Archives for August 2010

Wordless Wednesday

First Day of Kindergarten

Lands End Backpacks: Review

hypothesis A backpack from Lands End will be the perfect way to send my daughter off to her very first day of Kindergarten.

materials

One Girls’ Solid ClassMate SmallHaul backpack in pink, and one five year old who cannot wait to step into her new Kindergarten classroom.  About the backpack:


“ClassMate® SmallHaul is designed & tested to carry everything a younger grade-schooler needs for class and more. Features like two big compartments, a removable organizer pouch, and mesh water bottle pockets keep everything in their place. Plus, it has a durable 600-denier polyester body with 1200-denier base that will hold up to all the rigors of a long school year.
Other features include:

  • Padded C-shaped shoulder straps are comfortable & fit better
  • Padded back panel for comfort
  • What it fits: binder, folder, textbook, 2 notebooks, snowpants, sweatshirt/jacket, hat, gloves, shoes
  • Small exterior zippered pocket keeps extras handy”

results My daughter attended her current school last year for preschool where she had to bring a school tote bag.  So this year as she enters kindergarten, she was so excited to learn that got to select her own backpack!  Because I already knew the quality of Lands End clothing from making several purchases in the past, I was excited to get the opportunity try the backpacks.

Lily and I sat down with the Lands End catalog.  I directed her to the section of backpacks specifically made for her age.  As a Mom, I love that the backpacks are sized for different ages and book loads.  Lily is small and having a huge high school book bag would just not work.  She quickly selected the ClassMate SmallHaul Solid, in pink of course (is there any other color, really?).

When it arrived, she could not wait to stuff it with her new school supplies.  We found the two pockets useful in order to separate her folders from her pencil case and glue.  She also found it amusing that she can carry at water bottle in the side mesh pockets.  She has been wearing her backpack to school for almost two weeks and is loving it!  I was a bit worried that she would ultimately think it was “uncool” because there was no cartoon character or princess on the front, but she feels like a big girl with this sturdy backpack and could not be happier.

hypothesis If you are in the midst of back to school shopping, check out the great selection of boys and girls backpacks designed for kids ages 3 and up (the TinyTake packs are precious!).  The backpack we reviewed is now on sale for $19.95 and I am thinking or ordering a second one to keep for the future!  While your at Lands End, take a look at the Fall Collection, too!

This product review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy. Other may have a different experience with the product. I was not compensated for this review other than a product sample provided by Lands End. All opinions are 100% mine.

Get Organized! Become a Fan of Smead on Facebook!

Ok, I know all of you have a completely organized home, right?  Tell me how you keep it that way, please!  (**crickets chirping**)

Just kidding….I am sure your house is like most of ours….not “company clean” 24/7 but clean enough, and room to get more organized in more areas but not enough time to do it!   For those of you who use Facebook, now you can “Like” Smead and get quick tips each day to find ways to get organized with Smead products and stay organized!   You can even win products from time to time!  It’s easy to become a fan and even easier to incorporate the organizational tips into your day.  Some of them are so easy all you have to do is click…check out the Organizational checklists!

The year 2011 is just 4 months away, but why not start your New Year’s Resolutions now?  Hurry over to Facebook and become a fan of Smead!  Your clutter will thank you!

Happy Heads Review! (A Type-A Mom’s MUST read!)

I have a few fears in life.  Green peas, lizards, and being caught at the grocery without makeup are a few.  One of my biggest:  HEAD LICE.  As an elementary school teacher, lice (the word just kinds makes you itch, right?) is a common childhood experience…..that I’d rather not deal with.  For one, I am a germophobe personified, and two, EWWWW!  But, lice have no prejudice and prefer to live in the cleanest kid’s hair.  With my children’s fair hair, lice would be a nightmare in this house…or anyone’s for that matter.  A friend once dealt with lice with all three of her girls who had waist-length hair and a home that looked like a museum.  Think floor length drapes in every room and chi-chi expensive pillows everywhere.    She called it the most humbling experience of her life.   Getting rid of them takes serious work.

That’s why when I was asked to do the review for Happy Heads, I was a little confused because we have (knocking wood) never had lice.  Then I found out that Happy Heads was not only a lice treatment system, but a lice PREVENTION system as well.  I was in hair heaven when I heard this news!

From the website: “Melissa Gordon is the founder and owner of Happyheads Services, LLC. She personally understands the stress and anxiety of getting head lice. When her twins were in kindergarten, they brought head lice home and shared it with her. Her trials with the predicament were frustrating, confusing and exhausting. She found conflicting advice and information online. She was concerned about the chemicals she was using on her kids’ heads. And, just as she thought she had rid her children, herself and her home of lice, they were back.”

After that hair raising experience, Melissa worked to develop her line of FDA-Registered, Non-Toxic Happy Heads products.  I happily opened my box of Scootie Cootie Shampoo and Spray Leave-in conditioner.  These products, when used daily in combination with the Bye-Bye Lice Shampoo, can keep your child’s head free of those nasty little buggers the whole school year long.  The first thing that I noticed was the smell.  Since my brothers both had lice as kids (thankfully just once) I remember the smell of the shampoo my mom had to use on them.  This was totally different!  No chemical smell that makes you fear your child might wake up with a third eye, just a fresh, clean smell that lice happen to hate.  In fact, the smell was identical to the frou-frou shampoo at the frou-frou salon I used to go to until I came to my senses and realized I shouldn’t have to sell a kidney to get a haircut.  But I digress……

My head is happy!

Em happily agreed to have her hair washed and had no side effects at all from the shampoo, other than excessive giggling while I took the picture.  Afterwards, the spray helped me to comb through her hair and left it smelling clean.  Once her hair was dry, it still had a light scent but not overpowering, and did not feel or appear coated or weighed down by the products.   I am sold!  I most definitely intend to keep using the Happy Heads products to prevent lice.  Too late for you?  Happy Heads has treatment products too!  Stay cootie free and you’ll have a Happy Head in your house too.

Tide and Downy: Lifting up Laundry (Giveaway)

Five years ago today, I sat in a hotel room in Shreveport, Louisiana awaiting the fate on my City while Hurricane Katrina unleashed her wrath.  We packed for a typical three day Hurricane evacuation (or “Hurrication” as we loving joke), but had no clue that those clothes would have to last us over three weeks.

Watching the news was painful as we learned of the water pouring into our City and homes.  But out of the dark, always comes a light, right (at least Gloria Estefan always said so)?  One of the great things that happened to New Orleans post Katrina was the overwhelming sense of volunteerism.  One of the companies that darted to the South to help out was Tide.  Creating the Tide Loads of Hope program was a true blessing to the citizens of New Orleans.  A truck housing 30 washers and dryers and staffed with volunteers to wash your clothes for FREE was refreshing!

We were in the third row!!

Tide is celebrating five years of their Loads of Hope program which has now washed over 36,000 loads of clothes across the Country.  To commemorate the milestone, Tide put together a fabulous FREE concert with Faith Hill and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for the residents of the Gulf Coast.  I had such a blast letting go of the stress of the week and dancing along with Faith and my friends!

I have been fortunate to enough to visit the P&G Headquarters in Cincinnati and see first hand what a great group of people work at Tide.  I got to venture into the labs (which was totally up my alley) to see what the brand has been working on.  Upon viewing the Tide with Acti-Lift demonstration, I could not wait to share it with my readers.  If you have little ones at daycare like I do, you know that just about every outfit comes home with stains and some are nearly impossible to release.  Tide with Acti-Lift can break up even dried on stains and lift them away from your clothes.  Honestly, I have never seen anything like it!

Another great P&G product is the new Ultra Downy April Fresh!  Don’t you just love the way clean sheets make you feel?  Do you feel like you sleep better on fresh sheets?  Now you can have that feeling all week long!  The new Ultra Downy April Fresh stays smelling and feeling fresh for seven…yes, SEVEN….whole days with the Renewing Scent Pearl Technology!  I have had the opportunity to try this fabric softener after I received a sample at BlogHer 2010, and I can say that my sheets did feel clean longer than with my traditional softener.

GIVEAWAY

Instead of reliving the horrible events of Hurricane Katrina five years ago, I have tried to remain focused on the positive.  And thanks to Tide and Downy, I get to share this sense of renewal with one of my lucky readers!  One of you will win and ENTIRE YEAR of both Tide with Acti-Lift and Ultra Downy (12 coupons for FREE Tide and 12 coupons for FREE Downy)!!

How to enter:

1. Visit Tide and tell me another product you would love to try!

Additional entries

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to Experimental Mommy and Tide (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) and @Tide on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Unlimited! (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog and Tide on Facebook.

5. Place my button on your sidebar!

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on September 20th.  Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This review is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy. Other may have a different experience with the product. Thank you to Tide and Downy for supplying a product for review.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

Family Movie Night with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse “Road Rally!”

Every Friday night, my husband and I try to come up with an activity in order to have some quality family time.  Sometimes it’s Game Night, others we choose Pizza Night and on occasion, we choose to have a Movie Night complete with sleeping bags, dim lights and popcorn.  But, I must admit that we do struggle finding a show that both my 2 year old and 5 year old can agree on. However, they are both Disney junkies so I was thrilled to learn about the premiere of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse “Road Race” on Disney!  On Tuesday, September 7th at 6pm CST, settle in for this full length Clubhouse feature!  About the movie:

“In “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally,” Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, along with Clubhouse pals Toodles, Pete, Clarabelle Cow, and Chip and Dale embark on the first annual Clubhouse road rally. The friends selects their favorite mode of transportation, with Goofy getting the opportunity to ride in Professor Von Drake’s latest invention, the Clubhouse Rescue Truck. The race kicks into high gear, leading the gang on a journey through sandy desserts, snow-covered mountains and lush tropical jungles in search of clues. During the race, Toodles feels unappreciated when the Rescue Truck gets all the praise for helping out, and he sadly leaves the group just when he’s needed most. It is up to Mickey and pals to reunite the team and make it to the finish line.”

Check out a sneak peek on Facebook (and don’t forget to “like” Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while you’re there)!

So what makes a successful movie night in my home?  We already have a great movie, but how can we make it a memorable event?  MOUSE EARS, of course!  Before the movie begins, check out the Family Activities and make your own mouse ears to wear during the show (there are even Minnie ears for the girls!).  Don’t forget Mom and Dad, you are NEVER too old for Mouse Ears!

We usually can’t get five minutes into a movie before my girls are begging for popcorn, but I wanted to venture away from the ordinary to make this Movie Night special.  Fortunately, I found a really neat Road Rally Recipe to add a twist to our traditional movie night snack:

Ingredients: 4 cups air-popped popcorn 1/2 cup raw nuts, any kind (or a mix of any kind) you like 1/4 cup raw pumpkin or sunflower seeds 1 cup dried fruit, no additives or sugar, any kind (or a mix of any kind) you like!
Makes 4 servings.

And finally, the thing that makes our movie nights the most special is snuggling with my babies and spending some much needed downtime together!  Don’t forget to mark your calendar and tune in to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse “Road Race” on September 7th at 6pm CST!

Want to join in the fun?  Enter the Family Movie Night Sweepstakes for your chance to be one of 25 winners of your own Family Movie Night kit including a Playhouse Disney Blanket and a Mickey Mouse Choo-Choo Express Fisher Price Toy!

This post was made possible by Playhouse Disney.  A movie night kit was received including four placemats and stickers.  A stipend was received for my time, but all opinions remain 100% mine.

Scentsy Plug-In: Review and Giveaway

hypothesis A Scentsy Candle Warmer Plug In with scented wax bars will be a great way to make our home smell sweet and last longer than the traditional plug in.

materials

One Turquoise plug in, three Scentsy bars in French Kiss, Coconut Lemongrass and Pumpkin Roll, and my main bathroom which could use a fresh scent for Summer!  About Scentsy:

scentsylogo “Scentsy is a direct selling, wickless candle company headquartered in Meridian, Idaho. The company is owned by Orville and Heidi Thompson and sells its products through a field sales force of 40,000 independent sales representatives known as Independent Scentsy Consultants, who market and sell Scentsy products through home parties.

Scentsy sells wickless candles, ceramic warmers and home-fragrance products. A wickless candle, called a Scentsy Bar or a Scentsy Brick, is a highly fragrant wax bar that is warmed to release fragrance into the air. Because the wax is gently warmed rather than burned, it can hold more fragrance oil than a traditional candle. And, because there is no flame, there is no smoke, soot or lead. Scentsy wickless candles are a safer alternative to traditional candles.”

results Recently, I have had the opportunity to try the full size Scentsy candle warmers and absolutely fell in love.  When the wax melts, the scent fills my home and lasts longer than my regular wicked candles.  So, I had high hopes for the plug-in version when I was approached for a review by Scentsy Consultant, Beverly Gaona.

I decided to try one that would match the decor of my bathroom.  The Dandy Turquoise Plug-In matched my chocolate brown walls and I decided to try a few scents that are beyond my comfort zone.  I don’t generally go for romantic scents, but I decided to try French Kiss which is a mix of sweet fig, cedar and coconut.  The other two scents I chose were Coconut Lemongrass for summer and Pumpkin Roll for a holiday feel.

Setting up the plug-in was a breeze and I placed one section of the scented brick in the warmer.  Within seconds, the wax was melted by the included lightbulb and the bathroom was filled with fabulous smells.  The plug I chose to use is high enough to be out of reach of my pet and my two daughters, so I was confident no one would play with the warmer.  The design of the plug-in is so elegant and classy….much better than those grocery store plug-ins!

hypothesis

Because of my recent review, I already knew I was a fan of the Scentsy system, quality and service.  But, I was anxious to try the Plug-in system for my bathroom.  I was pleased to see that the same great quality of the full size warmers translated into the Plug-In system as well.  The style fit well with my decor and the scents filled my bathroom almost instantly.  At just $13.50, I think this would make a great Housewarming gift!

Beverly Gaona, a great Scentsy representative, will generously supply one lucky reader with one Plug-In of their choice and three scents.

How to enter:

1. Visit Scentsy and tell me which warmer would match your home decor!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and Scentsy (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Unlimited! (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog on Facebook.

5. Place my blog banner on your sidebar.

6. Subscribe to my Feed.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on September 9th. Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This product review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy. Other may have a different experience with the product. I was not compensated for this review other than a product sample provided by Scentsy. All opinions are 100% mine.

Meet the Divas (Round Two) and Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Aside from Experimental Mommy, I am co-founder of a mom blog network called the Double Duty Divas.  In the short year that we have been in existence, we have grown to over 200 members who support each other with collaboration instead of competition.  In addition to providing a network of reputable review bloggers ready to connect with brands looking to engage customers through social media, we also support bloggers in our network by coordinating fun activities to promote our sites!

For Round Two of “Meet the Divas“, we are helping our members find new followers through Twitter!  Not only do you find great blogs to follow, you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card! On September 3rd, the entries will be pooled across participating Diva sites and one winner will be selected! U.S. Only.

How to Enter:

1.  Follow the participating Divas on Twitter with just one click!  Come back here and let me know that you “clicked” and leave your Twitter handle for verification.

Additional entries:

1.  Send out a tweet to your own followers letting them know about the upcoming Double Duty Diva twitter party with the following text:

The #DDDivas and PaperMate are rolling out the Red Carpet on 8/29 at 7-9pm EST. Join us for Emmy chat and swag! RSVP http://bit.ly/aNq57H

Interested in becoming a Diva?  Fill out our application and Follow us on Twitter!

Sponsor Experimental Mommy!

em-logo As you know, Experimental Mommy (aka The Not-So-Blog) is a product review blog focusing on baby, kid and Mom based items. Through my site, women discover and experience the newest mom products and often look to my site for advice and information on “the next big thing.” With a reader base of 17,000 unique visitors a month, 3200 Twitter followers and 1200 Facebook Fans, Experimental Mommy has the capacity to reach thousands of Moms seeking information before making a purchasing decision.

I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit to connect with brands and bloggers while learning more about my craft.  My business partner, Cecelia from Cool Baby Kid and I began a network of mom bloggers called the Double Duty Divas which has now reached over 200 members.  We decided to harness the power of numbers and encourage collaboration instead of competition among our membership.  Together, we have helped women grow their readership, gain followers and provided a network of reputable review bloggers ready to connect with companies jumping into social media.

Cecelia and I have been asked to speak on a panel at BlogWorld Expo 2010 in Las Vegas the October on the topic of creating a blog network.  We are very excited and have accepted the invitation, but we are in need to sponsors to help get us there!

About BlogWorld Expo:

This is the ONE and ONLY comprehensive event where you can meet face-to-face with the most influential new media-savvy customers including: Bloggers, Podcasters, Online TV & Radio Broadcasters, Social Media Experts, Internet Video Producers, Social Media Marketing Pro’s from small to large enterprise companies and more!

Thousands of attendees converge on this one comprehensive trade show featuring all the new media resources they need.  This is where the most influential New Media Consumers come to network, capture critical knowledge, find solutions, and make important business and purchase decisions. BlogWorld & New Media Expo is the one event you simply cannot afford to miss!

ddd-logo

Why should you sponsor me for BlogWorld Expo?

I have a reputable blog and online voice with an established readership.  I have attended conferences in the past and understand the importance of networking when trying to create buzz for a company or specific product.  For a sponsorship of $400, your company will receive:

1. A blog post on Experimental Mommy, Cool Baby Kid and Double Duty Divas announcing your sponsorship prior to the event. This post can include any SEO keywords or product images you desire. This post can include a product review and/or giveaway if you wish.

2. Cecelia (@coolbabykid) and I (@BridgetteLA) will tweet to our nearly 6,000 followers facts about your company and products before and during the Conference.

3. FREE sidebar advertising (125×125 banner ad) on Experimental Mommy, Cool Baby Kid and Double Duty Divas through December 2010.

4. Every blog post published on Experimental Mommy, Cool Baby Kid and Double Duty Divas during the Conference period (October 14-16) will include a tagline such as, “This post is sponsored by ###.” It will include a link to your company as well.

5. Double Duty Divas will waive the campaign fee and run a blog tour of your product on up to 5 of our networked blogs.

By sponsoring our trip to BlogWorld Expo 2010, we are looking to develop a much deeper relationship with you than just selling passive advertising. This means we are genuinely passionate about your products, and we want to communicate that passion at various times to our readers and partners.

If you are interested in this sponsorship opportunity or have any questions or suggestions on how we can work together, please contact me at notsoblog (at) gmail (dot) com!

Nature Valley Granola Thins: Review and Giveaway

Every night around 7:30pm, my oldest daughter starts begging for a snack before bedtime.  If she has eaten a good dinner, I generally comply.  She happily skips to the pantry and almost always comes out with gummy snacks or cookies and I always send her back to the pantry.  We struggle at night to find a snack that both her and I can agree upon.

My daughter is a granola fan and will reach for a granola bar at breakfast.  So, I was thrilled to see than Nature Valley came out with a granola snack that I think she will love.  The new Nature Valley Granola Thins are described as:

…delicate squares of granola with a unique, delightfully crispy texture. Each thin is paired with a delicious melt-in-your-mouth Dark Chocolate flavor.  Granola Thins are 100 percent natural, individually packaged and, at 80 calories per square, a perfect pick-me-up you can feel good about eating.

We received a pack of the dark chocolate as well as the peanut butter varieties to test.  Both my daughter and my husband couldn’t wait to snack!  And the consensus was good!  Both varieties were a hit in my home.  The crispiness of the granola combined with the sweetness of the chocolate or the creaminess of the peanut butter was the perfect match.  The size of the snack was perfect for my daughter, but my husband wanted more.

I am happy that we found a delicious snack that my whole family can agree upon.  I am much happier providing my daughter with a natural snack before bed that isn’t loaded with calories or fat.

GIVEAWAY

Wanna snack?  Nature Valley has generously offered one lucky reader a prize pack including one pack of both the Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter varieties!

How to enter:

1. Visit Nature Valley and tell me another product you would love to try.

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog and Nature Valley (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) and @Nature_Valley on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Unlimited! (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog and Nature Valley on Facebook.

5. Place my blog banner on your sidebar.

6. Subscribe to my Feed.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on September 4th. Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This product review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy. Others may have a different experience with the product.  A product sample was provided by Nature Valley to facilitate this review, however all opinions are 100% mine.