Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Missing- One blogger.

Due to a family emergency, I will not be available to post any of the reviews and/or giveaways I intended to post this week. Me, Bri and the kids are fine, but it's been a rough week. If you could please keep our family in your thoughts, it would be genuinely appreciated. I should be back soon, I hope you all understand. If you've emailed me, please know there may be a delay in my response due to this unforeseen circumstance. Thank you again for your patience and understanding.

Warm Wishes,
Lauren & Family

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who Needs a Vacation? Backyard Safari Outfitters Brings Adventure Straight to Your Yard!

My kids are always searching for an adventure, and despite having a girl, they are always into "something" in our back yard. Both of the kids like to play in the mud, chase little lizards, and play with rolly-polies. The only bugs Abbie really doesn't like is spiders, mosquitoes and ants. (In her defense, neither do I.)

With only one car at the moment, many of my goals for summer vacation had to be rescheduled onto a jam packed weekend. I was struggling to find new things to occupy the kids with in our house or our backyard.

When a gigantic box showed up on my doorstep, I honestly had no idea what to expect inside. Thanks to Team Mom, our family was given the opportunity to review a great collection from Backyard Safari Outfitters.

As we pulled the stuff out, the kids eyes lit up like the 4th of July! Alex loved the cargo vest, because it made him look like a real explorer. Abbigaile thought the bug vacuum was a dust buster- until I told her what it was for. Alex took it from there, eager to see what kind of bugs he could suck up with it. The periscope sparked both of the kids interests, and although we have yet to experience using it underwater, the kids have enjoyed playing pretend with it. Whether they were camping under their bed, or the picnic table in the backyard, their imaginations ran with stories and tales of pirates and submarines.

Aside from allowing pretend play to soar, the kids have loved learning about new bugs and birds nests, using their new explorer gear. The periscope was perfect to allow the kids to get a sneak peek at our little birds nest in our front tree. I love the way my children's eyes light up when they're experiencing something new.

This summer, if you're looking to fuel your child's desire to explore, or just for a new experience to share with them, be sure to check out Backyard Safari Outfitters at www.BackyardSafari.com.

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” ~ Rachel Carson


Special thanks to Team Mom and Backyard Safari Outfitters for providing these products for us to evaluate and write a candid review about. This post is 100% our opinion.


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10 Nights with my SleepJoy Mattress Topper


I have a horrible back, and when we purchased our bed, it took us forever to find one that worked for both me and my husband. Our mattress is supposed to be good for 10-15 years or something like that, without ever having to flip it. It has a plush top, and when we first bought it it was great. That was only 3 years ago, and I can tell you that it is no longer as great as it once was. Last time our taxes came back, we actually considered buying a new bed, but decided against it.

Needless to say, when I was contacted by SleepJoy.com to review a ViscoFresh Memory Foam Mattress Topper, I jumped at the opportunity. I love products that are "Made In the USA", especially if it's something that claims to help me sleep better, reduce the pressure points in my back while I sleep, and absorbing some of the shock of my husband who likes to toss and turn often.

After the first couple of nights, I wasn't quite sure what to think about the topper. It felt good when you climbed into bed, but in the morning both Brian and I felt stiff and uncomfortable. We felt like we had to stretch and pop our backs back into place just to function. We felt more exhausted when we woke up than when we went to bed. I asked around on Twitter and Facebook, and the general consensus was that when you have a new bed (or topper) that it usually takes at least a week for your body to start getting used to it.

What I learned in the ten nights that I've slept on our ViscoFresh Memory Foam mattress topper is that our bodies weren't sore because of the topper, it was because our bodies were trying to realign. They were not used to being properly supported while we slept. Essentially, our bodies were confused. Since the second or third night I realized that I was sleeping much deeper than I ever had on our bed. Every night since about night 5, we've noticed our bodies have been adjusting much better. 

We're definitely waking up much more comfortably, and I've noticed less aches and pains during the day. I find that I don't want to get out of bed as quickly, because of how comfortable it is in the morning. We chose a medium firmness, and I still feel like I'm laying on a giant marshmallow. The one major difference that I've noticed is that Brian isn't snoring as loud as he usually does, and I barely feel him moving next to me at night until he's right next to me. I have stopped using my pillow, as the pillow I have doesn't keep me well aligned. Since I stopped using my pillow, I've noticed vast improvements.
SleepJoy does carry pillows, which I may look into further. If you are in the market for a Memory Foam Mattress, mattress topper or pillow, I recommend taking a look at SleepJoy.com.

Before we ordered our mattress topper, I learned a lot about memory foam mattress toppers and the difference between SleepJoy toppers and "other" brands. The FAQ's page at SleepJoy.com was incredibly helpful.

Here is some of the information that I thought might help while shopping for a new mattress topper and to learn more about ViscoFresh:
From the SleepJoy FAQ page

Q: What makes memory foam so good for sleeping?
A: Memory foam is great because of its unique ability to mold itself around your body. It allows your body to “float” in the foam itself, relieving the pressure points typically experienced during sleep. The floating effect allows your blood to flow unrestricted and keeps your muscles relaxed, allowing you to sleep uninterrupted by discomfort.

Q: What is ViscoFresh?
A: ViscoFresh is an enhanced memory foam with many important technological advances that solve the most common complaints consumers have about memory foam. ViscoFresh’s breathable, open-celled formula provides 5 times more airflow than traditional memory foam. This enhanced airflow helps you sleep at a more comfortable temperature throughout the night and ensures that the products recovery quickly from their compressed packaging. So, you get to use your product immediately with no waiting. ViscoFresh uses plant-based ingredients that decrease its effect on the environment and uses a more eco-friendly anti-microbial. ViscoFresh includes a green tea additive that removes the typical “fresh foam odor” of ordinary memory foams. And, ViscoFresh is made in the USA for quality.

Q: What is ViscoFresh/latex hybrid?
A: Our hybrid foam, ViscoFresh Latex, provides the pressure relief of memory foam, along with added support of latex because of its the resilient, firmer texture. ViscoFresh Latex Hybrid Foam feels more bouncy and firmer than ViscoFresh Memory Foam. With ViscoFresh Latex Hybrid Foam, you’ll lay more on top of your topper, versus sinking into your bed like you do with ViscoFresh Memory Foam. ViscoFresh Latex has all the great attributes of ViscoFresh Memory Foam like an open-celled formula, plant-based ingredients, eco-friendly anti-microbial and green tea additive.

Q: How does the ViscoFresh/latex hybrid feel vs. ViscoFresh memory foam?
A: ViscoFresh Latex Hybrid Foam feels more bouncy and firmer than ViscoFresh Memory Foam. With ViscoFresh Latex Hybrid Foam, you’ll lay more on top of your topper, versus sinking into your bed like you do with ViscoFresh Memory Foam. It offers both pressure relief (by molding to your body shape) and added support (by virtue of its bouncy, resilient feeling).

Q: Is density the same as softness/firmness?
A: Density and softness are two completely different qualities. You can have a dense foam that is soft or firm, as well as a less dense foam that is soft or firm.
Firmness in foam is measured by what’s called an IFD or ILD. This measures the amount of cushioning the foam provides. Density is the measurement of the weight of foam contained in a square foot of material. All SleepJoy products offer the most advantageous density and IFD options.

Q: Is ViscoFresh eco-friendly?
A: SleepJoy has replaced up to 10% of the petroleum-based ingredients typically found in traditional memory foams with natural, plant-based oils. Unlike soy-based memory foams, though, our formula still provides a high-performance memory foam that feels great and provides the maximum amount of pressure relief. And, our plant-based ingredients have a lower carbon footprint during the manufacturing process than soy.

Q: Does ViscoFresh have “fresh foam” odor?
A: No! Thanks to our green tea formulation, ViscoFresh has a light scent that quickly fades away, leaving behind no trace of fragrance. That “fresh foam” odor is a thing of the past!

Q: Is all foam hot to sleep on?
A: Not anymore. SleepJoy’s breakthrough breathable foam formulation allows much more air to circulate around you, so you sleep more comfortably.

Q: How do I know what height of ViscoFresh memory foam or ViscoFresh Latex topper to choose?
A: Since memory foam is meant to be used for comfort and pressure relief, and not as much for support, a topper of 2” or 3” is typically more than sufficient. ViscoFresh Latex will provide you with the support you need and is also recommended in a 2” or 3” height.
Keep your eyes out for another post soon, sharing more about our experience with our SleepJoy Memory Foam mattress topper, and a giveaway!


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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sarah McLachlan: Laws of Illusion ~7 years in the making and well worth the wait!

I first need to start this review by telling you that I absolutely love Sarah McLachlan. There may be points in this review where I sound like a gushing fan, but I am, so.. that's my disclaimer. My first "official" job (aka, one that I worked more than a month) was at a music store. I worked there for almost 3 years, and I'll never forget during one part of my interview I was asked what my favorite album was. Without blinking I told them it was Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. When I was a teen I went to all of Sarah McLachlan's concerts in New York, including the Lilith Fair, and went to the Junior Prom just because they chose one of her songs.

From Arista & the One2One Network

The Grammy® award winning, multi-platinum singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan is set to release her long awaited new album, LAWS OF ILLUSION on June 15th. This marks Sarah's first studio album of brand new material in 7 years. The album’s first single is called, “Loving You Is Easy”.

This summer, the historic all-female Lilith Fair festival returns! From 1997 through 1999, Lilith Fair was one of the highest grossing touring festivals in the world, with over 2 million fans in attendance and raising over $10 million dollars for national and local women's charities.

In a career spanning more than two decades, Sarah has over 20 million career sales to date and, every one of Sarah McLachlan’s studio and live albums has been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum by the RIAA.
I usually hate when "old" artists try to make a comeback seven to ten years up the road. Their voices always sound older, and the album usually doesn't compare to any of their previous releases. There might be one song which you can tolerate, perhaps even like, but that is not the case with this album- AT ALL.

Even though this is the first album recorded in seven years, Sarah McLachlan is like wine, or cheese, in the sense that the time has done her well. Filled with the light and airy vocals that mesmerize and capture your soul, the new album Laws of Illusion is more than magic- it's incredible. Hands down my new favorite, although some classics will hold a special part in my heart, I cannot rave about this album enough. 

If you are active online, follow @SarahMcLachlan on Twitter to get the inside scoop on where you can catch free videos, downloads (like Starbuck's free iTunes pick of the week!!) and interviews that ask everything you want to know about the new album.

Along with the release of Laws of Illusion, the Lilith Fair is coming to a town near you this summer. For more information on how to buy tickets, or for the lineup visit the LilithFair.com.

For more information on Laws of Illusion or to listen to the tracks, visit Sarah McLachlan's Facebook fan page now!

Special thanks to the One2One Network and Arista for allowing us to review LAWS OF ILLUSION at no cost and before the release date.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Champs Sports #1 Dad Shirts Still Available! (+ $50 Giveaway!)

So, Father's Day was yesterday. Did you get Dad the "perfect" gift? Want something special for that sports fan? What about his birthday.. is it coming up soon?  I hate shopping for my husband and my father. How many packages of socks can you buy?? This year, my dad got dinner.. and my hubby got a movie, actually two this weekend. We watched Toy Story 3 as a family, and then he and a buddy went to watch the A-Team. Unfortunately, my husband is the anti-man when it comes to sports. He likes a couple of teams, but is not an over-the-top die hard sports fan like some men I know. Bri is definitely more the man that plays ball outside with the kids, or at the park.


For Christmas, I shopped with a dear friend of mine who walked into one of those stores in the mall that sells nothing but sports pictures, autographed merchandise, and the like. She was so excited, because she got her husband and teenage son done in one stop. I envy people like my friend. Brian would like a gift like that, but it wouldn't be THE gift.

This Father's Day, Champs Sports put out these awesome MLB “#1 Dad” shirts for the sports enthusiast dad. The #1 Dad message on the back shows how much the kids care, (without it being one of those cheesy, embarassing kinds of shirts) and the team logo on the front shows dad’s team pride. If baseball’s not his first choice, Champs Sports still has you covered with NFL & NBA gear, as well as footwear and apparel from Nike, Adidas, Reebok and more for every type of dad.

My husband does enjoy watching the Rays and the Yanks, so tomorrow I think I will head to the mall to see if they have one available. These shirts are not available online, and are only going to be on shelves for a limited time. My advice, buy it now and keep it for Dad's Birthday, or Christmas!

Want it?
Visit a Champs Sports Store near you to find Dad's favorite team!

WIN IT!
Our friends at Champs Sports have offered one of our readers their chance to win a $50 gift card to Champs Sports!

Here's How:
What did you do for Dad this Father's Day? What would you spend your gift card on? Tell me below for your mandatory entry.
EXTRA ENTRY OPPORTUNITIES:
After the mandatory entry is completed, you may participate in our Extra Entry Opportunities.

  • LIKE us on Facebook- 4BabyAndMom.
  • LIKE ChampsSports on Facebook. Find a store near you, get the heads up on new and exciting products, and catch your favorite ad or commercial.
  • Follow 4BabyAndMom on Twitter.
  • Follow Champs Sports on Twitter.
  • Create your own tweet or R/T the message below, or use the Share button at the bottom of this post to Tweet on Twitter (two per day, please)


    Win a $50 GC from Champs Sports store. Great for Dad or Grad- or any sports fan!! http://bit.ly/dadNEo ~Ends 7/3
  • Follow 4BabyAndMom publicly through Google Friends/Blogger
  • Subscribe by Email, so you never miss a giveaway or article. (leave your email address, please)
  • Leave a comment on a post which is NOT a giveaway & tell me which one.
  • Enter any of our other open giveaways!
  • Share this review on any social media or bookmarking sites. Feel free to use the Share tool at the bottom of the post.
This giveaway is open to residents of the US. This giveaway will end on July 3, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org, and all winner information will be posted on our WINNERS PAGE and on this post. Any unclaimed prizes will be redrawn accordingly and at the discretion of 4BabyAndMom. Disclosure: I received this no monetary compensation for this post. Any opinions expressed are 100% that of 4BabyAndMom. Your experience with these products, website and company may differ.

CONGRATULATIONS



Congratulations to our winner! Please refer to our WINNERS PAGE for more information on how to claim your prize!

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

VOTE- to win a $25 gift card from Ronzoni!

Earlier this week, I posted about the Ronzoni SmartTaste Pasta. Along with the review opportunity, I submitted a picture of my little lady, Abbigaile, eating her Ronzoni SmartTaste pasta for their blogger photo contest.


Well, the contest is under way, and we need your help! We are competing with some blogs that have a much larger audience, and we can use all of the votes we can get.

Here's how to vote:

  • Head to RonzoniSmartTaste.com/blogger/ and check out all of the submissions.
  • Be sure to read all of the cute captions, and select your favorite photo. (Just in case you can't recognize her, Abbie's picture is posted on our banner on the right side bar.)
  • The first time you vote, you have to register, but it's very quick. You may vote once a day until the 25th, and every time you return, you only need to enter your email address. 
What's at stake?
Just by voting, you are entered to win a $25 Gift Card from Ronzoni!! Plus, the winner of the photo contest will receive $500 and a year's supply of Ronzoni SmartTaste Pasta.  What a great way to help show your support! (Plus, if we win, I smell another cash giveaway.. )

So.. What are you waiting for? Visit Ronzoni now and cast your vote. If you are a fan of 4BabyAndMom on Facebook, be sure to share the link with your friends and followers.

Thanks to you, our fans, and most of all, Mom Central and Ronzoni SmartTaste for allowing us to participate in this great opportunity.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Is it September yet?

Technically, I should be asking if it was August yet, because that is when both of my kiddos go back to school. Part of me is kidding, but the other part totally isn't.

The kids have been at each other's throat for the past four days, and I'm ready to pull my hair out. A bald bridesmaid would not be pretty, so I am trying to restrain. Today we have appointments up the wazoo.. I know the first week or so is rough (packed with appointments you couldn't get done while the kids were in school)- but dear God, give me strength.

What are you and YOUR family doing this week?

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta- Whole Grain Goodness with White Pasta Taste!

Back in December, I did a review on Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta. The kids (and I!) were very impressed with the pasta, and loving the texture of the Smart Taste Pasta.  I love that it's got many of the qualities of whole grain pasta, and more. It's high in fiber, but low in fat, calories, and sodium; has no cholesterol, and is packed with calcium and vitamin D.

I love the recipes on the back of the box. I am always looking for new things to try with our pasta.. and the recipes on the back of the box are simple and conveinent. I've yet to find a recipe that asks for something an average person wouldn't have in their kitchen cupboards, fridge or freezer. If that was the case, I'd be willing to bet that the item would be not that difficult to grab on the way through the grocery store while you're whizzing through, trying to come up with a quick and easy meal for your family on the go.

Since my initial review in December, I have to admit that I have recommended this pasta to many of my friends and neighbors with children. Sometimes it's hard, not knowing if your child is receiving the daily recommended allowance of fiber, calcium, or vitamin D. It's great to know that with Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta you don't have to sacrifice taste or texture. My kids won't eat whole grain pasta, or whole wheat pasta at all. The texture makes them spit it out as if I was trying to pour dirt and weeds onto their plate. It's bad. I don't even have words that could stress how bad it is. I don't have to worry about that at all with Smart Taste pasta.. it's worry free.

Learn more about this fabulous pasta, by visiting Ronzoni online.  While you are there, be sure to take advantage of the printable coupon for $0.75 off of a box of Smart Taste pasta. What a great way to try it out for your family!

Special thanks to Ronzoni and Mom Central for allowing 4BabyAndMom the chance to review this great pasta, again. I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Ronzoni and received products necessary to facilitate my candid review and photo contest entry. In addition, I received a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.


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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hanes Shorts $1.99- $9.99

The short story, Hanes shorts are on a HUGE sale!

Men's Jersey Knits are on sale for $3.99, Girls shorts are only $1.99, Boys shorts $2.99, and Women's Foldover shorts are only $9.99! Polos and tees are also on sale; stock up for summer or save them for school! Be sure to visit Hanes.com to take advantage of this sale. Plus, if you spend $50 or more, you get free shipping!!


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Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Vacation

I cannot believe that the end of the school year is almost here. Wednesday is officially the last day of school, and I am starting to freak out.

My seven-year-old is getting restless and bored at the mere thought of summer vacation, and wants to go on vacations, and to camp, and to go stay at a friend of ours for two weeks as his mini vacation. Although some of these might sound like great ideas, there is no way we can swing any of those ideas, financially.

My four year old has been officially accepted into full day preschool (which starts in August!), and it feels as if she has been acting so horribly since we received the paper- there are no words. Screaming, crying, hitting, tormenting her brother.. Brian calls it payback, but I need your help.

How on earth do you survive summer vacation?


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Thursday, June 3, 2010

VistaPrint Photo Book (Dads Like Photos too!) Giveaway!

With Father's Day quickly approaching, finding the perfect gift seems to be getting more difficult year by year. I mean, how many packages of socks can you really get the old man? Golf tees? 'World's Greatest' t-shirts that will only be used to mow the lawn and BBQ? Exactly.

This year, why not delight Dad or Grandpa with a 12x12 photo book from Vistaprint?

New dads, traveling dads, military dads, and experienced dads alike will really enjoy seeing their gorgeous child or children beaming from the 26 high quality pages. The hardcover, leather, or linen cover makes this a cherished gift made to last for years to come.

When I was younger, I had shoe boxes full of photos. Now that everything is digital, I unfortunately do not have great photo organization, outside of my computer. I do, however, have all of my photos uploaded onto several hosting sites because I fear a great computer crash, like the one predicted when we hit the new millennium. All I know is that if (God forbid) all of those sites crashed at once, you all would hear me scream.. no matter where you were located. I have photos from our wedding, through the birth of both children, all the way to our last family holiday or get together. I would honestly lose everything.. hence the need for multiple hosting sites.

My mother collects all of her photos on cds from the drugstore, as she's afraid to upload her pictures onto the computer or a hosting site. (Much like my unrealistic fear of a massive computer crash!) However, the only thing that scares me more is the thought that my photos might be lost forever because one of my children "accidentally" dropped it out of the protective sleeve, and now the disc has a gigantic scratch across it. The great crash the millennium never brought is much less threatening to me.

I've ordered photo books from other companies in the past, and honestly thought that Vistaprint was only for business cards. Little did I know that Vistaprint also offers such great products as Birthday Invitations, Custom T-shirts, and Personalized Mugs.

In an effort to make an impression on our readers, our new friends at Vistaprint is offering our readers an opportunity to win a personalized, 12 X 12 Photo Book. The winner can choose from hard cover, leather cover or linen cover. It includes 26 pages and a variety of layout and design options and free 14-day shipping. The value of the giveaway is over $50.

Here's How:
How do you organize your photos? Are you afraid you'll lose your photos? Have you ever ordered a photo book to share your memories with friends are family? Tell us all about it!

EXTRA ENTRY OPPORTUNITIES:
After the mandatory entry is completed, you may participate in our Extra Entry Opportunities.

  • Show that you really LIKE us on Facebook- 4BabyAndMom and Vistaprint. Get exclusive offers, coupons or discounts, and never miss an article or giveaway! (2 extra entries)
  • Follow 4BabyAndMom and Vistaprint on Twitter. (2 extra entries)
  • Create your own tweet or R/T the message below, or use the Share button at the bottom of this post to Tweet on Twitter (two per day, please)

    Win a free 12x12 personalized photo book from @Vistaprint and @4BabyAndMom http://bit.ly/9aJAJw~Ends 6/8
  • Follow 4BabyAndMom publicly through Google Friends/Blogger
  • Subscribe by Email, so you never miss a giveaway or article.
  • Leave a comment on a post which is NOT a giveaway.
  • Enter any of our other open giveaways
  • Share this review on any social media or bookmarking sites. Feel free to use the Share tool at the bottom of the post.
This giveaway is open to residents of the US. This giveaway will end on June 8, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be chosen using Random.org, and all winner information will be posted on our WINNERS PAGE and on this post. Any unclaimed prizes will be redrawn accordingly and at the discretion of 4BabyAndMom. Disclosure: I received this opportunity from Team Mom. I did not receive any compensation for this review. Any opinions expressed are 100% that of 4BabyAndMom. Your experience with these products, website and company may differ.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER!! 
 Please refer to our WINNERS PAGE for more information on how to claim your prize.



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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice Review

My children are usually very good when it comes to eating new foods. Unfortunately, they hate the way whole grain pasta tastes, and the texture of brown rice, so we find ourselves eating white bread, white pasta, and white rice all of the time. 

We've found a great solution for healthier pasta, but have found good alternatives for bread or rice until now. Thanks to Mom Central, our family has had the opportunity to try the new Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice.

Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice has the look and taste of traditional white rice, but the benefits of whole grains. The USDA reccommends serving your school aged child 6 ounces of grain every day (at least half should be whole grains).

The kids and husband had no idea that when I made my grandmother's arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) that it was made with Whole Grain white rice as opposed to traditional white rice. It made me happy because I was able to boost their meal with fiber, 4 grams of protein, and increased their overall daily intake of whole grains. The rice iteself is great consistency, and holds flavor really well.

Since the initial trial, I have made more rice as a side, and again- nobody knew the difference. My husband guessed that it was the "new" rice, but I think it's only because I was asking a lot of questions about it.

Uncle Ben's and Mom Central asked us to give out a few samples and some Uncle Ben's aprons, so during our Shrek party, we had a contest for the mom's to win some great prizes. Among two of the prize packs, Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice and aprons were included. The feedback that I received from our guests was just as great as mine. Both families told me that their children ate it up, and did not complain about texture or taste. Both moms agreed that the boost of protein, whole grains and low fat were very impressive.

Don't take my word for it, check out the new Uncle Ben's Whole Grain White Rice available at a grocery store near you. Click HERE to print out a coupon for $0.75 off of any 2 Uncle Ben's products.






“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Uncle Ben’s and received samples to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate." All opinions are strictly mine. My opinion has not been influenced by this campaign. Your opinion may vary.

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More about Cleveland-Baseball, the Arts, and an excellent sense of community!

The first day of my trip was exhausting because of the early morning flight and excitement I was facing. Continental was great; super friendly flight attendants, and an interesting neighbor made my trip all the more enjoyable. The moment I arrived, I was whisked away to begin my day. Here's a little of what I experienced:

Families vacationing in or around the heart of Cleveland can enjoy an Indians Baseball game at Progressive Field all season long. Enjoy a hot dog with Cleveland's own Stadium Mustard, a refreshing local brew or classic Bud, or Pepsi at one of the nations most beautiful ballparks. Prices range from $7 a ticket to $85, depending on seat location, special event, or who’s playing the Indians. Families and fans can take advantage of box seats, (starting at only $17/ ticket!), social media seating, the Indians Fan Cave, or suites at anytime. Make reservations or purchase tickets online at http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/.


Yearly, visitors and residents can take part in the Parade the Circle event, sponsored by the Cleveland Museum of Art. People come from near and far with their artistic expressions, costumes, floats, and mascots--all handmade and extraordinary to parade down the streets of Cleveland into the heart of the city at University Circle.  The museum offers the community a chance to come in and work on their projects or costumes year round with the staff and volunteers.

The Artistic Director Robin VanLear organized the first Parade the Circle in 1990, in prepararation of the Museum's 75th birthday. Twenty years later, the program has continued and delights the community annually, attracting local, regional and global artists and spectators alike. This year the Parade of Circle will be held on June 12th and as always, no matter rain nor shine.

The Cleveland Museum of Art offers a wide array of collections from Ancient Art, to African Art, to Contemporary Art and Photography and Prints, and everything in between. Family programs are offered to locals and on specific event days throughout the year. Although the Museum was going through renovations when I visited earlier this month, of the collections I experienced, it was exquisite.

Don't let the cover fool you, The Children's Museum of Cleveland is jam packed with fun stuff for children from birth up to age 7 to discover and learn. Young children will enjoy endless opportunities to explore, create, and play while learning with their family and new friends while at the "Splish Splash!" water tables downstairs, or while pretending to farm at the "Big Red Barn".  Be sure to explore their current exhibit, "Healthier Ever After" and learn all about proper portion size, exercise, and the food pyramid like never before!


The Cleveland Museum of Natural History provides a great display of my son's ultimate favorite- DINOSAURS like T-rex and "Happy" (pictured above)- as well as a hall of gems, a planetarium, an outdoor habitat and garden, a hands-on Discovery Center, and so much more. Learn about the discovery of "Lucy", a 3.2 million year old ancestor of man, and how she has provided key evidence into the evolution of man. This summer, experience the Wild Music: Sounds and Songs of Wildlife exhibit, which demonstrates the songs and sounds of some of natures biggest and smallest creatures. Enjoy animal sounds from the city, ocean, and forest, and learn about the difference between the human voice and the sounds animals use to communicate and sing.

After exploring the arts and museums, unwind while strolling down Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. The small-owner operated storefronts welcome tourists and passer-bys with quality service and smiles to all.

Big Fun is one of the stores on Coventry Road, and holds true to their name.. the store is truly "Big Fun"! Head "Back to the Future" as you walk through the doors and experience toys and collectibles from your youth, and perhaps even from your parents youth. As you weave through the store, shoppers of every age seem to squeal as they recognize a childhood favorite toy. From Star Wars to Shrek, to Trolls and Mad Libs; to stickers, bumper stickers and Garbage Pail Kids trading cards; to the A-Team, GI Joe, band memoribilia, and more- every nook and cranny holds a new and exciting surprise.

Finish off the day with dinner at Tommy's Restaurant and one of his 'famous' milkshakes. (My strawberry milkshake was phenominal- seriously the best shake I have ever had in my life!!) The menu caters to palates of all walks of life. Whether you are vegetarian, vegan, 'meat-a-tarian', kosher, or can't eat glueten, you'll find something on the menu that will make you happy. The home cut french fries are out of this world, and you can taste the freshness in all of the food. Learn more about the history of some of the menu items, and how Tommy's supports local farmers and dairies in our interview clip on YouTube.

The rooms at the Doubletree Hotel in Cleveland were clean and inviting, with a beautiful window view of the lake- perfect for watching the gorgeous lightning, as a storm rolls through. The bed was super comfortable, and the shower refreshing and clean.

For more information on hotels, lodging, accomodations and tourism in the greater Cleveland area, be sure to visit Positively Cleveland or contact their visitors hotline at 800.321.1004.


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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Freschetta Flatbread Pizza Review +$1 off Coupon!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Freschetta. All opinions are 100% mine.

We are pizza eaters. We order delivery, we make some from scratch, and we buy frozen brands to keep in the freezer for busy nights. Typically, I love flat bread pizza. Unfortunately, most frozen brands I've tried in the past seem to taste like cardboard.. or concrete. They are either flavorless, or super hard and I've never repurchased them. When I was given the opportunity to review the new 12" Freschetta FlatBread Pizza from Freschetta and Social Spark, I was excited, but wary from my past experiences.

With the coupons I received to try this product, I chose the Zesty Italian flat bread pizza, and the 5-Cheese pizza. The "plain" pizza, as the kids called it, was anything but plain. The thin, crispy crust baked evenly and quickly; the cheese was a perfect blend of mozzarella, asiago, romano, parmesan and provolone, which my picky eaters seemed to devour in minutes.

The Zesty Italian was topped with pepperoni, sausage, Genoa salami, mozzarella and asiago cheeses, with a zesty red sauce.. perfect for my husband and I, who like a little "extra" on our pizza. The ingredients taste fresh and the flavors meld wonderfully; best of all, the pizzas are made with REAL, all-natural cheese.

Freschetta Flat Bread Pizzas are available in four different varieties: Zesty Italian, Roasted Garlic & Spinach, Pepperoni, and 5-Cheese. All in all, I was very impressed by the fresh, flavorful ingredients, and the well-baked crispy flat bread.  Don't take my word for it, print out your $1 off coupon and try out your new favorite flat bread pizza now!

If you're on Facebook, be sure to "Like" the Freschetta page to join in on the discussion, get tips on turning your pizza into a delicious calzone, and more!



Visit my sponsor: Freschetta Pizza

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