click here to view the PSA.
Support the campaign by submitting codes from specially marked boxes of Hamburger Helper at or by logging on to make a donation. Hamburger Helper has already donated more than half a million dollars and will contribute up to an additional $100,000 to Feeding America through this program. Don´t think one code will make a difference? The 17 cents Hamburger Helper donates per code is enough for Feeding America to deliver one meal to a local food bank. Also you have a chance to win an autographed copy of Tim McGraw´s "Southern Voice" CD by visiting

I have a prize pack to give away to one of my readers. Here is how to enter:

1) Comment on how you will encourage others to submit codes and join the Hamburger Helper/Feeding America fight against hunger (1 entry)

2) Tweet, make sure to link in your comment. (1 entry/per tweet) unlimited

Win a Hamburger Helper/Feeding America prize pack @independentmami #myblogspark ends 12/10

3) Share on facebook.

This giveaway ends 12/10/10 at 8 am. 1 winner will be picked at Please leave your email in your comment. Good Luck.

Disclosure-This prize pack and information was all given to Indepedentmami from Hamburger Helper through MyBlogSpark. No compensation was received.

DOLE & 2011 Rose Parade Sweepstakes

DOLE is proud to be the first major brand in the industry to pack its Fruit Bowls and multi-serve Jarred Fruit in 100% fruit juice... with no syrup, refined sugars or artificial sweeteners! To celebrate, DOLE will be participating in the 2011 Rose Parade with a beautiful, "Living Well in Paradise" float, along with a once in a lifetime opportunity for ONE DOLE FAN (+ GUEST) TO ATTEND THE ROSE PARADE!

One lucky Dole fan, plus one guest, will win a four day and three night trip to Los Angeles from December 30, 2010 to January 2, 2011 to attend the 2011 Rose Parade with premium VIP seats in the grandstands during the parade.

It's easy to enter, simply “Like” DOLE on Facebook and fill out the sweepstakes entry form at The sweepstakes will also randomly award 100 DOLE Rose Parade Limited Edition Commemorative Pins each week between Nov. 4, 2010 to Dec. 23, 2010.

Good Luck!

Learn to Give Back with Primrose Schools & Dr. Z

I love volunteering. But what I love to do more is do show my son what volunteering is, and how it affects all of us. Volunteering to me is about helping others that are in need. It also is spending time with great people. We try to volunteer at least once a month. This holiday season we have alot of opportunities and events coming up. I just did a 5K for MS reasearch, a 10K for the elderly, but that is not just all I will be doing. In December my family will volunteer to put wreaths on soldiers graves. It is a tradition we all do together. I love to get involved with my family. Do you get involved with your family? Do you give some of your time?

Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose, is offering parents the four easy steps outlined below to start their children on a path to meaningful volunteerism.

Here are 4 Steps to getting your family interested in volunteering:

Step 1: Clarify your personal goals and motives for wanting to include your child in volunteer activities. Volunteering is a wonderful way to a share your values with your child. Pick a cause that is meaningful to you and your family rather than one that is simply convenient.

Step 2: Explain the importance of volunteerism and the contribution volunteers can make. A child's favorite question is "why?" Keep your answers simple and concrete. For example, if you are going to volunteer at the food bank, tell your child that "The food bank has lots of food for people who need it, and it will be our job to sort the food so that people are able to find what they need."

Step 3: Choose volunteer activities to do with your children that are age-appropriate. Children as young as three can begin volunteering. At this age they begin to enjoy participation in group activities and are better able to follow directions. Remember that a preschooler's concept of the world is not very large and is usually limited primarily to their home, neighborhood and school; therefore, it is important to keep the activity within the realm of what they can imagine. A few examples:

Participate in "clean the park" activities. Be sure to have your child wear gloves.
Take recyclables to recycling collection centers.
Act as a companion to the elderly in retirement or assisted living homes. Simply listening to their stories and relieving their loneliness provides multiple benefits for the senior citizen and your child.
Participate in local races and walks that raise money for a charitable cause that you think is important; most races have a shorter race for children.
Sort food at a food bank. Be sure to confirm that children are welcome to volunteer and that it will be a safe environment.
Step 4: Find a child-friendly not-for-profit. Ask the following questions to help you select the volunteer opportunity that is right for your family:

Does the organization have experience with and a history of successfully working with children and families? Will the organization provide me with a reference from another family who has volunteered with them?
Will the organization staff welcome my child's participation?
Is there a specific job that my child can do successfully? Who will show my children what to do?
Are there special clothes or supplies needed for my child to volunteer with this organization?
Does the organization conduct appropriate background screenings on its staff? Does the organization have insurance if there is an accident while your family is volunteering?
Can the organization provide a concrete example that will help your child understand how his or her efforts benefit others?
To find these and other great tips for parents, check out Dr. Zurn's blog at For more information on Primrose Schools, visit You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter!

"Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

10 Holiday Survival Tips

Today is the day before Thanksgiving. People are at the airport ready to go visit their families. Or you are at home prepping your house for the visitors that will be there this holiday season. Can you survive this holiday season? Usually by the time New Years comes around we are just DONE with everything. The holiday music gets on your nerves, you don't want to come close to a store, and you dread taking all those decorations down. I have 10 tips to help you survive this holiday season.

1) Be prepared. Don't let the season catch you off guard start planning ahead of time. At a Fall festival this year right before Halloween, we picked who's house we were having Thanksgiving at. I have to work a schedule because my husband and I visit both families and have Thanksgiving with both. This year we have decided we will be visiting my mom for Thanksgiving lunch. Then later on we will be having Thanksgiving dinner with my in laws. After Thanksgiving dinner or lunch, decide the Christmas schedule. We each take turns hosting.

2) Divide the Menu. You don't have to worry about hosting your entire family and having to cook everything, and then clean everything as well. Do a potluck menu. Take your menu and ask every family to bring something of the menu. This will help you, the host, have more time to host. This works great for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even New Years.

3) Pass out Responsibilities. Preparing your home can be easy. Have the husband and the kiddos each take a section in the house and lets get the house ready. At my house my son handles the trash, putting things in the right place, and any minor things I give him. My husband helps out with the landscaping, dishes, laundry, and other things that will make my job easier. Remember the more hands there are the faster it will get down, we have more things to do this holiday season.

4) Gift Exchange. If you have a big family and many gift to purchase, why not do a gift exchange. After Thanksgving dinner, put everyone's names into a bowl. Each person who put a name in will take a name out. They will purchase only one gift for that person. You can set a dollar value if you want. We only pick out 3 names since it is only 3 of us, my husband, myself, and my son. This won't break the budget since we have 2 sets of families to purchase for, the his and the hers. We do a gift exchange for my in laws family. They are a very big family with many kiddos. This works out get for our budgets.

5) Make a gift list. Write down all the names of the people you and your family need to purchase gifts for. And stick to your list.

6) Set a gift budget. You are the only who knows your money. The person receiving the gift doesn't know how you will pay, lay away, or save. Stick to your budget, don't go over.

7) Shop smart. I love to see and hear about SALE or CLEARANCE. It is what I do best. I get my gift list, and I write down what I want to buy the person next to their name. I think about things they may need or want, that maybe they can't afford or maybe are looking for. I sometimes as parents what they want for their kids. Some parents don't want toys for their kids. When my son was smaller, I would normally ask everyone to help me by getting him clothes. I was a single parent with a very small budget. My mom is still a single parent to my youngest brother, so normally I get him clothes. He needs it, and he loves that I know his style. And because I shop smart I can normally get him an entire outfit. He doesn't mind my smart shopping because he gets more than expected. If you are buying gift for your parents, think of something they can both use instead of shopping for individual gifts for each. Last year, we gave my in laws a digital photo frame, and loaded it with family pictures of the entire family. They loved their gift. Shop the Black Friday Sales. Last Year, I got home from Black friday with my entire list checked off. I found great buys, and sales that I just could not refuse. This way I saved, and I was still able to get everyone great gifts. Many stores will have sales every Saturday in December. They offer gift cards to the first shoppers. They want you to come shop in their stores, and even offer up to 60% of items on your Christmas list.

8) Check your supplies. This one is very important. Do not go to the store wondering if you have gift wrapping paper, tape, or bows. Pull out your supplies and see how much and what you actually need. Who needs 50 gift wrapping paper rolls sitting around all year long in your storage?

9) Storage. It is important that you store all your decorations together. If not you will be running around your house pulling items from everywhere. I use big plastic storage bins to store all my Christmas decorations. I have a knook in my garage and all of those bins who in there. I keep my Halloween, Fall, and Thanksgiving decorations in separate bins in my attic. This makes it easy for me to ask my honey to bring out whatever I need. You know with men it has to be easy if not they will not do it. Also, store things according to their use. I have a bin for the tree, another for outside. This way you won't be pulling for bins all day long. I have a bin just for gift wrapping paper as well. I keep scissors, tape, and bows in it too.

10) Holiday Fun. If you are a host, plan activities for your guest to do while they are there. Usually after geeting each other, and after the food, there isn't more to do. Have fun, play football. This means you ladies too. We can throw a ball, and if we can't who cares we are having fun. Have board games for the kiddos. I set up a designated area with activities to keep the kids busy after Thanksgiving dinner. After Christmas dinner and before opening presents the kids can get very anxious, so give them something to take their minds off those pretty presents calling their names. My in laws love to play lotteria, which is like a Spanish version of bingo. Whatever you do, have fun. The holidays are about families getting together. You may not see these family members but once a year at the most, enjoy their time and company.

I hope you have enjoyed my tips. I have used them and they have help with the chaos. Holidays should not be stressful but stress-free. I hope that one of these tips helps you make your holidays easier. Have a great Thanksgiving, from Independentmami and the Garza Family.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tiny Prints blogging program, making me eligible to get a $75 Tiny Prints gift certificate! For more information on how you can participate, click here."

About Tiny Prints-
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Check out Tiny Prints Christmas cards.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

10 tips for stylish layering techniques for all occasions

I love fall and winter. I love it because it is nice cool or cold weather. I love to layer clothes. Do you want to know why? Because it helps me hide my tummy. In the Fall and Winter, you can layer clothes so you don't have to carry or wear a big jacket. Houston is not a cold city. One day it is hot and another it is freezing, but again freezing for us because we don't see cold weather. But you can also layer in the Spring and Summer months. I have gotten the hang of layering my clothes just by trial and error, here are my 10 tips to layering your clothes any season. I am including pictures from my albums to show you how I layered my looks.

1) Camisole-I love to wear long camisoles under my clothes. I like the ones that have tummy control or a bra already. It is great when you are trying to just be relaxed. The girls can breath in a camisole, sometimes bras are not so friendly to the girls. The girls need a break. Here in my picture, I am wearing a camisole with a bra under my sleeveless shirt for New Years Eve.

2) half jackets-If you have a sleeve shirt you just love to wear but you need to dress it up, add a half jacket. I love my half jacket. I can add it to dresses or shirts. It completes my outfits. They come in different colors and materials. Here in the picture, My bestfriends and I are wearing half jackets on top of sleeveless shirts. It dressed up our night out look.

3) vest-I love to add vest to my look. It changes your look. You can take a plain shirt and add a vest, new outfit. Here in the picture, It is Rodeo time in Houston. I got my vest on top of my long sleeve shirt that I wore to work.
4) Muscle shirts-I wear muscle shirts alot during the spring and summer. I layer them to add color to my outfits. Combine different colors for different looks.

5) Long Sleeve Shirts-In the fall when the weather is dropping I like to wear long sleeves shirts under my shirts. It keeps me warm, no need for a jacket. Especially on a marathon or a 5K walk, long sleeve shirts come in handy. Here in this picture that was taken this past Sunday. I did a 5K. The temperature in Houston has been in the 70s during the day but on this Sunday the sun never came out. I was prepared.

6) dress-Wear a dress as a shirt and add some jeans. This look is a great look for those short mini dresses that may not fit like they use to. Like in my case, this is a dress that I wear as a shirt.

7) Spagetti shirts-I add spagetti shirts in the summer to oufits. It is great when you go to a park or the beach. Add the Spagetti shirt and now you dont have to worry about the girls showing too much.

8) Jackets-Add a jacket to your look even when it is warm outside. I love to wear jackets. I have them in all colors. I have denim, fleece, courdoroy, and dress jackets. I love to wear them to work.

9) sweaters-I have long sweaters, and short sweaters. I wear all year long. They make for great add ons to any outfit.
10) Under shirts-I love to get under shirts for my son that are different colors and throw them on under his plaid or striped shirts. This look never gets old. It also works with us ladies. Have a nive button down shirt you like but have gained alittle in the middle. I throw an undershirt on, and leave my shirt on open. I love to use this look. You can wear jeans, or skirts with this look.
My weigh varies throughout the year, but it varies during the month. I like to say right now I am wearing a bloated size 8. So these tips help me with my bloated size size 8. The layering will allow you to get back into your size. You don't need to buy new clothes. Want to get your moneys worth, then make more than one outfit and look from the same pieces. Layered them on. Play with your clothes in front of your mirror. I hope you enjoyed my layering pics. But you get the point.

***Disclosure-I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Cuddl Duds blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kindercare’s “Winter Boredom Busters"

Kindercare Offers Boredom Busters for Winter Fun
(shhh...these are educational, too! :) )

Tips and Ideas to Keep Kids Busy this Winter!

As the days get shorter and weather turns colder, parents are often faced with more out-of-school time and the age-old question, "What can we do?" from children. Now, parents can look to KinderCare Learning Centers, a leading provider of early childhood education, for engaging and age-appropriate activities for their kids to enjoy over the winter months, including KinderCare Winter Science Camp, reading resources and other ideas that are great boredom-busters! KinderCare offers the following ideas for "weathering the winter season" with your children.

KinderCare Winter Science Camp:

The secret's about to get out: science is a blast! At the end of December, 1600 KinderCare Learning Centers across the U.S. transform into Winter Science Camps that give preschoolers through school-agers a chance to unlock the mysteries of the natural world. Split into eight 1-day segments to better meet the needs of busy families staying in town for the holidays, Winter Science Camp uses age-appropriate activities and a lively, hands-on approach to get kids excited about what they're learning. From fish to flowers, from robots to recycling-each center's camp covers chemistry, earth science, and physics. Among many activities, younger campers will get to be "science detectives," solving a series of science mysteries by using touch, smell and hearing. Meanwhile, school-aged kids will be busy experimenting with colored dyes, creating everything from paper to volcanic eruptions, building balloon rockets, and more. Kids can attend all eight days of camp, or drop in for a day or more. For more information about how KinderCare Winter Science Camp makes science as fun as it is smart, visit

Winter Reading:
There is nothing better than snuggling up with your child and a good book. Reading to a child on a regular basis is by far the best way to encourage a budding reader. From the earliest ages, parents are encouraged to begin a reading routine with their children. Building on its robust literacy curriculum and teaching expertise, KinderCare is now providing parents with a comprehensive reading guide (available at that incorporates tips on reading to infants, toddlers and preschoolers as well as recommended age-appropriate book titles. Some tips include:
o You can help cultivate baby's interest in books by choosing ones that capture his or her attention such as board books, pop-up books, etc. Your child will want to see these again and again.
o While reading together, ask questions about the pictures. Children are delighted in finding objects on the page. If they're saying 'da' and pointing at the dog, say, 'Yes, that's the dog,' If the child says 'ball,' follow up with, 'That's a blue ball.' You'll be giving them additional language for their verbal bank.
o Ask your child open-ended questions about the story you are reading, such as "Why do you think that happened?"

Play Time
The colder weather outdoors offers a good excuse for good old-fashioned indoor play time. Play is the natural work of children and essential to learning. Through play, children develop social skills, the ability to solve problems and the courage to express their ideas. The following are some quick tips for educational and fun family playtime:
o For infants, playing peek-a-boo will help baby recognize your voice.
o To help infants and toddlers develop fine motor skills, provide a variety of soft, easy-to-grasp toys, such as soft blocks or plush toys.
o Blow bubbles with your child and watch them have a blast as they chase and catch the bubbles - both reinforce motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

About KinderCare
· With more than 1,600 centers located in 39 states and the District of Columbia, KinderCare Learning Centers, an accredited early childhood provider, offer a range of educational programs and after-school care for infants as young as six weeks old to school-aged children through age 12. For more information, visit

***Disclosure-Compensated Post for pass along information.

Winter's Songs: A Windham Hill Christmas

Are you ready for the holidays? With all the chaos of shopping at the stores and at the mall, you need some music that will help relax you, and put you back into the mood of the season. I love the holidays. I love the music that comes with it. Check out the songs on this cd.

Play List:
1. Joy to the World
2. Angels We Have Heard On High
3. Circle Of Joy
4. Patapan
5. Greensleeves
6. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
7. The Compleat Nutcracker Sweet
8. December Morning
9. The Dove's Return
10. Salve Regina

I loved the music. I didn't need a voice or vocals, guess why? I was singing. This cd is great for putting on when you are going to decorate your house with the lights, and decorations. It puts you in the spirit. The weather here in Houston sometimes may not feels like Christmas but it's just around the corner. My family pulls out all the decorations and we decorate our trees the day after Thanksgiving. I have been getting ready pulling out decorations, and checking what else we need. This cd has kept me in the spirit.

***Disclosure-I received this cd to review. No compensation was received. This cd has been Independentmami's ear tested and Independentmami's ear approved.

Karo® Cookie Exchange

Share your best cookie and cookie bar recipes with the new Cookie Exchange Application on Facebook. The app allows you to submit your own recipe, let your friends know you've entered and vote and comment on your favorites. By participating, you create a "living cookbook" to encourage baking and cookie exchanging all year long. Plus, you could win amazing prizes from Cadco, KitchenAid®, Williams-Sonoma, Vollrath® and!

Go to

The Cookie Exchange App will be live from now until Tuesday, January 4th so you have plenty of time to stock up on great recipes and add your family's favorites.

Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win an ACH prize package in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today Tuesday, November 16th Jack in the Box is give away Two (2) FREE Tacos to anyone with NO PURCHASE REQUIRED. Just walk in the store and ask for your FREE TACOS. (Limit 2 tacos per customer; at participating locations only).

Friday, November 12, 2010

JAKKS PACIFIC Holiday 2010

Are you thinking about your Christmas list? Well I have 2 toys you will want to add to your list.

For the girls-
Disney Princess characters as cute baby dolls and toddler dolls. Choose from Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Ariel, and the newest Disney Princess character, Tiana.
-Each 12-inch soft bodied Disney Princess baby doll is dressed in an adorable onesie in her signature color and tiara. Ages 2+, Suggested retail price: $9.99
-Each 15-inch Disney Princess toddler doll is dressed in her signature ball gown and features beautiful rooted hair, poseable legs, and a tiara. Ages 3+, Suggested retail price: $19.99

These are great for all the little baby girls in your life. The parts are bigger so you don't have to worry about them harming themselves. They can still have their baby dolls, like the big girls have. And who doesn't love the Disney princess?

For the boys-Real Construction Deluxe Tool Set includes a whole tool set-a hammer, screwdriver, hole borer, small detail saw, nails & screws, multiple pieces of Kid Wood material, and an instructional project book featuring 2 projects-over 120 pieces. Ages 5+, Suggested retail price: $24.99
Additional sets in line include:
The Starter Tool Set that includes a small hammer, saw, nails, kid-wood material, and an instructional project book featuring 6 different projects to choose from, Suggested retail price: $9.99
The Tool Belt Set includes a belt to carry all your tools, Suggested retail price: $14.99
The Fasteners Pack comprised of screws, nails, and hinges, Suggested retail price: $9.99
The Kid Wood refill packs, Suggested retail price: $5.99

So I must admit when dad and I first look at this Kid Wood set we were very surprised. It is foam. It is a wonderful way for boys to get to share in the experience of wanting to play and act like daddy. The boys will love all these tool sets. They can get creative and build with the instructional guides.

***Disclosure-I received both toys to review. No compensation was received. These toys have been Independentmami kid tested and Independentmami kid approved.

NEW Johnson's baby products

Johnson's Honey Apple Baby Wash

-Clinically proven to be gentle and mild

-NO MORE TEARS formula is as gentle as pure water

-Allergy tested

-Dermatologist tested

-Formulated with honey and apple, ingredients known for nourish benefits

-Sweet, fresh smell

-Suggested retail price: $3.49

Johnson's Honey Apple Lotion

-Clinically proven mildness formula

-Fast-absorbing leaves skin feeling soft and smooth, not greasy

-Dermatologist tested

-Formulated with honey and apple, ingredients known for nourishing benefits

-Sweet, fresh smell

-Suggested Retail Price: $3.49

Johnson's Baby Bubble Bath & Wash Melon Splash

-Johnson is the #1 choice of hospitals

-NO MORE TEARS formula is as gentle to the eyes as pure water

-Soap-free, dye-free, hypoallergenic and allergy tested

-Dermatologist and pediatrician tested

-Gentle enough to use every day for both girls and boys

-Refreshing melon scent

-Suggested retail price: $3.99 for 15oz

So everyone knows my baby is 11 yrs old going on 12 now. And the Johnson's products I used are now classics next to these new products. I love the new scents. When having your first baby or another baby, you want products that will not harm your baby. The Johnson's body washes and lotions are great for babies at any stage because they are so well tested. I have never had a problem with their products. So bring on the bubbles... it's Johnson's bath time.

***Disclosure-I received products to sample. I am a Johnson's product user. I love Johnson's products. No compensation was received. These products were all Independentmami tested and Independentmami approved.

New Johnson's Products for Women

NEW Johnson's Baby Powder Cornstarch with Magnolia Petals

-Clinically Proven Mildness contains cornstarch that absorbs moisture to keep baby's skin dry and comfortable -Leaves skin feeling smooth and soft
-Light, floral scent
-Suggested retail price: $4.39 for 15oz

This product just hit the stores this July. Available at food, drug, and mass-market chain stores.

NEW Johnson's Hand & Face Wipes

-Helps wipe away 95% of dirt and germs
-Contains the NO MORE TEARS formula
-Alcohol-free and dye-free
-Hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested
-Suggested retail price: $2.49 (one pk contains 25 disposable wipes)

NEW Johnson's Baby Oil Body Wash

-Cleans and helps hydrate skin leaving it feeling baby soft
-Formulated with Johnson's baby oil to leave skin feeling moisturized all day long
-Non-greasy, rich, creamy texture
-Dermatologist and allergy-tested
-Suggested retail price-$3.99 for 13.5 oz

***Disclosure-I received products to sample. I am a Johnson's user. I love their products. No compensation was received.

Walk to fignt MS on Sunday!

Texas, Houston - walk MS: Downtown Houston 2010 presented by KBR
Walk MS is the rallying point of the MS movement, a community coming together to raise funds and celebrate hope for the future.

Date: Sunday, November 14, 2010
Location: Downtown Aquarium
Address: 410 Bagby St. Houston, TX 77002
Walk Opens: 8:00 a.m.
Walk Begins: 9:00 a.m.
Live Music: Allen Oldies Band
Route: 1 mile accessible route
5K route (NOT accessible)

I am walking this Sunday for a great cause!! click here to donate.

Join The Movement!

Walk MS is the rallying point of the MS movement, a community coming together to raise funds and celebrate hope for the future. Be there. Because every movement you make and every dollar you raise supports the mission to create a world free of MS.

Why I Walk

Multiple sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving. Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment, made possible from the funds raised in events like the Walk MS, are moving us closer to a world free of MS.

Why You Should Sponsor Me

I’m walking to create a world free of multiple sclerosis, and you can join me in the movement by sponsoring these efforts. The money that we raise together will not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also provide programs which address the daily challenges of people living with MS today. Across the National MS Society, Lone Star this year, the Walk MS series is striving to raise at least $1.6 million, but it takes the commitment and dedication of thousands of Texans to make that a reality. Any amount you can contribute does make a difference.