Monday, August 30, 2010

ViCera™ Ceramic Knives Giveaway..... (And mother daughter relations)

The story starts with mom. As so many stories do.


I was in Spokane back in May and it was my turn to make dinner. I was about to start chopping an onion, but I couldn't find a chef's knife. There were tons of steak knifes and pairing knifes, but that was about it. I asked my mom where her chopping knife was, she dug in a drawer and handed me a knife. 


"Mom. This is a meat cleaver."


She got defensive and said it worked fine. I looked over at my sister Emily, she gave me one of those "Yea, tell me about it" looks. The next day Emily bought my mom a chef's knife. 


This incident spawned a conversation amongst the kids and spouses about how important really good knifes are. My sister Abby and her husband Dave started telling about their absolute favorite knife. A ceramic one. 


A ceramic knife? I was so confused. Doesn't it break? Why is it better? They assured me once I tried ceramic, I wouldn't go back. They couldn't stop raving. 


I did a little research and found that the highest rated ceramic knife was ViCera™. So decided to try one out. 


I've been using a ViCera™ ceramic chef knife for about a month now and I am a total believer. It is the lightest, sharpest knife I've ever used. Cuts through carrots like butter. Make the icky task of slicing chicken a breeze. Since it isn't steel, it doesn't leave a metallic taste on your food. Ceramic knifes aren't for use with things with bones or ice. It's ideal for cutting boneless meat, bread, fruits, vegetables, pastries and so on. Use your meat cleaver for the other stuff. Did I mention they always have free shipping? Love that. 




"ViCera™ ceramic knives are made of an advanced, high-tech ceramic called zirconium oxide (also known as zirconia). Zirconium oxide is extremely hard and wear resistant, rating 8.5 on the Mohs scale - surpassing stainless steel (5-6 Mohs) and approaching the hardness of diamond (10 Mohs). The Mohs scale, developed by mineralogist Friedrich Mohs, is the universally accepted standard for measuring the hardness of minerals."


One of you lucky readers is going to win a ViCera™ ceramic knife of your choice!


To enter:

Check out the 
ViCera™ website and let me know what ceramic knife you would choose. (I'll hold you to that choice, so choose wisely.) 

For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:

  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know if you blog about this giveaway.








I will announce the randomly selected winner on Sept 10th. Good luck! 
US addresses only.


Winner!

The winner of the Girls 4Sport giveaway is Beba. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to know you picked the right man...

Tonight I was giving Collin a bath. From downstairs, the sound of the vacuum started. Collin immediately jumped up and yelled "Da Da!!!!"

So glad my little boy has an example like his Daddy.

A goal I have been working on is not only telling Shane I love him, but why. I love easy goals.

***

The longer I'm married, the more I realize, choosing the right spouse is the most important decision you can ever make. Next week will be 10 years since Shane proposed. I was 23. It kind of terrifies me when I think what a baby I was!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Most Beautiful Woman in the World

I am in full summer reading mode and I am now busting through the Percy Jackson series. I wish they had had these books when I was in college. They would have helped me a ton with my Mythology course. 


At one point, Percy is describing Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. He said something to the effect of her being 10 times lovelier than most beautiful movie star you can imagine. I've been trying to imagine what a woman like that would look like. 


Just wondering, who do you think is the most beautiful woman in the world?


Personally, my vote is split between monica bellucci and Emmanuelle Béart. I guess I have a type.






Winner!

The winner of the 1-800-flowers giveaway is aleshia4. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

SodaStream Giveaway

I admit that I am a bit of a diet soda fiend. It is my little vice that I like to nurture. However, I worry about all the aspartame I'm ingesting and I don't like to give Lydia soda as it is so full of high-fructose corn syrup. I was really intrigued by the idea of the SodaStream which allows you to make your own soda at home. All around it is a great system. All you need is cold water and the SodaStream syrup. You make it as sweet and bubbly as you want. Personally, I like my diet soda extra carbonated, so that works well for me. No high-fructose corn syrup in the regular flavors and diet sodas are sweetened with Splenda.  It's way better for the environment since you reuse the thick plastic bottles that come with the set. You can make sports drinks too which my marathon-training husband is excited about. Watch the little video on the SodaStream home page to see how it's done.

My favorite time to use the SodaStream is when I'm entertaining. Instead of guessing what everyone will want, I let them choose between over a dozen options. I have all the SodaStream syrup in one small area in my pantry all ready to go. Also great for entertaining if you want to serve Italian sodas. Keep your favorite flavored syrups around, like Irish Cream or raspberry, and you will always be ready when company arrives. Just whip up some carbonated water on the spot! I would suggest some half and half too. What's an Italian Soda without cream?

A few weeks ago my friend had a party for a bunch of little girls and I offered to bring the drinks. I pulled out my SodaStream (which is very compact by the way) and whipped up some orange soda and root beer. In Lydia's words...."This is the best Root Beer we ever had". As for me, my favorite is the lemonade and the diet cranberry-raspberry. Delish. I think the cola tastes just like Pepsi.

SodaStream is offering one reader a Fountain Jet Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit. It includes the winner's choice of black/silver, white or red/silver Fountain Jet, CO2 to make over 100 liters of soda, 2 reusable carbonating bottles, a sample pack of flavors, and 3 full-sized flavors of the winner's choice. Over $100 value!


To enter:


Check out the SodaSteam website let me know a couple of the flavors you would choose if you were the winner. 


For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:

  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know if you blog about this giveaway.






I will announce the randomly selected winner on Sept 6th. Good luck! 
US addresses only.

Winner!

The winner of the Sanuk Shoes Giveaway is Jenny

Congrats! Email me within 48 hours and I will get you your prize! 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Family Photos

Every time we are in Spokane we schedule to have our photos done with Randi at M Photo. I love her style. These were taken in the worst lighting, and some how they turned out great. Sorry about the bad timing Randi. We had three babies sleep schedules to work around.

Randi is offering $50 off her session fee if you book by Sept 15th! That goes for residents in Spokane, Seattle, Utah and California. M Photo will be shooting in Oakland/Pleasant Hill September 17th, Utah October 2, and Orange County October 22-23rd and Seattle TBA. 

Mind if I show you some of my favs?


All of us. Except for brother-in-law Wayne.



You can tell they're a dentist family, no?


You know this is going to be framed in their apartment when they are roommates at... BYU?


Cutest cousins ever.


Sweetest baby ever.


My little family.

Thank you Randi for another great shoot!

***********************************

Don't forget to enter:

Sanuk Shoes giveaway! Ends Monday.

1-800-Flowers Giveaway ends Wednesday.

Girls4Sport Giveaway ends a week from tomorrow.

(By the way. One of my giveaways asked to be postponed until a bit later.....so that leaves an opening! If you have a great product you want me to feature, email me ASAP.)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Girls4Sport Giveaway

It kind of drives me crazy that retailers try to convince us that seasons start much earlier than they really do. Stop stocking shelves with Halloween stuff. It's summer people! It's over a hundred degrees here. EVERYDAY. It is time to hang out at the pool, the lake or at the beach. Time to wear sandals (enter last Friday's giveaway!) and load up on sun screen and big floppy hats. 


The other week when I was spending a few days of pool time, I saw a girl wearing the cutest pair of board shorts with her suit. The thing that made me ask her about them was their length. They were long women's board shorts. Usually when I see long board shorts on women it is obvious that they are men's shorts. And always unflattering. These shorts were seriously darling and she looked great. She told me they were from Girls4Sport


I spent the rest of the afternoon pursuing the Girls4Sport site. I'm just mad I didn't know about this site at the beginning of the summer. I could have picked out a much cuter swimsuit than the one I bought. To quote from the site. Swimwear for "women offer a full range of coverage, modesty and sun protection for surfers, swimmers or beach-going fun-seekers. Performance fabrics combined with thoughtful rash guard construction create a flattering fit. Built-shelf bras provide the foundation for an attractive look wrapped up in prints and colors that pop. Add a coordinating bottom for a unique swim suit that works for your body and activity. Aqua tops work well for swimming, surfing, water skiing and other water sports." I love the idea of a modest swimsuit that you can feel comfortable in all day long. The swimskirts are perfect for a vacation where you want to stay in your suit long past swim time. And they don't just have swimwear. There are tons of other fitness options like pants, sport capris, and tops. Everything designed to be flattering for a woman's body. 


The little girls suits are cute and offer great coverage along with fantastic sun protection. I'm planning on picking up these board shorts for my little sunbather. 


Girls4Sport was nice enough to send me a pair of relaxed board shorts in mid-length to try out. They are the perfect boardshorts! And I know. I've gone through many a pair. They are a fantastic length, very flattering and comfortable. One suggestion. I like a baggy fit so I went a size up. The material doesn't stretch at all so keep that in mind when purchasing a pair. 


Oh! - And you will love this. Girls4Sport has something I've never seen on a clothing site. Grab bags! Need some swim bottoms for your little girl? Score some for $4! I love to be surprised and since I love all the designs on the site, I know I'll be happy with what comes. 


Girls4Sport has offered a $50 gift certificate to one lucky reader!


To Enter:

Head over to Girl4Sport and look around. Come back here and let me know your favorite item and color. 

For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:






  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know if you blog about this giveaway.






I will announce the randomly selected winner on August 30th. Good luck!

Winners!

The winners of the Gift Card Rescue Giveaway are Samantha and Myranda B

Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prizes! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taking control of Motherhood....HA!

A couple years ago I had a discussion with a good friend. Lydia was 2 and I was just getting the hang of motherhood. Remember, Lydia was a very difficult baby. My friend was wondering if she was cut out to be a mother. When I asked what her fears were, she was very specific.  She said that she recently was at the park with a group of friends who all had children. She said the conversations completely surrounded their kids. Discussions on potty training and preschools, nursing and tummy time. She was dismayed that this group of highly educated, well traveled, formerly career minded women were so...boring.

"Natalie, when I am pushing my baby on the swing, will anyone ask me about the career I had before I was a mother? Will my masters degree be trumped by conversations of poop? I'm terrified that I will be living in this shell of a life, where all I am is a mother and nothing I accomplished before that will matter."

My friend now has a child and one on the way. I've often thought of asking her about this conversation and her thoughts on this subject now that she is a mother. I just don't want to embarrass her. The last time we chatted, she was peppering me with questions about when I started potty training and telling me about the funny things her toddler is now saying.

Motherhood is an interesting change. Maybe more so for those of us who are very independent. I worried how it would change my style and body. I worried about not being able to spend my time studying and traveling. I worried mostly about the way it would change my marriage.

Before I got pregnant I started writing a book. I had all of these ideas of how things would be after I became a mother. I had plans of how I would maintain the woman I had become, even with a baby in tow. I decided to write this book in three parts. The first section written before I had children, about how things would be. The next section addressing the same issues, from a new mom perspective. The third section written after my kids were grown and I could look back on these issues with more experience and wisdom.  I really never planned on having it published, but I thought it would be a way for me to see my own progression and address my fears of becoming a (gasp!) stay-at-home mommy.

I wrote the first section in a whirlwind of ignorance. I'm almost embarrassed to read it now. A few tidbits....

"I will not subscribe to the mommy "wardrobe" of a ratty t-shirt and yoga pants with my hair in a bun. I will get ready everyday. How hard can that really be? It's just 20 minutes out of your day to get ready!"

HA! How could I have known no matter how hard I tried, my clothes would literally become snot rags and napkins to my children. How could I have known that a shower that included washing my hair would be so rare it would feel like a blissful spa treatment. Now I have my clothes divided into kid friendly clothes and going out clothes. Even my going out clothes have been thrown up on a few times. My "dry clean only" clothes from when I worked......they look at me with accusing eyes. They know I've abandoned them along with my size 8 jeans.

"We will not be one of those couples who have to be home every night by 7 just because we have a baby. We will just bring our baby to events and let her fall asleep in the stroller." 

HA! We became one of those couple who never left the house ever as our baby would scream bloody murder if she was not in her crib at bedtime and naptime. Dinner out? HA! We couldn't go out with Lydia until she was 2 and a half. Before that, we never made it past the appetizers.

"I will keep my house organized and clean by always picking up messes right away. I don't understand how young moms let their houses become so chaotic." 

HA! While I made the bed this morning, Collin dumped out the entire contents of our bulk Q-tips. While I cleaned that up, he unraveled the toilet paper roll. Lydia meanwhile, was turning her bedroom into a "train" by piling up every book in the house and "seating" dozens of dolls and animals on these book chairs. And don't even get me started about cleaning up after three meals everyday of my existence, several spills and a baby who loves to throw bananas at me - please refer back to mommy wardrobe.

"I will not allow my child to throw a temper tantrum in public."

HA! How could I have known what little control I would have when I had a two year old in my arms waiting in line at the grocery store. I have to finish checking out, but how do I get her to stop screaming!?! I waited until after she napped. I had snacks. I have to buy milk! I want to scream at the people who are glaring at me "What the hell do you want me to do!?!?!?".  (I admit. I do use the work hell. It's one of my favorite words.) My mom actually told me that before she became a grandmother, she thought that children who threw tempter tantrums in grocery stores were abused at home! This is such a cruel injustice. I finally arranged to swap babysitting on grocery day so I could go alone and save face. Though to be honest, Lydia and Collin are wonderful when we go out now and I feel myself slightly judging others. Oh how quickly we forget. Don't worry. Collin will be two soon enough and I will feel that shame again.

"I will not feed my children fast food and will make a healthy dinner every night. Since I love cooking, this should be easy."

HA! Sometimes we go to Wendy's just because I cannot even think of doing one more dish. While I do try to cook, the idea of doing it EVERYDAY kind of takes away the fun of it. We have Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup with crackers often.

"I will not let having a baby change my sex life."

Ha.

********

If I could go back to that conversation with my friend I think I would tell her this. Being a young mom hijacks your life. It really does take over everything. You will feel like you are going crazy when you can't remember words like "fridge" and "map". Mommy brain is a real thing. You have to be completely focused on these little children and the hundreds of things you have to do each day just to maintain existence. You think now that a minivan is the worst thing imaginable, but you change your mind when you attempt to load a baby, a toddler and 17 sacks of groceries into your sleek sedan. You think that having sex less than 4 times a week would be the end of your marriage, but you can't imagine how blissful sleep will become.

After I have totally freaked her out and she stares at me with disbelieving eyes (because she knows deep down she will not let motherhood change her like that), I would reassure her. All the things we are as women are still a part of us. We may be exhausted and dressed in a teal top and olive sweatpants (literally what I am wearing as I type), but we are still the stylish, educated women we have always been. The reason we moms talk about our children all the time is because we are fascinated by them. Because you cannot understand how you will feel about them. Even though we complain about them ruining our new clothes and freshly painted walls, watching them grow from a tiny baby to a child and beyond is the most incredible adventure.

Maybe I do talk about my kids a lot. Maybe my nights have switched from attending rock concerts and art walks to being thrilled with a good book and popcorn. So maybe I know that those without kids are judging me at the grocery store and church (and on this blog).

That's okay. I would have judged me too.

Soft Summer







I love Mary Ruffle. If I could live in a blog, it would be here.

Winner! 

The winner of buti-bag giveaway is Shanny. Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

1-800-Flowers Giveaway

Here's something I know. Everyone loves flowers. In high school I worked as a florist and occasionally I would get to make deliveries. It was one of my favorite parts of the job. There is this amazing look people get when they see that flowers have arrived for them. No matter the reason; birthday, anniversary, new baby, Valentine's day. People light up when they get flowers. I loved seeing that look. It was like in one moment they realized someone really thought they were special. Even when they were "I'm sorry" flowers.  Florists always know what the flowers are for. We write the cards.

Scroll down to the last post for some "professional advice" on how to make the most of your flowers.

When 1-800-Flowers.com asked me if they could send me a summer bouquet to try out, I bet you can guess my reply. Have you ever perused the 1-800-Flowers web site? It's amazing. From the baby bouquets to the Get Well gifts, each arrangement is stunning. Right now they are having a summer rose sale and there are some lovely bouquets at 50%! And of course there's the Martha Stewart collection. I'm obsessed with every arrangement. In fact, I pull them up on my computer sometimes and try to replicate them with flowers from the store. It never works.

The arrangement I received is called Summer Dunes and it was perfectly lovely. Wonderfully fresh from a local florist. It lasted as a whole for over a week. The daisies are still decorating my kitchen and it has been over two weeks now. I love fresh flowers. It makes me feel like things are right with the world.

Every women deserves flowers on her birthday. (And on her anniversary, and May Day and Valentines Day and Tuesday.) So how could we let this birthday soiree pass with out giving away some flowers!

1-800-Flowers is offering one lucky reader a $50 gift certificate!


Don't they just liven up my little breakfast nook?

To Enter:


Head over to 1-800-Flowers and look around. Come back here and let me know what bouquet you would like to see when you open the door.


For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:
  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know if you blog about this giveaway.



I will announce the randomly selected winner on August 25th. Good luck!

Don't throw those flowers away!



Freshly delivered. 


It is always so sad when people throw out their flowers when some of them start wilting. Invest in several small vases and you can usually extend your flowers for a week or so. Pull your arrangement apart and throw away anything that is obviously dead. Separate the different types of flowers so that they die around the same time. Roses that are droopy still have a while left before they start to brown. Cut them with only a 3 or 4 inch stem and arrange them in a small vase. The nature of the small cluster will support the heads and you will get to enjoy the pretty "blown" phase of the rose. Now you can enjoy your flowers all throughout your house. 



10 days later.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sanuk Shoes Giveaway (Adult or children)

Lydia's preschool starts this month and she is so excited. We went shopping and she picked out her backpack and new clothes. The one thing that we couldn't figure out at first was her school shoes. We got a letter from the school asking that sandals not be worn. I needed to find shoes that were comfortable, easy to get on and off, and supportive. Oh, and really really cute. Otherwise Lydia won't wear them. She's quite the diva.

I was totally ecstatic when I discovered that Sanuk has children's shoes! I've seen them all over the place on adults and I've always wanted a pair. Sanuk is the Thai word for fun and that is the perfect way to describe these shoes. I picked out some "Sidewalk Surfers" for Lydia. They have "sandal bottoms", with comfy canvas uppers. Easy to get on and tighten just right. She calls them her "slippers" because they are so comfy. Crazy durable so I know they will last her the entire year. Vegan so I feel good about them too.

Sanuk has a great selection of adult shoes too. Though, if you ask anyone from Sanuk about their shoes they will quickly correct you "They aren't shoes! They're sandals!" Sounds pretty perfect to me. Sandals you can wear year round? Sign me up. I want a pair of woman's Sidewalk Surfers and maybe some men's for Shane too. Definitely for Shane. He would look really sexy in a pair of these for his casual days at home. The sandals are awesome too, so make sure to check them out. The "Yoga Mat" sandals look like pure bliss. Oh and Santa....mind hooking me up with a pair of "boots"?


Sanuk has offered a pair of Sidewalk Surfers or Sandals to one of you! Men's, Women's or Children...you choose! Man, I love giveaways that everyone will want!


To Enter: 
Head over to Sanuk and look around. Come back here and let me know the specific style shoe you would choose if you won. (Each color and style has a name, so enter that. Not just "Sidewalk Surfers" :) 


For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:
  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know you blogged about this giveaway.

I'll announce the randomly selected winner on August 23rd. Good luck!




Winner!


The winner of the Color Me House Giveaway is April V.
Congrats! Email me and I will get you your prize! 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gift Card Rescue Giveaway - two winners!

I rack my brain for giveaways that everyone and anyone would love. That is a tall order, but I think I figured it out.....

I am giving away two $25 credits to Gift Card Rescue.com! It's an amazing site where you can actually sell your unwanted gift cards for cash or Amazon.com gift cards. Not only that, but you can buy gift cards for up to 30% off! I found a $125 J. Crew gift card for $104. And that includes free shipping. So incredible!!! I really wish I had know about this site earlier. Barnes and Noble, Anthropology, William and Sonoma, Children's Place, Outback Steak House.....You're shopping there anyway, why not get a steal?

Better yet, enter coupon code "NATALIE" to receive an additional 5% off!





Right now, if you head over to Gift Card Rescue on Facebook and "Like them" you will be automatically entered to win some fabulous prizes in their 5K Facebook Fan race. I'm talking $100 gift card, a Kodak Digital Camera or Asus Netbook. Don't you love the perks of social networking?

Want to win one of those $25 credits?!?! I thought so....








To Enter:

Head over to Gift Card Rescue on facebook and "like" them.  Come back here and let me know you have done so. This will also automatically enter you in the 5K Facebook Fan Race.


For an additional entry, let me know in a separate comment (for each) if you:

  • Are a public follower  
  • Like natalie's sentiments on Facebook
  • Have my button on your blog 
  • Tweet or Facebook about this giveaway leaving the link in your comment. (use the handy links at the bottom of this post if you like).
For THREE extra entries, leave three separate comments letting me know if you blog about this giveaway



I will announce the randomly selected winner on August 20th. Good luck!

What I'm dreaming of tonight - posted at 12:05 am when I should be sleeping but I drank too much diet coke while watching Harold and Maude





I know. I know that my complaining of the heat is annoying. But really and truly it is SO HOT! I mean so hot a walk to the mailbox is like taking a steam. Poor Shane had to mow the lawn yesterday. It's too hot to do anything but complain. So what am I dreaming of tonight? May. In Washington. When this shot was taken (by my sister Abby) I remember thinking, it doesn't get much better than this. Comfortable in jeans and a hoodie with all my family around.

Of course - I have May 2011 to look forward to. In Hawaii!

Carrie and Xander, are you still game? 




Winners!


The Winners of the EA SPORTS Giveaway are:




Chelseyelisabeth for Madden 11


and 

FDP 4 Life for NCAA® Football 11.


Email me within 48 hours and I will get you your prizes!


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