Monday, June 30, 2014

Preschool July 2014: Week 1

Miss O is doing very well with Progressive Phonics. We started with the Alphabetti series, reading them on the computer and print out an activity or two that goes with it. I'm kind of skipping over the "ball and stick" letter formations....just letting her write the letter how she thinks she can and we sign it as well. Rhyme a She is great with associations. The rhymes come with a set of cards where you finish the rhyme, and she will choose the right one based on the information, not the word sound. We'll keep trying.

This week the library is doing "hoofs, fins and wings" so maybe we can find something to go along with that.

Working with Miss Em on body parts because she seems interested. She knows where her toes, belly button, hair, and nose are. She can point out my eye, but points to her own ear when asked about her eye.

Menu Plan Monday Week of June 30

Dairy free week wasn't so bad, we can keep this up. I definitely snuck cheese sticks while the kids weren't watching. I finally found a variety of dairy free yogurts. We bought almond, soy, goat milk, and coconut. So far have tried almond and soy, neither Miss Em nor I really enjoyed the almond...she likes the soy ok, but we will really limit soy intake. We haven't tried the others yet. 

I try to keep it pretty Clean.

On the Menu this week:

Monday - zucchini nuggets & fried potatoes
Tuesday - shrimp & salad
Wednesday - spaghetti
Thursday - crockpot lemon chicken, veggies, & rice
Friday - egg salad
Saturday - kid pick
Sunday - leftovers

If there are new recipes for the week, I will have them pinned here.
And then I will move them here with my commentary after I've tried them.
See more MPM at OrgJunkie

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

REVIEW: pureSOL Konjac Facial Sponge w Bamboo Charcoal

Konjac is a plant native to Asia.  In Japan, Konjac has been used as a food source for hundreds of years as well as to wash newborn babies. Konjac is a moisture rich plant fibre which is by nature alkaline, and thus balances the acidity of the skin's impurities and oils. The unique net like structure of the sponge gently massages the skin, breaks down dirt, stimulates blood flow and new growth of skin cells. Leaving the skin extremely clean and refreshed!

pureSOL Konjac Sponge is unbelievably soft and excellent for all skin types! It is made of 100% pure vegetable fiber and processed without any coloring or additives, great for hypersensitive skin!  pureSOL Konjac Sponge is completely natural, eco-friendly and free of parabens, sulphates & chemicals.

I have had blackheads on my nose for as long as I can remember. Bad. Recently, I have found the blackheads are all but gone. This in is large part thanks to the pureSOL Konjac Sponge. I have been using it in combination with my Bamboo Charcoal soap from Healing Tree, so it's like a double dose of Bamboo Charcoal! You can use this sponge with just water, if you want, as well. Along with the charcoal, it gently exfoliates and stimulates the skin, drawing out toxins and impurities without irritation.

The sponge should be replaced every 2-3 months and is completely natural, so it can be composted (or thrown into your flower bed) when you're finished with it! The packaging is also 90% compostable -- I love that not only is the product eco friendly, the packing is as well.

It comes with a suction hook so that you can keep it well ventilated. I personally hang it on the mirror rather than the shower so it doesn't spend as much time in the water. If you live in a hot & humid climate, they recommend keeping it in refrigerator. The sponge can also be sterilized every couple of weeks by boiling it in water or popping it in the microwave for a couple minutes!

You can purchase the tiny, but powerful pureSOL Konjac Sponge on Amazon currently for $10.99 !

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

REVIEW: 24 oz Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker Review

Barware Styles 24oz Cocktail Shaker is a Premium Stainless Steel Cocktail Shaker made of superior polished 18/8 stainless steel. It is quite thin, but it's solid. They guarantee it will not rust or your money back.
It has 3 pieces that come apart, making it easy to clean. It also comes with a  free jigger to make your measuring easier. Not a bad deal.

I don't drink much. But I thought it would be really cool to have a cocktail shaker for the rare occasion. In the meantime, I looked for ways to use this with the kids. Naturally, the classic summer festival drink Lemon ShakeUp sounded perfect! I know, it's just lemonade, but there's something special about it. I never seem them made the "right" way anymore, even at the fairs.

I found a great list of kiddie cocktails/mocktails for us to try as well. The appleade sounds fantastic, as does the ugly bug. And several others.
And here you can find cocktail and mocktail counterparts of wonderful sounding Frost Bite and Meet Me At the Mistletoe drinks.

You can purchase the Barware Styles Cocktail Shaker on Amazon for $17.97 right now.

 I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

REVIEW: Pure & Essential Minerals Dead Sea Mud Mask

Pure & Essential Minerals believe that the most powerful and effective ingredients for the care of your skin come directly from nature. They only use the purest ingredients. I was so pleased with what is in this product.
Ingredients include: Pure Dead Sea Mud, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Aloe Vera Juice, Organic Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Jojoba Oil, Hickory Bark Extract, Organic Calendula Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Filtered Water, Xanthan Gum

Deep cleansing Dead Sea mud draws out impurities, toxins and excess oils leaving your skin fresh and clean.
Fine grains act as an exfoliate, removing dead skin cells for a rejuvenating glow.
Tightens the pores for an anti-aging effect.
Moisturizes and hydrates your skin, helping to reduce wrinkles.
Improves blood circulation and initiates natural skin regeneration, adding an all-day radiance to your skin.
Effective relief for skin disorders, including acne, eczema and psoriasis.
What you won't find:
Our Skin care range is free from the myriad harsh chemicals used in many products
on the market today: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES),
synthetic fragrances, animal derivatives, harsh detergents, propylene glycol,
artificial colours, triethanolamine, mineral oils, EDTA, or parabens.
Our products are vegan and cruelty-free - never tested on Animals.
I did this mask when taking a shower because, well, it is mud, which can be messy. When first applying the mask, I found the eucalyptus scent is very strong, but not unpleasant, although it does sting the eyes if you get it too close.  The next thing I noticed was how cold it was, and then it started to make my skin tingle. Again, it wasn't unpleasant, more like it gave me the sense it was actually doing something.
I don't think it helped to clear up acne, but it definitely otherwise cleanses the skin and would help prevent future breakouts.
You don't need to use very much of the mud, and since it's a 6oz tub (much easier to get the right amount than a tube), it should last a while at once per week. It lasts for approximately 30 uses.
You can purchase it yourself on Amazon for $29.44!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

REVIEW: Hyperbiotics Pro-15 The Perfect Probiotic

Hyperbiotics company was developed by Jenny after she had become very sick and decided to do her research, finding gut health was the answer to it all. 

PRO-15 is more effective than capsules, improves your mood an energy levels, relieves sensitive stomach, boosts your immune system, and can help you lose weight. So whatever your health goal, there is some benefit to taking this probiotic.

I'd never taken a probiotic before. I'm more one to eat my nutritional needs than take a supplement, but...I just really love the label. Vegetarian, Non-GMO and Yeast Free, pretty well allergen free, chemical free, no junk.....that's just awesome. It would probably be a good idea to get it verified by the Non-GMO Project, I bet that would pull some people over. The pill is very small and easy to take.

You can purchase up to 2 months worth on Amazon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 23, 2014

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Petbrosia Dog & Cat Food

This is Peanut. He is a...squishy... not so little PinChi (Min Pin/Chihuahua mix), weighing in at 20lb (I laughed a little while reading Petbrosia's Chihuahua feeding page). It's not all fat...he's very muscular, also. He does need to lose a good 8 lbs though. He just received a custom blend of Petbrosia dog food that should help this process. And could hardly wait to dig in!

Petbrosia is an amazing company founded by a husband and wife team for their own duo of dogs with very different energy levels and nutrition needs. Petbrosia never includes artificial flavors, preservatives, colors, or other unnecessary fillers and the blends do not include soy, corn, or wheat. They recently came out with a Grain-Free Salmon blend, which is what we were able to test. Salmon is full of great fats, and it's beneficial to dogs just like it is us! You can learn more about the benefits of salmon for your dog here.
Petbrosia determines the right Petbrosia diet for your dog or cat based on their breed, age, weight, food allergies, activity level, and other needs you feel should be brought to our attention. At Petbrosia, we believe that feeding your pet the very best dog food and the very best cat food begins with all-natural meats, fruits, and vegetables. 
They customize the pet food blend for every order once you complete the profile for your pet. If you have more than one, it is recommended that you buy a special blend for each, but after creating a profile for each pet, they will give you an option to formulate a blend that will benefit them all. 

After you complete this form, it will recommend a blend for your furbaby. They also tell you a little bit about how this works.

Also in our box was a complete profile, including the content percentage per serving, full ingredient list, and serving size. The ingredient list is pretty impressive, if you ask me. And they tell you how to switch over your dog food to be gentle on their tummy here.

The dog kibble is designed for optimal nutrient absorption, resulting in smaller, firmer stools. And I must say, it really smells like kibble. The kibble pieces are designed to be less dense and gentle on teeth.
What are the benefits of our NEW Grain-Free Salmon?
• Salmon is an excellent source of vitamins, essential fatty acids, and protein, and can be a great meat alternative for senior dogs and dogs with food allergies or sensitivities.
• Our Grain-Free Salmon is truly a single protein formula.
• Added L-Carnitine, helps the body utilize fat for energy while maintaining the lean muscle mass which helps reduce the overall body fat.
My little furby loves it and I'm sure yours would as well. See how other dog foods measure up to Petbrosia. 
For an opportunity to try it, you can enter my giveaway below for a free 3lb box of cat or dog food,

Petbrosia is offering my readers a discount on our products $10 off your First Purchase of Petbrosia Pet Foods by entering the promotional code: BRL10

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

REVIEW: Adovia's Dead Sea Salt Conditioner

About Adovia's Dead Sea Salt Conditioner:
Made with Real Dead Sea Salt - 100% Pure and Genuine for an infusion of 21 Minerals Essential to Proper Skin and Hair Function.
Leaves Hair Looking Hydrated, Healthy and Silky.
Helps to Reduce the appearance of Dandruff and Dry, Flaky Scalp. 
Aloe Vera Deeply Nourishes the Scalp and Hair - Hydrating it from Within.
Dead Sea Salt contains more than 21 skin and hair rebuilding minerals such as magnesium, calcium, sulfur, bromide, iodine, sodium, zinc and potassium. 

I previously reviewed Adovia's Dead Sea Mud shampoo. Now I've had the opportunity to try the accompanying conditioner. I liked the shampoo on it's own, but can absolutely tell a difference when using the conditioner. Plus, I may have a slight conditioner problem.... I tend to go through it at least twice as fast as the shampoo, if not three times. That said, I really really tried to use the suggested amount, but probably did a little bit more. The conditioner has left my hair looking and feeling smooth and healthy.

When I went on vacation, I bought some little traditional travel shampoo and conditioner bottles. And I got that flaking back on my scalp by the time I came home. It's almost gone again, which is probably my favorite part of this shampoo and conditioner. Again, I wish it were more natural...but it's better than some.

You can purchase the conditioner on Amazon for $18.75!
I also found the Shampoo & Conditioner in a combo for $39 on Cleopatra's Choice, which is a pretty good deal because separately they'd cost a total of $43. Their product line has grown a great deal since I reviewed the shampoo, definitely a decent line to check out! I believe I have a review of one of their soaps coming soon.

 I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Menu Plan Monday: June 23-29

I haven't done an MPM in a while...between some issues, Vegas, and just not feeling like it....hopping back on the wagon! Miss Em seems to be having some dairy troubles...a protein intolerance, not an allergy... so we're looking at a dairy-free week. It's rather tough because I *love* dairy...and she really loves yogurt. And cream cheese. I'll have to find some dairy free yogurt. Does the non-soy kind have to cost so much?? 

I try to keep it pretty Clean.

On the Menu this week:

Monday - Tacos
Tuesday - Chicken Strips & Fries
Wednesday - Mini Meatloaves (hot dog or shrimp for Miss O)
Thursday - Homemade Pizza Rolls (Some sans cheese)
Friday - Chicken Stir Fry (carrots, zukes, bok choy, broc, rice noodles)
Saturday - Ground Beef Stroganoff (with broth and dairy-free sour cream)
Sunday - BLT salad (or sandwiches...whatever)

If there are recipes for the week, I will have them pinned here.
And then I will move them here with a review after I've tried them.
See more MPM at OrgJunkie

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Preschool June 2014: Week 4

Since we've been pretty off schedule lately, thought I'd organize a little bit. Plan of attack for the week, in no particular order:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

REVIEW: Bamboo Style 6 Piece Kitchen Utensil Set

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I received some more awesome eco-friendly kitchen tools to play with! I love that my kitchen is getting more earthy piece by piece. I hope a cutting board may be next on my list. (It just so happens Bamboo Style offers a set of those, too! Along with some other neat gadgets.)

Anyway, what's so great about this set of Bamboo kitchen utenstils?
Benefits of Bamboo Styles 6-Piece Kitchen Utensils Set
-Durable Moso Bamboo
-15% Stronger than Maple and 33% Lighter than Oak
-Easy to Clean & Maintain
-Natural Bamboo with No Toxic Dyes or Colors
-FSC Certified - To Ensure Sustainable and Ethical Harvesting
-Doesn't Scratch Pans and Pots
-Renewable Resource
-Anti-Bacterial Properties
 I save my stainless steel utensils for my stainless steel pots and pans. The nonstick cookware needs something a little more gentle. I don't really love the idea of plastics melting/leeching into my food. I have several wooden spoons that have splintered. The Moso Bamboo is very strong and this set of untensils are smooth to the touch. They are also easy to clean and won't leave any odd taste in the food.
Eco-Friendly Resource. Durable Moso Bamboo Kitchen Accessories. Moso Bamboo - Harder than Maple Wood!
Durable 6-Piece Kitchen Utensil Gadget Set That Won't Crack Or Warp or Scratch Your Cooking Equipment - Or Your Money Back!
Are you looking for a complete kitchen utensil set for all your cooking needs, that won't hurt the environment? Want to add that natural look to your kitchen? Do you want new kitchenware that is stylish, effective and eco-friendly?
There's nothing worse than buying a new kitchen utensil set only to find out the tools are made from low quality materials that only break and become useless in a few weeks.
Fortunately, our premium bamboo range use only high-quality hard Moso bamboo that is compressed so won't warp and crack. Our products are FDA tested too. This ensures they contain no nasty chemicals, so that you can be confident in serving your family and friends a meal that is purely your own ingredients. We guarantee no warping or cracking or your money back!
 You can purchase your own set on Amazon for only $9.97!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Preschool Progress 6/17

So it's time for us to get back on track. Miss O has definitely been improving, little by little. 

She rarely struggles with letter recognition anymore, upper or lowercase. 
Does have some trouble reading numbers from left to right (i.e. she says 13 is 31), but easily recognizes 0-9 and tells me what prices are sometimes. 
Her counting groups of items by one has improved. 
She can spell her first name out loud, has some difficulty writing the letters h and e still. She does not like fine motor.
Great with beginning sounds, but struggles with rhyming words. I'm unsure how to approach it in another manner...
She knows our street name and our state, and can identify planet earth as well as the moon and sun on a solar system map.

The way Miss Em is progressing with her speech, I have a feeling we'll be teaching her more substantial things soon, too.

REVIEW: WooBamboo Kid's Eco Toothbrush

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. WooBamboo was created by three gentlemen to help people make a small step toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle. A toothbrush is a great, simple, daily reminder that you made a good decision for the planet.

Families especially can go through several plastic toothbrushes a year, and little thought goes into the fact that they all end up in landfills. I've been on a journey over the years that's made me a little more hippie every day, dragging my family along. WooBamboo Toothbrushes are made of organically grown moso bamboo. Moso bamboo is not eaten by Pandas so not only are they earth friendly, sustainable, and biodegradable, they are also Panda friendly! The naturally antimicrobial toothbrushes look great and you can even customize them! The bristles themselves are not biodegradable, but they did extensive testing and found Dupont Tynex nylon to be the best option.

The regular toothbrushes run about $5 each, and the sprout (kids) brushes run about $7 for a 2 pack. Amazon store can be found here, or other retail options can be found on the WooBamboo website.

I received a 2 pack of the sprout toothbrushes and my girls really like them. (Miss Em with hers here) The bristles are bright fun colors and the bamboo handle has a nice feel.

I did notice one counterproductive point - the toothbrushes come in a plastic packaging.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

REVIEW: Ozeri Green Earth Textured Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Ozeri is a specialty manufacturer of digital lifestyle products for the modern home. They originally supplied to the destination club market, which includes vacation residences across the globe. Ozeri relies on customer relations and word of mouth to spread their products, saving the consumer on the selling price.

Utilizing GREBLON -- an ultra-safe ceramic coating from Germany, the Green Earth Pan by Ozeri is one of the world's first frying pans to achieve non-stick perfection while remaining absolutely free of PTFE, PFOA and other harmful chemicals. Conventional cookware and other ceramic cookware brands achieve their non-stick performance through a coating of PTFE (PolyTetraFluoroEthylene), a synthetic substance that has waxy properties. At very high temperatures, PTFE begins to decompose and release fumes which are documented to be lethal to birds and small pets, and which can be harmful to humans. In addition, traditional pans incorporating PTFE are often manufactured with the aid of PFOA (PerFluoroOctanoic Acid), which the EPA has classified as a 'persistent pollutant of the environment'. With the Green Earth Pan's GREBLON ceramic from Germany, even under high temperatures, no harmful toxic fumes are ever released into the environment. This is because the Green Earth Pan utilizes a 100% ceramic coating inspired by nature - not a laboratory. The Green Earth Pan's ceramic coating is completely free of PTFE and PFOA, and far more durable and scratch-resistant than other non-stick surfaces. With better non-stick properties, the Green Earth Pan allows you to saute, fry, bake, boil and braise with as little as half the amount of oil normally used, and cleaning is a breeze. The Green Earth Pan by Ozeri is made of the highest quality die-cast aluminum that allows for even cooking and fantastic browning without hot spots. It boasts a magnetized bottom for rapid heat transfer on induction stoves, and a heat resistant silicone coated handle. This version of the Green Earth Pan features a textured ceramic cooking surface. The elevations of the textured cooking surface create air pockets which distribute heat underneath food to enhance cooking performance. Your satisfaction is guaranteed. GREBLON ceramic made by Weilburger GmbH, Germany. Final assembly in China.

I instantly fell in love with this pan. Eco-friendly cooking gadgets that work are absolutely the best. I love the ceramic and lack of chemicals to make it nonstick. It's very sturdy and looks great. It's quite large so it can hold PLENTY at one time. I would use something else if I were pan frying anything, but for any food that doesn't require a good deal of oil, this is perfect. I put a little butter on it before I used it for the first time, but have not since. Fried or scrambled eggs slide out easily. Chicken doesn't stick, even initially.  Bacon crisped up perfectly (I drained the grease out between batches). Pancakes cooked fantastically. For some reason I only remembered to take pictures of breakfast food. But really, I've been using it for everything!

You can purchaser the Ozeri Green Earth Textured Ceramic Nonstick Frying Pan right now on Amazon for $23.35 - $38.95 (depending on which size you choose)!! Great price for a pan of this quality.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

REVIEW: SuperSwizz Spiral Slicer

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. SuperSwizz Spiral Slicer: Stainless Steel Vegetable Spiralizer with Special Japanese Blades 2 Julienne Sizes, Perfect Spiral Cutter for Low Carb Healthy Vegetable Meals - Best Spirelli Julienne Super Cutter for various Veggies such as Zucchini, Paderno & Carrots - As seen on numerous cooking shows it's Perfect for Low Carb Heart Healthy meals - With Manual and Cleaning Brush

I love cooking. Kitchen gadgets make my day. I was very excited to try this spiral slicer!  I expected it to be a little larger, but the size is actually very convenient for storage. First thing I had to do was make some hash browns! Yum. Second thing I did was search pinterest for some yummy ideas, which you can find here.

I also kind of expected the spiral slicer to be a little easier. Not that it was difficult to use, per se --you just insert the veggie and turn-- but sometimes I had trouble getting the firmer veggies to fully rotate. Perhaps it just takes more practice. It's also rather tough with carrots, as they are thinner and it doesn't give those nice long ribbons. 

The guard proved rather useless, it just shredded the ends of the veggies rather than hold onto them, so I was still left with a good size chunk afterwards. Not a huge issue, good to chop up for soups or something.  The plastic may also stain from the veggies, again not a huge issue as I don't see it as a display piece. 
It is easy to clean. It comes with a small brush or you can throw it in the dishwasher.

The ribbons are great for encouraging my preschooler to eat veggies because they make it a little more fun.

I've never used another spiral slicer so I do not have anything to compare it to, but I have to say it was just ok. I probably wouldn't pay the retail price for the SuperSwizz Spiral Slicer. It is fun for salads, 'noodles', stir fry, etc though.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

REVIEW: 100% Organic Yacon Syrup

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I will update this a little tommorrow, but I need to get it posted today.


Yacon is a root vegetable grown in south America that is sweet, high fiber, and low calorie. Which makes it great for those looking to lose weight. It comes in a variety of colors but typically in the US we find white.

I love that this syrup is 100% organic. Plus some other awesome labels.

 I looked into using it for kids, but there's so little research that it wasn't recommended. Not that I won't give it to them at all, but I certainly wouldn't replace all of their sugar intake with it.

The yacon syrup is relatively thin. I think it is great for drinks and possibly baking (haven't had a chance to try yet), but I wouldn't personally use it as a straight syrup on pancakes or by the spoonfulI received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.