Author Archives: Jen

She {hearts} Project Backpack by Supergoop!

Sun protection is something that many parents take pretty seriously, and with good reason too. With skin cancer rates on the rise, we have to be careful of the harmful rays on our children’s delicate skin. As a Mom to a new kindergartener myself, I have realized that my hands are tied when it comes to certain things, like making sure my son gets sunscreen before spending a long amount of time out in the sun, while at school. Applying sunscreen before he hops on the bus is a great idea, but with recess not scheduled until hours later, the effectiveness isn’t as strong as it could be, when applying it 10-15 minutes before heading out those school doors and onto the playground. Imagine when Field Day comes around, with hours spent outdoors; that will be a time I will truly worry.

Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard came up with a solution that I couldn’t be happier about, Project Backpack. Her daughter came home from school with a note in first grade, saying that any sunscreen found in backpacks would be discarded. Sunscreens are regulated

by the FDA as over-the-counter drugs, therefore they are prohibited from schools in America. The only state that currently allows suncreen usage in schools is California, and Holly has been advocating to include more states and schools with her innovative advocacy.

What I love is that you can nominate a school to receive  backpack-sized sunscreen for all students at no cost courtesy of Supergoop!. The partnered school will agree to host a forum on sunscreen usage and sun protection and the teachers and faculty will encourage use of sun protection before recess or time spent outdoors. Supergoop! believes that children that learn about sun protection at an early age are more likely to form healthy skin habits for life (and I couldn’t agree more!).

I just nominated my son’s school and applied to be a Supergoop! Project Backpack Ambassador this morning. I can’t wait to get word on when I can start becoming actively involved in helping educate and aid in the protection of my son’s classmates at school.

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Would you like to nominate a school or become a Project Backpack Ambassador?

Visit the Supergoop! Facebook page for more information on sun protection and Project Backpack.

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She {hearts} Metamorphic Toys

Do you write “love notes” to your family? You will often find me tucking away a cute little note in my son’s lunch box or my husband’s suitcase to remind them just how much I love them and can’t wait to see them again. So when I got a chance to review the Metamorphic Toys Everythingland Mailbox, I knew this would be an easier way to leave those little notes, and also get them involved in writing them as well.

Metamorphic Toys, the maker of Eco-Friendly Educational Art Toys must have been after my heart upon it’s conception. We are a house full of creative souls and unique artists, but we also like to keep things clean and simple too. The Everythingland Mailbox comes bare as can be, a raw and blank canvas of Made in the USA recycled materials. I love how my kids were able to exercise their minds by discussing how we were going to decorate and personalize the mailbox, before ever opening a jar of paint or holding a marker in their hands. They talked about their favorite colors and shapes, and what was going to go where on the mailbox. They even spent a lot of time picking which of the Eco-Art U-Stick’Em’s they were going to use. My 3 and 5 year old didn’t come up with a very cohesive theme, but they did work together and the end product was a creation of their own imaginative minds.

Now, the mailbox sits in the living room, where everyday someone leaves a cute little note of love and appreciation for another member of the family. I am a big fan of “warm fuzzies” and that is what you get when you read a letter or receive a colored picture, that is made especially for you, found in the Family Mailbox.

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Metamorphic Toys, maker of Green Toys that Inspire Creativity and Imaginative Play would love for you to check out ALL of their products, found on their website.

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She {hearts} homemade kitchen cleaning products

In an effort to try and reduce our carbon footprint on the planet, as well as save as much money as possible, I have turned to making some of my own homemade cleaning products lately. And in the age of Pinterest, there is a plethora of recipes and instructions that can be found with a simple tap of your touchscreen telephone.

I have taken the bit of knowledge I already have had and combined it with the recipes I found and came up with some great, homemade products that are so easy to make, you may even have the ingredients already in your kitchen!

1. All-Purpose Cleaner 

Ingredients:

1 part white vinegar

1 part water

5-10 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oils

5-10 drops of Lemon Essential Oils

I decided to add Tea Tree Oil for it’s powerful, yet safe disinfectant qualities, and the Lemon Oil for a fresh, citrus-y scent (and also to mask the vinegar smell because I’m not a fan of it). I put it in a spray bottle and keep it on our counter so I can get to it easily. This cleaner can be used just about anywhere, from the counters to the floors and everything in between.

2. Drain Refreshener

Ingredients:

1 Cup Baking Soda

1 Cup White Vinegar

Pour Baking Soda down the drain. Pour Vinegar in on top of it and QUICKLY cover with drain plug so the foam goes DOWN your drain, and not right back up. Let sit for 15 minutes or so. Then rinse with LOTS and LOTS of hot water. I have also been told that this is a good way to unclog a kitchen sink as well (and if you are using this to unclog, let the solution sit twice as long before rinsing). Fortunately, I have not had a clog in my kitchen drain yet (knock on wood), so I only use this to help clear out any junk that might be hanging around and giving it that funky smell.


3. Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients:

1 Cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda) (this can be found in the laundry aisle)

1 Cup Borax (this can be found in the laundry aisle)

1/4 Cup Kosher Salt (NOT Table Salt)

1/4 Cup Fruit Fresh (this can be found in the canning section)

I will admit, this product is working wonderfully for me, but I have read  that many people have to tweak it to work just right. It all depends on if you use a separate rinsing agent or not, or how hard your water is. But believe me, once you figure out what works for you, you will be pleased at how much money you can save and how much cleaner your dishes actually end up being.

I can’t tell you how much I have learned from my favorite website, One Good Thing by Jillie. All of these homemade cleaners I mentioned were found on her site, some I followed her instructions to a “T” and some I changed a little bit.

Do you make your own cleaning products? If so, please share your secrets!

She {hearts} Dream Dinners

As Moms, most of us have experienced the trouble and stress over creating and making a healthy, tasty, and portion-controlled dinner for our families. For some it is a time constraint, busy running from here to there and everywhere in between, not leaving a whole lot of time to spend in the kitchen. For some it is the inexperience, and not really knowing where to start when it comes to a healthy meal. For some, like me, it is both.

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Dream Dinners is a meal-prep service that offers an exciting and innovative way to take the guess work out of meal planning, as well as remove that nagging question of “What’s for dinner?” I don’t know about you, but I dread the late afternoon hours around my house. When it’s 4pm and I start to think “Oh dang, what am I gonna make for dinner?”

Dream dinners prepDream Dinners has saved me so much stress, money, but most of all TIME. Here is how it works. You visit the Dream Dinners website and pick a time slot at your nearest location. Then you browse the menu available for that particular month and start choosing your dinners. You have to order a minimum of 36 servings (which can be in combinations of 3 or 6 serving meals). The idea is that at least 3 days of the week are hectic in an average household. But, you are welcome to order as many meals as you’d like. By providing and prepping a Dream Dinner for that night, it saves you time that you otherwise wouldn’t have. Once you have chosen your meals, you pay by credit card to reserve your meals and time slot. When your meal prep day arrives, you simply show up at the store. They will have everything portioned out and ready for you to prepare. You visit each station, follow the very simple directions and in minutes you have a complete dinner ready to pop into your freezer at home, along with handy direction cards visible inside each bag. You can customize the ingredients of the meal by eliminating or reducing an ingredient that your family may not like, or is allergic too (I had to do this with parsley, my kids won’t eat anything green! LOL) The night before you want to serve the meal, place the entire bag into the refrigerator and it will be there, ready for you to make! Most Dream Dinners meals are ready in approximately 30 minutes, so it’s super easy, fast, and gives you more time to do what we all love most, spend time with our families!

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I’ll tell you, my favorite part of it all (besides having these meals all ready to go at a moments notice), is I don’t have to do any cleaning up at Dream Dinners! The awesome employees just sweep right in and replace any used measuring cups or clean up any spills in seconds. I don’t know about you, but that makes such a difference!

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The Dream Dinners website is extremely helpful at answering any questions you might have! Check it out and find you local store today!

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She {hearts} Peaceable Kingdom

My 4 year old son is slightly competitive. I’m not so sure where he got it from, but I think it is just a common milestone of a child his age. So when it comes to playing games, it can get a little dramatic around here. That’s why I am happy to have found a company called Peaceable Kingdom.

We got the chance to review the game “Stone Soup” and couldn’t be happier. It is easy enough for our entire family to play together, it is customizable for different ages and ability levels, and it isn’t a “winning” game, but a “cooperative” matching game.

The game is simple, but really fun! It works on skills such as memory, social development, helping others, and cooperation. All things that my son is either already pretty good and or could use a little help in. The game comes with 24 soup ingredient cards, 1 magic stone card, 10 fire out cards, the game board, and the story of Stone Soup. I remember reading it as a child, so I was really happy to share it with my kids as well.

My kids worked together to match all the ingredients up (you can even customize it to be a vegetarian soup as well!), and when one child couldn’t remember, they helped each other out. When you make a match, you put the ingredients in the kettle and since it isn’t a competitive game, but a cooperative game, they knew they could work together to make the soup. For the first few times we played, I did not include the Fire Out and Magic Stone cards (when you get 10 “Fire Out’s” then the game is over). I wanted to keep it simple enough for them to get the hang of and not get discouraged. If the kids are in a cranky mood or getting on each others nerves, I often pull out this game and it seems to calm them down and get them back to working together, instead of working against each other.

The graphics on the game are fun and colorful and the quality of the game is amazing. The game board is thick and sturdy, as well as the game pieces. And at only $14.99 this is a steal for the quality and the learning experience!

From the Peaceable Kingdom Website:

Peaceable Kingdom’s mission is to make good, do good, and be good. Which means:

  • we create fresh, fun, award-winning products that educate, inspire, and tickle funny bones
  • we donate frequently to charitable organizations that support the well-being of children
  • we are committed to working only with socially-conscious manufacturers
  • we use sustainable and eco-friendly materials like FSC and recycled papers, soy-based inks, and corn-based plastics whenever we can
  • we maintain integrity in all business relationships
  • we have fun while we work!

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Peaceable Kingdom not only makes board games, but card games, books, stickers, and birthday cards too!

 

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She {hearts} Kidz Bop 21

My kids have always been fans of music. Dancing and shimmying all over the house to just about any tune being played is kind of the norm around here. So when I got the chance to check out the new Kidz Bop 21 CD, I was thrilled. I already know my kids love some of these songs, like “Moves Like Jagger”, “Stereo Hearts”  and “Party Rock Anthem”, but the some of these radio versions still aren’t quite kid-friendly and not appropriate for little impressionable ears and minds. It’s a relief that we are able to listen to their favorite songs, without those not so favorable lyrics. I truly appreciate the effort put in to letting my kids listen to popular and hit songs, without the worry of the bad words or questionable situations.

Kidz Bop is the number one music brand for kids ages 5-12 and they just added the launch of their new radio show on XM Radio, Kidz Bop Block Party (tune into channel 78 on XM Radio Friday’s from 6-8pm EST). You can also find a safe and interactive social network and video sharing site for kids and tweens on the Kidz Bop website. Kids can submit videos, participate in a safe text messaging system, challenge each other in “Super Contests”, and build “Fan Pages”. Now, my two little ones are obviously too young to use the website, but it makes me feel better knowing that expert moderators have screened more than 35,000 hours of video and nearly half a million photos, all before their are published.

We can’t wait to see what Kidz Bop comes out with next, I’m sure we’ll love it!

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Kidz Bop CD’s and interactive games and videos can be found on the Kidz Bop website.

Sidenote: If you have loads of unwanted kids CDs, or even DVDs, that your children don’t use anymore, then a great way to get rid of them is by visiting www.musicmagpie.com. Here, you can earn some cash whilst also helping the environment.

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She {hearts} The Crafty Cat Corner

Having a little girl is SO MUCH FUN! The dresses, the shoes, the princesses, the baby dolls. I love it all! And as the years have gone by, I have patiently waited for her beautiful hair to grow long enough to play with, and now, less than 2 months away from her 3rd birthday, it has become any every day ritual to “pick a bow”. Now this didn’t happen overnight. It took a few weeks of daily rituals of brushing her hair, and even now, she still will not allow me to put her hair into any form of a ponytail. But what she WILL let me do, is put her hair in pretty bows and headbands. I’ll take it! I’m in heaven!

This has opened up a whole new world for me! I have perused local retail stores, boutiques, etsy, eBay, you name it! But my most favorite hair accessory maker of all-time can be found right under my nose, on FACEBOOK!

Amazing, talented, sweet, creative…..those are only a few words used to describe Cat, from The Crafty Cat Corner! She comes up with the cutest and most unique bows, clippies, & headbands I have ever seen. But the best part is, she is willing to work with me to customize items to match outfits Lily already has! For example, I had mentioned I was looking to do Lily’s third birthday party with a Paris theme. Cat was able to create this beautiful bow, for Lily to wear to her birthday party!

Now, I know what your asking. How much do they cost? The normal price range for Cat’s items are $2-$10. That is a STEAL if you ask me! You can’t find bows like these is just a store! Let alone, something custom made to your specifications?! It’s amazing.

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The Crafty Cat Corner does business  through their Facebook Page for now. Head on over there, LIKE the page, and you can check out everything Cat has to offer by browsing her “For Sale” albums or contacting her directly through the Contact/Order Here tab on the left.

She {hearts} Freebies

Cat would love to make a custom made bottle cap bow just for a pretty little girl you know! One winner will be chosen at random.

To Enter:

Tell us what you would ask Cat to custom make for that special little girl in your life? Does she love Rapunzel or My Little Pony? Is pink her favorite color? Does she LOVE sparkles or stripes? These are all things Cat could incorporate into a custom made piece, just for you.

Additional Entries: Leave an additional comment for each entry you complete.

A winner from the U.S. will be chosen on 2/1/2012 at 7PM CST. Please see our Giveaway Rules for further details.
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