Archives for January 2013

Navigating Super Bowl XLVII with My HTC Windows 8X Phone #VZWA

As a Verizon Wireless Ambassador, I have been testing the new HTC Windows 8X phone for the past several weeks.  With my hometown of New Orleans bracing for the craziness that is the Super Bowl, I thought I would share some of my favorite apps to help you navigate the event.

1.  WWLTV App:  This popular New Orleans based news station has an app that not only includes the most popular headlines of the day, but also an entire tab devoted to  Super Bowl XLVII.  And while you’re browsing the app, check out the NOLA weather to plan your day at the festivities.

2.  NFL Mobile:  Keep up to date with the latest videos, scores, team information and sports breaking news.  Here in New Orleans, today was “media day” and this app already has many great clips of the event.

3.  GMaps:  Lucky enough to have a Super Bowl ticket?  Make sure you know your way around the streets of New Orleans with Google Maps!  Get directions, view maps and even find a nearby restaurant to experience our Cajun cuisine.

4.  Super Bowl Clock:  Can’t wait till the big game?  This app will count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds till kickoff.

5.  Epicurious:  If you will be watching the game from the comfort of your own sofa, you can get some great Super Bowl Snack ideas and recipes from Epicurious!

While I am most disappointed that my New Orleans Saints won’t be marching in to the Superdome for the big game, the excitement surrounding the Super Bowl is infesting the City!  Cameras, celebrities, media events and of course, Mardi Gras all make it worth your while to consider coming down for a visit.  So grab your HTC Windows 8X phone, download a few apps and let the good times roll, y’all!

How to Save for Your Prom Dress

Before your wedding day, there comes another occasion when you get to be a princess for a day. It is your prom, when you can enjoy to the fullest and celebrate your graduation. There is no prom without a dream-like, stunning prom dress that will make you look like the belle of the ball!

Getting your hands on the most spectacular prom dress can be difficult; the prettiest dresses can also be very pricey! So it is important to plan out your prom haul beforehand. Decide on what you want to wear, choose your budget, and then start saving for the big day.

The first step is to choose the dress; make sure you opt for a prom gown that flatters your body type. You can select between a flared gown, a short ballerina, a flowy gown, and the list goes on; in case you are indecisive, you can get an idea from the Dresses from DressProm.net. Pick your color, and make up your mind about the kind of look you want.

Keeping in mind your prom dress budget, start saving. Cut down your weekly expenditures to a minimum, and set aside the saved amounts in one place. If your prom plans demand too much economic contribution, you may opt for a part time job that pays you extra. Last minute hassle for money is never pleasant, so begin collecting money at least two months in advance.

You can save money on other prom night add-ons like the limousine ride, salon treatments, professional hair and makeup services, and the after party. You can easily get the dress of your dreams if you improvise a little on these extra unnecessary prom rituals.

You don’t need a limo for a five minute ride, and every girl is talented enough to easily do her own hair and makeup. An expensive after party can be easily skipped if you plan a fun night out with your friends. Little must-haves like corsages can also be made at home, or you could simply rely on your prom date to get you one!

When the prom is around the corner, save on little expenses like eating out, feel-good shopping, or cab rides. Also, do not spend money on other accessories like prom shoes, jewelry and clutches. Be creative, and match a pair of shoes that is already sitting in your wardrobe. You can borrow your mum’s earrings and bracelets. Clutches are so easy to make, you can whip up a fabulous DIY job at home!.

Prom dresses are a memory to cherish for the rest of your life; so try not to opt for the rent-a-designer dress idea. Buy yourself the best dress in your budget, and flaunt it because it’s yours!

Remember, prom is not only about looking great on the outside; wear a dress that makes you feel wonderful on the inside too. At the end of the day, there will be only one prom queen, so all that matters is that you have the time of your life at your prom!

This post is brought to you by guest author, Jenna Smith.

Do You Have a Stain Worth Saving? Save It? Or Wash it in Tide!

Today, I headed down to the French Quarter in New Orleans to take advantage of the beautiful weather and spend some quality time with the family.  While the area is normally bustling with activity, it was like a whole other world today as preparations for both Mardi Gras and Super Bowl XLVII took over the historical Jackson Square and the surrounding neighborhood.  Cameras, lights, staging, signage and extra security made my hometown look like a movie set.

Because you won’t be able to watch the Saints play in the Super Bowl next weekend, I have very little interest in actually watching the big game.  But, I will tune in for the infamous commercials!  If you have ever watched Super Bowl commercials, you know you are taking in the best that brands have to offer.  Being a Brand Ambassador for Tide during the NFL season has been tons of fun, so I am looking forward to seeing their spot during the third quarter of the Super Bowl.

Tide’s hilarious new infomercial spoof for “Stain Savers” and a social media program called “Save it! Or Wash it in Tide!” will educate viewers on how to keep those memory filled stains on their clothing.  For example, the wine stain from your first date with your spouse or the makeup stain from when you met your favorite celebrity are memories that you just can’t bear to wash away.  Never fear, Tide invented “Stain Savers” which are nifty little patched that protect the stains from detergent.

Want a sneak peek?  On January 21st Tide released the Stain Savers infomercial video as a teaser to its upcoming Super Bowl ad.  Check it out below:

The full length ad will showcase the two teams facing off during Super Bowl XLVII, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Fransisco 49ers.  The fun continues on Facebook and Twitter where Tide will be posting images depicting amusing stains that some would theoretically choose to keep.  Make sure to play along when fans are asked if they would “Save it!” or “Wash it in Tide!”

Are you ready for the Big Game?  Are you most looking forward to the actual football or the entertaining commercials?

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  As a Tide Brand Ambassador, I was compensated for my time and effort, but all opinions remain 100% mine.

Who Will Win the Super Bowl Coke Chase? Vote and Win!

It’s officially Carnival time here in New Orleans, but the craziness just got crazier with the addition of Super Bowl XLVII to be held Sunday, February 3rd in our own Superdome.  While native New Orleanians are sad that our Saints won’t be marching in this year, we have certainly rolled out the red carpet to welcome fans of the NFL (with the exception of Roger Goodell, of course).

If you can’t be in the Superdome this year to watch the big game, you can enjoy the entertainment from the comfort of your own home.  And by entertainment, I mean the infamous Super Bowl commercials.  If the Saints aren’t on the field, I am disinterested in the game but I am always amazed at the creativity of the commercials as brands face off to have the most popular spot.

This year, The Coca-Cola Company will debut a 60-second commercial entitled “Mirage” during the Big Game.  Actually, it’s more than just a commercial, it’s interactive!  During the first quarter of the game, the first (of two) parts will air setting the scene and introducing three factions of characters – a band of Cowboys, a gang of “Badlanders” and a pack of Vegas-style Showgirls – as they chase after an elusive bottle of Coca-Cola.  You can actually get a sneak peek below!

So, who wins the race?  That part is totally up to you, the viewer.  Log on to CokeChase.com to vote for your favorite faction and slow down their fictional foes by initiating fun acts of sabotage.  After watching the initial part of the commercial, I decided to root for the Showgirls.  I mean, pink plus sparkles?  It’s a no brainer for this dance mom.  Once I voted, I was able to see that my group is actually in the lead, with the cowboys close behind.  In order to slow down the cowboys (it’s all about strategy), I chose to sabotage them!  I was treated to a funny video showing the cowboys being slowed down for 13 seconds while playing a game of “Double Dutch” in the desert.

At the end of the game, the fans’ actions will determine how the storyline plays out and which one of three 30-second payoff ads will air following the final whistle of the Big Game – a first for The Coca-Cola Company.  Coca-Cola’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter platforms will play a major role in delivering real-time updates on the factions’ progress, and additional Coke Chase and character content will appear on Tumblr and Instagram.

So, how can you influence the outcome?  From now till February 3rd, head to CokeChase.com to rock the vote and sabotage the other rival groups while you’re there.  Get your friends in on the action by sharing on your social networks using hashtags #CokeShowgirls, #CokeCowboys or #CokeBadlanders.  On game-day, show support for your group by tweeting @CocaCola with your favorite group’s hashtag and you will receive responses from the team including a link to sabotage other groups and put your team further ahead.  At the end of the game, the group with the most points tabulated by Coke Representatives will have their 30 second spot aired!  After the winning 30-second spot hits the airwaves, people who Like or Follow the Coke Chase will be rewarded with additional content, including the alternate 30-second endings so they can see how the desert-based chase could have concluded if another group had reached the bottles of Coke first.

To celebrate this fun initiative by The Coca-Cola Company, I have a prize pack to give away to one of my readers worth $100.  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The prizes for this giveaway were furnished by The Coca-Cola Company, and The Coca-Cola Company provided promotional consideration for my participation in this program; however, Experimental Mommy is fully responsible for this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of The Coca-Cola Company.

Join the Pampers Valentine’s Play Date Pin Party

The winner is #23 Jen Q.  Congrats!

My husband and I were high school sweethearts, so we have been together for over 21 years (wow, has it really been that long?).  Each Valentine’s Day, he brings me a single red rose….sometimes in person, sometimes left on my pillow and other times I have found it in my car.  Since having two daughters, I adore the fact that he now brings me the traditional red rose and each daughter gets a single pink rose.  My heart melts.

Let’s face it, after you have kids, Valentine’s Day takes on a whole new meaning.  It becomes a celebration of family and the ways you can express your love for each other.  A great idea to include the kids in Valentine’s Day is to plan a special parent/child play date.

To kick off this special Valentine’s Play Date, Pampers is hosting a #PampersPlayDate Pinterest Party!  Through the party, parents can share their ideas on how to make a play date extra special including great venue ideas, the perfect outfit from The Children’s Place and essential gear for a successful play date from Pampers.

Joining in the party will be totally fun, but to make it interesting, we have decided to award one participant with a $200 The Children’s Place Gift Card and a YEAR supply of Pampers diapers and wipes!

Here’s how to play:

Want something else to celebrate?  From February 1st-11th, make a purchase at The Children’s Place and receive 25 Pampers Gifts to Grow Points!

Need some inspiration?  Check out my sample #PampersPlayDate Pinterest Board.

Be sure to link up your Pinterest Board below to qualify.  One winner will be chosen at random from qualifying entries.  Contest ends 2/11/13 at 11:59pm CST.  Open to US Residents only.

 

 

 

Jump Start Valentine’s Day with Shari’s Berries

Here in New Orleans, it’s Carnival Time!  We are gearing up for the festivities with King Cake, float decorating and parade watching.   This year, Mardi Gras is just two days before Valentine’s Day, so it is easy to forget this romantic holiday.  Fortunately, I am prepared and ordering sweet treats from Shari’s Berries well in advance.

I had the opportunity to try some of the mouth watering selections and true to form, I went straight for the chocolate.  I mean, what’s the point of Valentine’s Day if you don’t get to eat some chocolate, right?  I selected the adorable Ladybug Valentine’s Cake Pops for my daughters and added the chocolate covered pretzels for myself.

The chocolate pretzels arrived first and were neatly packaged and individually wrapped in wax paper.  Dipped in caramel, covered in either milk or white chocolate, and sprinkled with decorative hearts, I could not wait to put them in my belly.  Seriously, it was love at first bite.  Fresh and delicious.

When the Ladybug Cake Pops arrived the next day, my daughters were thrilled.  Each pop was individually wrapped in plastic which would make this an excellent idea for a classroom party or teacher gift.  My daughters loved that the ladybug was made of two pieces, so they felt like they got “extra.”  The cake pops were fresh, dense (almost like a brownie) and really yummy.  At $29.99 for 6 fudgy pops, I would totally buy more in the future.  In fact, you can get them cheaper buy checking out the Shari’s Berries online coupon codes.

Don’t let Valentine’s Day pass you by!  Whether your love loves chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate covered cookies, place an order at Shari’s Berries to surprise the one you love with chocolatey goodness on the day of your choosing.  Happy eating!

This post is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy.  While a product was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Get Pampers Swaddlers in Size 4/5 at Target! {Giveaway}

It’s no secret around here that I am a huge advocate for Pampers.  Both of my daughters wore Pampers throughout their diaper wearing years starting with the Newborn size Pampers Swaddlers.  I have always loved the quilted softness of Swaddlers as well as the stretchy overlapping fasteners which provided a perfect fit for both of my babies.

Once my daughters outgrew the Swaddlers, we switched to the Pampers Baby Dry which we loved as well.  But, I will admit that I missed the softness of the Swaddlers which seemed much more comfortable for my girls.  While I no longer have a need for diapers in my home, I am pleased to tell you that Swaddlers are now available in Sizes 4 and 5!  In fact, you can find the entire Swaddlers line (from preemie to Size 5) in Target stores nationwide.  To celebrate, if you buy two Economy packs of either Pampers Swaddlers, Cruisers or Baby Dry at Target between January 27th and February 2nd, you will receive a free $20 Target gift card!

Want to learn more?  Join Mom It Forward and well known blogger Audrey McClelland tonight (January 22nd) from 9-10pmEST for a Twitter Party to learn tips and tricks on how to make your life 4 to 5 time easier!  Get more details and RSVP here.

Because I am super excited about the release of the Swaddlers in Sizes 4 and 5, I wanted to offer you a chance to win a Pampers Prize Pack including a $10 Target gift card, the First Years Deluxe Fold and Go diapering kit, Pampers wipes (64 count) and Swaddlers (size 4/5).  Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is the opinion of The Experimental Mommy.  While product was received from Procter & Gamble for myself and the winner, all opinions remain 100% my own.

Science, Education and Convenience: Good Reasons to Own an Aquarium?

Owning an aquarium can be a dreadful proposition to many moms and families. Who wants to add one more cleaning chore to an already busy schedule? Changing water, removing debris, cleaning filters, adding another item on the budget list, headaches when things go out of control are all compelling reasons not to foray into this hobby.

The benefits of caring for one are as compelling as the aforementioned drawbacks if not more. It’s relaxing, it’s rewarding, it’s beautiful and most importantly it is a wonderful way to bond with our kids and teach them valuable skills and knowledge while having fun. I like to think of an aquarium as a mirror image of a natural water ecosystem. It is the only instance where we can replicate such a wonder in our home and that only has fostered many interesting conversations with my 7 year-old son: “Papa, do fish breathe?” “Papa, do fish sleep-swim?” “How do they make baby?” “What’s an ecosystem?”

But I would have never had an aquarium had I not known about AquaBella Bio-Enzyme. And that product alone is another educational opportunity to talk about a world I am passionate about: the sleepless world of bacteria. See, this revolutionary product has all the benefits to make this hobby wholesome for busy parents: AquaBella Bio-Enzyme reduces maintenance to a bare minimum, making fish keeping more fun. Its essential bacteria and enzymes break down ammonia, nitrites, nitrates and reduce phosphates. This process results in crystal clear water, a healthy and vibrant aquarium ecosystem and no need to change water for a year, organically. The company stands by its breakthrough claim and guarantees “no water change for 1 year”.

AquaBella4Aquariums runs a monthly contest on facebook aimed at helping aquarists better appreciate the delicate balance of water ecosystem. This month, parents can ask their children to draw the “perfect water ecosystem” and enter a chance to win a trip to the public aquarium of their choice.

Price:     $22.95 for freshwater aquariums

$29.95 for saltwater aquariums

To order, go to www.aquabella4aquariums.com or call 1-888-285-7665.

This post is brought to you by AquaBella.

How to Make French Macarons from Sucre New Orleans

If you are a dessert lover, and have a knack for creating delicious treats in the kitchen then this is the perfect French Macaron recipe for you, straight from the world renowned Pastry Chef Tariq Hanna at Sucré.

The macaron dates back to France where Queens and Kings served them to their guests. Executive Chef Tariq has handcrafted this classic into his own masterpiece.  Sucrè offers seasonal flavors that make them the perfect gift all year long. They offer macarons for all dessert lovers: chocolate, pistachio, almond, hazelnut, bananas foster, and a variety of other delicious handcrafted macarons! Whether you choose to keep them all for yourself, or decide to share with a friend, you are sure to be impressed with these gourmet confections. Chef Tariq, named one of the top 10 chocolatiers in North America is sharing his classic recipe with Experimental Mommy! Push up your sleeves and be prepared to create your own masterpiece! Feel free to add your own flare to the recipe, and have fun adding your favorite flavors. Make sure to let us know if you discover a new brilliant flavor!

Tariq’s Top Secret French Macaron Recipe

 What you need:

250g TPT = almond powder and icing sugar – sifted

100g sugar

100g egg white

25g sugar

* add color as desired

Filling:

200g pistachio paste or other flavoring

200g butter cream

* Amounts of flavors, pastes etc. will vary with personal taste

 

How to Make It:

To make the macarons, sieve the sugar and the TPT very fine. Put aside.

Now whisk the egg white together with the second part of sugar at middle speed.

Gradually whisk the egg white mixture to become very stiff. * if cooking the sugar for the meringue cook to 245° F and follow the standard procedure for making a cooked meringue adding color in the end.

* Add natural powder color

Fold the TPT mix into meringue.

Setting: With a whole nozzle pipe, pipe small discs on a baking parchment. Bake for 2-3 minutes at 200° C/ 392° F closed, 8-10 min at 170° C/ 338° F open. Remove from the oven and let the macarons cool. Whisk the pistachio paste with the butter cream and pipe the mix on the macarons.  Pipe the filling between two macarons and sandwich them.

Enjoy!

Sucrè is a sweet confections boutique located in New Orleans, with a team of professionally trained chefs working hard to bring you the freshest and tastiest authentic handcrafted delicacies! Sucrè offers gourmet handcrafted chocolates and desserts that will inspire any taste buds! You can find exquisite handmade truffles, amazing King Cakes and the most delightful macarons, which are so delicious, they have gained the attention of Oprah Winfrey, and were featured in O Magazine.

Don’t forget, if you can’t make it to New Orleans for Super Bowl, Sucrè can ship New Orleans to you! Anything you desire can probably be found on Sucrè’s website, and it can be delivered to your door in just a few days.

Support the Arts and Join Me at the #BlickARA Twitter Party!

My Mom is an artist, so art has always been an important part of my life.  Her beautiful artwork covered the walls of our home and she was always up for an art project.  While I didn’t get any of her artistic talent, I still enjoy trying to paint and be creative in other ways.  Now, my Mom is helping instill a love of art in my daughters and in the children she teaches art to at a local studio.  Keeping art programs in schools and after-school programs is important to me, so I am thrilled to be a part of the Blick Art Room Aid initiative.  Join me for a Twitter Party to learn more!

What: Do you believe art is an essential part of your child’s education? Then you already know how important art education is — and how schools are struggling to keep their art programs alive. That’s where Art Room Aid can help! A program of Blick Art Materials, Art Room Aid is helping teachers across the country enlist the aid of parents, families, friends, and other art advocates to fund their art projects and keep creative learning going.

Want to learn more? Join this Twitter Party to find out how you can support art education, make sure art continues to play a role in your children’s lives, and spread the word about Art Room Aid in your community. We’ll be discussing projects you can do with your own kids, and sharing sources of inspiration.

When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2 p.m. ET

Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #BlickARA hashtag to track the conversation. See this Twtvite for more info and to RSVP: http://twtvite.com/BlickARA

Hashtag: #BlickARA

Prizes: We will give away five total prizes – two $25 Blick gift coupons, two $50 Blick gift coupons, and one $75 Blick gift coupon.

Hosts: @theMotherhood, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Hope to see you there!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign through The Motherhood and Blick Art.  All opinions are my own.