Strike A Match {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

How many times have you been without a light at home and needed a match/lighter? For us, the need is felt pretty constantly. Mark is a smoker, so he's always in need of "a light," and he has a tendency to swipe any lighters I have around the house, leaving me with nothing to light my favorite candles with. Luckily I now have a pair of Strike A Match modern matchstick holders within arms reach, and I'll never go without again!

Drink High-Class with Julibox {Holiday Gift Guide}

I have the perfect gift for those "hard to shop for" friends on your gift list. No, it's not money or a gift card. No, it's not some random gag gift bought from a novelty store. It's Julibox!

The Compliment Quotient: Compliment Charm Necklaces and Gifts {HolidayGift Guide + Giveaway}

As a whole, humans nowadays are lacking a great deal of compassion. (In my humble opinion.) I'm not sure compassion is the right word for it, really, but it's the first thing that springs to mind when I think of being kind and giving compliments freely. To tell someone that they look beautiful, that they're special, or that they did a great job. It's just something that most people don't do often enough, and something that we don't hear often enough. Monica Strobel is combating negativity head-on in her book The Compliment Quotient!

From You Flowers Christmas Bouquet {Review}


Like most women, I almost never receive flowers. And I'm okay with that! I love flowers, but we tend to have beautiful wild flowers all year 'round here in Maine. Well, not all year. This time is the exception...the time of year that I do very much enjoy receiving Christmas flowers. So I was thrilled when I was selected to review a beautiful Christmas floral arrangement: the Christmas Cheer bouquet from From You Flowers!

Christmas Craft and Ornament Ideas {Pinterest}

So I've been saving up a few Christmas ideas and been itching to do a post about them, but just haven't had the time with Christmas only a couple days away! Here are a few of the projects we've done here at home:

Jace's Handprint Santa Ornament made with simple salt dough

Simple Christmas card display, using just one piece of $1 "realistic" garland, $1 bows from Dollar Tree, and clothes pins.

Here are a few ideas I found when searching on Pinterest!

Enjoy, have a Happy Holiday!

~Sam

Have you done anything crafty for Christmas this year?

Enjoy Professional Shampoo & Conditioner {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

One of my absolute favorite things in the world is tea tree oil. I love the smell, the feel of it on my skin, and the wondrous things it does for skin. You may have heard of it and even used it before, but do you know about the benefits that tea tree oil can provide? It has been studied and recently shown to have antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties when applied topically. Why wouldn't you use this on your skin?! I'm very pleased to introduce to you Enjoy, a professional hair care brand that offers a Rejuvenating Volumizing shampoo containing tea tree oil!

Make lunch fun with Funbites! {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

I'm not sure what happened to my munchkin's "eat everything" attitude, but he's recently become uber picky. Every fruit, vegetable, and sandwich he used to love is now subjected to the "put-in-mouth-then-spit-out" routine. It's so frustrating! One thing I have found that helps is to keep pieces small, and sometimes unrecognizable from their true shape. Anything that Jace can pick up easily and shove into his mouth is fair game, which is why I've come to love FunBites!
Cube It! and Luv It! FunBites

Easy Freeze-ahead Garlic Bread {Recipe}

Our family's go-to meal for quick and easy satisfaction during the work week is spaghetti and meatballs, usually with garlic bread. I can't tell you the number of times that I've made the spaghetti and meatballs, only to open the freezer and discover that we're out of premade garlic bread, yikes! To remedy this I've started buying loaves of day-old discounted bread whenever it's available and making my own garlic bread to freeze ahead of time. This not only saves me time during the week when I cook, but also a great deal of money! Frozen premade loaves (even at the cheapest discount retailers) can run up a few bucks per loaf. With this recipe you can make a large quantity for cheap!


Easy Freeze-ahead Garlic Bread
Recipe by Sam B.

Ingredients:

1-2 loaves of day-old bakery bread.
     (any soft bread will do, you can even make garlic dinner rolls like I did below!)
1 stick margarine spread or butter
About 1 Tbsp Italian Seasonings
About 1-2 tsp garlic salt
Dash of garlic powder

Cut bread loaf in half lengthwise. In microwave, soften butter/spread (about 10-20 seconds.) Mix in all seasonings and spread on loaf halves. Put halves together like a sandwich, wrap, and freeze. When time to cook, unwrap a loaf an place butter side-up on a baking sheet. Heat for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Garlicky buttery goodness.

~Sam

Catch Santa In The Act With iCaughtSanta.com! {Review + Giveaway}

  Kids love Santa, it's a fact! Why not capture the magic and catch Santa on-camera for your little ones to see? In three simple steps, you can create you very own personalized photo with "proof" that Santa visited on Christmas from iCaughtSanta!


It's super-easy, all you have to do is upload a picture of your home, choose which Santa (or reindeer!) best fits your photo, and customize the brightness/color/size. That's it! You can print your photo right at home, share it on social media sites for everyone to see, and even enter your photo to win an ipad! (Info on the contests below)


Here's our photo, we caught Santa leaving gifts under our tree! Isn't it cute? You may remember our photo from last year, where we caught Santa hiding the pickle ornament on our tree. This year iCaughtSanta has added black and hispanic santas, as well as Rudolph! 

There are currently TWO giveaways for iPads going on at iCaughtSanta:

* iPad Giveaway 1: Free to Enter - Click here to enter!

* iPad Giveaway 2: Photo Contest - Create a photo and share with your friends to collect votes! Click here for more info.


"Like" iCaughtSanta on Facebook
Purchase your iCaughtSanta photo today for the sale price of just $7.50 (originally $9.99) here!

Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win one of FIVE codes to make your own iCaughtSanta photo!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Sam


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.

Bioken Professional Hair & Skin Products {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

My love of natural products combined with modern technology led me to discover Bioken and their Enfanti line of hair products, and I'm so glad I did! Have you heard the name Bioken? I know I had, but since it is professional-quality product I'd never seen it stores before. (I think I remember seeing one of the cheapie shampoo brand bottles that said "Moisturizes as well as Bioken," which means it must be good!) Bioken believes in the use of nature to stimulate growth and health from the root-up, using only the finest quality natural ingredients to improve the quality of your scalp, skin, and hair.

Santé Bakery {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

Sweets are always plentiful during the holiday season, but consuming so much refined sugar, preservatives, and calories can do a number on your body! I love it when I come upon a business that makes delicious edibles that are made with whole foods and good-for-you ingredients, like Santé Bakery!
"Santé" - in French literally means "health".
Our goal is to fill your life with all of the health benefits Mother Earth has to offer.

Magic Cabin: Imaginative Toys for All Ages {Holiday Gift Guide +Giveaway}

Don't you just love it when you stumble across a website that carries so many items you just seem to get lost browsing? That's how I feel about Magic Cabin! They have so many wonderful, well-made children's toys for every age group that it's hard not to covet. Everything from fairy dolls to playhouses to construction sets, Magic Cabin truly is a kid's dream come true.


We received a pair of awesome toys for my son and stepson to enjoy: the Sand Digger and a gorgeous blue Classic Cloak.

Uncle Milton Toys: John Deere Bug Jug {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

Little kids (boys especially) love bugs, much to their mother's dismay. Our munchkin is no exception, and as he grows older he is becoming increasingly interested in all little critters that move. I am in no way a fan of these "buggies," as we call them, and would rather them not be in the house at all. Thank goodness for Uncle Milton's John Deere Bug Jug! Now Jace can explore his buggy friends outside in his own little controlled space.

Wordless Wednesday ~ First Snow-Play of the Season





$100 Walmart Gift Card {Giveaway}


Welcome to the $100 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway, put together by TipHero. Let's start 2013 off right!

This giveaway will run for 2 weeks and end on January 2, 2013 at 11:59pm US Eastern time. Open to United States residents ages 18+.

Enter the PromoSimple entry form below for your chance to win, good luck!

Newman's Own Organics {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

You might have seen the brand Newman's Own around quite often. I know I have, I remember first seeing Newman's Own salad dressings at McDonalds when they were going through their "adult happy meal" with the salad and free pedometer health kick, and they were delicious! But did you know there's now a separate company under the Newman family name that makes organicly-delicious snacks and more? Please welcome Newman's Own Organics to the mix!

"Great tasting food that happens to be organic"

Easy Mexican Dinner Starter with Hamburger {Recipe}

If you're anything like me you know how hard it can be to come up with edible dinner ideas night after night when you're not a menu-planning-mama. I've tried in the past to sit down once a week and plan each day's meals, but it never seems to stick. I guess I can chalk it up to me being a fly by the seat of her pants kinda lady. 

Sam's Mexican Dinner Starter

Bows 'N' Ties {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

Don't just give the man in your life a generic necktie this Christmas...give him a fantastic necktie! Bows 'N' Ties has a huge selection  of neckwear with a style and pattern for every occasion, whether you're picking one out for everyday wear or leaving him a big 'ole message of "You'd better be wearing this to my wedding, Dad."

Keep Produce Fresh With The BluApple! {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}


Did you know that the typical American family of four can throw away as much as $600 worth of spoiled fruits and vegetables a year? Yikes! For those of us that don't have a market right down the street, keeping produce fresh at home can be a real struggle. I am pleased to introduce to you the savior of my vegetable drawer: The BluApple!

Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookie {Recipe}

I've always been a big fan of shortbread cookies. They were my favorite Girl Scout cookie all along (I think I was the only one who liked 'em...everyone else loved the Thin Mints and caramel cookies.) It wasn't until last year that I decided to try my hand at making some, as I'd heard that shortbread can be very temperamental. Little did I know that with three simple ingredients you can make one of the most mouth-watering, melt-in-your-mouth cookies I've ever tasted!


Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home

*note- the batch of cookies in my photos was made using a slightly different recipe with larger quantities of the same ingredients. I later made a batch using this recipe, and while they're very similar I prefer this recipe.

Ingredients: 
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 packed brown sugar (I used light)
2 1/4 cup flour (I used King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat)

In medium bowl cream softened butter and brown sugar together with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
About to cream brown sugar and softened butter.
Add flour and stir to combine. On floured surface (or in bowl...I was lazy) knead dough until smooth. 
Mixing in flour until well blended.
Pat or roll dough into 1/3" rectangle. You'll notice mine is quite large because of the larger-quantity recipe (see note above ingredients.) Prick dough evenly with fork.

Here's the part where every recipe I've read differs. There are two ways of baking: Either cut the uncooked dough into smaller rectangles/squares (desired size of cookies) OR bake the entire dough sheet and cut immediately after baking. I prefer the latter, as it's slightly less messy and gives the edges of the cookies that "crumbly" shortbread look.

Either way, bake at 300°F for about 20-25 minutes, or until top and bottom are lightly golden brown and still soft to the touch.Let cool for about 5 minutes on-pan, then move to wire rack for cooling (or eating.)
Sheet in the process of being cut after baking.

The finished product!

I hope you and your family enjoy these delights as much as me and mine do! They rarely last longer than a few days around here...The only downside? The calories. Since they're so simple you might think otherwise, but these delicious bites are loaded with butter, yikes! We'll just pretend that calories don't matter, just for a little while.   ;)

~Sam

Warner Bros. Happy Holidays App + Holiday Blu-ray {Giveaway}



Ho Ho Ho, it’s the holiday season and that can only mean one thing... Shopping!  But finding presents for your loved ones can be no easy task!  That’s why Warner Bros. has come up with their awesome Happy Holidays Blog App featuring some classic and new movies out on Blu-ray sure to please everyone from your teeny nephew to grandma wrinkles!
Having a hard time shopping for that special someone? Check out some great cinematic ideas below! 


Take the Holiday Movie Challenge for yourself, what did you score? I was lucky and made out with "WOWZA! That was impressive. Authentic Cinephiles like yourself are a rare breed -- so wear the title with pride! Keep watching, and HAVE A MAGICAL HOLIDAY!"

This app features:

•           Holiday Movie Challenge! Are you a true cinephile? Then take the WB Holiday Movie Challenge! Keep your movie skills sharp with this awesome quiz! Ready. Set. Go!
•           Decode-A-Scene Game! Time is running out! Can you figure out what movie scene is slowly being decoded in front of your eyes? The sooner you figure it out the more points you earn!
•           Holiday Survival Guide! Throw an epic holiday party this season! We have some awesome tips to make you look like a total holiday master!


The folks over at Warner Bros. are in the "giving" mood too, and will be giving away a copy of Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection OR Classic Christmas Favorites OR Dr. Seuss’s Deluxe Holiday Collection on Blu-ray to one lucky Serial Access Mom reader! (Prize will be chosen randomly from the above Blu-ray titles) 
Enter the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win one of these great collections!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Sam

Disclosure: I received promotional material and assets from Warner Bros. to facilitate this post. All opinions are 100% my own and may differ from yours.


Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping

By it's title, I had it in my head that Lemons and Lavender was going to be one of those "You need to do this for the environment because it's your duty" books. In reality, it's anything but that! Lemons and Lavender is my new go-to book for everything green and self-reliance related.

Little Cleaning Box {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

How would you like to have eco-friendly cleaning supplies delivered right to your door every three months? Not sure if green cleaning supplies are for you and want to try some before you buy them? You're in luck! The Little Cleaning Box is here to help you through your toughest cleaning jobs, while being gentle to the environment in the process.

Little Cleaning Box #3 by Leslie Reichert

Designs By Lolita Pilsner Glass & Ornament Ball {Holiday Gift Guide + Giveaway}

Designs by Lolita was founded back in 2001 when Lolita herself designed unique hand-painted festive martini glasses, each with a drink recipe painted on the bottom. The glasses came to fruition in 2004 and launched a whole product line of painted glasses, gifts and more.

My first encounter with Designs by Lolita came many a'year ago, back when I lived in California and worked in a shopping mall. I remember seeing these gorgeously painted martini glasses on display, with at least one for just about every occasion. Birthday, Christmas, sports, summertime, and so many more, they were fabulous! And of course the Lolita signature recipe on the bottom of the glasses and packaging always stuck with me. Have you seen these beautiful pieces?

Weekend Winners!

Let's give a big warm congratulations up for our winners this weekend! Don't see your name below? Not to worry. We're adding new giveaways all the time, and there are 5 going on right now!


Re-draw for The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Donna P.
DaddyScrubs: Gala
Guess What? Dear Diary,: Ashley T.
Oransi Fridge Air Purifier: Jordan Y.
Thunderstruck Blu-Ray/DVD: Cheryl A.
16" Goose Creek American Heritage Candle: Candace B.

Congrats! Be on the lookout for your emails, 
you have 48 hours to respond to claim your prizes.

Be sure to enter our current giveaways:

Pretty Mommies Skincare Set $158 Value~ 4 Winners! US/CAN Ends 12/10
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/11/pretty-mommies-skincare-redefining.html

BeginAgain Toys: Artist On The Go Travel Set US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/beginagain-artist-on-go-holiday-gift.html

GIANTmicrobes Christmas Wreath Ornament Box US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/giantmicrobes-christmas-wreath-box.html

EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/eatsmart-precision-pro-kitchen-scale.html

The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-lazy-gourmet-magnificent-meals-made.html

~Sam

Quick & Easy Meatball {Recipe}

  Do you have a quick, go-to recipe for dinner during the week? I always seem to turn to the ever popular spaghetti and meatballs, which is a big hit with kids and adults both. Which is funny, because growing up I HATED spaghetti and meatball nights. Regardless, I've been ever in search of the perfect oven-baked meatball recipe, and after combining elements from a few different ones I've found a family favorite!

Quick & Easy Meatballs
Recipe by Sam B.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
2-3 Tbs dried chopped onion
1 egg
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbs water
2-3 Tbs water (to rehydrate onions)
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl combine dehydrated chopped onions with 2-3 Tbs of warm water and let soak. In large bowl combine breadcrumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, and water. Add beef in small chunks and mix well with hands or a fork. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and mix in. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. With hands, form meatballs into desired size. (For mini meatballs, I grabbed a large pinch of meat mixture and made balls about 3/4" in diameter.) Place on single layer on baking sheet and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Makes about 30 mini-meatballs or 20 larger meatballs.

My army of mini meatballs ready to be cooked!

The best thing about these basic meatballs? You can use them in just about any recipe that calls for meatballs! They have enough flavor to be enjoyed alone, yet are not overpowering and can be enjoyed with any sauce flavor. I've used these with sweet and sour, bbq, and marinara and they've been delicious with each!

~Sam

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Extended & Current {Giveaways}


Hey there!

Since I have so many wonderful products still to show you, and more coming in every day, I've decided to extend the Holiday Gift Guide throughout the month of December! I'll be bringing you wonderful reviews and fantastic giveaways right up until Christmas, and then some! Feel free to check out all the giveaways we have going on currently, and keep your eyes peeled for more! (Have you signed up to receive a once-daily email from Serial Access Mom? Stay in the loop!)


Current Giveaways:


16" American Heirloom Jar Candle US Ends 12/8
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/goose-creek-candle-co-american-heirloom.html

Thunderstruck Blu-Ray + DVD Combo US Ends 12/8
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/11/thunderstruck-free-throw-challenge-blu.html

Pretty Mommies Skincare Set $158 Value~ 4 Winners! US/CAN Ends 12/10
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/11/pretty-mommies-skincare-redefining.html

BeginAgain Toys: Artist On The Go Travel Set US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/beginagain-artist-on-go-holiday-gift.html

GIANTmicrobes Christmas Wreath Ornament Box US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/giantmicrobes-christmas-wreath-box.html

EatSmart Precision Pro Digital Kitchen Scale US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/eatsmart-precision-pro-kitchen-scale.html

The Lazy Gourmet: Magnificent Meals Made Easy US Ends 12/14
http://serialaccessmom.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-lazy-gourmet-magnificent-meals-made.html