Thursday, June 19, 2014

Influenster, VoxBox, and Herbal Essences... oh my!

I signed up for Influenster a few months back. A friend of mine posted a picture of her first VoxBox and I was oohing and aahing over the goodies. After checking out the website and reading a bit more I was convinced it was for me! Here's what Influenster is all about:

Influenster is a community of TRENDSETTERS, social media masterminds, and EDUCATED CONSUMERS who live to give opinions of products and experiences.

Influensters meet here to learn about new products from our favorite brands as well as review the products they already use in their day-to-day lives.

Influenster invites its most active members to participate in exclusive VoxBox programs where members receive complimentary products to test and review. In exchange, we ask our members to do what they already love to do: share their opinions with their friends & followers on social media.

But that's not all. We have a lot going on including digital challenges, twitter parties, & contests - take a look around!

So, after the initial signup I was dragging my heels. Or rather, I just totally forgot about it. Until a survey popped up in my inbox and I spent the 2 minutes filling it out. Well, what do you know! I actual am getting my first VoxBox! It's for Herbal Essences Naked which is right up my ally. I'm a total curly girl, always looking for something more GREEN, and what lady doesn't love free beauty products?  I'm stoked! I'll be sure and weigh in and let you guys know what I thought of the box and the Naked products!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hello there!

In case you hadn't noticed it's been quite a while since my last posting. We've had some big changes in our home and even more are in the works. My husband changed jobs after 10 years and the new job is moving us to a new area. I'm very excited about the move, and ready for a change of scenery. The area we're migrating to has more natural shopping options and is a city hub. It's going to be a big change from the rural setting we've been living in, but we've thrived in the city before and we will do it again!

 In the meantime I've been trying tons and tons of SNEAKY experiments! I've made another batch of laundry detergent, worked on perfecting my dishwashing powder, made, used (and not stunk!), and enjoyed homemade deodorant, concocted the most scrumptious chewy granola cars, attempted calcium powder using farm fresh eggs, and subsequent homemade toothpaste (FAIL!) using said powder. All in all it's been a productive couple of months, and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you.

Don't forget to check back with me and see what I'll be sharing!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Glow Bug Cloth Diaper Review

Many parents are seeking out cloth diapers because the expense of using disposables is overwhelming. They look into cloth, see some of the cute little calculators breaking down the savings and BOOM they're starting a stash. Then they see an ultra cute diaper, but WHOA... the price tag! It's true. Many a money-saver has succumb to the ultra cute, ultra bank-breaking cloth diaper addiction.

How can you feed your cute cloth addiction and ensure you're still saving money? Glow Bug diapers. They ONLY sell diapers in packages. This guarantees that you're getting the most bang for your buck, and allows them to reduce the cost per diaper because every customer is buying in bulk! They have adorable prints, vivid colors, and seasonal diapers to keep an eye out for.

The design of Glow Bug's diapers is also innovative. These are pockets diapers, but both ends of the diapers have openings. No need to fish through a poopy pocket cover to rescue your insert! And don't worry that the insert will slip out, each diaper and insert snap together to keep everything where it belongs. {whispers... these inserts can be used with other diapers, and I haven't had a single issue with a regular insert migrating where it doesn't belong.}

Let's look at all the spec's together, shall we?

  • PRICE! (6 pack for $70-$75, 12 pack for $150)
  • One Size (fits from 7lbs to 35lbs)
  • Pocket Diaper with dual opening
  • Comes in prints and solids
  • Double rows of snaps, with cross over features to fit even the teeniest waists
  • Double gussets... think poop explosion crowds control 
  • SlimDry fabric. It is exactly what it sounds like. Fabric designed to stay dry without the bulk.
  • Wing snaps on top row to prevent dropping. Droopy butts are so uncool.

Just look at some of the cuteness you can buy in their packages!
So if you're considering cloth diapers, know someone who is thinking about it, or just need to beef up your current stash, get thy money saving tush to Glow Bug diapers and check out their BIGGEST SALE EVER!

Roll call - PRESENT!

Who remember walking into their grade-school classroom, sitting in their desk (probably scratched with several names), and waiting for the teacher to go through the roll and call their name. Remember how you started squirming in your seat as Ashley and Ben and John were called and you knew the teacher was getting closer to you? That's been me. I've been absent from the blogroll lately, and I apologize. I've had tons on my plate, and even more on my mind. Mystery lumps and lethargy from Noah, inexplicable tummy pain from Lina, keeping up with schoolwork and homework with Henry, and readying Luke for preschool next year. Add to that the seasonal sicknesses that infiltrate a home of 6, regular housework, cooking, keeping up with 6 pets (we've aquired a random dog who eats Bella's food and sleeps on her mat),Hubby transitioning to his new job and well... I've had so much going on in live that I've had little time for personal ventures. Today is actually the first time I've sat down on the "big" computer since... ummm... well, I honestly can't remember.

But I'm back. I'm here. Present and accounted for. I can't promise I'll make it to class every day, but when I'm here I will make it worth your while to be reading and sneaking along with me.

So... I've been called on and checked off the roll for today. Let's see who else is here!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to school bash and more ovenless innovations

Tomorrow will be my big boy's first day back to school after Christmas vacation. We've had a fun time and I am honestly going to miss him being home. Since today is our last day together I wanted to do some fun things and celebrate his return to structured education, rather than sending him grudgingly. So we had a back to school bash breakfast!

And what did he want? Cinnamon rolls. Great. Wonderful. Yum. But what about my oven? It's broke, remember. So I called up my good friend, Google. We have an intimate relationship, Google and I. Anytime I have a question, she's always there for me with an answer. I might have to fact check her every now and then, but usually she's spot on. She is a bit of a gossip, but I can look past that as her sheer awesomeness outweighs her gossipy nature. 

Back to the point. So I called Google and said, "How do I cook cinnamon rolls without an oven." First she tried telling me a joke and said to put a pan outside in the sun. She obviously doesn't realize it's January, and in the 40s. No go. Then she recommended a toaster oven. HA! What part of "without an oven" didn't she understand?! Then... a ha... success! She recommended I try my waffle iron. I was totally up for the challenge! 

It was as simple as making waffles, took a little less time actually, and the result was beautiful! A very thing crispy outer coating, just like browned cinnamon rolls, fully, soft insides, and the waffles indentations on top were the quintessential icing pockets. I don't think I'll ever make cinnamon rolls in the oven again. These were done in under 5 minutes, even though I had to do 2 batches! 

Wanna try? Here's what you do.

1. Preheat your waffle iron. I used a belgian waffle maker since the resevoirs are a little deeper. It worked perfect!
2. Put 1 cinnamon roll on each waffle section, and close the iron. It will not close all the way, but that's ok. It doesn't need to.
3. Cook. They only take 2-3 minutes, depending on your iron.

4. Remove, ice, and enjoy! 

Everyone here LOVED them. Including mama. Imagine never having to heat your oven to make cinnamon rolls again. Imagine the electricity I saved. Imagine the $$ I saved. Imagine wanting cinnamon rolls in the summer and NOT having to sacrifice the comfortable temperature inside to do so. I am over the moon about this new discovery! Now to find more things to cook in the waffle iron.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Living Without An Oven {BONUS} Skillet Lasagna Recipe

You might remember my post mentioning my dryer and oven dying simultaneously. We already have chosen to go microwave free, so adding no oven to that mix felt disastrous at first! If I had leftovers to reheat I would pop them in the oven. Need to crisp something up? Oven. Baked ziti, lasagna, casserole, cornbread, muffins, french toast sticks. Oven, oven, oven. Needless to say I've had to improvise quite a bit. I actually reheated a slice of pizza on the stove. It worked out pretty well, I must say! Cheese was all melty, and the crust actually crisped back up!

This has also meant that I've had to either eliminate or change-up certain family staples. Take lasagna for example. Can you possibly make a good lasagna with only your stovetop?? Before my oven catastrophe I would have said no, but now... YES! I stumbled across another phenomenal blog, a foodie blog called Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and I fell in love. I've tried a handful of her recipes so far, and the Simple & Meaty Skillet Lasagna is one of our favorites.

Not only is it just as good as lasagna from the oven, but the method in which it is cooked means that it takes no longer than a boxed dinner. But the health benefits of it being homemade, and being able to eliminate all the toxic additives to a boxed dinner, are unsurpassed. So enjoy the recipe! I did tweak it just a little, but that was simply to adjust the consistency to one more close to that of our family lasagna. The dots of ricotta throughout are simply heavenly! Make sure you use good quality ricotta! Bon appetite!

Mel's final product. YUM!

Meaty Skillet Lasagna

  • 3 cans (14.5oz) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed or minced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs dried basil
  • 1/2 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1/2 lb ground italian sausage, mild or sweet
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 12 curly edged lasagna noodles, broken into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 3/4 cup ricotta ( NOT low-fat!)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until the garlic becomes fragrant and pepper tickles your nose... less than a minute. Watch that the garlic doesn't start to brown or burn! Add the meat and stir to combine with the onion, garlic, and pepper. Brown until there is no pink left in the meat.

Add the tomatoes and spices and stir everything to combine. Add the broken lasagna noodles, stir again, and bump the heat up to medium-high. Stir often and cook until the pasta is al dente.

Remove pan from the heat and stir in half the mozzarella and parm, drop dollops of the ricotta all over the pan, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and parm. Serve and enjoy!

Lil Helper Cloth Diaper Review

After cloth diapering 4 children, it takes something extra special to wow you. You would think that with as many brands are out there, as many different types of diapers that are available, that true innovation would be hard to come by. But Lil Helper has managed to do that!

When I got Lil Helper's one-size charcoal bamboo diaper in the mail I was doing a happy dance. All of my littles have been super heavy wetters, and this makes nighttime diapering a pain in the butt (pun intended). They've leaked through most diapers, even sposies, and even laying them down with a butt that is so fluffy is lifts their tail-end off the bed doesn't always help. On top of the heavy wetting is the issue os ammonia build-up. It happens to all cloth diaper mamas eventually, especially once your stash is built up to the point that you only need to wash your diaper every couple of days. The Lil Helper charcoal bamboo inserts are THE ANSWER! Here's some detailed info on them from their site.

  •  Keep Your Baby Feeling Dry: The charcoal liners can hold more than 180 ml of liquid and the great part is that your child will still feel dry. Keeping your child’s skin dry is the best way to remedy diaper rashes- charcoal bamboo’s wicking ability let’s you do just that. 
  •  Let’s You Air-Out Your Baby: Most pediatricians suggest that it is best to let your baby go commando or without a diaper. This is highly impractical. The leak resistant organic cotton/bamboo cover will let your baby’s skin breath while still providing protection.
  • Rash Creams Not Necessary: Rash prevention creams are supposed to create a water-barrier to keep your baby’s skin dry. But before application if your child is not thoroughly dry you could worsen the rash by trapping moisture on your child’s bum. You do not need any rash cream while using our charcoal bamboo cloth diapers. Our natural materials will keep your baby dry and well ventilated.
  • No Ammonia Smell: The charcoal present in our cloth diaper neutralizes most of the ammonia in your baby’s urine. You will no longer smell the strong odour of ammonia coming out of your baby’s diaper the next time you change them. Ammonia also worsens a child’s diaper rash- thankfully the charcoal takes care of this miscreant as well.
  • Soothing: The organic, hypoallergenic and anti-bacterial qualities of charcoal bamboo are best suited to soothe your baby's nasty diaper rash.

  • Pros The real info, from me? These diapers are AH-mazing! No ammonia smell when you walk into the baby's room in the morning. No leaks. No twisted or bunched inserts because they snap in place at both ends, no having to dig in a pocket for a lost insert, no stains, no bulky diapers that make your baby waddle or impede their ability to learn to walk, definitely trim enough and absorbent enough to wear for a day out and about, and the BEST fitting diaper I think I've ever tried! Seriously, my 16 month old is only on the second set of rise snaps, and there is another one down, and two more up! The waist in snug, and with the overlapping snaps even your littlest one can fit. Officially they range from 7lbs to 35lbs, but that seems to be the standard among most diapers, and I know this one will stretch beyond that size, as well as fit snugger in every growing stage.

    Want more Lil Helper awesomeness? They also carry soft, silky, bamboo wipes (truly luxurious! You wouldn't be amiss to use them as a pampering washcloth for mama instead of a poop swiper for baby's bottom. Not that I would do that or anything. Nope. Not me.), zippered or drawstring wetbags, and mats for the crib or on the go changes. The wetbags hold 3-4 diapers, and the drawstring type that I tried has been great. No leaks, and the bag draws up nice and tight so it keeps odors contained.

    Have I said enough good things yet? Not quite. On top of producing a top-notch diaper, Lil Helper is also extending a helping hand to babies in need. For every 3 Lil Helper diapers that are purchased, another will be donated to a baby in need. The program is called Baby Do Good and these donations happen on a monthly basis. You can read the heart-warming stories on their blog. To read more about why Lil Helper started their program and to have any other questions about it answered you can check out the Baby Do Good page on their website. Thank you for giving back Lil Helper, we applaud you!

    Cons Cons? Hmmmm, I want to give everyone a fair and honest review here, and that really does mean no cons. I haven't found a single thing about the diaper, wipes, or wetbag that I don't like.

    Hands down, Lil Helper has become my favorite new diaper. It's solved so many bothersome problems for us, and there is nothing like the peace of mind knowing you don't have to worry about finding ammonia burns on your baby's bum in the morning. It gives you both a better night's sleep!