Play Dates Made Easy (with Cascade Platinum + A Giveaway!)

This review was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Cascade. I was provided the featured product free of charge to facilitate my review, but all opinions are 100% mine.
Cascade Platinum

My kids love play dates with their friends.  I love chatting with other moms and grownup time while the kiddos play and exhaust themselves for nap time (or bedtime depending on the play date time).  Even though I seemingly love everything about play dates….I don’t.  I really hate the pressure of hosting them.  That’s not really fair to my friends or the parents of my kiddos so every once in a blue moon, I suck it up, and host a couple of moms and their kiddos.  I always have a blast and it’s never as big a deal as I make out of  it but there’s still some added clean up, cooking and entertaining to be done being the host of one of these shindigs.

Party Food

I find this Extra Creamy Mac & Cheese recipe is a crowd please for both kids and adults and it is fairly simple to whip up.  I invited a couple friends over to try it and check out my new secret cleaning weapon; Cascade Platinum.  With Cascade, clean up is much easier and makes the idea of dishes far less cumbersome.  This means I might be more inclined to invite people over (if only Cascade could clean my whole house before and after said play date!).  I fully expected to have to bribe guests to come to my play date with the products sent to me by Cascade but instead I had an overwhelming response to come play and hang out.  Perhaps it was my offer of food?  Or maybe just my winning personality.  Cascade Platinum

I packaged up the Cascade Rinse Aid and Cascade Platinum packets with a ribbon and a homemade ‘Thank You” tag using alphabet stickers.  I added a lollipop for the kids that were leftover from a recent birthday party we had for my youngest son.  I would like to say that, usually, for play dates, we don’t hand out goodies or gifts, but this was a special occasion.  We were testing Cascade Platinum!

Cascade

I made brownies the night before and let the pan just sit.  I resisted the urge to soak it or wash it immediately.  Cascade boasts that it actually works better without pre-washing- something science-y about the enzymes latch onto that food and break it down so it can wash away.   I wanted that well-known hard crust that happens after you bake something.  I made the Mac & Cheese while guests were arriving and when I was done I loaded up my dishwasher with the pot and pan used for the mac and cheese AND that gross brownie pan that had just been sitting on my counter.  I put the Cascade Platinum products in and started the cycle.  We played, ate, visited and laughed while my dishwasher did the work.

Cascade Platinum

Before everyone left I showed off my clean dishes and handed out my little gifts.  Everyone was impressed and rightfully so!  Check out the Cascade Platinum reviews (and if you have used it; leave your own using #cascadeshiningreviews)!

Cascade Works

 

Enter to win your own special Cascade Prize Pack!

The Prize Pack includes:
·       Cascade Platinum
·       Cascade Platinum Rinse Aid
·       Whisk
·       Spatula
·       Cheese grater
·       Oven mitts

 

Have an opinion to share? Head to the Cascade website to leave a short review of Cascade Platinum (http://www.cascadeclean.com/us/cascade/review) including #CascadeShiningReviews. One reviewer will win a Kitchen Aid Dishwasher!

DIY Coffee Creamer

I live on coffee.  You may think I am exaggerating but I’m not.  It is an addiction. If drinking coffee is wrong then I don’t want to be right.  Here’s the catch.  I really only drink iced coffee.  Even in the winter I will always choose iced.  I don’t love any hot beverages, really.  Don’t get me wrong, if my choice is no coffee of hot coffee I will choose hot, of course.

DIY Coffee Creamer

I like some sugar and creamer in that iced coffee and I can sip on it all day.  I make it extra special with my DIY homemade caramel sauce, too. Delish!  This recipe came up when I reached for my coffee creamer and found that it had been finished off!  Eeek!  Luckily, this recipe is super simple and versatile.

You will need:

14 oz sweetened condensed milk

1 and 3/4 cup milk (whole, skim whatever you have on hand works!)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

This recipe is for a french vanilla flavor but, like I said, this is a versatile recipe.  Instead of the vanilla extract you can add cinnamon, chocolate, caramel or a combination of any of these.  Seriously, the options are endless.

Also, if your sweetened condensed milk comes in a different size can; no worries!  Basically, it’s one part milk and one part sweetened condensed milk plus some flavoring.  Pour into a glass container (a mason or canning jar is perfect) and shake what your Momma gave you.  You can use this in hot or iced coffee. It’s inexpensive and really good.  I don’t even have to add sugar when using this creamer.

Do you prefer cold or hot coffee?

 

Disney Jr. Henry Hugglemonster DVD Review (and Giveaway!)

Do your kiddos love Disney Jr. as much as mine?  Henry Hugglemonster is fairly new to the line-up and my three youngest all really enjoy it (my 12 year old doesn’t find it ‘annoying’ either, so that’s a huge plus!).  Henry Hugglemonster: Meet the Hugglemonsters is the first movie starring this fun family and it includes 6 episodes plus bonus features, too!

 

Welcome to the newest, happiest, most monster-rific spot on the map – the wondrous land of Roarsville – where five-year old Henry Hugglemonster lives, plays and learns something “roarsome” every day. Together with his loving parents and grandparents, big brother Cobby, sister Summer, baby bro Ivor, and a town full of cuddly monsters, Henry embraces all the joys and challenges of growing up. Whether he’s helping his sister put on a show, setting up a hugglejuice stand or entering his monsterdog Beckett in a pet pageant, he’s always discovering new ways to be the best brother, friend and monster he can be! Packed with over two hours of song-filled fun, teamwork and adventure, Henry Hugglemonster: Meet The Hugglemonsters will make your preschooler roar for more every time.

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Henry Hugglemonster really grabs the attention of my kids with fun songs and stories that they can relate to.  I love that each episode teaches my young ones a valuable lesson about life, family, love etc.

Included in this DVD:
1 – “The Huggleflower/“Monster Lullaby”
2 – “Astrobrix”/“The Sore Roar”
3 – “Promises Promises”/“Fireworks Night”
4- “The Hugglejuice Stand”/ “The Huggledance Party”
5- “Carried Away”/“Monster in Charge”
6 – “Monsterpet Pageant”/“Ivor’s First Stomp”
Bonus Episode: Horseshoe Peck/Callie’s Gold Nugget

We’re giving a copy of this DVD away to one reader/fan!!  Head to LLandLoL’s Facebook to enter to win!  US only.  LLandLoL is not responsible for prize fulfillment. End 1/30 at 10pm.

California Delicious Gift Baskets Review and GIVEAWAY!

Gift Guide

A gift basket is an amazing idea for a gift for family members or co-workers!  California Delicious has themes to match any personality and the site is extremely easy to navigate.  Picking a thoughtful gift can take no time at all.

California Delicious Gift Baskets

I especially love the baskets designed specifically for men.  I know I can’t be the only one who has a hard time figuring out what to get the men in my life!  We got a chance to check out a few options, both affordable and filled with lots of goodies.  I was really impressed with both the California Gourmet Golf Gift and Star Chocolate Gift Basket.

Golf Themed Gift Basket

Hubs enjoyed the golf theme and the tees that came with his.  I loved that it came on a cheese platter shaped like a golf hole (complete with flag!).  The snacks were tasty- we used the salami, cheese and crackers to create mini snack sandwiches that were perfect.

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The chocolate themed basket was filled with delicious treats- some of my old favorites (if you follow me on IG @llandlol you saw me kicking back and enjoying the Ghirardelli chocolate bar) and some new-to-me ones too (Lacy’s Cookies, so yummy).  This gift basket is found in the under $30 section of the site, too!!

Looking for the perfect gift for anyone on your list?  Check out California Delicious and enter the giveaway for a $50 giftcard to the site below.

 

Thor Lighting Energy Hammer

Holiday Gift Guide

This is the ultimate boy toy (or for a girl who can’t get enough of super heroes)!  Thor Lightning Energy Hammer by Uncle Milton is powered by metal and will light up, flash and sizzle with ‘lightning energy’ when activated.

Thor Toy

This is such a fun toy and I love that is comes with only three pieces; less for my crazy boys to lose! The hammer itself is very sturdy and has already taken quite a beating, as you can see.  Baby G had a blast testing it out!  Thor Lightning Energy Hammer comes with a educational poster about Thor and Real World science!

Thor Hammer Toy

AZ on the Rocks: Fun and Unique Birthday Party for Jelly Bean!

AZ_Logo

Now that Jelly Bean is getting older an simple park party with a bounce house doesn’t cut it (don’t get me wrong, those parties are great and the younger kids LOVE them!).  She just turned 12 last week (EEEEEKKKK!) and a couple months ago I started searching for the perfect party spot for her very first ever ‘friend party’.  Usually our parties include family, with mostly younger cousins and cake but now that Jelly Bean is with us Monday through Friday, goes to school and is involved in extra curricular activities we wanted to invite her friends to celebrate with her, too.  She was really excited to invite her whole class (and friends from her other activities, too). I wanted her party location to be unique, active and fun.

AZ on the Rocks Tweenage Party

I began my search of fun things to do (I like to think outside the box for parties, so usually I don’t search ‘birthday parties’) and found AZ on the Rocks, Arizona’s largest indoor rock gym.  At first I didn’t even consider it for a party- I loved the idea of a fun and different workout for myself.  After searching around the website I found some awesome info on kid stuff.  I started thinking it might actually be the perfect place for Jelly Bean to have her tweenager party. Sure, she’d never been before, but most kids haven’t and AZ on the Rocks knows that! There are three choices for a party package (and you can, of course, add options and people to each).  I love that they have after hour options so you get the gym to yourself but we opted for the Beta Party Package, which included everything we needed and was really reasonable for this kind of party!

Rock Climbing Party

 

We had 11 kids total and only two had ever rock climbed before so the instruction and video was really informative.  My cousin (Auntie Mary) came to help out so we had enough ‘belayers’.  Our host was great, she encouraged Jelly Bean and had her pick friends to do fun games/races up the 30 foot wall.  It was really fun to see them all pushing themselves and having fun.  We had some guest proclaim their new love for rock climbing!

AZ on the Rocks

The private room was perfect for cake and presents and the party was a HUGE success. I honestly can’t wait to go back with some girl friends and have a fun fitness girls night out!  What a fantastic experience for Jelly Bean and her friends!  I heard her on the phone later with a friend “Sorry I didn’t answer. Ya.  I was rock climbing” her voice was full of pride.

Rock Climb Party/Cake

 

Jelly Bean loves chocolate so I make her a chocolate themed cake that was a huge hit!  I’d love to hear your ideas for tweenage/teenage parties!  Share them below and make sure to check out AZ on the Rocks Facebook (and Twitter) for deals and updates!

Loot Crate: Monthly Subscription Box for Gamers, Guys, Geeks and More!

Subscription boxes are all the rage and I love love love them.  Most the ones I have seen are beauty or pet related so when I heard about Loot Crate I was more than intrigued.

lootcrate

For a little over $18 a month you receive 6-8 products that are considered ‘Geek and Gaming Gear’.  I love that this box is geared towards guys (and girls who game, as well).  I feel like this is a completely new concept (at the very least, new to me) and truly a unique gift idea.  The past crates were all really cool looking and I was a little bummed I’d only recently found Loot Crate (I missed out of some awesome gear- stuff I know my Hubs and kids would’ve liked, but even stuff I wished I had for myself!).

My crate did arrive quickly and although I had planned to wait until Hubs came home, I tore it open. I couldn’t contain myself, don’t judge me! I caught glimpses of Thor, Yoda and Sonic and knew right away I loved this subscription!

lootcrate1

Loot Crate is celebrating their 1 year anniversary! Use the code CAKE to receive 12% off

***Disclaimer: Review products have been given to me for review purposes. My opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links. By using these links you are helping support LLandLoL, but of course it is never required that you use my links. If you have more questions regarding this please check out: http://www.lovinglifeandlivingonless.com/p/disclosure-and-policies.html

CapThat: Wedding Photo on Wood

I got the opportunity to check out a new-to-me site CapThat and to share the experience of ordering and my thoughts on the product I received.

capthat

First and foremost, I noticed the cool options, like a photo on metal or wood.  There’s also all different sizes available and even custom sizing on some products like the canvas prints.  There’s accessories like playing cards, puzzles, coffee mugs and more.  You can take photos straight from Facebook, Instagram or upload from your computer.

I wanted a wedding photo to put up in my home office space and I was torn between a metal print and a wood print.  After going back and forth I decided I liked the rustic look for the photos on the wood and thought it’d look great about my desk.  I picked one of my favorite wedding shots and uploaded it right onto the site.  It took just minutes to create my piece and checkout.  It really helped that could see a preview of the product as I uploaded and edited

My 7×7 wood print is now hanging above my desk and I love it.  It’s really unique and these would make a wonderful gift.

capthat2

***Disclaimer: Review products have been given to me for review purposes. My opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links. By using these links you are helping support LLandLoL, but of course it is never required that you use my links. If you have more questions regarding this please check out: http://www.lovinglifeandlivingonless.com/p/disclosure-and-policies.html

Cross Country Cafe: Deals on K-Cups and More

I live off coffee.  I don’t just enjoy it occasionally, I look forward to it each morning.  Hubs and I were so lucky to receive a Keurig as a wedding gift a few months back and I started buying up K-cups!  I did find that they could certainly add up; but I kept looking for amazing deals (hey, it’s what I do) and I found Cross Country Café.  This site has smoking deals on K-cups, whole bean or ground coffee and even brewers.  I love the selection of K-cups and when I saw the Donut House Chocolate Glazed Donut flavor I knew it’d be good.  I was right!  So right, in fact, that I catch Hubs brewing up my cups! Just kidding, of course, what’s his is mine and what’s mine is mine….hehehe.

 

donut_house_chocolate_glazed

The clearance section is ever changing and can get you K-cups at a steal of a price but even the regularly priced options are the cheapest I’ve found.  These cost $13.75 for a 24 pack.  That’s .57cents per cup.  Plus, spend $59.00 or more items and your coffee ships for free!!

There’s also Wacky Wensdays, where there is a featured product at an amazing price.  Connect with Cross Country Café via Facebook for up to date deals!

***Disclaimer: Review products have been given to me for review purposes. My opinions are my own. Post may contain affiliate links. By using these links you are helping support LLandLoL, but of course it is never required that you use my links. If you have more questions regarding this please check out: http://www.lovinglifeandlivingonless.com/p/disclosure-and-policies.html

Baby G’s 2nd Birthday at AZ Air Time (Ball/Sports Themed)

AZ Air Time Family Fun for All Ages!

We recently celebrated my youngest child’s 2nd birthday.  I lovingly call him Baby G here on this site and I can’t believe my “Baby” isn’t such a baby anymore.  Birthdays are bitter sweet, but I love planning parties, making memories and celebrating my kiddos.

azairtime1

Baby G had his party at AZ Air Time in Scottsdale (there’s a Tucson location coming soon too!), which I found through good old fashion Googling.  I used the virtual tour option and loved what I saw; trampolines everywhere, with foam pit, basketball, dodge ball and more.  Our family has many cousins ranging in ages from 1 to 13 years old and AZ Air Time was perfect to entertain all of them (and the adults too!).   There is a whole section for younger kids and adults or older siblings are allowed in only if they are assisting a child 6 or younger, perfect!  This is where Baby G spent most of his time, on the 2 inflatable bounce housed (complete with slides and basketball hoop) and on the trampolines specifically for toddlers and preschoolers.

azairtime2

The older kids (and adults) had a BLAST in the foam pit- it was an overall favorite among our group.  I am usually running around at parties, making sure everyone and everything is taken care of but our hostess was wonderful and since she was on top of it all I got the chance to get in on the fun, too!  The basketball area was a work out but such fun.  Baby G’s grandma was convinced she’d get a slam dunk; she got close but she’ll have to head back to AZ Air Time to keep practicing! My two oldest (Jelly Bean who’s 11 and K who’s 4) loved racing in the main trampoline area and there was plenty of room for everyone. I’d worried about how busy it might be on a Saturday afternoon with younger kids, but it was great!

azairtime3

Our guest count was at 18 kids and parents who’d RSVPed ‘Yes’.  We ended up with 6 kids (don’t get me started; 11 of the missing kids were no call/no shows); but the kids that came had the best time.  I loved watching them all exercise, laugh, explore and really make the most of this unique location.

azairtime4

The party location we picked was the semi-private option, decided upon because of the number of guests we (thought) we’d have.  It was perfect and they’d set up the space in the colors I’d chosen when booking the party and again, the hostess was wonderful at directing guests after checking in and just generally taking good care of us.  This was one of the easiest birthday parties I’ve ever planned.  I brought cake, favors and a few ‘themed’ decorations but that was it, they took care of everything from start to finish.  We had the party mid-afternoon so we didn’t serve food, but you certainly could!  Simply call up and let them know the week of the party and again, they take care of it all. It was all completely stress free.

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Jelly Bean immediately asked if we can go back- explaining she’d be “super healthy” if she was able to go to AZ Air Time “everyday!”.  With summer temperatures reaching 120 here in Phoenix and Scottsdale; this indoor location is wonderful!  Don’t get me wrong; you’ll sweat if you participate, but you don’t have to, there’s free WiFi and seating areas for grownups, too! They offer trampoline workouts and I think I may just have to check it out!

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Looking for a fun spot to take the kids for a couple hours?  Want a unique and awesome birthday party experience?  Looking for a new workout regimen?  Whatever it is; I highly recommend AZ Air Time.  The staff was wonderful and Baby G’s 2nd birthday party was easy and by far one of the best party experiences we’ve had (truthfully, AZ Air Time and the fun the kids had helped me forget about the bunch of family members who never bothered to call or show up; well at least for the time we were there! Can you tell I’m upset still?  This is not the first incident and it’s usually the same family members each time, but I digress.)

You can find AZ Air Time online, Twitter and Facebook (like them for up to date info and deals- while your there let them know LLandLoL sent you)!  Remember this place for when your kids are bored or when you are planning your next birthday party.  You will not be disappointed.

Share some ideas for birthday party themes below!

***Disclaimer: Some aspects of our party were complementary.  As always, my opinions are 100% my own.  Just take a look at those kiddos faces if you doubt the amount of fun they all had! :) If you have more questions regarding this please check out: http://www.lovinglifeandlivingonless.com/p/disclosure-and-policies.html