Friday, August 30, 2013

Brighten Your Workspace With Poppin {Review}


I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Poppin offers an array of office products in happy colors. From beautifully sleek office chairs to desktop organization, they have what you need to spruce up your office space.

"Poppin was created to fill the design gap between the products we use for work and those available in the rest of our lives. We’re not another office products company; we sell workstyle products."

The extra bedroom in our house is currently the office, schoolroom, and often times a playroom too. This room has been affectionately called the "cat room" since we moved in a year ago since the previous owner's cat clearly loved this room (omg, I still smell it sometimes, ewwww). I'm still working on getting everyone on board with just calling it the "schoolroom". I think it has a better ring to it anyway.

With the transformation of our extra room into a functional schoolroom and usable office space, comes a definite need for organization. Since we've yet to paint this room or really invest in decor, it's been lacking, um, well, any sense of FUN. With Poppin I've been able to brighten our office space without much effort. It's also given me the springboard to build on more creativity in regards to finding more colorful office and school organizational pieces. I actually just found a small magnetic dry erase board and basket that are the same lime green as the accessory tray and stapler from Poppin!

Here's a quick look with links to what we ordered.


Each piece has a place, and can be mixed around without much effort. The Bits + Bobs Tray fits perfectly on the Accessory Tray, and that fits perfectly on top of the Inboxes. Of course they don't have to go on the Inboxes, but I like them this way so they aren't spread out on my desk area. I'm a messy worker. :)

The Inboxes have helped me reign in the constant mess of blogging related paperwork. The Soft Cover 3.5"x5" Notebook is perfect for taking along on errands, and for keeping receipts and business cards in the hidden pocket inside the back cover. It has an orange ribbon place holder, and a pink elastic band closure. The Pen Cups feature a divider that is perfect for pens on one side, and scissors on the other.

 I ended up using the Orange Pen Cup and Bits + Bobs Tray for Buddy's little school desk. It's currently holding his pencils, erasers and scissors. It's the perfect little set up for my little guy.
 
One of my favorite features on the Poppin website is that you can shop by color. Whether you're going with a one-color theme, or have a few coordinating colors, picking out what you need is easy as pie. You can even use the Design-a-Desk feature so you can visualize your colors and pieces together. Office supplies shouldn't be boring. Bring color back into your office space with Poppin! I think Poppin offers a fresh look for your office space that really isn't available anywhere else.


I love love love my new Poppin office products. Not only are they a bright ray of sunshine on my desk, but you can't beat the quality. You may notice that Poppin office products are a bit pricey, but the quality is worth it. These aren't flimsy, break-next-year sort of office products. They're chunky, made to last and have a gorgeous lacquer-like finish! From a homeschool mom like me to a Fortune 500 CEO, Poppin is the way to go for a sleek, modern take on office organization.

So there you have it. Poppin strives to make office tools-of-the-trade fun, stylish, and different. I think they're definitely onto something and I'm looking forward to expanding my Poppin collection to continue to beautify our office space and schoolroom.

 

Angelina Ballerina®: Mousical Medleys {DVD Giveaway - Ends 9/6}


Angelina Ballerina®: Mousical Medleys was recently released on July 9th! This new release is available on DVD, Digital Download and Video on Demand from HIT Entertainment and Lionsgate. 

You might be thinking that Anglina Ballerina is for girls only. Heck, I'm pretty sure my kid sister liked Angelina Ballerina when she was a bit younger. But, Buddy enjoys watching this DVD, and has watched others in the past. There are boy characters including Marco and A.Z. who enjoy dancing also. The storyline of this DVD gives Angelina and her friends valuable lessons, as always, about friendship, teamwork, and problem solving. All good lessons for any young child to learn from. A fun DVD overall!

I received a Angelina Ballerina®: Mousical Medleys DVD for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.


SYNOPSIS
With musicals, dance-a-thons, parades and more, there’s always a reason for Angelina to enjoy the spotlight! See what happens when the mouselings’ plans to welcome the stars of Mousical the Musical are ruined…or are they? Watch as Gracie puts the dance-a-thon in jeopardy when she becomes an enthusiastic recycler. Get in on the fun when Viki finds her inner artist in dance but with lots of paint! Join Angelina and her friends as they take center stage and enjoy the show!

Episodes:
· “Angelina and the Musical Theater”
· “Angelina and the Art Show”
· “Angelina’s Camembert Parade”
· “Angelina and the Dance-a-Thon”
· “Angelina’s Opera”

DVD BONUS FEATURES
· “Dancing Star” Memory Game
· “Front Row Seats” Karaoke Music Video
     
Angelina Ballerina®: Mousical Medleys on DVD is available with a suggested retail price of $14.98.

Win It!
One winner will receive a copy of the Angelina Ballerina®: Mousical Medleys DVD courtesy of HIT Entertainment!

Saving for your Half Term Family Break

Disclosure: This is a guest post.

Your kids may be preparing themselves for heading back to school and while this inevitably means having a little child-free time to yourself again, it won’t be long before they’re back under your feet for the duration of the October half term.

Who needs an excuse for a holiday? When the brood are at home, what’s stopping you from enjoying quality time together - and if you think that money is a problem, there are plenty of ways to save a few bob to put towards your bargain family break.

Switch providers

It’s amazing how much money you can save by comparing the market and switching utility and energy providers. Reduce the cost of your bills each month by bundling together your phone, TV and broadband, too.

Stick to a shopping list

Spending over the budget during a supermarket shop is easily done, but if you stick to a list, you can save pounds. Consider buying own brand items, or use a bargain supermarket to see your money go further.

Utilise any coupons you may find too. While many will shave some money off your shopping bill, you can also take advantage of the various competitions that crop up, including winning Butlins breaks and other fabulous prizes. With great opportunities for family holidays Cushelle toilet roll is the way forward.

Walk where possible

Owning a car is a luxury convenience and one that is used and abused by many of us, regularly. Petrol is a massive expense, not to mention the impact it has on the environment. Do you really need to hop in the car for a trip to the shops or to do the school run? If your errands and visits are within walking distance, walk!

Cancel subscriptions
If you haven’t used your gym membership or you pay out each month for a Spotify or a Netflix account, cancel them or put them on a payment holiday. It’s incredible, how soon these small savings add up.

Reduce the frivolous spending

It’s easy to spend money without realising it half the time. Perhaps you buy takeout regularly, or you spend on treats when you’re at work? Maybe you’re a shopaholic who loves indulging in frequent retail therapy? Cut back on these luxuries and you will see your holiday pot grow.


 

Enjoy an October half term family holiday this year and spend some quality time with your kids before they fly the nest.
 
 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Barney®: Imagine with Barney {DVD Giveaway - Ends 9/3}


Barney®: Imagine with Barney was recently released on July 9th and is now available on DVD, Digital Download and Video on Demand. This new Barney adventure from HIT Entertainment and Lionsgate features the big purple dinosaur and all his friends as they use their imagination to visit a tropical island, build a bus and airplane, and lots more.

Buddy has been a Barney fan since he first watched a Barney DVD at about age 2. He still enjoys Barney and I certainly appreciate the creativity and lessons on caring, friendship and teamwork. I honestly don't understand why some parents give Barney a bad rap! Barney®: Imagine with Barney is wonderful DVD that I don't mind allowing Buddy to watch on occasion by himself. It's has an imaginative, creative storyline that we've come to expect and love from Barney.

I received a Barney®: Imagine with Barney DVD for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

SYNOPSIS


Come along for an imagination extravaganza! Join Barney and his friends as they use their imaginations to visit places near and far and explore their creativity through drawing, song and dance! The dinos explore a tropical island paradise when they bring a painting to life and go for a ride when they build their very own bus and airplane using imagination and teamwork! The dinos always know how to have a tee-rific time with creativity and good friends!


Episodes include:
·     “Imagine That!” 
·     “Seeing”
 ·     “Let Your Creativity Fly!” 
·     “Let’s Go For A Ride!”


DVD BONUS FEATURES
·  Exclusive ALL-NEW game - Imagination Vacation 
·  “If I Lived Under the Sea” karaoke music video 
· “I Hear Music Everywhere” music video

Barney®: Imagine with Barney on DVD is available with a suggested retail price of $14.98.

Win It!
One winner will receive a copy of the Barney®: Imagine with Barney DVD courtesy of HIT Entertainment!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

NEW Organic Fruit Snacks from YumEarth Organics {Giveaway Ends 9/9}

I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

If you're a mom that loves putting fruit snacks in your child's school lunch box, then listen up! YumEarth Organics recently came out with Certified Organic Fruit Snacks that are probably a better alternative than what you're currently buying. With no artificial food dyes, no high fructose corn syrup, and real fruit extracts, these are perhaps the best fruit snack on the market today.

I'm actually not a mom that packs fruit snacks in lunches (or allows them for eating at home) everyday, but I do allow them a few times a month or so. And even then, I choose wisely. The junk that's in most fruit snacks are just so unnecessary! YumEarth's new Fruit Snacks are made with planet-friendly ingredients I personally approve of, and that are also free of major allergens, so no gluten, dairy or nuts. They're also vegan, so they're great for those that have many diet restrictions for whatever reason.

Each little snack pack has about 8 fruit snack pieces inside. Flavors include banana, cherry, peach, and strawberry. Woah, these are super tasty! I love fruit snacks (one of many weaknesses of mine!), and these taste better than most conventional brands I've had in the past. They aren't sticky either, which also means no sticky little hands. Each snack pack is less than 75 calories, and contains 100% daily value of Vitamin C.

Along with their new Fruit Snacks, YumEarth was very kind to send me an assortment of their products, a few of which I've never tried! The Organic Pops are a tried and true lollipop favorite that never disappoints. The VitaminC Drops and Freshest Fruit Candy Drops are new for us, and both are very fruity and full of flavor. They're great for a candy bowl if you have one. The Hot Chili Pops? Wow, never thought I would actually like those! YumEarth has something for everyone, and it's exciting to see them continue to expand their product line every year.

Price:  YumEarth Organics Fruit Snacks - $4.49/5 snack packs 
 
Buy It: Check out YummyEarth.com to order today or check a local retailer near you (I get mine at Whole Foods Market and Target).
 
Win It!
One winner will receive a multipack bag of Fruit Snacks which includes 5 individual snack packs!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Exergen TemporalScanner Thermometer :: A Better Way To Measure Body Temperature {Giveaway Ends 9/8}


Last Fall was a rough one for Buddy. He seemed to get sick back to back and he ended up with a high fever on 3 occasions. It was scary to say the least, and digital thermometers in the armpit or under the tongue were very unreliable. As a mom, I know when my son has a high fever, and when reading of 98.0 is incorrect! This Fall, I'm armed and ready with an arsenal of natural health remedies, and a brand new way to take Buddy's temperature - an Exergen TemporalScanner.

I received a complimentary Exergen TemporalScanner for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Exergen is the recognized world leader in industrial and medical non-invasive temperature technology. Along with the TemporalScanner Thermometer, which is perfect for in-home use, they continue to develop numerous professional medical thermometry products. 

The TemporalScanner measures the true temperature of the body without being invasive in any way. With just a simple swipe across the forehead, the TemporalScanner provides an accurate, reliable temperature measurement every time. 
 
So how does it work? Using advanced infrared technology, the TemporalScanner measures the temperature of the skin's surface over the temporal artery in the head. Since the measurement of the blood's temperature in the heart is the best place to measure temperature, a major artery directly connected to the heart (in this case the temporal artery in the head) is the next best place that accurately reflects the body's true temperature. As the TemporalScanner scans across the forehead, it takes 1,000 readings per second, allowing for the most accurate temperature reading of the temporal artery possible.  

The TemporalScanner is not only completely reliable for getting an accurate temperature, but is also has a few neat features that I think all parents will appreciate.

A lot of awesome features...
  • The "smart glow" display for nighttime. It's easy to read but soft enough to not bug out your eyes!
  • 8 Temperature Memory so you can keep track of recent temperature readings.
  • A programmable beeper and Fraenheit or Celsius settings.
  • It's cost effective.
  • It's made in the USA!
  • One-handed operation.
  • Automatic shut-off.

When you have a sick child, being able to simply and easily take their temperature is a must. And when they're trying to sleep? You really don't want to wake them up! The TemporalScanner can be used on infants and adults alike, and all while they're sleeping. Again, just a simple swipe along the forehead!

Now, I'm all for letting a fever run it's course. It's the body's way of running out infection so you don't normally want to disrupt the natural course of the immune system. But first, it's necessary to determine what your child's temperature actually is. The most important things to watch for are a disorientated or very lethargic child, and/or a very high fever. I usually get concerned at the 102.0 mark and will use an ibuprofen product if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, keeping your child comfortable, cool, and hydrated are best.

The TemporalScanner is no doubt convenient, but it's also very accurate. I've purchased a lot of digital mouth/armpit/rectal thermometers over the years, that eventually prove to be inaccurate, inconsistent, and get thrown away. We've tested the TemporalScanner on several occasions, and on each of us in the house. Each time, we get just about a 98.6, which I'm happy with of course. We're trying to keep the sickies at bay! But when the inevitable colds and flu arrive this year, we'll be ready.

Price: $34.99
 
Buy It: Shop online or in-store at your local Wal-Mart, Babies R' Us, Toy's R' Us, Walgreens, Costco.com, and Baby.com!
 
Win It!
One winner will receive their own Exergen TemporalScanner!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

UMI Children's Shoes :: Fun Picks for Back-To-School {Giveaway Ends 9/5}


Kids have started going back-to-school this week in my area, and with that I've seen a lot of crisp new backpacks, outfits, and of course, shoes. A staple for every child, new shoes are especially fun to welcome the cool Fall weather and the new school year too.

I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

For a kids shoe company that remembers that every step your child makes is important as their first, check out Umi Children's Shoes. Boasting high quality and child-safe materials, Umi shoes are built to last and keep your child's growing feet safe no matter what each day brings. Umi's Fall collection is pulling off a mod, sophisticated feel for big boys this year especially. With dark colors and leather material, pulling together a snazzy look for Buddy is a breeze!


After reviewing the Laren sandal earlier this year, this time we opted for the Henley II style in the Olive color. Part high-top, part boot, the Henley II is a great addition to any boy's shoe collection. This style features a real suede leather upper, rubber sole, velcro closure, and extra support on the back of the heel.
 
There won't be any slipping or sliding with these rubber soles! They will have great traction and plenty of stick when needed on rainy days, and yet this sturdy rubber doesn't compromise the great flexibility these shoes still have.

 I like the tongue design on the Henley II. The velcro closure holds the tongue in place when closed, but also allows the tongue to completely fold down when open, making the shoes easier to put on.


I'm planning on getting some sort of spray leather protecting product to prolong the suede leather upper. I think that with prolonged use, and a few rough playground play dates, we might have an issue with wear. However, taking the proper steps to protect the leather should keep it looking new and beautiful for the entire life of the shoes.

  • Durable outsoles
  • Leather uppers
  • Hook-and-loop strap closure
  • - See more at: http://www.umishoes.com/shop/style/35739A-303.html#sthash.j6sZcRM9.dpuf
    The olive color is lovely, and will coordinate well with the rich deep colors of Buddy's Fall and Winter wardrobe very nicely. I also love the touch of lime and brown that surrounds the bottom outside of the shoe. It adds that extra bit of personality that is perfectly subtle for a boy's shoe. The Henley II is great if you need a shoe that can also work great for Sunday dress, or any other occasion where a more dressy shoe is required.

    Buddy says they're comfy, and that he can still run pretty fast in them (of course, very important to any young boy!). Another win from Umi! We love their shoes, and the high quality is always very obvious.
  • Durable outsoles
  • Leather uppers
  • Hook-and-loop strap closure
  • - See more at: http://www.umishoes.com/shop/style/35739A-303.html#sthash.j6sZcRM9.dpuf
  • Durable outsoles
  • Leather uppers
  • Hook-and-loop strap closure
  • - See more at: http://www.umishoes.com/shop/style/35739A-303.html#sthash.j6sZcRM9.dpuf

    Price: Henley II - $65
     
    Buy It: Check out UmiShoes.com for this style and more! And don't forget, Umi offers FREE shipping and returns (excluding clearance)!
     
    Win It!
    One winner will receive a $60 gift card to UmiShoes.com!

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    KUR Delights™ :: Organic, Raw Treats for School Lunch Boxes {Giveaway Ends 9/4}


    With the new school year, comes a great opportunity to reevaluate our lunch box choices for our children. Perhaps you've decided to swap the white bread for wheat, or perhaps completely forgo the sugar-filled yogurt tube this year. With better alternatives popping up everywhere, maybe you've considered looking into adding a healthy treat in your child's lunch box.

    I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

    Just in time for back-to-school, I'm here with a delight-ful treat from KUR Organic Superfoods. Their Delights™ are an organic, gluten-free, guilt-free, raw Scandinavian treat that's about to change the way you think about treats. 

    I was sent a 60-count variety pack jar of Delights™ to share with my family and give you my throughts. These bite-size morsels come in three flavors: Dark Chocolate Mint, Coconut Cream, and Brownies. Each individually wrapped treat is packed with just 4-7 raw, organic ingredients that are based on organic dried fruits, spices, natural oils, nuts and cocoa.

     Since they're individually packaged, Delights™ are easy to toss in your purse, keep in your office drawer at work, and of course, send one (or two) in your kiddo's lunch box for a quick, yet guilt-free, treat.

     
    So what's in them? See for yourself! All raw, organic ingredients. They're just 60-75 Calories a piece, with no added sugar and no sodium. That's why they're entirely guilt-free. A treat does not have to mean a sugar-laden, over-indulgence. It can mean a real food, raw, organic piece of goodness.
    Are they tasty? Yes! My heavens, yes they are. If you've never tried a raw, real food treat before, you may be surprised with it's real flavors as opposed to artificially flavored, sickly sweet treats. I mean, you can taste all the ingredients in Delightsif you really wanted to analyze each one! With my many experiences (and own experimentation) with raw, real foods, I think they're fabulous! They're not too sweet, and the texture is soft. All kids will love these too. Buddy has a bit of an aversion to many whole, real foods these days, but mixed together like this he's fine. He constantly asks me if he can have one!

    I love the simplicity of Delights. The ingredients list of each flavor is short, and full of just raw, organic ingredients. They are small morsels that allow you to indulge, without over doing it (I often have zero self-control if I have a whole bag of something sweet!). KUR Organic Superfoods clearly has nothing to hide and I'm definitely a fan. What a wonderful alternative for your kid's lunch box this back-to-school season!

    Delights were created in Copenhagen, Denmark, but made right here in the USA. They also come with a lot of rave-worthy certifications, some of which include being USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Vegan, Certified Kosher and they're even Certified Gluten Free. KUR Organic Superfoods clearly has nothing to hide and I'm definitely a fan. With KUR, you can rest assured that you and your kids are eating a pure, healthy treat.


    Price: 60-count Jar - $49.99, 12-count Variety Pack - $11.97
     
    Buy It: Check out  KURfood.com to buy online today! Use code ReynoldsDelight for 10% off your order! {Code expires 9/21}



    Win It!
    One winner will receive a Delights™ Variety Pack!

    Monday, August 19, 2013

    Easy Tips to Help Keep Your Family Hydrated & Enter the Universal Studios Sweepstakes from Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water

    This article is sponsored by Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water. I received consideration from Linqia for my materials, tweets and posts. All opinions are 100% my own.

    Recently I shared a piece of my grandmother's wisdom, and how everything in life has a season as part of the Hydration Movement from Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water. I'm happy to say that I have been making a more conscious effort to drink more water, and stay hydrated this summer! I've really been making more time for myself and making my health more of a priority, and this includes upping my water intake. 

    Luckily, drinking enough water isn't an area that I've had to be a shining example for my family. Buddy and Hubby love water and often have a glass sitting out on the counter that gets filled multiple times a day between meals. Buddy has always been a big water drinker, to the point that it was effecting night time potty training for a while!

    And so the Hydration Movement from Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water continues! Water is vital for maintaining body functions and is essential for health. Do we really need this reminder? Yes, yes we do. Because most of us still don't get enough water each day! 

    Hydration Tips for the Whole Family
    • Carry a water bottle for easy access when you are at work or running errands.
    • Choose water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. This tip can also help with calorie intake management. Substituting water for one 20-ounce sugar-sweetened soda will save you about 240 calories.
    • Choose water instead of other beverages when eating out.
    • Give your water a little pizzazz by adding a wedge of a fresh lime or lemon, or lemon essential oil. This may improve the taste, and you just might drink more water than you usually do.

    Get Involved & Join The Hydration Movement

    GO to the Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water Facebook page and visit the Hydration Movement tab. 

    TAKE the pledge to drink more water and to join the Hydration Movement.

    ENTER the sweepstakes (optional!) for a chance to win one of 100 first prizes of a one year's supply of Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water, or the grand prize trip for four (4) to Universal Studios Hollywood or the Universal Orlando Resort!

    SHARE your Mom's Wisdom (optional!) after taking the pledge. You can share the tokens of wisdom or wives’ tales passed down from generation to generation in your family.

    COUPON - when you register for the sweepstakes, you can also receive a downloadable coupon to save $1.00 on Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water.

    Keeping your family hydrated beyond just the hot days of summer can be a challenge as we move on to the cooler weather of Fall. But we all know the great importance of hydration, so take the pledge with me and let's keep our families hydrated together.


    How Do You Encourage Your Family to Stay Hydrated?

     

    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Ways To Get Your Child Excited For School & An Opportunity to Help Donate School Supplies to BGCA

    I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.


    Over the last few weeks, I've been preparing Buddy for his upcoming first day of school. Although we're homeschooling, we will be attending a homeschool program once a week so that will mark our official start! Months ago Buddy was thrilled about starting school, but just recently he sort of lost it and he doesn't want to do school at all. What's a mom to do? 

    Finding ways to get your child excited about a new school year doesn't have to be hard, and I've found it to actually be quite easy. For our family, it looked like this:

    • I showed him all his curriculum! He's fascinated by his Exploring Creation With Astronomy science book!
    •  I told him what our school days will look like at home, and at our homeschool program once a week.
    • I ordered Buddy a new backpack - His Elmo one just isn't going to cut it anymore so we're passing it on.
    • I asked him what he's going to wear on his first day of "class".
    • I asked him what his favorite foods are for special lunches with mom. :)

    Basically, I involved Buddy in the process of my preparations, and it's starting to pay off. Today, he told me he can't wait for school to start!

    Is Your Family Ready For The New School Year?

    We're just about ready, with just a few tasks left on my list to accomplish over the next two weeks. One thing I feel thankful about is that we've been able to gather all Buddy's school supplies without breaking the budget, but many families are simply unable to afford the expenses that comes with a new school year

    This back-to-school season, Boys & Girls Club of America and long-time partner Disney have launched the Tools for Back to School Supply Drive Game. By simply playing this pop-quiz style game, you can help donate school supplies to local BGCA Clubs which distribute those school supplies to families in need. By answering 5 questions (they're easy!), a donation of supplies will be made!
      
    Knowing that 1 million students fail to graduate high school each year, the importance of supporting our youth is painfully obvious. This back-to-school season, you can make a difference without any cost to you. Play the Supply Drive Game to donate school supplies to BGCA and comment to let me know you did. Thanks for joining me in supporting our youth!
     

    Friday, August 16, 2013

    Our Drazil Kids Tea Adventure {Review & Giveaway - Ends 8/29}

     
    Do you have a juice family? Do you send your kids to school with juice boxes? Perhaps you're okay with your current choices, but many of you may be on the search for a better alternative to traditional juice boxes. With back-to-school season, it's time to check out a new option.

     To be honest, we're not juice people. Well, we like fresh-squeezed juice, but most juice boxes are often filled with junk ingredients and added refined sugar that create a sugar high and total crash after that just isn't worth it. And Buddy? He's a crazy water-lover which I'm totally okay with. I think it's easy to go overkill with juice in general anyway. So juice boxes, aren't typically in our house at all, but occasionally Buddy gets one when we're out if it's an option at a restaurant. Buddy will go gaga over apple juice boxes but he'll only drink half because he soon realizes they're too sweet. Imagine my delight when I was introduced to a juice box alternative that's a much better option to what's popular on the market today.

    I was invited and compensated by Drazil Kids Tea to participate in a Drazil Kids Tea Adventure. All opinions are 100% my own.

    Introducing, Drazil Kids Tea. That's lizard spelled backwards, and their company mascot! These single serve boxed drinks contain a blend of healthy herbal teas and are infused with real fruit juices. They're naturally caffeine-free, and a great alternative to juices, sodas and sports beverages because each box has 35% less sugar, no added sugar, and plenty of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The herbal tea is the main player in these boxed drinks, and instead of added sugar or artificial sweeteners, you get a touch sweetness from the
    natural sugar of real fruit juice. 

    These boxed drinks are available in four flavors, which I generously received for our testing adventure one afternoon last week with Buddy. He loves testing out cool new products with mommy! The four flavors include Fruit Passion, Tropical Burst, Grape Bliss, and Yummy Berry.

    Here's the nutrition content and ingredients of the Yummy Berry to give you an idea of what's in Drazil Kids Tea. There are usually around 100 calories in a regular berry 100% juice product as opposed to only 50 calories in Drazil Kids Tea. Also, the sugar content is much lower at 14 grams of sugar compared to 23 grams in a regular berry 100% juice product. Little did I realize just how much sugar is in 100% juice boxes! A quick google search and I found plenty of evidence that shows the same size apple juice box will have about 23 grams of sugar as Drazil Kids Tea shows. I'm still a bit shocked at the 14 grams in one 6.75 ounce boxed drink, but it's natural sugar from fruit juices, so it's certainly a better choice than juice box options on the market today.

    On to our sampling adventure! Buddy was patiently waiting for mommy to just hurry up so he could try them!

    Starting off with Yummy Berry. He was hilariously precise with this simple decision.

    A swig of another new flavor.
     
    Carefully deciding his favorite as he inspected each box. It's a visual thing too of course!


    And we have a winner! Buddy's favorite is the Fruit Passion.

    Of course, mom got in on the action and tasted each flavor also! My favorite is the Grape Bliss, but I'd have no problem blindly picking one of these to drink - they all taste great. If you're not big on a lot of flavor, the toned down Yummy Berry might be your pick. Out of all four, the Tropical Burst has the strongest flavor.  

    What I noticed is that Drazil Kids Tea doesn't have that heavy, sugar-filled syrup taste you'd find in juice boxes, so they're a nice choice for tea-lovers and juice-lovers alike. And since they aren't sickly sweet, I could tell by Buddy's facial expressions that he actually enjoyed these boxed drinks more than a juice box.

    Drazil Kids Tea boxed drinks are HFCS-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and pretty much a great natural choice for kids. My first choice will always, always be water, but that can get boring sometimes. On days where we're exerting extra energy with sports or hardcore playground play dates, the boost of nutritional content from the herbal tea and infused real fruit juice is helpful in replacing lost fluids.
    If you choose to provide your child a juice product, I challenge you to switch things up and test out Drazil Kids Tea and see what your kids think!

    Price: $4.99-$5.99 / 8 pack
     
    Buy It: Drazil Kids Tea is currently available in the Northern California region (in stores like Nugget Market, Wholesome Goods, Oliver's Markets) and on Amazon.com. Check the store locator!

    Connect with Drazil Kids Tea on Facebook and Twitter
     
     Win It!
    One winner will receive a Variety Pack of Drazil Kids Tea!! That's a total of 32 boxes in 4 flavors.

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    America's Got A Credit Hangover


    Teaching our son about money and responsible spending is of great importance to my husband and me. In a country where the national debt and consumer credit debt statistics continue to rise, it's more important than ever to teach kids how to use money properly. Credit card offers are everywhere, and it's hard to resist them all. This infographic is a chilling reminder of the financial trouble we're all in!

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from My Job Chart. All opinions are 100% my own.

    I'm sure most families have run into money troubles as some point, including mine. As a family we have no car payments, no credit cards (only a debit card each), and have just a mortgage as our main expense each month. So where does our trouble with credit come in? We're currently in it actually. Let me explain.

    Getting in over your head with debt doesn't necessarily mean you were on frivolous spending sprees at the mall and buying $500 boots. Nope! You see, we've always been careful with our money, but as a one income family we do have a line of credit for emergencies. Yes, we dip into it more than we should when those times of "let's buy it NOW instead of saving for a few months" happen, but it's paid off with the next paycheck everytime, until recently.

    We're currently digging our way out of over 1K+ in debt that will be paid off over the next couple months (pulling from savings is not an option). As a result, we're cutting back, selling stuff on eBay, planning another garage sale, and doing every bit of penny pinching we can to get back to our "norm" of having no credit debt. It's NOT easy, especially since we're already pretty frugal as it is!! But, it's doable. Hubby and I sat down and had a conversation about our situation, and what we're cutting out for a while to pay it off - that means the garden in on the back burner, Hubby needs to ride the bus to work more regularly, and packed lunches need to happen everyday for example. We're on a mission!

    So HOW did this happen? Literally, this debt happened in 2 months time. For one, my little sister met a guy, got engaged, got married, and moved from California to Alaska with her new Coast Guard hubby in just a 3 month time period. Phewww, it was a whirlwind! As maid of honor and big sister, I did all that was necessary to help her, including at least 4 car trips to visit her over 2 1/2 hours away. Weddings and gas is expensive as I'm sure you know! We also finally decided to fix our broken A/C in my car, which hasn't worked properly for the last four summers. That was over 1K in itself, but our tax return paid for most of it. We also needed to get our roof fixed, pay for Buddy's tuition with our homeschool program, and start buying all his curriculum for this Fall. Along with several fertility appointments and ultrasounds for myself, it was certainly an expensive two months. 

    Let's back up to when I mentioned that debt doesn't necessarily happen because of foolish purchases. Our debt didn't happen because we were on a free-for-all. Sometimes, debt just happens due to life's circumstances. 

    The key in our credit debt situation is that we know how to handle our debt, and how to get out. Making sacrifices with our normal spending habits have to occur. I think that the most important key to managing finances is understanding how to troubleshoot when necessary and I think that's truly an area that many people lack the skills to tackle. 

    Buddy is hopefully going to have a great understanding of money when he's older, but that's only going to happen if, as parents, we're proactive about it. Using sites like MyJobChart.com is a great way to start teaching kids about being responsibility with money. Hubby and I make a point of including Buddy in our conversations about saving and spending. He's also beginning to understand what it means to save up for something he wants instead of expecting mom and dad to buy it right away. We're also not hiding that we're in debt, with the hope that Buddy will learn from our experiences, instead of thinking mom and dad are perfect. My hope for our son is that he truly gets this money thing. By empowering our kids with the knowledge of how to be responsible and smart with money, we're making their future a lot brighter!

    A short audio message from Dennis Miller. Click the arrow to play!
     

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Jovial :: Organic, Gluten-Free Pasta & Cookies {Giveaway, 3 Winners! Ends 8/27}

    I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

    Jovial is a family-owned company that goes beyond just organic, and seeks out the purest in plant varieties for their ingredients. The result is a revival of ancient and heirloom varieties of food, including the rediscovery of the ancient grain Einkorn, nature's original wheat. It's incredibly exciting to see a company pave the way for the future of agriculture, and have it be a company that also supports small-scale farmers in Italy, and is deeply committed to sustainability. From seed to table, Jovial cares.
    Although Jovial is well-known for their Einkhorn products, they also have an entire line of gluten-free products which include organic brown rice pastas, organic cookies, organic tomatoes and organic olive oil. Jovial sent me a few of their Certified Organic, Certified Gluten-Free products to try with my family.

    These are Jovial's Gluten-Free Fig Fruit Filled Organic Cookies. I'm so happy to see a prepackaged organic cookie that has genuinely good ingredients. In fact, I bought the Chocolate Cream Filled ones at Whole Foods Market last week and even my hubby was impressed! Not too sweet, and completely satisfying. They don't make me feel gross after eating either!

    I brought these to the beach on our recent vacation, and I couldn't help but snap a photo of the inside. These round, two-bite cookies are soft inside yet have a slightly harder shell on the outside. The cookie flavor is reminiscent of a shortbread, but with a chewy fig filling. Finally, a gluten-free fig cookie!

    Jovial's gluten-free organic cookies are baked in small batches by Italian artisan bakers in Italy. On the issue of quality ingredients, Jovial is all about transparency and full disclosure. For instance, in these cookies their eggs are from hens that are pasture-raised on a small countryside farm. Their salt is from prehistoric salt deposits (not the fake stuff on most store shelves!), and their palm fruit oil is produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

    Jovial's brand new Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is made from three ancient varieties of 100% Italian organic olives. The natural processing of this olive oil lends the final product it's beautiful flavor and purity. I also received Organic Brown Rice Tagliatelle and Organic Brown Rice Lasagna to try.
     
    Both pastas are authentically crafted by Tuscany's finest pasta artisans. We tried the Tagliatelle with just a classic marinara sauce and parmesan cheese and it was fabulous. With just organic brown rice flour and organic eggs, you can't get more pure ingredients than that in a traditional egg pasta.

    Now, I've officially be gluten-free for over a year now (14 months to be exact!). I'll be honest, I still feel deprived sometimes, especially since I'm really not a creative cook. I'm missing my beloved sourdough bread, but even more so, homemade dishes like lasagna. The organic no-boil lasagna from Jovial has been a real treat, so much so that I've ordered a couple boxes to make it again very soon!
    Here's how it turned out! The lasagna recipe on the box is great, but instead of using Jovial's crushed tomatoes (that I didn't have at the time) I just used 3 jars of diced tomatoes that I mashed up myself. There was no special preparation with the gluten-free lasagna noodles required, just layer and bake! It turned out wonderful, and absolutely delicious. No one, and I really mean it, would ever know they were eating lasagna noodles made with organic brown rice instead of wheat!

    Jovial has kept the environment in mind with their packaging. The pasta cartons contain 80% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. The window on the lasagna carton and the inner bag that contains the tagliatelle are made out of FSC wood pulp and are certified home compostable.

    I'm so thrilled I found Jovial, and even more that I can buy their foods locally! Whether you're gluten-free or can enjoy the ancient grain Einkhorn, I know you'll be just as impressed with Jovial as I am.

    Find a retail store that carries Jovial products HERE, or you can shop online at Jovial's store.

    Win It!
    THREE winners will receive a $25 Gift Certificate to spend at Jovial!

    Sunday, August 11, 2013

    Pediped® Footwear :: Giving Feet A Fresh Look For Fall {Back-To-School Giveaway Hop - Ends 8/25}


    Welcome to the Back-To-School Giveaway Hop hosted by Sarah's Blog Of Fun!! We have some terrific prizes to make going back as easy as possible. After you've checked out my review and giveaway, please "hop" through the linky below the entry form to the other participating bloggers in this event. Enjoy!

    Disclosure: I received complimentary product for review purposes. No other compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

    As a kid, my favorite part of back-to-school preparations was getting new shoes for Fall. Forget everything else new and exciting about the new school year, I loved my new shoes! As I get my son ready for school this year, I'm giving his feet a fresh look with new shoes from Pediped.

    Pediped's new Fall Collection offers shoe styles for babies and kids of every lifestyle and need. I'm really enjoying the colors and versatility of their selection right now. Not only have I featured Pediped before, but we've been customers for a few years and this has really always been the case. I think we've been through 4 pairs of Pedipeds now, and each pair has also exceeded the shoe life and durability anyone would expect. With Pediped comes quality that just can't be beat.

    This time around Buddy chose the Pediped Flex Gehrig in Navy Royal as his athletic shoe this Fall and Winter. I think they're super cute, and so reflective of the big boy Buddy has become this year. This casual athletic sneaker is machine washable and features two velcro straps, a natural rubber sole, and neutral blue tones for outfit versatility. We may be a homeschooling family, but that doesn't mean Buddy will be short on playtime or lacking style! With play dates, extracurricular activities and weekly classes with other kids, Buddy will be prepared for any activity that comes his way with the Flex Gehrig. 

    A neat feature of the Gehrig is that the tongue is actually attached to the shoe on one side, so it won't ever slide down. This smart design keeps your kiddo empowered to be able to put on their shoes without help, and without frustration of a shifting shoe tongue.

    One of my favorite parts about Pediped shoes is the footbed and sole. Together they are relatively thin compared to other shoes. This offers the shoe plenty of flexibility, and also helps create a more natural, barefoot-style stride for growing feet. The sole is also natural rubber, so gripping the concrete on the playground isn't an issue.

    The Pediped Gehrig features the Flex Fit System™ (available with most Flex styles), which means the included insoles can be used to extend the life of your child's new shoes. With them inserted on top of the footbed, the insoles can reduce the shoe size by almost half a size, and create a more snug fit. That's great news if your child's new Pedipeds are feeling a bit loose at first. Another awesome feature of Pediped shoes is that they're approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting healthy foot development.

    Buddy loves his new shoes, and I heartily approve of Pediped!

    Price: Flex Gehrig - $56

    Buy It: Check out Pediped.com for this style and lots more!

    Win It!
    One winner will receive their choice of ANY shoe style from Pediped.com!