Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Make Your Own Bubble Gum, Gummy Candy and Chocolates



We recently had one of the most fun craft nights ever, so much that I had no choice but to order these make at home kits, 2 more times since! Well, we did use a couple for a birthday gift and I am still hearing about how much fun they had with their family craft night!


I love giving craft kits, messy art supplies, for gifts. Anything that requires the whole family to sit down and spend time together. The messier, the better! It usually ends up being one of the favorite gifts and I started adding information for parents so they know where to purchase more. (If I don't, I'll start getting attacked via text message, email and in my Facebook inbox.)


Not only do craft nights promote quality time together, no need for screens, minimal technology, if any, learning to follow instructions, yes, there is also reading involved! But, craft nights always seem to give a boost of confidence. I don't know what could be better then giant smiles, hugs, squeals and your little one's shiny, happy faces when they realize that they just learned something new and they are so proud that they just created something from a few ingredients or supplies. It has to be one of the best feelings in the world!


Ok, so, we attempt to make our own everything, (almost everything), at least once. Anything from lotions to lip balms to cheese to now, gummies, chocolates and bubble gum.


I came across these kits after a Twitter party, with a few sponsors who create healthy snacks, candies, sweets, basically, everything kids love. and now we can love giving to them, since they are organic, all natural and free of dyes and all of the other icky stuff we don't want going in our bodies, especially not in our children's bodies!


We have been using Glee Gum at our house for a few years now. Glee Gum is aspartame free and Fair Trade! (Fair Trade is another certification I look for when deciding on purchases and products for our house.) I always check the Fair Trade website for any possible matches for cooking, baking, food, beverage and snack options.


Glee Gum comes in a variety of flavors and at a very reasonable price. We usually opt for a canister of the "Assorted Flavor Medley" but you can always purchase a canister of your favorite flavor! They have classic bubblegum flavor, spearmint, peppermint, tangerine, triple berry and cinnamon. They come in these cool cans that we are planning on repurposing, possibly into pencil/pen/colored pencil caddies.... not sure just yet.





Anyway, if you go to Gleegum.com, you can find all kinds of  nifty things to grab for your kiddos and stock up on some tiny sample packs of gum, a classic gumball machine or these neat reusable cans!


I don't know why I didn't know that, Gleegum, sold these do it yourself kits before that Twitter party. But, once The Gleeguy mentioned that they offer them, I had to go check it out! (By the way, if you are on Twitter and you communicate with brands, The Gleeguy will respond!) When a brand takes the time to have a conversation with us, reply to questions and comments, acknowledges your comments/concerns, shows up for a Twitter party and is happy to get to know us, that is the brand I am going to go after and find in stores or online, before others. I know they  are busy, I understand they sometimes get swamped with requests and at times, I'm sure it is stressful and hard to get back to every single person who tries to get their attention, so, the fact that they care, proves to me, they are a good company.


Ok, so, onto these exciting DIY kits!!








We voted and we like all 3 the same, so, I can't specify which one is the best, so, just grab all 3 :D Make sure you check their site for a special deal when you do buy all 3 kits!






The, Make Your Own Chocolate Kit comes with a couple cocoa beans for you to try! You also get a little instruction booklet that includes, The Story Of Chocolate. (Another reason I love DIY so much. They are always learning and they don't even know it!) With the chocolate kit, you will have enough to make 8 oz of chocolate. Oh and guess what else?? It's all natural, of course!






The next kit we adore, is the Make Your Own Gummies Kit. (Yep, all natural!) This was a bit messier, but only because I had 3 kids attempting to make their own molds with the included molding starch. A brilliant addition, however, I quickly found plastic molds that we had lying around and they worked perfectly! We made butterflies, hearts, Lego minifigures and a few animals, flowers and bugs. Of course, this is another learning adventure and it is easy enough for your kids to help. (You should be present of course, as with any DIY. You will need to heat up some ingredients and seaweed.) Yes, seaweed! Much healthier then what commercial gummies are made with!





Here is the seaweed coming out of the microwave.





Here is our big mess lol. This was just the beginning. So, I quickly decided to use premade molds ;)




Here are some of our pretty gummy candies!
We did dip some into the included sour mix for an extra kick. Our 11 year old coated all of his with sour mix, of course ;)







The Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit makes about 50 pieces of scrumptious bubble gum. (Plenty to share between a few kids!) This kit is also very easy for little ones to help with and you get to learn about the story of chicle! Everything you will need is included in this kit, except for the microwave. (Or stovetop, whichever you prefer.) That is one big bonus with all of the Glee Gum's Food For Thought products... everything you need is inside the box!


You just have to check out their product lineup! Bubblegum, Bubblegum machines, DIY kits, sugar free gum, gum pops, and don't forget to grab some penny gum with your order! My kiddos love the little 2 piece sample boxes we get with our order. (You pay just 8 cents for 8 packs!) These are perfect for when you're running errands and I know my kids love tiny things, lol so, tiny packs of gum are sought after here.


Have you ever tried any of their products?
What was your favorite?


Monday, April 6, 2015

Enter Hylands #MadeToMatter Giveaway!!

** I received Hylands products in return for sharing and posting about Hylands #MadeToMatter giveaway.**


What is the Made To Matter Giveaway?
Hyland's is one of the industry's leading natural, organic and sustainable brands that Target picked for their, "Made To Matter Handpicked By Target" product collection.






Thanks to Target and all of the other fabulous brands that were also handpicked by Target, Hyland's decided to partner up with them to create this super sweet giveaway for us!!


You can win 1 of 3 enormous prize packages, each worth $400!!
What are the prizes, you ask? Well, naturally, the winner will be receiving Hyland's products but besides that, check out what some of the other prizes are!!

Hyland’s:
Hyland’s Teething Tablets, 135 ct – ARV $9.19
Hyland’s Tiny Cold Tablets – ARV $12.99
Hyland’s Calm n Restful 4 Kids – ARV $8.39
Hyland’s Sniffles n Sneezes 4 Kids – ARV $8.39
Hyland’s Leg Cramps, 50 ct – ARV $9.99
Hyland’s Earache Drops – ARV $11.09 Total=$60.04
Paddy’s Bathroom:
Bubbly Stuff Bubble Bath Tangy Tangerines – ARV $8.99
Squirty Stuff Juicy Pineapples – ARV $6.99
Squirty Stuff Squishy Mangoes – ARV $6.99
Stuff for Shiny Hair Shampoo Squeezy Lemons – ARV $6.99
Stuff for Hands Squeaky Clean Lemons – ARV $6.99 Total = $36.95
Justin’s:
Maple Almond Butter Jar – ARV $11.99
Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Squeeze Packs (case of 10) ARV $11.99
Six (6) Dark Chocolate PB Cups – $1.99/each – ARV $11.94 Total = $35.92
SUJA:
One (1) Month Supply of Suja Essentials- ARV $200 Total = $200
Happy Family:
Six (6) 4-packs of Love My Veggies in 3 various flavors. $5.89/each ARV $35.34 Total=$35.34
SheaMoisture:
Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo – ARV $9.99
Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner- ARV $9.99
Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Body Wash – ARV $9.99
Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Infused Shea Body Butter – ARV $11.99 Total=$41.96
TOTAL ARV of each Gift Basket: $410.21

I have been a longtime bff with Hyland's, ever since our first baby was born, all the way back in 1992. We still use their products on a regular basis, for everybody in our house. I can't ever say enough kind words about Hyland's or recommend their products enough! 

SUJA was another very cool brand that I had the opportunity to meet when we went to, Orlando, Florida for Mom's Meet's Wow Summit, last year. I absolutely, positively, love their juices, smoothies and teas! (Oh, not only do they have some of the best tasting smoothies and juices you will ever try, they are certified organic and Non GMO!)


Happy Family is a leading, premium, organic brand, created and managed by none other then, moms! They offer a variety of products for your entire family. 


Paddy's Bathroom has a fun line of bath and body products for kids. (Organic and natural, yes, of course!) You will probably have a hard time, not using your little ones' Paddy's Bathroom products for yourself! 


I have had plenty of Justin's products in monthly subscription boxes, samples, even had to run for some of their dark chocolate peanut butter cups a few times and I will always be eating these little gems of heaven! 
Justin's products are all natural and yeah, they also make a swell line of nut butters too! Yummmmm!!


SheaMoisture is another generous brand who will be giving 3 very lucky people, a full line of their certified organic shea products! Yes, I have a fancy for this brand, I actually use their baby line for myself. I even make a lot of my own beauty and bath products but there are just some things I can't let go of and this addiction is one of them! They smell delightful!!


So, back to the giveaway! 
You have until April 13th at midnight, to enter! 
Yeah, you can enter right here ;)
Don't forget to share with your friends and family. (Who knows? Maybe if somebody you know, wins, they might share one or more of this ginormous prize package with you!)


Enter and share your little hearts away! Everybody will thank you and love you to pieces for it! This is a totally rad collection of some of the best from the best and I know if I won, it would feel like Christmas morning! (and I would even have to hug and squeeze the delivery man when he drops the prize package off.)


That's right, there are rules and such, just like with everything, so, if you want to read the mumbo jumbo, click here!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why I Am Eating Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal

** I received a free product, from BzzAgent and Quaker in exchange for my honest opinions. All opinions are my own. **





We are long time Quaker junkies here, I've been eating their yummy bars and cereals since I was a little kid. (Way to long ago!) I've been buying their products since I moved out on my own and started having my own children, because, I trust this brand.

I've been a BzzAgent member for a few years now and although I haven't received many campaigns, I am ecstatic when I receive an email with an invitation! So, naturally, the Quaker Steel Oats invite was an instant moment of joy!


I received coupons and oatmeal in my little BzzAgent kit and I went right to it! (Fruity oatmeal is a weakness of mine and I will partake, any time of the day and night!)


My pantry is typically stocked with Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Strawberries and Cream, Blueberries and Cream, Maple Brown Sugar, Apples and Cinnamon and for snacks, a rather large variety of granola bars and cookies! I think it's the wholesomy (is that a word?) goodness and the memories of being home as a kid and the ingredients that really make a pantry stocked with Quaker products, everybody's favorite place to be.


I didn't think that this new box of Blueberry and Cranberry Steel Cut Oats, (Oh yeah, it's INSTANT too!), would exceed my expectations. I mean, it's so hard to beat Strawberries and Cream!) I think I jumped into this review with a bit of a stubborn attitude, because, I have my favorite breakfast foods, oatmeal, cold cereal and yogurt with granola. and I didn't expect to make this oatmeal, a new favorite.


One thing that really won my heart, was the amount of real fruit pieces in just one pouch!! You are going to get one or more juicy (yes, seriously, they are juicy and pleasantly plump!), chunk of fruit in every single spoonful!

 


Yes, yes, this certainly made my eyeballs pop out! I always enjoyed the tiny strawberry pieces in my favorite Quaker oatmeal but, this, this was just so much more then what I expected! I know, fresh fruit, add your own, etc etc but when you're in a hurry or you don't have ripe, fresh, sweet berries on hand, this does the trick!


Before I forget, check out the ingredients list!!

 


Quaker has always been pretty exceptional with ingredients in my book, but, it's always a bonus when you can pronounce every single ingredient!


One thing about instant oatmeal, has always been the price. It seems to be slightly higher then what I would like to spend. But, with the availability of coupons and sales, I stock up and make sure we're solid and stocked until the next round comes up. I recently scored a few boxes of each of these babies for $1 a box after a sale, in ad coupons and manufacturer coupons!! (Each box has 8 single serve envelopes so, you get an awesome deal!)


So far, you can dig in to two flavors. Blueberry and Cranberry and Brown Sugar Cinnamon. I like them both but I always prefer fruity oatmeal. I am crossing my fingers for the possibility of new flavors and definitely more fruit flavors. Blueberry and Cranberry will do fine for now.


We all know by now that oatmeal is heart healthy. Indulging in Quaker Steel Cut Oatmeal, won't just make you feel all warm and cozy inside and fill you up, but, it may also help reduce the risk of heart disease.


What are some of your favorite Quaker products? Have you tried their new, Steel Cut Quick 3 Minute Oatmeal? What flavors are your top choice? Oh and don't forget to share any recipes or stir in additions you have ;) I would love to know what you think!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Have You Tried Kidfresh Foods? (My New Best Friend!)

** I received coupons from Kidfresh in exchange for my post and promoting. Receiving coupons for products does not change my honest opinions and statements about a brand. **






Sometimes being sneaky is a good thing and Kidfresh has totally succeeded with their sneakiness!
So much that, even my husband could not tell the difference when he grabbed a handful of the kid's Super Duper Chicken Nuggets from their plate!


I can almost hear you say, "Tell me more! Tell me more about how I can make sure my picky eaters get their veggies!!" First, I have to say, I have a very odd mix of picky eaters. I have one who only likes healthy foods and snacks BUT no veggies. I have another who will try her best to eat junk, (even though we have mostly all healthier options of snack foods and things, she will still manage to try and find those last morsels of not so healthy foods. But, she will eat veggies! Them we have another who will eat a good variety but goes through phases where he doesn't want to eat any fruits or veggies and even when he does eat his vegetables, it's usually only corn and potatoes :/


I first met Kidfresh at the Moms Meet Wow Summit last November, in Florida. They had one of the busiest booths in the whole place!! A few of the sweetest reps were there with books, coupons, information and of course, a microwave and lots and lots of Kidfresh samples. (I think I went back for a few sample cups of mac and cheese just on the first day there!)


To be honest, I have tried hiding veggies in food before. Whether on my own or through a product that was already done for me, and I have yet to be good enough at being sneaky about this and win this constant battle. I often try the products first and end up grabbing a couple packages just to see what will happen. Even when I don't tell anybody, somebody, can always tell that there isn't something, "quite right". I don't know how many recipes, tricks and tips I have found, especially over the last few years, online, in blogs and yes, I add lots in pasta sauce but we can only eat that so many days a week. I most recently tried paying the kids in "Behavior Bucks" (Our version of money for younger kids, which they get to "spend" at the infamous "Behavior Bucks" store of course!), just to try veggies and some fruit I threw in the deal. It lasted a few nights but I ended up more "broke" and they really only had small nibbles taken from each "new thing" they were to try. Foiled again.


When I met, Kidfresh in November, I had big, big plans to rush back home to Pennslvania and stock the freezers with this fabulous invention! But, when I got back home, I had a hard time finding their products closeby. (Not their fault. I am in the middle of nowhere and that's just how it is.) I was ready to make the long journey to the "nearest Target store, to find Kidfresh when I checked their website and tried one last time..... YES! Score! Giant Foods was on the list and better yet, the closest Giant Food store to me, as now on the list! (Only 35 miles away!)





I don't know about you but I bet most of your kids go crazy for chicken nuggets. I know mine do and they could probably live off of them if we let them! So, needless to say, when I found these and yes, they were well stocked, I think I took all but the last one in the freezer!


Not only do they offer the Super Duper Chicken Nuggets with hidden veggies, but I fund so many other typical kid favorites and I took a few of each of those as well! Now, my store only had about 6 of these options, (I am hoping they soon get the rest in stock!) But, even with 6, I am more than satisfied with the variety of choices (and hidden veggies! Shhh! Tehehe!!)


Kidfresh offers this fantastic variety that is sure to satisfy ANY picky kid, no matter how picky!
Multi Serve Meals:
Momma Mia Cheesy Pizza
Mighty Meaty Chicken Meatballs
Fun-Tastic Fish Sticks
Super Duper Chicken Nuggets

Single Serve Meals:
Wagon Wheels Mac & Cheese
Totally Twisted Pasta & Meatballs
Rainbow Rice & Chicken
Spaghetti Loops & Meat Sauce
Muy Cheesy Quesadillas
Easy Cheesy Ravioli
Muy Bueno Kids Burritos


Oh and just in case you didn't realize, YES, all of these tasty meals are frozen.
The following text is taken directly from the Kidfresh website, because, I could not have said this better myself.
Freezing is actually one of the best ways to preserve nutrients and flavors while extending shelf life. That’s why all our meals are frozen immediately after being cooked, so that they keep all the good stuff for a long time


I should also add this other very important information that I stole from the Kidfresh website (Shhhh!)
Kids don’t eat enough veggies and that’s a problem because they naturally provide an amazing amount and variety of key nutrients, vitamins and fiber that are essential to growth. That’s why all Kidfresh meals are prepared with hidden veggies, providing up to 33% of a child’s daily needs.



Kidfresh offers 100% all natural ingredients, great taste kids will love, BPA free & green packaging, hidden veggies, best kid's nutrition and Kidfresh is socially responsible! Kidfresh is just one of those brands that I personally trust, love and I will have a special shelf in my freezer and my heart for them, always!



Oh, I forgot, to add these pictures and share our personal review of these yummy meals!


Let's just say, I have been back to that store at least once every 2 weeks, sometimes once per week. Yes, I cleared the Kifresh section of the freezer each time lol. I have 4 kids, 3 at home, (ages 4, 8 & 11) and they can't get enough of Kidfresh pizza or chicken nuggets!


I'm impressed because they are very easy to make, even easy enough for my 11 year old and they don't taste like they came from the microwave! I'm not a big microwave fan and rarely use it but, now, it has been working full time, to keep up with my secret weapon, HIDDEN VEGGIES!!






Saturday, March 14, 2015

No Pain No Gain?



It's funny how pan/chronic pain works. Sometimes, a new layer of pain just hits you out of nowhere and you wish for it to subside a bit or just go away for good but it usually always just sneaks up on you again. (If it disappears.) It's like having a new "demon" and just when you think you can not handle anymore, BOOM! Here comes more pain layers, just to prove you wrong unsure emoticon
Your first thoughts are, "When will this go away?", "Why is this happening?", "I can't live like this!"
and then, you go to get your xrays, mri's, ct scans... sometimes they come back and say maybe it's just getting worse. Maybe it's just hitting the next level. Or, oh, there seems to be more going on in there. Your plantar fasciia ruptured, (or fill in the blank with whatever bone/tendon/joint/tissue).... and the horrific words, "There really isn't anything we can do but help manage the pain."
Depression sets in and you hate yourself and everything makes you sad. Your kids say, "Mommy, I thought they were going to fix your ankles and feet so you can run again?" and you just collapse and hobble to the bathroom to cry without anybody looking.
That typically lasts for a few days, maybe a week.
Then you start to get stubborn and refuse to accept it. You Google search as much as you can, is there anybody out there who can fix me?
You laugh and say it doesn't matter because it isn't going to hold you down and you refuse to accept that this is just the way it will be.
Then, you try and focus on the fact that, "Somebody is always worse off." and you even see FB posts of those who are worse off. It's not that it helps you feel better. I don't wish for anybody to suffer. But, it puts my life into perspective and reminds me to stay strong.
So, you end up realizing finally, that you're not going to get better. This is it. Meet the new you.

 "Hello, new pain. It's nice to meet you. I hope to gain something out of our time together. Possibly you will teach me new things or make me aware of something I never knew?"
No, usually the new pain doesn't answer. But, it'll always let you know it's there. The throbbing, burning, searing, electrical shock, stinging, cramping, cracking, popping, pounding signals that always lets you know, "You're still alive!"
Sure, there will be days when you just want to sit and cry. There will be days you wish you could wear shoes, take your kids to the playground, play soccer in the yard with your kids, walk through a store without needing a cart or shelves to keep your balance and all of those other fun things other people get to do.
There will be days when you just want to hide and not have to go outside only to be stared at because of your enormous, elephant legs, or your huge ankles or the stupid clothing you have to wear because everything hurts when it touches your skin.
Then you start wishing you could buy the newest, brightest sneakers that came out, shave your legs regularly and maybe walk like a regular person does.
But, after a few bouts of crying, wishing, hoping, praying, you have no choice but to get right back up and fight.
There aren't any choices anymore. You just HAVE to deal with it and there isn't anything anybody can do to take it away.
Just accept that this is you and count your blessings now.
It makes me laugh when people ask, "Why would you get such a stupid tattoo? Why on earth would anybody want Pinhead on their back?" LOL well, after laughing and replying with some smartass comment about how it is none of their business, if the person is still listening or shows some kind of interest...(this maybe happened 3 times LOL) then, i'll start to explain the reason. (Not that it's any of their business, but sometimes people are just curious.)
 I always did love horror movies, especially Hellraiser. Pinhead has always been the coolest horror dude out there lol, (to me at least.)
I always thought it would be the neatest tattoo ever, (and I can't wait to be able to get finished!) but, since my dilemma with chronic pain/RSD/bones/tendons whatever else is on my "list" on my medical papers, the movies, the story, the meanings behind some of my favorite Pinhead quotes, lol, made more sense. Maybe they are just my meanings, since some of the meanings seem to have changed to more inspiring things, that fit my battle to a T.
As stupid as it sounds to people, it has helped to inspire me and helps my outlook on life and where I am and who I am today.
I used to laugh at the Nike quote, "No pain, no gain" but over the past 10 years, I've found that to also have new meaning too. I don't know if Nike meant to do that. But they did. Even if I can't wear their sneakers lol.
So, now, I'm in this place, sure it's very painful and it hurts in more ways than one. But, I accepted it and will focus on gaining more strength, mentally and physically. I found new hope, maybe it's ridiculous.But, I will be focusing more on my left side, hoping for some surgical procedures, injections, etc and the left can be my crutch for now. Well, when and if I can manage to get it on track.
I will not sit in a wheelchair just yet. I firmly believe I have millions more steps to take and I won't give in to these disorders/ortho issues, at all.
I know there are many, many people who have no choice and I also know there are people who are bed ridden and I am very sorry for them. I wouldn't wish any of this on my worst enemy.
All I know, is that for me, I won't go down without a fight and I will continue to make whoever it is who keeps throwing these hurdles at me, really angry.
I also won't let sadness and depression get the best of me. I just don't even have time for that, at all. Sure, I am sad quite a few times a day and some days are better then others but, I can't let go of that thread of sanity that connects me to the rest of the universe.