Learning from Others

Winners of More Than Alive Giveaway!

The two randomly selected winners of the giveaway hosted by More Than Alive are:

Lindsey and Pamela (kids4jesus)

I'll be sending both of you an email with instructions for claiming your gift of either coffee beans, herbal tea, or a silk scarf! :)

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway! :)

Giveaway from MoreThanAlive.com: Tea, coffee, and silk scarves!

Cane creek coffee

I spent the weekend relaxing with the family at my brother's house in Eastern Washington. What a fun mini-vacation! But, Monday morning's here and it's time to get busy -- starting with a giveaway from MoreThanAlive.com!

Many of you probably remember MoreThanAlive, the Christian company where we purchased our Berkey water filter a few years ago. They keep adding new products and contacted me recently about hosting another giveaway and discount code!

The giveaway (2 winners):

Your choice of a pound of cane creek coffee (any kind), a pound of herbal tea (any kind), or a beautiful silk scarf (any color)!

To be entered in the giveaway, please log in and then leave a comment on this post saying you'd like to be entered. (No need to leave your email address in the comment, since I can see the one on your account.) The drawing is open today (Monday, September 13) through Friday, September 17, 2010. Two winners will be randomly selected and posted on Monday, September 20.

The discount code: Get 10% off any order by using this code at checkout: TX2Q4 If you've been waiting to purchase a Berkey water filter, this discount will give you $20+ off your purchase price! :)

Full Disclosure, as always: After purchasing our Berkey water filter and being thrilled with its performance, I signed up as an affiliate with More Than Alive. If you purchase from them using my links, I receive a commission on sales. The discount code is valid with or without using my links. I've received no other compensation for this giveaway. :)

Tibbe Line Winners!

The two random winners of the Tibbe Line portable clothes line giveaway are:
Sierra Mama
Mom to 9
Congratulations to you both! And thank you, everyone, for your enthusiasm and participation in the Tibbe Line giveaway! :)
For laundry tips and inspiration, see these related blog posts. :) If you've blogged about your clothesline, I'd love to see! Leave me a link in the comments section! :)

Tibbe Line Giveaway This Week!

Tibbe Line on my clothesline

I love hanging my laundry outside to dry! :) A couple years ago I was contacted by Rose, the inventor of a gadget she calls the Tibbe Line. The Tibbe Line is a clothesline attachment that allows a lot of clothes to dry in a small area, on hangers. Rose sent me one to test, and it's so useful! I've been using mine for over 2 years now.

When I had a big clothes line at our house in Ohio, the Tibbe Line was handy for some things but not necessary for successful line drying. (The pictures in this post were taken back when I first got the Tibbe Line, in Ohio.)

Tibbe Line on my clothesline

However, about 6 months after I got the Tibbe Line, we left our house with a yard and big clothesline, and moved to an apartment here in Washington. Now that my clothesline space is a premium, the Tibbe Line substantially increases my line drying capabilities! You can see pictures of my apartment clothesline here.

I use the Tibbe Line all the time, so I asked Rose about hosting a giveaway. She graciously agreed, and is offering two Tibbe Line sets for me to give away here!

Check out Rose's video about the Tibbe Line, and if this interests you, scroll down to enter the giveaway! :)

To be entered in the giveaway, please log in and then leave a comment on this post saying you'd like to be entered. (No need to leave your email address in the comment, since I can see the one on your account.) The drawing is open today (Monday, August 16) through Friday, August 20, 2010. Two winners will be randomly selected and posted on Monday, August 23.

Full Disclosure, as always: I received a Tibbe Line in exchange for an ad on my sidebar in 2008. I have not and will not receive any other gain, financial or otherwise, from this Tibbe Line giveaway or sales. The opinions presented are completely my own. Happy Line Drying! :)

Any questions about the Tibbe Line? Ask me in a comment! :)

Deluxe Chocolate Frosting (and links to share)

Deluxe chocolate cake and frosting

I've had this Deluxe Chocolate Cake recipe on here for years now, and just never got the frosting recipe typed. Until now. :) I don't have new photos, but you'll just have to make this Deluxe Chocolate Frosting and see if you agree with me that it's the best, creamiest, fluffiest chocolate frosting ever! And it uses butter, not shortening! That makes it healthy, right? ;) I've had some real flops when it comes to chocolate frosting, and I love that this recipe makes great frosting instead of leaving my two-layer cake looking like a volcano that just erupted. ;)

Joshua took the three oldest children out today and I'm staying home with Moshe, catching up on website-related loose ends. Have you noticed how many new recipes I've been adding lately?! Joshua has been taking care of the kids for several hours on the weekends while I've been typing blog posts and adding recipes. I could never "keep up" without his help! :)

How do you organize your online recipe links?

I usually just bookmark recipes I want to try, and then when I get a chance I go through and print my bookmarked recipes. I really prefer having things printed out on paper! :) If the recipe ends up being good, I stick the paper in my recipe box. :)

If you're a logged in user on this website, we have a "recipe box" bookmarking feature. Each recipe has an option of adding it to "Your Recipe Box" so you can easily access recipes you're interested in here! :)

Here are a few things I've bookmarked from other sites recently:

Gretchen's Banana Mocha  --her banana-sweetened version of our mocha frappuccino

Pineapple-Mango Grilled Salmon --I may try this recipe from Shaina when I get brave enough to buy a mango again! I just need to learn how to dice a mango. :)

Grilled Squash with Dill and Feta --As usual, Nicole has something I feel compelled to make myself! For some reason, almost all of her recipes tempt me. And a lot of them are desserts. :P

Zucchini-Crust Pizza -- this recipe from Gina looks so good and it's healthy! Pizza that's healthy! I'll blog about it when I try it, which will hopefully be as soon as the weather cools down and zucchini is on sale. :)

Carrie wrote a post about some of her favorite recipes from this site. I feel so honored! :) My favorite part about cooking for others is seeing them ENJOY my food! I always say a cook's best compliment is when the dinner table is quiet... completely quiet as everyone enjoys their food! (And with how noisy our kids are, when that dinner time quiet happens it is bliss!) :)

CheesecakeMoat Winners!

CheesecakeMoat Logo

Thank you all for your interest in the CheesecakeMoat giveaway and New York Cheesecake recipe! :)

The makers of the CheesecakeMoat contacted me late last week and said they'd like to send a CheesecakeMoat to two winners rather than just one, so I am delighted to be able to randomly select two of the entries!

The winners of the CheesecakeMoats are:

Rosella and Katy!

I always have mixed feelings when it comes to giveaways, since I love seeing readers get free stuff to try but wish I could make everyone a winner! :) And I, myself, rarely enter giveaways on other blogs simply because I feel the time it takes to enter probably wouldn't be worth the return.

What do you think, dear readers? Do you enter lots of giveaways, a few, or none? Do you like seeing an occasional giveaway here, or do they not interest you? :)

Perfect New York Cheesecake: CheesecakeMoat review and Chef Rosen's recipe

This cheesecake is amazing. Dense and creamy, with a rich vanilla cream cheese flavor. A crust, plus 5 ingredients. Slow-baked for 3 hours. Easier than -- and yet just as good as -- any of our previous cheesecake recipes. Long-time readers know about our infatuation with cheesecakes, as both Joshua and I have created original cheesecake recipes and regularly bake cheesecakes for all occasions!

When Chef Corky Rosen contacted me and asked if Joshua and I would like to try his invention called a "CheesecakeMoat", I jumped at the opportunity! The CheesecakeMoat was designed to make waterbaths easy, and the photos on their website are stunning! (And watching their video demo of the CheesecakeMoat was pretty impressive, despite the over-emphasized leaky springform pan demo!) I wondered if it was truly that easy to make such a perfect, fantastic-looking cheesecake.

Cheesecake batter and CheesecakeMoat, ready to be baked

Our CheesecakeMoat arrived in the mail, and we got busy testing it. We started with the recipe included and were honestly amazed at the result! The cheesecake was firm and creamy, and picture-perfect -- just like the photos on the CheesecakeMoat website! The crust recipe turned out soggy for us, so in future tests we used one of our own crust recipes, using less butter and pre-baking the crust for a few minutes.

Finished cheesecake

The resulting cheesecake was perfect. And that is not an understatement! Not only were Joshua and I extremely impressed, but our guests were raving over the amazing cheesecake with compliments like "best ever" and "even better than Cheesecake Factory"!

But the real question: Is this amazing cheesecake a result of Chef Rosen's recipe or his invention, the CheesecakeMoat? Time for lots more cheesecake (and guests to help us eat it all!) as we thoroughly tested the recipe with and without the CheesecakeMoat. (And thankfully, I was buying cream cheese at Costco: 3 pounds for $5.35 which makes one huge cheesecake!)

Our conclusion? The recipe is really good. It will make a stellar cheesecake with or without the CheesecakeMoat. But it will make the BEST cheesecake when using the CheesecakeMoat.

Now, you know I am honest in my reviews. In fact, I rarely accept products for review, opting instead to review things we researched, purchased ourselves, and love.

So the real question (#2) is: Would I recommend the CheesecakeMoat?

Here is what I love about the CheesecakeMoat:

Waterbaths made easy! It doesn't really do a true cheesecake waterbath, as there is space (air) between the pans (as shown in my photos), but for the Chef Rosen's recipe, this semi-water-bath seems to be quite sufficient.

(By the way this New York Cheesecake can easily be flavored, colored, or topped however you like and is a good all-around cheesecake base recipe. It's fast and simple to prepare; you just need to be home to take it out of the oven after 3 hours.)

Perfect cheesecake every time. Seriously. Using Chef Rosen's recipe (which I did modify slightly) and his CheesecakeMoat will produce a fabulous cheesecake, even for newbies.

Made in the USA.

Here's what I don't love:

Size for storage. The CheesecakeMoat is fairly big: about 14.5 inches in diameter. If you rarely make cheesecakes and have a small kitchen, this won't be worth the storage space it takes, as it is really a single-purpose item.

The price. Depending on your budget and your love for cheesecake (and your cheesecake-making skills), $30 can be too much.

But, I do want to put that $30 into perspective. The Cheesecake Factory's 10-inch original cheesecake sells for $42. (Go to that link to see what theirs looks like!) For the price of a CheesecakeMoat and the ingredients to make a Slow-Baked New York Cheesecake (I shop at Costco), I can make my own 10-inch New York Cheesecake that is just as good! And then I have the CheesecakeMoat, to continue making great cheesecakes.

Cheesecake after being sliced with dental floss
Every slice: picture-perfect!

I know many of you don't have funds to splurge on Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, even for a special occasion. But we have been asked, many times, to make a cheesecake to sell. We usually decline, but with the superiority of this recipe and the ease of the CheesecakeMoat, I may be accepting more offers!

If you've ever wanted to make a great cheesecake but were afraid to try (or had failures), if you're married to someone who loves a good cheesecake, or you want to make cheesecakes to sell, or you need a gift for a cheesecake-loving friend -- I recommend the CheesecakeMoat! (If you can't afford the CheesecakeMoat, then I still recommend this recipe. YOU CAN make an awesome cheesecake!)

In exchange for reviewing the CheesecakeMoat, Chef Rosen is sponsoring a giveaway of a CheesecakeMoat to one of my readers here! This is your opportunity to win a free CheesecakeMoat and enjoy making cheesecakes like the ones in my photos!

To be entered in the drawing, please log in and then leave a comment on this post saying you'd like to be entered. (No need to leave your email address in the comment, since I can see the one on your account.) The drawing is open today (Monday, July 26) through Friday, July 30 2010. A winner will be randomly selected and posted on Monday, August 2.

Any questions about the CheesecakeMoat? Ask me in a comment! :)

Full Disclosure, as always: I received a CheesecakeMoat for review purposes. I have not and will not receive any other gain, financial or otherwise, from this CheesecakeMoat review or sales. The opinions presented are completely my own. Happy Cheesecake-Making! :)

(And a huge THANK YOU to Chef Rosen for allowing me to test the CheesecakeMoat and for sharing his great recipe!)

Ruth (2) wants cheesecake...

P.S. Remember this picture? :) That's Ruth (2) with a slice of this Slow-Baked New York Cheesecake! :)

Deal blogs and mailbox freebies

Since our diet is 95% made from "plain" foods like meats, fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, butter, oatmeal, nuts, ingredients for homemade bread, etc. I find that the best way for us to grocery shop (right now) is to make a quick Costco trip (during low-traffic, ideally) and visit other stores only rarely, for special ingredients.

We actually save a lot by NOT shopping at a variety of stores, because we would be so tempted to get specialty items for new recipes, all the time!! ;) And somehow shopping at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer, or Target always finds us leaving the store with more than just food. I'm so glad those stores are further from our house and not a temptation! :)

I don't usually follow deal blogs, due to both time constraints and not needing/using the majority of the great deals.

One exception, however, is my friend Crystal's blog, Money Saving Mom. She posts only the best deals and freebies. I almost always go for the freebies that come in the mail. No gas, and only a minute to sign up? That's worth it to me! :)

Joshua brought in the mail today and a fun box from Kraft was here. I finally remembered that I had signed up for this cool little package by becoming a fan of Kraft on Facebook a couple weeks ago. Even though this is more processed than our usual fare, a special treat in the mailbox for free sure is fun!! :)

What are your favorite deal blogs? (Or maybe you have your own; if so, tell me where!) How do you decide which deals to go after?

New breakfast favorite (or healthy dessert!): Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal

I think with the birth of each of my four children, my everyday cooking has stepped up to a new level of "easy". I still love to cook, but with little helpers providing "help" and the many interruptions all day long, I have to stay sane!

...which is why I'm so excited about sharing this recipe for Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal with you! With only 8 ingredients, most of which I usually keep on hand, this recipe can be made any day of the week. With only 5-10 minutes of prep time. And my whole family loves it!

Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal

This baked oatmeal recipe is my adaptation of Kristin's Baked Apple Pie Oatmeal. Kristin created her recipe and it is really super good so be sure to go see hers! I only made a couple small changes to the ingredient list, and simplified the directions to make this even easier than it already was!

Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal

It's so good, my little family can gobble down the whole 9x13 for dessert. After eating a big dinner. (And then the boys are hungry 2 hours later...)

Wait, dessert? Yes, dessert! Aside from serving with milk as a breakfast, this baked oatmeal is even better (in our opinion) served hot with freshly whipped cream as a dessert!

Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal

Because... I don't get many desserts made these days. We don't need the extra calories or sugar, so I don't usually take the time to make dessert unless company is coming.

Or unless it's the 5-10 minutes required to make this Easy Baked Apple Oatmeal with some whipped cream. Even Joshua was surprised when he took his first bite of this new "dessert" I was serving; it's really, really good!

Thank you so much, Kristin, for sharing your original recipe! :)

Save 25% on Berkey water filters (limited time promotion)

Very shortly after running the 10% discount promotion for Berkey water filters here on my blog, I found out about a way to save even more on the purchase of a new Berkey system!

If you've been considering getting a Berkey, this is probably the BEST deal you will ever find on a new one! Go to More Than Alive for details!

By purchasing a $20 book, you will receive a 25% off coupon code for More Than Alive, where you can purchase a Berkey.

We just ordered a Royal Berkey as a wedding gift for a family member, and here is how this promotion worked for us:

Purchased book for $19.95 (used gift cards for Amazon.com earned through SwagBucks)

Got coupon code for purchasing the book and then placed an order for the Royal Berkey at More Than Alive:

Royal Berkeys are $275 (with free shipping and a free gift)
-minus 25% ($68.75 off)
Order total: $206

Subtracting the cost of buying the book, we still saved almost $50, or 15%, which is a bit more than the 10% discount from the past!

This promotion is limited to books purchased today and tomorrow (May 12 and 13), and the coupon code expires on May 17. Visit More Than Alive for the complete details!

I don't get any affiliate earnings for purchases made through this promotion; I just wanted to let you all know about it since if you have been considering a Berkey purchase, this is an excellent deal! :)

(Update from 2012: Prices may have changed since this post. More Than Alive also no longer offers a free gift with Berkey purchases.)


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