Are you “Dish-Wasting” Your Time?

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. I am a member of the Cascade Kitchen Dish Council. All opinions remain 100% mine.

I find myself referring to the old saying “Time is of the Essence” on almost a daily basis.  As a Mom with two kids, a full time job, a social media consulting company, and a blog conference, I have to put my time to good use and wasting it would be disastrous.  After having the opportunity to visit the Cascade Test Kitchen last month, I learned how I can save precious minutes by skipping the pre-washing of my dishes.

You heard me right….NO PRE-WASHING.  This is not a dream.  It’s the power of Cascade Platinum.

 

Armed with the right tools of the trade and a lesson in dishwasher anatomy and loading, I am completing my kitchen duties in record time!  Are you a “dish-waster?” A new survey from Cascade Platinum and Marie Claire reveals that nearly all people are doing their dishes incorrectly with 96-percent wasting up to an hour pre-washing their dishes each week – when they should not. In order to get the most optimum clean and shine, it’s important to skip the prewash and use Cascade Platinum. This is because the special enzymes in Cascade Platinum latch onto the leftover food particles, breaking them down so they can wash away – even 24-hour stuck on food.

Other fun finding from the survey:

  • Nearly half (46%) of survey respondents believe that skipping the pre-wash will lead to dirtier dishes. When in reality, breaking this habit – and skipping pre-wash – along with using Cascade Platinum, will help them achieve the ultimate clean and sparkle every time.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of survey respondents organize their dishwashers just like their closets – with everything stacked in its rightful spot.
  • Almost half (42%) of respondents have actually gone so far as to re-load the dishwasher after their family goes to bed because they did not think their family member(s) did it right the first time.
  • More than half (56%) of respondents load their dishwashers after each meal.
  • The majority of survey respondents (57%) cringe at the thought of hosting a party because of spotted wine glasses.
  • So if people stop pre-washing, how would they spend all that time they’ve saved? Almost half of those surveyed (46%) said they’d spend it shopping on line.

Are you up to the challenge? Get some Cascade Platinum and stop the pre-washing routine today!

Overcoming Math Madness with Go Math Academy #HMHAcademy

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

If you ask my oldest daughter to name her favorite subject in school, she would name anything and everything that came to her mind before math.  To put it lightly, she is not a fan.  School has been in session for one month now and I can’t remember a day when it hasn’t been a struggle to get her to tackle her math homework. You can forget about extra worksheets to study for a test.  The struggle is frustrating.

There has to be a better way.  And I was hoping Go Math Academy would be it.

Go Math! Academy™ is an online, at-home learning program based on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s enormously successful GO Math!™ textbook curriculum, used by over 7 million kids worldwide. Go Math! Academy offers thousands of math practice problems, hundreds or help videos, and plenty of games and rewards to make learning fun!

After setting up an account and adding my daughter (you can add any child from grade K-6), I was excited to learn that she actually uses Go Math Academy in school and apparently she loves using it.  So she actually gave ME a tour of the website and it’s capabilities.

First, your child can choose between a journey into the Jungle World or the Sky World. As I suspected, Lily jumped at Sky World and we were given a list of topics to choose from.  Given that she had an upcoming test on multiplication facts, she choose to take a journey into that module.

Lily was then faced with a series of questions that were very similar to what she has been doing on the endless worksheets but somehow there was no complaining while completing these problems. Relief!  Go Math Academy allows the student to check their answer and make corrections while offering words of encouragement.

But, I think my favorite feature is that some problems have helpful video tutorials (which are even good for parents).  After completing a journey, your child receives their score and they can move on to another topic.  Surprisingly, my daughter actually asked to do another journey.  Like asked to do more math.  What?!  I’m officially in love.

Go Math! Academy is available in your choice of three payment plans (access for up to 5 children):

  • Monthly: $9.99/month
  • 6-months: $49.99 ($8.33/month) – a 17% savings
  •  1-year: $79.99 ($6.67/month) – a 33% savings

The price is well worth the countless hours I am saving by eliminating the math drama in my home.  Learn more by following Go Math Academy on Twitter and Facebook.

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot Book Series {Video Review}

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

I am fortunate that both of my daughters love to read.  The only problem is that they go through books so quickly that we are constantly looking for more reading material to send to school for silent reading time.  But, I think we have found a winning new series, Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dave Pilkey (author of the popular Captain Underpants).  About the series:

Ricky Ricotta is a little mouse with BIG problems! Every day he is picked on by the neighborhood bullies. He lives in Squeakyville with his mother and father, and being an only mouse, he is often lonely. That is until SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS! A giant flying robot enters Ricky’s life and an unlikely friendship is born! Together, Ricky and his Robot must save the planet from a galaxy bursting with bad guys!

My daughter finished book 1 and loved it! From the minute you open the book, you know it’s going to be different because it is in FULL COLOR.  With features like mini-comic strips and flip-o-grams, the illustrations really are part of the story and grab your attention.  Get a better look and check out what we thought in the video below:

Learn about other great books for your young readers by following  Scholastic and ScholasticTeach on Twitter!  What are your kids reading these days?

Game Day Grub: The Starting Lineup {Recipe Roundup}

Whether you’re hosting a Fantasy Football draft, a Superbowl party or taking it on the road for tailgating, your guests will be hungry for the win looking for snack-able foods.  Below are some of my favorite dishes that are sure to score a touchdown at your next event (just make sure you have a touchdown dance ready).

Corn and Black Bean Bites

Cheesy Macaroni Vegetable Bites

Hot Bacon Dip Recipe

Caramel Cream Cheese Party Dip

Cuban Style Hot Dogs

Creamy Tacos Entree

A-1 Tailgating Burgers

Quesadilla Recipe Roundup

Bacon Wrapped Lil’ Smokies

Chili Cheese Dip

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Bites

Wonton Chicken Tacos

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!