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June Dairy Movies

I love it when I’m rewarded for shopping and purchasing items that I normally buy.  This month is June Dairy Month at Safeway/Von’s, and what that means is when you purchase $40 of qualifying dairy items during the month of June, you receive a voucher code to redeem for two free movie tickets.

June Dairy Month

Last week I purchased dairy items like Fage Greek Yogurt to make my Greek Pita Pockets with Fage Greek Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce; and combined with dairy items from this week’s shopping trip, earned two free movie tickets.


Greek Pita Pockets with Fage Greek Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce

Recipe for Greek Pita Pockets with Fage Greek Yogurt-Cucumber Sauce


I’m redeeming my voucher code for tickets to the upcoming Ice Age Continental Drift movie in theaters July 13th.  During checkout, I received a voucher code printed from the Catalina machine.  Then I went to https://dev.activaterewards.com/JuneDairyMovies to enter my voucher code.

visit https://dev.activaterewards.com/JuneDairyMovies to redeem

after selecting my movie theater, I get my two tickets to print

For more information about June Dairy Month, visit JuneDairyMovies.com, EasyHomeMeals.com or Facebook or follow #JuneDairyMovie.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Safeway #CBias #SocialFabric”, but the opinions and views expressed here are very much my own.

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Food Photography Kitchen Makeover with GE Smart Energy Lighting

Food Photography Lighting

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen creating, cooking, photographing and writing.  Earlier this year I wrote about the importance of lighting for food photography in Recipe For A Great Food Photo.

Prosciutto with Melon and Fig

Food Photography In Natural Sunlight


Much of  my food photos are shot in natural sunlight through filters.  However, timing is not always on my side, and there are many occasions when I need to photograph indoors and at night.

It’s difficult to get indoor and nighttime photos to come out with the same vibrant color that outdoor sunlight gives, and many times they come out so yellow that not even photo enhancing can help.

Using flash photography is never an option for me because it gives off a glare, the same way that incandescent light bulbs can do.

Nighttime Indoor Food Photo


Time For A Makeover

I decided it’s time to give my workspace (also known as my kitchen) a lighting makeover.  It was time to bring outdoor quality lighting into my kitchen that allows me the versatility to work, photograph and videotape whenever I want.


Being energy efficient was also a major factor in my makeover decisions.  With some help from GE Energy Smart’s Bright From The Start CFL, I found that I can achieve better lighting with their hybrid halogen, and save on my power bill.  GE Energy Smart bulbs last 8 times longer and use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs.


The “Before” Kitchen

Before the kitchen lighting makeover, my ability to work was limited by the time of day.  Dawn and dusk gave me natural filtered sunlight, with the remaining day receiving direct sun.  At night, my incandescent kitchen light bulbs gave off a yellow hue.

The “After” Kitchen

By changing my kitchen light bulbs to a soft bright light, I eliminated the “yellowish” tone from my indoor kitchen lighting.  And, by adding a light fixture like this hanging pot rack, I was able to direct the light to my kitchen counter top where I cook, photograph and write the most.

installed hanging lighted pot rack with GE Reveal Light Bulbs



Selecting A Light Bulb

Other than being energy efficient, other important factors in choosing a light bulb for me are brightness or “lumens” and “color temperature”.  Each light bulb has a rating that describes the color temperature from “warm” to “cool”.


I decided on the GE Reveal Light Bulbs.

GE Reveal Light Bulbs


According to the GE Energy Smart CFL Savings Calculator, I will be saving$65.70 this year on my energy bill for just my kitchen area, and $360 savings over the life of the bulbs, by switching to GE Energy Smart light bulbs.  With that savings, I can purchase a new set of stainless steel pans to hang on my new pot rack!

To calculate your savings, visit the GE Energy Smart CFL Savings Calculator:

GE Energy Smart CFL Savings Calculator


GE Reveal Light Bulb

Bright Lighting

With my kitchen lighting makeover, I can now work at whatever time of day I want.  Who knows, you may find me in the kitchen at 2 a.m. making my next creation.


food photo taken with GE


my kitchen lighting makeover with GE



More Savings! Download The Coupon

Download the coupon.  Save More Money with GE Smart Energy and Reveal Light Bulbs by downloading this coupon for $2.00 off your purchase.


I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and GE.  The views and opinions expressed here are very much my own. #CBias #SocialFabric

More information about GE Smart Energy and Reveal light bulbs can be found at GELighting.com, or follow on Twitter.com/GELighting or Facebook.com/GELighting.

More photos from my GE Smart Energy Lighting kitchen makeover can be found on my Google Plus album.






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Afternoon Inspirations and Pick-Me-Ups

A New Day

My days begin with a few minutes in the morning for “me” when I try to connect that stillness inside me with the universe- when all I can hear at this hour are a few chirping birds and maybe a garbage truck out in the distance.

And then it begins- another hectic day.  After getting the kids dressed, fed and off to school, I jump right into emails, chores and errands.  I juggle multiple jobs throughout the day.  I’m a recipe creator, meal designer, food photographer and blogger one minute, co-founder of a local charity to build a school for the blind the next minute, and parent volunteer for Kindergarten class after that.  And somewhere in between I squeeze in laundry and grocery shopping.

The Afternoon Crash

The day flies by at lightning speed and then… afternoon hits.  Like a steam engine that just ran out of coal on its way up a mountain, the afternoon crash hits me from out of nowhere.  I’m the little choo-choo that begins to fall backwards down the hill just before reaching the peak.  This is the time of day I need a “pick-me-up”.

The Pick-Me-Up

I find the only way to regenerate and keep going to pull my freight car load over the mountain is to grab an afternoon beverage and change scenery.  Whether I’m indoors all day working or arriving home from driving around for hours, the mere act of changing scenery helps shift my perspective and revive my body and mind.

Inspiration can come with just a few minutes of stillness while connecting with what’s much bigger than my day and my schedule.  Inspiration can be right outside my door- literally.

Today, a package arrived with a sample of International Delight Iced Coffee– and Mocha flavor at that (my favorite)!  All I had to to do was pour it over ice and “head for the hills”- or in this case, my backyard.  With only a few minutes to spare, I needed to regenerate.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I do the majority of my shopping at my local Sam’s Club, which is why I’m happy to discover that this refreshing afternoon beverage will be available at Sam’s Club this next week.

International Delight iced coffee

Mocha flavor


My advice for an afternoon pick-me-up- no matter how much you have going on, taking a few minutes to regenerate will make you even more productive- those dirty dishes and that unread email will still be there in ten minutes.  Have a beverage on-hand that’s easy to prepare, like International Delight Iced Coffee, and most importantly- find somewhere close by that inspires you.  Then chill.

Find a quiet spot to sit, be still and refresh.  Oh, and have a notebook handy because it’s amazing how much creativity can come out of a few minutes of inspiration and stillness.



Made it through another day.

Join the afternoon pick-me-up buzz with International Delight on Twitter, Facebook or at idicedcoffee.com.

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. All opinions expressed herein are very much my own.

#CBias #SocialFabric


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Tasty Veggies


This post is sponsored by Country Crock. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Healthy Choices

Nutrition is always a key factor in my meal planning and recipe creations, which is why my grocery shopping lists are produce-heavy with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit.  Vegetables are on our table for every family dinner, either cooked or fresh.

Getting kids to eat vegetables is not always easy, especially if you have a “picky eater”- which I do.  I have one daughter who loves vegetables more than any other food, and will choose a fresh salad alongside baked salmon over pizza any day.

And my other daughter- not so much.  I’m always looking for fun, creative and delicious ways to get her to eat more vegetables.

Picky Eaters Meal Planning from The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System

Meal Planning for Picky Eaters

I find that having my kids involved in shopping and cooking is a great way to expose them to all the vegetable options out there.  One time, Brooke (my picky eater), grabbed a bundle of radishes in the grocery store and said, “Look how beautiful these radishes are!  Mommy, you need to get these and make a salad.”  “Great,” I said.  “Will you eat them?”  She replied, “no.”  I

still have a ways to go with her, but I’m happy with the progress we’ve made.  She enjoys making salads on her own, and loves it when I saute vegetables.

Today, I came across this inventive recipe for Flag Pizza from Clare Crespo’s Cookbook for Country Crock.

Flag Pizza Recipe

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe for Flag Pizza, click here.  Otherwise, enjoy my photo tutorial below for this fun meal that kids can help prepare.

Flag Pizza Ingredients:

Flag Pizza recipe

Flag Pizza Ingredients

  1. 6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese slices
  2. 1 Tbsp. Country Crock® Spread
  3. 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  4. 1 frozen pizza dough, thawed
  5. 1 cup Ragu® Pizza Quick Sauce
  6. 2 plum tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise and cut into slices or 1 sliced red bell pepper or a mixture of the two
  7. Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Flag Pizza Directions:

  1. Take two slices of mozzarella cheese and stack together.
  2. Use kitchen scissors or small knife to cut a few star shapes out of the cheese. Slice remaining cheese slices into 1-inch strips.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°.
  4. Melt Country Crock® Spread in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Stretch pizza dough to fit a rectangular pan. Spread Ragu® Pizza Quick Sauce evenly over dough.
  6. Sprinkle spinach over top left corner of dough. Place stars on the spinach. Lay tomatoes (or peppers) and cheese strips in alternating strips on rest of the pizza.
  7. Bake 10 to 20 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to turn golden and crust is starting to brown. Remove from oven and serve with crushed red pepper flakes (if using).

star cookie-cutters from Pampered Chef


melt Country Crock in large non-stick skillet


place fresh spinach in pan to saute


spinach is ready when it is completely reduced and tender


arrange spinach, tomatoes and cheese over sauce


Flag Pizza Recipe

the kids are going to love this... even my picky eater!


Simple and Delicious Vegetable Recipes

I find that there’s no need to hide vegetables from my family.  In fact, vegetables can be delicious and fun with a little imagination.  For more healthy and tasty vegetable recipes from The Organized Cook using Country Crock, check out:

carrot recipe

Escalloped Carrots


Are you looking for quick and simple tips and recipes to make serving veggies more fun? Download the free Clare Crespo Cookbook here for fun and whimsical recipes your family is sure to love!

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