Archives for August 2013

Coke Open for Summer Giveaway #BestSummerMoment

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

As we start to settle into our school time routine, my girls are being asked to share with their classmates the traditional, “What did you do on your Summer vacation?” I was so happy to see that they both felt like the past few weeks comprised the Best.Summer.Ever!  Score one for Mom and Dad!

We began our Summer with a trip to Callaway Gardens for my Reviewer’s Retreat Blog Conference.  After the sessions, we spent the rest of the week enjoying the Callaway activities such as swimming in the lake, tubing, biking, and hiking.  We had a blast spending some real quality time together away from the pressures of the City.

Not to be outdone, the end of our Summer was pretty awesome, too.  My family took our first cruise on the Carnival Conquest and visited Honduras, Belize and Cozumel.  It is hard to pick just one “best moment” from this trip, but my daughters both agree that swimming with dolphins was the most fun they have ever had.

How have you celebrated the freedom of Summer?  Have you refreshed with a nice cold Coca-Cola (I will admit to being relieved when I saw that the Carnival Conquest served Coca-Cola 14 hours a day!)?  Share your favorite Summer Moments by tagging your favorite photos with #BestSummerMoment on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and don’t forget to check out everyone’s favorite summertime memories from around the country!

And while you’re online, you can go to MyCokeRewards.com all summer to win great prizes and trips to make what’s left of summer even better!  Look for a password on specially marked 12-packs, 20-packs and 24-packs of Coca-Cola to access six different summer-themed catalogs and to unlock a 40% discount.  In fact, I will start you out with the opportunity to win a great Coca-Cola Open For Summer Prize-Pack right here on Experimental Mommy!  The prize pack includes:

  • Coca-Cola beach tote and Coca-Cola beach towels (2)
  • Coca-Cola men’s and women’s T-shirt
  • Coca-Cola soccer ball and baseball hat
  • Coca-Cola apron and grill set
  • Coca-Cola tumblers (2)
  • Coca-Cola sunglasses
  • Coca-Cola water-proof zipper pouch
  • 6-pack of Coca-Cola
  • Coppertone sunscreen
  • AMC Theaters gift card
  • McDonald’s gift card

 

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Take a Time Out with a Popsicle Pop Up Party!

This post was created in connection with my appointment as an Ambassador in the Popsicle® Blogger Program. Visit www.facebook.com/popsicle to join the conversation.

Summer is officially over here in New Orleans and the kids have gone back to school.  We are in full swing with homework, projects, dance lessons, Girl Scouts and tumbling.  With only less than a month under our belts, we went from treading water to drowning in our hectic schedule. I feel like we are shuffling from one activity to the next with little time to stop and smell the roses.

So when the girls came home from a long week of school, I surprised them with a little Pop-Up Popsicle Party of our very own.  We donned our new Popsicle shirts and spent much needed time reconnecting while swinging on our porch enjoying their favorite flavor of Popsicle (cherry and grape, of course).

After our treat, my youngest asked if she could “make some art.”  She is much like her Mommy in that coloring and drawing relaxes her.  So, I set her up at the table with paper and markers and let her imagination run wild.   Check out what she drew (with no prompting from Mom, I promise).

If you can’t tell, it’s totally a cherry Popsicle with a bite taken off the top! I had a great time relaxing with my girls and sharing a Popsicle moment.  Do you need to take a break from the hectic back to school routine?  As a Popsicle Mom, I have a great prize pack to giveaway to one lucky reader!  Enter below for a chance to win 10 coupons for FREE Popsicle products AND a $25 Target Gift Card!
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Raising Money Smart Kids with Virtual Piggy

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While compensated for my time and efforts, all opinions remain 100% honest.

As a blogger, I will say that I am having some entitlement issues with my kids.  On a daily basis, the FEDEX or UPS driver stops by my home with boxes of toys, clothes or the latest tech gadget (they must think I have an online shopping addiction).  Like Pavlov’s dogs, the girls come running to see what came for them in the boxes.  Sounds pretty awesome, right?  Most of the time, it is.  But because we get previews of the latest toy or pre-teen craze, my daughters have not learned the value of these items or the money it takes to purchase them.

Recently, we started a “Ping Pong Ball Reward System” with my two daughters (ages 5 and 8) where they get to add ping pong balls to a container for doing good deeds like cleaning up the kitchen table without being asked or helping each other with a specific task.  When the jar is full, they choose a “reward.”  For my oldest, she almost always wants cash to purchase music or apps.

Did you know, according to TIME Magazine, that American kids get an average of $780 per year in allowance but almost none is saved?  Now that my daughter is earning money, it is time to teach her what to do with it.  I am so happy I found Virtual Piggy.

Virtual Piggy is the first online service that enables kids to manage, track and spend money within a parent-controlled & safe environment – plus, helps to ignite an invaluable financial literacy conversation at home.

To get started, simply set up your free account.  In your parent dashboard, you can add a separate profile for each child.  I was able to create a username and password for my daughter so she can log in herself to check the progress of her account.

Next, you can choose to make automatic deposits in your child’s account on a monthly basis, or choose to do individual deposits.  You can add your credit card or link your PayPal account from which to make deposits (but be aware that by linking only your PayPal, your child will have limited stores at which to shop).  Based on our new reward system, I am only putting money in her account when she earns it. Check out all of the featured in this video including how to implement spending controls.

Now, you are ready to introduce Virtual Piggy to your child.  My daughter logged in to see her dashboard and that I have transferred her previous allowance to her new Virtual Piggy account.  She can now choose to put some of her money into the “Save” section and can reward herself by spending some of her allowance at Virtual Piggy connected stores.

My daughter decided to peruse the list of stores where she can possibly spend some of her earnings.  Notice that they are grayed out in the graphic below.  Once she clicks on a store, Virtual Piggy emails me to “unlock” the store if it passes the parental approval test.  I can also set controls to approve each purchase individually to make sure she is not recklessly spending her money.
My daughter loves Claire’s Boutique and would normally spend all of her allowance here when we went to the mall.  But now, she is carefully deciding if the item is worth taking money from her Virtual Piggy.  She is even creating a “Wish List” for items that she wants to work towards.  I love that Virtual Piggy is teaching my daughter to  be money smart by giving her a visual way to understand the value of hard work and money while giving me the tools I need to create parent safety boundaries.

Virtual Piggy has been a great way to open the conversation about financial responsibility with my 8 year old.  And it is strengthening our “Ping Pong Ball Reward System”, too!

How do you teach your kids the value of a dollar?

The NOLA I Haven’t Experienced: Part 1

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy.  This was a press trip therefore hotel and meals were provided.  All opinions remain 100% honest.

With the 8th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina just two days away, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of memories and throwback pictures of the days and months after the horrific event.  I have my own memories and experiences to share which are forever engrained into my brain, but as the years pass the bad days become fainter and we become NOLA Strong.

It is for this reason, that I love to share the good and positive things about My City to prove that New Orleans is back…bigger and better than ever.  Recently, I was honored to take part in a blogger event hosted by the NOLA Collection Hotel group in which I got to explore sections of the City that I have never experienced before.  Living in New Orleans makes it super easy to play tourist in your own hometown!

On night one, we were welcomed by a New Orleans legend, Dickie Brennan, to his newest restaurant, Tableau.  Set in the historic Jackson Square next to Le Petit Theatre, the sheer ambiance of the place makes it worth visiting.

After being escorted to a beautiful private wine room, we listened to stories about the origin of the historic building and it’s new partnership with Le Petit Theatre while munching on authentic French Bread.  The truffled crab finger appetizer was delicious as were the shrimp remoulade.  But the pièce de résistance was my entree, the Filet of Beef Bearnaise.  Simply put, it was perfection.  Best.Steak.Ever.

Friday, I checked into the Bourbon Orleans hotel with my roomie Renee from What Mommies Need.  The location of the hotel is within walking distance of many popular attractions including Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, Cafe du Monde, and the French Market.  The lobby was impeccable and decorated with many fresh flowers but the ice tea bar was definitely my favorite part!

Our room on the third floor was very spacious, clean and comfortable.  The view of the pool and greenery made it hard to believe we were in the middle of New Orleans.  At night, I heard little to no street noise which is a great feature for a hotel in the French Quarter.  While our night was quiet, one blogger did have a paranormal experience…did I mention this hotel is haunted?

We finished up the day with dinner and dessert at the new restaurant, Kingfish Kitchen & Cocktails.  Chef Greg Sonnier, who studied under world-renowned Chef Paul Prudhomme, has created some delicious dishes with very creative presentations (see my chicken dish below).

But beyond the food, there are the cocktails.  Oh so many cocktails.  Head Bartender Chris McMillian, named Best Bartender 2012 by New Orleans Magazine, serves up some New Orleans classics such as the Sazerac but is known for his trendy modern drinks as well.

The first 24 hours just proved to me over and over again why I love living in New Orleans.  I can’t wait to share Day Two!

How to Wake Up Tired Eyes

With the start of school, my family and I have returned to a hectic schedule full of homework, housework and hobbies.  The excitement has left us all exhilarated and exhausted….but mostly exhausted.  After arriving at work last week, several people commented that I looked tired.  Fortunately, as a Neutrogena Ambassador, I have someplace to turn for questions such as these:

How do I wake up my tired eyes?

One of the Neutrogena Dermatologists was nice enough to respond to my call for help.  Dr. Jeanine Downie gave me the following tips for tired eyes, so I thought I would share them with you!

  • Resist Rubbing!  No matter how tired you may be, do NOT rub your eyes, not at all.  This makes the pigment darker and encourages wrinkling of the skin.
  • Chill Out!  Use ice packs on your eyes every night when you get home to soothe the thin skin of the eyelid area.
  • Light as a Feather!  When removing eye makeup, do not rub or pull rather take it off very gently like you are brushing a feather across your cheek.  Try Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover.
  • Less Salt, More Sleep!  Enough said.
  • Exercise for Energy!  Exercising will improve our circulation and make you feel less tired which in turn will make you look less tired.

I plan to try some of these tips soon.  But, if you need to fake it till you make it, I would suggest the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector.  This product has patented blend of anti-oxidants including Vitamin E, wild chamomile and soy, but is also clinically shown to de-puff and treat the appearance of dark under eye circles.

What are your secrets to wake up tired eyes?  I need all the help I can get!

Catch Epic with Movies On Demand {Giveaway}

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

With the beginning of school, my hubby (who is a high school teacher) has been insanely busy.  So, my girls and I decided to have a “Girl’s Night” this weekend which included and always anticipated Movie Night.  We set up some sleeping bags, popped some popcorn and got the fruit punch ready to go.

Now, the all important next step:  which Movie should we watch?  Fortunately, Movies On Demand was to the rescue.  In August, some of the featured titles include: Great Gatsby, Sapphire and Big Wedding.  But seeing as this was a kiddie movie night, we selected Epic.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much.  I had heard of the movie, but I wasn’t head over heels excited about watching it.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.  For a movie to keep the attention of both my daughters as well as myself for the entire hour and forty two minutes, it must be good.

I want you all to go rent it, so I won’t give away the storyline.  But, I will say that one of the reasons I am so happy that I watched this movie with my daughters is that the main character in this fairytale is female and did NOT need to be rescued.  She was brave.  She was strong.  She made decisions.  She solved problems.  Her name is Mary Katherine.

My daughters are now trying to convince Dad to watch the movie with them next.  But, we may check out what else Movies on Demand has to offer.  Even though it is still technically Summer, my girls are back in school.  But, we plan to carry on the fun during the weekends with fun family activities like sharing a movie night with Movies on Demand.

Do you want to have a family movie night, too?  One reader will win a $25 VISA Gift Card to help plan your perfect party!  Enter below:

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Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop, My New NOLA Fave #ReviewCrew

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy.  As a member of the Restaurant.com Review Crew, a gift card was received to facilitate this review.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

Sometimes, I really love my job.  Tonight, I had to find a new restaurant using Restaurant.com.  I had to go out to dinner.  And I had to eat a delicious meal.  Rough day.  As a member of Restaurant.com’s Review Crew, I have the pleasure of using their service to find great deals on even greater eateries in the New Orleans area.  Haven’t heard of Restaurant.com?  Take a minute to catch up:

Restaurant.com enables local restaurants and small businesses to give diners the best deal on every meal. We help diners find and use local restaurants, driving new customers and bringing back old ones, providing great value to the diner, and strengthening local economies.

For my first review, we headed to the family-friendly restaurant, Huckleberry’s, and had a wonderful experience.  This time, we ventured to Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop.  To be honest, I had never heard of this restaurant but after reading the online reviews we decided to give it a whirl.

Pulling up, I was a bit skeptical.  But I kept thinking of the stellar reviews on their gumbo and I couldn’t wait to try it out.  The staff greeted us and were extremely friendly.  The restaurant is quaint and very clean with fun and upbeat decor.

Because I had read so much about the seafood gumbo, I had to taste it for myself.  For the record, my Grandmother makes the World’s Best Gumbo and I have yet to find any that can hold a candle to it.  When it arrived at the table, I loved the bowls!  But after the first bite, I was hooked.  It is the most similar to my Grandmother’s gumbo that I have ever tasted.

My daughter tried a New Orleans tradition, red beans and rice with sausage.  It was considered a “side” and was only $4.00!  Perfect portion for her size and appetite.

We had an amazing experience at Chef Ron’s Gumbo Stop and will certainly be back.  Thanks to Restaurant.com for aiding us in finding a new local favorite!

Celebrate Summer’s Big Days with Frosted Mini Wheats

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Frosted Mini Wheats.  All opinions are 100% my own.

While Summer has ended for us and my kids in are back in school, I know much of the Country is squeezing every ounce of fun out of the last few days of Summer.  Even though we are back to a hectic routine, we are having a blast reliving the memories of our Summer full of Adventure.

This Summer, my family had the opportunity to take a cruise to Honduras, Belize and Cozumel where my daughters (and I) got to experience many firsts.  It was our first time out of the Country, first cruise, first time visiting Mayan Ruins, and our first time swimming with dolphins!

We had so many “Big Days” that I am sure the kids will have much to write about in the classroom.  I love that summertime provides plenty of opportunities for kids to watch, listen, smell, touch, and taste new things. Summer is also the perfect time to encourage exploration, experimentation, and curiosity. Our vacation was certainly fun, but my family and I learned a lot, too (don’t tell the kids).

With all of these Big Days ahead, you need to make sure that the kids are fueled up and ready to go!  Did you know that one bowl of Kellogg’s® Frosted Mini-Wheats® cereal is packed with fiber and nearly a day’s worth of whole grains to help keep your kids full and focused for the Big Day ahead?  We definitely needed the energy to get through our busy days exploring new Countries!

For some of you, Summer’s not quite over!  Celebrate the Big Days ahead by planning fun activities with your child such as a nature walk, scavenger hunt, sidewalk chalk drawings, or library activities.  For more inspiration, check out Scholastic’s salute to the Big Days ahead!

Do You Drink an Award-Winning Wine?

This post is brought to you by guest author, Irene Tran.

If the movie world has the Academy Awards, SAG Awards, and the European Film Awards, then the wine industry has the International Wine Challenge, Sommelier Wine Awards, and the Decanter. Like a movie, receiving recognition from prestigious award giving bodies can boost the popularity of the wine, which can later on lead to the increase of sales. According to a research conducted by the Wine Intelligence, the wine market in the United States has reached up to 47 million people.

The wine market is vast especially in a multicultural country like the United States. Wine & Spirits magazine editor Joshua Greene said, “There really is not anything like an American palate. There’s a very diverse population and within that you find a lot of people drinking a lot of different styles of wine. It’s part of the growing maturity of the wine market in the United States.”

During the early years, most Americans drink wine on special occasions only, but things have changed. Today, wine is considered a staple in every household. Some drink a glass of wine before going to bed to help them relax while others pair it with their meal. To help you choose what to drink, check out our list of award-winning wines below from Marks and Spencer:

Louis Chaurey Champagne

The combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir has produced a well-balanced flavor for this champagne. Because of its fruity flavors with hints of biscuit and butter, the Louis Chaurey Champagne has won Silver at the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards and Bronze at the International Wine Challenge also this year. This kind of wine can be paired with any antipasti.

Brut Cava Prestige

If you are throwing a party and don’t want to end up getting drunk, then the perfect choice for you is the Brut Cava Prestige. This sparkling wine has delightful flavors of pears and green apple. Because of its refreshing taste, it was awarded Bronze at the recent Decanter World Wine Awards. This wine is best served with seafood dishes and light canapés.

What is your favorite wine?

Join Me for a #PampersLoveSleepPlay Twitter Party!

Pampers love sleep play

Pampers Love Sleep Play Twitter Party with the Double Duty Divas

When: Thursday, August 29th at 9 pm EST
Where: Twitter
Hashtag: #PampersLoveSleepPlay
Who to Follow: @Pampers,@DoubleDutyDivas @BridgetteLa, @CoolBabyKid, @MyFourMonkeys, @WhatMommiesNeed, & @RamblingChick

Prizes: Winners will be selected at random, for a total of five (5) winners:

  •  1 one-month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes (retailing at approximately $72 each) chosen from the RSVP list
  •  3 one-month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes (retailing at approximately $72 each)chosen from the party.
  • 1 Grand prize to help your baby Love, Sleep, & Play which includes a 3 month supply of Pampers diapers and wipes, Lovie blanket, “Good Night Moon” book, Cloud B Sleep Sheep, and Playskool toy.

RSVP at http://twtvite.com/pamperslovesleepplay

Love twitter parties? Make sure to check out the Latina Mom Bloggers as they host another party with @PampersLatino on Wednesday, August 28th at 9pm EST. Follow the hashtag #PampersAmorSuenosJuegos to join and click here to RSVP.

Want the Divas to help promote your brand and promote you via Twitter to their combined 85k+ followers? Contact us at admin@doubledutydivas.com for rates.