Archive | December, 2011

Fresh and Easy & Vegas Bloggers Serve Up Holiday Cheer!

Serving Up Holiday Cheer

This weekend my home hosted the annual Blogger Holiday Party sponsored by Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market.  The party gave local bloggers the opportunity to sample the new holiday menu from Fresh and Easy while mingling and learning more about fellow local bloggers.

Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Probably my favorite item from the new line of Fresh and Easy Holiday Appetizers were the Brie & Cranberry Pastry Puffs and the Mini Beef en Croutes.

Mini Beef en Croutes from Fresh and Easy Holiday Guide

The Sparkling Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider was unique and delicious- a must-have for any holiday party this year!

Fresh and Easy Pumpkin Ale


If you live in California, Arizona or Nevada, you’re lucky to have one of these convenient neighborhood markets close by.  A representative from Fresh and Easy talked about the new Holiday Guide and menu with local bloggers and answered questions about the store.

Fresh and Easy Holiday party

A representative from Fresh and Easy talked about the new Holiday Appetizer line



Event guests were a group of talented local female bloggers who write about topics ranging from parenting, fashion, daily deals, local events and cooking.  At the party, bloggers enjoyed discussing their individual blogs, mingling.. and yes- tweeting.

Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Bloggers chat and enjoy holiday appetizers from Fresh and Easy


Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Heather from discusses her blog with the group


Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

That’s me discussing The Organized Cook


Fresh and Easy wine

Fresh and Easy has an impressive wine collection; we sampled Pacific Coast Highway’s 2009 Pinot Grigio


Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Bloggers introduce themselves and discuss their blog


Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Stefanie from takes a moment to tweet (of course!- we’re bloggers!)


We sampled these holiday cookies from Fresh and Easy, which were obviously delicious because they were all gone by the end of the party!  I didn’t throw away these adorable boxes and my kids are using them to store their holiday figurines; they also would make an adorable storage box for Christmas music CD’s.


Fresh and Easy Holiday Party

Vegas Bloggers got to take home a sampling of goodies from Fresh and Easy

To learn more about the new holiday menu from Fresh and Easy, check out the Fresh and Easy Holiday Guide:

Fresh and Easy Holiday Guide


Giving Back

I never miss the opportunity when having get-togethers over the holidays to do something for those in need in our community.  It’s so easy to coordinate a food or toy drive at any holiday party by simply asking that guests bring in an item to donate.

I want to thank each Vegas Blogger who brought in food items to donate to our local food bank, it felt really good delivering our boxes and bags of food to help local families in need.

Make It Fun

You can make a game out of your charity drive by offering up a prize to whomever brings the best or most items to donate.  For our Fresh and Easy Vegas Bloggers holiday party, the guest who brought the most food donations won an adorable apron from me; and our winner was Stefanie from– thanks Stefanie!

Looking for ways to help?  Finding a local food bank isn’t difficult; I found a church nearby with a food bank by simply responding to a sign on their billboard.

If you’re throwing a party, I’ve found that guests appreciate the opportunity to bring a donation- after all, it makes it easier for anyone who may have generosity in their hearts over the holidays, but not a lot of time.  A few years ago I threw a small party for my girlfriends and asked everyone to bring in a cosmetic, hair product or toiletry item which I then donated to Safe Nest, our local shelter for women escaping from domestic violence.

If you’re not sure of where to donate in your area, look to your local church, food bank, women’s shelter or children’s charity for ideas.  By simply making a call or looking online, your small act of kindness could me a world of difference to someone else.

Merry Christmas!






Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 0 }

Death of the Bookstore?

A Trip to the Bookstore

During a recent trip to Denver I took my oldest daughter into the Barnes and Noble next to our hotel to buy her the latest pop-culture book “Hunger Games”.  As we walked through the door and took in the first gust of bookstore scent I wondered if my grandchildren would experience this smell.

For me the smell of a bookstore means Christmas shopping with hot peppermint mocha in hand, memories of late night conversations with that handsome boy who will forever remain nameless to me, and one of the best and most inspirational ways to kill an hour while waiting for my daughter and her friends to finish shopping at the Hot Topic store.

Tonight’s aroma of “bookstore scent”, however, was combined with a faint hint of Eau de death.

In fact, my daughter and I just had a conversation earlier that made me question if the end of the bookstore is eminent.  You see, she has always been a defender of lost causes.  In middle school instead of worrying about the latest Tween fashion, she was trying to rally her friends to picket the circus that had come to town for animal cruelty.

And, as a card carrying member of PETA-2, she would lure me into debates (which I tried to avoid) about the mountain lion recently put to death for attacking a local resident.  My daughter was the one who made sure I begrudgingly attended school board meetings to oppose recent cuts to school funding.  And as I sat in a room with a total of about three other parents, I realized then her undying passion for making a stand for what you believe in, especially in the face of the most unfavorable odds.

Death of A Bookstore

So, while inquiring about Christmas gifts this evening, I explored her interest in an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook.  After all, she loves reading as much as she does ferocious animals that try to kill people who “invade their territory”.

Her vehement response about how e-readers and technology are killing the book industry and her plans to make a stand against them made me think that we may be experiencing the slow death of the book industry as we know it.  Would this be my daughter’s next “lost cause” and disappointment?

After all, my favorite bookstore, Borders had just closed its doors this past year leaving many people wondering what the future of the book industry would hold.

Death of A Book Signing

That next day I was scheduled for a book signing in Downtown Denver.  Although attendance was low, I’m grateful to have spent an hour with the owners at Broadway Book Mall.  Weather and location may have not helped our unfavorable turnout, but I wonder how much of a part our e-readers and smart phone applications may have played.  You see, even The Organized Cook’s Busy Mom’s Remedy To Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills is available in an online subscription.  To make matters better worse, it’s coming out in a mobile application as well.

Broadway Book Mall, Dowtown Denver

But walking around this quaint bookstore with homemade cookie in hand made me marvel at what my younger children- and later on grandchildren- may miss out on if bookstores would ever lose out to the computer.  Just then, Noelle screeched as she picked up the book Madeleine, apparently her favorite childhood book.  She sat and read the first page with such excitement and happiness.  Would she be reading this book to her children via iPad one day?  I bought the book for my girls- 5 and 7, which Noelle later read to them in the airport on the way home with such enthusiasm that I could see in my girls’ eyes that Madeleine would now be a lifetime favorite for them.

Noelle helping to set up for book signing of "The Organized Cook"- signed books are still available for sale at Broadway Book Mall

Change in the Book Industry

Personally, I witnessed the rapid effect of the e-reader on our book industry from the time I signed my publishing contract in June, 2010 to the time my book The Organized Cook- Busy Mom’s Remedy to Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills was released in September, 2011, right at the heels of Borders closing its bookstores.  My book came out at a time when uncertainties about the book publishing industry are affecting authors, retailers and consumers.

To further add to the confusion is the blogging industry- which I participate in with my blog Saving Time. Saving Money. Making Dinner- The Busy Mom’s Survival Guide and my personal memoirs, Busy Mom Living The Dream at  I enjoy blogging with the freedom to write what I want when I want.  But what would motivate someone to browse the bookstore for trendy cupcake recipe books, meal planning for today’s modern family guides or traditional Thanksgiving recipe cookbooks, when that information is at their fingertips via internet searches.

Was author, Ray Bradbury foretelling the vulnerability of the printed book in his 1953 short novel “Farenheit 451” where computers take over the world and order that all books be burned by fire?

And how will the cookbook weather these changes?  Is it exempt from going digital?  Have food blogs and online recipes replaced the cookbook?  Do people really want their e-reader in the kitchen with them while cooking?  Personally, the things I love about my cookbooks are the little stains and smudges confirming memories of fabulous culinary creations.  The more stains, the better the recipe, with sticky pages creating bookmarks for my favorite dishes.

I do not think the bookstore will lose out and die.  Rather, we’re experiencing a shift to allow room for its technological counterparts and we’ll soon see a balance, just as I am personally finding that balance.  I think there will always be people out there who love books as much as I do.   My nightstand is evidence to my loyalty to the printed book, and I feel inspired just walking by my quiet reading nook with its stack of favorite reads resting nearby.

So this Christmas, you are sure to find me gift shopping at my local bookstore making a silent toast to the memory of Borders with my hot peppermint mocha.  As for my defender-of-the-underdog daughter, I think a gift card to Barnes and Noble is sure to show up in her stocking.

And, if you happen to be in the Denver area, stop by and meet some great people who genuinely love books more than anyone I’ve ever met- the owners of Broadway Book Mall at 200 South Broadway, Downtown Denver, where they have signed copies of The Organized Cook- the perfect gift this year for your daughter, wife, sister, BFF or co-worker.

visit Broadway Book Mall in Downtown Denver to pick up a signed copy of The Organized Cook- Busy Mom's Remedy to Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills

Just for fun, my favorite “bookstore” movies:

1. You’ve Got Mail

2.  Neverending story

3.  The Help


Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 10 }

What’s For Dinner This Week

Meal Planning for Busy Families

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, we could all use some easy family dinners this week.  That’s why our Family Favorites Weekly Meal Plan is on the menu this week with quick and hearty recipes.


Rosemary Baked Chicken recipe

Day 1: Rosemary Baked Chicken



Day 2: Teriyaki Salmon & Egg Flower Soup



Day 3: Cristpy Beef Tacos & Spanish Fried Rice



Day 4: Chicken Alfredo Pasta



Day 5: On-The-Fly Shepherds Pie



Subscribe Now to The Organized Cook

Not a subscriber to The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan SystemSubscribe now.


The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System



Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 3 }

Easy Holiday Appetizers with Wholly Guacamole

Win A Wholly Guacamole Prize Pack

I love entertaining over the holidays.  But let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of time for cooking; which is why I like serving food that requires little preparation on my part like Wholly Guacamole.

We’re so lucky to have Wholly Guacamole sponsor our Manic Monday Giveaway from The Organized Cook this week to make someone’s holiday entertaining this year merry and bright- not to mention easy and delicious!

This awesome prize from Wholly Guacamole contains Wholly Guacamole Dip in all flavors, Wholly Guacamole Queso dip and Wholly Guacamole Salsa.  There are enough delicious products in this refrigerated pack to throw an entire party!  Follow instructions below to enter our giveaway.


Easy Holiday Appetizers

There are so many easy holiday recipes that can made in just minutes without sauteing, marinating or baking.  I made some appetizers this weekend using Wholly Guacamole, a fresh avocado guacamole dip that comes already prepared, and they came out delicious.

Merry Christmas Chips & Guacamole

Adding diced red and green bell peppers to my Wholly Guacamole gave my dip a “festive” look.

The Grinch Eggs

By adding Wholly Guacamole to the center of hard-boiled eggs, I simply used red bell peppers for the eyes and a slice of cooked yolk for the “devilish” smile.

 What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”  – Dr. Suess from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

Tailgating Recipes

I’m not a “sports” person myself, but I know many people are entertaining for football season, or “homegating”- which is tailgate entertaining at home.  The folks at Wholly Guacamole have put together a host of party planning, recipes and decorating tips for anyone homegating this year at

And, if you win the Wholly Guacamole Prize Pack from our contest here, you’ll be all set for your next “homegating” party!


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Email this to a Friend Email this to a Friend
Comments { 303 }