Thursday, November 27, 2014

Homemade Cashew Honey Brittle ~ Perfect for Gift Giving!

*Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review.  All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items. 



I am pleased to tell you all that I will be starting a new blog series! I have partnered with Golden Blossom Honey to bring you a fun recipe that features their delicious organic and all natural honey every Friday!

Not only do I love to receive food gifts for the holidays, I love to give them too! Homemade treats always go over well with the recipients, so I have been narrowing down my selections on what I want to include in the goodie gift boxes this year. I am a huge fan of peanut brittle, so I could not resist trying this Cashew Honey Brittle Recipe from the candy and nuts section of their recipe collection!



Made with just 3 simple ingredients, you are going to have a delicious snack that can be whipped up quickly and easily. Pop it in a cute tin or a cone shaped treat sack tied with a tulle or a ribbon, it is the perfect homemade treat for gift giving!



Ingredients:

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup GOLDEN BLOSSOM HONEY
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, about 5 minutes or until cashews are golden.

Pour mixture onto a piece of aluminum foil and allow to cool completely.

When cooled, break the brittle into pieces and store chilled in an airtight container. Will keep for 2 weeks.

Yields: 1 cup

*I modified the directions a bit when making my batch. The honey needs to reach hard ball stage (250 degrees to 266 degrees F), so I brought the mixture to a rolling boil over medium heat and stirred constantly with a wooden spoon for 10 minutes. If the honey starts to get too deep in color, remove it because it is coming close to burning. I then poured the mixture over waxed paper lightly spritzed with cooking spray, and let it cool until hardened. 




You can find this recipe, and many other tasty honey recipes on the Golden Blossom Honey website


Do you like to give and receive food gifts for the holidays? If so, what's your favorite?
 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grandma Janell's Baked Beans

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I've been doing a lot of thinking about holidays of past, and my grandma is where my thoughts have landed mostly. My grandma was a giver. She lived her life helping others. She had a strong love for Jesus, and I think she tried to follow in His footsteps to the best of her ability. There aren't too many childhood memories that I have that don't involve my Grandma Janell, and when she passed away a few years ago, many people would tell me that they thought she was THEIR grandma when they were little because she was always doing for them too! She never slowed down. When she wasn't babysitting us kids, she was teaching the Sunday School class or tearing up the rummage sales trying to find good deals for needy people. She drove the JJR bus to transport handicapped children to and from school. I would ride along with her some days and I remember the special needs children always laughing and having a great time on the way to school. I once asked her what "JJR" stood for, and she said "Jolly Joy Ride!" Something tells me she was pulling my leg, but I like to think JJR can't stand for anything better, because she definitely made those rides full of joy for the kids!



Grandma always hosted Thanksgiving dinner, and for most families, the turkey is the star of the show. But for us, we always looked forward to her baked beans! When she got older and hosting was too much for her, my mom took over Thanksgiving duties and always made sure the baked beans were front and center of the meal. Over the years we have invited many friends to our holiday dinners and the first thing they always ask is "Is your mom making those beans!?" They are kind of famous around these parts :)

Stuffing my face, but still gotta stick close to the big bowl of baked beans!
Cleaning up, with a little baked bean belly poking out :)

We are going to be guests at my in-laws for Thanksgiving this year, so I'll be bringing along a side of Grandma Janell's baked beans. Not only to get my bean fix, but to feel grandma is there is spirit, celebrating the holiday with us too.

baked beans

Grandma Janell's Baked Beans Recipe

Ingredients:

4 cans Campbell's Pork & Beans, drained
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
8 slices bacon, cut in half

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine all ingredients.
Bake in the preheated oven for 1 ½ hours.


What's your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? Does your family have any recipes that have been passed down through the generations?  





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Get Holi-Dazzled This Holiday Season with SinfulColors!

*Disclosure- I received the mentioned product courtesy of the sponsor for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was provided. All opinions are genuine, based on my experience with the product, and have not been influenced by promotional items.  


It's the season of all things glitter and shine! We are gearing up to deck our halls with boughs of holly and trim our tree in tinsel and lights, but what's more fun is getting ourselves holiday ready so we can wow and dazzle the crowds at the festive gatherings! We hunt for the perfect outfit, get our hair and skin party ready, but it's important to get a completely pulled together look by not overlooking all of the details. Adding a pop of colors to your nails adds the perfect touch to your outfit and ups your mistletoe appeal!

Most of us are spending a lot of our free money to treat others this holiday season, but SinfulColors wants to get you Holi-Dazzled without breaking the bank! New for winter 2014, SinfulColors is offering 22 affordable and radiant shades of nail color. Dreamy shades and illuminating textures mean there is something for everyone!

SinfulColors Nail Polish

The new collection includes hot metallics, glitter flakes, gushes of gold, sea shades swashed with silver, opalescent twists in red and green and the most coveted shades of blue- from cerulean to indigo to cobalt. Add in a powerful purple, the snowiest white and perfect reds, the colors are all sure to boost your holiday spirit!

SinfulColors Nail Polish
SinfulColors Nail Polish
SinfulColors Nail Polish

SinfulColors Holiday 2014 collection is currently available exclusively at Walgreens. They make the perfect stocking stuffer, and at $1.99 per bottle, they are affordable enough to keep you and your friends dazzling all season long!

SinfulColors Nail Polish

If you would like to learn more about these SinfulColors holiday shades, be sure to check out their website. Additionally, stay up to date on new products and promotions by following SinfulColors on Facebook and Twitter.

Which of the SinfulColors holiday shades is your favorite?


Friday, November 21, 2014

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Last week I talked about how much we loved the PhotoPass package that Disney offered, and when we heard that Universal Studios had their own photo pass package, Universal Photo Connect, we decided to buy one of those too. We bought the 3 day unlimited download pass, which ran $60. We thought if it was anything like Disney, we were getting a great deal. Sadly, where Disney beyond excels at what they offer, the Photo Connect completely lacks.

We were used to V.I.P. treatment at Disney, finding photographers all throughout the park to take our photo. Universal had no photographers to take photos throughout the park, with the exception of one that we found near Hogwarts. What you do get is photos on each of the rides (only those that have cameras to take your photo while you are on the ride) and a few special opps that you can only get when you buy the package, like E.T. and The Simpsons.


 Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect
I am clearly not enjoying myself as much as the rest of my family on this ride ;)

Universal Studios Photo Connect
While Jason doesn't look thrilled here, this is our most favorite ride at Universal Studios.

Honestly, we don't care much about ride photos, but since my daughter loves Harry Potter, we were happy that we were able to get a family photo and a ride photo of the new Escape From Gringotts ride.

Escape from Gringotts

Escape from Gringotts

The photos that we did get, we loved. But I paid $60 for roughly 40 photos over a 2 day Universal Studios trip. I paid $150 for a Disney PhotoPass and got over 600 Disney photos over a 3 day period. At Disney you scan your magic band and your photos automatically load to your account. With the Universal Photo Connect, you have to have your photo ticket scanned, then you have to hunt down a kiosk to edit and load your photos to your account, which was very time consuming, and not every kiosk employee was knowledgeable on how to load or edit the photos, so we would have to hunt down another kiosk to find someone who knew what they were doing.

If the price were cut in half, at $30 or so, I would recommend Universal's Photo Connect. However, if we return to Universal Studios, we won't be shelling out another $60 for the Photo Connect package. To us, the limited photos, lack of photographers, and time wasted did not make it worth the cost.


Have you tried Photo Connect? Did you have a better experience than we did?



Bring a Touch of Warmth to Your Home with Old Factory Candles #oldfactory

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 


When the temperatures drop, the wind is whipping, and daylight fades sooner, I love to add a touch of warmth and light to my home by lighting candles. There's just something soothing about the glow of a candle, and comforting scents always calm and relax me. I am always on the hunt for premium candles that give off a hearty scent and burn for long periods of time, so when I came across Old Factory Candles, I knew they had exactly what I was looking for.

Old Factory Candle

Old Factory Candles are made with natural soy wax, which I prefer over regular wax candles because they burn clean, even, and don't emit a ton of smoke into the home. The self-trimming cotton wick lights quickly, and since it is self-trimming, I don't have to hunt down clippers each time I light them.

The candles come in a set of 3 2 ounce jars, which burn for 20 hours! You'll get 3 different scents in each set, which are all matched perfectly to compliment each other. There were many options to choose from, but even with snow on the ground now, I am still longing for the crisp scents of fall, so I chose Fall Harvest.

Old Factory Candle

The Fall Harvest set comes with delicious scents of Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, and Autumn Leaves. As soon as I took the lids off the jars, the scents just poured out. I do have an open concept home, so the candles do not give as much scent as I would like, but it is recommended to burn 2 of the candles in open concept spaces to get desired fragrance through those areas. I do need to burn 2 in my living room, however, when I light them in my bedroom and bathroom, the scent is amazing with just 1.

In addition to the Fall Harvest, they have an incredible lineup of other yummy scents:

Fresh & Clean               Man Cave
• Lemongrass                  • Straight Razor
• Olive Blossom              • Leather
• Fresh Linen                   • Mahogany         

 Coffee Shop                  New Born Baby
• Coffee Bean                  • Baby Powder
• Hazelnut                        • Baby Shampoo
• Chai Tea                        • First Blanket

High As A Kite               Winter Wonderland
• Cannabis                        • Hot Cocoa
• Incense                           • Roasted Chestnut
• Bag O' Cookies              • First Snow

Happy Holidays               Vacation
• Christmas Tree               • Sea Breeze
• Candy Cane                    • Hawaiian Lei
• Gingerbread                    • Awapuhi

Spa Day                            50 Shades           
• Cucumber                       • Leather
• Lemongrass                    • Jasmine Bubbles
• Green Tean                     • Vanilla Sex

                       Romance
                       • Rose Petals
                       • Champagne
                       • Dark Chocolate

Each candle is hand poured, and what I really like is that they are a USA made product. The jars are modern, and can go with any room decor. Customer service is fabulous too, with a 100% no-hassle refund if you are not fully satisfied with your purchase!

As much as I like to receive candles as gifts, I like to give them too, and Old Factory Candle sets make the perfect holiday gift. You can purchase a set for gifting, or pick up one for yourself through Amazon.

Old Factory Candles


Win It!

One lucky Theresa's Mixed Nuts reader is going to win a set of Old Factory Candles! Giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+. NO PO Boxes will be accepted. The giveaway will run through 12/5/2014. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email or a new winner will be selected.

**All entries are verified. Please make sure you are following all task guidelines you claim entries for. Failure to do so will result in your entries being removed from the form.

Staying Organized With a Busy Mystery Shopping Schedule

Being organized can impact your mystery shopping in several positive ways. Imagine being able to perform more shops, write higher quality reports, and submit them early with a sense of confidence and calm. With a small investment of time and money, this can be your experience. Here are some tips to help you organize mystery shopping tasks:

Develop a scheduling system. Find a calendar, planner, and/or to-do list that will help you organize site visits and report deadlines. Also, you might use different colored pens to color code shops and deadlines.

Read the directions thoroughly. Using your new system, schedule time to read through the assignment carefully before the site visit. Take notes of key details necessary to perform the shop, and write them on your calendar. While some shops are straightforward, others require a background story. Use this time to create that story so you aren't making it up on the fly. Review the instructions again shortly before the visit to make sure you complete the shop accurately.

Plan your shops close to each other. If possible, group site visits in the same area on the same day. This is especially true if the shops are a long distance from your home. Not only is this more time-efficient, it also helps to prevent excessive wear and tear on your vehicle. If you can’t group them in the same general location, an alternative is to select shops along a route from your starting point to the shop that is farthest away.

Include downtime and travel time. Account for travel time. Go a step further and pad the expected travel time to buffer against unexpected delays. Don't create such a tight schedule that a five minute delay snowballs into a disastrous domino effect. Plan for some downtime to refresh yourself and review the assignments.

Fill out the report ASAP. This tip is related to the previous one, but it deserves its own mention. As soon as you can get to a secure location, take detailed notes on the shop you just completed. Better yet, fill out the report if possible. If you are completing multiple shops on the same day, make every effort to complete your report before going to the next. This will help you avoid mixing up details.

Complete tasks as early as possible. Kids get sick, you get sick, the internet goes down – life happens. Unforeseen events can derail even the best laid plans. To increase the chances of your plans staying on track, complete your shops and reports as early as possible. This provides some “wiggle room” that you and your mystery shopping coordinator will appreciate.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than usual to complete your mystery shopping responsibilities because you are working on your system. These steps will require an investment of time and possibly a little money at the beginning. This small investment, however, has the potential to pay off handsomely in terms of increased pay, a higher shopper rating, and more peace. As you continue using it and making adjustments, it will become second nature. Just be patient and persistent, and the payoff will come.

Image credit: Wikimedia

This contribution comes from Sentry Marketing Group. SMG manages mystery shopping programs for restaurants, hospitality industries, and even automotive companies as well.


A special thank you to Sentry Marketing Group for today's post.
Have you ever tried mystery shopping?
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