The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness: February 2012

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Saucy Mama Skinny Mama Recipe Contest ~ Spicy Chipotle Mustard Chicken Lettuce Wraps + GIVEAWAY!!

I was invited to participate in the Saucy Mama Skinny Mama recipe contest this year. If you read my blog, you know that I was the Grand Prize winner of the recipe contest in 2010 with my Saucy Beef Bites - Two Ways Recipe


This year they are looking for a recipe that is low calorie or healthy. Since I am starting to cook healthier these days, this is the perfect time for me to create a new recipe to help me lose weight. What I find about low cal cooking is that you need to add lots of flavor in order to make up for the bad calories you are taking out.

Again, if you know me you know I don't do well with recipes. My style of cooking is totally willy-nilly and I just toss stuff together. It is hard for me to buckle down and write down a recipe but I did. I wasn't sure where to start but the other day I had bought some ground chicken as a substitute to ground beef. I liked it and so did hubby so I knew I wanted to create something that would incorporate the ground chicken.


I was sent a box full of Saucy Mama mustard to help me along. I was to choose one or two and create the recipe. I got a bottle of Saucy Mama Tarragon Lemon Mustard, Saucy Mama Dijon Mustard, Saucy Mama Champagne Honey Mustard, Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard, Saucy Mama Smoky Garlic Mustard and Suzie’s Yellow Mustard. I wanted to use the Chipolte Mustard because I knew that would pack a flavorful punch.

I decided on making some spicy tacos. My problem was that I needed to cut calories so I thought instead of tortillas or taco shells, I could make lettuce wraps instead. They are like tacos so I thought it would work. But I needed something to cut the spicy to cut the chicken filling so I made a spicy coleslaw to put on top. Although the coleslaw is spicy, it is also a good topping because it give the wrap a little texture and coolness.


So here is my recipe for my Spicy Chipotle Mustard Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Ingredients:

Chicken Filling:
Package of ground chicken (about 16 oz.) - 180 calories per 4 oz serving
2 tablespoons Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard - 30 calories
One red pepper (diced) - 22 calories
1/4 cup of chopped onion - 24 calories
Cilantro chopped (to taste) - 1 calorie
salt and pepper (to taste)

Coleslaw:
Packaged coleslaw mix (1.5 cups) - 5 calories
4 oz. plain yogurt - 71 calories (You can substitute low fat sour cream if you do not like plain yogurt)
pinch of sugar - 8 calories for 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard - 15 calories
1/4 tsp of apple cider vinegar - 0
salt and pepper (to taste)
Lettuce Leaves - I used Butter Lettuce Leaves - 1 calorie per leaf

Mix the ground chicken with the mustard and then brown in a non-stick frying pan with onions, peppers, salt, pepper and cilantro.  As the chicken filling is cooking make the coleslaw. Mix the yogurt, mustard, sugar, apple cider vinegar together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash the lettuce leaves you will be using and dry. Place them on the plate. Put a spoonful of chicken filling into the lettuce leaf and then add a dollop of the slaw. That's it. How easy peasy is this recipe and it is delicious. Each lettuce leaf held about an ounce of filling so you could easily have 4 lettuce wraps in one sitting. A serving of 4 lettuce leaves with a one ounce serving of filling and slaw is under 350 calories which is not too shabby.

The chicken filling is spicy with 2 tablespoons of mustard. You can add less to make it less spicy because the coleslaw is spicy as well. But it is not so spicy because the Chipotle Mustard is very smooth and delicious.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is super versatile. You could easily use turkey or tofu instead of chicken. You can add different veggies. You can take out the slaw and add salsa or guacamole as the topping. It is really up to you. As long as you keep the protein lean and not use fatty ingredients, you can do what you want.

I actually loved this recipe because it filled me up and was tasty. Like I said before, I have found when cooking low cal, you need to make sure the flavors are there or it is unappetizing. The Saucy Mama Chipotle Mustard was that kick the recipe needed. This could serve up to 4 people. I know I will be serving this again.

Wish me luck on the recipe contest again this year. And remember to vote for my recipe so I can get to the semi-finals. Buen Provecho!

Now onto the giveaway! I have a few Saucy Mama Mustard to give away to one lucky reader. You will love the mustard because all the flavors are really good! Just enter below on the Rafflecopter giveaway.

Monday, February 27, 2012

YouNeverLose.com Review and Giveaway!



There is a new site in town where you can bid on gift cards and get some deep discounts. YouNeverLose.com auctions off gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Wal-Mart and so many more.

The clear benefit of YouNeverLose.com unlike other auction sites is that instead of buying bids, you buy "lower-level" gift cards to retailers like Gap, Staples, Payless and more, and for each Reward Card you buy, you get free points to play in the auctions for the "Dream Cards" to Amazon, Wal-Mart and more.

Take a look at this handy dandy video that explains how YouNeverLose.com works!



Basically, you buy points. You get a gift card. Use your reward points to bid on a gift card that you can get for a deep discount! YouNeverLose.com is a great if you use a lot of gift cards for your own pesonal use or to give away. Because you receive points for every card you purchase, you always have points to use to bid on other cards.

I tried it out with 20 reward points I was given. The only downfall is that you need to keep an eye on the auctions. Seconds are also added when people bid so it might go on before someone wins and you might have someone snipe it from you at the last minute. I haven't won an auction yet. But it is fun to try and win gift cards. Some $50 gift cards went for as low as 34 cents!!

I love buying gift cards for gifts because they offer the recipient a choice on what to purchase. So if I buy them here I also get reward points to try and win one for me. I lose nothing and if I ever get the hang of the tricks to winning a gift card, then I score!

If you want to try it out, use the code LAUNCH10 which will give you 10 point bonus when you register and buy your first gift card. I also have a $25 AMC gift card plus corresponding 25 points to play on YouNeverLose.com!! YAY! So enter on the RaffleCopter widget below!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Can I Ask for a Vote?

I rarely enter voting contests but I did and now I need some votes! If you have a second, can you give me a vote? Here is the link: Vote For Me - Carolyn Gonzalez and here is the picture I entered!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sometimes the Path You Are On Changes

When I decided to go back to college, I was 26 years old. I had started working immediately after graduating from high school. I wanted to go to college but I had no idea what I wanted to be.

When I was in grade school, they gave us one of those tests that tells you what occupation you try. The test said I was well suited to be a teacher or a nun. I didn't become either.

I think that is why I started working because after high school, I had no clue what I would do. I lived in Los Angeles and thought I would live there forever. Working gave me a different perspective on life. It made me more responsible and organized. It also made me realize that I needed to go back to school.

I started slowly going to a community college. It was the right decision. It was a whole new adventure and it opened my eyes that I could be anything I wanted to be. After taking standard courses, I found that I had a knack for writing. I was always a good writer when I was in high school but now I knew I could make a living at it.

When I finally decided to go to a four-year university, I knew that I would study Journalism. I moved to Miami and attended the University of Miami. I studied Journalism and Latin American Studies. I finally got my degree in Communications in 1994.

I worked for an airline magazine for year after I graduated. It was interesting work. I wrote travel stories and also translated Spanish stories into English. I enjoyed the work but it never paid enough. It was then that I had no idea what I was doing.

At that moment, I realized that maybe I made the wrong career choice. I was wondering if I should go back to Los Angeles and become a TV writer. I thought about moving to Hawaii and becoming a tour guide. There was so many roads I could have taken: a playwright in New York, a life coach in Baltimore, an editor in Chicago, a writer in Maine, a showgirl in Vegas. I had no idea where my road would lead.

In the end I stayed in Miami. I gave up journalism but never gave up writing. I ended up stumbling into my current profession: fundraising. It is so different from where I started but it was a good choice. My degree in Communications has come in handy.

In fundraising you have to know how to communicate well with donors and volunteers. You have to know how to write grants, proposals, sponsorship packages and letters. You have learn how to tell a story and sell your organization's story to people. I really enjoy it.

I didn't write for years after my job at the magazine. I would write short stories here and there but nothing major. At work, my only writing outlet was writing stories for our newsletter. It wasn't until 2009 when I started this blog and my personal blog that I found my love of writing again. I love writing and, although I didn't become a famous journalist, I am okay with that.

Life is funny that way though. When you think you will do one thing, it turns around and puts you on a different path. And who knows, maybe one day I will finally finish the novel that is in a file on my computer.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Heart of Haiti Review and Giveaway!

We all know the terrible event that happened in 2010 in Haiti. The 2010 earthquake caused widespread devastation and destroyed so many lives. Now we can all help through the Macy's Heart of Haiti campaign! This year Macy's is inviting everyone to "Give Your Heart to Haiti this Valentine's Day" promotion taking place Sunday, Feb. 12 through Saturday, Feb. 18.

The Macy's Heart of Haiti program is helping to support the families rebuilding their lives after the 2010 earthquake by offering Haitian artisans the opportunity to sell their wares.


About the Heart of Haiti

Macy's Heart of Haiti collection helps Haitian families rebuild their lives after the 2010 earthquake using some of the most unlikely materials to create metalwork, ceramics, quilts, paintings, jewelry and other home decor items and accessories. From raw materials such as recycled oil drums and wrought iron to papier-mâché and stone, each item is handmade by a Haitian master artisan. By creating art that reflects their rich culture and history, artisans have a sustaining income to provide nutrition, education and health care for their families. The Heart of Haiti collection has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti providing financial benefits for an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 people in the country.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and despite the devastating earthquake, people there are filled with hope and a desire to improve their lives through employment. Options are very limited in this country. Heart of Haiti is a "Trade, Not Aid" initiative launched by artist and social entrepreneur, Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Macy's. It provides artists with an opportunity to make a living feed their families and pay their children's school fees. School in Haiti is not free.

The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, ceramics, and paintings. Accessories include vases, candleholders, serving trays, picture frames, mirrors, coasters, necklaces, clutch purses and more. The collection is made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums and local gommier wood. Most items fall in the range from $25-$60.


I was given the opportunity to review a few of the Heart of Haiti items. I received a beautiful Heart of Haiti Goddess Heart pendant and a Heart of Haiti Pot Holder and Oven Mitt.

The pendant is handcrafted in steel cut from recycled barrels and embodies the unparalleled creativity of Haiti's master artisans. It is handcrafted in Haiti, signed by the artisan and includes a Certificate of Authenticity and "Follow Your Heart" gift card. It is beautiful and goes with any outfit.

The Oven Mitt and Potholder are hand quilted and also handcrafted in Haiti. They are cotton/polyester, machine washable, are signed by the artisan and include a Certificate of Authenticity. I truly love these items. They are so beautiful and practical. I am buying my mother a pair for these for Mother's Day. I also love that they are handmade and that every product in the collection helps the people of Haiti rebuild their lives.

The collection has so many beautiful pieces. Besides the pendant and kitchen items, you can find decorative items, candle holders, vases, frames and beautiful wood products. I am eyeing the Heart of Haiti Serveware collection! I think this is going on my Christmas list!

These are beautiful products and would make great gifts. When you buy these products, you are also helping the people of Haiti by giving them a hand up and not a hand-out. Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively at 25 Macy's stores around the country and on Macy's.com.

To celebrate the "Give Your Heart to Haiti this Valentine's Day" promotion, I have a beautiful Heart of Haiti Goddess Heart pendant for one lucky reader!! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget! Good Luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Never to Late to Be Prepared!!

Every year I do one of my "Be Prepared" posts! I cannot say it enough. Every year around this time, I make sure we stock up on emergency supplies like batteries, flashlights and candles.

I keep my pantry stocked with canned food, freeze dried foods and other non-perishable items. We also make sure to have water on hand as well.

We got into the habit of being prepared from our time in Florida. When I fist moved to Miami, I lived through Hurricane Andrew. It was then that we both decided to always be prepared for any emergency.

When we moved further north to Palm Beach County, we lived through 2 back to back hurricanes. We were always ready. We would never wait until the last minute, we always went out and bought supplies before hurricane season began.

Now that we live in the mountains where it snows, we had to switch up our plan a little but we still need to prepare. Last year we got stuck in our house for 3 days before we could get out onto the roads. Since we live in the mountains, the snow plows don't always get to the more rural areas.

Our emergency preparedness plan not only includes having food and water on hand for at least a week but other things we never had to worry about in Florida. First and foremost, we have lots of wood on hand. If the power goes out, you want to be sure you have a heat source.

We keep lots of wood outside. Inside, we have our blankets ready. We also have our flashlights and extra batteries. We have a battery operated radio. We also make sure to charge our laptops and phones before a storm comes. We have a handy portable charger as well.

We always make sure both cars are filled with gas. We make sure to have plenty of salt and a shovel to clean the driveway. It is also important to keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car as well.

Now, you are probably thinking if you need to have an emergency plan as well. The answer is yes. Let me tell you after living through natural disasters without electricity or water for a few days, I am glad we were smart enough to have the supplies needed to make it through a few days. I have also learned that in any emergency, you can't count on getting help right away. Sometimes even the government does not have the resources to help everyone. So emergency preparedness and food storage are things everyone should take seriously.

Take it from me, you need to have a plan. It is never too late to start planning. For more information on what to do during an emergency and what supplies you will need, go to the Department of Homeland Security's site. They have a treasure trove of information.

Be safe!



Thursday, February 9, 2012

K-Y Brand Date Night Packs Giveaway!!!



Valentine's Day is coming up and just in time for a little romance, K-Y Brand of products has introduced Date Night Packs. These romantic packs include K-Y premium intimacy products along with a coupon for $10 off movie tickets. The “Romantic Double Feature” Pack stars K-Y Brand Yours+Mine and K-Y Brand Touch 2-in-1 Warming Oil and Personal Lubricant. The “Year’s Hottest Blockbuster” Pack stars K-Y Brand Intense. The packs are available where K-Y Brand products are sold and retail for $26.99 which includes the $10 off movie tickets for two.



What more can you ask for? Take your honey out to dinner, then a movie and then back home for a little romance. That sounds like a perfect night to me. So try your luck and enter to win a Date Night Pack. Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hallmark "Tell Them" Campaign and Giveaway!



This year Hallmark is launnching a new greetings program that's all about vowing to tell your loved ones how special they are. The program is called “Tell Them.”  Tell them you love them. Tell them you miss them. Tell them they are special. Tell them how you feel. Check out this video:



It is so important to "tell" your special ones how much you care. It is also not only about tellng them a few times a year but all the time and in special ways. Hallmark greeting cards are the perfect way to do so.

Hallmark has launched a new Tell Them Facebook page and application as part of the program. You can visit Tell Them on Facebook and “vow to tell” someone in your life what you think he/she needs to hear. Go check it out because it is a great way to express yourself!

To celebrate the new "Tell Them" program, Hallmark is giving a set of greeting cards to one of my readers! Just enter below!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!


Oh I was so young and now I am old. 2 more years and I am 50. Damn that's harsh!
Luckily, I still act like I am 15.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dollar General Celebrates Black History Month + Giveaway!!


This year Dollar General is celebrating Black History Month in a big way. Dollar General is offering its customers a chance to win a trip for up to 10 people to the 2012 Essence Music Festival® presented by Coca-Cola. From July 6 to 8, The Essence Music Festival, the country’s largest annual African-American music and empowerment event, will take place in New Orleans.

The Honor Heritage Sweepstakes is part of Dollar General’s Black History Month celebration, the first of several Dollar General initiatives honoring “Every Day Heroes.” The year-long program will honor community heroes – from the firemen and veterans to teachers and caregivers.

When you shop at a Dollar General and purchase qualifying products, you may be eligible to win instant prizes, including $50 and $25 in Live Nation Concert Cash. To enter the sweepstakes, Dollar General shoppers can check their receipt for a special code upon purchasing qualifying products.

What a great prize. So remember to go to the Dollar General website to see the list of qualifying products and enter to win. You never know, you might be headed to New Orleans!!

In honor of Black History Month, I was provided a prize pack for one of my readers that includes Olay® Firming Night of Olay Cream, CoverGirl® LashBlast 24 Hour Mascara, Febreze® Auto in Linen and Sky scent, a Dollar General calculator and a key chain. WOO! Just enter to win on the Rafflecopter widget!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

SnapSac Tote Review and Giveaway!


I don't want to say I have an obsession with tote bags but I do. I love any type of tote bag. And trust me, I use them all. I have totes in my car, hubby's car, at home, at work. I use them as lunch bags, gym bags and I use them to store and lug everything.

So when I had the opportunity to review the SnapSac, it was a no brainer. The first thing I like about Snap Sacs besides that they are tote bags is that they are eco-friendly and reusable. I also love that they come in different sizes. The best part though is that they are stylish. Usually my totes are plain or have a logo on the front. These come in cute patterns and colors. You can use them as a handbag or to travel!

SnapSacs are also machine washable. The reinforced handles are strong so you can pack these babies with a lot of stuff. I had forgotten my laptop bag at home and was able to fit my work laptop into one of the SnapSacs with no problem. My laptop and paperwork fit and the bag held up nicely.

The SnapSac bags are foldable and have snaps at the top and at the pocket so they are easy to store and take along anywhere. When the SnapSac is folded, it can slip into my purse, the door pocket of my car or into my desk drawer. These are handy dandy totes for anyone! I give them a thumbs up!

SnapSacs can be purchased on the SnapSac website or on Amazon.com. The prices range from $2.99 – $9.99 a bag or you can also purchase them in sets.

You can also try your luck and enter to win here on my blog. I have a cute tote bag set of 3 and a grocery totel to giveaway! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget! YAY!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Diversity on Demand celebrates Black History Month + $25 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!


Throughout the month of February, digital cable customers are just a “click away” from unlocking new revelations into some of the history, struggles and beauty that are an integral part of the African-American experience as part of cable’s Diversity On Demand initiative. Viewers will be able to access some wonderful African-American programming.

Here are just some of the highlights during the Black History Month programming for Diversity On Demand:

Milestones in Black History: A look at the history of the struggles and strife, the tragedies and the triumphs of African-Americans in the U.S., including programming on the Civil Rights era. Everyone in the family can get in on the learning with documentaries like “The Black List” examining some of the reasons for Black History Month. And kids young and old can take a trip back in time understanding the importance of historical events with “Seizing Justice: The Greensboro 4,” “On the Shoulders of Giants” and “Birds of a Feather: Tuskegee Airmen.”

Profiles in Courage: The biographies of influential African-Americans come to life with dramatic profiles and stories of acclaimed leaders and others who are not so well known—but perhaps should be, such as that of Lena Baker in “Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story.”

Dramas: Programs and movies like “Independence Day” showcasing award-worthy performances from notable African-American actors such as Will Smith. You can also explore and share real-life family relationship dramas like “Braxton Family Values.”

Hearth and Home: Savor shows like “Down Home with the Neelys” that provide a look at food and other aspects of modern African-American society.

Of the People: Program content that exemplifies the contributions made by multicultural talent, shows written by, starring, directed or produced by African-Americans, like Morgan Freeman in “Million Dollar Baby.”

Powerful Portrayals: Storytelling has always been an important part of African-American culture. Drama fans can enjoy Black cinema offerings, which chronicle the challenges of African-American protagonists in a variety of ways.

That’s Entertainment: Laugh along with comedy specials such as “Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker,” while romantic comedies warm the heart. If music is your thing, there are shows and movies such as “Ray,” the remarkable story of one of America's true musical geniuses, Ray Charles, that look into the past, present music-making of African-American artists.

I am excited by all the wonderful programs that are offered. I am also impressed that so much special programming is being offered for Black History Month. And during September 15 - October 15 you will be able to see special programming for Hispanic Heritage Month as well.

If you go and visit the Diversity on Demand Facebook page you will receive programming updates and links to trailers on Black History Month. The Facebook page will also have information on contests and giveaways. Since multicultural movies are being celebrated all year long, there will be various activities, contests, promotions, polls and trailers all the time!

I hope you will go check out the excitement and, hopefully, catch some of the great shows Diversity on Demand is offering!

To celebrate Diversity on Demand's Black History Month promotion, I have a $25 Visa Gift Card to giveaway! Just enter on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kleenex Brand “Los Atrapa Estronudos” or “Sneeze Catchers” Giveaway!!!


I work in a school and although I am not a teacher and have limited exposure to the kids, I have gotten sick. Even with all the precautions taken by me and the school, the fact is that there are germs everywhere. This is where Kleenex Brand comes in.

For the second year in a row, the Kleenex Brand is calling on Hispanic kids to join the fight against colds by becoming Certified Sneeze Catchers or Atrapa Estornudos. This time, however, the brand is also looking for mom to join the cause. As an enticement, The Kleenex brand is offering moms a chance to win a gift card worth hundreds of dollars and a year’s supply of Kleenex brand facial tissue by entering a national sweepstakes at http://www.atrapaestornudos.com/.

“We’re excited to continue this program, which has proven to be so successful,” said Ken Champa, associate brand manager for Kleenex brand. “By engaging her kids, the first year we were able to turn a large number of Latina moms into Kleenex facial tissue users. Now that she’s more aware of Kleenex brand’s benefits, we also want to speak directly to her in a more adult voice about how Sneeze Shield technology helps keep the ’wet stuff’ off hands while still delivering unmatched softness.”

Kleenex Brand will be hosting a number of in-store events around the country designed to allow Latina shoppers to experience the product and see for themselves why Kleenex brand facial tissues are considered America’s softest tissue. A new landing page on the Sneeze Catchers/Atrapa Estornudos website will also be devoted entirely to mom, helping explain how Sneeze Shield technology works. A toll-free phone number has also been set up to help mom learn more about the program.

Sneeze Shield is a proprietary, protective layer in each Kleenex facial tissue that retains moisture longer than other tissues. Of all facial tissues on the market, only Kleenex brand offers Sneeze Shield in all of its tissues.

The national campaign will once again include a massive Spanish-language TV, radio, PR, grassroots and digital strategy aimed at enlisting Hispanic children to sign up to become Sneeze Catchers. Besides receiving a free kit with educational games and activities about proper cold-related hygiene practices, children who sign up this year will also have an opportunity to receive additional prizes, including a Kleenex branded bag, branded t-shirts for mom and child, and an official Kleenex brand Certified Sneeze Catcher ID card.

The program’s expansion comes on the heels of last year’s major launch of a revolutionary new product – Kleenex Cool Touch tissue – which cools on contact with the skin, providing a better way to soothe. The tissue, enriched with a proprietary formula containing cooling moisturizers, releases a cool sensation to help soothe the soreness caused by blowing one’s nose.

For more information on certifying children as Sneeze Catchers, as well as instructions on entering the sweepstakes, visit Atrapa Estornudos or call toll free 1-888-718-5569.

So head on over to the Atrapa Estronudos site and sign up!! The link will take you to the Spanish site but you can access the English version on the top right hand site. This is a great site for any mom!! While you are there look around because they have tons of useful information.

Once on the site, remember to enter the contest because you can win a year of Kleenex and a $500 gift card! WOO!  Thanks to the great people at Kleenex I have a super duper Los Atrapa Estronudos/Sneeze Catchers basket for one lucky reader. YAY! Just enter on the Rafflecopet widget below.