Archives for January 2014

Shopping Fun with the Barbie App-Tastic Cash Register

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

My girls have gotten quite a few of my good traits and perhaps a few of my vices.  Probably one of the most prominent is my love of all things sweet, but in a close second is their love of shopping.  Sweets + Shopping=Best.Day.Ever.

I love spending quality time with my daughters by creating a fun Girls Day Out, but sometimes shopping is not always feasible or in the budget.  Sometimes we need to just have some fun at home so I knew giving my girls the opportunity to test out the new Barbie App-Tastic Cash Register Set from eKids would be an instant hit.

Shop ’til you drop! This cash register lets girls shop for whatever they want. But don’t just sit behind the cash register, take turns with your friends to be the shopper and the cashier.  Download the App on your iOS device (iPad/iPhone/iPod touch) to complete the true shopping experience. The App lets you scan real UPC codes using the camera on your device, customize 5 fabulous shops, create your own personalized membership cards, and play a fun express checkout game. It’s time for a shopping spree!

After taking the toy from the box, my youngest was drawn to the working microphone.  I pity the pretend shoppers in her store because for the next hour she sung the sales karaoke style.  But she moved on as soon as she realized she could swipe the credit card and actually watch the app authorize the purchase!  I hope she has a high credit limit!

Once my oldest was allowed to check out the Barbie App-Tastic Cash Register Set the pair quickly decided to play cashier and customer which went on for hours.  The app allowed the customer to choose items from one of five stores and check out choosing cash, credit or gift card (they could even take a picture of themselves to personalized their very own VIP cards).  My oldest loved choosing credit and signing her name to verify the purchase!

My daughters had a great time pretend shopping and selling!  As a Mom, I love that this toy can be used with or without the addition of your own iOS device and the app can be played without the toy making it portable fun, too.

Join Me for the Personal Creations #SweetestThing Twitter Party!

While most New Orleanians have their focus set on Mardi Gras, don’t get thrown in the dog house by forgetting Valentine’s Day!  With just two weeks left to go, it’s time to start thinking about those sweet things that make your loved ones feel special.

Come join us on Tuesday, February 4th from 8-9pm ET for the Personal Creations #SweetestThing Twitter Party. The party will be hosted by two of my favorite bloggers @StacieinAtlanta and @JollyMom but I (@BridgetteLA) will be joining as a panelist along with @ThriftyChicMom @TheShoppingMama @Crissy and @7onastoestring. We’ll be talking all things LOVE and sharing gift ideas perfect for your Valentine. It will be a great place to get some ideas from Personal Creations that will definitely help you woo your loved one!  What’s the sweetest thing of all? The prizes, of course! We’ll be giving away over fifteen prizes throughout the hour!

Twitter Party Details

What: Personal Creations Sweetest Thing Twitter Party
When: Tuesday, February 4 from 8-9 p.m. EST (7 CT & 5 PT)
Who To Follow:
Brand: @PCGifts
Co-Hosts: @JollyMom @StacieInAtlanta
Blogger Panelists: @crissy @7onashoestring @BridgetteLA @ThriftyChicMom @TheShoppingMama

Hope to see you there!

Prepping for the Winter Weather with Rayovac

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

For those of you who live in the North, this post may be a bit funny.  But to us Southerners, this “polar vortex” has created a Winter Storm that has closed roads, businesses and schools for the past 2 days.  So, what actually constitutes a winter storm here in New Orleans?  Well, it’s been right about 32 degrees and we have had about 1/2″ accumulation of ice!  It’s the Sneauxpacolypse!

All of the local news stations are warning that ice on tree branches could cause them to snap and take down our power lines.  I actually got a text from our energy company telling us to prepare to be without power for 3-5 days!  Yikes.  Fortunately, as a Rayovac Power Blogger, I have my trusty box of batteries to the rescue!

We have replaced batteries in our flashlights and radio and have started charging up all of the Rayovac Rechargeables in order to prepare for the worst.  No darkness for this family! And to make sure we can stay in touch with family and friends, I have my Rayovac Portable Power ready to go in case my cell phone or iPad needs a boost.  Of course, I have firewood,  hot chocolate and a King Cake, too (the real essentials).

How do you prepare for a winter storm?

Play MG Gaming Device Ends the Cell Phone War in My Home {Giveaway}

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

My sons are ages 14 and 8. Like most teenagers, my 14 year old has a phone but there’s no way I’m paying for phone service for an 8 year old that only wants to play games. So, whenever we’re out I often hear, “Mom, can I play on your phone?” I’m okay with him playing on my phone, but he tends to run the battery down. Plus, I need my phone! It’s embarrassing to admit, but I use the phone a lot. Enter my new best friend…the Play MG.

The Play MG is the first of its kind – an Android gaming system designed just for young people. Now get more than 60,000 app games; a 4-inch touch screen; cool and slim pocketable design; and a super easy way to responsibly make app purchases without bothering or surprising your parents. It’s designed for you, designed for games, designed for some serious, and not-so-serious play.

The PlayMG has all the cool gaming and networking features of a smart phone without the monthly fee. It comes pre-loaded with several premium games from companies like EA and Com2us. And, of course, there are tons of free and inexpensive games available at Google Play. So far, my kids’ favorite game has been Inotia4. (Yes, my older son had to get in on the fun!) Both kids absolutely love this system!

But there’s also something cool in here for us parents…it has parental controls! Yes, you read that right, PARENTAL CONTROLS. There’s a Family Collaboration System app that has some really cool features:

  • Digital Wallet – lets parents create “game allowances” with a prepaid MasterCard®.
  • Activity Tracking – it tracks what apps are used and for how long. This ends the, “…but I’ve only been playing for 15 minutes” argument.
  • Weekly Report Emails – parents are sent a weekly summary of the app usage. But, you can log onto the system any time to review the summary.
  • The best part, the Family Collaboration System is password protected, so the kids can’t turn it off.

The PlayMG is available in stores like Target, Amazon, and ToysRUs, or you can buy it directly from MSRP is $159.99 – $166.99 (a LOT cheaper than a smartphone).  Want to learn more?  Check out the video on how the Play MG works.  Ready to play?  One lucky winner will get their very own Play MG system right here on Experimental Mommy!  Enter below:
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See the “Hot Combinations” from Lean Pockets {Giveaway}

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

As a Mom who works outside of the home full time, I struggle to make lunch fresh and interesting.  To be honest, I eat a turkey and cheese sandwich at least 3 days a week and according to Lean Pockets, I am not alone.  Did you know that, on average, Americans eat the same exact meal at least four times a week?  Boring.  Do you need a mealtime makeover?

Fortunately, Lean Pockets has come to the rescue with 19 new flavor varieties.  Their protein and pretzel bread “hot combinations” deliver on the hot and savory combination consumers crave and help them introduce variety and flavor into their meals and snacks.  As a member of the Lean Pockets Blogger Advisory Board, I was excited to get a sneak taste of the Chicken Jalapeno Cheddar pretzel bread sandwiches.

I will admit that I am not normally a fan of a pretzel bread sandwich, but I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of this sandwich.  In true Lean Pockets fashion, the frozen sandwich is easily heated in the microwave in the provided crisper.  Evenly heated, spicy and cheesy made this variety a hit and earned it’s spot on my lunch rotation.  Watch the fun video below for info on new varieties:

Is your mouth watering yet for the new Lean Pockets #HotCombos?  Enter below and one winner will receive coupons for FREE Lean Pockets, branded T-Shirts, coolers and more!  Don’t miss any of the hot combinations by liking Lean Pockets on Facebook!
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Night at the W at Walgreens with Neutrogena {Giveaway}

As a Neutrogena Ambassador, I have had the opportunity to test many of their latest products and have become a loyal fan of several.  Now, you have the chance to head to your local Walgreens during “Night at the W” to take advantage of the Buy 1 Get 50% off all Neutrogena® products (excluding Sun Care and Trial Sizes).  I highly recommend checking out the Moisture Smooth Color Sticks!

On January 23rd from 4-9pm, stop by your local Walgreens for:

  • Complimentary samples
  • A chat with Walgreens chic Beauty Advisors
  • Buy 1 Get 50% off all Neutrogena® products (excluding Sun Care and Trial Sizes)
  • A chance to win an unforgettable trip for two to Nashville, TN to visit some of Hayden Panettiere’s favorite hot spots, and even get a makeover from a leading makeup artist!
  • 50 lucky winners will also receive a Walgreens gift card worth $50

All you need to do to WIN the trip to Nashville is purchase any Neutrogena product between 4-9pm on January 23rd, and you’ll receive a code at checkout with instructions on how to enter.  To learn more about the event, visit the Walgreens website for additional details.

As a Neutrogena Ambassador, I want to get you even more excited about the event by offering one lucky reader a beauty pack containing one MoistureSmooth Color Stick, Crease Proof Eye Shadow, and Mascara!  Enter below:

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Celebrate #BaconLove with Homemade Bacon Mashed Taters {Recipe}

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

Do you know that the term “bring home the bacon” comes from a game of catching a greased pig at a county fair?  The winner took home the pig and literally brought home the bacon.  Now, I am no fan of fair games and I am fresh out of greased pigs so I took the easy way out by heading to my local Winn-Dixie.

Throughout the month of January, Winn-Dixie is celebrating everyone’s favorite food during their Bacon Event with bacon sampling, bacon recipes, and bacon sales. To join the fun, I thought I would share one of my family’s favorite bacon recipes, Homemade Bacon Mashed Taters.

What You Need:

  • 2lbs. washed red potatoes
  • 4 slices cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  • Cut the red potatoes into quarters and boil for about 12-15 minutes.  Drain.

  • Add all ingredients, except bacon
  • Mash until mixed and consistent
  • Add bacon pieces and gently stir until mixed
  • Serve hot!

Got a bacon recipe to share or in search of new ones?  Head to your local Winn-Dixie to grab the necessary supplies!

It’s Time for an Upgrade: Sears Furniture Style

“This is a sponsored post through the Social Media Chicks influencer network. I am a Sears Holding Corporation blogger, though all opinions are my own.”
The year 2005 was the best of times and the worst of times (or so begins my novel).  My daughter was born in early 2005 making us a family of three.  But in August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina knocked us down and flooded our home.  While every cloud has a silver lining, dealing with flood insurance and FEMA was certainly not one of them.  Because we were under-insured, we used our money to rebuild the basics and did what we could to salvage just about anything.
While most of our furniture was ruined, our sofa (which we purchased in 2000) sustained no water damage.  So….we saved it.  Flash forward nine years and two kids later, our sofa is still going strong but admittedly is on it’s very last leg.  It’s time for a decor upgrade!
Forget the pricey interior designer, Sears’ Furniture Collection can help turn your living room from drab to style magazine-worthy in no time. From traditional to modern, Sears’ furniture collection has something for everyone. You have the option to mix and match pieces from each collection to suit your taste or shop the entire collection for a matching look.  Still need help making a décor decision? Follow these easy tips:
  • Find color inspiration from a favorite wall color or painting. This will be the focus of your design choices
  • When shopping for the living room, don’t overstuff the room. Plan for ample walking room between furniture pieces
  • Tie the room together with matching pillows, a rug and other accessories

Lastly, upgrade your room in small payments using FREE Sears Layaway (no service fee) through March 24th, valid on new Layaway contracts only. After it’s all said & done, your friends will be begging for your designer’s phone number.  I can’t wait to get started!

Reconnecting at the Beau Rivage Biloxi

This review was written by the Experimental Mommy.  While travel expenses were provided, all opinions remain 100% mine.

With two daughters involved in many different activities, my husband and I are able to get some quality time with each other about, um…..never.  Quite honestly, I think the last time we spent the night together away from the kids was at least four years ago.  Sad but true.  So, I could not have been more excited to head to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS for some time to relax and reconnect.

With many kisses and hugs (and thank yous to my parents for watching the kids), we headed out the door for a quick road trip to the State next door.  The Beau Rivage sits majestically on the Gulf of Mexico, reaches 32 stories and employs more than 3,800 people.  Upon entering the hotel and casino, it is easy to see why this is one of the most popular attractions on the Gulf Coast.

First step: check in.  We were told to head to the VIP check in desk which was filled with complimentary water, tea and coffee.  The staff was very friendly and got us into our room in no time.  We headed up to the 25th floor to discover we had one heck of an amazing view!

Our room was very spacious and included a King size bed with double pillow top mattress, a 32″ flat screen TV, free Internet access and a sitting area with table and chairs.  I will say that the huge bed looked very inviting to this Mom who is constantly on the go (the thought of taking a non-interrupted nap was almost too hard to pass up).

Alas, hubby and I headed to our couples massage appointment at The Spa at Beau Rivage.  Now, I have had a few massages in my lifetime, but this was hubby’s first time.  His anxiety over it only made me giggle which made for quite an interesting appointment.  Our massage therapists were wonderful and made us both relax and enjoy the experience.  The Spa was beautiful and no detail was forgotten.  My favorite part was that there is a co-ed area with lounge chairs overlooking the pool where you can have room service bring you anything your heart desires.  And you know what?  It was quiet and no one asked me to take them to the potty or get them a drink.  #winning

After we were nice and relaxed, we decided to catch the Saints playoff game from our cozy room.  Since the Saints lost, I think all of the good from our massages went out the window and our blood pressure skyrocketed.  But it sure was nice to watch the ENTIRE game together without interruption.

All that screaming cheering during the game worked up an appetite so we headed to Stalla, one of the casual restaurants in Beau Rivage, for a bite to eat.  About the restaurant:

Stalla, Beau Rivage’s new Italian restaurant, creates just the right recipe for an evening of classic Italian food: a reasonably priced menu of gourmet selections paired with premium Italian wines and excellent, attentive service.

Walking into Stalla, you can smell the wood burning oven and immediately get a cozy feel from the decor and lighting.  The only thing I didn’t like about the restaurant is the seating for couples.  We were having such a great time reconnecting and talking about things we never have time to discuss.  But the seating for tables of two are along a wall and very close together making it very easy to hear the conversation next to you.  That being said, the food was A-MAZING.  Hubby and I opted for an appetizer of blue crab cakes which we devoured in a short amount of time.  I finally decided on the Beef Tenderloin which had a port wine reduction giving it a very unique and tasty flavor…almost sweet.  LOVE.

The next morning, we had a take-out breakfast from The Roasted Bean which had some great options including fresh fruit, yogurt, bagels, biscuit sandwiches and more.  We loved being able to enjoy a quiet breakfast while watching the calmness of the Gulf.  While we hated to leave, we did miss our kiddos and were ready to head home for some hugs and kisses. The Beau Rivage Biloxi was the perfect getaway for my husband and I.

Take a Bite Out of Mardi Gras with a Sucre King Cake {Giveaway}

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

Now that my New Orleans Saints are out of the Superbowl hunt (cue very sad music here), I can focus on the next big thing here in NOLA….Carnival! January 6th, also known as King’s Day, begins the Carnival Season which ends on March 4th or Fat Tuesday.

There are so many reasons why I love Carnival. The friends, the parades, the throws, and the music all top the list. But my favorite has to be the traditional New Orleans king cake.   Never heard of a King Cake?  The king cake is as rich in history as it is in flavor. Since the 1800s, New Orleanians have celebrated the beginning of the Carnival Season with a “King’s Cake” on Twelfth Night. A small plastic baby symbolizing the baby Jesus is inserted in the cake, and the reveler who finds it is said to have good fortune for the year. The recipient then continues the festivities by having another party and providing the next King Cake.

It’s a safe bet that most offices and schools in the New Orleans area will have a King Cake every Friday throughout the Carnival season.  It is also a safe bet to assume that I have eaten more than my fair share of this tasty treat in my 39 years of life.  A few years ago, I was introduced to the King Cake from Sucre and I have never looked back.

Voted “A Favorite” By The Times Picayune 2012 King Cake Contest and 2011 “BEST” King Cake by a Washington Post blind taste test. Sucre’s signature buttery danish pastry is sweetened by cinnamon and raw cane sugar then folded with a light layer of creole cream cheese. Serves 8-10 people.
One thing they forgot to mention on their website, purely unintentional of course, is that I crowned the Sucre King Cake best in New Orleans. Not only is it the prettiest King Cake I have ever seen, my taste buds love it, too!  Is your mouth watering yet?  If you are longing for a taste but don’t live in New Orleans, don’t worry!  A Sucre King Cake can be delivered right to your door!  Plus, one Experimental Mommy reader will win one right here.  Enter below:

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