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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

California Delicious Gift Baskets and Boxes - A Great Holiday Gift

This blog post contains sponsored links.

This is the kick off post for my holiday gift guide.  I want to start with the perfect gift for everyone.  

There is nothing more exciting for me than food.  I love to cook, but more importantly, I love to eat.  I can't say that I love anything more than trying new foods.  Even better is when I don't have to make them.  Although I do love to cook, sometimes a gift basket of snacks is just the best gift you could get.  Today I was gifted a California Delicious Golden State Gourmet Foods Gift Basket.  I was able to try out the 8 pound box.  

It has so many amazing goodies in it.  It was hard for me to stop and get pictures before eating it up.  It was also rather hard to fight off the family.  I did end up sharing it though. Small confession.  I opened these when only the 1 and 2 year olds were awake.  The other 6 were asleep.  That ended up with me not sharing too much.  Shhhhhh!

So, what was in this gift box?  

In this box I got to snack on:

Sonoma Cheese Straws

California Pistachios
Sonoma Jacks Parmesan Peppercorn Cheese Wedges
Almond Roca
Ghirardelli Creamy Milk and Caramel Chocolate Squares
Rustic Bakery Crackers
Chocolate chip cookies
California Dried Fruits and Nuts
Santa Barbara Pimento Martini Olives
Premium Chocolate Rolled Wafers
and Sparkling Apple Cider

I had never tried some of these snacks.  I had never heard of a cheese straw or Almond Roca before.  I had tried cheese wedges, but never the parmesan peppercorn wedges.  I guess I'm sheltered, or maybe I have just missed out on a huge piece of snack food heaven.  I'm not sure, but I was thrilled to open this California Delicious gift box!

The first thing I tried were the California Pistachios.  Well, I tried a few of them and lost them to my husband.  Ha ha ha ha!  He LOVES pistachios.  They were just amazing too.  There's something about pistachios where they MUST be in their shell before you eat them.  These were perfect.  

Next I tried the cheese straws.  As I said, I hadn't heard of these before, so I was kind of thinking they would be straw shaped.  I was wrong!  They are cute little cheese biscuits.  They were a little dry, but they had a lovely cheese flavor.  I thought at the end I noticed a spice.  My throat started to have just a tiny burn.  I checked the ingredients, and at the end was Cayenne Pepper, so I was right!  It's not spicy hot.  It just has a tiny bit of heat.  Come to find out, my 1 year old loves these.  I shared a few, but I might have to hide the rest.

As I'm eating the cheese straws, hubby decides to try out the olives.  He really liked them.  I'm not an olive fan.  Especially green olives, so I'll leave that for him.  However, he found them very good.  He did discover to not try the cheese straws when you still have the olive flavor in your mouth.  It wasn't a good mixture.  It was funny though.  

My next snack was the fruit and nut mixture.  Ok, so I'm in love with fruit and nut mixtures.  I even went and put it in my own little bowl to savor it... while giving part of it to my two littles who seem to love them too.  It was full of dried cranberries, raisins - golden seeded, pineapple, papaya, almonds, and my favorite of the surprises was the dried blueberries.  This was amazing and I could have easily eaten a pound of it.  

I then gave the chocolate chip cookies a try.  These are the crunchy type of chocolate chip cookie.  They are super sweet and perfect for that sweet craving.  It was a great little cookie snack and I love the tiny little chocolate chips in them.  There weren't too many, so I didn't get melted chocolate on me.  However, there were enough to have the chocolate flavor in the cookie.  Mmmmmmm.  

The chocolate rolled wafers and my favorite of the sweet snacks.  I've always had a place in my heart for these.  The box had 3 wafers.  The house was a little warm tonight, so the chocolate inside was melted and creamy.  The cookie wafer was crunchy and chocolaty.  I was sad as I was writing this because I had just been eating one.  I reached out and realized I had already eaten it.  **sad face**

The Ghirardelli chocolate and caramel candy.  What more can you say but that it is elegant.  I love the creamy chocolate and the delicious caramel inside.  I love to just let it mix in my mouth for that mixture of the perfect combination of flavors.  One of the best chocolate candies.

I got to the almond roca.  The box had 2 in it, and I pulled one out and opened the wrapper.  I chucked for a moment.  Inside that wrapper was another wrapper.  So, I opened that wrapper and saw something familiar!  I had tried these before!  It's a toffee candy covered in chocolate and crushed nuts.  These are wonderful if you like toffee.  I'm a big toffee fan.  Covering it in chocolate and nuts is just icing on the cake.  

The parmesan peppercorn cheese and sourdough crackers.  I'm going to do these together because, well, cheese and crackers.  They must go together.  The cheese is the soft style spreadable cheese.  It is very mild in flavor, but has a lovely parmesan flavor that I can definitely find easily.  The peppercorn gives it just a little of that peppery kick of flavor that match perfectly with one another.  The crackers are great.  They are hard crunchy flat bread pieces.  Some are still together in the sheet of bread, unbroken from their original baked form.  My husband didn't care much for them, but I actually preferred to just snack on them like little crackers or bread "chips".  

The last is the Organic Sparkling Apple Cider.  Unfortunately for me I loved this a little too much.  It was delicious, and I'm going to have to start buying this or finding a way to replicate it.  It was like fresh apple cider, only carbonated.  It was my absolute favorite of the entire basket.  Seriously, it was just delicious.  

It has a pop cap, so you will need a bottle opener.

If you can't finish it, or want to keep some for later, it has a plastic resealable cap over the pop cap.  That way it keep it fresh and ready for next time.  It was hard to take off again, so I just used a bottle opener again and popped it right off.

I really did enjoy this gift basket.  It was full of sweet and salty.  It's a perfect gift for friends, family, employees, teachers, or anyone that loves to try a variety of foods.

You can find this California Delicious Golden State Gourmet Foods Gift Basket on Amazon by clicking the name or at their website at California Delicious.

I received this gift basket in exchange for my review.  All thoughts and experiences were my own (as well as the help of my family for optional opinions).  

Friday, October 16, 2015

12 Hole Ocarina Legend of Zelda by Ocarinawind

This post contains sponsored links.

My daughters love Zelda.  With this love, they have found that the Ocarina makes some beautiful music.  They have several ocarinas, but we were able to try out an alto 12 Hole Ocarina Legend of Zelda Triforce replica.

This is a very nice 12 hole ocarina.  The ocarina itself feels strong and the ceramic is thick and smooth.  It is a great replica of the Zelda Triforce ocarina.  It comes with a song book and finger chart, a heavy nylon case, and a carry strap/string that attaches to the ocarina for easy carrying and safety when playing it in the situation that it might be dropped.  It's nice to have the book to get started with some songs, but it would be nice if the song book had more songs.

The ocarina overall has a nice sound to it.  It is a little airy on the high notes, but the lower notes sound really good.  The 4 highest notes are the ones that are the most airy sounding.  If you want to play the higher notes where it isn't quite as airy you will need to tip it pretty far as you play it.  The very lowest note is hard to play.  The secondary hole is hard to cover up with the main hole due to the positioning of the two holes.  I'll include that in the pictures.

You can hear the sound quality in the video.

The color is beautiful.  It's a prettier color than in the pictures and I was very surprised at that.  I think this is a great beginner or intermediate alto ocarina.

You can find this Ocarinawind 12 Hole Zelda Ocarina HERE on Amazon.  It's also a great price at $24.95.  If you price out other ocarinas, you'll see what a deal it is.

I received this free in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sometimes I get a dud, or two.

I generally only post here my reviews of products that I like.  However, sometimes it's good to show that I don't always like everything I get.  Well, I'm can't say I didn't like it.  I was sorely disappointed in these toys. 

I was able to test and review an electronic airplane and car.  My kids saw these and were absolutely thrilled. We put batteries in.  I got my camera out so I could do a video of both.  I added a short clip from both.

The airplane came disassembled.  I quickly put the wing and tail piece in.    We put it on the floor and got this video. 

My 7 year old son was stoked because he has ALWAYS loved planes.  He wants to be a pilot and wants to own a plane.  

We then got the car out.  It's so cute an makes noise and music.  When it runs into something it turns and goes another direction.  My 4 year old son loves it.  He was so happy.  

Within about 10 minutes of unblocking these, they broke. The front wheel fell apart of the plane.  That rendered it unusable.  

The car's spoiler broke off.  The car is still able to be used, but it's still broken.  All within less than an hour of unboxing them.  

Overall, I'm sad and disappointed in these toys. They're from the same seller an are the same quality.  It's definitely something I wouldn't recommend.  

I received these both free in exchange for my honest review.  All experiences and thoughts are my own. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pork Stew Recipe

This isn't a review, but I wanted to share one of my recipes I love to cook for my family.

When I cook in my slow cooker, I like to just throw it all together. I would rather let the crockpot do the cooking for me. Here's my recipe for pork stew, using raw pork, instead of browning it first. 

Pork Stew

5 lb pork steak, cubed
5 small-medium potatoes, cubed
2 large carrots, quartered and cut in 1 inch pieces
1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 cup frozen (or 1 can) peas
1 cup frozen (or 1 can) corn
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2-1 tsp Mrs Dash
1 bay leaf
2 cups water

Cube raw pork steak. Put in bottom of crockpot. Sprinkle with 1/2 Tbsp salt, and pepper. Mix well. Add 1/4 cup flour to pork. Stir until pork is covered with flour. Add bay leaf. 

Add potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes on top of pork. Season with other 1/2 Tbsp salt, thyme, Mrs Dash, and Worcestershire sauce, and water. 

Cover and cook Low 6-8 hours, or High 3-4 hours until meat and vegetables are tender. 

When stew is finished, add 1 cup of frozen peas and 1 cup of frozen corn (or 1 can each - drained). 

** I will stir the stew once at about 2 hours. That way the meat can be broken apart (as it sticks together), and all the vegetables are able to be submerged in the liquid. ** 

Originally posted on my recipe blog Soup Spoons and Grease Fires.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CoCoZia 100% Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil

This post contains sponsored links. 

I've been using CoCoZia coconut oil for about a week.  I use coconut oil a lot, but I've never used a cold pressed coconut oil.  I know.  Shame on me.  

So, this is so unlike any coconut oil I've used.  It smells and tastes just like coconut.  It's like you opened up a can or bag of coconut flakes.  It's how I thought coconut oil should taste, but it never did. 

There are a few uses I have for coconut oil.  I make my own toothpaste.  I oil pull (swish in my mouth for 10-20 minutes to detox).  I cook with it.  This is just amazing in Asian foods.  

This time, I'm doing a basic lip oil.  I sell kettle corn as a part time job.  We work festivals during the summer and fall.  Last weekend was our biggest festival.  I didn't have a chance to eat or drink until evening for 2 days.  Unfortunately this caused my lips to get very chapped. Due to this, I'm making my "lip balm".  

The oil will solidify again when cool, so you want to keep it in your pocket, or hold it for a few minutes to melt it since it melts at body temperature.  

I add just 2-3 tablespoons of CoCoZia coconut oil to my pot, along with 1/2 tsp lavender flowers.  I out on a very low heat to infuse the lavender into the oil.  I strain the flowers and pour the oil into my vials using a little funnel.  I have 3 different sizes depending on what size you want.  They also make great personal gifts. 

You can do any flavor that you want, as long as it goes with coconut.  Vanilla, lavender, pineapple, peppermint... The list goes on.  

The coconut oil I so good for your skin.  It's my go to for all ailments.  

You can find CoCoZia 100% Organic and Cold Pressed oil HERE on Amazon. 

I received this free in exchange for my review. All thought an experiences re my own.  I welcome all comments about your own experiences. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A new blog site to get you started

As a product review blogger, I am on a lot of blogging sites.  There is a new product review site that I am looking into.  It's called Reviewsio.

It's new, so there's a great chance of getting products.  However, I can't really say much more about it, as I'm new to the site as well.  If you are interested in joining, click HERE and start up today.