York Photo ~ My Little Secret

Wedding photo backdrops set for pictures

I completely love York Photo! I first found out about them from my wedding photographer, actually! She was great but just getting started out so she shot the pictures then put them on a CD for us to print. She recommended York Photo because she said that they had the best prices available and their quality “Made everyone else’s pictures look like a bunch of yuppies.”

I’ve used and loved them ever since! In addition to great pictures they also have some amazing deals on their picture products so I thought I’d share these super fun Valentine’s Day ideas! (New Customers only, sorry!) Just click on the pictures below to buy!

 

 

photography backdrop

Behind the Scenes

Sneak peek behind the scenes

Planning
Scheming
Pondering
Dreaming
Pinning
Organizing
Learning
Reading
Deciding
Big Plans in the works for this blog this year. Pardon the days of silence and the dust in the meantime

Nicole Elliott

Italian Chicken In the Oven Recipe

My Grandma is 100% Italian. Both of her parents were from Italy but met in the United States. She’s the best cook in the world and is one of those delightful old school ladies who cooked by memory, not recipe, with a “pinch of this and a dash of that”. So copying or passing on her recipes can get a little tricky at times–sometimes they don’t even have names!

Take this recipe, for example. Growing up we always called it “Rosemary Chicken”. My mom mentioned it to my grandma the other day and she said, “Oh I’ve never eaten that.” My mom replied, “It’s *you’re* recipe, what do you call it?” After she described it my Grandma replies, “Oh! That’s just ‘Chicken in the Oven’.” Haha! I love it! So my new name for this recipe is Italian Chicken in the Oven. It’s been a favorite ever since I was little and now my family loves it–it was also the very first meal I ever made while learning to cook!
 

Since she’s a “pinch of this-dash of that” there is a distinct flavor of that to this recipe, however that is nice because then you just make as much or as little as your family needs. I usually use 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and about 4 or 5 good size potatoes and I always put in a lot of seasoning to punch up the flavor!

 Italian Chicken In the Oven Recipe

 2 TBSP Oil
2 TBSP Butter
1/2 tube Jimmy Dean Sausage (or you can substitute turkey sausage)
Chicken cut into small pieces
Potatoes skinned & cut into small pieces
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Powder or Salt
Italian Seasoning
Chicken Bullion Cube
1/2-1 Cup Water

Preheat oven to 325-350 degrees

Start to heat 2 TBSP of oil (like canola) and 2 TBSP of butter in a roast pan. Add 1/2 Tube Jimmy Dean Sausage and brown. After the sausage is cooked add cut up potatoes & chicken. Then add a little salt and pepper, some garlic & Italian seasoning to taste. Add 1/2-1 cup water and a chicken boulion cube. Stir all together.

Cook at 325-350 degrees for 1 – 1 1/2 hours (checking a few times, when potatoes are fork tender and chicken is cooked through it’s done)

Crockpot: cook on high 3-4 hours (doesn’t taste as good as the oven in my personal opinion!)

Enjoy!

 Do you have an Italian Grandma? Even if not do you have a childhood favorite recipe that you still love to cook?

Nicole Elliott

Dealing With Hair Damage

DermOrganic Argan Oil Hair Treatments

I started highlighting my hair when I was 16 and it’s been all downhill from there. When it comes to hair damage I’m shocked my poor hair has never had more! Highlights, dyes, cuts, blowdrying, flat irons, curling irons, hair product and more-my hair has done it all in the past 10 years!! While many people stick to relatively the same style/look for years on end I change my hair more often than I swap out the clothes in my wardrobe! Need proof? I did this page a few years ago–and have had about 5 new colors/hair styles since then, haha!

Thankfully my thick hair puts up with lots of use and abuse very well! My hair stylists are always amazed first at how MUCH hair I have, and then they always comment how healthy it is for what I put it through!
Recently I’ve been dying at home (sssshhhh–those salon highlights are pricey!!!) and it’s always gone well until the last time. I was trying to use a box hair lightening product and while it did take my hair up a few notches it also left it SUPER dry and a little on the brittle side–ack!
Shortly after I herd about DermOrganic which is a great new hair care line with Argan Oil. It sounded like it might be just thing to get my hair back to healthy again! Argan oil is rich in omega-6, antioxidants, and vitamin E (all of which makes it sound like you should eat it, right?) what that means for hair is that it creates a protective barrier against the effects of heat, sun, and wind (yepp all those things I subject my hair to!)
I was sent the DermOrganic Shampoo, Conditioner,  Leave In Treatment, and Masque and I’ve been using them all for about a month now. I was super excited when after the 3rd time I shampooed and used the mask my hair felt totally back to normal! The masque is definitely my favorite product along with the leave in treatment that leaves my normally dull hair shiny and frizz free.
Right now I’m growing my hair out looooong again (as you can see from the picture!) so having great hair product for my *massive* amount of hair is really important! I’m totally in love with DermOrganic and I will definitely be looking into purchasing it in the future! It is a little on the pricier side–(around $30 a bottle) but a little bit goes a looong way and if it keeps my hair healthy despite abuse it’s definitely worth it!

DermOrganic is social! Follow, Fan, and Subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube! They have lots of fun and great hair, skin, and all things beauty tips & tutorials!

Are you a women of color or is your hair *really* damaged to the point it needs to be cut off? You have a few options for yourself if your natural hair is beyond repair and you have a naturally dark hair color. You might consider malaysian hair. It’s known for its softness and silkiness and you can buy it in malaysian hair bundles. This can be added in as a weave or clip in extensions. Malaysian curly hair is known to hold the curl well, so it’s a great option if you’re wishing for ringlets!

Nicole Elliott

Mamavation Monday ~ Here We Go Again

At the wedding before losing 6 lbs-I’m pretty happy with where I am but would love to lose my chunky arms!

 Hello there! It’s been (quite) awhile since I posted a Mamavation Monday! Between the holidays, the wedding, traveling, and catching back to back nasty bugs that I’m still recovering from it’s been quite the up and down on the scale adventure since I last checked in!

The *good* news is that the one good thing that came out of being sick over Christmas was that I finally broke that blasted 135 mark and as of yesterday I weighed in at 134.2 At once point I was down to 132 but now that we’re back in Texas I’ve gained back a few of the lost-while-sicker-than-a-dog pounds. I’m hoping to jump back into running again tomorrow, though, so that I will be back on track once again!

 My “get healthy” plan for 2013 looks the same as it has since we got down here–less snacking on treats at night and swapping them out with either gum or fruit, keeping a food journal, and running 3 times a week.

I’ll give you an update next week on how the rest of this week goes–here’s to staying *underneath* my 135 lb mark!!!

How is your fitness/weightloss/wellness plan for 2013 going?

Nicole Elliott

Borax

 Have you heard of Borax?

It’s only some of the coolest stuff ever. Well–ok that might be just a *slight* exaggeration, but it’s super useful, super diverse, and super “green”! If you’re like me, however, you might not have known a whole lot about it. I’d never heard of it till a few years ago when I looked into making my own laundry detergent. Since then I’ve seen it popping up in great ideas everywhere! So I wanted to bring you a few ideas of just what Borax can be used for, and also a great Borax sweepstakes where you will have a chance to win money and some Borax of your own! Also I’m doing a giveaway-so be sure to scroll aaallll the way to the bottom to enter!)

First off, though, you might be asking:

What is Borax?

The reason that Borax makes such a great natural alternative to many things is that it’s not a chemical–it’s actually a naturally occurring mineral that forms white crystals composed of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water (Na2B4O7 • 10H2O for any of you Chemistry buffs out there!)

So now that we cleared that up…

Uses For Borax

As you can see–you can do a TON with it! Here are just a few of the things I’ve come across and love!

Around the House Borax:

  • Can be used as a laundry booster
    • this is most common use probably, it’s great if you have hard water
  • Can be used as a homemade cleaner
    • I scrubbed down the bathroom with it (shown above!) and it did a great job getting the counter and sink shiny bright! It doesn’t scratch and can be used on tiles, showers, tubs, and in toilets!
  •  Can be used to clean dishwashers & remove carpet stains.

As I mentioned I first came across Borax as I was looking into making my own laundry. You can find how to make your own here!

Borax isn’t just practical, though, here are two super fun ideas to do with your kids!

Borax Crystal Star

 

Glow in the Dark Slime

Don’t forget about the great Borax Sweepstakes going on! Enter to win the $1,500 Grand Prize, or one of 171 coupons for FREE BORAX! Why 171 coupons you ask? The TOTAL prize value is $2013!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nicole Elliott

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Commissary Coupons

You might remember from How to Survive Shopping with Two Kids that we did all of our shopping at the Commissary when we lived near D.C. and Boston. I was always amazed at just how much I saved by shopping there, even if it was a little bit of a drive! Even compared to other discounted stores like Super Wal*Mart we always came away with big savings! I also loved the experience of shopping at the commissary. There was just something fun about shopping alongside other military wives and guys in uniform! (Amber was always the biggest flirt with all the cute young soliders, Marines, saliors, and Coasties!)

One of the things that I really loved about shopping at the Commissary was that in addition to all the already reduced prices there were often coupon tear pads near items so that I didn’t have to do any clipping-I’d just grab them at the store! These were super popular, however, especially for the big name brands like General Mills. Because of this I thought that the new General Mills Military Region savings program is a super cool idea!

The program is really simple to sign up for just Text* the keyword GMSAVE to 82857 to opt-in and receive a bunch of cool things like  exclusive military only General Mills coupons sent monthly right to your email, current product sales, upcoming commissary events, and new General Mills products!

*Message and data rates may apply. 4 alerts per month. Reply STOP to end or HELP for help.
www.generalmills.com/en/Privacy_Policy

You’ll be asked to give your email address but don’t worry–the people at General Mills realize that you’re busy so they just send highlights of the best things that they know will benefit you and save you time and money-something as military members and spouses we can definitely use!

Be sure to check out their Facebook Page to learn more about this great program!

Happy Saving!

Nicole Elliott

Candle Bible for Kids, Toddler Edition

Candle Bible for Kids, Toddler Edition

 There are a huge variety of baby, toddler, and children’s Bibles to choose from-and we have about 7 of them! I have to say that the Candle Bible for Kids Toddler Edition is now one of my favorites! It is absolutely perfect for toddlers and the stories are all “just right” for my 2 1/2 year old. I love how it includes enough details to stay true to the Biblical account without including so much that it looses his interest.

The size is also “just right” for little hands and the hardback cover makes it easy for him to grasp and turn the pages all by himself. I like that in addition to include the Sunday School Classic stories there are also not as well known tales like God speaks to Samuel and God feeds Elijah that are included.

One of my favorite parts of this Bible is the fun, bright, and colorful illustrations. They are so cute and really grab a toddlers attention! This would make a perfect first Bible for any little one!

Don’t take my word for it! Go check out the other Amazon reviews and grab a Bible for yourself-at $8.99 it’s a great price right now!


I received this book free from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review of this book.

Nicole Elliott