Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Review: Le Parcel


To our Male Readers: You might want to skip this one, unless you really want to wow a woman in your life and get her a gift subscription.

Lets take a moment to talk about something that might be a little taboo, but seriously shouldn’t be: Your periods. They happen. Usually every month and they are not usually fun.

There are many fun names for this monthly blessing/curse. My favorite is “Shark Week”. I tell people it's Shark Week and I either get a nod of sympathy or a groan.  It is a great way to warn my husband. He knows exactly what I’m talking about when I say Shark Week.

"I'm here for you..."
So, its coming up on Shark Week for me and I’m down to what was left in my last box of tampons. I have to go to the store.

I can picture it now. I’m standing at the checkout with my massive multi-pack of tampons, my panty liners, my giant bag of peanut M&M’s and some horrible tabloid magazine. Anyone can look at that and know right away what is going on in my life.

What if I don’t want that look of sympathy? That grimace from the teenage boy ringing up my purchases? How do I get these much needed items without changing out of my fat comfy pants and leaving the house?

The answer is Le Parcel! For just $15 a month plus shipping, I can get my choice of tampons, pads and panty liners, plus gourmet chocolates and a few awesome, pampering treats delivered to my door every month!!  The box will contain up to 25 items, so you can customize it for yourself by selecting how many period care items you need and what type and brand - the rest of the box will be filled with pampering treats and gifts.  You also get to set when it arrived, based on your own cycle!

My Le Parcel box was so pretty that I didn’t want to open it! The packaging was very discreet. It’s not like it said “Deliver with body armor, oh UPS person. The recipient is on the Red Rampage!”

Nope, its just a pretty little brown box that says Le Parcel. It looks like a present. It feels like a present. It does not feel like an angry reminder that the Crimson Tide is about to roll.

Inside the box, I found:
  • a pretty, peach colored bag filled with a variety of tampons and panty liners, 
  • another bag with my gourmet truffles, 
  • a sweet little tin of Rose Vanilla lip balm, 
  • a beautiful handmade journal, 
  • a tiny pack of chicklet style gum and 
  • a gorgeous pastel colored, Pura Vida Bracelet. 

This Shark Week doesn’t seem so bad now! I placed the bag of sundries in my bathroom and wasn’t the least bit embarrassed to leave it out where guests could see it.

I immediately donned my bracelet and lip balm, popped a few pieces of gum and sat down for a moment of quiet reflection in my new journal.

I have already decided I’m signing up for this one! I love the feeling of being pampered and Le Parcel delivers that feeling every month at a bargain!

If you’d like to sign up, you can visit their website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Clear Conscience Pet

1 comment:

This company had the right idea by naming themselves Clear Conscience Pet. When I opened the package that was sent to me, one of the first things I noticed was that these treats are free of grains, glutens, GMO's, and glycerin. Now, I'm no expert on dog health... BUT, I have learned that low quality grains, like corn, are or can be bad for dogs and their digestion. Especially if they have an allergy.

We're always on the hunt for the "best quality" food for our pets and are in the end trusting what companies may or may not have put into their recipes, and hoping that trust is well placed. You almost need to have a dictionary at hand while reading the ingredients. Right?

With a clear conscious, I can feed this product to my dog because its all natural. Nothing artificial and no hidden ingredients behind those big words!

Beef Trachey Chewz' ingredients, clearly labeled, says it contains: beef trachea (uh, yum!), organic flaxseed, dried tomato, dried spinach, dried carrot. With a minimum of 47% protein, fat minimum of 21%, fiber with a maximum of 8%, and a maximum of 14% moisture.

Beef Scrappy Chewz' ingrediemts include: beef scapular cartilage. Pretty simple, eh? This one has a higher protein level of 65% being the minimum, fat minimum of 7%, fiber maximum of 1%, and a minimum moisture at 17%.

Another thing I noticed when I pulled these out was that both of these samples are a source of natural Chondroitin and Glucosamine. I did pull a dictionary out for these ones. These benefit by promoting healthy joints and easing arthritis pain.

Not even lookin'.
Now, who WOULDN'T want this for their dog, a member of the family?! This package contained 2 Beef Trachey Chewz ($6.95) and separately, 3 Beef Scappy Chews ($9.95) (beef scapular cartilage being it's only ingredient). To be able to make a fair review, I asked a friend of mine to let me get her dog's opinion, and she agreed while warning me about him being a picky eater.

My dog, Nala, is for some reason not interested in any of these, at all. We bought her a nice, juicy bone for Christmas and she wanted nothing to do with it. She licked it a couple of times and that was it.

With the Beef Scrappy Chews, no added flavor, I couldn't even get her to look at it, which was expected. I then pulled out a Beef Trachey Chew... She gave it a few licks and was done with it.

So, thankfully, when I told my friend about these treats and their benefits, she said yes!

Once I got to her house, we started with the Beef Scrappy Chewz (no flavor) because it wouldn't make sense to give a kid bread after candy, would it? That's how I approached this with our dogs. I opened the bag, he smelled it, I took it out and he turned his head. I thought, "Okay, he's just picky... On to the next!"

When I opened the bag with the Beef Trachey Chewz (the flavorful ones), although a little intimidated by its name, I was overwhelmed with a scent that did not disgust me like most dog treats or even a bag of chips would!

More for me, Nala. More for me!

Now, I wouldn't go as far as tasting it, but let's just say that I could not get this to my friends' dog fast enough! He devoured it! Seeing how quickly he took it surprised us. I think the name intimidated her as well.

I enjoyed sharing these with our pets and would most definitely suggest this product to all pet lovers, health nuts, and owners of older dogs. Also to anyone with a pup who loves to chew! Thank you, Clear Conscious Pet for giving me the opportunity to try this!   Clear Conscious Pet products can be found at local stores or purchased on their website.
Clear Conscience Pet
Clear Conscience Pet on Facebook

Monday, March 2, 2015

Recipe, Review and Giveaway: ZOKU Mini Pop Molds


Some people might say that winter is the wrong time to think about frozen treats, but we disagree in the Murray Household. There is never a wrong time for popsicles, smoothies or ice cream and we especially like making our own at home!

You may be familiar with ZOKU and their wonderful line of frozen treat making gadgets.

If you shop at Target and the like, their products are hard to miss. Bright, eye catching packaging and unique designs make ZOKU's variety of frozen treat makers stand out from all the others.

The folks at ZOKU sent us their Mini Pop Mold to try for ourselves and we were not disappointed! Here is what their website says about the product:

Create up to nine different mini pops at a time with the Zoku Mini Pop Molds. Forget fighting with the tray to get your pop, when your pops are frozen, simply pull out your mini pop and enjoy! These pops are the perfect size for children, which makes them an excellent addition to any family, party, or other Zoku Slow Pop™ shapes!

Our experience has been great with this product. The pops truly are so easy to remove. You don’t have to run them under warm water to get them to come loose. Just a firm tug and out they pop!

The cavity that you fill with liquid is made from super soft silicone, so its very pliable. When you pull the pop out, the cavity inverts itself. My five year old can get herself a treat with no help from mom or dad. These pops are such a great little snack size that I don’t mind at all if she helps herself. They are also super easy to clean! You can just rinse it out and its good as new. Hand washing is recommended.

According to the directions you can also use this tray to make fun, round ice cubes. I haven't done this yet, but I’m excited to give it a try, come summer time!

We’ve frozen grape juice in ours to make a quick ice pop and we’ve also frozen blended fruit smoothies in it to make smoothie pops.

My recipe for Smoothie Pops:

2 cups frozen fruit (I use strawberries, peaches, pineapple and mango but feel free to blend it however you like)
1 cup fruit juice or vanilla yogurt (for this recipe, I used one cup apple juice and about 1 cup water)
water as needed to make the texture easy to pour

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into pop molds and freeze for about one to two hours.

With the Mini Pop Mold, this made enough to fill all nine cavities and there was enough left over for my daughter and I to have a cup right away!

ZOKU has so many zany and wonderful products. I can’t wait to try the Fish Pop Molds and the Space Pop Molds! 

The ZOKU Mini-Pop mold is available in many local stores, directly from the ZOKU website, or from Amazon:

In addition, the folks at ZOKU have been kind enough to offer a Mini Pop Mold for our readers to win! 

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 3-16-15. 

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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

ELPH Review


As parents, we are constantly trying to balance the world that we want to live in with the world that we actually do live in. This is where the ELPH bracelet can help.

The ELPH ("Easy Lookup to Phone Home") Band is a bracelet with a QR code. If your child is lost, they can ask a grown up “helper” to scan the bracelet for them and call one of three numbers stored on the website.

It also gives the parent the option of sharing emergency information with the “helper,” like any allergies, medical conditions or medications the child is taking.

Should the QR code not work, there is a back up number with a unique identifier code.

The ELPH Band bracelet retails for $19.99 and includes your first year of service. After a year, you can renew the service (which includes a new band) for $10.00 a year.

This is an economical way to ensure that your child has a way to get in contact with you if you are ever separated, while keeping your data safe from casual eyes.

As part of my review, I received 2 bracelets, a book and a certificate. Setting up the account through their dashboard was very easy, as is changing the bracelets between children, depending on  which one is away from home. The ELPH website is very easy to use and the drop down menus have many different options to accommodate different familial needs.

After I set up the bracelets, I then sat down with my children and we read the story, which was nicely illustrated and kept them engaged. This led to a conversation about what kind of people to ask for help, which was a good conversation to have. I liked that we were looking at positive solutions for a potential problem, instead of scaring them unnecessarily.

I had my daughter test out the bracelet, so that I could see the what the helper sees. Once the QR code is scanned, the “helper” is taken to a website that gives him or her the child’s name (if the parent chooses) then the option to call one of three numbers, from what the parent has set up.

It also gives the parent the option to share important information about the child. For example, my daughter has a seizure disorder, so I put that on the screen and then put her medicine (trileptal) in the medicine box.

When the box is scanned, ELPH automatically sends an email to the parents and/or caregiver, with the child’s location in google maps. So, even if the parent isn’t called, the parent has an idea of whether the child is where he or she is supposed to be. In fact, my husband called me after we scanned Shannon’s code to find out if there was a problem.

The bracelets come in child and adult sizes, so they are also perfect for elderly family members. Since, the bracelet also shares medical information, like allergies and medications taken, it could be a huge help.

As my children get older, they are looking for more freedom. Meanwhile, my highest priority is keeping them safe.

ELPH is a medium-tech, powerful solution. It puts the control in my child’s hands, giving them the tools to get help if, heaven forbid, they actually need it.  Basically, until I can strap a GPS unit to my kid… This is the next best thing.

ELPH Bands Website
ELPH on Facebook
ELPH on Twitter

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hop To It: Make Your Own Awesome Beer!

1 comment:

Life is too short to drink bad beer. Thanks to the surge in craft brewing, good beer is pretty easy to find these days. What you may not know is that making your own good beer is also easy, fun and allows you to experiment with your own ideas. This article will give you all the information you need to get started.

There are two basic approaches to home brewing: Extract and all-grain. The liquid you will make that becomes beer with fermentation — called “wort,” which is pronounced wert — comes from drawing the sugars out of crushed, malted grains. In all-grain brewing, you do that yourself by steeping the grains in hot water for an hour or more. In extract brewing, that step has been done for you and the resulting wort condensed into a syrup or dried into a powder, called malt extract, which you can purchase from brewing supply stores.

I am going to teach you how to brew with extract because it requires less equipment (and therefore, costs less to get started) and is a good way to get some experience learning basic brewing principles.

Part One: Shopping List

You can get most of the equipment you need by buying a homebrew kit from a homebrew supplier, which supplies the basic tools you need. Buying an equipment kit might cost a bit more than buying things piece by piece, but it also (mostly) ensures you don’t overlook anything you need. You can get a good kit at any homebrew supply store, whether local or online. When I order online, I prefer to go through Northern Brewer. If you do want to buy the individual pieces instead, watch for the boldfaced words in Part Two of this article below—I will highlight each piece of equipment as it’s used.

In addition to the equipment in the kit, you will need:

A brewing kettle. This is simply a stockpot that you will use to boil your wort. In extract brewing you don’t have to boil the entire volume of water of your batch, but you do want some added space to accommodate the expansion of the liquid as it boils. A five-gallon pot is ideal. It needs a lid as well. You can buy a good boiling kettle at any homebrew supplier, but a repurposed kitchen stockpot will do just fine. Stainless steel is a good material, but aluminum works well too and often costs a good bit less.

Bottles. You can repurpose commercial beer bottles if you want to — those with traditional caps, not screw-offs — but it does not cost much to buy bottles made for homebrewers from a supplier. A five-gallon batch of beer (the standard size for extract brewing) will fill about 54 12-ounce bottles or 30 22-ounce bottles.

Bottle caps. You can’t repurpose bottle caps, so make sure you have enough on hand on bottling day. These also come from any homebrew supply store.

Sanitizer. There are a few choices here. My favorites are StarSan and Iodophor, both of which come in concentrated form and are diluted significantly to use. Sanitization is critical to keep unwanted organisms out of your beer while it ferments.

Ingredients. I recommend you start with a recipe kit (not to be confused with the equipment kit I mentioned earlier), which includes all of the ingredients you need for that particular beer. Your kit may or may not include yeast and priming sugar (it varies with supplier.) If these are not included, the kit will tell you which yeast is recommended. Priming sugar is just a small bag of corn sugar. (More on this later.)

Choose a simple ale or a stout for your first brew. Lagers require cooler fermentation (meaning more precise temperature control) and longer fermentation time. For this article, I used the Irish Red Ale kit by Brewer's Best. This was the first beer I ever made, so I can confirm it is an excellent beginner's choice.

Part Two: Brew Day

Before you begin: Get a notebook and plan to keep a log. Write down the measurements you take (more on that later), any variations you make to the recipe or process and anything that happens that could potentially cause a problem.

Your recipe kit will come with directions that you should follow. In general, though, this is what you can expect.

Fill your kettle. For a five gallon extract brew, you will boil 2 ½ to 3 gallons of water (your recipe will specify.) The resulting wort is concentrated and, when you move it into the fermenter later, you will add more water to bring it to the full five gallons.

(Note: Even though you will boil only about half of the water a five-gallon kettle holds, don't try to use a smaller kettle. Boiling wort expands with heat, and a boilover is practically impossible to prevent if you don't allow ample capacity.)

Steep your specialty grains. Most extract brew recipes (though not all) also call for a small amount of grain to add flavor. You’ll put the grains into a small muslin bag and steep them in hot water (the recipe will specify the temperature and time, but it’s usually around 160 to 170 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Your kit should include a thermometer that is capable of measuring very hot water. You are not trying to create fermentable sugars here, just add some flavor and color, so the steeping time is much shorter than it would be for an all-grain brew.

Prepare your yeast: Yeast comes in several forms. It might be a packet of dry yeast powder. If so, you will want to reconstitute it with warm water about 20 minutes before you need it, so come back to this step later. 

It might be vial of liquid yeast, in which case you’ll want to take it out of the refrigerator now so that it can come to room temperature before time to pitch.

Or it might be a “smack pack,” which is a plastic pouch that contains yeast and yeast food. There is an inner pouch inside that you need to break by smacking the package with the heel of your hand. After that the outer pouch will expand as the yeast begins to feed and multiply. Smack it at such time that it can expand for at least three hours before you need it, and longer is better.

Start the boil. Turn up the heat and let the liquid come to a boil. Expect this to take a while; boiling multiple gallons of water requires a lot of heat.

Add the extracts. It’s a good idea to take the kettle off the heat for this step, as adding the extract can lead to a messy boilover if you’re not careful. You will have a long-handled metal or plastic spoon to stir the extract into the water. Make sure to stir well to avoid a sticky burned-on mess at the bottom of your pot.

Return to boil and add other ingredients as specified. During the boil, which is usually one hour, you will add hops on a schedule specified by your recipe. A simple ale or stout recipe should not have any special flavoring ingredients, but if you are using those, add them when the recipe says too (not all additional ingredients go into the boil, so read your instructions carefully.)

Hops come in pelletized form, and there are many varieties. The bitterness of hops come from the alpha acids, and those you add near the start of the boil contribute the most hop flavor. Many recipes also call for an addition of hops near the end of the boil. These are not in long enough for much flavor extraction, but they contribute to the all-important aroma.

Note that there are many varieties of hops and if your recipe uses more than one type, make sure you are using the right one at each hop addition.

Cool the wort. The easiest way to do this is to put the kettle, covered, into the kitchen sink and fill it with ice and cold water. Your goal here is to cool it from boiling to around 70 degrees F to prepare it for the yeast.

NOTE: You didn’t need to sanitize anything earlier because the boil takes care of sanitizing the wort and the kettle it’s in. However, the boil is now over and everything that touches the wort from this point on must be sanitized, including the thermometer you will use to track the cooling.

The easiest way to sanitize the fermenter and the other equipment you need is to add the specified amount of concentrated sanitizer to the fermenter and fill it with water, and soak the other components in it. Star San calls for an ounce of the concentrate for five gallons of water. After things have been in contact with the sanitizer for a few minutes, they are safe to use. Place the smaller items on clean paper towels and dump the sanitizer out of the fermenter, retaining a cup or two for touch-ups.

Move wort to fermenter. The fermenter is a food-grade plastic bucket with an airtight lid. The lid has a hole in the top, rimmed with an o-ring, to accommodate an airlock. The airlock is a small plastic device that you will partially fill with water or vodka, which allows the gases of fermentation to escape while preventing outside contaminants from getting in.

Pour or siphon the cooled wort into the fermenter, trying to leave as much of the sludge in the pot behind as you can. (Buy an auto-siphon, which starts with a pumping action rather than your mouth). Note that you have less wort than you started with, because some of the water has boiled off. Add enough clean water to the fermenter to bring the total volume to five gallons. (If your bucket was made to be a fermenter, it will probably have a scale on it to show you the five-gallon mark.)

Using a sanitized measuring cup or coffee mug, dip out a cup or so of the wort. Be sure not to touch the wort remaining in the bucket with your hand or anything else that hasn’t been sanitized. You’ll use this sample in a moment to check the specific gravity.

Pitch the Yeast: Pour it in and stir, or put the lid on the fermenter and rock it, to aerate. Some recipes will tell you that you can pitch dry yeast by simply sprinkling it into the wort. This usually works too, but I prefer to reconstitute it according to the packet directions.

At this point, put the airlock into its place and put the fermenter somewhere that it will be out of the way for a few days.

The gravity of the situation.  Now take that sample you pulled and use your hydrometer to measure the specific gravity. This is a measure of the density of the liquid relative to pure water.

Your recipe should give you the desired Original Gravity (O.G.) range, the density you should have achieved if everything went as planned. 

You will also have a specified target final gravity that will be lower than the O.G. This shows the action of the yeast in converting the sugars in the wort to alcohol.

Pure water has a specific gravity of 1.000. A typical ale recipe might say, for example, that the O.G. is 1.050 and the F.G. is 1.010. You might not get those numbers exactly, but they should be close.

Note: You also need to know the temperature of the sample. The hydrometer is calculated to give an accurate reading at a specified temperature, usually 68 degrees F. If your sample is warmer or cooler than that, you can use an online calculator like this one to convert the reading. 

The hydrometer might look like something out of a laboratory (because it is), but it is easy to use. You simply pour some wort into the sample jar and float the hydrometer in it, weighted end down. The instrument will float higher in denser liquid. Take your reading on a level surface.

You can also taste the sample to see how the flavor is, but it will not tell you much about the finished product, as you will be tasting the unfermented sugars. In any case, discard the sample, do not return it to the wort.

Part Three: Bottling and Conditioning.

Your recipe should say how long to set the fermenter aside, as this will vary depending on the type of beer, but generally it will be within 2 to 4 weeks.

The next step will be to add priming sugar, bottle your brew, and condition it, which means letting it age another 1-2 weeks to mature the flavors and develop carbonation.

Your first step is to sanitize your bottles, bottle caps and dissolve your priming sugar into boiling water. For the bottles, you can soak them in Star San or Iodophor (diluted per the instructions).

I usually use the dishwasher to wash them in hot water, adding the heated dry and steam sanitize functions to get them ready.

To sanitize the bottle caps, boil them on the stovetop in enough water to cover and let them cool enough so that you can fish them out one at a time without burning your fingers.

Once the bottles are ready, boil the priming sugar that came with the kit using the ratio of sugar to water your instructions specify. Let it cool just a bit and pour it into the bottling bucket, which is similar to the primary fermenter, but with a spigot to let it pour into bottles. The equipment kit comes with both a fermenter and bottling bucket.

Siphon the wort from the fermenter into the bottling bucket. As you did when it first went into the fermenter, get a sample and test the gravity again. This measurement is called the final gravity, and hitting the target range confirms that your fermentation was effective and complete.

After you have transferred the wort into the bottling bucket, rock it gently for a minute or two, or stir with your long-handled spoon (sanitized!)  to mix the sugar water through. 

The last piece of equipment you need is a bottle capper, which is basically just a lever that crimps the cap around the bottle.

You can get a two-handled hand-held model or one that rests on a counter or floor.

Fill the bottles and cap them as fast you reasonably can, using whichever method you prefer.  You probably will have a few bottles left over, which is better than not having enough available.

Store the bottles somewhere safe for a couple of weeks. During this time, the priming sugar reawakens your yeast and a tiny bit more fermentation happens; because the bottles are now sealed, the carbon dioxide cannot escape and instead dissolves into the liquid to carbonate it. That lovely head of foam you get when you pour a beer is the result of this step.

After the conditioning period has passed comes the moment of truth. Chill a few bottles of your brew, and then pour one.

If everything went well, your should see a smooth pour with a nice head, but not too much. (If the beer geysers out of the bottle when you open it, your carbonation has overachieved.)

Look at the color. It should match the style you were aiming for, whether a golden pilsner, a ruby red ale or an opaque chocolate-brown stout.

Finally, lift the glass and inhale, and then taste. Pay close attention to the sweetness of the malt, the bitterness of the hops and the balance between them.

If you have followed these steps and also paid attention to your specific recipe, it will probably be wonderful.If it is not, though, look back through your log and think back through the steps you followed to see what might have gone wrong. Take it is a learning experience and try again.

Soon you will be ready to ,build on these basics, making more complex beers and even designing your own. As a hobby, homebrewing allows tremendous creativity and pays off big -- both in fresh, wonderful homemade beer and the pride of having created something truly your own.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Awesome Life Friday #8

 Happy Friday, All!  Thank you so much for your understanding and well wishes last week - I've been wrangling several mysterious symptoms that have led to a lot of diagnoses but not a lot of answers, and I'm still in the thick of it.

But our link up makes me happy, so I didn't want to skip it for another week!

Here's what we've been up to since then -

This saline cleansing system provides a safe and effective way to clear congestion in babies and children.  Our reviewer, Jackie, shows how the system works.The Giveaway is open to US residents until Mar. 7.

Last month's PetBox was chock full of great toys and treats for Sadie Beagle! Sadie (and our reviewer Lynda), shows off everything they received.

Babycorn Soaps provides a themed monthly subscription box of artisan soaps and other goodies - read Lauren's review of the February Valentine's Day box, and then enter to win a March box full of all things Irish!  Open to US residents and ends Mar. 2.

Elderberry Syrup for Colds and Flu
One of our newest reviewers, Christine, shares how she makes Elderberry Syrup, to help prevent and treat Colds and Flu.  This easy to follow recipe will have you making your own in no time!

Aurora checks out some of Rustic Silk Soaps body butters, sugar scrubs, bath bombs and of course, soaps.  Very friendly to sensitive skin, Rustic Silk Soap is offering a $30 store credit to one lucky US winner.  This giveaway ends Mar. 9.


Even though we had to cancel Awesome Life Friday last week, due to illness, we had enjoyed reading all the posts and selected a few to feature.

Our apologies to all who entered - we weren't able to get around and respond to each post, but do know we loved that you took the time to share!

Congratulations to each of you, and thank you for sharing!  Please feel free to display our button, linked back to us, if you like!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Unboxing/Review: January Petbox

Note: This is an affiliate post. We are able to offer a standing discount code for our readers for new PetBox accounts. There is a small bonus for sign ups that use this code, which will allow us to offset some of the costs of the blog itself. 

To receive 10% off your own PetBox subscription, use the code RCHREVIEWS at check out! 

This past month's Petbox was a real winner for Sadie!  By now, she totally knows what's coming when the blue box arrives, and has no patience at all for waiting for me to dole out the month's goodies!

When I first opened the box, I had to try to push her away long enough to get a look for myself at what was inside.  In fact, she nosed her way into it, and grabbed hold of the first thing she could get - a longnecked squeaky toy shaped like a cow that (mysteriously) proclaims "Poop Happens", and ran off with it.

That's a first! Not only is she usally not so certain that something belongs to her that she will snatch it without permission, but she doesn't even like rubber squeaky toys all that much!

This is the Pet Speak Long Neck Cow from Ethical Toys. The vinyl on it is very soft and lightweight, so squeaking the bulbous body is easy (and loud).

She happily played with it for several days, but I will admit that when we had houseguests that included a six-year old and two-year old that fell in love with it themselves (and cracked up at learning how to spell 'poop'), I was happy to send it home with them for their own beagle.  I already put up with an old favorite toy that screams like a dying tyrannosaurus, and I just wasn't going to have anymore of that squeak. (But kudos, strange cow, for getting our old dog to find her inner puppy!

But that wasn't the only grabby behavior from Sadie - her second dive into the box netted her a Beef Ear from Copper's Classics.  This time, she was dead serious - she grabbed it, still in it's plastic wrap and refused to let go - my husband scooped her up to try to get her to give it back and that face you see is Sadie growling at us for trying to take it away!  Eventually, we wrestled it out of her grasp long enough to unwrap it and she ran off to enjoy her favorite thing in the whole world!

Sadie has a long history with pig ears - when she was younger, Michael used to play a hide and seek game with her to make her hunt them down, a game they both enjoyed mightily and only ended when we decided the regular pigear habit probably wasn't the most healthy thing for an overweight dog past her prime.  This was as if she was saying "At last I found one! THIS IS MINE! MIIINEEE!!!"  She was in total ecstasy over this, and we'll probably have to reintroduce the occasional beef ear into her life now.

While she gnawed on the beef ear, I was finally able to look at the rest of the goodies in the box.

The Bison Chewies by Prairie Nature were huge hits and will definitely be reappearing in the house - I don't always care for the way pet treats smell, but these smell delicious - like very good quality smoky beef jerky.  They come as cut up pieces of a chewy (not hard) smoked meat stick, and we were rewarded with a happy dog dance every time we brought out the bag.  Made with good quality food items, I feel good about offering these to her, and she adores them.

I also like offering her the Smart n' Tasty Seafood Medley Treats (although they smell as fishy as you'd think).  These are grain-free, full of the nutrients she needs and she likes them fine.

The fish and seafood shaped snacks are on the thick side and crunchy, and one or two is a substantial enough snack to keep her happy.

Fortunately, I haven't noticed that the scent of the snack has translated into fishy doggy-breath!

I really like it when Petbox supplies a full-sized bag of a treat or other product, and there are always at least one or two items that come in a generous size.

The Ruff & Tuff Snake Chew Resistant Toy was the really big hit in this box.  Made with a tough canvaslike material, it is solid and sturdy and contains a squeaker in the head - but its real strength is that it is a fun toy to play tug of war with.

Sadie loved getting in a rowdy game with this, both with Michael and with our young houseguests who enjoyed running away from Sadie with it so she could chase them.

After many of these games, it did eventually develop a couple of splits long the cording, but so far  the stuffing isn't leaking out, and Sadie still enjoys it when someone picks it up and invites her to play.

I have to say, this is my favorite part of Petbox - it has reinvigorated our dog, by providing stimulating toys and healthy treats and supplements, long past the point where we'd thought she'd mostly given up active play.  When I began this series of reviews, I wasn't sure any of the toys would appeal to her, and I'm so happy to be wrong about that.

The Smart n Tasty Twizzies Chew Stick is a big generous stick that is chock full of good things:

"Pork meal, pork liver, pork gelatin, natural flavor, pork broth, mixed tocopherols (preservative), rosemary extract"

A few hours before our houseguests were ready to leave, the boys were getting antsy, and Sadie was played out - she started feeling nervous and exhibiting signs that she really needed them to chill out.

I decided that might be a good time to bring out the Twizzie, so she could spend some alone time.

She took it off to a corner where she could still watch the boys (by now, she was in full 'nanny dog' mode' and gnawed and worked through almost the entire thing over about 20 minutes, which gave all of us - especially Sadie - a much needed break.

By the time she was finished, they were ready to make  their goodbyes, and she could give them a last bit of doggy love before crashing hard for a long nap.  All in all, a successful visit, made much more exciting and fun for everyone by Petbox!

The last item in this month's box was a sample size of Evanger's Low-Grain Chicken & Brown Rice Formula dog food.

We've decided to hold this back to have on hand for a day trip, rather than packing up her regular dog food.

There is no wheat, soy or corn in this product and it is full of good herbs and vegetables as well healthy supplements, and Evanger's carries a large variety of both wet and dry dog foods and other products, which all all made in the US.

All in all, there were no losers in this box at all (well, maybe the parent that has to hear that squeaky dog toy we regifted....), and I was very impressed by the range and quality offered!

Our next Petbox box has arrived and yep, once again, there was much Sadie rejoicing at the sight of her favorite blue box!