You’re Doing It Wrong: Why Your Dishes Aren’t Immaculately Clean

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Cascade. As a member of the Kitchen Dish Council, my travel and expenses were provided. All opinions remain 100% mine.

If you asked me to list my least favorite household chores, most of them would take place in the kitchen.  Topping the list?  Washing dishes. It always has and always will be the thing I hate the most on this planet.  So when I have the opportunity to learn how to get through this chore faster and more effectively, I am all ears.

Last month, I had the honor of traveling to the Cascade Headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio with my fellow Kitchen Dish Council Members.  I learned all about the history of the brand, the design of a dishwasher, and the science behind dish washing detergent.  But the best thing I learned was that I am doing it ALL wrong.  And YOU are probably doing it wrong, too.

MYTH 1: You should pre-wash your dishes before loading the dishwasher in order to ensure immaculately clean dishes.

In a recent survey from Marie Claire and Cascade Platinum, 96% of the participants spend­ up ­to ­an ­hour­ pre-washing­ their­ dishes­ each­ week. Are you in that number? Cascade­ Platinum ­is ­specifically­ designed­ to ­work­ best­ when ­food­ is ­left­ ON ­dishes.­ Because­ the­ enzymes­ in­ Cascade Platinum­ are­ designed­ to­ attach­ themselves­ to­ food­ particles,­ breaking­ them­ down­ so­ that ­they­ can ­be­ easily­ washed ­away­ -­even­ 24-hour­stuck-on­food!­­ No­ food ­means­ the ­enzymes­ have­ nothing­ to ­latch ­on­to.­

MYTH 2:  Pre-washing dishes is necessary so you don’t clog your dishwasher and break it.

In the Marie Clarie survey, less than 11% of the respondents knew that modern dishwashers actually have a garbage disposal to chop up any left on food eliminating the need to pre-wash.

MYTH 3: Hand washing dishes saves water and energy.

Hand dishwashing consumes an average of 27 gallons and 2.5 kWh per cycle* compared to 4.25 gallons and 1.4 kWh for a dishwasher at today’s ESTAR level. Every 1% increase in the national dishwasher ownership level saves 4.4 billion gallons of water and 200 million kWh per year.

MYTH 4: It doesn’t matter how you load your dish washer.

In order to make sure your dishes are sparkling clean at the end of the cycle, you need to make sure Cascade Platinum has access to them.  Piling dishes on top of one another does not leave enough surface area for active ingredients to do their jobs.  Follow the guidelines below for a maximum clean:

Now you are armed with the information you need to get in and out of the kitchen quickly but effectively.  Simply said, don’t pre-wash and load the dishwasher correctly to ensure immaculately clean dishes the first time, every time. Check out my fellow Cascade Kitchen Dish Council Members’ blogs to get even more great information about our time spent in Cincinnati.

What are your best dish washing tips?

What I Won’t Forget Before Heading to a Blog Conference

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Rayovac. All opinions remain 100% mine.

While my kids are heading back to school, I am looking forward to start a new season of learning all about this crazy world of blogging.  Of course, my favorite blog conference is iRetreat (shameless plug), but one of my goals for this new school year is to do more learning of my own by attending more conferences.

Now, if you are a conference newbie, you can do a Google search and find a plethora of lists containing items you do NOT want to forget to pack.  But as a conference owner, I will not bore you with my entire list of items such as business cards and comfy shoes, but I will tell you my number one must-have for every conference owner. Ready?

The Rayovac Portable Phone Boost 800 for Apple Lightening Tip Devices

What’s a social media conference without access to social media when your phone/tablet dies?  You can’t follow along in the sessions, you can’t share what you are learning and you can’t find your friends!  Recipe for disaster.  But after finding the Rayovac Portable Phone Boost, I will never be left in the dark again.

Simply charge up the Power Boost via a USB connection.  When all 4 lights are bright, you are fully charged and ready for any phone power emergency.  Battery low?  Plug in the lightening tip to your Apple iPad/iPhone/iPod and start charging!  The charger holds enough power to recharge your mobile phone for 150 minutes of talk time and can be recharged over 5oo times.

And because your Rayovac Power Boost can hold a charge for 6 months, you can throw it in your purse and forget about it until you need it.  Keep it close by to make sure you are fully charged and ready to go at your next conference.

Getting ready for Back to School with Netflix #StreamTeam

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Netflix. All opinions are 100% mine.

With the start of school, we are back to our hustle and bustle routine of life.  While the days before school consisted of shopping for supplies, organizing desks and finishing up summer reading, we try to pack a little fun into each day.  Along with the fun, we also try to sneak in some life lessons, too.

Both of my daughters are huge Netflix Fans and we already have parental controls and kid profiles set up for each of them.  They have their favorites, but this month (as a Stream Team Member) I have some great suggestions for entertaining AND teachable moments you can find on Netflix.  Check out these with your older kids before school begins to reinforce a message of acceptance and kindness before they meet new friends this year.

1. Rudy
2. Mulan
3. A Mile in His Shoes
4. Radio
5. Good Luck Charlie: Down a Tree
6. Glee

What are your favorite inspirational Back to School shows on Netflix?

Following in My Footsteps #InvisalignTalk

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Invisalign.  All opinions are 100% my won.

When I was 10 years old, I had an opportunity to appear on television with my Girl Scout troop.  I could not have been more excited to get my face in front of a camera.  But when the episode aired, my Mom tells me that this is when she first realized how badly I needed braces.  Off to the dentist I went and for the next five…yes, FIVE….years, I wore braces to correct a severe overbite.

Now, my oldest daughter is following in my footsteps.  Unfortunately, during her last smile assessment, she has an extra permanent tooth that is making the others shift in ways that will cause problems in the long run.  We will be visiting an oral surgeon next month in order to have her tooth extracted, but it is inevitable that braces will shortly follow.

I vividly remember getting braces at 10 years old and how miserable I was until my Junior year of high school when they were finally removed.  I want a different experience for my daughter.  Surely, technology has come a long way in 25 years, right?  Recently, my sister-in-law decided to straighten her teeth with Invisalign so I am curious if this option would be a good one for my daughter.

Invisalign Teen clear aligners straighten teeth without traditional wires and brackets giving teens the confidence to live life to the fullest while improving their smile.  Teens can play sports without fear of injury and continue cheerleading, musical instruments, acting and singing without interference. And because it’s removable, brushing and flossing is easy and no food restrictions to worry about either.

With Invisalign Teen, this option certainly seems like a better alternative to metal and wire but I have heard that the system can only handle small cosmetic problems and the price makes it a burden.  However, I learned that Invisalign Teen can handle severe cases as well and that it is covered by most dental insurance policies just like traditional braces — up to 50% of the cost may be covered by insurance.  Check out the Invisalign Cost Calculator to see an estimate.

Now that I know Invisalign Teen could be an attainable option, my final concern is that my daughter will take them out too often to be effective.  However, Invisalign Teen aligners are made with small blue dots, officially called compliance indicators, that gradually fade as aligners are worn. It’s a quick visual check for parents and teens to confirm they wearing aligners long enough to get results. In fact, clinical data from orthodontists confirms that teens wear their aligners an average of 21 hours per day, just as recommended.

I could not be more excited to check out this option for my daughter as braces become necessary.  I am hoping that her corrective experience is better than mine and Invisalign Teen seems like the way to make it happen.

Think Invisalign is right for your or your teen? Enter the Invisalign Sweepstakes below:

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Inspire Writing with BIC Kids {Giveaway}

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

With another school year started, we are in the thick of homework, projects and research papers.  I am happy that my daughters’ school puts an emphasis on creative writing and I am thrilled that my kids have started their own blog to reinforce what they are learning in school.

But in this digital age, why is handwriting important? Research has shown that writing fosters children’s emotional and cognitive development, helps foster critical thinking skills and improves academic achievement.  Because writing is by far one of the most important learning tools for a child’s academic success,  BIC’s is encouraging more students to practice, practice, practice with the “Fight For Your Write” campaign.

The campaign offers information about writing and tips from literacy expert Pam Allyn to help parents, caregivers and students make a commitment to write more often.  You will also find some pretty great resources for teachers and parents to inspire kids.

One way to inspire handwriting is to give your kids the right tools.  This year, BIC has launched the first line of children’s writing instruments in the U.S. designed specifically to help children learn to write called BIC Kids.  The products, which were designed with the help of teachers and other experts in the field, provide young students with a unique guiding line to direct finger placement and are ergonomically designed specifically for kids’ hands.

And even though I am a digital girl, I am a pen and paper advocate at heart.  A fresh calendar and fancy writing tools like the BIC Pencil X-tra Shine make me want to sit down and get organized.  And my oldest daughter can use pens for the first time in school this year, so tools like the BIC 4 Color Metallic Pen make her excited to do homework.

How do you encourage your kids to write?  Tell me in the comments below and enter in the Rafflecopter widget to win a Back to School Pack from BIC!

 
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My Fashionista is Helping to Raise Money with Schoola #Clothes4Schools

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Schoola.com.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

It’s time to pack up the sandals, beach bags and pool toys.  My daughters began school two days ago and we are trying to get back on routine.  On the first day, they both came home with activity schedules and I was pleased to see that Art remains in their school (albeit one day a week).  With many schools lacking funding, creative arts programs are generally the first to go. Fortunately, Schoola.com is here to help.

Schoola is an online shop dedicated to recycling brand-name children’s clothes, with 40% of the proceeds going to schools in need.

In my first post, I outlined how Schoola can help raise money for your school.  But now, my daughters are ready to shop!  I challenged my 9 year old to find a complete outfit and tally up how much it would cost (like how I threw in a math problem?).  Always ready for a challenge involving fashion, she shopped the “Grade Schoola” section and found a pretty adorable outfit which totaled $32.oo for a shirt, jeans and shoes.  But if you use code BacktoSchoola20 (limit one use per customer), you will receive an additional 20% off bringing the total of her outfit to just $27.00!

 

Better yet? Forty percent of the proceeds will go to a school in need (which you can designate).  Right now, I have selected Yick Wo Elementary in Brooklyn, NY whose parents have taken it upon themselves to raise $25,000 to save the art program.  I just could not pass up the opportunity to help the cute faces in this video.

Learn more about how you can get involved by following Schoola on Facebook and Twitter.  Save money on your back to school shopping while making money for your child’s school.  What a perfect way to start the new year!

Back to School Nail Art

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

It happened.  Summer is officially over and my two daughters have returned to school.  In honor of the big day (and searching for inspiration on Pinterest), my daughters decided to make the first day of school fun with themed nail art.  Here’s how you can have Back to School Nails, too!

Nail Art is all the rage in my house right now. But with a 6 and 9 year old, the finished product doesn’t always come out the way you planned.  Through trial and error, we have learned that the right tools are imperative to success.  To achieve this look, we used Hot Designs Nail Art Pens.

Each pen has two colors and each color has a brush to apply base color and a fine point for details.  In order to create our “Back to School” themed nails, we began with base color.  Red for the apple, white for the paper and blue for the ruler.  The paint dries quickly so we were ready to move on to details within minutes.

Next we simply used the fine tip to draw the ruler, the lines on the paper and the stem of the apple.  Ta-da! Admittedly, I am not a professional manicurist but I think my daughter’s nails came out super cute!

Do you have a cute nail design to show off?  Hot Designs is giving fans the chance to win the ultimate beach package including a $250 Target gift card by submitting a selfie of your summer style using the hashtag #WinHotLooks and tagging @GetHotLooks on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or @Get_Hot_Looks on Instagram. Plus, I have one set of Hot Designs to give away to one of my lucky readers.  Enter below:

 

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Join me for a Splenda #SweetSwaps Twitter Party!

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and in partnership with Splenda and The Motherhood.

Even though the first day of school is almost here, it will still be swimsuit and sandal season here in New Orleans for many months to come.  So, I have been making a conscious effort to cut back on my sugar intake by swapping for Splenda in my recipes whenever I can.

Throughout 2014, SPLENDA® Brand has been serving up daily tips and recipes but they are launching an exciting new feature: user generated content!  Now you can share your ideas to swap full sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in a favorite dish or non-alcoholic beverage through the SPLENDA® Brand Tumblr page for a chance to have the idea posted to the site, or created by celebrity chef Laura Vitale and featured in one of her SPLENDA® SWEET SWAPS™ videos.

Learn more by joining me and @TheMotherhood at the #SweetSwaps Twitter Party on Wednesday, August 6th at Noon (EST).  You can win one of five fabulous prizes by submitting a recipe to the SPLENDA® SWEET SWAPS™ Tumblr page and tweet @theMotherhood that you’ve submitted a recipe for the chance to win.

RSVP Here!

Raising Money for Your School with Schoola #Clothes4Schools

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Schoola.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

11.  Eleven.  This is the number of days until my kids start school.  Where did the summer go? We have had some amazing adventures but it’s time to settle down and get prepared for the start of the new school year.

Just because my kids wear uniforms to school does not make me exempt from back to school shopping.  On top of the expense of uniforms, my girls are getting older (read: more social) and require multiple outfits for after school activities, weekend parties and field trips.  And don’t even get me started on shoes! Thanks to my two fashionistas, my Fall budget is tight, so I am all for saving money wherever I can. I am happy to add Schoola to my list of ways to do just that!

Schoola is an online shop dedicated to recycling brand-name children’s clothes, with 40% of the proceeds going to schools in need. The innovative new program – which saves parents money and gives back at the same time – has been heralded by Fox News, the LA Times, Forbes and Parenting Magazine. So, how does it work?

1. Simply request a Schoola bag to be sent to your home. Fill it up with gently used outgrown clothes and drop it in the mail (Schoola pays for postage).

2. If items are acceptable, Schoola lists your items and online shoppers benefit from drastically reduced prices.

3. The school you designate will receive 40% of the proceeds from the sale of your donated items. What a great fund raiser!

From now through September 14, 2014, I am focusing my efforts on Yick Wo Elementary which s trying to raise $25,000 to fund an art program for their students.  Unfortunately, when schools face daunting budget cuts, the art and music programs are the first to go.  But, I love that the parents at Yick Wo Elementary make sure that their school’s students have art class anyway, and Schoola is forming a community to help them do it.

You can help Yick Wo reach their goal as well!  Click through my referral link and every transaction that is made or Schoola donation bag requested, Schoola will donate $1 to Yick Wo. PLUS – when you donate clothes and fill out your child’s school information, $2 of every $5 made will go back to YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL.

Ready to start saving money while raising money? Let’s get this school year off to a great start!

Protect Your Purchases with the Rayovac Guarantee

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy. As a Rayovac Power Blogger, I am compensated for my time and effort but all opinions remain 100% mine.

If you have kids, you know that toys and technology are so much more than just things to them.  Your toddler may think their teddy bear (which doubles as a nightlight) is their best friend in the whole world. Or your child may rely on a certain lullaby CD to fall asleep at night.  It is absolutely imperative to your sanity and well being of the entire household to have these special pals or traditions in working order.

You take great care to protect your own children, and if you are like me, you take great care of the most important things in their lives as well (even if you are sick of listening to the same lullaby CD for the past 5 years).  One way to accomplish this goal is to select the right battery for the job.

Have you heard of the Rayovac Guarantee?  Rayovac offers a consumer protection plan rivaled by no other competitor in the battery space.  They have so much confidence in their product that Rayovac will:

Replace, repair or refund, at our option any device (that uses Rayovac’s AA, AAA, C, D & 9V, cylindrical, button cell or coin cell batteries.

If your device is damaged by unexpired Rayovac batteries, simply remove the batteries and mail the device plus batteries pre-paid to Rayovac. It’s that simple. Get more details on their website and rest easy knowing that Rayovac has your back!