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Friday, December 19, 2014

Review: Handmade Charms by Sasha Smith


I have a confession. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to have a charm bracelet. My biggest problem was that I simply couldn't find charms that were unique enough and still meant something to me. And even though I can knit a badass sweater, I never did learn how to make my own adorable charms. Therefore, my charm bracelet dreams never came to be.

Enter Handmade Charms by Sasha Smith, and her Etsy shop, Squished Berries! Sasha makes completely adorable charms out of polymer clay. Now, being crafty myself, I've dabbled in the world of polymer clay, but she creates such wonderfully detailed pieces of art that I couldn't even dream of making. Every charm comes with a lobster clasp to make putting the charm on and taking it off of your bracelet extremely easy.


I was finally able to realize my dream of a charm bracelet when I received four adorable charms, two beautiful scones (because I told her that I like to bake) and two mother baby charms (hearts with footprints) to represent each of my children. I also received a set of super cute fun chocolate chip cookie earrings. I quickly put them on a link bracelet I already owned.

The level of detail on these is absolutely amazing, especially on the scones. The icing and chips are simply perfect. Every time I wear my (frankly too cute) charms, I get a plethora of comments and compliments on them. Also with my charms and earrings there was a lovely handwritten “Thank you and Happy Holidays” note that added a sweet, personal touch to the whole thing.  That's the sort of extra that I really appreciate about small businesses.

While browsing her Etsy shop, I found that most of her charms are drool worthy food, from caramel apples to sushi, though there are a few nonfood items as well.

 She also offers a plain necklace and a plain bracelet so you can get everything to make your own charmed jewelry in one place.

 Also available are a couple custom charm bracelets, a pregnancy cravings bracelet where you can put all of your favorite pregnancy foods on a bracelet, and a book bracelet that lets you proudly show off your favorite books.

While she is currently not taking any more orders until the new year, I am definitely keeping HandmadeCharms by Sasha Smith in mind for future gifting opportunities, as well as updating my new shiny charm bracelet!   

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Giveaway: Pacidose Pacifier Medicine Dispenser


Last month, I had the honor of bringing you a review on Pacidose - the pacifier medicine dispenser. Now they have agreed to give one of you lucky readers your own Pacidose!

My daughter is now 3.5 months and we still use it, without complaint, whenever any kind of meds are needed. It continues to be the best option we have come across. With medical grade oral syringe, accurate measurements, and unique tube running through a baby friendly pacifier it is mess free and met with little resistance from your little one. 


The giveaway is for one free Pacidose, with a value of $7.99 open to all residents within the US.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS ONLY 
and will end just before midnight ET on 1-1-15. 

The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Glomtom Ergonomic Support for Gamers


This is for all my gamers out there, you know who you are: you who had to beat the same game eight times because you NEEDED to see every ending, you who just had to have that platinum achievement for getting  "100%" progress in game.

Hey you in the back! Yes, you, oh self proclaimed "non-gamer".  Didn't you drain your phone's battery no less than three times making sweet three-in-a-rows of candy or flinging disgruntled birds into curiously colored pigs?  I thought so.  Its time for us all to admit that we all have some dalliance into digital distractions, and that's just fine.

Now that we gamers have decided to join the conversation, I have something to bring to your attention.  Your posture is probably atrocious.

Think about it, your default gaming posture most likely consists of some of the following: back arched forward, shoulders slumped and rolled in towards chest, upper body supported by elbows on thighs or knees, hands dangling from weak wrists, all punctuated by jerking your body as your character gets trounced by the boss- for the 267th time.


If this sounds uncomfortably accurate of you, don't feel bad; I did the same thing.  That is, until I got my Glomtom.

The Glomtom is a simple ergonomic support that makes gaming, or any activity involving a handheld digital device, so much more comfortable that once you start using it regularly, you will never want to go without again.  All of this awesome even comes in a delightfully simple package: a cushion-like object that sits in your lap.

By simply elevating your arms fifteen degrees, posture is corrected and tension that you didn't event realize you were building up is diminished.

This all sounded to good to be true, so to check for myself I stopped using the Glomtom halfway through a session, and the difference was so shocking I had to steal it back from the wife right away.

As you can guess, the Glomtom is really comfortable.  The cushion is a very sturdy foam that has just the right amount of give, much more support than from your standard pillow from the bed, and the cover is a durable microfiber cloth that doubles as a great mousepad and is really soft (I may have caught the wife petting it once).

It even has a zippered pocket on the front for storing gaming controllers, or whatever else you would like to stash in you newest gaming accessory, like snacks.

The only thing I can find close to a con on this product is that it's a bit bulky try and toss in a backpack and bring with you to a buddy's house.  But to be honest, its bulk helps make it comfy and I don't really expect it to ever leave arm's reach of my couch anyway, so it's a moot point.

Also, thus far, it is available in a Henry Ford-esque array of color schemes ranging all the way from grey with black trim to grey with black trim (which actually looks quite sharp to me, but I'm sure some color choices would be welcome).

The Glomtom is available on their website for $59.99 and they will be sure to get you the tracking information within a day.  They advise you to plan for a week for FedEx to deliver, though rush shipping is available.

 So, if you have a gamer on your shopping list (that might even be you) please consider instead of a game, the Glomtom; every game will eventually be set aside for something new, but the Glomtom will enhance one's gaming experiences for many years to come.

Glomtom on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glomtom
Glomtom Website: http://glomtom.com/


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Monday, December 15, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Haute Bellies


I recently had the pleasure of working with Brittani, owner of Haute Bellies, in order to review her products. Haute Bellies offers monthly age stickers and pregnancy belly monthly stickers on their Etsy page. They also sell name labels and closet dividers to separate baby’s clothes by size.  

With a brand new baby girl, I was excited to check out Haute Bellies Also, having a busy 3 year old at home I don’t have the time to makeup those adorable monthly chalkboard or poster boards you see on Pinterest. You know what I’m talking about - the ones with baby’s stats and what they’re doing that month. Haute Bellies was a perfect option to capture the changes over the first year of my daughter’s life. Yay, maybe she won’t have 2nd child syndrome after all!

Additional neat products they offer are a set for babies first holidays and a  variety of sets called “My Firsts”. The “My firsts” set includes: first smile, first tooth, first food, I can stand, I can walk, first haircut, I can roll over, I can wave, and I can run. I thought that the “My firsts” was a great idea and something I haven’t seen offered before!

I was given the option to choose my own design from their vast selection. They have over 350 designs for girl, boy, or gender neutral month stickers! 

Prices for monthly age stickers are $8.50 for 12 month’s worth of stickers. All stickers except the tie designs come ready to use. The tie design will have to be cut out before each use by the customer.

There were so many amazing options it was hard to pick a favorite! I chose a simple, but colorful print and had it customized with my daughter Hannah’s name.

The stickers came in a hard envelope to prevent any damage such as bending. I was so excited to see them when they arrived! I was not disappointed they were adorable and great quality. 

The stickers are printed on matte paper rather than glossy paper to prevent flash glare when you’re doing your monthly photo shoot of your little one.



I dressed my 1 month old, Hannah, in a plain white onesie so the sticker would stand out. They were very simple to use, just peel and stick! Quickly, we were ready to create memories! The sticker showed up clearly in the photos. It stuck well and she wore it for a few more hours without the sticker peeling.

Overall, I was very pleased with the quality and customer service from Haute Bellies. I would recommend Haute Bellies to anyone with a new baby on the way. Also, these stickers would make a wonderful baby shower gift!

Haute Bellies Etsy Shop
Haute Bellies on Facebook


Haute Bellies has decided to offer a giveaway to our readers! The winner will be able to order a set of monthly stickers of their choosing, a holiday set, and a “My Firsts” set! (That's 3 sets going to one winner) Customization is also included if desired.  

This is a value of $25.50 and is open to our readers worldwide!

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open WORLD WIDE and will end just before midnight ET on 12-29. 

The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 48 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected. (We are lengthening response times slightly to account for the holidays, but please keep an eye on the email you entered with!)

Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Laura Ingalls Wilder Santa Printable

Artist: Garth Williams
Like many, I grew up reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's series of tales about growing up as the daughter of a restless pioneer.  The fictional Laura, based on the author herself, shared Pa's pioneer spirit and inclination to the adventure of seeking new land beyond the boundaries of settled country.  From her Ma, she learned how to be a gracious and capable woman far away from the trappings of civilization.

Of course, much of her life seemed exotic - full of family tales of being chased by wild animals or blizzards so blinding one could get lost and freeze to death traveling from house to barn, or children left alone during a storm burning up all the household furniture to stay warm.

Certainly, I'd never (and still haven't) experienced a hog butchering or done laundry outdoors in a tub. Wilder's deft talent for describing these difficult tasks and experiences made them come alive, and seem not only not tedious, but intriguing and magical.

Even so, in many ways, I identified with Laura - I grew up in a military family, so we too were always making a home in a new place and her own sense of adventure and joy in discovering simple features of each new place is how I strove to be regarding my own experiences of being the 'new kid' once again.

In several of her stories, she wrote about Christmas - sometimes the holiday included festivities, and sometimes they were very, very  simple. But always, they were full of love and each family member plotting to find someway to secretly provide a holiday gift for the others, often with very limited resources.

When my children were growing up, Christmas was often trapped in excessive consumption - as they were and are for most these days - and in many ways I regret that and wish I could have a do-over. At the least, I regret that I didn't weight the concept of giving thoughtful gifts more highly than the concept of hoping to get your heart's material desires.

But always, in homage to the Ingalls Family, I would tuck an orange, a banana, and a few unshelled walnuts into each stocking.  They didn't always get it - there were occasional complaints, especially about the nuts!

But when one or the other of them would discover the Little House series for themselves, I always hoped they'd read one of the Christmas passages and see those simple little treats for what they were - an opportunity to be a part of a simple and meaningful tradition, and a chance to be glad for the luxury of living in a world where oranges and bananas and walnuts are not seen as exotic or hard to find. To remember that there was a time not so very long ago when such things were rarely experienced treasures from far away.

One of my (many) favorite passages comes from "On the Banks of Plum Creek", when the family moved into a sod house in Minnesota.  In this passage, Ma and the girls have a conversation about Santa Claus.

“Ma!” Laura cried. “There IS a Santa Claus, isn’t there?”

“Of course there’s a Santa Claus,” said Ma. She set the iron on the stove to heat again.

“The older you are, the more you know about Santa Claus,” she said. “You are so big now, you know he can’t be just one man, don’t you? You know he is everywhere on Christmas Eve. He is in the Big Woods, and in Indian Territory, and far away in York State, and here. He comes down all the chimneys at the same time. You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, Ma,” said Mary and Laura.

“Well,” said Ma. “Then you see–“

“I guess he is like angels,” Mary said, slowly. And Laura could see that, just as well as Mary could.

Then Ma told them something else about Santa Claus. He was everywhere, and besides that, he was all the time.

Whenever anyone was unselfish, that was Santa Claus.

Christmas Eve was the one time when everybody was unselfish. On that one night, Santa Claus was everywhere, because everybody, all together, stopped being selfish and wanted other people to be happy. And in the morning you saw what that had done.

“If everybody wanted everybody else to be happy, all the time, then would it be Christmas all the time?” Laura asked, and Ma said, “Yes, Laura.”


On a whim, I decided to make a printable using a bit of this passage as inspiration - if you click the Download link, you will find a high rez version suitable for printing out as an 8x10".  Of course, you could also make it smaller to fit a smaller frame, or to be the cover for a holiday card.

I hope you enjoy it, and I'd love to hear in comments what you loved best about the Little House series! Feel free to share you own favorite passage.


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review/Giveaway: Sadie Snacks Homemade Dog Treats


There is nothing our dog Sadie likes more than tasty treats in her face. When I was offered the opportunity to review treats from Sadie Snacks, I was happy to take it since they literally have her name on them.

Sadie Snacks are all natural and come in a variety of flavors, each with its own blend of ingredients intended to provide your dog with a healthy nutritional boost. Owners Lea and Jim Wonsey first developed the homemade snacks for their own Sadie, who, like our Sadie, is a rescue dog.

For this review, the company provided a sampler of all their varieties, nine in all. Because they contain nothing that is unfit for human consumption, such as chicken by-products or English peas (I have my limits!), I sampled them along with Sadie.

The treats are bone-shaped cookies. They are quite hard, so a dog’s sharp teeth are better suited for eating them than a human’s.

To this human's palate, the cookies all taste pretty much the same. (That said, we had a two-legged houseguest staying with us for a few days who declared them 'addictive'!)

The whole wheat flour base is the prominent flavor, and the added ingredients are subtle. The ingredients are more noticeable in the aroma than in the flavor.  (They look the same other than slight color variations, too, so if you have more than one variety and plan to keep them stored by individual flavor, take time to label the containers.)

More important than the flavor, though, is the health benefits the ingredients bring to dogs. The one ingredient present in all nine varieties of Sadie Snacks, along with the flour base, is cranberry. Cranberry helps to prevent or treat urinary tract infections in dogs as well as humans (although please do not substitute it for veterinary care).


Many of the other ingredients in the treats likewise have beneficial effects.

Ginger, found in the Spotted Pear and the Slap my Ginger and Call Me Bugsy flavors, can help to settle an upset stomach.

Flax seed, present in seven of the nine treats, provides omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are good for skin and coat health, as well as helping to keep aging joints supple.

Vegetables, prominent in Bark-Luv-A (spinach) and Mixed Breed (green beans and carrots) provide vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Check out the product details at the Sadie Snacks website for a complete list of the ingredients in each variety.


Sadie has eagerly eaten every one she's been offered, so I can confidently say that they will be a hit with your dog. They don’t last long when attacked by a sharp-toothed creature.

The snacks are fairly small, so depending on how indulgent you want to be, you can give your beast more than one at a time. They would make ideal training aids for that reason.  Break a few in half and you can reward a dozen or more obeyed commands without worry of spoiling his or her appetite for dinner. (Like that would ever happen anyway.)

Right now, all bags (regularly $5.00) and their Holiday Gift Boxes (regularly $14.00) are available for 50 cents off through Dec. 31.

Sadie Snacks Website
Sadie Snacks on Facebook
Sadie Snacks on Twitter




In addition, Sadie Snacks is offering a giveaway for our readers. Three lucky dog lovers will each win a gift box containing 50 Sadie Snack treats in the winners’ choice of flavor, a $14 value.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Rafflecopter, then leave the name you commented under and your email in the box in the Rafflecopter entry. (This allows us to contact you if you win!)  This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning.

This giveaway is open WORLD WIDE and will end just before midnight ET on 12-27. 

The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours after the end of the giveaway.  In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 48 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected. (We are lengthening response times slightly to account for the holidays, but please keep an eye on the email you entered with - you won't want to miss out on this one!)

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: Freaker USA


Picture this: it's a warm summer day, you're at the neighborhood barbecue with your cold beverage in hand, when you meet someone new and reach out to shake their hand and introduce yourself, but UGH! Your nice, cold beverage bottle has left your hand all wet and clammy from condensation! Now you gotta wipe that off.

Scenario number two; it's nice and cold outside, and you've chosen to bring a comforting warm mug of something with you while you run your errands. The only problem is, your travel mug is just too hot to handle and by the time you can bring your mug to your mouth to enjoy its warm delicious contents, it's turned into a disappointing, lukewarm liquid of despair.

Both of these unwelcome scenarios could have been easily avoided if only you had a Freaker from Freaker USA.

Freaker is a one size fits all bottle insulator that is made right here in America. And when they say one size fits all, they truly mean it! I've tried mine out on everything from a baby bottle to a wine bottle from Olive Garden (you know, the ones with the HUGE bulbous bottoms?).

 Not only do they fit everything under the sun, they also do an AMAZING job of insulation! They keep your cold drinks cold and your hot drinks hot! Added bonus, you always know which drink is yours at a party (though they will kind of crush a red solo cup....).


I was sent four different designs to use,  Ate-Bit, Private Eyes, Sherlock Homie, and Cracker Jack, as well as a lovely little note. Each of us in my family picked a favorite, which was helpful in identifying our drinks. Private Eyes meant Mommy's drink, Sherlock Homie meant Daddy's, the Cracker Jack was Mischief's, while Ate Bit went on the baby's bottles when we went out.

Not only did they do a phenomenal job of keeping our hands dry and our drinks cool, we also had people going out of their way to ask us where we got these supercool drink koozies!  Being that two of them were used exclusively for small children, the Freakers saw the inside of my washing machine more than once, and have held up fantastically!  There has been no reduction of its stretchiness, even after trips through both washer and dryer!



You can find your very own Freaker for $9.99 on their website Freaker USA or by finding a store near you with their store locator . Designs switch out often, so check in frequently.

While you're looking at all of the great designs (why not choose one inspired by your home state, or one in your team's colors?), be sure to look at the rest of their frankly hilarious website.

 Not sure how to style your amazing new Freaker? Check out their Looks page, it will give you some quite marvelous inspiration.  Take a peek at their Videos page for some entertainment.  Keep an eye on their blog for news about the company and any new products. They also offer the Cuppow, a device that transforms an ordinary mason jar into a travel mug.

I don't go anywhere anymore without my trusty Freaker to protect my drinks, and I will be getting a Freaker for all of my loved ones to guard theirs as well! 

Freaker USA on Facebook

 

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