Archives for September 2012

Hurricane Isaac was No Match for My Samsung Galaxy S3 #VZWA

Last month, Hurricane Isaac took aim at New Orleans.  Because this Storm was projected to stay at a Category 1, my family and I decided to ride this one out at home.  While thankfully, we did not sustain any damage or flooding to our home, electricity and Internet was knocked out for almost a full week.

As a blogger, losing my Internet access is a traumatic experience!  I wanted to be able to update family and friends about our well-being as well as report to my readers what was happening in my hometown.  Fortunately, I had my Samsung Galaxy S3 with Verizon Wireless 4G LTE service which was NEVER LOST throughout the entire Storm.  We were prepared with a generator in my home, so I was able to charge up my laptop and Galaxy S3 in order to activate it’s mobile hotspot and….poof….I was on the Internet!

So, how do you activate the Mobile Hotspot of the Samsung Galaxy S3?  Follow these simple steps:

  1. Locate “Settings” in the Apps section of your screen.
  2. Flick the Mobile Hotspot to the “ON” position.  If Wireless is available, it will warn you that Wireless will be turned off in order to access the mobile hotspot.
  3. Click on the Mobile Hotspot in order to configure your laptop.  A message will appear telling you the name of the wireless network and password you should use to connect.

That’s it!  The speed of the mobile hotspot was incredible even during the Storm.  I was able to go online and watch local weather broadcasts which kept my family out of harms way.  We were able to connect not only my laptop, but my husband’s iPad at the same time which was great to keep the kids entertained.

During Hurricane Isaac’s approach, I was able to create several blog posts and videos with my Samsung Galaxy S3 and upload them to YouTube with absolutely no problem.  It was great feeling connected to the outside world with the speed of the 4G network.  Take a look at one of the videos I created:

As a Verizon Wireless Ambassador, I could not be happier with the Samsung Galaxy S3.  I have had a great time exploring it’s features and capabilities and I am so glad I was NOT one of the people standing in line for the release of the iPhone 5!  Be on the lookout for more Verizon Wireless posts in the future!


I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Ambassador program and have been provided with a wireless device and three months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

Carnival Cruise Lines Presents Boo at the Zoo in NOLA {Giveaway}

To tourists, New Orleans doesn’t always appear to be a “family friendly” kind of town.  Great food? Sure. Bourbon Street frivolity? You betcha. Fun for a toddler? <crickets>  But ever since I had kids of my own, I have been on a search for activities for my young family and I did not have to look far.

One of the things we cherish here in NOLA is the Audubon Zoo.  The zoo covers 58 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals!  We have spent many afternoons enjoying all that this attraction has to offer including the Endangered Species Carousel and the recently added Cool Zoo.  But one of our favorite events to attend here is the annual “Boo at the Zoo!”

My girls have loved trick or treating in the Zoo, riding the Haunted Train and playing themed games all while showing off their costumes.  The festival gets better each year and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us this time!  For starters, this year Boo at the Zoo is presented by Carnival Cruise Lines, the number one cruise line in New Orleans!  With two ships docked in NOLA year-round, Carnival carries nearly 340,000 passengers a year and operates 125 voyages annually from this port.  The Carnival Elation offers four and five day Mexico cruises and the Conquest offers seven day cruises to the Caribbean which I would LOVE to take one day!

Because Carnival houses the industry’s top rated children’s programs for ages 2-11, it is only natural for them to be involved with Boo at the Zoo. The annual Halloween event is for kids up to age 12 and features trick-or-treat houses with candy, a Ghost Train, a haunted house (scary and non-scary), games with prizes and entertainment. Carnival Cruise Lines, a presenting sponsor, will host some new and exciting activities this year including a jack-o-lantern-filled Fun Ship replica nearly 70 feet long, pumpkin carving creations, children’s decoration stations and tropical-themed treats.

Boo at the Zoo, which is a fundraiser for both Children’s Hospital and Audubon Zoo, will be held on four nights over a two weekends including Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20 plus Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27 from 5:00-9:00PM each night.  Tickets are $17 for both children and adults (kids under 12 months old are admitted free).  Get your tickets now as a limited number will be sold to assure overcrowding is not a problem.

Want to attend Boo at the Zoo this year?  Win a Family Four Pack below!  Even if you are not a winner, if you attend the event, make sure to tweet, Facebook or Instagram with the #BATZNOLA and you may win a gift bag with Carnival’s Logo Items!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy. While tickets were received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Cleaning House With Miele and Vacuum Direct

Now that I am making the transition from working full time outside the home to being a full time blogger working from my house, I am finding some things about life are getting easier.  Since the kids are in school during the day, I have some quiet time to get blog work accomplished, but I also have the luxury of being able to start dinner and catch up on housework without the kids under foot.  I am definitely staying busy but certain things like my crock pot and my Miele Olympus Vacuum have made life easier.

To make sure I accomplish everything in the week, I made a schedule to keep me on track.  Monday is a grocery day, Tuesday I conquer laundry/dishes and Wednesday I tackle the floors.  So, I was thrilled to receive a new Miele S2 Olympus Vacuum cleaner for review to make hump day a little less scary.  For starters, this is a canister vacuum which I have never owned in the past.  I am used to upright vacuums so I was curious to see how this would compare.

Let’s start with a few specs of the Miele S2 Olympus Vacuum:

  • Soft Lotus White finish on the Clean Air System constructed canister body
  • Three independent, rubber, 360 degree swivel wheels provide supreme maneuverability across multiple flooring surfaces
  • The 1200-watt high output Meile-made Vortex Motor maintains optimal suction and dust intake
  • The Super Air Clean filter system captures 99.95% of particles down to 0.5 micron in size and 94% of particles down to 0.3 particles in size
  • The electrostatically charged filter will last through 5 bag changes and is included free with each box of Miele vacuum bags ordered.

Out of the box, I thought a canister vacuum would be bulky and heavy to operate, but actually it was quite light.  Assembling the vacuum was simple and the directions were easy to follow.  The stainless steel wand and hose are much lighter to push around the floor and the wheeled canister follows right along.  I love that I can extend the wand to a 29.5′ operating radius so I can reach very far or up high without much movement at all.

Before powering on the unit, you can use the rotary dial on the canister to select the proper setting to clean your surface.  By reducing the suction, you can move the wand easier over the surface.  There are settings for curtains, upholstery, thick rugs, lightly soiled and heavy traffic areas.  But the setting I love the most is the energy saving low noise level!  After selecting the low noise level and pressing power button on the canister, I could NOT believe the Miele was so quiet….seriously, I have never heard a more quiet vacuum.
I started with my area rug and had to reduce the suction because I found it difficult to push, but once I got the setting straight I was able to vacuum the rug in no time.  The carpet looks fabulous!  The best part is that I was able to keep going right off the rug and onto my laminate flooring.  My whole living space was clean leaving more time to relax. Wednesday was conquered!
Because the Miele Olympus is a canister vacuum, vacuum bags are required and an important part of the filtration system.  The vacuum uses Miele’s patented AirClean bag with a spring loaded, self cleaning collar.  The vacuum also houses an indicator to let you know when it’s time to change the bag!
For more information, follow Vacuum Direct on Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to order replacement vacuum bags!
This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While a product was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

Stock Up and Save!

When you have a lot of mouths to feed, it’s often recommended to buy food in bulk. If you have the extra storage space, it can be a great way to save on foods that you’d end up buying anyway. You don’t necessarily have to join a warehouse club to implement this strategy. When your usual grocery store has a good sale, you can stock up there too. Below are some ideas for putting these items to good use feeding your brood, saving you both time and money!

Make casseroles. Casseroles are great because you can make them for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Using a big batch of eggs, cheese and veggies can make a great, nutritious breakfast option. Meanwhile, pasta and tuna noodle casseroles or a Shepherd’s pie are all relatively easy to throw together and perfect for feeding a large group.

Crockpot meals. Crockpot meals are a great way to make use of big bags of frozen chicken or vegetables (make sure you defrost the chicken before putting it in the crockpot). You can add all different types of seasonings and have an easy meal that feeds a lot of people. Crockpots are also great for making soups and stews that are easy to heat up the next day.

Buying meat in bulk. If you buy a lot of meat, not only can you make easy meals like hamburgers, you can make a big batch of meatballs that are easy to throw on with pasta or even serve alone. These are also bound to please picky eaters! Chili is another great option for ground chuck — not only is it healthy but it freezes very easily so there’s no rush to use it.

What do you like to make with your bulk purchases?

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This post brought to you by guest author, David St. Pierre.

New Orleans Mom’s Holiday Helper Event

Can you believe there are only 90 days until Christmas?  Have you started shopping yet?  If you are anything like me, I am starting to make lists but refuse to start buying until after Thanksgiving! Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the latest trends will be this holiday season before you set foot in the store?

I am excited to announce that I will be hosting a “Mom’s Holiday Helper Event” in partnership with two other New Orleans based Mom bloggers, Renee from What Mommies Need and Linzy from Crawfish Tales to help you do just that!  Together, we will host an invite-only live event here in New Orleans to showcase the latest trends, the hottest toys, the warmest fashions and the coolest electronics to a room full of 100 social media influencers and female consumers.

On November 9, 2012 from 7-9pm at the Kenner City Park Pavilion, attendees will get the chance to see and test products before they decide to put them on their holiday shopping list.  Enjoy a Mom’s Night Out and take home a few freebies, too!  And because it’s always better to give than to receive, we would love attendees to bring one new toy to the event which will be donated to the charity initiative “Toys for Tots.”

Kenner City Park Pavilion

If you are interested in having your product presented at the “Mom’s Holiday Helper Event” please submit a query for more information on sponsorship packages.  If you are interested in attending this invite-only event, please fill out this form so we can collect your email address!  Formal invites will be sent via email closer to the event.

Hope to see you there!

Inspire Your Budding Pianist with a Schoenhut My First Piano {Giveaway}

One thing that I have learned as a parent is the fact that I took my parents for granted.  I never realized everything that went into raising a family.  Growing up my parents always went above and beyond the call of duty.  They did everything from playing cab driver to volunteering at school functions (and everything in between).

I remember so vividly as a child going to piano lessons during the summer, the lessons were fun, it was the practice at home I didn’t like.  I wish that I would have realized the opportunity they were giving me instead of thinking ‘why is she making me do this.’    Part of my problem was, I had never been exposed to any type of musical instrument until that summer.  I believe that if I would have been introduced to it when I was very little, I would have grown up loving it.


With the Schoenhut  18 Key My First Piano now you can introduce your baby to a musical instrument before they even begin to walk.   We received the precious red toy piano and my children were thrilled.  As you can see from the picture they were both playing on it at the same time.  It is the perfect height for both of my children to sit on the floor and play it.  Although no one in my family can play a tune we have had fun trying to play a song.   My First Piano comes with Schoenhut’s play-by-color teaching method and comes with removable color strips that fit behind the keys to guide your little one’s fingers from chord to chord.  Also included is a Songbook containing some of your favorite tunes.

The learning system is designed to make learning fun and simple.  I have to admit, I think I had just as much fun as the children did trying to play different songs.  The width of the keys are specifically design to encourage the correct finger placement to make transition from the My First Piano to a large piano.  With Christmas right around the corner, this would make a perfect gift for that special youngster in your life.  The Schoenhut 18 Key My First Piano retails for $55-65.

Do you have a budding pianist?  Enter to win the giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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

Buying Back-To-School Fashion For Teens

Back-to-school shopping is an exciting opportunity for teens to reinvent their style and get a fresh lease on fashion for the school year. Getting fun, unique and affordable clothes can be a hassle though, and local stores don’t always sell what a student needs. Here are a few tips for finding the latest fashions and rocking the new semester with a great sense of fashion.

Look For Handmade

Some of the best fashion can be found by handmade artists that create their own accessories and clothing. The texture trend, neon trend and preppy trends can all be found from handmade shops. It’s often very affordable, and it will be unique compared to the teens that get their wardrobe from the local mall.

Order Online

Online storefronts have a great diversity of options. You can find a wider variety of sizes, styles and colors by shopping online. If you are concerned about your teen shopping on the Internet, then a GreenDot card is a safe alternative to credit cards or debit cards. You can buy from tons of online retailers without risks. You can make online shopping safe.

Go To Unexpected Websites

There are indie retailers and retailers that specialize in Korean or Japanese fashion. These unexpected places can provide you with the hottest trends from around the world, and they will be priced reasonably.

Try Customized

Customized clothes are a great way to get the hottest fashion in your hands tailored to your specifications. Every outfit from a big-box store has been purchased by thousands of others. You can set yourself apart by getting customized clothes inspired by fashion trends but special to you. Custom colors and fabrics can really make an outfit stand out from the crowd of teens wear the same Abercrombie & Fitch outfits.

Shop Sales

You can get great sale prices when you shop online. There’s often clearance-price t-shirts, dresses, pants, accessories and more when you look on retailer websites for good deals. There are also online-exclusive deals you can’t find in stores. This could help you save even more money. A Green Dot card is the easiest way to ensure you don’t miss out on these valuable sales for back-to-school fashion.

Look For Free Shipping

Shipping can be a bummer, but plenty of retailers offer free shipping over a certain minimum. There’s nothing better than back-to-school clothes, but free shipping on those clothes might be pretty close.

Is It Safe?

Buying back-to-school clothes online can be intimidating. You have probably heard about the risks. Using a third-party card will help you shop securely without putting your identity at risk. It will also give your teen a sense of responsibility for online shopping. Never shop with a website that doesn’t have security certificates, and you will be fine.

Back-to-school shopping is an exciting time. The above tips will help you get your teen a cool wardrobe for the new semester in high school, but you will also be able to save money and shop safely online.

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

Our Favorite NOLA Sights #seemoresights

New Orleans.  N’Awlins.  NOLA.  The Big Easy.  Home.  No matter what you call my City, there is no denying  that it’s residents have a zest for life unmatched by any other location in the world.  My husband and I were both born in New Orleans and have never left the City and culture so engrained in our heritage….not even after Hurricane Katrina.

Besides the fact that our families live here, there are many reasons why we love New Orleans.  The food, the culture, the music, the festivals…did I mention the food?  But one thing we love to do as a family is play tourist on our hometown.  There is never a reason to be bored in New Orleans because there is always something to see or do.  The kids love our state of the art Aquarium of the Americas and we love it because it is air conditioned for those sweltering summer days.  My husband and I love to go to the Riverwalk and stare onto the busy Mississippi River while eating some delicious beignets.

But there is no denying that our favorite time of the year in New Orleans is Mardi Gras!  You will find us on the parade route yelling, “Throw Me Somethin’, Mista!” while catching beads, doubloons and cups just about every night for two straight weeks.  On Mardi Gras day, we are fortunate enough to ride on a float and be the ones throwing the trinkets to the crowd.  The sights of New Orleans and tourists alike having the time of their lives and throwing caution to the wind is exhilarating.

All of the sights here in New Orleans are a feast for the eyes!  My sight is truly something I want to protect for many years to come as well as the sight of my children.  Did you know that 50% of vision loss can be prevented by having regular comprehensive eye exams?  Since my kids were 3 years old, we have been getting their vision checked and *knock on wood* everything looks good so far.  If you feel strongly about your kids’ vision, make the “My Eye Promise!”  By submitting the promise to have regular eye exams, Transitions Optical will donate a book to the new mobile literacy initiative, Bess the Book Bus.

In addition, Transitions lenses is the Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ helping many people see the world in a whole new light.  The lenses continually adapt to the available lighting to make your sightseeing an incredible experience.  While you are out and about enjoying the sights of your own City, snap a few photos and enter to win the Official Sponsor of Sightseeing™ Sight of the Day Photo Contest for your chance to win the Ultimate Sightseeing Dream Vacation. Imagine what you will see if you win the Grand Prize of a 10 day Galapagos Island Excursion!  The more photos you upload, the better chance you have at winning.  For more information, “like” Transitions lenses on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, too!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Transitions® lenses blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.


Jason Aldean Tickets Gone, Sold-Out Shows Amaze Attendees

In his short seven-year recording career, Jason Aldean has already been nominated dozens of times for awards and has scored nine number one songs. He is currently out on tour backing his “My Kinda Party” album. Aldean has another album, “Night Train,” due out in October. The first single from the album was released on July 16, 2012. “Take a Little Ride” has peaked at number four on the charts so far. The tour runs through the end of October. “Night Train” is currently scheduled to come out October 16. The young star has routinely sold out venues across the country on his tour, but Jason Aldean tickets are still available for most shows.

Jason Aldean has rocketed to stardom by capturing the small pleasures of small town life. Although most songs are solidly ensconced in the country rock genre, his last album included a bit of rap in the hit “Dirt Road Anthem.” Aldean has hinted that the album coming out in October may have some more surprises for his fans.

The young country crooner has a smooth sultry voice that lends itself well to ballads. Love songs are one of the mainstays of his repertoire, and he presents them with just enough subtle sensuality to appeal to men and women alike.  The other workhorse in Aldean’s stable is the song documenting rural American life. Many of his songs tell stories about the simple pleasures of young people in very small towns. Driving in the country with a girl and the joys of off-roading are a few themes that appear regularly in his work. In rural communities, young people have to make their fun where they can, and Aldean’s lyrics make no apologies for those pleasures. He has his finger squarely on the pulse of this demographic, and has made a career of glorifying these simple joys.

Although the lyrics in Aldean’s work are classic country, the rhythms of his songs cross over into rock. With driving guitar licks and thumping drum work, the music could easily be played at a rock show. The band is solid, with a tight sound that drives the lyrics forward.

With its rapped verses, “Dirt Road Anthem” was a risky song to make. It is a testament to how mainstream rap has become that a partially-rapped tune about hanging out on a rural dirt road drinking beer can become a number one hit. The song was nominated for both a Billboard Music Award and two CMT Music Awards. The song was written and also recorded by country rap musicians Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert.

Aldean has a reputation as an artist who appeals to young mainstream country fans. He and his band put on a great show, and anyone with a couple of Jason Aldean tickets can count themselves lucky to attend. The artist plays for at least an hour; with the opening acts added in, the concerts typically last nearly three hours. There are enough special effects to entertain the crowd. Aldean has definitely mastered the art of the throwing a giant concert party.

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

I’m a Better Chef with Chicago Cutlery DesignPro Knives {Giveaway}

I have a love hate relationship with chicken.  I love to eat it but I hate to cook it.  Because of my microbiology degree, raw chicken freaks me out.  The less I touch it, the better.  That being said, I have started Weight Watchers and have found many delicious recipes on plan that involve chicken.  So, as my husband would say, it’s time to “Man-Up!”  Fortunately, I received Chicago Cutlery DesignPro knives for review so I am hoping preparing chicken will be much easier.

As I said in my first Chicago Cutlery post, I am a cooking novice.  I have no clue how to hold a professional knife let alone actually use it.  As I do when I need visual advice, I fled to YouTube and found several great instructional videos on the correct way to use a Chef’s Knife.  Take a look at the one below:

Using my new knife skills,  I felt confident that I could tackle a chicken recipe I have wanted to try for a long time. It’s a very easy, very delicious Weight Watcher’s friendly chicken salad that I found on Skinny Taste (only 4 Points Plus per serving!).  The first step in the recipe is to slice up two boneless chicken breasts and place them in a medium saucepan.  Using the skills I learned from YouTube, I let the knife do the work for me and was done slicing up the chicken in no time at all.  Because the knife is made with ultra sharp, Japanese steel blades to improve the cutting experience, I finished the job faster than I ever have in the past which means less time touching the raw chicken.  Score!

I don’t think my fear of raw chicken has been solved, but with the Chicago Cutlery DesignPro Chef’s Knife, I learned that the right tools for the job make a BIG difference.  I know have a whole new world of chicken recipes to explore!  Would you like to try a Chicago Cutlery DesignPro Chef’s Knife?  Enter to win one below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chicago Cutlery and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.