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Archive for January, 2011

Oh, Monday.

I am not your fan today. I have too much to do, too little time, and am still exhausted from this weekend.

But I did have a great breakfast, and I’ve got some good coffee. I guess I’m good to go.

This weekend, Nick’s parents came up to help us get some projects done in our old house. Thankfully, we had great weather and we got everything done.

However – Maggie made things a bit more difficult.

On Saturday, we left the dogs gated downstairs while we ran to get a quick lunch. When we got back from lunch, we found Maggie UPstairs and little white paw prints all over the dining room from where she had run through some paint.  Thankfully, we got all the paint cleaned up off the floors.

Then on Sunday, Nick and I went back to the house to get the last of the stuff out and clean up, and Maggie decided to throw up a few times in the house. Maybe she just wanted to do that one more time in the old house? I don’t know. I don’t understand her sometimes.

I wore one kind of cute outfit last week that I actually documented!

 

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Top: GAP Outlet. Sweater: GAP Outlet. Jeans: Kohls? IMG_1275

Boots: Tractor Supply Smile They’re my cowgirl boots.

I had plans to wear this same top + sweater with my dark skinny jeans and flats (which would have looked SO much cuter since the tops were baggier) but, it was freezing cold and snowing on Friday. So, boots it was!

 

The winners of the Angell Bars!

Comment #115:

Lauren

I would love to try the dark angel.

AND to Comment #101:

Jenny

my all time favorite chocolate treat = reeses PB cups. Go figure ;)

 

Congrats girls! Email me at branappetit [at] gmail and your bars will be on their way.

 

And for another fun Monday surprise, I haven’t heard from my CSN $100 Giftcard winner from last week, so I’m picking a new one!

New Winner!

jc

i absolutely need a new food processor! hoping for a bigger size

 

Congrats! Please email me at branappetit [at] gmail and I’ll send you the CSN giftcode.

 

 

How was your weekend?

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Happy Friday! So nice to be starting the weekend, right?

We have family coming to visit and help out with some projects in our old house – it’ll be a good amount of work, but it should be fun.

Plus, they’re bringing their dog so Maggie will be in puppy heaven. She loves having other dogs to play with.

I was planning on having another new recipe for you today, but I’ve actually had a few mishaps in the kitchen.

And as for my fashion revolution, I haven’t had anything to show yet this week since I’ve worked from home 3 days! But today’s might be good enough to photograph for later.

Here are my favorite things this week in food:

1. Grilled Banana + Nutella Sandwiches.

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2. Lunches this week? A quinoa, roasted kabocha squash, and chickpea salad with smoked paprika, garlic, onion, and olive oil.

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A few days, I had this over spinach, but yesterday, I added some green beans and a dollop of hummus. I’m having this same dish for lunch today, too.

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3. Coconut Water Vinegar from Tropical Traditions.

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Tropical Traditions sent this to me to sample, and I am in love! It doesn’t have a super strong coconut smell or taste, but the subtle coconut essence is there. It is delicious in salad dressings, and I made a killer tofu (killer tofu! Do you remember the Beets song on Doug?) marinade the other night with this vinegar.

4. Fun new foodie things to try + review!

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PS: There are more giveaways coming soon!

5. New recipes I’m dying to make:

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Evan’s Snickerdoodle Hummus

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Jessica’s Cake Batter Pancakes

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Kristin’s Bruschetta Chicken Pasta – this will be such a great summer dish!

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Mama Pea’s Moroccan Millet Bake

 

Oh, and I still haven’t had my hair cut. I look like a mess. Every day. Guess I should get that fixed soon.

Happy Happy Friday!!!

 

What are YOUR food favorites this week? Any new recipes on your radar?

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I’m not sure what it is, but I am obsessed with coconut right now.

Maybe all this winter weather is simply too much for me, and, in response, I’m making things that remind me of the light and airy days of summer.

Whatever the reason, I’m okay with it.

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First there was the Banana Pina Colada Muffins. Then German Chocolate Cupcakes.

And now…something I’m calling German Chocolate Cookie Bars.

But I guess they could also be called “I made too much German Chocolate icing and need something else to use it in” bars. Or “those cupcakes disappeared too quickly and we need a new sweet treat in the house” bars.

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Even if you don’t have a good reason to make these, do it anyway. You won’t regret it.

 

German Chocolate Cookie Bars

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Icing (see this post for icing directions):

  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 –1 cup pecans

Chocolate Topping:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

 

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Cream Earth Balance/butter and sugar.

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Beat in flour, vanilla, and salt.

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The crust will be ready when the mixture is combined but still crumbly and when it clumps up when you press it together (like above).

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Dump crust into 8×8 baking dish and press into an even layer.

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Bake crust at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until set and golden around the edges. Let the crust cool completely.

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Once the crust is cool to the touch, spread on your cooled icing into an even layer on the crust.

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To make the chocolate topping, put your dark chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 minute, stirring every 20-30 seconds or until chocolate is melted and smooth.

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Dump chocolate on top of icing and smooth out, covering the entire dish.

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Let sit at room temperature until chocolate layer is set.

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I cut these into 16 pieces (from an 8×8 dish), and I’m glad I didn’t cut them any bigger!

These bars are delicious, but very rich, thanks to the coconut icing.

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But the richness didn’t stop me from having two of them right away.

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It’s your lucky day!

Remember the Angell Bars I reviewed last week?

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Now you have 2 chances to win your own!

Angell Bars is offering 2 sample packs (each pack contains 1 of each bar + some stickers) so you can try the bars yourself.

To Enter:

  • Leave a comment telling me which flavor you’re most excited to try

For an additional entry:

  • Tell me YOUR all time favorite chocolate treat – it can be anything!

Good luck!

I’ll be choosing the winners Monday morning!

This contest is only open to US residents.

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Three years ago, I made my first layer cake.

To be honest, it was horrible.

The cake itself tasted good (it was a box mix and canned icing, so at least I didn’t mess that up), but it was uneven and the top kept sliding off and I didn’t have an actual cake stand so my upside-down bowl crushed the icing from the sides of the cake.

Thankfully, Nick didn’t really care what it looked like after the first night, and we ate it anyways.

The sad part? That sad, sloppy cake was his birthday cake that year.

I knew I had to make it up at some point. And I think these cupcakes did just that.

See, Nick loves German Chocolate Cake. And so do I! The rich coconut and pecan icing and delicate chocolate cake is one of my favorite combinations.

And while I DO have a real cake stand now, I wanted to try my hand at my own recipe for the cake and icing. Since I was already taking a risk making up a healthier recipe, I didn’t want to chance having another ugly layer cake.

So cupcakes it was!IMG_1112

If you would have told me last year that I would be making up my own vegan recipes, I would never have believed you.

And if you would have told me that not only would my husband love these cupcakes (and not know they were whole wheat and vegan) but also that I could fool coworkers – I might have laughed in your face.

But thank goodness I went through with it. Because these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made – no comparison.

German Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan!)

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 –1 cup pecans

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In large bowl, mix almond milk with vinegar and let sit 5 minutes or until milk has “curdled”.

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Whisk sugar, oil, and vanilla into milk mixture until some bubbles stay on top of the mixture.

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Whisk in the cocoa, then whisk in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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Once the mixture is smooth, pour into cupcake liners or a sprayed muffin tin, filling each one about 3/4 of the way.

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Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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While the cupcakes are baking, heat the almond milk, sugar, and Earth Balance on the stove top until it comes to a boil.

In separate bowl/dish, mix cornstarch and water together.

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Once milk mixture comes to a boil, put 1-2 spoonfuls into the cornstarch mixture and stir together.

Add cornstarch mixture back to milk/sugar and stir.

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Bring mixture back to a boil until thickened. Take off the heat.

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Stir in the vanilla, coconut and pecans, and let sit to cool.

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Once the cupcakes and icing have cooled, dollop a spoonful of the icing on each cupcake and smooth out to the edges.

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Serve to your family who think they don’t like anything “whole wheat”.

Give some to your friends who freak out when they hear the word “vegan”.

Then just sit back, relax, and watch their reactions.

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And make sure to not tell them that these cupcakes are actually pretty healthy, whole wheat, and vegan until after they’ve had a few.

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It’s more fun that way.

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Happy Monday morning Smile I had some crazy dreams last night, which is always a fun way to start the day. I remember something about traveling, finding a Baby Sitters Club soap set (thought of you Heather!) and hanging out with Mama Pea?

I’m definitely sad that the weekend is over, but I think this week is going to be a good one!

Before I get to announcing the winner, I also want to do a review of some Le Creuset Bake Ware I got from CSN a few weeks ago.

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I actually got these in the mail the week we moved into our new house, but after getting settled and getting through the holidays, it took me a while to get back to cooking and baking in our new kitchen and I wanted to do a full review.

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As a Preferred Blogger with CSN, I’ve had the opportunity to hold awesome giveaways for YOU, as well as review products from their stores.

And this review has definitely been my favorite.

Le Creuset is something special for me. It’s not just because of the fabulous colors and shapes; it’s the history in the products. I see chefs on tv using Le Creuset and know there must be something great about them, but, until now, I had never been able to have any on my own.

But thanks to CSN, I found some great Le Creuset bakeware on sale and received a few pieces to try out and review!

And I am officially a Le Creuset convert.

The pitcher is one of my favorite pieces – it holds the perfect amount of iced tea when you have guests and would also be great to use for juice for brunches. And while it is a heavier piece, it’s not so heavy that you can’t lift it – it just feels sturdy, which I like.

As for the actual baking dishes, I love them all. I love the colors, I love the smooth coated ceramic that keeps things from sticking, and I love that they’re freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe (something that I can worry about now!).

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The first thing I made in one of the baking dishes (in the Dijon color) was for Nick. He loves those Magic Cookie Bars – aka, not good for you at ALL – and since it was still within the “holiday season”, I made them for him and he enjoyed every one ; )

And you’ve seen one picture of my other latest recipe success – but you’ll have to wait until later this week for the recipe. But they turned out great in this deep purple dish.

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Regardless of what I made in these dishes, I have a feeling I’m going to love everything. Both desserts came out perfect, and I used the stock pot to make popcorn on the stove top the other night – fun!

All in all, I absolutely love every piece and I can’t wait to buy more to add to my collection.

 

But I guess this isn’t what you showed up for this morning : )

 

So…

The WINNER of the $100 CSN Gift Card is…

 

Lynda Del

I would get the Cuisinart Panini/Sandwich Maker for sure.

Congrats! Please send me an email (branappetit [at] gmail) and I’ll get your gift code to you!

 

And thanks to everyone who entered : ) I got SO many great new recipe ideas and challenges from you and I’m excited to get busy in the kitchen.

 

How was your weekend? Any strange dreams you’ve had lately?

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Best Week Ever, 1.22.11

Ready for this week’s recap?

It’s my best week ever, 1.22.11!

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So…I really need a haircut. Like, really badly. My bangs annoy me all day long and it’s past time for a trim.

I tried calling my hair place about 20 times last week, and no one answered the phone.

Then yesterday, I called again and the “phone number has been disconnected”. Crap. That can’t be good.

I hate having to find new hairstylists! I’ve got to go  by there and see what’s going on. Otherwise…my fashion pictures will only be from the neck down for a while.

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My style revolution is going well!

Yesterday’s outfit: Fridays = I can wear jeans to work.

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Jeans: Converse brand from Target. Tank: Marshall’s, bought 2 years ago (?) and worn for the first time two weeks ago. Cardigan: Christmas gift from my parents. Necklace: Christmas gift from Nick!

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Pumps: Sofft brand from JCP, last year.

And today’s outfit! This is the first time – in a long time – that I’m not just in jeans and a tshirt or sweatshirt on a Saturday.

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Sweater: Gap Outlet, $12.99!. Skinny Jeans: Arizona brand, JCP. Leopard flats: Red Camel.

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You can see that we’re still working on some of the rooms in the house – Nick’s working on fixing that bed to actually fit the mattress we have for it. And this room is the ONLY room in the house that has a full sized mirror! We need to fix that.

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I have some awesome recipes to share – they’ll be coming this week!

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This afternoon, we’re going to a baby shower/party for two of our really good friends and I’m so excited to go. It’s going to be so much fun and she’s my foodie friend, so I can’t wait to see what’s for lunch ; )

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I got an awesome foodie gift box from Allison this week, and it made my day! She is super – if you don’t read her blog, you should. She’s hilarious and loves her dogs as much as we love Maggie.

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There are some more fun reviews + giveaway in the works, so stay tuned!

 

Happy Saturday! Here’s hoping you’re having your best week ever Smile

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Angell Bars: Eat No Evil

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I’d like to try some organic candy bars that are a little better for you than run-of-the-mill checkout-line confections. Plus, they’re made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients, making them better for everyone involved.

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I’m pretty sure I answered that email in less than 10 seconds, and just a few weeks later, those bars were delivered to my doorstep.

Every one loves a candy bar sometimes, right? This company knows that and have done what they can to create a bar that satisfies that craving while taking care to responsibly use the ingredients needed.

From their website:

…we know that energy bars and gourmet chocolate bars have their place. In fact, we enjoy them ourselves. But sometimes, what you really want is a candy bar. A good old-fashioned candy bar, with chocolate and chew and crunch and all those things that make candy bars so great. But you DON’T have to have a candy bar loaded with corn syrup and made from GMO ingredients, grown with petroleum fertilizers and harsh pesticides. You don’t have to buy chocolate that may have been farmed by child- and slave labor. You CAN have a candy bar that tastes good and that you can feel good about eating. You can have an Angell bar.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m more than okay leaving out HFCS and genetically modified ingredients.

Angell Bars sent me their 3 bars to try and review, and (as always), these opinions are my own. (I did receive the bars for free, but I am not being compensated in any way to give a good review.)

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The Dark Angell bar is a mix of rich, dark chocolate with a creamy center and crunchy almonds. It’s also vegan and really good.

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The other two didn’t get close-up pictures because I was too busy eating them – oops!

The milk chocolate Crisp one (which is also gluten free) was actually really good! I’m normally a dark chocolate person, but this one wasn’t too sweet and I loved the crisps in the bar.

And while I normally think of myself as a total chocolate person, I actually think I liked the Snow Angell bar the best. This one was a creamy coconut center, wrapped in white chocolate, and nut free.

I loved the coconut richness with the sweet white chocolate – delicious!

While Angell Bars aren’t available in every single store yet, you can find out if they’re near you on their website – you can also order them online.

 

What’s your favorite candy bar? Have you found a healthier alternative?

Don’t forget to enter my CSN giveaway! I’m choosing a winner on Monday, so get your entries in!

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Style Inspiration

After seeing Amanda’s and Janetha’s fashion posts lately,  I decided I needed some motivation, too.

My job includes 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer, every day. And, because of this, I often go for comfort over cuteness. I never wear sweats to work, but I don’t always pull out my fun and cute work clothes or heels even though I have plenty.

Well – it’s been long enough. I don’t want all my cute stuff to just sit in my closet, unused!

In fact, this weekend, I started my own style revolution.

I wore heels to church.

Yup. For the first time in months (maybe a year?), I wore heels to church. It’s not that I don’t have heels or that I don’t want to wear them…it’s just that all of my flats are in my “comfort zone”.

But it was fun – and my outfit was cute and my heels actually got worn – so I’m making a new goal for myself:

To wear an outfit every day that makes me happy.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be wearing a dress every day or pulling out the heels just because, but I want to make a bit more of an effort and wear things that actually flatter me and make me feel good about myself. Putting on an outfit that makes you feel good can make a huge difference in your day.

And the days I’m working from home will probably still be jeans, slippers, and a comfy tshirt. Because that’s what makes me happy on the days I’m home.

But either way – I want to think about it a little more and really start to find and refine my personal style.

And this week has been going well so far!

Monday, we were off work so I was baking away in the kitchen for most of the day in my comfy jeans, a tshirt and my slippers. A good day, overall.

Tuesday I wore skinny black cords, a magenta long sleeve top, and a new gray swinging-cardigan type sweater that’s really cute with flats and a long beaded necklace.

Wednesday was my favorite so far this week –

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Dress: Lerner (NY&Co), a few summers ago. Cardigan: B.Moss (I miss that store!). Tights: JCPenney. Navy pumps: TJMaxx (Sofft brand). Necklace: Gift from my mom.

I have a feeling this is going to be fun Smile I won’t have pictures every day, but I will be sharing my favorites AND asking for style tips/tricks/suggestions because I’m clueless when it comes to new trends and styles.

My sisters seem to be much more in tune with that stuff than I am – in fact, I thought of them when I was putting this outfit together. Both of my sisters always look cute, while I’m usually in worn out jeans and a Hokie tshirt. Again…comfy, but not the most flattering thing I could wear.

So, there it is! Are you in need of a style revolution? Join in!

And do you have any specific style inspirations?

Mine would have to be:

  • My sisters and sister-in-law
  • Zooey Deschanel (love her quirky vintage look)
  • Sydney from The Daybook
  • Jessica from What I Wore
  • and more!

 

PS: Don’t forget to enter my CSN Giveaway for your chance to win a $100 gift card!

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Happy January + CSN Giveaway

Time for a giveaway! I told you exciting things were coming soon  Smile

As a Preferred Blogger, I’ve been given another chance to have an awesome giveaway for all of you. And, if you’re like me, online shopping is a way too much fun come January – all the more reason to have a gift card to use on whatever you want!

Maybe you’re in the market for a new laptop messenger bag or maybe you’re looking for some new bedding or you might even be searching for some new cookware (ps: I also have a super fun review coming soon!).

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Whatever it is you’re looking for, CSN has it.

I’ve not only been able to hold giveaways and review some of their products, I’ve become a personal fan, as well. Their customer service is some of the best I’ve ever dealt with and it makes online shopping so much easier.

 

The Prize

A $100 Gift Code to use in any of CSN stores online.

 

How to Win

  • Leave a comment here with something you’ve been wanting lately – new pillows? shoes? a food processor? I want to know!

For additional entries

  • Leave a comment with a recipe you’d like to see me make-over into a healthier dish
  • Follow CSN on Twitter @csnstores and leave a comment letting me know you did

 

*This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian readers

I’ll pick a winner Monday January 24th – Good luck!

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