8/18/12

The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska - Review and Giveaway

What's on YOUR bucket list? If you've ever considered riding a motorcycle across Alaska, then you must have this book. The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska by Lee Klancher with Phil Freeman is the ultimate guide book. Full of breathtaking photographs and detailed maps, you will feel like you're already there while you're reading! This book includes itineraries, interesting side roads, and places to see. They even list the best places to eat and sleep.
The book itself is made of high quality glossed paper to ensure it survives the trip with you. Even the corners are rounded to protect the pages in your travel bag. I was so impressed by the depth of details in this book and it's very obvious the author spent many hours traveling the roads and highways of Alaska. Enter to win your very own free copy of this awesome book!
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
Win The Adventurous Motorcyclist's Guide to Alaska!
To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years old and live in the USA. This giveaway ends at midnight ET on 8/31/12. Only the first entry is mandatory; bonus entries increase your chance to win. Good luck!

Mastrad Oval Silicone Steam Cooker - Review

I just made perfectly steamed broccoli in the microwave with my new Orka Mastrad Oval Silicone Steam Cooker. Steam cooking is so much healthier than cooking in water because water can leach out the essential vitamins. When food is steamed, the food cooks in its own juices and retains those vitamins. The Silicone Steam Cooker keeps the food moist and tender while it cooks evenly.
The Oval Silicone Steam Cooker is perfectly sized for 1-2 servings, but there are other sizes available at http://www.shopmastrad.com. It comes with a recipe booklet that has a handy chart of how to steam the most popular food items in the Cooker, whether frozen or fresh, with suggested additions for a twist.
I used the booklet's directions, putting two cups of frozen broccoli into the cooker. I added a few shakes of lemon pepper, covered the Cooker with its included lid, and microwaved for two minutes. It came out absolutely perfect. The handles don't get hot and I tossed it in the top rack of the dishwasher for cleaning. Healthy cooking does not need to be difficult or complicated anymore!
Check out all the innovative products at http://www.shopmastrad.com and be sure to check out their Deal of the Day. The Oval Silicone Steam Cooker would also be a fabulous gift for a college student this fall. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for recipes and special promotions!
Disclosure: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Garden Parties featuring Nielsen-Massey Products #recipes

I absolutely LOVE these products from Nielsen-Massey! The Pure Vanilla Sugar granules come perfectly sized for garnishing any sweet treat to make it look fancy. The taste is definitely gourmet and I've been topping my desserts with it. As I opened the Rose Water, the Pure Lemon Extract, and the Pure Vanilla Extract, I could tell immediately that they are of the highest quality. I've been using them with water and candles to scent my bathroom and I love adding just a drop to a tall glass of ice water!
The secret to adding sophistication to a summer garden party is about infusing everything, from the cocktails to the centerpieces, with garden scents and flavors. These garden details can be accented with vanilla, a versatile flavor that enhances the natural garden essence in dishes and decorations. Nielsen-Massey’s line of vanillas and flavors have hints of sweet, spicy, and citrus that perfectly pair with any garden crop or herb. Amplify a sophisticated garden atmosphere with just a drop of vanilla extract to intensify subtle garden flavors, making them the star of the party.
Try these tips from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for adding elegance and garden tastes into a summer garden soirée:
  • Create a summer cocktail favorite with a unique garden twist like Nielsen-Massey’s Rose Sangria, which features Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract and Rose Water - infusing the drink with light floral flavors.
  • Use fresh cut flowers or bunches of herbs tied with a simple ribbon for centerpieces with natural garden fragrance.
  • Enhance ripe tomato flavors in a savory appetizer like Nielsen-Massey’s Lemon-Bleu Stuffed Tomatoes with Pure Lemon Extract.
  • Float votive candles in water to add light. Add flower petals and a drop of Nielsen-Massey Rose Water to the water for an authentic garden aroma.
  • Intensify summer flavors by mixing Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water with fruit-flavored yogurt as a light citrus topping for a dessert of freshly picked fruit.
As guests arrive, start the party off with a summer cocktail favorite, Rose Sangria. The Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Vanilla Extract and Rose Water lighten the drink – allowing the freshness of the lemons and limes to pop. Add sprigs of fresh mint as a garnish for a bright garden taste.

Nielsen-Massey’s Rose Sangria (Serves 4-6)
1 apple, peeled and quartered
10 whole cloves
1 lemon, thinly sliced rounds
1 lime, thinly sliced rounds
1 orange, thinly sliced rounds
⅓ cup Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar
½ cup brandy, chilled
1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine, chilled
1 ½ cups pulp free orange juice, chilled
¼ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Rose Water
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract
fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Stud apple by pushing the clove stems into the prepared apple quarters. In a large glass pitcher, place the clove-studded apple quarters with the citrus fruit slices. Sprinkle Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar over the fruit, pour brandy over the sugared fruit and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours to infuse the flavors. Before serving, remove the clove-studded apple and discard, crush the infused citrus fruits slightly with a wooden spoon. Stir in the wine, orange juice, Nielsen-Massey Rose Water and Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract. Garnish each glass with a sprig of fresh mint.
Disclosure: I received these products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare

Sands Hetherington has written a wonderful young reader's story in Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare. A light and easy to read chapter book pairs up a bright red alligator named Crosley, who comes out from under John's bed one night when he cannot sleep. Their fantasy-filled adventure begins with invisibility as they journey to the Cheesecake Factory. It's a delightful story, filled with fun and humor. I love the illustrations, drawn by Jessica Love, and even the varying fonts help keep children focused on the characters. The colorful dialect and descriptive language, as well as the special glossary of Night Buddies Uncommon Words, gives the story a special place in a child's imagination. This would be an awesome book for teachers to read aloud to their classes too! I loved this young reader's book!
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Rubbermaid LunchBlox Sandwich Kit - Review

For almost 80 years, Rubbermaid has created products that make our lives easier. I love their new LunchBlox Sandwich Kit! My kids always complained about smashed sandwiches, crushed chips, and soggy fruits. The LunchBlox is designed to solve all those problems at once.
This nine piece set comes with a sandwich box with lid, a medium side box with lid, two small side boxes with lids, and a Blue Ice pack to keep foods chilled. The pieces are even designed to snap together! This keeps food upright and saves food from unfortunate accidents.
The Blue Ice pack snaps onto the bottom or the middle, so depending on what foods are packed, you can choose where to put it. All the lids fit securely and the food stays fresh until lunchtime. I love the Rubbermaid organization products!
The containers are microwave safe, dishwasher safe and freezer safe. The containers are also BPA-free, so no worries there either. The container portions are perfectly sized for the most common lunch foods, including a wide range of basic and specialty breads.
You can feel good knowing your child is eating healthy foods that you chose to pack. Your child will feed good knowing their foods won't resemble a small tornado at the lunch table. I packed a turkey and cheese on wheat, apple slices, pomegranate chips, and pickles, covering all the suggested food groups. My food stayed fresh and organized all morning long and was delicious after five hours in my lunchbag. What will you pack in your LunchBlox?
Check out the full line of LunchBlox products HERE. You can visit the Rubbermaid Adventures in Organization Blog, and follow Rubbermaid on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: I received these Rubbermaid products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

DewStop Humidity and Condensation Fan Switch - Giveaway

From the website: DewStop has taken its patent pending technology and packaged it into a single fan switch anyone can install! Simply connect your new or existing bathroom exhaust fan to the DewStop switch. When DewStop senses rising condensation levels, it automatically turns on the fan and keeps it on until the condensation is no longer a problem and your room is dry. You can also turn it on and off manually when you want to, or just rely on the DewStop sensor to do the job. Controlling condensation helps minimize damage to walls and household goods, as well as lessen or stop the growth of mold. And because the DewStop only comes on when it's needed and stops after 30 minutes, it helps you save on your energy costs. For further savings, the sensor needs no maintenance and provides a lifetime of use. 
I think this is such a great idea and I was very excited to try it out. With five people in our house, condensation and humidity in our bathrooms is always a problem. Unfortunately for me, it only works on the rocker type switches, so it won't work with our existing standard switches. That means one of my readers gets to win this! You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the USA. To enter to win just fill out the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway ends at midnight ET on 8/31/12. Good luck!

New Products from Simply 7 Snacks - Review

Simply 7 Snacks has five new flavors! I've been munching on their Lentil Chips and Hummus Chips for a few months now, so I already knew that had delicious and nutritious snacks. I love the seven core standards of this company:
  1. Zero grams of fat and no cholesterol.
  2. No artificial colors or flavors.
  3. No additives or preservatives.
  4. Gluten free ingredients.
  5. All natural recipes.
  6. Simple ingredients.
  7. Simply delicious.
Their new Jalepeno Lentil Chips are amazing. They have just enough jalepeno in them to be naturally spicy, but not so much that it left me sweating. The bowl shape of these chips makes them perfect for scooping up salsa for an extra kick. They are a yummy, lightweight chip that won't weigh you down.
The Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Chips are a great combination of spicy and sweet. Since they are shaped like a little scoop, we whipped up some guacamole for dipping. It's a wonderful, wholesome snack that I'm happy to give my family.
I'm most excited about their new line of Pomegranate Chips. I've never tasted any chips like these and they are so good. They come in three flavors - Black Pepper, Sea Salt and White Cheddar. The chips are almost a pink color because of the pomegranate so it makes for a great conversation starter too!
My favorite flavor of the three Pomegranate Chips is the White Cheddar. Although they are delicious alone, I made myself a little gourmet snack with Pomegranate Chips and cream cheese. I even gave some to my daycare children for snack and they loved them too!
I am so happy to have healthy snacking options for my family that are good for us. The grocery stores are loaded with so many snacks full of preservatives and we're really trying to get away from processed foods. You simply must try Simply 7 Snacks! Order at http://www.simply7snacks.com. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter too!
Disclosure: I received these products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

The Missing Alphabet: A Parents' Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids - Review

Today's world is very different for young children. Now that the whole world is connected and digitized, there is a real danger that children will become passive thinkers. As an early childhood educator, I see a real need for children to have true opportunities to develop creative thinking skills so they can succeed and excel in the future. Thanks to Susan Marcus, Susie Monday, and Cynthia Herbert, there is a wonderful new parents' resource on hundreds of ways to provide children these opportunities. The Missing Alphabet: A Parents' Guide to Developing Creative Thinking in Kids introduces the Sensory Alphabet, a foundation based upon line, color, texture, sound, movement, rhythm, space, light and shape.
All children are creative and this book helps parents guide their children into creative problem-solving and innovation. Children will learn the Sensory Alphabet and be able to apply the concepts to real life, helping them gain self-confidence and become the 21st century thinkers that will lead us into the future. I absolutely love the huge array of activities that the authors provide in this book! It's a wonderful way for parents to be more involved with their children in quality educational ways that are simply fun. It is a fabulous resource!
Disclosure: I received this book at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
You can pre-order this book at the link below and be one of the first parents to start helping your children build a creative thinking foundation that will last a lifetime!

Time for a Vehicle Makeover

Our old Dodge Dakota has definitely seen better days. Sitting in the Texas heat for years has peeled the paint from the top of the cab and the hood. There is a big scratch down the driver's side where a neighborhood brat keyed the truck. The inside is even worse, especially since our kids have been driving the truck recently and their first inclination is to not clean anything. Oh, and there is also the big glob of mascara that my daughter dropped on the seat while she was applying makeup when my son was taking her to work. She rubbed it in really good so now there's a big smeary stain. I'm definitely considering getting some truck seat covers to hide the truck's abusive past.
GreatCovers.com has a huge selection of seat covers for all makes and models of trucks and cars. They even have leather seat covers, but since our son will probably use the truck for his senior year of high school, I'm thinking maybe the Waterproof Endura for the protection factor or the Neoprene which is made for a more active lifestyle. Between my son's school, outdoor based job, and the skateboarding park, I'm sure the truck seats see more dirt and sweat than it can handle. Maybe after he goes off to college next fall and the truck becomes ours again, we'll invest in some nice leather seat covers or their luxurious Microfiber covers. Perhaps we will even paint the truck next year!


8/17/12

Hadaki Bags - Bold Fall Collections - Review and Giveaway

In just a few short weeks, schools and colleges will once again be flooded with students in need of a great education. Across the nation, parents and students are purchasing backpacks, laptop bags, lunch totes, and handbags in new fall colors. Spice up your school wardrobe this fall with the gorgeous new fall collection from Hadaki!
I always hated the basic blue backpack. I loved choosing a bag that everyone knew was mine. It had to be creative and unique. It also had to be durable because it got carried everywhere. Now that I'm out of school, I'm finding myself carrying my laptop everywhere I go and I still want my bags to make a statement. The bold colors of Hadaki bags are exactly what I want.
This 17" laptop sleeve from Hadaki is part of their Arabesque Pebbles collection and the inside is from the Arabesque Stripes collection. Perfect for fall with oranges, yellows, browns, and blues, I'll be in style whether I'm in a training class, at a blogging event, or travelling across the country.
My new Hadaki Laptop Sleeve is made of very durable polyester material that will be very easy to keep clean. Since it's a single inner pocket, it's lightweight (even with my laptop inside) and I'm not weighted down with tons of extra pockets or material.
The adjustable shoulder strap means it will work just as well for a fifth grade girl or a full grown business woman. Hadaki has dozens of fabulous bags to choose from and fall colors that are as unique as you! See the whole collection at http://www.hadakishop.com. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and enter to win a $25 Gift Code below!
Disclosure: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
Win a $25 Gift Code to Hadaki!
To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the USA. Only the first entry is mandatory, but you can increase your chance to win by completing the bonus entries. This giveaway ends at midnight ET on 8/31/12. Good luck!

Victorian Wax Seal Initial Necklace - Review



Lauren Nicole Gifts has one of the most unique necklaces I've ever seen. This Victorian Wax Seal Initial Necklace is charming and classy, perfect for accenting a work outfit, church dress, or even to dress up your favorite t-shirt and jeans. Everyone loves to wear their own initial!
A freshwater pearl hangs alongside the 3/4" sterling silver wax initial charm on an 18" sterling silver chain. It's a beautiful gift for someone special, or maybe it's time to treat yourself to something unique! Lauren Nicole Gifts are designed and custom hand made to order in the USA.
Lauren Nicole Gifts include hand stamped sterling silver and gold jewelry, hand cast sterling silver wax seal jewelry, baby footprint and handprint jewelry, child's artwork jewelry, charm necklaces, name necklaces, monogrammed initial necklaces, and mommy necklaces. There are even earrings, key rings, and hand stamped baby spoons. And don't miss the handsome cuff links for men! You can check out the entire collection at http://www.laurennicolegifts.com/ and find them on Facebook too.
Win a Victorian Wax Seal Initial Necklace from Lauren Nicole Gifts!
To enter just fill in the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years old and live in the USA. Only the first entry is mandatory; bonus entries increase your chance to win. This giveaway ends at midnight ET on 8/31/12. Good luck!

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

Easy Texas Grilled Chicken Recipe on the George Foreman Grill

I am thrilled to be participating in the "The George Foreman Grill: Show Us Your Grill Skill Recipe Contest" through the Family Review Network! I love to create healthy, easy-to-prepare meals for my family. My new George Foreman Removable-Plate Grill includes an exclusive fat-removing design and the nonstick coating means no need for oils or butter, plus it prevents sticking and makes clean-up a breeze!
While I got busy creating a new recipe, I enlisted my husband's help to put together the grill for me. In just a few minutes, he had read through all the directions, connected the removable grill plates, and started preheating the grill for me. I decided on a chicken recipe for the four of us for dinner.
Easy Texas Grilled Chicken Recipe
by Lisa Weidknecht
Defrost two large boneless, skinless chicken breasts. In a small bowl, mix together 1tsp sea salt, 2tsp chili pepper spice, 1tsp garlic spice, 1tsp onion powder, 1tsp black pepper, and 1tbsp cornmeal flour. Rub spice mix onto both sides of the chicken breasts, place onto George Foreman Electric Grill and closed hinged lid. Cook for 20 minutes, remove from grill, halve each cooked breast and serve warm.
It came out absolutely perfect! Both sides of the chicken breasts cooked evenly and quickly, while the natural chicken fat drained down the grill into the reservoir. I love this George Foreman grill and will be using it regularly. I didn't have to stand in the 100-degree Texas heat to grill either! Best of all, after dinner I took the two grill plates off and tossed them into the dishwasher (and put the little reservoir on the top rack) to clean up. I didn't even have to rinse them off and they came out squeaky clean.
I paired up each 1/2 chicken breast with a side of pasta, fresh steamed broccoli, and a fresh fruit salad. Everyone agreed that we having Easy Texas Grilled Chicken again very soon! I can't wait to try hamburgers on my new grill. You can purchase your own George Foreman Grill HERE and try my new recipe!
Disclosure: I received this grill at no charge in exchange for my honest review.


70% off End of Summer Sale

Altogether Home, a home furnishings and accessories retailer that helps people decorate with confidence, is featuring an End-Of-Summer Sale with products being offered for a whopping 70% off! Altogether Home is curated by highly acclaimed interior designer Marc Thee, founder of the #1 residential design firm in the United States. The products on sale echo Marc’s theory that good design principles are universal regardless of budget and that anyone can learn to create beautiful personal spaces.


HABA Color Fun Pegging Game - Review

HABA has launched a new consumer ecommerce and information site at www.HABAusa.com and I'm so excited to see all the wonderful open-ended play products! As an early childhood teacher, I am always searching for high-quality, durable toys that are educational and fun. HABA products are beautifully designed with child's play and imagination in mind.
I received the HABA Color Fun Pegging Game, fresh in from Germany, and I'm so impressed at the craftsmanship of these wood pieces. Even the base board has little felt circles on the bottom of it to protect play surfaces. Each piece is sanded perfectly smooth and painted with safe, water-based paint in bright, fun colors.
The children dove right in and began their very serious work of building with pegs and blocks, chatting about the heights of the pegs and the number of holes in the blocks. They experimented with stacking and color combinations, talking about their "city" and the pegs became people who lived in the little block houses. This is the best kind of play for children - the kind that encourages them to be creative and work together.
HABA's new website has so many fabulous educational toys and I'm so glad there is an online wish list option because mine is filling up fast. These are the kinds of toys that will last from one generation to the next, both in play options and in quality. Even the storage box for the Color Fun Pegging Game is made from a heavyweight, glossed cardboard.
With their safe, innovative products for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, HABA has really captured the essence of childhood. You should see all the awards they've won from Dr. Toy Best Classic Toys, the National Parenting Seal of Approval, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award, and many more! HABA definitely has my seal of approval too.
Disclosure: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
HABAusa on Facebook - on Twitter - on Google+ - on Pinterest
Win a HABAusa Color Fun Pegging Game!
To enter just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the US to be eligible to win. This giveaway ends at midnight ET on 8/31/12. Good luck!