Credit Karma™

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This post is sponsored by Credit Karma™ and endorsed by a busy, financially overwhelmed new Mom! Having a baby was one of the best experiences ever but also THE most expensive. I received 12 different bills – it was insane and incredibly confusing. One for the epidural, one for the baby, one for you, and one for the appointments…they kept pouring in like the rain. With that plus other bills, working F/T and taking care of a newborn baby it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and break down.  Staying organized and on top of your finances is a good way to check a big chunk off of your “list of stressors.” I’ve had someone steal my identity in the past (isn’t it funny how they always manage to choose the brokest people). Staying on top of my credit helps me feel in control. I’ve used sites like where your report is supposedly “free”. However, you’re still prompted to enter your card information so they can start charging you like mad when you forget to cancel the service. And that’s incredibly annoying plus a waste of time.

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This is what the credit report looks like (it’s not mine lol it’s a sample)…but Williams Sonoma has a card?? I wonder if I need that?! Just kidding, back to being serious…
Credit Karma™ is pro-consumer. No strings or payment information attached. I started to use it last week and I feel more in control of my report. I’ve also learned a lot about what metrics define my overall financial health. Here are some of the main benefits:
– There are over 50 different types of FICO scores (confusing much?) but Credit Karma™  does a real score, not an “educational” score
– They can match your profile with financial products (but do not pressure you to make a purchase)
– Overload of resources and tools that help you understand every detail of your report and how it impacts you
– Your report is monitored on a daily basis and you are notified if any changes occur

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It takes about 5 minutes to sign up (or less) and if you’re a multi-tasker like me you can even do it real quick from your phone. It’s insane that there are 220 million Americans with a credit profile and 30% of them have never checked their credit – yikes! Head over to their site right now and take a look at what’s going on with your credit.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Credit Karma™

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Fall Skincare: Olive-Oil Infused Products by Olivella

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This is kinda’ funny, but when I’m making bread or oiling a pan and I use too much olive oil…I always rub the rest into my hands as a moisturizer. This works especially good when the weather starts ro change. Everyone is getting hip to all-natural products, but I’ve heard for years from my Nana and from chefs that olive oil is a great moisturizer.

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     Olivella has a lux, natural line of olive oil skincare. Their lip balms are being released this month, but I’m giving you a little sneak peak! I was so happy to get my hands on these bad boys! They come with a cooling roll-on applicator tip and come in lavender (relaxing), mint (so refreshing) and my personal favorite, limoncello (a sunny burst of zesty citrus). I carry them in my purse and use them a few times per day! My favorite product that they make is the 100% extra virgin olive oil moisturizer. I use this in the morning under makeup and at night. Cream-based moisturizers make my skin breakout…this stuff is amazing!! They also have makeup wipes that are very gentle (usually I can’t use the wipes bc they drive my eyes/contacts insane). These don’t cause any irritation at all. And when I need to relax, I use their vanilla shower gel in a bath. None of their products have an overpowering olive oil smell, very subtle and calming. I love olive oil!!

Tips for making the BEST Omelettes + Omelette with Spicy Peppers

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An omelette is a fantastic way to eat healthy, stay full and use leftovers. There are so many different combinations and anything goes! If I’m not in the mood to clean up after cooking, this is my “go to” meal.

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My fridge always has peppers, eggs and feta. This helps me avoid ordering unhealthy delivery on lazy days. Here are some tips to make sure your omelette always turns out great:

- Use a non-stick pan. This is so important! Even the best cook can screw up an omelette with a bad pan. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. My favorite pan is an 8″ hot pink non-stick pan from TJMaxx for $6. I use it over and over and have great results. With non-stick, the omelette will turn out slightly fluffy and mess-free.

- Don’t overbeat the eggs or the proteins will toughen.

- Use a baking spatula to fold the omelette and run around the sides (make sure you run the spatula around the sides a few times while the omelette is cooking)

- Don’t be scared of flavor!! Mix it up: load up the veggies, add in pesto, crushed peppers, any mix of fresh herbs). You can even use leftover spaghetti (I do this a lot), parm and ricotta, bake than slice to make a pasta fritatta.

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You’ll Need:
Mixed sweet peppers, diced (about 3)
Italian hot peppers (or poblano or serrano), diced
Fresh herbs, chopped (basil, parsley, dill)
3 egg whites, 1 whole egg (stirred)
Feta cheese, 3T

MAKE IT:
– Heat a nonstick pan on medium high. Pour in eggs and let them slightly set. Add remaining ingredients to the left side of the eggs. Cook slightly for another few minutes.

- Gently fold over the right side, and serve. I always use 3 whites plus one egg but feel free to use the whole eggs and it works good too. Enjoy!! :-)

Iced Espresso Elixir – Tequila Avion Espresso

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You’ll Need:
3 oz Espresso-flavored Avion tequila
2 scoops, strong coffee ice cream
Garnish – whipped cream and coffee beans

Blend the tequila and ice cream. Serve in really small glasses (even shot glasses wouldbe good), garnish and enjoy!

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If you’re an Entourage fan (um, I’ve seen every episode more than twice…obsessed much??) than you already know about Avion!!! Avion’s new espresso blend has a subtle coffee profile and focuses on the tequila (AKA it’s very strong, so this is meant to be a “taste” not a huge portion). It has notes of chocolate and nuts. When combined with good ice cream, it makes an easy dessert for Fall :-)

Avion Tequila

Creative Galaxy show on Amazon Prime Instant Video – an exclusive sneak peak!

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I had one  of those days where you have absolutely no time to do anything and just end up feeling frustrating and unaccomplished. When I finally got home, I felt like I had SO much stuff to do that I didn’t deserve to relax. I remembered that I had received an invitation to check out a brand new show on Amazon Prime Instant Video  called “Creative Galaxy.” I decided to drop everything that I had to do, make some popcorn and sit down and relax for a minute with my daughter. A “minute” turned into a few hours. Something about the shows was so relaxing that I enjoyed it just as much as a kid! I love how they incorporate cartoons plus real people.They teach kids art + self-confidence with the phrase “Go be amazing!” The best part about this show is that yes, your kids are watching TV. But afterwards…they are inspired to create art that requires no technology. I’m a big supporter of getting kids back to old school arts and crafts and away from their addictive gadgets.

All episodes are hosted by Arty & Epiphany
Episode #7:
– Pointillism: AKA painting with dots. Ummm, I’m embarrassed to say that a 3 y/o is learning about this and I had no idea what it was before watching this episode.
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I was so inspired after this episode, I did a quick search of cool fall-inspired Pointillism that my daughter and I could attempt to create:
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Episode#8:
They make a gift for Mom’s Birthday! Could I love this idea any more?! Let’s encourage more gifts for Mom ;-)
They made gorgeous Mosaic butterflies and picture frames plus a little fabric bear (to stop the featured baby from crying).

Episode#9:
As a cook, I like that he puts a whisk in his “idea box” – a tool everyone should have!
Splatter painting – with the whisk and a spray bottle, I never would have considered my whisk for making art!
Paper masks, love that they made a leopard print one! So cool. I found a really fun template for a turkey mask so my daughter and I can make one this year:
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You can make ANYTHING with art!

Episode#10:
Clay beads – turned into necklaces, rings, “shoe jingles”, tie-died shirts!!!

Episode#11:
Tissue paper flowers, my favorite craft out of all the episodes. And a dreamy Nlnightlight with stars!

Episode#12:
A fancy rocketship!!

After watching Creative Galaxy, I feel relaxed, inspired, artsy, motivated and..oh yeah, the kids loved it too! ;-)

Check out more details here: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Galaxy-Season-1-HD/dp/B00CB6VTDS/ref=sturl_creativegalaxy

<p><i>I was selected for this opportunity as a member of <a href="http://clvr.li/OHjC82" target="_blank">Clever Girls</a> and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.</i></p>

Homemade Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Simple Bolognese

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I made these after work while my daughter played with pots and pans. That tells you how easy it is! And..it’s perfect for the fall. There are loads of gnocchi recipes with different flours, ricotta cheese…my version keeps it as simple as possible. I usually make the bolognese first, than let it simmer on low while I makw the gnocchi. Or you can make the dough the day before and store in the fridge. But not more than one day, this needs to be fresh!

You’ll Need:
2 sweet potatoes (baked in the oven 30 mins until soft, skins peeled)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2tsp sea salt (I use pink himalayan)
1 egg
2C all purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Make It:
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. In a large bowl, smash the potatoes with a fork. Add in garlic, nutmeg, salt and egg.

Add a bit of the flour, than knead. Add a bit of the flour, than knead. Repeat until you use all the flour. The dough should be soft and smooth, not sticky.

Slice the dough in half and roll into long cylinders. Using a dough scraper or knife, chop into 1-inch (bite sized pieces).

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Use a gnocchi press (pictured) or fork…gently roll the gnocchi to create a subtle texture. Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water. Take out when they rise to the top of the water. Drizzle with a very light ammount of flavored olive oil (I use basil).

Caitlin’s Bolognese

Italian restaurants do an amazing job of screwing this recipe up. It’s usually soooo heavy and loaded with garlic that you could pass out. You don’t need 500 pieces of garlic, pork, veal or other random meats. Keep it simple. And it should be fresh!!! Not made and stored weeks ago. It’s so easy to make and cheap, there’s absolutely no reason to freeze something like this. Ok, done my rant ;-) I’ve been making my bolognese this way for years so it’s pretty fool proof. You can add crushed pepper if you like a pop of spice!!

You’ll Need:
4 carrots, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery pieces, diced
1/2 of a white onion, diced
1 package, ground beef (85/15)
5 plum tomatoes, diced (or a can of organic salt free diced tomatoes)
2T tomato paste
2 sprigs (stems removed) fresh rosemary
3T fresh parsley, chopped
Red wine, a splash (about 1 1/2T)
Olive oil, a swirl
S&P, a pinch

Make It:
Place a swirl of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Sautee until slightly soft (don’t brown!!!)

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Add the ground beef and cook through. Add the tomatoes, paste, herbs and wine splash. Let simmer on very low while you make the gnocchi.

Fixx Chocolate Bars: artisan chocolates

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The chocolate “Fixx” continues. High quality, small portions. I took a sample out of each of these luscious chocolate bars you see above and gave them a 10/10. Freshness is key. I hate spending money on Godiva some brand of chocolate that’s been in the stockroom than transferred to a shelf for weeks. The color and texture of chocolate are the quickest indicator of quality. As soon as I took these bars out of the box, I knew they were shipped right after being crafted. These artisan chocolates are the creation of the very passionate and talented Nicole Coady.

Here are the flavor details:

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My favorite are the “bud’s” it’s like an amplified, fancier Snickers bar and coated in dark chocolate.

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My 2nd favorite are the lulu’s!! Rich caramel, salty crunchy pretzels and sweet coconut. I love their chocolate-dipped packaging as well..so chic!

Check out Nicole’s goodies at http://www.fixxchocolates.com