Thursday, March 31, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #58

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's a few of the things we've been up to the last couple weeks:

Review/Giveaway: ecoAble Stay Dry Nighttime Fitted Cloth Diaper
Fun New Crayons Made From Old Broken Ones
Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms
A Bunch of Carrots For Spring!
Putting DIY Sharpie Mugs to the Test

We hope you'll check these out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.


And now our favorite part - the FEATURES!  We missed the party last week, so these are from two weeks ago.  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

Hello Nancy // DIY Cloud Mobile

Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth // DIY "Pretty As-A-Pinny" Clothespins

Morning Motivated Mom // 30 Day Spring Cleaning Printable

Ramblings of a (Bad) Domestic Goddess // Celebrate Easter in Style with Roasted Lamb

Marilyn's Treats // Bourbon Sweet Potato Bisque with Walnuts

While I'm Waiting... // 5 Ways to Save Your Vacation Memories

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Review: NaturaLove Amber


Being a mom to young ones nowadays, you can't help but hear about amber necklaces for teething. It might be a mommy friend, somebody in your La Leche League group, or even a family member, but somebody is more than likely going to tell you about the wonders of amber. And then somebody will tell you it's a bunch of hooey. Let me tell you about my experiences with amber teething necklaces and NaturaLove Amber.

I first heard about amber teething necklaces 4 years ago, when Mischief was just a hatchling; one of the moms at my local LLL meeting told me about it, and I figured it couldn't hurt to try, so I ordered one and did some more research.

Amber teething necklaces are worn by the baby while supervised, and are thought to help with the discomfort of teething, including the drooling and bright red cheeks. According to the websites I looked up, amber contains 3-8% succinic acid (which is used in modern painkillers) and when it warms up against the skin, it can be absorbed to help ease pain and inflammation.

Some websites also claim that it stimulates the thyroid gland and the immune system, further helping relieve and prevent discomfort. I have not personally seen or read the scientific papers (if there are any) in relation to this, so I can't claim that this is the gods honest truth. You can also find websites and anecdotes of people that call bull on the amber teething necklace.

I do know this: I know that I never once had a problem with Mischief drooling, nor can I remember his cheeks being cherry red that I've seen on some babies. Not once did we use Orajel, and we only gave Tylenol a handful of times his entire first couple of years.

 I know that he was happier when we put it on him, even bringing it to us once he started walking. I don't know if it was because the amber worked, because it was habit, if it was all in my head, or if it was all in his, but honestly, does it matter? If your child is happier wearing it than not, and it doesn't hurt them to wear it, does it really matter why?

When I found out I was expecting my daughter, I knew I wanted her to have an amber necklace as well. I especially wanted her to have one because she has a rare genetic condition called PKU, which makes giving her medicine difficult. But we had a problem. Mischief still wore his! For a while, they shared, the baby wearing when I knew teeth were coming, and big brother wearing the other days. It was not, safe to say, very effective. So, I was more than thrilled to have the chance to try out NaturaLove Amber teething necklace!

The necklace came via Amazon and was tucked in an adorable burlap bag with a tag that gave me its certificate of authenticity. It is a 12 inch necklace of dark amber beads. Each bead is knotted into place, so in the event that the necklace breaks, only one bead goes flying, and not all of them.

 It has a screw clasp, which makes it difficult for baby to get off by themselves. My Princess has yet to figure it out, and she'll be 18 months this month. It is a cute little necklace that is truly unisex in color and design.

We have gone through many teeth popping out, including FOUR premolars!, and I can honestly say that we have not used any painkillers even once. She had not drooled, not even a little, nor did her cheeks get all red and puffy.

Being her mom, I could tell if we hadn't put the necklace on that morning, but it may not have been that apparent to everybody. Again, though, I ask: Does it matter? Does it matter if somebody else can't see the difference if you can? I don't think so. So, she continues to wear her pretty necklace every day. If we forget, she usually brings it to either my Mister or myself to fix it.

 I'll be honest, it isn't the day and night difference that we saw with Mischief, but there is a difference; a little less whiny, a few less tears, but I notice, and it matters to me.

NaturaLove Amber sells its' darling necklaces on Amazon for $17.95, (honestly, I paid WAY more for Mischief's when he was a hatchling, and the differences between the necklaces are almost nonexistent). I honestly think that this is something you should try if you're looking for a more natural approach to your baby's teething frustrations.   

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Fun New Crayons Made from Broken Ones


Everyone with kids probably understands the struggle of broken Crayons.

As soon as you open the box, they start dropping them everywhere or break them. If your children are anything like mine, they refuse to use the broken ones for some (to me) inexplicable reason.

So, what to do with them?

We used to throw them out after a while, but then I saw an article on the Internet about a place that you can donate them to and they melt them, creating new crayons.... so my brain went into overdrive and I wanted to try that for myself – to maybe save those poor, broken crayon corpses from the horrors of the trashcan or the landfill.

At first we had to gather enough, so I designated a mason jar specifically for the collection of broken & unwanted crayons. Every time one broke we threw it in there, after a while we also collected the crayons you get at restaurants in that jar (they throw them out anyway, so we might as well put them to good use).

For this tutorial I also used some new ones because our Jar was kind of running low and I wanted to see to it I had some fresh made crayons ready in time for Easter favors for my son's class.

Fun New Crayons From Old Ones

What you will need:

- Crayons
- Cutting board
- Knife
- Bowls to sort the colors
- Mini Cupcake tin with liners or Silicone Molds (please be aware that you won't be able to use the silicone molds for anything other than crayons anymore)

How to do it:

Step one:If you haven't already done so, remove the wrappers and sort them by colors (unless you want to make multicolored ones).  You can get a nice mosaic effect by grouping into color families so that the crayon has various shades of the same color.

Step two:Chop them into small pieces and put them back into their assigned bowl.

Step three:Fill the cupcake liners and/or silicone molds with the small crayon pieces. You can try to make some bigger piles with the silicon molds, otherwise they will be rather flat shapes.

Also a little tip: you can get really cheap silicone molds at dollar stores or online!

Step four:Bake the crayons at 200F for 20-40 min or until they are completely melted and no more pieces are visible

Step five:Let them cool completely!

I recommend leaving them overnight before taking them out of the mold / liners.

What you will notice if you used cheap crayons, there will be a layer of just wax at the top of the crayon but you can easily trim it off if it bothers you.

Step six:
Have fun coloring or wrap them up nicely :

Here are some ideas for what you can use them for:

- Party favors
- Small gifts
- Game prices

You guys can probably come up with many more ideas what to use them for!

We have used them for the following:
  • Last holiday season we made some in Santa, Stocking, Mistletoe & Candy cane shapes, then we printed a few small coloring pages and Noah gave them to his friends at school.
  • We made some for Meryl's baby friends a while back, just as a random surprise.
  • Noah also made some cute heart shaped ones for his classroom on Valentines day 
  • He made some for the whole class for Easter, together with some small coloring pages. 
  • It's such an easy and affordable tiny something and what child doesn't like to color?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Party in Your PJs #99

Welcome to Party in Your PJs!

Happy Tuesday!  Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll still find the Awesome Life Friday link up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Bree ~ bumblebreeblog | Facebook | Pinterest
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

Features from Last Weeks Party!

Make sure you head over to the other member of Party in Your PJs
 to see their features - we each pick our own!

Were you Featured? Grab a button!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

-Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment, we all love comments
-If you were featured, grab a"Featured" button, found below.
-Consider adding our Party button to your Party Page or Post.

Review: Lylicraft Handsewn Pillow Slips


Throw pillows are a wonderful way to add a splash of color to your room, but boy are they pricey sometimes! And if they aren't pricey, they are usually rough as a burlap sack or fall apart in the wash.

Pillow slips make a great alternative - you can change out your pillow slip to suit the season or your mood, and they're easily removed from the pillow form for washing.

I recently received two pillow slips from the Etsy shop Lylicraft, and they are wonderful.

Lylicraft is run by Lyli Kassim from her home in Malaysia. She uses Malaysian Batik fabrics and other beautiful fabrics to craft pillow slips and cosmetic bags.

Her pillow slips come in two sizes: 16x16 inches square and 18x18 inches square. I received one of each size in beautiful, jewel toned colors.

The fabric is incredibly soft and feels cool to the touch which is an interesting characteristic.

The slips are closed with a hidden zipper rather than being the fold over style. I much prefer the zipper.

Looking closely at all the seems, you can see that Lyli takes great care in crafting her items. Each seam has been doubled over so there are no raw edges to fray.

They fit over my IKEA Fjadrar throw pillows very well. I was able to stuff the same sized pillow in each slip. The 16" pillow just ends up being much fuller.

My Lylicraft slips have held up well to several washes already. I wanted to put them through a thorough test in that arena and they still look brand new.

I am very impressed with this product and would highly recommend it to anyone.

The 16" slip sells for $10.00 and shipping from Malaysia to my area code came up as $2.00. I don't see any 18" pillows in her shop as of this date so that size may no longer be available.

To view other items in the Lylicraft shop you can visit this Etsy link or check out her Facebook page.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


My husband and I love to entertain on the weekends. We have weekly board game nights with various friends, and although we usually get together after dinner so kids are all winding down, we feel weird not having some kind of appetizers and snacks at the ready. Also, we tend to get together with the same people so we don't want to bore them by supplying the same treat week after week.

Therefore, we tend to switch it up every few months. First it was the Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers, then it was the Bacon Wrapped Brat Bites, but lately we've been on a stuffed mushroom kick!

Previous to a week ago, I'd never made them myself, but they have been one of my favorite starters since forever! I can't go to a restaurant that has them and NOT order them. There is so many different ways of making them, the filling possibilities are endless – but I prefer simple.

This recipe is so super easy! We start throwing it together about 30 minutes before we are expecting company, and they are bubbly and delicious around the time they arrive.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

1 tbs Olive Oil
16 Portobello Mushrooms
1 block of softened cream cheese
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried onion flakes
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Prepare mushrooms: Using a damp paper towel, wipe mushrooms clean. Carefully snap stems off, leaving a little crater for filling. Set caps aside.

Finely chop the mushroom stems and garlic.

Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add stems and garlic and heat for no more than five minutes, careful not to burn garlic. Thinly spread out in a bowl to cool.

After about 5-10 minutes add cream cheese. Once thoroughly mixed, add rest of ingredients.

On a foil lined baking sheet, spray cooking spray, or wipe olive oil to avoid sticking.

Spoon filling into each cap and arrange on prepared sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.

That's it! These will be such a crowd pleaser or a wonderful side to your steak dinner. These have become quite the staple in our house lately and I'm so happy to share this brilliance with you all!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: February Pet Gift Box


This is my last installation of my three month PetGiftBox review, and let me tell you, I still love it!

I have spent the last three months eagerly awaiting the day when a medium sized box appears in my mailbox with my pup's name on it, so that I can spoil him (even more) rotten. Even Gregor knows when his box has come in, he gets super excited and dances around as I open it and present him with the new goodies!

February's box did not disappoint us at all. In it were two types of treats: a box of heart shaped biscuits and a heart shaped cookie, and two toys: a fluffy bone shape and a disk with a puppy face, along with a car magnet that proudly declares your canine affection. Everything was all wrapped up with festive Valentine's Day paper inside the box.

Let's talk about these treats. The first thing I gave my Muttface was the heart shaped Valentine's cookie from Bubba Rose Biscuit Company. It was an adorable heart shaped frosted canine confection that declared “I woof you”. I have to admit, it looked so tempting, I tried a nibble. Not gonna lie, I've had worse cookies that were actually intended for human consumption. Also had better, but for a dog treat, it was rather tasty!

The other treats were a box of heart shaped whole food biscuits from Isle of Dogs that had a blissfully short ingredient list intended to help keep your dog's teeth healthy and breath fresh. These I didn't taste myself, but Gregor seems to adore them, always asking for another after he's finished the first.

On to the toys! There were two toys in this month's box - a fairly obvious fluffy bone shape from Zanies and a disk. While both squeak, only the bone with the heart embroidered on it gets really played with by Gregor.

The disk with the puppy face from Petlou, while it is a perfect flinging shape, is very difficult for him to pick up if it is flat on the floor, leaving him to abandon it after a few tries for a toy that fits his mouth better. The children, however, love it. The squeak is more akin to an accordion's wheeze, and its large disk shape make it perfect for little feet to stand on it and bounce, much to their delight.

The car magnet is a sturdy thing, and one I have proudly placed upon my vehicle, after a few weeks of it being on my fridge as a fidget for the kids while I cook. It's a traditional bone that simply says I heart my dog. Honestly, you don't need to say much more than that.

In all, I love PetGiftBox. Gregor and I enjoy looking forward to our package, and we have so much fun discovering what goodies await us inside. I think that everybody who is looking for a way to treat their furbabies definitely should consider PetGiftBox!

As a gift to us humans, PetGiftBox is offering half off your first box 
when you use the code RCH50.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Putting DIY Sharpie Mugs to the Test (Does This Pin Even Work?)


Like most people I know, I have found myself wandering down the rabbit hole of Pinterest and the DIY portion of the Internet. And, like most people I know, I have found myself saying “Yeah, they make it LOOK so easy; all you need to do is A B and C” and wondering if it ACTUALLY works.

So I've decided to try a few, and see how it goes, then share my experiences with all of you! I figure I'll potentially make a fool of myself and let the internet laugh with me, and you won't have to!

The first project I decided to take on is something I have seen about a bajillion times all over the internet. The DIY Sharpie mug.

The idea is simple: Buy an inexpensive coffee mug, doodle/write on it with Sharpie markers, and bake it in the oven at 350 for half an hour (twice if you really want to set it).

Considering that I am not a very arty person when it comes to drawing (seriously, my stick figures require labels!), I recruited a friend to help me out.

At Target, we found exactly what we were looking for, plain white mugs on sale! We picked up a traditional coffee mug, a cappuccino mug, and a square bowl for each of us and a pack of Sharpies! We got back to my place and started our art project, drawing all over our mugs and bowls. As I anticipated, her stuff looked way more awesome than mine did.

The next part was the easiest thing, putting the mugs in the oven. I put them on a baking sheet in the cold oven, heated it to 350 and then baked for half an hour, then I turned the oven off and let the mugs cool with it. I did it this way so as to not shock the mugs and maybe have them crack with the temperature changes. Is it necessary? I'm not sure. Did I do it anyway? Yup. I'm over cautious that way.

When we pulled them out, the ink was a little smudgy if you pushed hard on it, so we decided to bake them a second time.

After the second bake, the ink was still smudgy, but only if you really tried to smudge it.

So the next test was to wash it. I took the mug I had made to look like it had blood dripping down, and plunged it into hot, soapy water.

I have a general rule of thumb I live by when it comes to washing things: handmade = handwash. Usually I apply that to my knitting and crocheting, but I figured that it should be extended to dishes as well.

Upon inspection, I found many places where the ink had come off. Some along the lip, but most was around the cup. I used a soft cotton knit cloth to wash with, and I didn't think that much would have come off, but you can see for yourself. Just glad I didn't try it out on one of the pretty pieces!

Turning to the Internet to troubleshoot, I found that if you use an oil based marker, like the Sharpie Paint, you get much better results. I guess you live, you learn.

For the dishes we already made, though, I just put a few layers of Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge that I had around the house on over the art, and let it dry, which fixed our smudging and scratching issue.

Are there any DIYs or hacks you guys have been wanting to try, that you've been worried that it might not work out right? Let me know in the comments!