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Welcome to Grandma's Back Room

Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

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    Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt: A creamy treat, plus a $1-off coupon

    My grandsons' favorite spot to go for special sweets and treats is the frozen yogurt place in their town. They fill their bowls with the creamy goodness then top it with everything from M&Ms to gummy candies and more.

    When I visit with them, my favorite is the vanilla frozen yogurt topped with raspberries. My grandsons think that's kind of boring — why would you want fruit on your frozen yogurt when you could have candy? — but it suits me just fine and makes me smile.

    I recently had the opportunity to taste something similar to the creamy goodness my grandsons find at their favorite frozen yogurt spot — only I found it in the freezer aisle at my grocery store. It's creamy frozen yogurt and delicious real raspberries in a 4-ounce, 100-calorie serving. It's from Healthy Choice and is just one of the six flavors of Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt options now available at most grocers.

    As part of a Healthy Choice campaign I'm participating in with the Vibrant Nation Influencer Network, I received coupons for two free boxes of Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt. Naturally, I couldn't resist the raspberry flavor and used one coupon for that. The second coupon covered a box of the Dark Fudge Swirl flavor, as my hubby loves all things chocolate, so I figured I'd please his palate while I was at it. The other Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt flavors — which I'll definitely be trying in the future — are strawberry, vanilla bean, blueberry and honey.

    Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt comes in packages of 3 snack cups, so not only did my husband and I get to try out the treats, I shared the third cup from each flavor with my oldest daughter. All three of us agreed that both flavors were creamy and delicious and a perfect serving size for a snack or light dessert. It came as no surprise that of the two, the Raspberry flavor was my favorite, especially because the raspberry seeds proved to me the flavor was real fruit not just flavoring. It did come as a surprise, though, that my chocolate-loving hubby found the raspberry more appealing than the Dark Fudge Swirl — but only because he thought the fudge one needed more fudge.

    My daughter especially appreciated that at 100 calories per serving, the snacks wouldn't ruin her diet yet would satisfy her sweet tooth. And at just under $3 per box, each serving was right around $1, which wouldn't ruin her budget, either. Another bonus: Each serving provides 4 grams of protein, something most of us don't get enough of.

    Completely unrelated to food and flavor, I enjoyed the tops on the Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt individual cups. The lids had statements to make you smile as you open up your creamy treat. My fave: "Your smile will always be the best curve you have." Cuteness served up with the creaminess.

    If you'd like to try out Healthy Choice Greek Frozen Yogurt, be sure to print this coupon for $1 off. You'll find more information on the frozen dairy snack on the Healthy Choice website. 

    Disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. I have been provided coupons for free products and compensation for posting. Opinions and anecdotes are my own and were not influenced nor reviewed by Healthy Choice prior to posting.


    Still summer: Children's books for fun-filled dog days

    The calendar shows several weeks of summer remain, which means there's still time for outdoor and travel fun. These three books from Candlewick Press — which I recently received free for review — offer up plenty to enjoy during those final sun-filled summer days.

    children's books for summer

    Where's Waldo?Where's Waldo: The Totally Essential Travel Collection by Martin Handford (ages 5-9, Candlewick Press, $14.99 flexi-book) Waldo first hit the road way way back in 1987 and we've been searching for him ever since. This collection of all seven of the classic books in one is a must-have for anyone who spent hours poring over pictures highlighting the hijinks and adventures of the goofy guy donning glasses and a red-and-white striped sweater. From the original Where's Waldo on up through Where's Waldo: The Incredible Paper Chase, Waldo still beckons kids of all ages to search for him as he rambles on his merry and colorful way. Featuring several fold-out pages listing objects and people to find, plus an attached elastic band to mark one's spot in the book, readers will never lose their way in this entertaining book that's a perfect accompaniment on final summer travels by plane, train or automobile.

    Look Up!Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (ages 8 years and up, Candlewick Press, $15.99 hardcover) No need to travel when adventure awaits in your backyard, and author-illustrator LeBlanc Cate (she of The Magic Rabbit) shows bird-watchers — and bird-watcher wannabes — exactly how to find it. Every single page, including the front and back cover spreads, are filled to the brim with humorous but informative tips and tricks for finding feathered friends. It's a quirky and endlessly entertaining introduction to bird-watching via illustrations portraying various birds chatting about their distinctive characteristics, including color, shape, plumage, and beak and foot types. No need to read this fun guide from front to back — simply open to any page and you'll be smiling and seeking out wrens, woodpeckers, purple gallinules and more. Fun, fun, fun.

    Go Out and Play!Go Out and Play!: Favorite outdoor Games from KaBoom! by KaBoom (ages 5 years and up, Candlewick Press, $11.99 paperback). Speaking of fun, fun, fun in one's backyard, this collection encourages kids to, well, go out and play. KaBoom!, a non-profit "dedicated to saving play for America's children," provides all kids and grownups need to know for getting the ball rolling: how to play, number of players, ages, place space and equipment for each game. The seventy-one games include old favorites like Ghost in the Graveyard, Wall Ball, Capture the Flag, Red Rover and more, plus new ones I had never heard of, such as Snail, Lose the Bacon, and Don't Get Caught with the Cookie. Games are broken into category chapters (Tag Games, Team Games, Sidewalk Games and so forth) plus tips for facilitating play and ways to encourage safe — and fun — play spaces in the community. This book is a must for every Grandma Bag, for sure.

    Disclosure: I received these books free for review. Opinions are my own.


    Disney's Planes: Activities and more to enjoy before the show opens this Friday

    Disney's Planes 

    Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Disney's Planes before it hits theaters on Friday. The 3D adventure, from the makers of Cars, was a delight — for the kids as well as the adults in the crowd.

    DustyThe star of the show

    The official synopsis from Disney goes like this:

    Disney’s Planes is an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty (voice of Dane Cook), a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing — and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar. 

    Disney's Planes

    My take on the flick is that it's far more fun — and far more funny — than I thought it might be. Some of what tickled my fancy was related to the witty word play throughout, much of which surely flew right over the heads of the little ones but made the adults in the theater laugh out loud again and again. My favorite part, though, had to be El Chupacabra (voice of Carlos Alazraqui) serenading Rochelle (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with a "low and slow" version of "Love Machine."

    Watch the official trailer, then click on the links below for some plane fun for the kids to enjoy before — and after — the show:


    PLANES paper airplanes — Click HERE for a 14-page PDF file (you'll need Adobe Acrobat) featuring printouts for kids to fold into fun paper airplanes of all the PLANES characters. Print them all or pick and choose your favorites.

    PLANES coloring pages — Click HERE for a 4-page PDF file (you'll need Adobe Acrobat) of fun pages for little ones to color and connect the dots.

    Disney’s PLANES takes off in theaters on August 9, 2013. For more information, check out, like PLANES on Facebook: and follow PLANES on Twitter:

    Disney Pictures

    Disclosure: I was invited to attend a free screening of Disney's PLANES. Graphics and activities provided by Disney; my opinion provided by me.


    Cookbook giveaway: Taste of Home Recipes Across America

    Recipes Across AmericaAs I’ve mentioned here many times, one of my favorite sources for tasty home-style recipes is Taste of Home. I recently had the pleasure of trying out for free yet another super Taste of Home cookbook, this one called Taste of Home Recipes Across America. It's 735 of the best recipes from coast to coast.

    The hardcover Taste of Home Recipes Across America (512 pages and published by Reader’s Digest) highlights regional recipes from across the country. Divided into five regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West), it's the best of the best specialties enjoyed by locals, plus ethnic specialties passed down through generations that became hometown favorites — all shared by real family cooks, not fancy-schmancy celebrity chefs.

    A sampling of what you’ll find from each region:

    Northeast — Philly Cheese Steak, Yankee Pot Roast, New Haven Clam Pizza, Authentic Boston Brown Bread, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Amish Sugar Cookies and Brooklyn Blackout Cake

    South — Shrimp Po-Boys, South Carolina-Style Ribs, Bacon Collard Green, Cheese 'n' Grits Casserole, Georgia Peanut Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries, Banana Pudding and Hummingbird Cake

    Midwest — Church Supper Hot Dish, Onion Loose Meat Sandwiches, Cherry Wild Rice Salad, German Potato Salad, Chocolate-Covered Buckeyes, Golden Apple Snack Cake and State Fair Cream Puffs

    Southwest — Arizona Chicken, Barbecued Beef Brisket, Chicken-Fried Steaks, Sizzling Tex-Mex Fajitas, Armadillo Eggs, Texas Caviar, Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce, Classic Fruit Kolaches, German Chocolate Cake and Tres Leches Cake

    West — Buffalo Steak Salad, Chicken Long Rice, Pacific Rim Salmon, California Sushi Rolls, Green Goddess Salad Dressing, Romaine Caesar Salad, Utah Buttermilk Scones, Caramel-Frosted Potato Cake, Oregon's Best Marionberry Pie and Lemon Tart with Almond Crust

    Being a Colorado resident, I was interested to peruse the culinary favorites featured in the Southwest category. Most turned out to be the flavors I know, love, and make. What I found most surprising about Recipes Across America, though, was how much the recipes of the Midwest — where I was born (in Minnesota) — felt like home. Several were foods I hadn’t thought about in years, but am now determined to cook up at my home here in the Rockies.

    Recipes Across America isn’t just a cookbook, it’s a journey across the country in ways that relate to food. In sidebars throught the book you'll find food facts, folklore, recipe histories plus photos of food festivals and landmarks.

    Of course, the recipes are the reason for the book being, and Taste of Home offered me one to share with you here:

    Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
    Excerpted from Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across the Nation
    By Taste of Home

    red beans and rice

    Smoked turkey sausage and red pepper flakes punch up the flavor of this saucy, slow-cooked version of the New Orleans classic. For extra heat, add red pepper sauce at the table.
    -- Julia Bushree, Georgetown, Texas

    Prep: 20 min.
    Cook: 8 hours
    Makes: 9 servings

    4 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

    1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

    1 package (14 ounces) smoked turkey sausage, sliced

    1 cup chicken broth

    3 celery ribs, chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    1 medium green pepper, chopped

    1 small sweet red pepper, chopped

    6 garlic cloves, minced

    1 bay leaf

    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    2 green onions, chopped

    Hot cooked rice

    1. In a 4-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir before serving. Discard bay leaf.

    2. Sprinkle each serving with onions. Serve with rice.

    From now until September, Recipes Across America ($24.99) is available for purchase only at Come September 12, it will be available where books are sold.


    Taste of Home has generously offered to award one winner a copy of Recipes Across America ($24.99 value). Enter to win via Rafflecopter below through midnight August 12; US residents only, please. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to provide shipping information; prize to be shipped by brand representative.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book plus the offer of one for this giveaway. Anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    Disney's 'Frozen' coming to theaters Thanksgiving 2013

    Disney's Frozen

    Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, presents Frozen, a stunning big-screen comedy adventure.

    Disney's Frozen

    Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter.

    Disney's Frozen

    Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

    Disney's Frozen

    An official teaser:


    The film is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph), and produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog). Featuring music from Tony® winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit), Frozen is in theaters in 3D on November 27, 2013.

    For more information, check out, like us on Facebook: and follow us on Twitter:


    Disclosure: I was provided this information for free from Disney with no obligation.


    Allstate Foundation's Drive It Home Show: A fun look at a serious subject


    Last week I attended the Drive It Home Show in Colorado Springs with a couple family members and a few good friends. The Drive It Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, helps parents (and grandparents) understand the real hazards teens face on the road and provides tips for better coaching teen drivers. All presented with a generous serving of silly.

    Colorado Springs Drive It Home Show

    The vital information provided during the Drive It Home Show not only informs parents and grandparents currently teaching their beloved teens to drive, it keeps all drivers and passengers on the road safer. According to the National Safety Council, there are two million or so teens under the age of 18 in their first year of driving on U.S. roads. Considering inexperience is the No. 1 cause of teen crashes — and those inexperienced young drivers are behind the wheels of vehicles around us — teen driving is a serious subject we all should learn more about.

    One of the most dangerous years in a person's life is the first 12 months after getting a driver's license. In Colorado alone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2009 to 2011, there were 146 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15- to 19-year-old driver. A total of 51 teen drivers (15-19), 29 teen passengers (15-19), 16 other age passengers in the teens' vehicles, plus 50 others were killed in those crashes.

    Clearly it's a deadly serious subject, yet the Drive It Home Show performers — of the famed Second City — didn't beat audience members over the head with sobering stats. No, they made us laugh.

    Colorado Springs Drive It Home Show

    With silly skits and hilarious dance numbers, the cast members drove home the message that adults teaching teens how to drive must understand that inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes — not risk-taking, as 74 percent of parents inaccurately believe. And those teaching teens to drive must improve the way they're doing the teaching.

    Top recommendations given at the Drive It Home Show for better teaching teens driving skills include:

    • Practice scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards.
    • Practice speed control based on conditions (road, weather, traffic).
    • Practice judging gap perception — when to make a move depending on the speed of oncoming traffic.
    • Log at least 10 hours of night driving in all circumstances, including heavy traffic and bad weather.
    • Ban cell phone use while at the wheel.
    • Drive at least 30 minutes each week with a newly licensed teen to reinforce safe driving.

    Lastly, because parents and other important adults in a child's life have been teaching that child how to drive since she was around two years old — about the age children start noticing and modeling their behavior after others — there is this for us all to consider:

    For more lifesaving recommendations and resources, visit

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.