Archives for April 2011

Freschetta Giveaway

Part of my after-dinner routine is making lunches for the next day.  A.P.’s are easy; honey and peanut butter sandwiches day after day.  My husband provides me with the challenge of being picky, yet wanting diversity.  Fun!

I was solving this problem by letting him get ‘hot lunch’ (that would be McLunch) twice a week, but he either demonstrates his generosity and takes his buddy out thereby doubling the bill, or overindulges and feels terrible all afternoon, then isn’t hungry for dinner.

Both of those situations annoy me.

So, I started looking for pre-made ‘hot’ lunches.  I just can’t come up with something amazing every day and it’s a better option than eating out.  I was really happy to have him try the Freschetta pizza by the slice.  When I sent him off with whole frozen pizzas, he just ate the whole thing and did not eat his carrot sticks and apple slices.  Very naughty.

With just a slice he can put it in the microwave, and it’s part of a lunch rather than the whole thing. The crust doesn’t get soggy and chewy, and even though he tried the Six Cheese Medley, there are other tasty options too.

FRESCHETTA® By The Slice Six Cheese Medley

Would you like to try Freschetta Pizza By the Slice? You’re in luck! I am giving away a coupon for a free Pizza By The Slice AND a 3 piece storage set (for the other lunches during the week, I reckon).

This is a QUICK giveaway that closes Friday, April 29 at 8:00PM; I will choose the winner via and contact them via email.  If there is no response in 24 hours, I will choose another winner.

Good luck!  And, good lunch!
This giveaway is now closed.

I received product samples to facilitate my this review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Child Hunger Ends HERE Twitter Party

Child Hunger Ends Here Twitter Party 4/28


Did you know that in addition to writing Big Binder, I also lead social media campaigns for Collective Bias? I’m so excited about the one I’m currently working on, because it is about feeding children and you know that is a problem I take very seriously.

If you are on Twitter, join us as we discuss child hunger and how easy it is to donate to Feeding America through ConAgra’s Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. Enter codes from specially marked packages of ConAgra products at ChildHungerEndsHere and they will donate a meal for each code entered! We’ll also be giving away 4 $100 gift cards during the party!

When: Thursday, April 28, 2011 8-9 pm EST

Where: On Twitter using hashtag #ChildHungerEndsHere or use this custom TweetGrid

Who: Please follow @bigbinderblog @jerranalley, @monicajohnson, and @craftymamaof4, who are the hostesses for the party

Prizes: We will be giving away 4 $100 gift cards. Please RSVP using the linky below (enter the URL to your Twitter profile) to be eligible for one of the gift cards. All winners will be chosen using from the RSVP link and winners must be present and participating in the party at the time that they are drawn as a winner.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  VOID WHERE TAXED, PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Subject to Official Rules.  Open only to residents of the United States. Enter by RSVPing for the Twitter party on this link, be actively participating in the party and are using the hashtag #childhungerendshere. To be eligible, entries must be received by 8:55 p.m. EST except that mail in entries must be mailed separately and postmarked by April 28, 2011. To enter without purchase, hand write your name, completed address, age and telephone number on a 3”x5” card and mail it to Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712. Prizes will be limited to four (4) $100 gift cards, one (1) gift card given away every 15 minutes during the 1 hour duration of the party on April 28, 2011. Winners will be selected at random using  Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Winner will be notified via Twitter @ message by @craftymamaof4 during the party on April 28, 2011 and must respond to @craftymamaof4 within 5 minutes of being selected to claim their prize. All entries will be eligible for any unclaimed prizes after the close of the Twitter party via random drawing held on May 5th, 2011. To obtain a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712.
SPONSORS: Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712



Mission Healthier Me

Last week, I added early morning exercise to my day as my first mission.  Although this week the actual waking up part was easier, I only got outside twice.  Unlike the US Postal Service; I am quite deterred by snow, sleet, and rain; all of which Grand Rapids experienced during the early hours several days this week.  Call me a wimp.  Call me uncommitted.  Just don’t call me at 5:30 AM and ask me to go for a brisk wog (that is not a typo) in hail.

My mission for this week was to make sure I get 64 ounces of water each day.  Like everything else healthy – I used to do it, but let it slide.  My husband even tried to help me.  Not surprisingly, he had a man-sized solution:

Thanks but... I prefer a glass

I kept track of my water consumption on a piece of scratch paper by the sink.  I was really frustrated by Thursday, because I just could not get past six glasses. Our drinking glasses are pint glasses.  We’re classy like that.

My goal was 8, because 8×8 = 64.

You smart ones are already way ahead of me, aren’t you?

That’s right.  Pints, as you may know, are 16 ounces, not 8 ounces.  So six pints of water is actually 96 ounces of water.  And yes, I had to use my calculator on that one.  I am simply a math genius.  Who makes frequent trips to the bathroom.

So it’s not nearly as hard as it seems.  Three pints of water does the trick, although I was definitely not even getting that much before.  A little scratch piece of paper that has three x’s on it by the end of the day makes me healthier, and that is awesome.

See what other bloggers are doing for Mission Healthier Me!



B Kind 2 Earth – Get Outside!

Whoever decided late April was a good time to celebrate Earth Day was pretty smart.  We’ve been cooped up inside all winter, and it’s easy to forget what it’s like to go stomping around in the woods.

For Earth Day, Maybelle and I were treated to a tour of Amway’s Wildlife Preserve.  It’s a beautiful, 80 acre preserve with a certified Wildlife at Work program.  They bring in naturalists in to teach employees about animals, their habitats, and conservation.

The Preserve in near the Grand River, but has it’s own body of water; “Lake Amway”.  That is way catchier than “Wastewater Lagoon”; which is what was once there. Take a look at this video from our adventure!

Make Earth Day count for you and your family this year!! In all fifty states on Earth Day, families will get outside, appreciate our planet and do good things for the Earth – and their collective actions are going to count, big time. B Kind 2 Earth Day is a project of Nickelodeon, the National Wildlife Federation, and incredible bloggers and organizations across the country.

B Kind 2 Earth – Teach Your Children Well

Great things happen when people work together.

Even better things happen when bloggers get involved :)

Nickelodeon (which, incidentally, recently awarded my family the “My Family Does Good!” award and donated a laptop to a kid in Africa in my kids’ names!), the National Wildlife Federation, and came together to create B Kind 2 Earth Day.

Then, they asked a bunch of bloggers to be State Leaders (Apples in Wonderland, ace and friends, Free is My Life, My Life of What Ifs, Susie B. Homemaker, The Diaper Diaries ,The Sale Rack and I are representin’ our fine state) and gave us a mission:

To encourage people to promise to do at least one earth-friendly action on April 22, 2011 — and beyond.

I had recently spoken to a mom’s group that yet another blogger, Mommy Daze was in the crowd.  I happened to mention that I stink at crafts.  She happens to be amazing at crafts – and pulling together entire themes. With snacks.

She whipped up this amazing Earth Day post just for this project! Awesome, yes?  Teaching your children about Earth Day is absolutely something you can do to “B Kind 2 Earth”.

Behold the Earth Day Awesomeness:


  • Every day is Earth Day by Jane O’Connor. (Fancy Nancy is very Earth conscious)
  • It’s Earth Day! by Mercer Mayer (love that Little Critter)
  • Earth Day by Marc Tyler Nobleman (a book about the origin of Earth Day)


  • Make Team Green t-shirts. Print off this fun logo and transfer it to a white or gray t-shirt. Easy, cheap and it makes a statement.
  • Go for a walk and pick up litter! You could wear your team green shirt too!
  • Make an earth out of a coffee filter. Provide green and blue water (add food coloring), an eye dropper and a coffee filter. Use the eye dropper to drop the colored water on the filter… watch it change into earth. (from perpetual
  • Make “egg heads”. After using your eggs reuse the carton and egg shells. Wash out the egg shell halves and place back in the carton. Add soil and grass seeds. Water and wait and in about 1 week you will have grass growing. After the grass grows we decorate the egg halves with faces and pretend the grass is the hair. Then each week or so we have to cut the grass with scissors. This is a great activity in so many ways and kids need to remember to water their egg heads.
  • Make Earth Day Shrinky Dinks. Click on the link, print out the template and you can make a mini earth keychain or necklace.
  • These Earth Day Pinwheels are super cool. Again follow the link for instructions and templates.
  • earth day pinwheel


  • These snack ideas are from perpetual Make “earth” rice krispie treats. Make the recipe as usual (see the side of the rice krispie box) but divide the batch and add blue food coloring to 1/2 and green food coloring to the other 1/2. Then give kids a “glob” of each and have them form it into a circle like the earth.
  • The second idea is to make earth cookies. Make oval sugar cookies and then frost them with green and blue frosting to represent the earth.



  • Wall -E. Although it is about a “robot” Wall-E has a lot to teach viewers about pollution and caring for our planet. Rated G.
  • Ferngully. This story about saving the rainforest is a great flick for Earth Day. Rated G.
  • Disney’s Earth, a documentary, rated G.
  • An Inconvenient Truth (Documentary by Al Gore) for viewers 6th grade and up, rated PG.
  • Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series 2007. NR
  • Disney’s Earth, rated G.
  • WordGirl. Earth Day Girl / Scholastic Entertainment ; PBS Kids.
  • Franklin plants a tree
  • Sesame Street, Being Green, DVD.
  • Nick Jr. Favorites: Go Green, DVD.
Katie Gilbert lives in Comstock Park with her wonderful husband of 10 years and her 2 young children. Katie is the author of (a website for crafts and activities to do with your children), Fox 17’s Morning Mom, and a contributing blogger for She loves volunteering in her children’s school, taking part in a local MOPS group, cake decorating and exploring the world with her children. Her email is and can she can be reached at


Stay tuned for more B Kind 2 Earthy Day ideas!



What To Do With Your Tax Refund

What if someone REALLY rich said they would give you 1.7% of their tax return?

How much would that be? A couple thousand dollars? That seems totally reasonable – after all, they’re rich – they can afford it! They’ll never miss that money; but it could be a game changer in your life.

The average tax refund is $3000. To some people, ‘average’ seems REALLY rich.  What if you gave away 1.7% of you tax return?  How much would that be?  If you are average…

…it would be fifty dollars.

Be a game changer.

You won’t even miss the money.

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Recipe Roundtable – Home Made Cliff Bars (And A Giveaway!)

Some women want to be the ‘hot wife’.

I want to be the wife who makes the best snacks.  When my husband’s bike friends request that I make snacks for a bike trip, it feeds my ego like nothing else.  I also love feeling like that mom when the kids have good snacks at school.  Especially ones involving flax seed.

Grabbing a Cliff Bar is a good choice for active kids and active moms; but it’s an expensive choice.  I used this recipe and adapted it just a smidge.

Home Made Cliff Bars

  • 1 and 1/4 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract










Combine the rice cereal, oats, flaxseed meal, chocolate chips, nuts and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Combine the molasses and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until melted and well-blended. Stir in vanilla until blended.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until coated (definitely use your hands). Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch square pan (sprayed with nonstick cooking spray) using a large square of wax paper (really tamp it down). Cool in pan on a wire rack and chill at least 30 minutes to help it set. Cut into 12 bars. (Wrap bars tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator).

Flax seed in a coffee grinder

Finely chopping the pecans. With a mallet.








And since we’re talking about being active – let’s talk about the perfect giveaway! Do you know about Moms In Tow? Do you want to be active? Involved? Connected? (Sound like anyone you know??!)  Go check it out – there are great events (like a Mom’s Group!) and discounts (do you see why I love Moms In Tow?!)

We’re giving away a FREE one year Moms In Tow membership!

Fill in the form below to enter.  Be sure to sign up for their newsletter because a they will be having a coupon code so even if you don’t win, you’ll still get a great deal on a membership!

This is a HOT giveaway – the winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday and contacted by email.  If there isn’t a response in 24 hours, another winner will be chosen at random – and so on.  GOOD LUCK!

This giveaway is now closed.

Do you have a great, healthy recipe? Or a fantastic comfort food? Whatever you have – we want to see it! Link up below!

This weekly feature is co-hosted by Big Binder and Sarah’s Deals. Each blog will host it’s own recipe, but share a common linky. The co-hostesses links will appear at the top of the list and you are welcome to join in.

Please link to your ACTUAL POST and not just your home page so people can find it easier. Also please put the recipe title in parentheses to help out the other readers. Old recipe posts are fine. While we appreciate a link back or the addition of the button above, it is NOT required. Thank you for participating!


Mission: Healthier Me

Did you see my new Active Kids page?

Grand Rapids has so many competitive races, and many of them have fun runs and bike races that have events for kids! Most of them are very inexpensive, if not free for kids to participate and it’s a fantastic way to get them involved in a community event while they’re learning that exercising can be fun.

This is clearly a lesson I missed somewhere…

I started doing aerobics in 7th grade, and moved on to a successful high school sporting career as a Pom Pon girl.  And even this many years later I feel the need to stop and explain that:

  1. Yes, it is spelled Pom Pon.  That is French for “gets to wear really short skirts to school on Home Game days during basketball season”.
  2. No, it is not the same thing as cheer-leading.  We danced.  We did not yell.
  3. Shut up.  It is too a sport.

When I went to college, walking miles to class (Uphill both ways, naturally.  I was in Georgia so we didn’t have to combat many snow storms though.) kept me in pretty good shape.  Or thin anyway; I doubt my steady diet of Camel Lights and leftover corn muffins from Kenny Rogers Roasters where I worked were really doing much for my overall health.

Later, Joe the Camel cast aside, I started doing aerobics again.  I even got a license. Or permit.  Or certification – whichever it is that allows you to teach other people how to jump on and off a step for 55 minutes to special fitness editions of gems like “My Baby Daddy”.

I will be very sad if I am the the only 90’s era group fitness devotee and that last reference is lost on all of you.

Last year, a group of friends decided to run a 5K.  I’ve never been a fantastic runner, but I had run a 5K before and the whole group element of it was exciting to me.

And I ran.  And I came in lastAnd I didn’t care.

But, I also got laughed at for being so slow, then I fell off the treadmill and learned in a separate, unfortunate incident that it takes a special talent to hurt your shoulder while running.

I kept running after that, but not as much.  Then winter came and I stopped running outside, it was only at the gym and not nearly often enough.

Now I am part of “Mission Healthier Me”, a group that is chronicling our successes, failures, and experiences with getting healthier.  It’s not just about exercise, but that’s where I started.  You can follow along with their journeys too:


Champagne LivingPhotobucketCrazy Adventures in ParentingThrifty and Chic Mom


I decided it was time to start getting up far too early and wogging again.  This is my version of running, and looks deceivingly like walking.  It isn’t, though, because I actually walk faster than I run.  So we wog.  Me and my dog.

Here is how the first week went:

  • Monday: This ain’t happenin’.  Went back to sleep.
  • Tuesday: Deliberated for 42 minutes (my snooze alarm is 7 minutes) and finally got out of bed. Remembered that once I was actually in motion, it was easy.  And it was.
  • Wednesday: Cut down snoozes to a mere 6. Being outside was chilly, but felt wonderful. Realized I snoozed longer than I exercised.
  • Thursday: Got to admit it’s getting better. A little better all the time (can’t get much worse). Unfortunately, my MP3 player died and it started raining 2/3 of the way into my wog. Listened to the birdies instead and hustled home.
  • Friday:  Brief, hazy snooze-alarm argument with self about whether or not I could skip today because “Three times the first week is enough”.  Lost/won that one, and got out of bed and did it.  Crazy windy outside, but swearing made it much better.

I had an amazing week. I know myself, and know that if I go full guns into this, I will last for 2 weeks on sheer motivation, then fizzle out. I have to start slowly, and build on it. I accept that the results will also be slow, but the change will be lasting. And if I fall off the wagon (or off the treadmill) again – I will start over. THAT’S the hard part. Not starting; but starting again. And again.  And again…

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Raising the Next Generation of Awesome

What are you going to do this weekend? No big surprise, I have a few ideas!

  • Head to Art.Downtown Friday night.  The organizers recommended a few kid-friendly activities to me; including Fuzzy Logic, a show that is currently running in Gallery 104 at Kendall College of Art and Design. The artist, Tanja Bakija, is a Graduate at Kendall who works with hand sewn drawings and dolls. The dolls range from 8 inches to 8 feet! Also located in Kendall’s Gallery is the work of Melissa Sirk.  Her work looks like sea creatures or flowers or organisms. The installation makes you feel like you’re in a completely different environment.

Whatever you do, have fun!


Put A Lid On It!

Remember this past weekend? When it was summer? My husband took the kids for their first real bike ride of the year.  It was a short one; just a little three miler.  Does that seem like a lot when 1/3 of your peloton is still sporting training wheels?  It does to me too. They are bike crazed.  Whether it is the Grand Cycling Classic Kids’ Race or taking a bike trip up to the UP, bikes are important to my family.

My husband has chosen exactly two aspects of parenting to be a complete freak about.  One is carseats.  In fact, I saw the  woman who installed and inspected our first carseats recently and I spent so much time with that her back then that I recognized her in a crowd almost eight years later.

His other – um, area of great parental concern is with bike helmets.  Really, I should be the one that pushes the whole helmet thing.  After all, I am the one who was run over with a bike when I was a baby.  By my own parents.

And while the coming of bike season is very exciting; it also means the end of hockey season.  But you know what? The Griffins are so kind.  As we put sadly put away our cow bells, vuvuzelas, and hockey jerseys they console us with – guess what?


If your child pledges to “Put A Lid On It” every time they ride a bike, Griff will personally send them free hockey tickets for the 2011-2012 season.

Admittedly, it is most likely not actually Griff, but that is the image I have in my mind.  I see Griff, sitting at his desk, nodding his big fluffy head approvingly at all of the awesome kids that have committed to wearing helmets while he stuffs hockey tickets into envelopes and makes Finn lick the stamps.

Just let me have my moment.  I’m going through hockey withdrawals over here.  So while I do that, go ahead; have your kids take the pledge to Put A Lid On It.  Please? Do it for Griff.  He needs to keep busy in the off season.

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