May 18, 2011

Giveaway Results!!

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So apparently Blogger decided to have some glitches right smack-in-the-middle of the cutting board and free pizza giveaway.  If anyone had trouble leaving comments to enter, I am so sorry!!

One fantastic reader finally emailed me after having trouble with the comment form, so we managed to get a few people entered despite Blogger’s issues.

We got a whopping NINE entries for the giveaway (those are some fantastic odds, peeps!).  Since we all know we can click on the Random Number Generators to get a different number if we don’t like the first one, I took 3 results and averaged them instead.

Here we go!

First result:  6

Second result: 8

Third result: 5

Average (Winner!): SIX!

And…based on when the entries came in, the author of the sixth entry was Manda!  Congratulations, Manda, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get the goods in the mail!

Thanks for entering everyone!

May 10, 2011

Pizza Amore! Plus Giveaway!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of FRESCHETTA®. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hiya Peeps! 

I was recently contacted by Freschetta to do a review of their new FRESCHETTA® Simply…Inspired™ pizza line, and I have to say I was THRILLED! 

Lucky for them, Freschetta has been our absolute go-to frozen pizza choice for several years.  Ever since we discovered the mushroom/roasted garlic/spinach pizza, we pretty much always have one or two in the freezer for those nights when we just don't feel like cooking.  Plus, even without a coupon, they're only $6 at max - who can beat $6 for a pizza!?  In fact, here's my messy freezer now:

Needless to say, we're really impressed with the flavors and the quality of Freschetta (the proof is in the pudding, er freezer!), so a *new* line of Freschetta gourmet pizzas is right down our alley.

To try out the Simply Inspired line, we chose the Harvest Supreme variety, which is not exactly your standard "supreme" pizza... but I'll get to that.

The first thing I noticed was the packaging - Freschetta is using a new type of packaging that not only keeps the pizza fresh, but it's 30% less material than their standard packaging.  For those of us always looking to throw less into the landfill, this is really great.  The fact that companies are now taking notice and making efforts to minimize packaging is even greater!

  

If you only had smellavision, you would understand when I say that when this pizza is cooking, it doesn't smell like a "supreme" pizza.  It smells like a gourmet pizza oven restaurant where you walk in and marvel at the mixture of herbs and veggies and meats making up the Italian bouquet of aromas (seriously.) 

Something about the spinach, feta cheese (mmmmm), and the sun-dried tomatoes really kicked it up to primo status - those particular toppings really sealed the deal for me.  I'll even admit that I don't care for "supreme" pizza in general, but I loved this version.  I think calling it "supreme" actually detracts a little, because it's way better, and had I not looked closely at the toppings, I probably would've passed it up for another variety.  To add to the experience, the crust is thin and crispy - just the way I like it (because you don't fill up on bread and can eat one more slice!)

Did I also mention the gorgeous cutting board I received from Freschetta?  (I have a cutting board, yes, but it's not nearly so classy as this one.)  Made of bamboo, it has slots for utensils and a cute little dish for say....some olive oil and balsamic for our next Italian night?

    

Alright, alright, so you know I really liked this pizza.  And you know I got a cool, new cutting board that really adds a certain panache to my kitchen...

  

BUT - did you know YOU CAN WIN A FREE PIZZA AND CUTTING BOARD, TOO???

That's right!  Freschetta sent me an extra cutting board and a coupon for a free Simply Inspired pizza to give away to one of my readers so you can experience it for yourself!  Your cutting board is a little different style, too - check it out...

First, it's a cutie round cutting surface:

  

And then BAM - it slides open to reveal some neatly tucked away utensils (talk about a storage solution!)

  

Here's what you need to do for some FAREEEEEE (did I mention that?) pizza and a jazzy new cutting board:

  • Leave a comment here sharing your favorite frozen pizza! (one entry)
  • "Like" Freschetta "Simply Inspired" pizza on Facebook and let me know (one entry)  (By the way, on Facebook, Freschetta is also doing weekly giveaways through the END OF THE YEAR and offering a $2 coupon soon to its followers.  Hello, couponers!)
  • Follow @FreschettaSI on Twitter and let me know (one entry)

I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner in one week!

Good luck!

 

** The makers of Freschetta Pizza contacted me and provided the above products for my review and for your giveaway fun; however, all opinions in this post are 100% mine.**

Visit Sponsor's Site

May 9, 2011

(Fruit and) Veggie Tales ‘11: The Planting

We went from this a few weeks ago:

bare veggie garden

To this last weekend:

wall of waters
...with the help of 1) one strapping husband willing to do some tilling for his wife and 2) some rockin’ new weed fabric that decomposes and can be tilled into the soil at the end of the season.  (Not so much for weeds – mostly for turds.)

After the dirt was tilled and smoothed, I put the wall of waters up for about a week.  I always thought the wall of waters were just to keep the plants warm, but I recently found out tomatoes like their roots to be about 55-60 degrees at a minimum, so planting them in cooler soil doesn’t do them any favors.  So getting the little-green-teepees set up a little early is a good thing. Smile

Finally, this weekend, I planted my six awesome $1.69 tomato plants.  I intentionally chose much smaller plants than last years’, which stuck up out of the wall of waters and ended up getting partially frozen in a May snowstorm.  I also made sure to give each plant a couple fertilizer stakes this time around to avoid the catastrophe carnage of last year’s under-fertilized crop.  Hey.  Live and learn, right?

Varieties I planted are Early Girl, Celebrity, Better Boy, and “Large Red Cherry”. (3 of those, to get more of that cherry tomato salsa!)  So far, the plants are very happy in their little greenhouses.

Left to go into the vegetable garden are cucumber seeds, zucchini seeds, and yellow squash seeds, but these can’t be planted until later in May.

An unexpected addition to my kitchen garden this year is a clump of six ever-bearing strawberry plants!  Here’s a very informative shot of …..where they’re planted!

(Don’t mind the hose….we’ll get to that.)

Strawberries - maybe?
My father-in-law got the veggie bug this spring and ended up with a few too many strawberries, so I adopted the extras.  I’ve never grown strawberries in the ground before, so I didn’t even realize they are perennials!!!  (When you plant in pots in Zone 4, everything is an annual!)  Next year, once Bubba the Rhubarb is in his third season, we’ll even have fresh rhubarb to combine with our strawberries.  Yummmmmmmm!  (Until then, Bubba is left to his own devices.)

The raised veggie bed is no place for a perennial, so the strawberries were planted off the side of the deck.  Near the grouping are two other new perennials I picked up at a sale at Home Depot last weekend.  One is a red and white columbine (in the corner), and the other is an unidentified purple salvia. Love how I managed to grab the only plant without a tag...

New mulch!
I have one more plant that will go in this bed in a couple of weeks and then I’ll consider it “planted out”!  (YAY!)  Caveat:  I consider the deck bed to be in 4 separate chunks….so it’s really only this particular section which will be planted out.

What?  We can’t all be Yard Crashers and plant an entire yard out in a day Smile (It’s expensive!)

 Oh yeah….

How do you like dat mulch??  No wait.  That’s not a question.  Let me rephrase.

How do you like dat mulch!!!!

Suddenly the area around our deck doesn’t look like a construction zone!!!!  YAY!  The black plastic weed fabric I put down last spring has been completely removed.  (Mulch will blow away if it has weed barrier under it.)

Shredded cedar mulch
Can you see where I got tuckered out with the edger and gave up just to the far side of the stepping stones…)
or "Monkey hair" mulchMore mulchMulch - new angle

Here are some “before” shots to show you how *great* that plastic looked (yeah, it was my idea.) 

Pre-mulch days

Hey, I hear the Moody Blues are writing a new song after seeing pictures of my backyard.  It’s going to be called “Barf on Black Plastic.”

(Actually, it’s grass clippings Smile)

Weed fabric is ugly

Yeah.  Gorg.  (Ugh, Not!)

So… about that hose.

Scarecrow motion-activated sprinkler

What is it, do you ask?  Why, it’s my very own personal Yard-Sentry!

It’s that motion-activated sprinkler I’ve been yammering about as a final attempt to keep the neighbors’ cats from leaving their calling cards in our grass and flower beds….and someday I might even luck out with a video of it in action, similar to the day I lucked out with this shot of the culprits.

If I do manage to get a video…I’ll be sure to share. Winking smile

Thanks for stopping by!  Stay tuned for a giveaway sometime very soon!

May 6, 2011

A “New” Bench: Country to Cottage Chic

If I do say so myself!

My mom got this rustic little bench years ago. 

Country bench

Well, eventually, she got sick of the country look.  Around this same time, I’d been talking about keeping an eye out for a cheap bench I could put on our front porch.

As you can probably guess, putting two and two together makes…..a new bench for my front porch!

I wasn’t wild about the heart cut-outs, and the back of the bench came up several inches higher than our front window.  Solution?  Cut off the entire top portion, leaving only one heart cut-out to cover up.

I found a wooden medallion from Lowe’s and used wood glue to glue it over the heart.

Some yellow paint (to match another piece of d├ęcor destined for the porch) and mahogany stain later (wipe on, wipe off!), we have this:

Cottage BenchCottage Bench on Porch

Once it warms up just a bit more, friendly plants in the glaringly bare planters will help the porch will look even more summery and inviting.

A few more details:

  • There’s no poly on this guy.  Supposedly, poly isn’t recommended for outdoor furniture.
  • I used exterior latex paint in a satin finish.  I learned later that anything less than gloss in exterior paint is “designed to chalk” – so I should have used a gloss sheen instead.  It’s not a huge bench, so it won’t see many (if any) bums sitting on it, but still.

What else is new in the neighborhood? 

Welllllll…….

We bought some (more) mulch last weekend, to be spread this weekend.  What?  More mulch?  Because the first truckful wasn’t enough?  Unfortunately, no.  This time around, our ugly backyard deck beds will be getting a nice, fluffy layer of mulch to replace the totally-ugly-can’t-believe-our-backdoor-neighbors-still-speak-to-us black plastic weed mat that was covering the ground back there!  It is supposed to be BEE-EAUTIFUL this weekend, too, which makes mulch-spreading that much more fun.  (Yep, I’m crazy.)  I’ll *totally* have some narstay before shots to show you, along with the lovely, fluffy monkey-hair after pictures!

WHOOOOOO!!!! MULCH!!!!

Plus, I have one more quick project to brighten the porch (in addition to plants in the planters, which I already mentioned) so stay tuned.  Hopefully, I’ll knock that one out this weekend while Nick helps lay sod at a friend’s house. 

Pregnant gals don’t have to help lay sod Winking smile

One of these days, maybe I’ll even start to think about baby stuff or start on my new living room curtains with the sewing machine….!  So many projects…so little time Smile

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