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Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: BuggyBeds

Anybody that knows me can attest to the fact that I do not get along with any breed of bug. It doesn't matter if it’s a tarantula or a ladybug, if it gets too close I’m likely going to cry! One insect in particular that truly gives me the willies is bedbugs! The mere thought of some creepy crawly touching me in my sleep makes me feel entirely violated.



BuggyBeds can help give you some peace of mind! BuggyBeds is a nontoxic, chemical free glue trap that claims to lure and trap bedbugs for early detection. They carry a full line of BuggyBed traps, each one labeled for different use.

There are 5 in all – Home, Child, Dorm, Auto, and Travel. However, they admit that each of these is almost identical, just with different packaging.


The only difference is that the travel version comes with a black carrying pouch and are also made to withstand higher temps, in case you are vacationing somewhere tropical. Additionally the auto comes with a slight vanilla scent. Other than that, I find it fairly gimmicky to market it as if you need a different one for each area.

I was sent one a few boxes of Home, Dorm,  and Travel. Each one states that it can be placed in all the various places as the others.

The first one we used was Travel. With our frequent trips to Santa Monica for my daughter's clubfoot treatments, we were staying at the same Comfort Inn week after week (after week).

I found myself actually very nervous to test it out. What would I do if one showed up? By the time I would see that, I would have already stayed numerous times, as well as the night previous. I do suppose it would tell me to find a new hotel in the future, but that would have been sad as well since we enjoyed our time there.

We slid it under the mattress when we arrived in the evening. The box doesn’t give a minimum timeframe for how long it needs for detecting, so I’m assuming that by morning it would have done its job. Thankfully, come morning, the trap was still entirely empty. Whew!

If I thought I was nervous about potentially finding out the truth about our go-to hotel, it doesn’t hold a candle to my nerves about placing them in my own home. Obviously, the only answer to finding them would be to burn the place down!

But I suppose better safe than sorry! So we laid the traps. We placed one under a cushion of each couch, under our mattress, under my daughter’s bunk-bed mattress, and under the crib mattress.

We placed them near the corners as instructed and checked them once a week.

Again, luckily nothing showed up. While some could argue that this could mean that they don’t work, I’m certainly choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it insinuates that my home is bedbug free! I will say that I was given a sigh of relief each time I checked the traps and they were empty.

I wish they company gave a little more insight into how they work. I understand that they are glue traps, so they are sticky inside to trap a bug if one happens to enter.

However, they let it be known that they are pesticide and chemical free, but also claim to lure the bedbugs. I’m interested to know what exactly is luring bugs in to begin with. These are not meant to prevent, or stop an infestation. These are merely windows into your problem. They just alert you by trapping even one, that you have a problem.


One thing I dislike is that they claim they are for early detection. In reality there is no such thing as ‘early detection’ for bedbugs as even just one single bedbug could already mean an infestation.

Prices for the traps seemed to vary. For example a 4 pack of Home traps retails $8.64 on Amazon, but costs $14.99 on BuggyBed's website.

In my opinion, it is worth the price for a bit of assurance and peace of mind, especially if you spend much time in hotels. I don’t think that you need to buy all the different packages of it, however. One will do the trick!

If a bedbug does ever show up in your trap, even one, it is recommended that you call an exterminator (or notify the hotel management) immediately.

Additionally, if you don’t find anything in the traps, but still think you have a bedbug problem, you shouldn't hesitate to call in a professional. These traps are not 100% accurate every time and you should trust your instincts.

BuggyBeds Website
BuggyBeds on Facebook

 


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Veggie-Go's

All it took was one year out of the country for Lisa and John McHugh of Veggie-Go's to be grossed out by what we in America refer to as ‘food’. 



Spending time in Italy, Greece, Spain, France and Switzerland, and living off the land opened their eyes and stomachs to a world of healthier options. Realizing how few worthwhile packaged snacks for kids are available in the US, the McHughs were determined to bring something better to the market. Veggie-Go’s accomplishes exactly what they set out to do!

Veggie-Go’s is a line of ultra chewy fruit and vegetable leather. There are currently 5 flavor varieties to choose from, each made with a crazy good combination of ingredients! With ½ a serving of organic wholesome fruits and vegetables each, 15-20 calories each, no added sugar, gluten and vegan free, and delicious to boot, these make a glorious option when it comes to nutritious noshing!



I had originally come across this company while reviewing Healthy Surprise (a healthy snack options subscription box) but was so glad to finally see what more Veggie-Go’s had to offer directly. I had the pleasure of testing out 4 of the 5 options.

The first one I tried was the same one I had tried in the past - Mountain Berry Spinach

In big letters right on the front of the wrapper is says BERRIES, SPINACH, APPLES, SWEET POTATOES, PERIOD. 

Assuming they were just trying to make is sound minimalistic (a typical marketing strategy I've noticed in grocery store items touted as 'healthy'), I promptly turned the package around to the ingredients list:


“Organic Mountain Berry Spinach Puree (organic apples, organic spinach, organic strawberries, organic raspberries, organic blueberries, organic sweet potato”

Well then. I stand corrected. These aren’t too good to be true, after all. This one really tastes the most fruity and my 5 year old daughter is quite keen on the flavor burst of sweetness.


Next up was Cinnamon Spiced Beet! Beets, Apples, Sweet Potato, Flax Seed, Cinnamon (Period). We accidentally dug right into this one without taking a photo of the strip! This one was not my favorite. I’m not a huge fan of beets, and that really stood out as the highlighted flavor componate. What I did love was the unique texture with the seeds! My husband however was most fond of this strip.



The third Veggie-Go we ate was Sweet Potato Pie. We all fell in love with this one. It was very simple, with sweet potatoes and apples being just about all making up this snack, but it truly did taste like a slice of sweet potato pie, dollop of whip cream and all! This one seemed a bit tougher to chew than the first two for some reason.


And lastly, the one I was actually looking forward to the least - Carrot Ginger. I like carrots just fine, but couldn’t imagine them in chewy leather form. Ginger however, I do not care for at all. 

Unfortunately my suspicions were warranted. 

Surprisingly, my husband was in agreement of not liking it. My daughter refused to even try once she heard me say it was spicy (oops!). 

The first thing we noticed was that it was not as sticky as the other leathers. It tore apart with the ease of paper. It was the least like a gummy snack in texture of all of the ones we tried. 

As for taste, it's simple - A little apple and carrot hit your taste buds. After a few second the ginger smacks you! 

Between the two of us, we didn’t even finish the strip.

Although I did not get to try it myself, their fifth strip in the line is Tropikale. The front of the wrapper says Mango & kiwi, Kale, sweet potatoes, apples, and Guava. I think this sounds amazing!

Veggies Go’s are sold in boxes with 20 fruit leather sleeves. You can buy them with 20 of a single flavor, or a variety pack containing 4 of each flavor for $27.79 each. 

What I find really amazing is that aside from the packs of sleeves, they sell what is called “Ends and Bits” of each flavor. It is exactly what it sounds like! What is left after they shape beautifully symmetrical rectangles are the ugly ends and bits. Instead of being wasteful and tossing these pieces, that taste just as good, they throw them in a bag and sell them to you for a fraction of the price! One bag contains 14oz, which is equal to 33 sleeves and costs just $19.99! 

Additionally there is a flat rate of $5.99 shipping for any size order purchaged from their online store.

Aside from a few specialty health conscious stores, such as Whole Foods (and they have a Store Locator to find them in your area), you can find Veggie-Go’s online on their site, as well as via Amazon.

Veggie-Go's Website
Veggie-Go's on Facebook

GIVEAWAY!

Veggie-Go's has agreed to give a sampler collection of one package of each of their five varieties to one of our readers!

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 lets us 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 12-4. 

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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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Ideas

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the way it can bring many people together, often only at this time of year, to share a feast with one another. When some of those at the table have special dietary preferences, such as vegetarianism, that can also be one of the greatest challenges.




If you're planning to share the feast with a vegetarian this year, or maybe deciding to go vegetarian yourself, I hope I can give you a few ideas about where to start. Anyone can make a vegetarian meal, all it takes is a little bit of planning, and careful attention to the ingredients list of processed foods.


First, it helps to know what sort of vegetarian you're cooking for. For the most part vegetarianism can be broken down into 3 main options:
  • Vegan - No animal products or bi-products, so no meat, no eggs and no milk. Oftentimes, vegans will not eat honey or other non-vegan sugars.
  • Lacto-Ovo - Will eat eggs and milk products.
  • Lacto-Icthyo - Will eat milk and fish.
There are other variations, so if you're not sure, ask your guest specifically what they will and won't eat.

At our house, we enjoy eggs - so we raise our own chickens!
Next, you may be wondering if you need to entirely toss out your old family favorites if you want to make them vegetarian. The answer is often, no!  Many recipes can be adapted for vegetarians. 

For example: most stuffing recipes can be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth and cooking in a baking pan instead of inside the turkey.  If yours uses sausage or other meats, you can either use soy-based meat replacements or add in something with a 'meaty' texture like mushrooms or chunked winter squash instead - you may find these changes will be met with approval by your meat eaters as well as the vegetarians!

Again though, make sure you read the label for any packaged items included in your recipe, because oftentimes, you will find meat in the strangest of places, like yogurt with gelatin in it (which is not necessarily vegetarian).  That's also going to rule out regular marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes or in a dessert.

For more information about how to adapt recipes, check out 101 Cookbooks.com. Most--if not all--of Heidi Swanson's recipes come with crib notes for how to make the dish vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free, and she will also give you tips on alternative sweeteners as well. Spending some time looking over how she adapts her recipes will not only give you lots of ideas for a vegetarian menu, but also help you see how to alter your old favorites to fit into a vegetarian lifestyle

If you are putting together an entire traditional but vegetarian Thanksgiving meal, you may want to buy a faux-turkey.  


Personally, I prefer Quorn’s Roast. It is relatively easy to cook and it tastes amazing.  It does, however, have eggs in it so it is not suitable for a vegan.  

Tofurkey is the first brand of faux turkey sold, relatively easy to find, and comes with stuffing. They also carry an entire Vegetarian Tofurky Feast complete with sides.

Or course, you can skip the faux turkey altogether and simply provide a seasonal vegetarian main dish or a few sustaining vegetarian sides.  

Often, vegetarians and vegans try to move away from the idea of a meat-like dish as the 'main' course, and instead combine a number of 'side' dishes that go well together without any one item taking center stage.


When my kids were younger, I would make them real mac and cheese, making a flour roux and everything. 

That is, until I saw Jamie Oliver create mac and cheese brilliance, by melting some butter, adding a little bit of sour cream and then melting the cheese into that bubbly goodness. Since discovering that trick, I've never looked back.

You can also use cauliflower instead of macaroni, for a gluten-free "mac" and cheese.  

On Jamie Oliver's website, you can find a simple Four Cheese Macaroni as well as a Vegan Mac n Cheese recipe, either of which would be a popular addition to your Thanksgiving Day table.

Below, I've compiled a sample Thanksgiving Day menu composed of vegetarian dishes (some of which are Vegan), to give you some ideas for creating your own. Keep in mind that you can always adapt any of your favorite recipes as well.

Remember that it also helps a lot to ask the vegetarian to bring a dish they know they can eat and enjoy - especially when working with unfamiliar dietary restrictions, it's much less stressful if you have the help and participation of the person who will be depending on getting it right.

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving Day Menu


Appetizers & Starters



Relish and Veggie Tray
- pickles, olives, vegetable sticks.

Chips or crudites served with vegetarian bean dips, hummus or salsas

Tossed Salad 
(if you wish, set out salad items a la salad bar and let guests create their own)



Main Course Ideas



Faux Turkey (Quorn or Tofurky)
note: Quorn is vegetarian, not vegan)
with


Substantial Side Dishes/Main Dish
(depending on portions, these can be a main dish or side dish)

Macaroni and Cheese 
(see links above)

 
(without the breadcrumbs, this also serves as a gluten-free stuffing substitute)






Additional Sides



Any Stuffing recipe made with vegetable broth and no meat.

Rice

(can be vegan and gluten-free)

(vegan)
as well as any other family favorite vegetables, fruit salads, breads, etc.

Desserts


Caramel Pumpkin Pudding

Chocolate Pecan Pudding Pie

Bay Leaf Pound Cake


Happy cooking!



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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Review: Rany Zany Rain Boots


My five year old was born in the North West, where rain is no stranger to us. However, she was only one and a half when we moved to the arid deserts of Southern California.

During the 3 years that we lived in the Mojave, we only had a small handful of rainstorms. Of course, those were actually monsoons and not the type you go “singin in the rain” to.

But apparently, no amount of dry desert air could beat the puddle jumper out of my rainy day child. Any opportunity to jump in a puddle and she takes it. Fast forward to the present where we now live in a more tropical climate and its just coming out of the rainy season!

That is why I was so excited for the opportunity to review a pair of Rany Zany Rain boots. I knew my little Bugaboo would love to keep her feet dry in a fashionable pair of these great boots!

Rany Zany is a family owned company based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. The idea came to the company's founder as she was shopping for rain gear for her own adorable children, but couldn't find anything functional AND fashionable.

They offer a wide variety of fun and funky rain boots for boys and girls and also carry umbrellas.  Boot sizes range from Toddler Size 5 to Big Kid Size 3 and umbrellas are just the right size for little ones!

We received a pair of the Rad Rainbow Kids boots in size 11 for my 5 year old. She absolutely LOVES them!!

Of course, Murphy’s law: It hasn’t rained much since we received them. That didn't stop us from putting them to the test though! We are in the process of starting our own little backyard homestead and we eventually hope to have happy little garden, a bustle of chickens and a huge compost pile!

Bugaboo loves to work in the garden! Her favorite thing to do is water anything that might look dry. As you can see, our garden is definitely in need of some watering!

Rany Zany boots are great for working in the garden! They are very sturdy, easy to put on and take off, rinse clean with a little spray of water, have a good non skid base and removable cushioned insole, and a nice soft cotton lining.

I particularly love the loops on the top of the boot which make it very easy for my daughter to pull them on, especially if her feet are a little sweaty. Bug wears hers every time she goes into the backyard and kicks them off at the back door.

We are patiently waiting for some rain puddles to jump in, but in the mean time I don’t mind creating a few puddles for her to play in!


Retail price for a pair of Rany Zany boots is around $34-$39 plus shipping. Currently, there is a sale going on at their website so the prices are $27-$29!

I think they are worth every penny as I can easily see these as a nearly indestructible boot that can be passed down to your other kiddos. But with so many great colors and patterns to choose from, the hardest part will be stopping yourself from buying them all!

Rany Zany Website
Rany Zany on Facebook



Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: Lullubee DIY Craft Kits

One of my favorite parts of parenthood is being able to spend time with my daughter doing something creative.


As a family, we are always up to something in the craft room! But sometimes its hard for me to come up with something fun that my five year old can do pretty much on her own. She loves to be in control and to show me that she is perfectly capable of making things, but many of the crafts that I like to do are a little too complicated and frustrating for her at her age.

So I was really excited when I was given the opportunity to review a craft kit from Lullubee DIY Craft Kits! Here was a kit that had everything you need, at an age appropriate level for your kiddo to create a beautiful, high quality, unique item that they not only get to have fun making, but also get to play with! A company that takes all of the thinking and planning out of my hands and makes it super simple with detailed instructions! Sign me up!

Our Lullubee kit arrived very quickly, but it took us a few weeks before we were able to set to work on it. I set it aside to be a treat for my daughter for a weekend.

We received the Princess Wreath Headband kit which has everything you need to make a whimsical flower crown. My daughter loves fairies and flowers so I knew this would be right up her ally! The kit had a recommended age of 6 and up. My daughter is a very bright five year old, so I wasn’t at all concerned in her ability to put this together.

When our crafting day arrived, we unpackaged everything. Inside the box was a cute gingham bag that contained all the ingredients for our crown and a page of instructions with detailed pictures describing each step.

One of the items in the kit that I really appreciated was this little velvet pad that you would use like a place mat to keep everything from rolling around. I thought this was a nice touch as I probably would have been too eager to get started to think of something like that myself.

I really only had to help my daughter with the sizing of the wire for her crown and some of the twisting. She pretty much did all of the rest of the project on her own, under my supervision.

She even corrected me when I had us skipping a step. She said, “No Mommy, we haven’t done number 4 yet. See?” She was right! The whole project took us about 40 minutes and we were very pleased with the end result!


My only complaint might be that the picture on the box was not the best representative of the actual contents inside. The image shows much larger paper flowers and what appears to be more “branches” for the crown portion. The flowers we received were all the same size and not quite as nice as what was pictured. I don’t think this would be enough to deter me from purchasing another kit though. My daughter loves the result. I think these would make awesome Holiday gifts and they have projects for all ages!


Our kit retailed for $19.95 and there are several ways you can purchase from Lullubee. You can buy kits individually, or you can sign up for their Craft of the Month Club. Club kits are $34 per month or you can purchase 4 month, 8 month or 12 month runs for a discount. Shipping is free in the US!

Please check out Lullubee on Facebook, Twitter, Etsy and at their website for more information.

The folks at Lullubee have been kind enough to offer our readers a special discount code! Just enter the code “chews15” at check out for 15% off your order. This code is valid now through December 15th!


 

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Bitsy's Brainfood

Every parent wants to do right by his or her kids. That’s why we are willing to go drive ourselves absolutely insane trying to get them to eat what they should (even if we don’t follow the same standards!)


We spend countless hours begging, pleading, negotiating, yelling, screaming, threatening, and demanding a 4 year old to eat just ONE BITE of a green bean. And guess what? We still usually lose! Children are strong willed. They are opinionated. Unfortunately none of this changed the fact that as their caregivers, we are responsible for their well being.

Bitsy’s Brainfood hopes they have created a way to teach and empower kids to WANT to eat well. They believe that by making the knowledge fun, as well as making the much needed nutrients accessible in other forms, children will be excited to eat their fruits and vegetables.

Eat Smart, Be Smart! Founders, Maggie and Alex, met at a non-profit organization geared toward bringing knowledge to kids about giving back and volunteering. As they talked to one another, they discovered a mutual lack of healthy options for the children in their everyday lives.

For them, Bitsy’s Brainfood isn't about deceiving children and sneaking nutrition into their bodies without them knowing (but hey, it doesn’t hurt!). It is about teaching children to crave the right foods and making learning about nutrition fun and exciting.

Their products come with fun packaging to teach kids about what they are eating. My favorite part of how they do this is that their website is fully interactive with children in mind. To me, it was reminiscent of Living Books computer games. You will even find a handful of free educational and fun printables for kids to color.

My family had the privilege of trying Bitsy’s Brainfood Fruit & Veggies 123 cereal, as well as Lemon Broccoli Smart Cookies.

My daughter wanted the cookies right away. My husband and I were also beyond curious so we opened them up as soon as they arrived.

I decided to not tell her the flavor until after she tried it. She really enjoyed them!

My husband and I had a different opinion on the matter, but were glad she like them. I thought they tasted like what I would assume dog treats would. They had a cardboard like texture, and I wasn't a fan of the flavor at all.

Again though, my 5 year old was more than satisfied. She was amazed when I told her what was in them, and wasn't turned off at all by having the knowledge. Score!

She happily accepted them as snacks for the next few days. These cookies have Omega 3 DHA + EPA. It also is armed with vitamin A, B12, B6, D3, Folic Acid, and Iron and the ingredients are all non-GMO. Finally, each box comes with a collectable superfood sticker inside!

Sadly, the cereal didn't go over as well. Unfortunately, Hailey's father introduced her to the wonders of sugary cereals early on, so that’s a battle I've never won. All she would say is that it ‘tasted funky’ and refused to eat more than the one bowl full.

However, we passed them off to a friend and her son and daughter both happily enjoyed the rest of the box.

The Fruits and Veggies 123 cereal is USDA organic, non-GMO and is chock full of the good stuff! On top of having 23 grams of whole grains per serving, you will also be supplying your kids with vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, Zinc, and Iron!

As if that’s not enough, the cereal itself is shaped like numbers and the box is covered in educational games and facts.

On their website, aside from all the really neat kid play, there is also a blog filled with healthy recipes, articles, and thought provoking discussions to bring health and knowledge to your family’s kitchen table.

Another really cool aspect of their company is their charity practices. They have a program called Giving A Bitsy Back where they donate cases of their product to schools and non profit organizations of preschool and elementary aged children.

I will be introducing my child to their other Bitsy's Brainfood products and hope we can find a combination she enjoys!

These products can be found online at such retails like Diapers.com and Amazon to name a few. Likewise, they are in a few physical stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods. The price of each seems to vary store to store.

Bitsy's Brainfood Website
Bitsy's Brainfood on Facebook
Bitsy's Brainfood on Twitter
Bitsy's Brainfood on Instagram


Bitsy's Brainfood has agreed to give a box of Fruit & Veggie 123 Cereal and a box of Lemon Broccoli Cookies to one of our readers!  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 lets us 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 11-28. 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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