The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: March 2012
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Saturday, March 31, 2012

I will be MIA!

We are headed to Costa Rica for a week. YAY! Our kitty is not happy about it but she will not be alone because we have a house/cat sitter.

We are off to visit my family and I am glad I will be able to see them.

If you want to see my adventures, head on over to my personal blog: Carolyn in Carolina. I will be posting updates and maybe some vlogs.

I will choose winners when I ge back and make sure to keep an eye out because I will be bringing back some Costa Rican goodies to giveaway to a lucky reader or two!

Have a great week.

Monday, March 26, 2012

RubberMaid Hidden Recycler Review and Giveaway!

I am always trying to find products that might help me become a better citizen of the world. I truly believe that every little thing we do, whether positive or negative, effects the environment around us. That is why I garden, compost (when I can) and I try to recycle.

I am not always good with that at home. At least at work we have recycling bins all around so it's easy. At home, we tried several things like boxes and a separate trash can. It never works because ultimately things get mixed up.

Now Rubbermaid has a great new item that I know will help me in my quest to be greener: the Hidden Recycler.

Here is some information about the Hidden Recycler:

The Hidden Recycler attaches to the inside of a cabinet door to collect recyclables out of sight and keeps your counters clear. The bag is durable, machine washable, and made of recycled material. Collect your recyclables and then easily lift the bag from the lid and cabinet by the handle to take them out to your recycle bin.
  • Hinged lid attaches to cabinet door with over the door hooks or screws
  • Bag is made from 65% post-consumer resin
  • Bag is machine washable
  • Comfortable handle for transport
  • 5 gallon bag holds 36 uncrushed cans and is large enough to fit 1 gallon milk jugs
  • Great for single stream recyclers
  • Great for apartment living

This is such a great item. First of all, it is easy to assemble. Once assembled it is easy to place on any cabinet door. I chose to use the hooks vs. the screws because that way I can easily move it when I need to.

We love using this for glass jars and bottles. We definitely need one more for plastics. I could also use one at work for paper! When assembling the bag, it fits over a handle so it is easy to pull out of the hanging part of the recycler. The bag is also easily cleaned by tossing into the washer. You can also just wipe it clean.

This is a great product for the person who wants to start recycling because it is so easy and convenient. I love that is is hidden in a cabinet because there is no unsightly pile of bottle or plastic. We had to get rid of our open recycle bin because the cats would get into it all the time. Now the cat can't reach it.

I would totally recommend this product and found it to be easy to use and very practical. But I don't expect any less from Rubbermaid products because I find them always to have quality products that make my life easier.

Head over to the Rubbermaid site to read some recycling tips! Remember every little we do to help the environment helps.

The great people at Rubbermaid have an extra Hidden Recycler for one of my great readers. I know one of you will be very lucky to have one of these. You know the drill. Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget! Good Luck!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Using Coinstar to Splurge at BI-LO

This is a guest post from Coupon Teacher. I want to thank Coupon Teacher for sharing this post on how you can cash in your coins at Bi-Lo without a fee and receive a gift card!

The store was almost new and really nice. I decided I wanted to buy myself some treats on this mission.

I rarely go grocery shopping. I always spend more than my wife, “Coupon Teacher”, wants me to! She was recently asked to check out a Coinstar machine at BI-LO, so I was happy follow along with her and try it out too! I thought maybe I would get some good snack food out of it. Follow #NoFeeCoinstar and #CBias on Twitter for more details about my wife’s shop and the no fee promotion!

We split the money in 2 portions and my wife went first.

I had used Coinstar a couple of other times, but I was shocked when I found out the cash fees were almost 10%. So, I had been wasting a little money I didn’t know about. I mean sometimes it is ok to pay for convenience, but it isn’t something I want to do all the time. So when my wife told if you choose a gift card there are no fees, I was almost as excited as she was! That discovery might pay for a snack for work now and then.

The machine was easy to use and the terms were clear. They even double checked to be sure I understood I wasn’t getting cash back.


My “half” of the spare change turned into $20.12, which was actually a little more than my wife got. I can get a lot of man stuff for $20! (Or so I thought.) I was secretly happy that my total was more than my wife’s total, because I knew she would get more for her money.

I had $20.12 to spend on whatever I wanted.

I found some snack foods, juices, and lighter fluid, while my wife shopped for things she wanted that were on sale. I will admit, I lost count of how much I was spending. It isn’t often someone let’s me loose in a store to buy whatever I want. I had $20 didn’t I?


Check out was easy, except I went over my gift card value by $16. My wife wasn’t upset (this time). We were able to use our spare change to offset the costs of my splurges!

Want to see my whole trip? You can check out my Google+ story!

If you want to learn more about Coinstar, you can check them out on Facebook or Twitter. And in case you wondered, BI-LO is on Facebook and Twitter too!

I have been paid (at Coinstar’s request) to try and blog about Coinstar’s products/services as part of a Collective Bias shopper insights study. All opinions are my own.


Disclosure: This post is being hosted on my blog as part of a Coinstar and Collective Bias campaign. I was compensated for hosting this post.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Curious George Dance Contest!!!

When I was little, oh so so so many years ago, I loved reading Curious George books. I had every single book and I read them so many times they were well worn. How I loved that monkey and his adventures with The Man with The Yellow Hat.  He always got in trouble but in the end, he learned his lesson.

I am still a Curious George fan. I work at a school and my office is located in the library. I have to confess (shhh don't tell) that when the librarian reads the Kindergarten class a Curious George book at reading time, I turn down my radio and leave the door open and I listen to her reading. Even after all these years, Curious George entertains me to no end. I probably shouldn't admit this but I have actually requested that the librarian read some of my favorite Curious George books.

I am not a parent but I know many of my loyal readers are and I want to share some awesome info involving my favorite monkey. If your child loves Curious George and loves to dance then you have to get your kids to enter the Curious George Dance Contest!

Now through April 2, 2012, parents and guardians of children aged 8 and under can send in videos of their child or children dancing to the Curious George theme song for a chance to be featured on a Curious George DVD!

A panel of judges will choose ten finalists based on their creativity, enthusiasm, and originality. Then, starting April 16th through April 30th, George’s friends and fans–the public–will vote for the winner. All finalists will receive a Curiosity Kit, filled with a Curious George book, game, DVD, and other fun George merchandise. Contest entries will be accepted through April 2, 2012. For complete rules and regulations, and to submit your child’s video, visit

If I had kids, I would absolutely enter them in this contest. How much fun does this sound? I love that PBS is promoting dancing because dancing is a great way to get kids (and adults) moving! Dancing is a great way for kids to express themselves and great for their cognitive and emotional development. It also promotes fitness and physical activity! Plus, it is so much fun!! I urge your to check our the Curious George Dance Contest and get your kids to bust a move and enter!

For more information you can visit PBS Kids!  Also, check out the Curious George website which encourages kids’ creativity through games, printables, and video clips. Additionally, dance related activities, in both English and Spanish are available for parents.

Mark your calendars because on Wednesday, March 21st at 1pm EST you can join the Curious George Dance Twitter Party. The hashtag is #CuriousGeorgeMoms. You will be able to chat with other Curious George fans, learn more useful information and you might win 1 of two $50 Michael's Gift Cards or a Kindle Fire. Please RSVP here.

Enter soon because the contest ends on April 2, 2012!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and WGBH. Compensation was given but the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience.
  All images courtesy of CG (R) & (C) 2012 Universal Studios and/or HMH. All Rights Reserved. FOR PROMOTIONAL USE ONLY.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simply Potatoes Spring Review and Giveaway!

When I received the opportunity to Simply Potatoes again for my blog, I was all over that. I honestly love Simply Potatoes. I buy them all the time. They make my life easier and they are tasty.

I know I could grate my own potatoes but why? I know that's not very homemaker of me but with work and all the other things in my life, I take shortcuts when it comes to cooking.

Simply Potatoes come in several varieties such as: Shredded Hash Browns, Southwest Style Hash Browns, Diced Potatoes with Onion, Homestyle Slices, Red Potato Wedges and Rosemary and Garlic Potato Wedges. I always have a pack of the Shredded Hash Browns in the refrigerator. I also us the Diced Potatoes with Onion because hubby loves home fries.

I use them for breakfast all the time. I also make my version of Cracker Barrel Hashbrown Casserole. This time I decided to try a new recipe so I went on the Simply Potatoes website to search for something new.

I found a recipe for Cheesy Hashbrown Cups. I decided to make someething like this but my way. I get fresh eggs from a friend at work so I wondered if I could make a little nest of hashbrowns and cook an egg in them. I don't have a recipe because my cooking is willy-nilly but it was easy.

I took the hashbrowns and mashed them into a muffin tin I had sprayed with Pam. Then I added a pat of butter and salt and pepper and baked the hashbrowns for about 15 minutes so they would get cooked and brown a little.

Once they were done, I placed some shredded cheese into the nest. Then I cracked a whole egg and  inside the hashbrown nest. I put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes until the egg cooked.

When I took them out, the egg was cooked perfectly. I put a little fresh thyme on top for presentation sake. They were delicious. This was a perfect recipe for a nice breakfast or brunch. You can also add other ingredients like sausage, bacon, herbs or anything else that sounds good.

There you have it. Simply Potatoes are one of those products that I love and will continue buying. I give Simply Potatoes two thumbs up!

Thanks to the peeps at Simply Potatoes, one lucky reader will win a Simply Potatoes coupon to make your own recipe. YAY! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

$50 Visa Card Giveaway!!

WOO! I have a special treat for my wonderful readers! Thanks to the people at the Sullivan Centre, a Columbus Ohio plastic surgery group, I have a $50 Visa Card to give away to one lucky person.

The Sullivan Centre is run by a husband and wife team. Board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Dr. Michael Sullivan specializes in head and neck surgery, as well as injectables. Dr. Christine Sullivan is board certified in Plastic Surgery; she only performs breast and body procedures. These are just some of the services the Sullivan Centre offers:

•Face lifts
•Eyelid Lift
•Browlift Forehead Lift
•Fat Transfer
•Cheek Implants
•Chin Implant
•Breast Augmentation
•Mastopexy (Breast Lift)
•Breast Reduction
•Breast Reconstruction
•Possible Breast Reconstruction Options
•Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
•Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
•Thigh and Buttocks Lift
•BOTOX® Cosmetic
•Dermal Fillers•Juvéderm® Facial Filler
•Facials & Peels
•Lesion & Mole Removal
•Skin Resurfacing
•Hair Removal Procedure
•Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

I have to admit that as I get older, I have considered getting a little lift and tuck here and there. There are a lot of parts of me that have been taken over by age and gravity and it's not pretty folks! I will wait a few years but if I ever get the nerve and money, I might do it.

I want to thank the Sullivan Centre again for the $50 gift card that one of you lucky readers will win!! YAY!

You know the drill folks. Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two (2) AMC Movie Tickets!! #giveaway

Okay peeps, my loss is your gain. I received 2 AMC movie tickets and I can't use them because I live in the middle of nowhere where there are no AMC movie theaters. I thought I could drive into Asheville and use them and there is no AMC in Asheville. WTH? I am bummed.

Anyway, I figured there are a lot of my readers who actually do not live in the boonies and could use a night out! WOO! So I am offering the tickets as a giveaway for one of you!

I decided to go Old School on this giveaway and not use Rafflecopter. I have no idea why - just being willy-nilly. I will go back to Rafflecopter on my next giveaway. Make sure to do the mandatory entry and then as many of the other ones as you want. Easy Peasy. Good luck.

Mandatory Entry

Tell me your all time favorite movie. Now if you have more than one, great tell me all of them!

I have so many it's not funny: The Godfather 1 and 2, Star Wars (the ones with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford not the new ones because those sucked balls), Jaws (I have seen this over 150 times, no kidding), Walk the Line, Wizard of Oz, The Exorcist, The Omen, Old School, Animal House and so on and so on.

Extra Entries
* Subscribe to my blog through email (1 entry)
* Follow me on Twitter @carogonza (1 entry)
* Tweet about giveaway - leave link so I can verify and tweet @carogonza (1 entry - can be done daily)
* Like The Art of Random Willynillyness on Facebook page (1 entry)
* Share on your Facebook page - leave link so I can verify (1 entry - can be done daily)
* Follow me on Pinterest (1 entry)
* Follow my blog on GFC (1 entry)
* Subscribe to to my feed (1 entry)
* Follow me on Google+ (1 entry)
* Add my button to your site (1 entry)
* Add my site to your blogroll (1 entry)
* Follow me on Networked Blogs (1 entry - see right sidebar for widget)

Make sure to leave a separate comment for the entries you complete!

Deadline: Sunday, April 1 at 11:59 pm EST. I will use to pick the winners so everyone has a chance to win. **PLEASE leave an email if your blogger profile does not include it or you don't have a blog. I need a way to contact you.** Once a winner is drawn I will contact them and the winner will have 48 hours to reply back before I draw a new winner. Giveaway is open to US residents only who are 18 years of age or older.

Disclosure: These were my tickets I could not use so I decided to give them away because that's how I roll.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Singing the Blues

I don't have babies, never wanted babies and never will have babies. So yeah, it's funny I would even write this post about the baby blues. But recently a former co-worker brought her baby for a visit. She had the baby last year and, shortly thereafter, she left her position. We figured she had wanted to be a stay at home mom but she told us that she had been struggling with postpartum depression.

We had no idea. She was such a great co-worker and she always seemed happy, even after she had the baby. She is not the first person I know that has suffered from post-partum depression and probably won't be the last but her story struck a chord in me because it was so sad.

She told us that shortly after having the baby she had started getting strange feeling towards the baby. She was angry and tired all the time. She said that she felt depressed and really didn't want to deal with the baby. That's what got me because during her pregnancy, she had been so excited to be a mom. This is her first baby.

She had her mom to help her after the birth. It really didn't help and those feelings of helplessness and the depression were the catalyst for her not coming back to work. She said she could barely get out of bed and she tried to take care of the baby but she said she just felt ambivilent toward her son.

It was her mom who noticed something was going on and urged her to seek help. When she finally did, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and got treatment. I won't get into the treatment because it is not my place to talk about that. But she said it really helped and a few weeks into treatment, she started feeling better.

After speaking with her, I never realized how prevelant post-baby blues have become. I remember reading about Brooke Shields' struggles after her baby was born. I also know one of my other girlfriends had issues as well. It is heartbreaking to hear that one of the happiest moments of their life turns into a living nightmare.

All I can say is that I am glad she sought treatment because, in the end, she is a great mom. And her baby is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen. He will definitely be a heartbreaker when he grows up.

For more information on post-partum depression, cheack out Depression Connect. Also, read Brooke Shields' book "Down Came the Rain" because my friend said it really helped her realize that she was not alone.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shakelee Fresh Laundry Concentrate and Hand Wash Concentrate Review

I had the opportunity to try some Shaklee products. I had heard of Shakelee before because one of my former co-workers swore by them but I had never tried them before. Shaklee has been around for company 50 years! That's a long time.

Since its inception Shaklee has been a pretty green company and I like that. As I move toward a more green lifestyle, I am always looking for new products that are earth friendly. According to the website, every product that goes into every Shaklee bottle is designed to improve health, work without compromise, and be gentle on the planet.

I received the Get Clean Fresh Landry Concentrate for HE washers and the Hand Wash Concentrate with a dispenser pump bottle.

The Hand Wash Concentrate has wheat germ oil and algae extract to moisturize; soy protein to condition; aloe, marshmallow, and linden flower extracts to soothe; and rosemary and arnica extracts to energize. The Fresh Landry Concentrate also pre-spots your laundry. It is made for both high efficiency and standard washers while protecting natural resources.

I really liked the Fresh Landry Concentrate. One bottle can do as many as 32 loads of laundry. I haven't even reached that yet and there is plenty left. I only use about an ounce per wash and it works well. I have the fragrance free version of the concentrate and I like that. It has a slight smell but it is more like a very clean fragrance but not perfumy.

It really cleaned my clothes well especially my hubby's work pants that are filthy because he loves being outside doing all the outdoorsy stuff I hate.

I have to admit that I am meticulous about washing my hands all the time. I work in a school and have learned that germs are everywhere. So the hand was concentrate is up my alley. I took my hand wash concentrate and filled the pump dispenser I received with it and took it to work so I can use in our bathroom.

I also kept some at home where I keep a refillable bottle in my kitchen. I am paranoid about cross contaminating when I cook. It works well for me because I can wash my hand easily. The hand wash concentrate is gentle on my hands and cleans well!

What I like about these products is that they are biodegradable and cause less stress on the Earth. Now he prices are a little higher than what you would pay at the grocery for regular laundry detergent. But it is a personal choice if you want better products that are less harmful to the environment or just want to spend less.

To learn more about Shaklee products visit the website, find them on Facebook or follow on Twitter!

Fun Facts about Shaklee:
  • Number one natural nutritional company in the U.S.
  • Over $250 million invested in clinical testing, research and development
  • Over 80,000 annual tests for product quality
  • Over 100 scientific papers, 90 of them published in peer-reviewed journals
  • 59 Gold Medal powered by Shaklee products
  • 1.5 tons of paper and cardboard are rescued from other companies and recycled by Shaklee each day
  • Shaklee was the first in the world to be certified Climate Neutral® to have a net-zero impact on the environment.
  • 10 Trees planted is the environmental equivalent of passing on one Shaklee Get Clean® kit to a friend
Disclosure: I received a sample product for review purposes. No other compensation was given and the opinions in this post are solely mine and are based on my experience with the product. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Benefits of Essential Oils

It always amazed me how a certain smell can bring you back to a certain place and time. I know when I smell wood burning, it always reminds me of my vacations in Costa Rica when I was little. The smell of fresh cut grass reminds me of our house where I grew up in Los Angeles for some reason.

Vick's reminds me of my grandmother. Fresh laundry reminds me of my mother. Smells also soothe me. Believe it or not, rubbing alcohol makes me feel better if I am nauseated or have a migraine. Lavender relaxes me and mint energizes me.

A few years ago, my sister introduced me to essential oils so I could have access to scents that would help me relax and relieve my stress. I had no idea what aromatherapy was but I gave it a shot.  I loved it. Her suggestion to buy certain essential oils really helped me relax and feel better.

Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. I mainly use them for the aromatherapy benefits. I take a little drop of oil and place it on a light bulb in the bedroom or living room to allow the scent to permeate the room. I found that lavender was my favorite because the smell made me feel tranquil. To this day, I keep lavender oil in my house for stress. I also have used essential oils for massage, as a beauty treatment and for overall wellness.

My grandmother used to take rosemary leaves and seep them in hot oil and then dip a cotton ball in the oil. She would then take the cotton ball and stick it in our ears. She used this when we had ear aches and it worked. To this day, I use this treatment. When I have muscle pain, I use eucalyptus leaves in oil to rub on the affected area. This is another remedy I got from my abuelita! Eucalyptus oil is also great for chest congestion.

There are a few sites that can help you get more information on the benefits of essential oils like LiveTru. You can also visit local shops in your area. I know when I lived in Boynton Beach, I was a regular at a little shop in our neighborhood because they had such a wide selection of essential oils and the store owner was so knowledgeable on the subject.

I am not a doctor and can only say what works for me but essential oils are a great alternative treatment to regular medicine with chemicals. As I move toward a cleaner and greener way of life, I am glad there are alternatives out there. And I am glad that I grew up in a family that used alternative methods of healing. As I get older, I find that becoming more and more important.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Nestlé Abuelita La Merienda Review and Giveaway!!!

When I visit Costa Rica to see the family, I am always amazed how many of my relatives take a little break after lunch and before dinner. Every time we go to some one's house in the afternoon, we know we will always have to eat and drink something.

Usually it is a little cafecito with pastries or even tamales. Other times it is a full on afternoon tea with little sandwiches. Other times, it is just some cheese and bread. You never know what you will get but it is always tasty.

In many Latin American countries this is called La Merienda. Every country has a different take on it but it is a custom that I have picked up on here and do it at my house or work when I can.

It is similar to afternoon tea in England. I remember when I lived in Santa Fe, there was a tea house in a hotel in downtown where I worked. Sometimes me and my co-worker would sneak over there in the afternoon to have a meeting. It was fantastic. It always reminded me of being in Costa Rica with my sister because, oftentimes, we would sneak over to a downtown hotel and have our Merienda while people watching.

On weekends, I always have La Merienda especially during winter time. I try to not have coffee so I always do tea or hot chocolate. I fix myself a little sandwich or some cheese with bread. If I have something sweet, I eat that. At work, I also have a little Merienda with my co-worker. We will make some tea and have a little snack around 2:30 when we need a pick me up!

Now Nestlé Abuelita wants to help you embrace the daily merienda and help you start your own merienda tradition. I was sent a beautiful prize pack full of Nestle Abuelita goodies. The gift pack included:

* Nestlé Abuelita Instant and Nestle Abuelita Granulado product
* Two coffee/hot chocolate mugs
* One spoon
* A set of recipe cards for use with your Nestle Abuelita product
* A disposable digital camera

I love Nestlé Abuelita hot chocolate. It is different than the usual hot chocolate I am used to. It has a hint of cinnamon and is quite tasty with any type of snack. I had mine with a half peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was delish! It makes a perfect wintertime warm me up!

Additionally, Nestlé Abuelita will be launching a new initiative on their Facebook page on March 7th so go like the page because there will be some Abuelita prizes!

And if you want to win your own Abuelita prize pack just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Getting Healthy - Hopefully!

A few weeks ago, we watched a documentary called "Forks Over Knives". It really started us thinking how unhealthy our diet was and how we need to make a change. I highly recommend you watch this documentary. It might save your life.

I realized that even though we started eating less and I started cooking healthier, sometimes there is hidden salt, sugar and preservatives even in "healthy" foods that I have to watch out for when I grocery shop. There are so many hidden preservatives, sugars and sodium in any processed food. Unless you read the labels you would not even know. I have become an avid label reader. I have also started moving toward a more plant-based diet.  The other change I am making for the family is to try and buy local and in-season fruits and vegetables.

I am also trying to lose weight because I have gained way too much in the last few years. We started a mini-exercise club at work where we bring in our exercise tapes and try to exercise every day after work. We can't do it everyday but even a few times a week helps.

A bad diet and too much weight are a recipe for so many different health problems. I have a bad diet and carry way too much weight. I have started to worry that my future might involve heart problems, diabetes, kidney problems and so much more. I know I need to make a change. As I get older, it becomes more difficult. Changing our diet is a start.

I am not sure if we will ever go totally vegetarian but we I have started switching out at least 3 meals a week to a vegetarian meal. I even bought some low-fat vegetarian cookbooks because I honestly do not know how to cook that many vegetarian dishes.

In essence, I have to learn to cook again. I am a whiz in the kitchen with any type of meat but give me a bunch of veggies and I don't know what to do except make salads and stir fry. I think that would get old really fast. I also have to careful about not just serving pasta and anything with cheese. I need to learn how to make balanced vegetarian dishes.

So there you have it, I am trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Personally, I think I can succeed. My main obstacle was the hubby but he is on board because the documentary made him realize that we needed to make a change.

I am not here to preach but I do suggest watching "Forks Over Knives". I also am listening to a book on tape by Barbara Kingsolver called "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which is absolutely fantastic. She writes about many of the same topics in the documentary. I am learning so much and I cannot wait to start planning my garden this year because I am going to make sure I make the most of it so we can have fresh veggies in summer and fall.

For more information on some of the problems caused by not eating healthy, check out the following websites Diabetic Connect and Watch "Forks Over Knives" and find out what you can do to become healthier. Read those labels as well! I was surprised what was in some of the "healthy" food I was buying. I am hoping that in a few months I can come back and report some good news about my health!

Wish me luck!