Archives for October 2010

Dove Movement for Self Esteem

As a Mom of two young girls, self confidence issues are definitely on my radar.  I want to ensure that I foster a sense of self worth, self love and trust between my daughters and I.  While they are only 2 and 5, I feel that it is never too early to start.  So, I was thrilled to learn of Dove’s Movement for Self Esteem.  From their website:

Imagine a world where every girl grows up with the self-esteem she needs to reach her full potential, and where every woman enjoys feeling confident in her own beauty. Imagine the world of possibilities we can open up by helping to build self-esteem in the people we love most.

Our movement is building a world where women everywhere have the tools to inspire each other and the girls in their lives.

We’ll give you opportunities to mentor the girls in your own life, as part of a community of women from all over the world. We’ll alert you when important news on real beauty and self-esteem issues arise, and give you concrete ways to make a difference for the women and girls in your life.”

What do you wish that you knew at 13?  What advice would you give your 13 year old self?  When I think back to that age, I was in 8th grade and full of self doubt.  I wish that I would have known that being smart was actually something to be proud of!  I would tell myself to keep my head high and reach for the stars no matter what the popular decision might be.

After looking through the activities provided on Dove’s Movement for Self Esteem, I found a great one to suggest to my daughter’s Girl Scout Daisy leaders!  In this activity, the girls decorate a turtle shell with things that make them strong.  They are taught that confidence is made up of your strong suits and can be like the shell of a turtle to give you courage in the face of adversity.  The girls stand up and present their shells to the troop and discuss the strengths of their fellow Daisies.

Dove’s Movement for Self Esteem definitely made me think about continuing this discussion with my girls and the importance of being a good role model.  Join the movement and promote self confidence with Dove!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I received a free Dove product in compensation however all opinions remain 100% mine.

Princess Time Toys: Review

I can hardly believe that tomorrow starts the holiday season of 2010!  I generally start planning my budget and gift giving strategy on November 1st, so it is time to put my thinking cap on!  Of course, my first priority is my girls, so I have begun asking them what they want Santa to bring them.  My oldest is quite simple….everything American Girl.

Lily recently got her first My American Girl Doll and has done nothing but circle doll clothes and accessories in every catalog that has come in the mail.  While we definitely have some of these items on Santa’s list, I have been searching for other doll clothes that will fit this doll.  Fortunately, we had the opportunity to take a look at the doll clothes at Princess Time Toys.  About Princess Time Toys:

We offer a full line of quality and educational wood toys and children’s furniture.  Long-lasting and durable wooden toys and furniture by KidKraft, GuideCraft, and MudPie, as well as heirloom children’s pianos from the Schoenhut Piano Company.

We carry a complete line of princess products.  From fabulous dress-up costumes and accessories, to Disney perfume for your little one, Disney necklaces, bracelets, and rings direct from Disneyland, children’s Disney nail polish and lip gloss kits just perfect for a sleep over or Princess party treat bag, and even matching princess accessories for mom, your favorite American Girl doll.  We also carry a full line of princess room decor – rocking chairs, toy boxes, ceramic tea sets, step stools, vanities, wall decor, and night lights.

We received an adorable top and capri set to review that is similar to this purple butterfly set that is currently being sold on the website for $22.99.  The doll clothes sold at Princess Time Toys can fit up to an 18″ doll such as the American Girl dolls and it did indeed fit my daughter’s doll perfectly.  The Polliwog garden sandals are precious and are my daughter’s favorite part of the ensemble!  As a Mom, I like that the clothes are well made and age appropriate.  The selection on the website is phenomenal, too.  My daughter already has her eye on a few outfits such as the Red Velvet Christmas Dress.

If your daughter has added doll clothes to her wish list this holiday season, make sure you take a look at the great selection and quality at Princess Time Toys!  Don’t miss any holiday specials, make sure you follow them on Twitter, too!

This review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review, but all opinions remain 100% mine.

Pyrex Supper Savers: Review

Because my husband and I both work full time, meal planning is imperative in order to avoid the fast food traps.  If we are not prepared for dinner, it is very easy to throw up our hands and turn into the drive thru lane of the closest restaurant.  Because our budget (or our waistlines) can’t withstand this choice several times a week, we take great care to plan our weekly meals every Saturday.

We have found the pre-preparing our meals on Sunday works very well!  Chopping, mixing and assembling ingredients ahead of time cuts down on the amount of cooking time needed when we arrive home on the weekdays, and in turn affords us more time to play with the kids.  This week, I was so happy to be introduced to some great time saving products from Pyrex!

My kitchen was graced with a package of some of the coolest time saving tools.  As I unpacked the box, I decided to have a baking session with my five year old daughter who loves to be in the kitchen.  Using the pinch bowls (which allowed me to measure the ingredients and my daughter the freedom to add them to the bowl) and small spatula, we not only created some delicious brownies, but some wonderful memories as well.

But the best time saving tool we received is the Pyrex No Leak Lids Glass Storage products.  From the website:

….No-Leak Lids eliminate accidental drips, drops and dribbles, making them perfect for keeping and carrying soups, sauces and salsas that slosh. The airtight seal keeps food fresh, while a microwave vent allows neat heating.

In these glass dishes, you can prepare, assemble, cook, store and reheat the same meal!  No need to transfer a cooked meal to a storage container!  We prepared a casserole on Sunday night and placed it in the refrigerator.  On Monday, we cooked the casserole and served for dinner.  Leftovers were stored in the same dish covered with the No-Leak Lid and reheated on Wednesday for a second meal!  So easy and FAST!

If you are looking for ways to stay out of the kitchen, check out some of the great Pyrex time saving tools!

This review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  I received product samples from Pyrex to facilitate this review but all opinions are 100% mine.

Meet the Divas: Facebook Edition ($20 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway)

As you may know, 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 300 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!

Cecelia and I decided to start our own blog conference geared towards the review blogger, Reviewer’s Retreat.  We are working very hard to put together a spectacular agenda full of engaging and knowledgeable speakers with lots of fun mixed in, too!  It will be held May 15-17, 2011 at Great Wolf Lodge in the Pocono Mountains, PA!  Early registration begins November 1st!

For Round Three of “Meet the Divas“, we are helping our members find new fans on Facebook! Not only do you find great blogs to follow, you can also enter to win a $20 Amazon gift card! On November 5th, the entries will be pooled across participating Diva sites and one winner will be selected!

How to Enter:

1. Fan Experimental Mommy on Facebook.

Additional entries:

One additional entry for each of the following Divas you “like” on Facebook (leave a separate comment for each Diva):

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

I was not compensated for writing this post.  The Double Duty Divas are supplying the gift card for giveaway.  Contest ends 11/5/10 at 11:59pm CST.

Define your Style with KraftMaid

I know I talk about Hurricane Katrina a lot on this blog (how can I avoid the topic when it was a such a major event in my life?), but there actually was a silver lining on this cloud….a new kitchen!!  My home was flooded and my kitchen cabinets were ruined, but I have to say that there was no love lost there!  As we gutted our home, my husband and I dreamed of what the perfect kitchen would look like.  As we strolled through the home improvement store (I felt like we lived there), we found a kitchen display that caught our eye.  We decided on a cottage style design with green solid maple cabinets….oh my….I was in love!

KraftMaid cabinets

If you are in the process of remodeling your kitchen, make sure you visit the KraftMaid “Design Your Style” website to create your own personal inspiration board.  Here, you can explore the new products, new finishes (love the sage finish shown in this picture) and new enhancements.  And the best part?  You will be entered to win a $50,000 kitchen remodel from KraftMaid! Get to designing and define your style!

Don’t miss any news or announcements!  Follow KraftMaid on Twitter and Facebook!

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of KraftMaid. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

Get Packing with Mobile Moving and Self Storage

I am a native New Orleanian.  I have lived within the metro area for my entire life (and never want to leave!).  So, I have never had the need for a moving or storage service.  However, five years ago, Hurricane Katrina gave me a reason to investigate the options.

When our home flooded, we had to sort through our belongings and decide what we could salvage and what we could keep.  But with the City in ruins, we had no place to store the items we wanted to restore.  Many people sought portable self storage as a solution to the problem.  One of the companies that provides this type of service is Mobile Moving and Storage which is based in Georgia.  From their website:

Mobile Moving and Storage is a provider of secure, convenient, and affordable mobile self storage and moving solutions-delivered right to your door. Our mobile storage units are the best way to organize your home or office space, or to make your upcoming move simple and more efficient. Storing, organizing, or moving is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Using this portable moving and storage service is extremely easy!  Simply place a call to reserve your unit.  On your selected date, a Zippy Shell Mobile Unit will be delivered to your home.  Pack at your leisure completely stress free!  Each unit is 103 square feet and 15 feet in length which can fit even the largest household items.  When you are ready, call to have your unit picked up and placed in the secure holding facility.  Ready for your belongings?  Make one more call and your unit will be delivered for unpacking.

This service is such a great option for remodeling, selling your home, decluttering or even recovering from a major disaster.  Check out Mobile Moving and Storage!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I received a stipend as compensation for my time.  However, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Get ready for Thanksgiving…Granny’s Sweet Potato Casserole with Praline Topping

Last week I shared my Granny’s pecan pie recipe.  Desserts are my favorite part of any meal, but this is  a recipe for a side dish that is so good it could be the dessert.  This is another standby that just makes Thanksgiving, well…..Thanksgiving.  It just isn’t Turkey Day without it!  If you have a whole mess of people coming over to eat, trust me and double this one.  You won’t regret it.

photo credit to cestlavegan.com

Sweet Potato Casserole (so good you will slap your Momma)

What you will need:

5 Large Sweet Potatoes

1/2 butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup chopped pecans

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Scrub the sweet potatoes well. You can cook them however you want, see below for information on that.   When they are cool enough to handle, scoop them out of the skin.  Mash well, this should be about 3 cups.  Mix the softened butter into the potatoes along with the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk.  Pour the mixture into a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Next, bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Add the brown sugar and stir until it dissolves.  Cook this mixture over medium heat until it reaches the soft-ball stage on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and beat in the melted butter and pecans.  Pour this mixture over the sweet potatoes and bake until very hot and beginning to brown.  Be sure to have someone nearby to administer the smelling salts when you taste it, cause you just might pass out from the deliciousness.

Tips from Granny’s Kitchen:

*Sweet potatoes:  some people like to bake them, some zap them in the microwave.  I have found the EASIEST way to do it is to drop them into a big ol’ pot and cover with water.  Set the pot on to boil and boil them until you can easily stick a fork in them.  Drain and let cool.  They literally slide right out of the skin when cut lengthwise.  But, if you have a favorite way, go to town!  Granny wouldn’t care!

*Variation for the kids:  Make the potato part as is and leave off the praline topping.  Bake until hot.  Once hot, top with a bag of miniature marshmallows.  Return to oven and bake for a few more minutes until marshmallows begin to puff up and turn brown.  Watch them carefully!

Enjoy!  Come back to Granny’s Kitchen next week to find another dish perfect for your Thanksgiving table!

Wordless Wednesday

Halloween Goodies!

Baking with Ovaltine

As a child, I was a horribly picky eater (sorry, Mom!).  So I guess it should come as no surprise that both of my daughters are picky as well, right?  I do my best to introduce them to new foods and provide a balanced, nutritious diet, but I do worry that they aren’t getting the proper amounts of vitamins.

I am fortunate that both my daughters LOVE milk, so I found that using Ovaltine in their milk is a great way to add vitamins to their daily intake.  From the press release:

OVALTINE is a good source of a variety of vitamins and minerals, from A to B12 and magnesium to zinc. A glass of milk with Rich Chocolate OVALTINE provides 20 percent or more of the daily requirement of vitamins A, C, B6 and B12, and 25 percent or more of the daily calcium, zinc and magnesium kids need every day.

While I was well aware that Ovaltine can be used in both cold and warm milk, I had no idea that it could be used for baking!  I took the opportunity to bake with my oldest daughter this past weekend and we decided to try Ovaltine brownies!

What you need:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups Rich Chocolate OVALTINE Mix
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 oz) NESTLÉ®
TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet
Chocolate Mini Morsels, divided

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan. Combine sugar, butter and water in large bowl; stir well. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Combine flour, OVALTINE, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; stir into sugar mixture. Fold in 1/4 cup morsels. Spread into prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup morsels over top of brownie; let stand for 5 minutes. Spread morsels over brownie with small spatula. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.

I have to say that I am pretty darn proud of myself!  These brownies were delicious (I say were because they are GONE)!  I had to cook them for about 10 minutes more than the recipe suggested, but they were very moist and just down right YUMMY.  Both of my daughters loved them, and while I realize they aren’t low calorie, they do have the vitamins and minerals found in Ovaltine which is more than you can say for the traditional brownie!

I was so impressed with this recipe that I plan on trying out a few more as the Thanksgiving holidays draw near.  Make sure you come back to see what I find and I might just have a great Ovaltine giveaway for you, too!

The review is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I received a gift basket and a stipend as compensation for my time.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

Hakuna Matata: The Lion King Roars at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas

Earlier this month, Cecelia from Cool Baby Kid and I traveled to Las Vegas to speak at Blog World Expo.  While we were there on business, we managed to sneak in some fun, too!  The great people at Disney’s The Lion King musical at Mandalay Bay were nice enough to provide us with two incredible seats for the Thursday night showing.

This musical, based on the 1994 film, is one of the most popular shows on Broadway today.  And after viewing the Las Vegas show, I can totally see why!  The music was phenomenal, the dancing was elegant, but my favorite part was by far the costumes.  The costume designers did such a superb job that I actually forgot that the actors were human.  The costumes allowed you to transport inside the performance to make you feel like you were part of the jungle.  I could not take my eyes off of the stage (the two youngest actors were fabulous)!  One small warning….the songs are contagious.  Both Cecelia and I found ourselves singing the tunes at various points during the conference…which was certainly not a treat for anyone listening!

Want a sneak peek of the musical? Check out the video and sing along!  And stay up to date on the latest Lion King news by following the show on Twitter and Facebook!