Favorite Dare Cracker Recipes [Win $250 and more!]

I have always loved crackers of any kind, be it for party hors d’oevres, post-dinner in lieu of dessert or late evening for a snack. They are the perfect vehicle - bite-sized and crispy - to deliver all sorts of sweet or savory goodness. I normally just layer on cheese or salami and call it a day but when I saw these delicious cracker recipes that were created by celebrity chef Kayne Raymond for Dare Crackers, I got inspired (and hungry!) to take my cracker toppings up a notch.

My favorites from the list of 10 include:
1. Smokin’ Good Prawns - I’m a lover of prawns so this one spoke to me.
2. “Dave”Viled Eggs - need I explain further?
3. Simply Elegant - that combo of balsamic vinegar, Manchego cheese and sun-dried tomatoes makes my mouth water.
4. Dada Daughter Ice Cream Sandwiches - crackers for dessert = yes please!

And now on to some really fun stuff…sweepstakes! Dare Crackers has two sweepstakes going on right now and I’m excited to share them with you. You can enter both of them - they take just seconds to enter and you could be a big winner!

Two Sweepstakes - Two Ways to Win!

Inspire Every Bite Sweepstakes
New Dare Crackers chef and spokesperson, Kayne Raymond, will invite one lucky winner into the kitchen for the Inspire Every Bite Sweepstakes on Facebook. Go to Inspire Every Bite Sweepstakes and vote for your favorite recipe for a chance to co-host your next party with Chef Kayne. Feeling inspired by a different flavor? Visit every day and cast your vote for a new favorite. Each vote is a chance to co-host your next party for nine guests with Chef Kayne Raymond.

$250 Amex Gift Card Giveaway
Vote for your favorite Dare Crackers recipes by clicking on the images below - the more, the better but at least four. Be sure to click the “done” button and register via email or Facebook when you’ve made your picks so you are entered to win a $250 Amex gift card. You don’t even need to leave my blog to pick your favorites and be entered to win.

My Jigsaw Puzzle Obsession [by the Numbers]

I have always loved jigsaw puzzles. As a young girl, jigsaw puzzles were something I did with my parents during summer vacations spent at our cottage in Canada. I had a dry decade in my 20s when I was working (or playing) too hard to really get into jigsaw puzzles. More recently I have rediscovered my love of jigsaw puzzles and I think it’s fair to say that it is approaching obsession/addiction level. If one can be a jigsaw-aholic, then I am one!

So I decide to crunch the numbers on my jigsaw-ing. Here they are:

Time Spent Doing Jigsaws
5 hours / week [more during vacations / less most work weeks]
260 hours / year
11 days or 1.5 weeks / year
488 days or nearly 1.5 years over my lifetime

Pieces Put Together
4 puzzles / month
48 puzzle / year
>2,000 puzzles over my lifetime [assuming I live a good long life!]
60,000 pieces / year [assumes average of 1,250 pieces/jigsaw]
1MM+ pieces over next 17 years

Money Spent
$25 / puzzle
$1,200 / year
$4.62 / hour of enjoyment
$50,000 over my lifetime

A few things I’d like to share about jigsaw puzzles for those enthusiasts that can relate (please do comment!) and those that know someone like me and might want to understand the obsession.

1. Regular, old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles are the best. I’m a not a fan of 3-D puzzles or puzzles that have weird shapes. Ravensberg is the best brand in my opinion.

2. My ideal number of pieces is 1,500. I will sometimes go down to 1,000 pieces or up to 2,000 pieces. Anything more or less than that is either not enough or too overwhelming.

3. I have a very particulate way I do my jigsaws - outside first, pockets of color next and then organize by shape for the remainder (e.g. the sky or some other big block of color.)

4. Expanding on #4 - I have a difficult time when people want to get in on my jigsaw puzzling. They move the pieces around and it really bothers the OCD person that I am. The one exception is my daughter. I love-love-love doing puzzles with her!

5. If allowed I can go 4-5 hours or more on a jigsaw in one sitting. My friend Emily told me she has sometimes gone 8+ hours on one. I could probably do that except that I get pulled away for something silly like work, eating, looking after my kids, etc (yes, I joke!)

6. When I am doing a jigsaw I find myself thinking about it a lot - I want to attack it first thing in the morning, I want to sneak time to do it during the day, I can’t wait to start in on it at night. It may surprise some people who know me well but I would rather do a jigsaw puzzle than watch reality TV!

So now you know my secret. I guess being addicted to jigsaw puzzles is really not that bad when compared with other things I could get obsessed with. It is something that truly does calm me and takes away the stress. If only it was something that also burned calories than I’d be super fit to boot!

Michael Kors Must-Haves (Vote and Win!)

Vote for your favorite purses, wallets, watches and other accessories from Michael Kors and you’ll be automatically entered to win a $100 gift card from eBags. Just click on the vote buttons below to pick your faves and be sure to click the “Done” button to register your votes and be entered to win!

Bunnies and Chicks and Eggs…Oh My!

Easter is a fun time to decorate the house and delight the children with all things bunny, chick and egg. And who doesn’t love all those delicious pastel colors?!

Pottery Barn always has the best holiday decorations, and their Easter collection is great. Pick your favorites from the curated list below and you will be entered to win $50. It’s that easy!

Edible Valentines Day Gifts for the Sweet Tooth in your Life

I don’t have a big sweet tooth but most of my family does. My sister is perhaps the biggest chocoholic I know followed closely by my mother. My daughter seems to have taken after her grandmother and aunt while my son is all about candy. My husband is also known to dabble in the sweets.

That is why I was excited to find this great list of edible Valentines Day gifts. These are your garden variety chocolate hearts or the heart-shaped box with mass produced chocolates. All of these edible ideas are artisanal and quite unique.

I recently had my first Chuao Chocolatier Chocolate Bars - a friend gave me the firecracker bar which was full of pop rocks that exploded in your mouth when you ate the chocolate bar. I loved it so much I looked up other flavors and was happy to find out they also offer a potato chip bar, a maple bacon bar, and pop corn bar. Did I mention that I love things that are salty and sweet?!

Have a look at some of these other edible Valentines Day gifts. I think you’ll agree they would make great gifts pretty much year-round.

What Are Your Favorite Comfort Foods?

I am a comfort food-kinda gal. If mac and cheese is on a menu, I’m ordering it. When given the choice between roasted chicken and fried chicken, I’m going with fried. Grilled cheese…yes please! Don’t even get me started on breakfast and dessert comfort food. You can see all my favorites in one list here - Eden’s Favorite Comfort Foods.

Now it’s your turn! You can pick your favorite comfort foods by clicking on the images below and then clicking the “done” button that appears. Not only will you be able to share and compare your list with friends or see what makes the Top 10 list, but will be automatically entered to win $100. Not bad for saying yes to the likes of mac and cheese, fried chicken and apple pie!

Don’t forget to vote for your faves and share your picks on Pinterest before February 28th to qualify for the $100 gift card. Leave me a comment if you have any questions.

A 9 Year Old’s Speech on Bullies

This is not a typical post for me. Usually I like to share lists or crunch numbers rather than write meaty posts. However my 9 year old son Kellan was recently required to write and deliver a speech about something important to him as part of his school’s focus on Martin Luther King and his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Kellan decided to focus on bullies.

I helped him do some research on the Internet but the below speech is truly his own. I hope he doesn’t mind that I am sharing it on my blog but I am just so proud of him. Now if he will only let me post a video of him giving the speech…

By Kellan, 3rd Grade

Hi, my name is Kellan. And I want to ask you a question. Do you know what Tiger Woods, Michaels Phelps and Lady Gaga all have in common?

They were all bullied as children. Tiger Woods, perhaps the best golfer ever, was tied to a tree and called racial slurs. The bullies also made fun of his stutter.

There are many different types of bullying. Bullying is any unwanted, aggressive behavior that is repeated over time.

1. There is verbal bullying like teasing someone or calling them mean names.
2. There is physical bullying which just means hurting someone on purpose.
3. There is social bullying which is when you hurt someone’s reputation by saying bad things behind their back or leaving them out of group activities.
4. And then there is the newest kind of bullying. Cyber bullying is any kind of bullying done online.

Now that I’ve explained what bullying is, I want to share some facts with you. 1 in 7 students in Kindergarten through high school is either a bully or a victim of bullying. 56% of students have personally witnessed bullying. And 1 in 10 students drop out of high school because of being repeatedly bullied.

These numbers really shocked me, and quite honestly made me sad. I wanted to talk about bullying because it happens everywhere and every day, and it can make people really sad and affect them for the rest of their lives.

So what can we do about it? There are a few things that even us kids can do to stop bullying.

1. Tell an adult if you are being bullied or you witness bullying.
2. If your friend or classmate is being bullied then stick up for them and tell the bully to stop.
3. Treat everyone with respect. We are all different but that’s a good thing.

I hope I’ve shared some helpful information on bullying and how we can stop it. Thank you for your time!

This or That: Comfort Food

I am doing some very important research around comfort food (actually not really…it’s just fun.) If you don’t like either of these two popular comfort foods than feel free to leave a comment with your favorite comfort food.

Breakfast Comfort Food

Lunch or Dinner Comfort Food

Dessert Comfort Food

Two of my Favorite Blogs

I am a proud blogging mom as both my children have started to blog. It was truly their initiative and I couldn’t be happier to be helping them with their blogs.

Stealing Home with Kellan
First my son Kellan started his blog called Stealing Home With Kellan which (as the name would imply) is focused on baseball and other sports. Kellan never had any doubt what he would blog about since he is a sports fanatic. Although he just turned 9 years old, his knowledge of all things sports - especially baseball, football and basketball - is astounding. Ask him stats on any baseball player and he will rattle them off. Question him about college football or the NFL and he will have all sorts of things to say. Talk to him about basketball and he will get fired up about the NCAA or the NBA. Please do check out his blog and leave a comment. He absolutely loves reading people’s comments and will always respond!

Chapel Chat
Chapel is my 6 year old daughter’s name. Once she found out her older brother had a blog, she had to have one. She liked the name Chapel Chat and decided her blog would focus on all the things she loved. A typical post might be reviews of the books she has recently read or a list of her favorite birthday presents or American Girl doll outfits. She also has an eye for fashion (I know that sounds absurd since she is only 6 but it’s true!) so she will also write about that. Please do click over and see her blog - it is adorable and mom is so proud!

9 Easy Hairstyles for Little Girls

It seems that 6 year old girls fall into two camps - those that are happy to go to school with their hair tangled in knots and those that want their moms to do elaborate hairstyles each morning. My daughter falls in that second category. Unfortunately she has a mother who was happy with tangled hair as a girl and is still content to pull her hair back in a simple ponytail when it misbehaves.

Thus my search for some simple yet impressive hairstyles that even I could do in the 5 minutes I have in the morning to get my daughter ready. The good news is there are some wonderful tutorials online for these hairstyles. Here are 9 that have pleased my daughter. And if I can do them, anybody can!