Pampers Salutes Most Valuable Dads with Eli Manning

What a whirlwind the past week has been for my family!  Over Father’s Day weekend, but before our Disney trip, we were whisked away to New York City to honor our Most Valuable Dad courtesy of Pampers.  My husband is an exceptional Father and surrounded by women at home, is the first to get on the floor and play princess with his two girls.  So on Father’s Day, he deserved a little manly pampering of his own.

Pampers has joined forces with Eli Manning, a new Dad himself, to honor the active role Dad plays in raising their little Miracles.  Once we landed in New York City, my family enjoyed a day of sightseeing including a subway ride to hop on the Staten Island Ferry.  My husband, a history teacher, loved playing tour guide to our two daughters as we sailed by the Statue of Liberty.

On Father’s Day, we were escorted to CitiField and were so excited to see our very first professional baseball game.  We were honored to be able to meet and interview Eli Manning, two time SuperBowl winning Quarterback and NOLA Native (I actually interviewed his Mom last year)!  To start the game, Eli Manning and his daughter, Ava, threw out the first pitch while MVDs where honored throughout the day.  I loved that the scoreboard included fun facts about the players’ Dads and several videos were shown carrying special messages for Dad from members of the armed forces serving overseas.  Although the Mets lost, we had a great time cheering on the home team with our giant foam finger!

Pampers isn’t done celebrating Dads this month! Check out their new website or visit them on Facebook to learn how to win some great prizes.  Ten Grand Prize winners will receive a $300 gift card which can be used for tickets to watch your favorite team and/or to purchase your favorite team’s merchandise plus a Little Tot T-Ball set valued at $19.99 plus tax!

How did you honor your Most Valuable Dad this Father’s Day? 

As a member of the Pampers Baby Board, my travel including airfare and hotel as well as game tickets was provided free of charge.  All opinions remain 100% mine own.

Louisiana Children’s Museum Debuts the Talk & Play Center

With the kids off of school, my husband and I try to schedule fun and educational activities in order to spend quality time together.  However,  it’s summertime in New Orleans and it’s hot, y’all.  We find ourselves looking for as many air conditioned venues as possible and one of our go-to spots is the Louisiana Children’s Museum  located at 420 Julia Street.  My girls love visiting the museum especially to “make groceries” in the Little Winn-Dixie Grocery Store.

As you can imagine, we were all thrilled to be invited to take a sneak peek at the brand new Talk & Play Center last week.  Inspired by the children’s book “The Little Cajun Red Riding Hood” by Berthe Amoss, the New Orleans native and renowned cardboard artist Jacques Duffourc created a “green” space made entirely of recycled cardboard and repurposed exhibit pieces.

The Talk & Play Center is not only visually appealing, but aims to strengthen the early childhood needs of language and literacy development.  For children ages birth to eight, the second floor exhibit features the four key building blocks for language development: vocabulary, storytelling, phonetics and deciphering.

My daughters were both attracted to the Sapling Stage where they could use their imaginations by creating a puppet show.  I was amazed at how outgoing my normally shy children were after they donned a puppet!  My seven year old loved the Story Porch where loads of books are available along with quiet places to read while my four year old preferred to cook a good ol’ Cajun meal (complete with crawfish and crabs of course) in the Cajun Cottage.  However, my girls (and even my hubby) raved about the tunnel through the Cypress roots which they navigated with provided flashlights!

Check out a complete schedule of activities at the Louisiana Children’s Museum online or call (504) 523-1357.  Admission is $8.00 for adults and children over age 1.

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  I was invited to attend this event free of charge however no compensation was received for writing this post.  All opinions remain 100% honest.

Ahi Tuna Salad Melt Recipe from SeaBest Seafood: Delicious and Easy!

As a Mom of two girls who also works outside of the home full time, dinners must be quick and easy.  Because we live in the New Orleans area, we definitely love our seafood.  But with so many excellent seafood restaurants on just about every corner, we rarely cook seafood at home.  To be honest, preparing seafood can be very time consuming…time that I just do NOT have.

I know that frozen seafood can make the process much easier, but the words frozen and seafood are never put into the same sentence in New Orleans.  So when I was invited to the SeaBest Seafood event, to say that I was a skeptic would have been an understatement.  But on my never-ending quest to find easy meal solutions, I was definitely curious.

About SeaBest Seafood:

In 1950, the Frisch family opened a small, retail fresh fish store on West Beaver Street in Jacksonville, Florida called Beaver Street Fisheries. Together with their mother, brothers Alfred and Hans Frisch worked around the clock to expand their business. With a single truck, they procured a variety of fish from both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts by night, delivering their product fresh to Jacksonville area hotels, restaurants and grocery stores by day.

Over six decades later, the family-owned business that began as a street-side shop with just a handful of help has grown into a company employing over 400 dedicated men and women. During our growth, the Frisch family also introduced the Sea Best brand, a name that speaks to our longtime commitment of putting the highest quality seafood on America’s tables for the best price.

As I walked into the venue, two appetizers greeted us: the Buffalo Shrimp Dip and the Scallop Egg Rolls.  Both were delicious!  As the event began, we were treated to a cooking demonstration of three entrees that would not only please our families, but would be easy to cook, too!  The one that I liked the most was the Ahi Tuna Melt.  Check out the recipe below:

[gmc_recipe 11301]

All of the dishes we tried were absolutely delicious and tasted fresh.  Watching how easy it was to prepare seafood we normally do not purchase was definitely was an eye-opener.  I have the confidence in SeaBest Seafood to step outside of my comfort zone and try new seafood dishes.

Find out where you can purchase SeaBest and get a coupon, too!

Hop Over to the BRAVO! Bunny Brunch

Every Easter when I was a child, I remember my Mom taking my brother and I to our local mall to take pictures with the Easter Bunny (we generally had to bribe my younger brother to smile with promises of an ICEE).  Now that I have my own children, I want to pass on the tradition of dressing in your Sunday Best and heading to visit the Bunny.  However, given the fact that both of my kids generally run screaming from Santa, I had little hope that visiting the Bunny in the mall would end happily.

So, when I first heard of the Bunny Brunch at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana, I was a bit hesitant.  It sounded absolutely fabulous (I have had the delicious food at BRAVO! before and was excited to learn that they would now be serving brunch), but didn’t want my girls to disturb the other patrons if they were scared by the Bunny.  However, the lure of the food won out and we gave it a try last weekend.

We had reservations and were immediately seated.  The girls were given coloring sheets to enter into a contest and a small bunny bag filled with candy.  After receiving our drink orders, the buffet was opened!  We could select from french toast (my favorite!), scrambled eggs, bacon, fruit, sausage, and potatoes which were all delicious.

Throughout the meal, the Easter Bunny made several appearances as she hopped around the restaurant interacting with guests.  To my surprise, my daughters LOVED the Bunny.  The Bunny was very respectful of fearful kids and did not approach.  The experience allowed my daughters to approach the Bunny on their own time which made all the difference.  After a bit, the Easter Bunny sat down on a bench surrounded by pretty decorations for guests to take pictures.  What made the day even better is that BRAVO! donated 20% of the proceeds to March of Dimes!

We had a wonderful time at the BRAVO! Brunch.  The tickets to the event were $10.95 for adults and $5.95 for kids 10 and under…very reasonable.  BRAVO! Brunch will be available on Easter Sunday and every Sunday until 3pm.

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


Earn Money for Your School with Box Tops for Education!

My oldest daughter is now in 1st grade at a local elementary school.  Earlier this year, I caught her rummaging through our pantry with a pair of scissors and many cut up boxes on the floor.  My first instinct was to be furious that she destroyed our cereal and Ziploc boxes, but I suppressed the anger and calmly asked what on Earth possessed her to cut up our boxes?  She sweetly smiled and said, “I’m earning money for my school, Mommy.” Hard to be mad, right?

Box Tops logo with website

I do remember hearing something about turning in Box Tops at school but as a busy Mom, I had little time to add this to my agenda and didn’t really know why it was so important.  Ironically, I was invited to attend Box Top University in New Orleans last week with two of my favorite NOLA bloggers (Crawfish Tales and NOLA Mommy) to learn all about why the program is both important and effective.

For starters, Box Tops (see the above logo) are located on the boxes of the products you know and love such as Cherrios, Kleenex, Ziploc, and Juicy Juice to name a few.  If you shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club you can earn multiple box tops for each product or you can earn Box Tops by shopping online from the BTFE Marketplace from retailers such as Ann Taylor LOFT, Barnes and Nobles and eBags.

photo courtesy of Linzy at Crawfish Tales

You’ve collected some Box Tops…now what?  Bundle them up and send them to the Box Top Coordinator at your child’s school.  The Coordinator will sort and bundle the Box Tops into groups of fifty (keeping the Bonus Box Tops separate) and mail them to General Mills.  Did you know there is an employee at General Mills who actually counts all those box tops?

Your school will earn about $0.10 for each Box Top collected.  Don’t think ten cents can make a difference?  In 2011, more than 90,000 schools participated and earned $67 million dollars!  In fact, red Bird Mission School in Kentucky earned over $20,000 for their school alone!

After attending Box Top University, I was amazed at the creativity of the Coordinators at our New Orleans area schools!  They organize everything from pizza parties to “Be the Principal for a Day” events in order to get their students and teachers involved.  With so many of our NOLA schools still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, it was very inspirational to see how the Box Top program has literally resurrected some extracurricular activities at damaged schools.

The Box Tops for Education program has made a huge difference in the lives of local students…are you ready to join them?  Learn more and enroll soon!

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  While I received a gift card and sample products for my time and effort, all opinions remain 100% my own.

It’s a “Beary Special” Build-A-Bear Birthday Party!

Why is it that when we are kids, time moves so very slow?  But now that I am a Mom, I can’t seem to slow time down enough.  Earlier this month, my baby girl turned four years old.  FOUR!  This year, she started preschool and could not have been more excited to have her first “school friends” party.  I was not at all surprised that she requested a Build-A-Bear party given the fact that we have mounds of bears and accessories already at home.

Inviting friends was easy!  Build-A-Bear provides many different customizable party invitation templates right on their website.  I printed the invites on photo paper and they looked fabulous.  The day before the party, I headed to our local Build-A-Bear Workshop to meet with our party host and get a run down of what would happen at the party.  She was incredibly helpful!

The day of the party, we arrived about 10 minutes before our party time (no set up required!).  Our party host gave my daughter a ribbon to wear and I got a name badge to identify me as the “Party Mom.”  As soon as our guests arrived, our party host had the kids sit in a circle as she provided name tags for each child.  For our party, each child had $30 to spend which allowed them to pick just about any animal in the store.  Of course, the smaller amount spent on an animal left more to spend on clothes and accessories.

Once the animals were selected, we were ready to stuff!  The party host marched the kids to the back of the store singing and skipping.  The kids each selected a satin heart and made secret birthday wishes for my daughter before placing the hearts inside her bear (this was incredibly sweet to watch).  A store associate played games with the kids as each child had a turn to make their bear.  It was such fun to see the kids connect with their new stuffed friend!

After the bears were brought to life, it was time to give them a bath and pick out clothes and accessories.  The kids had a blast pretending to clean the bears and get them all “dolled up.”  In our group, we had princess bears, summertime bears, superhero bears and even a Miss Piggy bear!

Each child had a chance to name their bears before receiving a birth certificate and a “house” box for their new friend.  Once everyone was finished, the party host led the kids in singing Happy Birthday to my daughter and even allowed her to ring the store bell.  At the very end, my daughter received a special bear for her party guests to autograph!  This was truly a “beary” magical birthday for my daughter, Aubrie.

Interested in hosting your own Build-A-Bear Party?  Parties start at just $10 a child, but you can use the handy online party calculator to estimate the costs.  Check out all the party perks and make a reservation today!

As a member of Build-A-Bear’s “Friendly 15”, ten party guests were covered by Build-A-Bear.  No monetary compensation was received.  All opinions remain my own.

I am 1 of the Friendly 15 at Build-A-Bear!

I couldn’t be more pleased to announce that I will be joining the Friendly 15 at Build-A-Bear!  In 2010, I had the honor of meeting the brand’s CEB (Chief Executive Bear), Maxine Clark, at the Disney Social Media Moms Conference who was incredibly inspirational and made me love Build-A-Bear even more.  Now, I get to go “behind the stuffing” and share with you upcoming promotions, new products, giveaways, and even contribute on their new company blog!

Over the next year, I will be sharing why Friends Count in order to help Build-A-Bear celebrate 15 years of success and 100 million furry friends.  To kick off my journey, I thought I would share my own friendly fifteen.  These are the people that I am lucky enough to be surrounded with on a daily basis.

  • My Hubby:  How many people are lucky enough to say they married their grade school sweetheart?
  • My Mom and Dad: I was lucky enough to have a good support system right from the start.
  • Jennifer V: My very first friend.  The Godmother of my youngest daughter.  Sister I never had.
  • Jennifer K: Been there through thick and thin, bad boyfriends (can you say band-aid man?) and high school proms.  My Maid of Honor and one of the first to hold my oldest daughter in the NICU.
  • Anie: We met in high school and I watched her fulfill her dream of becoming a Doctor.  I trust her with the lives of my children.  One of the strongest women I know.
  • Renee D:  My high school “little sister” turned real life sister-in-law.  I am constantly in awe of her determination, intelligence and courage (and a wee bit jealous of her travels).
  • Maureen: More than a boss.  A mentor, a role model, a friend.
  • Renee B: I never expected to find a best friend at work. She makes the day more bearable.
  • Cecelia: Who would have thought that an online friendship would turn into one that I can’t live without?
  • Eric and Nikki:  He once tried to feed me dog food, but I love him anyway.  And I am so happy that she married my brother so she can keep him in line.
  • Beth: My cousin turned little sister…and great writer here at Experimental Mommy.
  • Mike and Tammy: My husband and I are so blessed to have friends that are truly family.
  • Sweet tea: It always makes me feel better when I am down.
  • My dance crew (Missy, Tracy, Kathy, Erin, Nicole, and Abby): Dance has been such a huge part of my life.  I cherish every memory.  And please don’t be offended that you are listed after Sweet Tea…totally coincidental.
  • My blogging buddies:  This blog would not be what it is today without the encouragement and guidance of many bloggers who I am lucky to call friends.  You know who you are!

Help me celebrate the Friendly 15!  What are some of your Most Valuable Friendships?

Is 2012 the Year Your Blog Becomes “Visible?”

Reflecting on the achievements I have made with Experimental Mommy in the past year, my mind started to wander on all that I have created with my business partner, Cecelia, and just how far we have come as product review bloggers in the Mom blog space.  When we began over four years ago, we had no idea that we would be able to connect with brands on a deeper level and hold ongoing relationships leading to brand ambassadorships.  In turn, we have been able to bring valuable information and remarkable giveaways to our readers!

In 2011, Cecelia and I hosted the inaugural Reviewer’s Retreat Blog Conference in order to help other product review bloggers perfect their skills and rise to the top of their game…stand out from the crowd.  When we read Jennifer James’ recent post on Mom Blogger Club entitled “15 Mom Blogging Predictions of 2012,” we were elated to see number 13:

Blogging Tiers: As hard as this is to write the truth is the chasm between the mom bloggers who are the top bloggers and those who aren’t will continue to widen. To stand out from the crowd you will have to take actionable steps to work with brands – if that’s your goal. That means networking at conferences and events, going for and landing conference speaking gigs, learning SEO (even if just a little), and writing exceptional content.”

Jennifer’s annual predictions get a lot of attention and being one of the industry’s leaders generally makes her predictions spot on.  It was also nice to see Janice Croze of 5 Minutes for Mom post on the topic at Babble’s Mom Crunch, “In fact, I agree with every one of Jennifer’s predictions and believe that 2012 will be an incredible year of opportunity for savvy, hard working, visible mom bloggers.” See a theme?  VISIBLE.  It’s time to jump ahead and take a risk.

Reviewer's Retreat 2011

Is working with brands a goal for your blog?  Are you ready to take “actionable steps” to achieve your goal?  If you answered yes, then Reviewer’s Retreat is the place for you!  Cecelia and I will be hosting the second annual Reviewer’s Retreat on June 3-5th at Great Wolf Lodge in Charlotte, NC.  In fact, we are happy to announce that you can come learn from Jennifer James herself during her keynote discussion and mingle with our title sponsor, Pampers!

At Reviewer’s Retreat, you will be able to take part in hands-on workshops to learn more about pitching brands, video product reviews (from the incomparable Molly Gold), search engine optimization, starting a LLC, peer collaboration, and landing those sought after ambassadorships to name a few.  There will also be ample time for meeting brand representatives directly and learning about what they look for when choosing bloggers for long term relationships.  And did I mention, the Conference is at a water park?!?

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to grab an Early Bird ticket (ends February 29th), a deep discount at Mom Spark, and apply for a scholarship!  It’s time to take your review blog to the next level and become one of those “visible” bloggers!  It’s time for YOU!


Top 6 “Mom-umental” Moments of 2011

As I counted down the seconds until the year 2012 arrived, I became reflective on all that 2011 brought to Experimental Mommy.  There certainly were some Mom-umental Moments and I thought I would share them with you!

6.  Attending KRAFT’s BlogEats Conference:  Even though I can’t successfully boil water or make an ice cube, I found myself standing in the world famous KRAFT kitchen attempting to make recipes from delicious KRAFT products.  It was so much fun and I even got to ride in the Wienermobile!

5.  Meeting Drew Brees:  In November, I was invited to attend a press event to unveil the new Vick’s VapoRub commercial starring Drew Brees and his son, Baylon.  Putting my arm around him and taking a picture was definitely a “pinch me” moment for this Saints fan!

4.  Networking at BlogHer San Diego:  This was my first trip to San Diego and I fell in love with the City.  Simply gorgeous.  On top of the scenery, BlogHer was spent networking with blogger buddies and brands I love.

3.  Helping St. Michael’s Special School with my Pampers Miracle Mission:  I am honored to be on the Pampers Baby Board and was even more thrilled to be given $1,000 to help a charity in my own hometown.  Purchasing supplies needed by the school and delivering to the students was an experience I will never forget.

2.  Rediscovering myself at Callaway Gardens:  This was a family vacation that will live in infamy!  From ziplining to doing a backflip on a trapeze, I conquered many of my fears and learned to believe in myself.

Cecelia, Stacey (Mom Central) and I

1.  Successfully planning and hosting Reviewers Retreat 2011:  Easily one of my best accomplishments to date!  My business partner (and friend), Cecelia and I began the first and only blog conference geared specifically towards building mutually beneficial relationships between product review bloggers and brands.  It went so well, that we are holding Reviewer’s Retreat 2012 in Charlotte, NC on June 3-5th!  Early bird tickets will be on sale through February 29th.  Join us!



What were your “Mom-umental” Moments of 2011?

My Experience at the KRAFT BlogEats Conference {Giveaway}

Ok, let’s be real.  If you read this site, you know that I am not known for my cooking skills….or baking skills….or even boiling a good pot of water.  But this past June, KRAFT took a chance on me (it was a HUGE leap of Faith on their part) and asked me to create a regional sandwich to be featured in the KRAFT Outstandwich campaign.  I decided to go with a traditional New Orleans French Fry Po-boy…how can you mess that up, right?

Now, a few short months later, I found myself headed to the BlogEats conference at the KRAFT Kitchens in Chicago….O.M.G.  In fact, my husband laughed when he learned that I was invited.  I think his exact words were, “I hope then don’t expect you to cook something edible.”  Despite the lack of confidence on the homefront, I boarded a plane and left for BlogEats, a two day conference filled with cooking instruction, food photography tips, and product sampling.

The first night, I had a chance to meet up with the other 13 bloggers in attendance as well as the great people that made this event a reality.  We were treated to an excellent dinner at Maggiano’s which was wonderful (we even had chocolate covered bacon for dessert!) and then left to get some rest at the Doubletree.

After a delicious breakfast featuring Monkey Bread, the next day began with a recipe challenge in the KRAFT Kitchens.  My heart stopped instantly.  I have to create and make a dish right here in front of everyone?  I might die.  Thankfully, I learned that we would be broken into teams….AMEN!  My team was wonderful and I instantly volunteered to be the note-taker…I am good with a pencil.

While this challenge was a ton of fun (who knew?), my favorite part was learning about all of the new products coming down the line.  As a Mom who works outside of the home, I am all for easy meal solutions.  I was excited to learn about the KRAFT Sizzling Salads, a kit that comes with a sauce to cook your meat and a paired dressing for the salad.  We had the opportunity to try the Southwest Chicken variety and it was totally restaurant quality.  Delicious and Easy.

Another one of my favorite products is the Velveeta Cheesy Skillets.  We actually had the opportunity to make the Ultimate Cheeseburger Mac in the KRAFT Kitchens…and get this…..I did it (and yes, it was edible).  Four different varieties are available, but my kids’ favorite is the Nacho Supreme.  One meal, one skillet….what’s not to love?

I had an absolutely amazing time at the KRAFT BlogEats Conference.  I learned so much and walked away with a sense of kitchen confidence that I didn’t have before….and did I mention that I got to ride in the Weinermobile? SCORE!


Want to try some of my favorite KRAFT products?  One winner will receive this HUGE prize pack:

Kraft Foods Food & Family Holiday 2011 Magazine, Chips Ahoy! Chewy Gooey fudge-filled cookies, Ritz Bits Kickin’ Cheddar sandwich crackers, Snackwell’s Fudge-drizzled Caramel Popcorn, Wheat Thins Smoky BBQ snacks, Wheat Thins Sweet Cinnamon snacks, VELVEETA Cheesy Skillets Dinner Kit, Kraft Sizzling Salads Chicken Caesar Dinner Kit, Planter’s Peanut Butter creamy and crunchy flavors, JELL-O Halloween Brain Mold, JELL-O Jigglers Halloween Mold, JELL-O Jigglers Holiday Mold, Assorted flavors of JELL-O gelatin dessert and JELL-O instant pudding including NEW Candy Cane and Gingerbread pudding flavors, JELL-O Halloween Recipe Booklet, JELL-O Holiday “Treat Explosion” Recipe Booklet, Holiday JELL-O Jigglers recipe, JELL-O Jiggle-It app download, Crystal Light mocktail drink mixes, Kool-Aid Scary Blackberry Ghoul-Aid drink mixes, Coupon for one (1) package of any OSCAR MAYER Selects Hot Dogs, Coupon for one (1) package of any OSCAR MAYER Carving Board Meats

Whoa….that’s a LOT!

How to Enter:

1. Tell me which KRAFT product in this prize pack you are most looking forward to receiving!

Additional entries:

1. Blog about this giveaway and link to The Not-So-Blog (10 extra entries).

2. Follow me (@BridgetteLA) on Twitter and Tweet this giveaway. Every time you tweet you get an additional entry! Limited to 10 a day, please. (You must have over 50 Twitter followers to qualify for unlimited entries!)

3. Subscribe to my blog.

4. Become a Fan of The Not-So-Blog on Facebook.

5. Place my blog button on your sidebar.

Contest ends at 11:59pm CST on November 25th. Prizes not claimed in 72 hours will be forfeited. Open to U.S. Residents only.

This post is the opinion of the Experimental Mommy.  Others may have a differing opinion of the product.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest. Travel and hotel accommodations were provided by KRAFT but no additional compensation was received.