Friday, May 27, 2011

Crazy Night is Pizza Night with Dr. Oetker

There is always at least one night a week that I consider to be the "crazy" night for getting dinner together; the night I have to drive my daughter to dance.  Sure I could throw a meal together ahead of time but most of those types of meals tend to be casseroles which at least one of my picky eaters turns their nose up.  So my idea of being organized for "crazy" night is to have frozen pizza as back-up in the freezer.  It's cheaper than take-out, ready in less than twenty minutes and even the pickiest kid loves cheese pizza.

This week E had three rehearsals coming up for her big dance recital so when I was asked to review the new line of frozen Pizza by Dr. Oetker, I was in luck.  I was able to try something new and feed my family at the same time. 

I found Dr. Oetker's Panebello Bakery Crust Pizza easily in the frozen food section of my local grocery store.  It comes in four varieties:  Country Pepperoni, Classic Canadian, Vegetable and Goat Cheese and Brushetta.

We tried the Country Pepperoni and Brushetta.  What first struck me on opening the plastic packaging was that it actually smelled fresh despite the fact that it was frozen.  I could actually smell the sauce and the tomatoes and vegetables. 

Of course, like all froze pizza, it's ridiculously easy to prepare.  The instructions do tell you to place the pizza directly on to your oven rack; however, I NEVER do this.  I have had bad experiences with dropping pizza, cheese melting into my oven etc.  So instead I put it on a round foil pizza pan and I don't think it harmed the pizza whatsoever.  The crust was deliciously crisp on the outside and wonderfully soft on the inside just like they promised.  In fact, my husband who is a bit of a pizza expert having managed a pizza restaurant for over 8 years, specifically commented to me on how good the crust was.

Overall, we really enjoyed both pizzas.  I wasn't sure how my kids were going to take to them because they generally only eat plain cheese pizza.  In fact, I had picked up a separate plain cheese pizza as a back up just in case. Of course, they had to prove me by asking to try ours and then promptly eating the rest.  I was certain they wouldn't eat the pepperoni pizza at all but they just gobbled it up suddenly announcing that they "like" pepperoni.  I shouldn't be surprised because I found the pepperoni to be very tasty myself and not so spicy as you usually get.  You can definitely tell that quality ingredients go into these pizzas.

Our only complaint.... we would have liked a bit more cheese.  Granted, cheese is the most expensive ingredient on the pizza and by having less cheese probably made the pizza healthier overall but still, we all like a tad bit more cheese. 

Still, definitely very tasty pizza and I will definitely be purchasing this line again.  We just loved the fresh ingredients and the crisp crust!

Right now you can enter to WIN 1 of 5 $500 Home Bakery Bundles online at Divine.ca. Each prize pack is valued at $500.00 and includes:
    • 8 coupons for two of each of the new Dr. Oetker Panebello pizza varieties
    • 1 Breville Toaster Oven
    • 1 Pair of Dr. Oetker Oven Mitts
    • 1 Dr. Oetker Pizza Cutter
    • 1 Williams-Sonoma Pizza Peel
    Contest ends June 13th.  Open to residents of Canada.  To enter, just click the image below.

  

***Disclosure: I received free coupons to obtain the pizza product for review.  However, my opinions are my own and reflect my true experiences with the product consumed. ****

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well, I didn't get the Job

I kind of gave it away, didn't I?  I didn't get the job.  Or at least I don't think I did.  It's officially been two weeks and I haven't heard back and she said if I didn't hear in a couple of weeks that they'd moved on. Which came across as a little harsh after the nice chit chat we'd just been having.  Little bit of reality check there.

I have mixed feelings about it.  I'm disappointed because it was a perfect fit for me (It was for a book store) but relieved that I won't have to go to more interviews and meet more new people and impress them with my smarts. ;) 

And relieved because I've been working for hubs like crazy this past few weeks and while I may be getting paid a bit because I'm taking the place of one of his employees that quit, I can't say that I'm loving the juggling of work and homelife all that much.  At least it's doing something that I'm familiar with (renting videos) but can I just tell you my husband is a slave driver. 

I knew there was a reason that I didn't really want to work for him.  Work with him as a manager sure.. but as a lowly employee.... no not a big fan of it.  For one thing, he is just so much more strict and uptight on how things are done in this store than I was in mine.  If I wanted to watch a movie because the night was quiet, I did.  At his store, while he did say reluctantly that if it was really slow he'd let me watch a film, I could tell that he really didn't want me to and so that was that.  I tried watching a movie on the computer but the stupid trailers running in the background pretty much drowned out any interesting dialogue.

Then there's the late list.  I SOOOOOOO hate calling people to tell them their movie is late.  Why, I don't know.  So what if they are annoyed.  I just don't like calling people I don't know.  Never have.  This gal would rather eat that weird frozen thing in the back of the freezer than actually phone and order chinese food.  Strangely enough, my brother is the exact same way. He makes his wife do all the calling and I make my husband do all the calling.  I kid you not.

I thought I was safe from "the list" until I had to work Saturday and Sunday day shifts.  Fortunately both days I was just too busy to get it done.  Boo hoo. 

At my store, my evening shifts consisted of me helping out the customers and then sitting my arse on the chair in front of the computer blogging or doing the books in between.  At his store.. there's only one stool and it's higher than the counter and you feel like a tool using it.

Then there's the vacuuming, the cleaning of the popcorn machine and the tidying up of the wall.  All the movies have to placed behind the covers from left to right and if one is missing you need to shift the available rentals over so that the spaces are all filled out evenly. Talk about OCD.

You see when I was management... I gave lists I didn't get lists of things to do.

It's been a real adjustment going back to work.  When it was just two evenings a week it wasn't so bad even though mentally I had to adjust so I stopped booking playdates or appointments for those afternoons.  But then I had to do Saturday and this past weekend Sunday too and I'm completely exhausted.  By the time I left for work Monday evening I was feeling just a bit teary eyed as hubs shrugged his shoulders at me because he didn't get why I was so tired.  Well, after a kazillion trips to the bathroom with explosive diarrhea and two days of stomach pain and about 5 pounds lost, it's pretty apparent that I'm so damn tired because I picked up some kind of virus.  Of course, thanks to google I was almost certain I had pancreatitis but now I'm not so sure. ;)

At some point, it dawned on hubs that I was legimately tired and ill and not just being a whiny wuss and he's been a tad more sympatic and he actually managed to work in a night off for me. 

Thank you, master.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

iVillage Comes to Canada! - Necklace Giveway

I am betting that you all have heard of iVillage. Of course, you have since it's one of the largest content-driven communities for women online.  Back in my pre-children days, I used to spend a lot of time on their site sifting through content on everything from dieting to working on your relationships.  When baby #1 was expected, I used their online calculator to predict my due date and to get day to day updates on my baby's progress. I loved it.  When baby #2 was on the way, I used the tool to show my oldest daughter photos of how the baby sits in mommy's tummy. 

So I was thrilled to learn that Rogers Media, in partnership with iVillage, has launched iVillage.ca for Canadian women. 
"iVillage.ca is proud to bring a slate of A-list experts and contributors to the table for launch, including one of Babble’s top 10 Canadian mommy bloggers, Catherine Connors (Her Bad Mother) who will write an exclusive weekly column titled “Straight Up from Her Bad Mother”; Home Heist’s Cheryl Torrenueva who comes on board as the iVillage.ca home expert; and Lianne Phillipson-Webb, author of SproutRite, who will dish out weekly nutrition advice for the family. "
And what better way than to launch a new site than with an amazing contest opportunity called the iVillage Passion Project where by simply watching a video of a woman sharing her passion can result in an immediate prize to be won and your name to be entered into an ultimate prize draw for a trip for four to Disney World.  You need to register to play but it's quick and simple and the videos are fun to watch.  (I wasn't a winner today but I will try again tomorrow) ;)~

Of course Rogers Media and iVillage.ca want to get the word out and what better way than to offer one of my readers an opportunity to win their own iVillage.ca necklace designed by Canadian Jewellers, Foxy Originals.
ENTER TO WIN

Mandatory: 
  • -visit iVillage.ca and tell me one area that you'd be interested in exploring more.
EXTRA (leave a comment per each entry):
  • Follow In the Mommy Trenches on GFC
  • Tweet this contest once a day on twitter
  • Register on iVillage.ca and play the Passion Project Game and come back and tell me if you were an instant winner. (good for three entries)
Contest open to CANADIANS only and will end June 15, 2011.


*disclosure - I will be receiving an iVillage.ca necklace in compensation for posting but any opinions
represented herein are my own and reflect my true experiences.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Wanna See Something Gross?

Ever since moving to this community last year, one particular grocery store has won the majority of our business.  Despite the fact that we have two grocery stores, one literally 2 mins from my home and another a discount type Superstore btween us and our favourite store Safeway.  

Why do we love Safeway?
  • they have just about everything I'm looking for
  • they break down their prices by grams on the price tag making it easier to comparison shop
  • they often have great buy one get one deals
  • the first Tuesday of every month is customer appreciation night and you either get 10x the airmiles or 10% off your grocery bill. 
  • oh and they take airmiles.  We've racked up a ton of airmiles since we started shopping there.
You get the picture.  Sounds like a perfect store to customer relationship, doesn't it?  So what's the point of this post and when are you going to see something gross.....

Well, you see all the stores are now coming up with their own "brand" of products and obviously they make their brand at least 10cents cheaper so you'll buy it.  Only be prepared... you might just see this



That's right.  A worm.  MMMMM extra protein.  Okay, that's disgusting. I'd never say that but my dad would. 

Oh and get this, I never noticed the worm until after I had heated it up and served it out to my kids.  Because hubby wasn't home that night, I just dished it out.. thinking boy there are a lot of yucky kernels in this can, set the plates on the table in front of my kids and turned my back to serve myself when there it was... wormy goodness.  I turned to my kids to tell them to stop eating the corn but of course, even though they are supposed to wait for me they were busy shoving it into their greedy little faces.  I just about heaved as I grabbed their plates and quickly scrapped off what was left.  That was when I loved my BB all over again as I took photos and sent them to hubby at work.  It was enough to make him gag too.

Well, needless to say that's turned me off buying store brand and will never buy store brand again.  I packed up the rest of the cans in my cupboard, left the worm in the bowl and sent hubby (cause I'm a big chicken) down to the store to show them Mr. Worm and get my money back.  Of course, the "people" who would deal with this situation wasn't available, they were on break so she'd take our number and someone would get back to us.  Two days later and we've yet to hear anything.  She did reimburse us for the can of corn and the other products we had brought in.  Still, it would have been nice to get a phone call to know they are taking it seriously.  I mean, it's not like we're going to stop taking our business there because why shoot ourselves in the foot, but we definitely will not be being their Store Brand ever again. 

So was that gross enough for you?  Have you ever found something gross in your food?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Arm & Hammer - A Review

One of the things that I like most about Arm & Hammer laundry detergent is the smell.  I don't know about you, but there is just nothing like the smell of fresh clean laundry.  With Arm & Hammer I find that fresh laundry smell really lasts. 

A few months ago we had run out of Arm & Hammer and ended up buying something different because it was part of the store buy one get one deal.  Sure the product smelled nice in the bottle but it didn't really last with the clothes.  Plus, I realized that more and more of my t-shirts were full of mysterious oil spots that just didn't get clean in the wash.  If I know I've spilled something I'll treat it but you can't catch everything.  Still, I thought I hadn't had this problem for a while so what's up now.  That's when I realized, I had stopped using Arm & Hammer.  So what brand you use really does make a difference.

Just a few items from their product line include:

ARM & HAMMER Essentials® Liquid Laundry Detergent provides more savings:  $0.12 per wash load versus $0.21 per wash load of a leading brand detergent.   Has the cleaning power to tackle tough stains and provide clean, white, fresh laundry - all while being eco-concious.  It is the only detergent that combines Arm & Hammer Baking Soda with plant-based soaps.  Available in Mountain Rain scent and Perfume and Dye free formulas.    The New Clean Rinse formula leaves less residues and is perfect for home and cottage, safe for septic tanks.   Retail:  2.03l   $4.99-$5.99   3.12L  $6.99 - $7.99.






ARM & HAMMER plus OxiClean® Power Gel laundry detergent is made of a new gel formula that is thick and powerful and available at a fraction of the cost of leading liquid detergent.  With a thick formula with a gel, it can be used more effectively as a pre-treater and in the wash as it sticks to and ensures the elimination of persistent stains.  Available in Ocean Breeze scent.  $4.99 to $5.99





ARM & HAMMER plus OxiClean® laundry detergent is 66% of the cost of the leading detergent on a per wash load basis  It combines the proven cleaning and freshening of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda with leading stain fighter - OxiClean® to get out tough stains the first time.  Available in Fresh Scent and Cool Breeze.   $4.99 - $5.99






ARM & HAMMER Essentials® Fabric Softenter and Dryer Sheets  Offering 100 sheets per package, 20 more than the leading brand for the same retail price.  Not only are they cost-effective but they contain biodegradable softening agents, natural essential oils and are packaged in 100% recyclable paper board packaging.  Available in two long lasting fragrances:  Mountain Rain and Lavender and Linen.  I have to say, I'm not a Lavender fan but these sheets smell heavenly.  I don't as a general rule use them for all the wash but I definitely love to use them with my sheets and towels.   It definitely reduces static clean and makes my sheets and towels feel softer.   $4.99 - $5.99

For more laundry trips, visit http://www.armandhammer.ca/.


***disclosure, I received the above product in compensation for my review.  However, I believe in blogging with integrity and all stories and/or opinions related in this post are true and reflect my actual experiences. *****

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wait... Don't Throw That Out!

When we moved into this house, it came with the appliances. It wasn’t until after a few loads of laundry that we realized why the seller had no qualms giving up her appliances. The washer shimmers like Britney Spears in her hey day and squeals like a cat on a chalkboard. I’m serious, it sounds that bad.


Of course, I’d like a new machine but money is tight and in my new green conscious thinking, it doesn’t make sense to toss out an entire machine when surely we could find a part to fix it. (Something my husband has been meaning to do for a year now). Sure we could hire a repairman but that’s not exactly in the budget these days, either.

So when I received an email from PartSelect, an online retailer of appliance parts, it couldn’t have come at a more convenient time. Especially when I learned that they have installation videos (already available on 105 of their parts with more being shot each week) that shows a repair technician, Steve, installing each part step by step.

Part Select has also recently added a Virtual Repairman – a free tool that helps you figure out exactly what’s wrong with your appliance. They’ve spent years doing the research and collecting data on symptoms for each individual model and put that information together to diagnose exactly which part is causing the problems and how to fix it.

Sounds great, right? Well, I was a little skeptical.  After all my machine was at least 8 years old and there are so many different kinds out there what are the odds they'd have information on mine.  I was wrong. I plugged in the part number and immediately shown a list of symptoms. I clicked on “noisy” and up comes a list of parts that might fix the problem. Of course, I’m not sure if this is the right part for the problem so I scroll for more information and see a ton of customer comments where they describe in more detail what their symptoms were and it was easy to see that I had a match. PartSelect customers are able to rate on how understandable the instructions are, give their own tips on how they repaired their machine and what tools they used.

Amazing. I’ve lived with this problem for a whole year to find out that it’s a $60.00 part and easily fixable by my husband. It even lists what tools are required, which are all ones that we have kicking around the house. Not some specialty tool that someone had told my husband we needed.

My understanding that no other online part site has the ability to help their customers at every stage of the repair: diagnosing the problem, figuring out the part needed, getting the part, and then installing the part.

PartSelect is a BBB Accredited Business, offers same day shipping, 30 day returns and one-year warranty. It has a Canadian dedicated site as well as a U.S. site. (.com or .ca)  So while this may be a different sort of recommendation post than I normally do, in this day and age of saving money and reducing what we toss into our landfill, it behooves all of us to find a way to give new life to these old machines of ours.



***Disclosure: I was compensated for this post by Part Select; however, I blog with integrity and the experience I have written about herein is a true and accurate re-accounting of what occurred with our washing machine. ****

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Still Nervous

I just had my first job interview in over 16 years.  It was by phone.  I knew it was coming because I had applied last week and when I saw who was calling on the call display, I knew that this was it.  Thankfully, she was just setting up a time for the actual interview so I had some time to prepare. 

I knew this jumping back into the work force was going to be hard and I was dreading the interview process but you know it wasn't so bad.  Sure I was nervous and I still have butterflies in my stomach hours afterwards and I wish I had refined some of my answers more but when it comes down to it all I can do is be me.  I am who I am. 

Did I ace it?  I'd like to say that I did but I don't think so.  My work experience, while it is similar to what they are looking for just doesn't compare to what the job is.  Sure I'd like to think that I can do the job and do it well but will they see that capability just from a phone interview.  Besides if I make this cut, I still have at least one more if not two interviews to pass through.  OMG.

In the end, I am relieved that this interview was by phone.  I didn't have to dress for it and I was in my own surroundings.  Part of me hopes for a second interview while the other part of me is happy to stay at home without the need to answer to anyone else but myself and plan our family vacations when we want it.

Unfortunately, the SAHM gig pay sucks. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Marriage Bites the Dust

Is it just me or do you find it increasingly disappointing on hearing which celebrities have split now?  I'm not talking this fly by night marriages but of the long term ones.  If you are wondering what I am talking about then perhaps you haven't heard today's news regarding Arnold Schwartzenegger and Maria Shriver's split.  Twenty-five years of marriage down the tubes.  Is that not incredibly sad?  Makes you wonder if his years in office was harder on their marriage than his many years of acting.  Or maybe he was home TOO much now. 

Of course, there will be lots of speculation and while I know it's their business, I can't help but wonder why.  What makes two people who managed to work through their differences for 25 years decide to split? 

In this day and age of celebrityitis, the younger generation really look to their idols and unfortunately they are falling far short. Sure they are only human too but the examples they are setting en mass of divorce, relationship jumping, drug abuse, etc... is rampant and worrying. 

It just makes me realize how much more my husabnd and I need to really set the example for our kids.  Cause right now, we're the most important people in their little lives.  We really need to make this time count.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Strange Things I find in my Washing Machine

Being a mother is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.  Beyond the poop, vomit and various other bodily fluids our children decide to inflict upon us, we must also brace ourselves for pockets full of goodies, mysterious toys in the laundry hamper and the unknown.

I've long ago decided that I draw the line at putting my hand blindly into pants or coat pockets.  While my children so far have not delighted me with the gift of a snake or bugs, you just never know when the thought is going to enter their fiendish little minds.  You would think that this wouldn't extend to my husband, after all, he's a grown man, he wouldn't put something scary in his pockets for me to find.  I'm right.  Just screws, which almost ruined our machine or wait..... maybe that's why the darn thing screeches.  No, I'm pretty sure it did that before.

Then there was the diaper tossed into a laundry hamper.  I'm sure little O was trying to be helpful when he tossed that pee filled diaper in with his laundry.  Note:  it takes many, many washings to get that gel crap out of the machine, not to mention getting in there with your hands and scooping it out.  You'd think once it went through a cycle with soap it wouldn't smell so bad.  No, it still stinks. 

So like I said you have to brave when you come across this....



The first time I was "surprised" by hoochee was in the shower.  My brother gave each one of the kids their own hoochee the last time we were at their house, trying to be the "cool' uncle and all.  And I owe him once since I was the "cool" aunt that bought my nephew the noisiest and most obnoxious alarm clock on the planet for his 4th birthday.  He still has it to this day. (He's 17)  Heh heh.  So when he offers my kids wiggly little hoochees that most likely have been sitting around in  a dirty tackle box for the past year, I just can't say no.  I don't know what he might buy them for their next birthday.

So while I admit that I might have cast a startled glance at the little bugger when I found him sitting in my shower, I'm glad to say I never even missed a beat when I spotted him in the washing machine... other than to grab my camera, of course.

At least now I won't have to worry about O sticking it his mouth.