Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Digital Photo Keychain

Sponsored by Tomoson.com

I am not big on carrying photos in my wallet and since we did away with our cell phones last year, I seldom have any pictures with me when I run into someone I haven't seen in a while. Of course, they want to see the kids and I am left feeling like a bad mom since I have nothing to show them. That is why I was thrilled to be able to review this digital photo keychain, and the one I received is PINK...which most people know is my absolute favorite color. For those of you who do not share my love of pink, do not fear, it is also available in silver, black, red, and a bunch more colors as well.

The technical info: This has a 1.5" 128x128 LCD display; a 4.8MB internal memory (stores about 72 pictures); accepts pictures in JPEG,BMP,PNG, or GIF files; pictures are automatically sized by the software (enclosed in product); built-in rechargeable battery; time display including date, hours, minutes, and seconds; Dimesions: 5.5x4.1x2.1cm; Weight: 85 grams. The USB cable is included in the package as well. The digital photo keychain sells for $9.99.

My thoughts: I really like the digital photo keychain. It is compact enough that it does not bother me to carry it around and I will no longer have an excuse for not having pictures of my kids with me. I was a bit skeptical about how the pictures would look once they were shrunk down, but the quality is really good. I also have to say that I was concerned about the plastic casing (the pink part) as it felt a little flimsy to me, but I have been carrying it around for a while now and it has held up very well.

Would you like to win your own pink digital photo keychain? I have one to give away. Here's how to enter (leave a separate comment for each entry):
- The giveaway keychain is pink, but if you could pick any color, what color would you choose?
- subscribing to my blog
- following my blog
- sharing this giveaway via your blog or other social networking site.
- Follow me on Twitter

The winner will be chosen on October 6th and they will have 48 hours to get back to me or a new winner will be chosen. I will choose the winner at some point in the evening of the 6th and entries will be accepted up until the drawing. Good luck!

I was given a pink digital photo keychain in exchange for a review from WholesaleKeychain.com through Tomoson

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Winner of $25 Sam's Club gift card

I was late drawing the winner for this prize, but here it is:

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-09-09 00:05:21 UTC

"I follow your blog - janetfaye"

I will be sending an e-mail to the winner and she will have 48 hours to get back to me. If for any reason, she fails to respond in the 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

77 Kids by American Eagle

A few weeks ago, I told you about Do Good Day that we participated in to help kick off the grand opening of 77 Kids by American Eagle. I was holding off on posting this follow up post, because I wanted to share the great pictures we took while we were there. However, we are having issues with our camera and rather than postpone it any longer, I have decided to go ahead with the post any way.

77 Kids is the children's line of American Eagle. They have been an online only store for about 1 year, but recently began opening brick and mortar stores in malls around the country. My family and I were able to attend a special grand opening breakfast of the 77 Kids store at Carousel Center in Syracuse, NY. The store is a child's personal playground, with fun activities all through the store for them. The activities help keep the little ones entertained while the parents shop and are designed to help through every step of the shopping process.

One of the first activities the children can participate in is the photo booth/dj station/virtual dressing room. There is a boy's station and a girl's station, but really they can be interchanged if one is busy. My kids favorite part is taking their picture and then drawing on it with virtual spray paint. They can then have the photos printed to pick up at the cash wrap. When you pick up the pictures, two copies are given. You can decide to keep them both or keep one and post one on the wall of the store. While at the photo booth, your child can also use the virtual dressing room where they can choose from several different outfits on the screen and then stand in front of the camera to see how the outfit will look on them. After that, they can look at the dj station to see what songs will be playing on the overhead radio and to rate them. The store will keep the most popular songs and phase out the less popular ones. The sound for the dj station comes through on small speakers behind your child's head so that only those in the very immediate area can hear them. While here, they can also scan their special card to see what treat they will receive that day. The cards are like frequent shopper cards, but the kids just use them to get treats. They can sign up at the cash register.

Then we move on to the dressing rooms. While just like your typical dressing room in function, these are so much more fun for the kids. There are portholes on the door or the wall so the child can call out to their parents for another size or to come see the outfit, without having to open the door, especially nice if they have not gotten completely dressed or if they need help zipping or buttoning up. There is also a doorbell in the dressing room that lights up a bird to alert sales personnel that assistance is needed. The employees also have headsets that tell them when the doorbell has been pressed. Outside the dressing rooms, there is a bean bag toss for siblings to play with as they wait. There are also these lights that project a picture on the floor for little ones to try to step on. The pictures change location every so often (they may be shadow activated, but I am not certain of that) and the little ones loved trying to step on the picture before it moved.

In the toddler section, there is a small easel and crayons for the little ones to draw on and at the cash register, is a large chalkboard and chalk to keep the little ones entertained while mom and dad are cashing out. There is also a candy cart that each child can choose a treat from, during our visits it was full of a variety of candies, but that may change in the future.

The store is set up for boys on side and girls on the other, with the denims in the middle, kind of a meet up place for both genders. School age kids clothing is in the front of the store, toddlers and preschoolers are back near the cash wrap and infants is behind the cash register. There is a women's restroom and a family restroom, both with changing tables.

The quality of the clothes is great and they are guaranteed to last for 77 washes or they will be replaced. Also, if the child wears out of the clothes before they grow out of them, they will also be replaced. This includes not just the stitching, but also any pictures or writing on the clothing. I also liked that the jeans that had the worn through look (holes in the denim), have fabric on the inside so you child will not accidentally put their toe through it and really tear the denim.

I highly recommend that any one who gets the opportunity to visit a 77 Kids do so at least once. Even if you do not actually make a purchase, it is sure to be a fun experience. They put a lot of effort into the details of both their clothing and the store design and it truly makes this a unique and memorable shopping experience.

This was part of a paid project that I participated in. On top of monetary payment, I also received a gift card to the store. Regardless of payment received, my opinions are my own and my post was not influenced by outside sources.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mega Swag Bucks Friday

I have written before about the benefits of Swagbucks, but wanted to let you know about Mega Swag Bucks Friday. Every Friday is Mega Swag Bucks Day (MSBD), which means better odds of winning BIG Swag Bucks denominations - up to 10,000 in one search! It's completely Free and Swag bucks can be traded in for rewards such as gift cards, electronics, apparel, household goods and much more! I use it as my default search engine and am earning enough Swagbucks each month to redeem them for a $5 Amazon.com gift card, that's $60 a year in free money, just for doing what I do any ways. Registration is easy and you do not have to download anything if you do not want to. I highly recommend this website.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

10 tips for a cleaner, greener home

I am not sure that any of us like the idea of exposing ourselves and our families to chemicals, but it often seems that it can be difficult and expensive to live a greener life, especially when it comes to cleaning.

1) Stick to the basics for cleaning- lemon, vinegar, and baking soda can be used, either separately or together, to clean just about anything. I keep a spray bottle full of vinegar for cleaning in the kitchen, but I also have a bottle of diluted vinegar for other rooms of the house. Baking soda is a great "green" abrasive and lemon, not only helps clean and whiten, but it also helps the house smell nice.

2) Turn the water off- When using water to clean with, be sure to get a small bowl for rinsing your cloth and a spray bottle to re-wet your cloth or area you are cleaning. If you leave the water running, you are just wasting water and money.

3) Save the water you usually waste- I also put a small basin in the shower to catch the water that comes out of the shower head while I wait for it to heat up. I then use the water through the day for cleaning tasks and/or watering the yard, plants, and garden. Also, water that has been used to steam or boil veggies is often full of nutrients that plants like so rather than toss it down the drain, use it for your plants.

4) Get rid of paper- use old clothes as rags in place of paper towels, not only do you keep the clothes out of the landfill, but you also keep the paper towels out as well. If you do not like the idea of using clothes as rags, invest in microfiber cloths which work well for cleaning with just water. You can also replace paper napkins with cloth to further reduce the paper garbage.

5) Reduce what you bring into the house- the less you bring in, the less you have to throw out. This goes for everything, from product packaging to clothes and knick knacks. As for packaging, forgo the plastic bags in the produce department when possible and use reusable shopping bags to prevent all those extra bags from cluttering up your house.

6) Reuse what is brought in- if you have to bring it in the house, use as much as possible. Those mesh bags that onions and some fruits come in, make great scrubbers in the bathroom. Glass and plastic containers can be used to send home leftovers with dinner guests or even to send lunch in for work/school (plastic only for school). I also let my kids use cardboard boxes for coloring on before recycling.

7) Set up a recycling center- Make recycling as easy as possible by having a set place for all your recyclables to go. Depending on where you live and how you recycle, set up the appropriate number of boxes or containers and label them. Make it as easy as possible to recycle and your family is more likely to remember to do it.

8) Give it away- the less you have the less you have to clean. Go through the items in your house and purge those items that you do not use. Clean out the closets and dressers and get rid of the clothes that no longer fit. If possible, get rid of a dresser altogether by hanging all your clothes and using baskets on the closet shelf for those items you cannot hang. Be sure that anything you get rid of goes to good use though. Do not just throw it away. Donate them or post them for free on a site like Craigslist or through a Freecycle-type group.

9) Let the sun shine- the sun is a natural bleaching agent and a natural source of light. This is a 2-fold tip. First, hang whites out in the sun to naturally bleach them. Second, keep your windows clean to get the maximum amount of light in the house. Keep curtains open during the day and let the light in so that you can keep the electric lights off.

10) Compost- another 2 part tip in that composting helps reduce the amount of garbage you throw out and creates a great soil for the garden. You can put fruit and veggie peels and scraps, egg shells, yard waste, and shredded paper (a great way to get rid of those sensitive documents) into the compost pile and as it breaks down, it creates a rich soil. We purchased a compost bin from Home Depot, but there are tons of ways to make your own with directions online. Throughout the day, I collect the kitchen waste in a gallon jug that I cut the top off of. At the end of the day, or as it gets full, we run it out to the bin and dump it in.

Living green results in a simpler, healthier life. It is not one of those things that is easy to just suddenly do. I hope that these tips will help you begin to implement greener changes into your cleaning and help you feel better about living greener. Implement them 1-2 at a time as you and your family can tolerate. I promise you and will family will feel better about it all in the long run.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

How to make your favorite foods healthier

When it comes to losing weight, one of the hardest things most of us face is having to give up foods that we love. Typically, it is a binge on one (or more) of those foods we gave up that knock us off our "diet" and send us back to square one. So what can we do to avoid having that happen?

Seven years ago, I lost 80 pounds over the course of 1 year. I kept that weight off until I got pregnant again a few years later and I am now preparing to go back to my earlier eating habits. I will share with you 10 tips to making favorite foods healthier, but before I do, I also want to share 2 tips for losing weight successfully. First, make sure you are medically okay. If you have an undiagnosed/untreated disorder that affects your blood sugar or your metabolism, you will have a heck of a time losing weight regardless of how healthy you are eating. When I lost my weight, I had been eating healthy for quite a while with no change in my weight. I finally talked to my doctor and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which affects the way the body handles blood sugar. When I was started on Metformin (Glucophage), the weight immediately began coming off. Please note though, that it is the combination of diet, medication and exercise that helped me to lose weight. None of these worked by themselves. Second, do not forbid yourself from having small bits of things you love OCCASIONALLY. This requires you to exercise self control and realize that can be difficult, but by allowing yourself an occasional treat, you avoid the desire to binge later. If you are at a party and you want cake, have a small piece and do not have seconds. Put a few chips on a plate, walk away from the food table and do not go back. I used to keep a bag of Hershey Kisses in the house for when I had chocolate cravings and then would allow myself 3 kisses at a time. I also allowed myself to splurge on higher quality treats since that forced me to eat less if I wanted it to last. Anyway, now on to my 10 tips to making your favorite foods healthier:

1) Substitute healthier ingredients- did you know you could use fat-free mayo in place of oil in a cake mix and it doesn't alter the taste? Another good substitute is evaporated skim milk in place of heavy cream. Fruit purees also make a good substitute for oil. If you do not like the taste or texture when substituting, try only substituting half.

2) Reduce the amount of high fat/high calorie ingredients- if the recipe calls for 2 cups of cheese, reduce that by a 1/2 cup. If you like the recipe still, try reducing the cheese even more next time.

3) Use higher quality ingredients- although they may cost a bit more, you generally get a better, stronger flavor from high quality products, allowing you to use less of the product. This is especially true with cheeses and chocolate.

4) Add extra vegetables- throw a cup of chopped broccoli into your favorite mac and cheese recipe or add spinach to your lasagna or put some shredded carrots into your pasta sauce. Vegetables increase the nutritional value and add fiber. In fact, when I was losing the weight, I had just started learning how to really cook as well. The first several months consisted of me altering boxes of convenience foods (like the Helper line and noodles in a pouch) by adding vegetables to them.

5) Switch to whole grains- this is much easier to do in a recipe where there are lots of other flavors, such as Spanish rice. Whole grains are more nutritious and much higher in fiber than traditional products made with white flour. It may take some time to completely switch over, but do it gradually. When baking, you can substitute part of the white flour for whole wheat flour with little noticeable difference.

6) Use stronger flavors- sharp cheddar packs a lot more flavor than mild, allowing you to get similar results with less cheese.

7) Do not be afraid of low-fat and no-fat varieties- these have come a long way in flavor and texture from a few years ago. Some still have a ways to go, but they tend to be okay for using in recipes. I always buy fat-free and full fat sour cream. The full fat is for my baked potato and the fat free is for recipes. The same with mayo. I use full fat on my sandwiches, but use fat-free in recipes.

8) Use herbs and seasonings- they add flavor without adding fat. If you use single seasonings as opposed to mixed ones (lemon pepper, steak seasoning, etc), you will also reduce sodium intake.
Fresh herbs always taste better, but dried is still good.

9) Cook from scratch- the best way to improve what you are eating is to know exactly what you are eating. The easier way to do that is to prepare your food from scratch. If time is short, try to cook your meals ahead of time and freeze them or use your crock pot. If you have never cooked from scratch before, use convenience products and use the above tips to make them healthier.

10) Use better-for-you substitutes- like egg substitute, sea salt (tastes saltier so you can use less), and sugar substitutes. Again, start by just subbing part of it and gradually increase the amount you substitute.

I will not promise you will lose a ton of weight by following these tips, but I can tell you that they worked for me. I know it is not easy to make changes in our diets, but I also know we can do it. If you are worried about some of the changes, implement them gradually. Start substituting the healthier ingredient a little at a time and gradually increase the amount you substitute. Every little bit helps! I can also tell you that over time, your cravings will decrease and, yes, eventually stop. I was at a point that I did not want more than a little taste of less healthy foods, and sometimes, I didn't even want that. I am looking forward to reaching that point again.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and WeightWatchers SmartOnes blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Winners of the $15 WalMart giftcard and Amish Proverbs book

Febreze $15 WalMart gift card:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-09-02 12:09:11 UTC

Mami2jcn said... I'd like to try the cranberry pear flameless luminary.

Amish Proverbs book:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2010-09-02 11:59:48 UTC

CarolNWong said... "Treat unkind people with kindness". I
love this one because it actually works! Many times if you are considerate and polite to someone who is acting mean, their manner will turn around.

*******Congratulations to both winners!*******

Please remember to respond to my e-mail within 48 hours so that I will not have to choose another winner.