Drew Brees: Incredible Quarterback, Amazing Dad

Confession: My husband has a man crush on Drew Brees.  So, you can imagine that I was elevated to “Best Wife Ever” when my family was invited to a local media event featuring none other than the one, the only….Drew Brees!

As native New Orleanians, we both know that this City reveres Brees as the quarterback who finally brought home the Lombardi Trophy!  But through his years here in New Orleans, we have gotten to know Brees as much more than a quarterback.  He has helped this community in numerous ways post Katrina with The Brees Dream Foundation, and for that we are eternally grateful.  New Orleans also got to witness the birth of Drew Brees the Father, as his first son, Baylen was born.  Who can forget the adorable picture of Brees and Baylen on the field after the Superbowl win?

Now, Brees has partnered with Vick’s VapoRub to become the first ever VapoDad!  Drew’s wife, Brittany, introduced Brees at the event and shared with the audience his “hands-on” Dad style which is apparent when watching the interaction between Father and son.  After a few comments, we were treated to a screening of the new Vick’s VapoRub commercial featuring Brees, the first time a Dad has ever appeared in the company’s advertisements.

Not only do we love Drew Brees, but we have been huge fans of Vick’s VapoRub for years.  When I am congested, I love that the aromatic active vapors in Vicks VapoRub are continually released and inhaled for up to eight hours. The combination of vapors in Vicks VapoRub, including menthol, camphor and Eucalyptus Oil, works to reduce a cough by acting on airway sensory nerves.  Did you know that these active ingredients also relieve minor muscle aches and pains in joints and muscles, too?  Brittany Brees admits to rubbing some on Drew’s feet after a big game!

Best. Moment. Ever.

With the flu season in full swing, make sure you stock your medicine cabinet with Vick’s!  And while you’re at it, check out Drew’s new commercial and look for the print ads, too!

Thanks to Vick’s for inviting us to the press event in New Orleans.  I was not compensated for attending the event, however samples were received.  All opinions remain 100% my own.

Delivering my Pampers Miracle Mission

When I was first contacted as a member of Pampers Board about embarking on a Miracle Mission, I was so excited to give back to my community.  But little did I know that my chosen Miracle Mission would be such a fulfilling experience.  A few months ago, I announced my selected Miracle Mission, St. Michael’s Special School in New Orleans, LA.

St. Michael’s provides 200 special needs children with academic, social, vocational and physical education.  My cousin, who passed from the complications of epilepsy, was a student at St. Michael’s.  While I knew this school helped my family in numerous ways, I had no idea the amount of love contained in the building!

When I first contacted St. Michael’s about my $1,000 donation from Pampers, they were elated!  They soon compiled a wish list including art supplies, writing tablets, personal CD players and many more tools to help the students cope with stress.  Shopping was incredibly fun but delivering the gifts was honestly one of the best experiences of my life.

After arriving at the school and meeting with the Assistant Principal, Beth (my cousin and writer at Experimental Mommy), my husband and I were allowed to bring the gifts to the individual classrooms and meet the children and teachers.  Their joyful faces and words of gratitude filled my soul!  We were allowed to take pictures at the school and granted permission to share them with you:

When our gifts were distributed, we took the grand tour of the facility.  St. Michael’s strives to give these special needs children the same experiences as their siblings who may attend other schools in the area.  They have a student council, cheerleaders, choir, and drama club to name a few!  In addition to academic classes, the high school students learn skills such as cooking, personal hygiene, woodworking, and maintaining a home.

St. Michael’s believes that each one of their students is like a blue rose.  Unique and Beautiful….truly Little Miracles.  The happiness of the students and the dedication of the faculty was overwhelming and I can’t thank Pampers enough for allowing me to create a Miracle in my hometown.  Take a moment to visit Pampers on Facebook and learn more about the Miracle Missions initiative.

As a member of the Pampers Baby Board, I received a $1,000 gift card to donate to a local charity.  No compensation was received for this post.

Chocolate Covered Bacon? Oh yeah! {Recipe}

Last week, I was fortunate enough to travel to the Kraft Kitchens in Glendale, Illinois to learn about their new products and initiatives.  I am looking  forward to sharing all the details (I even got to ride in the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile!), but there was one recipe that I knew I needed to share immediately.  For those times when you are craving sweet AND salty, this is totally for YOU!

Chocolate-Bacon Crunch

Prep Time: 10 min. | Total Time: 40 min. (incl. cooling) | Makes: 12 servings.

What You Need:

1 pkg. (12 oz.) OSCAR MAYER Thick Sliced Center Cut Bacon
2 squares BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
2 Tbsp. chopped PLANTERS Pecans

How you Make It:

  • Heat oven to 400ºF.
  • Place bacon in single layer in foil-lined 15x10x1-inch pan. Bake 15 to 20 min. or until crisp. Drain on paper towels; place on waxed paper.
  • Melt chocolate as directed on package; brush on 1 side of bacon. Sprinkle with nuts.
  • Refrigerate 10 min. or until chocolate is firm. Cut each slice into 4 pieces with kitchen shears.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: 70 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate, 0g dietary fiber, 2g sugars, 4g protein, 0%DV vitamin A, 4%DV vitamin C, 0%DV calcium, 0%DV iron.

I know it sounds odd, but give it a chance!  It was honestly very delicious!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While my hotel and travel expenses were paid for by Kraft, all opinions remain 100% mine.

BlogHer 2011: San Diego

BlogHer, one of the largest blogging conferences, will always hold a special place in my heart.  After all, it is where I met Cecelia who became my business partner in 2009.  As a newbie at BlogHer ’09, I had no idea what to expect.  In 2010, I packed my schedule with appointments and had little time to really connect with other bloggers or have a little fun.  In 2011, I think I finally figured it out!  Incorporating a mixture of appointments with brands, conversation with bloggers, and time to learn in a session or two, I left BlogHer 2011 feeling incredibly inspired.  So, I thought I would share some of my highlights of BlogHer 2011:

The first day, I attended the P&G Life Well Lived where I had a chance to connect with some of my favorite brands including Tide, Downey and Braun.  It was here that I heard a quote that will stick with me for a long time, “The days may be long, but the years are short.”  So true.  As a working Mom of two small girls, I am exhausted by the end of the day, so in times of frustration, I will remind myself of this quote.

During the conference, I was so happy to see a session focused on review blogging!  I was so proud of fellow bloggers (Niri, Amy and Stacie) as they spoke on a panel that helped to give legitimacy to our genre. After the session, I headed to the Expo Hall where I was able to connect with brands such as Dole (have you seen the new Shakers?), Dove Chocolate, Chuck E. Cheese, Playskool, King’s Hawaiian (huge fan of their bread) and Eggland’s Best.  Later in the conference, I got the opportunity to connect with brands such as Lovable Labels, Microsoft, Tide and McDonald’s during intimate lunch or dinner settings.  I absolutely loved hearing about the upcoming initiatives of these companies and can’t wait to share them with you!

However, I think the best part of BlogHer 2011 was the opportunity to be inspired by some of my favorite bloggers, connect with old friends and make new friends along the way!  For this alone, BlogHer 2011 was totally worth it!

Did you attend BlogHer 2011?  What was your favorite moment?

49 Days and Counting…..

Are you attending any blog conferences this year?  As I gear up to co-host my very first blog conference, Reviewer’s Retreat, I am learning just how much work it is to pull together a successful event.  My business partner, Cecelia from Cool Baby Kid and I have taken great pride in coordinating a conference that is the perfect mix of education, fun and family and with only 49 days to go, we couldn’t be more excited…..
…..or freaked out.  Not sure which.  I have attended several blog conferences in the past and have an idea of what I like and what I don’t, but I have never given much thought into how much work went in to meticulously planning every detail.  Imagine a series of conveyors (like at airport baggage claim) carrying the tasks that remain to be completed in those short 7 weeks continually circulating in my brain.  Program design, signage, name tags, catering, and the all important announcement of Reviewer’s Retreat 2012 (whoo hoo!)….I wish there was a picking system to help me decide how to prioritize or perhaps I should create a spreadsheet with tasks to print and apply to my daily schedule.
While planning the conference has been a ton of work, it has also been a lot of fun and a great learning experience for Cecelia and myself!  We absolutely cannot wait to share with you all everything we have planned for our attendees.  See you all in May!

BlogHer ’10: From the Big Easy to the Big Apple (part 2)

What a difference a year makes!  Last year at BlogHer ’09, I was the new kid on the block.  I wasn’t sure what to expect and just hoped to learn something valuable.  That conference turned out to be a turning point for me as I met another review blogger and started a wonderful partnership, the Double Duty Divas.  What began as a way to help moms who work outside the home network, quickly grew into a Review and Ad Network with over 200 members.

Fast-forward one year later to BlogHer ’10 and we were ready to hit the ground running.  Again, I hoped to learn valuable skills at the conference, but this time I knew it was more about the connections and relationships with other bloggers and brands.  And what’s the best way to network?  Party!  Cecelia, Renee and I tried to attend as many events as we could (and perhaps overscheduled ourselves!) in order to meet new friends, catch up with old ones and learn something in the process.

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On the way to the Hallmark event!

The first stop was American Girl where we enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the Café with dolls…yes, grown women with dolls.  Don’t judge me.  It was fun.  After checking in at the hotel, we tried to catch a cab to the Social Luxe Lounge.  Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful and decided to try a Pedicab.  Never.Again.  I saw my life flash before my eyes, but we made it in one piece to the party.  We all had the opportunity to get our hair and nails done, enjoy a relaxing shoulder massage (which we needed after that PediCab ride), and check out the new products from Avery, Ghirardelli (the new luxe milk chocolate was to die for) and Yummie Tummie.  We ended the night by attending the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) party on the rooftop of the Empire Hotel where we learned all about safety in many common situations.  The setting was gorgeous and the atmosphere was truly relaxing (I even got to watch an outdoor ballet performance by Juilliard!).

Audrey (one of the founders of Getting Gorgeous) and I

Believe it or not, I managed to do all of that before BlogHer officially began!  On Friday, we started the day attending a meeting with my friend, Zachary from Coffee for Less.  If you own a single cup coffee machine like the Keurig, you should definitely check out Coffee for Less to supply your K-cups!  Because we were exhausted from the night before, we couldn’t wait to head to the Getting Gorgeous Event held by Audrey McClelland and Vera Sweeny where I found my most favorite “Swag” of the conference, the MiracleBody jeans.  I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and try the leggings….I am told that I can pull it off.

Now that I was feeling gorgeous, it was time to hit some sessions!  I attended a “Pitch Me” session that was absolutely fabulous!  I learned so much and intend to share it with you in another post.  After touring the expo hall (the P&G Home Away from Home was stunning), we were ready to devour some cupcakes at “Sweets in the City” hosted by Complicated Mama and The Big Toy Book.  It was here that I met Kelby Carr who was so nice and offered lots of great advice to Cecelia and I.

Renee, Cissy, Crystal, Kate and I at Robeez

After getting a sugar high, we ran to the Robeez (pronounced Rob-eez…who knew?) event and finally the Christmas in August party hosted by Hallmark.  The Hallmark event was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.  Entering the penthouse, I was overwhelmed with the smells of the Holiday season.  Here I discovered the Recordable Books from Hallmark and I just fell in love.  Lots of good food, decorating cookies, pictures with Santa and mingling with friends made this party a real joy.

Saturday, we got the chance to host our own meet-up at Starbucks with our Double Duty Diva network.  Coffee for Less and SnuggStuff provided the swag and everyone enjoyed their morning coffee while meeting the Divas.  We took our morning drinks on the road to Scholastic where we learned all about the new releases and literacy initiative.  I remember ordering books from the Scholastic catalog and now I love seeing the excitement in my daughter’s eyes when she comes home with her selections.

The Divas hit BlogHer '10!

After lunch, we managed to squeeze in another session on Monetization and then it was off to dinner with Tide.  For those of you who have read my blog for a while now know that Tide is one of my favorite brands.  For obvious reasons, the Tide Loads of Hope project is near and dear to my heart and I cannot wait to work with them later this month for the 5 year anniversary.

Honestly, I have no idea how I managed to fit all of this in one short weekend.  But looking back, I wouldn’t change one single thing.  I think BlogHer ’10 was a success for me personally and professionally and has made me excited about the future of Experimental Mommy and the Double Duty Divas!  Thanks again to Corky and Co. and Escalate Network for making my trip possible!

My Perspective: Pampers Dry Max

As a new Mom in 2005, I wanted the very best for my baby.  I wanted the best performing diaper for my money.  As a self-proclaimed Science Geek, I tried several different brands of diapers and tried to analyze the value.  I finally decided on Pampers Swaddlers.  While a little more expensive, I had fewer blow-outs and leaks on my baby girl making Pampers my diaper of choice.  In 2008, upon arrival of my second baby girl, I immediately grabbed for Pampers on the grocery store shelf and have not looked back since. Have my girls ever had a diaper rash?  Yes.  Have I ever thought it was the diaper?  No.  Until now….

In January, I received a sample of the Pampers Cruisers in Size 4 with the new Dry Max Technology to try with my youngest daughter.  We used the diaper for two weeks before I wrote my assessment, and honestly we had no issues at all.  No leaks, no rashes, no burns, nothing….so I was surprised when I started getting comments from concerned Moms who believed the new Dry Max technology had harmed their babies.  I later learned that my link was shared on a Facebook page which was driving traffic to my site.  Many of the members of the Facebook group have experienced what they believe to be chemical burns or severe diaper rash from exposing their children to the Dry Max technology.  I took the time to read many comments on this Facebook page and try to understand the concerns of the parents.  After all, MY baby was wearing these diapers as well and if something was really wrong, I wanted to know.

Because of the attention my post received and the concerns I expressed to them, Pampers invited me to tour their facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio in early June.  Although, I had not experienced problems with the diapers myself, I had a vested interest in this problem because my daughter was wearing the diaper and I wanted to get to the root of the issue.  I took the time to read all I could on the issue, contacted my Pediatrician for advice, and formulated questions of my own to bring to Pampers.

Upon arriving at Pampers Headquarters, I was introduced to several faces of Pampers including Jodi Allen, the Vice President of North American Baby Care.  My first impression was that these were real people with real families.  These people poured their lives into the new Dry Max technology and genuinely feel like they are doing something great for babies and the environment.  One of the employees, Kerri Hailey, Associate Director of R&D, even tested these diapers on her own children while they were in development.  They all appeared concerned about the issue, and wanted to find a solution for these parents.  The difficult part is that they can’t find anything wrong with the diaper!  How do you fix a problem that doesn’t exist?

Did you know those tabs could stretch that far?

Did you know those tabs could stretch that far?

Needless to say, I was anxious to see the data and find out how it was collected.  To my delight, we began the next day with a tour of the Discovery Center and the Baby Care Headquarters.  At the Discovery Center, we had the opportunity to see how new ideas go from prototype to reality (and even saw four women handmake a size 4 Dry Max diaper).  At the Baby Care Headquarters we got to peak in on a research study in progress.  Honestly, I had no idea so much research could be done on a diaper!  I mean, it gets wet…it leaks or it doesn’t.  What else can you learn?  A LOT!  Local parents bring in their babies for a day of playing, eating and drinking in the Center (compensated with gift cards which is standard practice) while the researchers measure everything from load capacity to tab stretch ability, from sagging to bunching.  Some of the kids in the Center were even used as models to made molds which Scientists can diaper the mannequins and create 3D images in order to display exactly where your baby touches the diaper and how urine is received and distributed.  The diapers are also tested in various parts of the world as well, so differences in diet or size/shape of children are taken into account and included in the overall research conclusion.

Demonstrating the difference of Dry Max

Demonstrating the difference of Dry Max

After the tour, we had the chance to sit down with an Executive Panel which included Jodi Allen, Lisa Sanchez (Director of R&D), Leslie Hopkins (Associate Director of R&D), Brian McCleary (External Relations for P&G), and Kerri Hailey.  After being given some background, it was question and answer time!  The panel was very forthcoming with any information we wanted to know and believe me, many questions were asked among the ten bloggers in attendance.  Here are a few things I learned:

What makes Dry Max different?

  • Dry Max is ten years in the making.  It is the most studied and researched change in Pampers history.
  • The Dry Max technology is new in that less pulp is used in the diaper.  The actual materials used in the diaper are the same as the old ones.  No new chemicals are used and the absorbent gel is no closer to the skin than in the old Pampers.  The gel is not painted onto the pulp.
  • None of the materials used in the diaper can cause a burn of any kind.  Not alone, not when mixed with diaper cream and not when mixed with urine or feces.  Burns are caused by strong acids or bases and there is no evidence of this in the diaper.

When did complaints begin?

  • Pampers receives complaints every time something is changed, even when the placement or variety of cartoon characters are changed.  The difference is that this is the first major change in the “Facebook Era.”
  • Over 2.4 billion diapers with dry max were distributed before the first claim of chemical burn (Dry Max diapers were distributed in old packaging for several months without incident).
  • Even after the official launch, it was only after the media got involved did the complaints increase over what was expected.

How is Pampers responding?

  • Pampers has increased the number of operators answering calls to the complaint line (1-800-PAMPERS).  The average time an operator spends with a customer is 15 minutes.
  • The operator will take all of the relevant information and in some cases the customer has been called back by the staff in the R&D department.  Some customers have been asked to mail the diapers back so staff can assess the problem.  Customers will be offered the choice of coupons for new product or their money back.  No one is forced to take coupons.
  • I was impressed to learn that Pampers has even offered to for the child to see a Pediatrician at their expense.  But, to date they have not seen medical evidence from a Pediatrician officially diagnosing “chemical burn.”
  • When Pampers receives a complaint, they can track every diaper sold down to the plant it was made in and the crew that was on the line to determine if a specific lot has an issue.  To date their is no consistency in complaints.
  • Pampers brought in Paul Sagel, Retired Research Fellow (he invented Bounce!) to investigate complaints.  He says that Pampers has allowed him to test the diaper to make sure nothing was missed.  After his tests, he feels the diaper is safe.
  • We also met with Dr. Tom DeWitt, American Academy of Pediatrics Professor, and Dr. Kim Thompson, President of Kid Risk, Inc. and Associate Professor at Harvard School of Public Health who both investigated claims of chemical burns.  After examining the evidence, neither professional felt like the diapers were the cause of the diaper rash and/or chemical burns.
  • Pampers voluntarily went to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), met in person, and turned over all of the raw data.  They are fully cooperating with all requests from the CPSC.

What can you do if you are concerned?

  • Visit Pampers Village and check out the Dry Max page to get more information.
  • Join the Pampers Facebook page to get more information or ask questions.
  • Call 1-800-PAMPERS
  • Call your Pediatrician if you suspect your child has a severe diaper rash or chemical burn.

After visiting Pampers Headquarters, I can honestly say that my fears have been alleviated.   After seeing all the evidence, I do not feel like this diaper is unsafe for my daughter.  This is a personal decision and I am in no way discrediting the beliefs of the parents who feel like Pampers is harmful to their babies.  If you have had a problem, please see your Pediatrician and then call 1-800-PAMPERS to tell them of your findings.

Please feel free to comment on this post, but personal attacks will not be allowed.

Monetary compensation or product samples were not received in return for this post.  As with any business trip, Pampers did pay for my airfare, lodging and food.   All opinions remain 100% mine.

Learning Laundry at Tide’s Fabric Care University!

If you are a regular reader, you know a few things about me.  I am a self-proclaimed science geek, I don’t cook, and laundry is my nemesis.  Although I consider myself an educated woman, I confess that I know little about the proper way to do laundry. Fortunately, Tide figured I could use a little help and invited me to Fabric Care University!

Last Monday, I packed my bags and headed to the P&G Headquarters in Cincinnati to learn all about Tide, how they develop and test a line of products, and the proper way to use them….and did I mention Tim Gunn was there, too?

IMG_1372 I am sure Tim knows all about fabric care, and welcomed a fabulous group of bloggers to participate in a mock Project Runway the first night we were there. We were presented with a white T-Shirt and a random bag of accessories and were told to “make it work!”

<insert blank stare here>

Create an innovative outfit? Huh? I must be in the wrong place. Despite my hesitation, my Team (Stacie from Divine Miss Mommy, Sarah from Blissfully Domestic and Felicia from Go Graham Go) and I managed to create a shirt which we labeled “Playground Elegance.” Just when I thought we were done, we had to present our concept to Tim Gunn.

<insert another blank stare here>

IMG_1371 Somehow, I was elected spokesperson for Playground Elegance. That was a BIG mistake. LOL! But, I cannot stress enough how nice, genuine and friendly Tim was (yes, we are on a first name basis). He offered great suggestions and made us feel like we created a great design (although he was clearly lying through his teeth).

On Day Two, we hit the ground running and made our way to the labs, which is definitely more my speed. We were shown several presentations on how Tide is developed and tested. The Scientists were so passionate about their jobs that it made it hard not to get overly excited about doing laundry! At first glance, you think making detergent can’t be all that difficult, but you would be amazed at what goes in to making the products before hitting your laundry machine.

Did you know that your body creates 50 grams of soil A DAY?  Ewwww….I need that off my clothes and I want to buy the product that does it the best.  In the laboratories, Tide simulates the water quality from all over the WORLD in order to test their detergent. They wash clothes in all types of water and in all different types of machines to make sure that their product will work well in every condition imaginable. Fabric samples are even analyzed under an electron microscope in order to assess removal of soil in Tide versus other leading brands. I saw this first hand and I can tell you that I will only buy Tide after seeing the evidence.

IMG_1374 Some of my Fabric Care University Classmates (from left to right): Felicia of Go Graham Go, Yours Truly, Toni of Just Stop Screaming, Laurie of Tip Junkie and Danielle of Extraordinary Mommy)

Much of Day Two was embargoed, so I cannot tell you about the new lines coming out soon from Tide and Downy, but I can say that they are un-freakin-believable. Thanks to Devries PR and the incredible employees at Tide who made this trip a learning experience I will never forget.

Don’t miss any of the action! Follow Tide on Facebook and TideLoadsofHope on Twitter!

I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post.  Tide did cover my airfare, hotel and meals while on this business trip.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

Happy, Healthy Family Gathering with Nestle: My Experience

As I made my way to the Nestle Happy, Healthy Family Gathering in Pasadena, California last week, I was so excited to be attending my very first blogger event!  I have read many “event round ups” from other gatherings such as General Mills and iRobot, and was always impressed with companies that wanted real opinions from real Moms and Dads.  But, I never anticipated the difference that a handful of bloggers can make to a huge corporation in a few short days.

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The night of my arrival, Nestle hosted a reception at our hotel so we could meet the Team and the other bloggers in attendance (I even got to meet the NESQUICK Bunny!).  The hotel surprised us with a kitchen tour and conversation with the head Chef of The Dining Room at The Langham, Michael Voltaggio from Top Chef!  It was great to meet the attendees and begin to learn what Nestle had in store for us.

The first day of the event was a busy one!  After a delicious breakfast featuring Nestle products (check out this Blue Monkey Smoothie), we were led to a beautiful conference room designed to resemble a living room complete with sofas and comfy chairs (I restrained myself from taking off my shoes and curling up in the big chair I chose!).  We were welcomed by the Nestle USA CEO, Brad Alford, who was more laid back and friendly than I pictured a CEO of such a large company.  He spent more time with us than expected as we had a very open and frank question and answer period where bloggers were encouraged to share ideas, suggestions and concerns with Nestle.

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It wasn’t long after this portion of the event that I started looking around for the CANDY!  I mean, I was at Nestle…where’s the chocolate?!?  Just in the nick of time, we were escorted to the Candy Lab where we learned about (and got to taste) some of the new Nestle initiatives including Cranberry Raisinets, a new and improved Crunch Bar and my favorite prototype….the Extroodler!  This machine makes chocolate ribbons dispensed into a dish similar to soft-serve ice cream!  I got to sample some chocolate and caramel chocolate “ribbon” and it was heavenly!  The Candy Lab also featured products by Wonka and as you can tell, I fit right in!

Off to the Nestle Kitchens for lunch!  I was on such a sugar high that protein was a welcomed addition to the days food intake! Chef Christine Garboski demonstrated some wonderful recipes (check out this Pumpkin and Black Bean soup that I LOVED) using Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby’s Pumpkin.

libbys

One thing that I took away from this event was that I may actually be able to do some of these recipes!  You all know that I am no whiz kid in the kitchen, but since arriving home from the Nestle event, I have been inspired to try some of the tips and techniques I learned.  For example, I made the “3 for 100” mini pumpkin muffins today with my daughter, Lily.  We had a great time together and they came out REALLY good!  Because I am on the Weight Watchers program, I was relieved to find healthy, low calorie recipes during the event!

After lunch, we met with Nutritionists and the Team from Juicy Juice, Ovaltine and Boost Kid Essentials.  An informative meeting led to a productive question and answer session.  Did you know that Nestle partners with health professionals to provide tools for parents in order to help avoid obesity in children?  Or that Juicy Juice is developing juice in a can to appeal to older kids as an alternative to soda?

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Next we headed outside (this Louisiana girl is not used to the mountainous scenery of Glendale!) for an ice cream social with Edy’s and Skinny Cow.  If I were not married already, I would seriously marry a Skinny Cow Ice Cream Cone (only 3 points if you are on Weight Watchers)!  Check out the latest Skinny Cow product, the Truffle Bar!  This ice cream bar is drizzled in chocolate ribbons and only 100 calories!

Day Two began with the yummiest chocolate chip pancakes EVER!  Our first session taught us how Nestle gives back to the community (they are coming to New Orleans in 2010 to help the rebuilding effort!) followed by an expo-style session where we learned about several other divisions of Nestle including Jenny Craig, Purina, Haagen Daz and Nestle Waters.

All that talking made me hungry!  Fortunately, Stouffers served lunch and provided us with tips for making easy and nutritious meals.  One of the suggestions I loved was to “spice up” your mac and cheese by providing several condiments to add to your dish.  For example, adding bacon bits, bread crumbs or salsa will take your mac and cheese to the next level!

Unfortunately, I had to head to the airport after lunch and miss the last session.  I had such an incredible time not only learning about Nestle, but connecting with the amazing attendees.  The bloggers were a true inspiration and I am proud to say that I believe we made a difference!

Nestle provided airfare, hotel, meals and transportation for this event, however I was under no obligation to write this post.

Headed to NESTLE!

In a few minutes, I will be headed to California (have I mentioned that I have never been further West than Texas?) to visit the NESTLE Headquarters.  I am very excited about learning more about the multitude of brands and how I can keep my family happy and healthy with delicious and nutritious meals and snacks.

Nestle Family

Lots of incredible bloggers will be in attendance and you can keep up with all the happenings by checking out the Nestle Family homepage!  I will do my best to keep you all updated, but the schedule is jam packed with informational sessions and FUN!

Meanwhile, Jennifer will be holding down the blog for me in my absence.  I know she has a few things planned for you including a YUMMY Ginger Ale Chicken recipe!  I will be back to the blog on Friday!

Be good!