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Showing posts from June, 2010

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Peanut Butter - Review & Giveaway

{Congrats again to Lady Chi - lucky gal #39} Since my son has a peanut allergy, all things peanut are a severe rarity in our home. That's why I jump at the chance to eat peanut butter whenever possible. And getting to review tasty organic peanut butter is no exception!
I've had the opportunity to try a number of great products from Tropical Traditions and have been super impressed with the quality of their products and their customer service. Even the huge variety of natural organic products is impressive.
But with the Organic coconut peanut butter, I wasn't all that impressed. Let me explain. It was yumsvillle. Really, really yummy. I felt like I should have just dumped chocolate into the jar and drank it. It was a very tasty combination. But the problem I had with it was being able to actually spread it.
Since I make my own nut butters and buy only natural nut butters from the store, I know all about stirring, refrigerating, and all the other quirks of natural nut butters. …

All Free & Clear Detergent Giveaway

{This giveaway has ended: Congrats to Lady Chi #81} If you're a busy mom like me, then laundry is probably a big part of your life. When I clean anything in my home, I try to use the most natural products possible. I do that for our overall health but also because my son has allergies. Lots of allergies.
I have been using fragrance-free detergents for years. So when I was asked to be part of an all detergent review, I jumped on it.
I've used all detergent many times in the past, and I've always liked it. Since I'm only able to use HE detergent, I didn't personally use the detergent that I was sent but instead gave it to one of my sisters.
She's a big Tide fan, but was happy with all's results. In all honesty, she did miss the fragrance. But I can tell you, our family doesn't miss it at all. The first few months (years ago) my husband complained but he's over it now, and we are happily fragrance-free.
And you can be too! One Suburban Jungle reader wi…

Greed has no place in the garden!

Anyone who's had a garden knows that it's more to it than just growing food. There are lessons to be learned while gardening. Lessons about hard work, life and death, our connection to the Earth; to name a few.
This year, my garden had flourished. I was so proud of it. And then I wasn't.
I finally figured out how to plant leafy greens in appropriate rows. I had decided to apply a "three sisters" approach to my rotating veggies, and all was growing well...until I got greedy.
Actually, I got greedy before I even planted. I planted way too much for my small garden. I refused to "thin" my crop. And even worse, I decided in advance that I would kill any animals that got stuck in my net this year (instead of releasing them like I did last season.)
Greedy, greedy, greedy. And it all backfired. Because I refused to thin my lettuce and spinach, I barely got to enjoy any of it before it was all spindly and rotten. Because I refused to thin my peas, there were just …

The Money Magnet

My son has an unusual gift.... Money flocks to him. Whenever we go out, he finds at least one coin at each location. Two days ago, he found 56 cents between two stores. Yesterday he found 36 cents. He finds coins and dollar bills - Every single time we go somewhere.

And that's not all. People randomly give him money. Just 2 weeks ago, we were picking up supplies at Home Depot and a man stopped him and give him a dollar bill. He told him to go buy some ice cream.
A month ago, a man stopped my children at the grocery store and offered them both all the change in his pockets. He's a money magnet!
I wouldn't think it was that big of a deal if it's only happened once or twice, but this is the fifth time I can remember him being offered money. People even offered him money as a baby. They'd tell me to "go buy him something." People give him free things at garage sales and expos.
Maybe it's just that we hang out where a lot of generous people tend to circle o…

Triscuit Home Farming program & $20 Visa Gift Card giveaway

Have you seen that Triscuits now include plantable seed cards? I had no clue until I received a few packages to review.
You can read all about it at the Triscuit Home Farming website. I think it's awesome! For one, the seeds included are easy to grow herbs; basil or dill. Basil can be found in the Original Triscuits and Dill can be found in the Reduced Fat Triscuits. If you can only pick one - pick basil (in my opinion.)
If you haven't grown herbs, you are seriously missing out.
They are easy to grow, thrive on neglect, and make every dish so much tastier! To help get the word out, I was sent a $20 Visa gift card to help pay for supplies to plant the seed cards within the Triscuit boxes. I currently have basil growing in my garden and used the seed cards to plant containers on my deck. Even if you don't have a "garden" space, herbs flourish in containers.
Since I had all the gardening supplies on hand, I'm passing the$20 Visa Giftcard onto one lucky Suburban Ju…

Win an Energie Opus Mattress worth $3000 +

Do you need a new mattress? Then head to Essentia and tell them about it for your chance to win an Eco Mattress worth over $3000! The contest is easy to enter and ends soon - July 10th - so put in your entry now!

Win free labels (perfect for camp or school) from ID Me Labels

If you're like me, then you've already started planning for school in September. One big part of preparing is writing my kid's names on everything. I hate doing it; for all sorts of reasons. I don't like permanently marking names in clothing because someone else could use it when they've grown out of it and I don't like that it's been marred.
It's also tiring. I start to get lazy toward the end and the names aren't always legible. That's why I'd be happy to win the I.D. Me Labels Giant Camp Combo pack Giveaway! I like that they are permanent enough to last the season but can come off when my kids no longer use the items.
I'd put them on my children's backpacks, lunch bags, individual lunch containers and water bottles, inside their gym shoes, inside their hats and mittens. I'd also put them on our swimming gear and outdoor toys since we often lose our things at the pool and park.


If my kids were attending camps, I'd also label…

Should you marry the pretty girl or the funny girl?

Children are so funny. I didn't expect to hear about "girls" until somewhere in the junior high years. But my kindergartener has already taken notice.

There were 2 girls he talked about constantly. He made necklaces for them, drew them pictures, and brought them candy. But they couldn't have been more different.

He said he "loved" Reese because she was "the most beautiful girl in the world". And she even has pierced ears, lol. But he also really liked Ana. But not for her looks. Now, I've seen them both and I can honestly tell you that they are both beautiful girls. Reese is beautiful in a very Jon Benet sort of way, but the day I met her she seemed bossy and fussy.
Ana is beautiful in a Mary Ann (Giligan's island) sort of way and is all fun. My son runs to get her after school almost every day, and they wildly play until it's time for dinner. She's fast. She's fun. And she's a little wild.
Obviously, there's no need to e…

Cats are not Scary....

Cats are innocent, loving, little softies, right? That's what I used to think. When our cat moved in, she was so loving. So soft. But not anymore. I'm sure she's still soft, but I wouldn't know. She's entered her teenage years and no longer allows petting.

She disappears for hours only to jump out from behind a corner and attack. And every once in a while I get an eerie feeling and turn around to this:
I'm sorry, but it's freaky to have someone staring at you. I took this picture after what seemed like an eternity of staring while I was doing the dishes this morning. I kept repeating: "cats are not scary, cats are not scary...." But she is scary. If she had opposable thumbs I think we'd be in trouble....

Are you a safety nut?

Are you a helicopter parent? Are you the type that checks all product recalls, refuses to use old baby equipment, and has poison control on speed-dial? If you are, you'll get a kick out of the fun videos on the Juicebox widget (big green box on the right). I used to be that parent. My children were breast fed until exactly 12 months. They never ate canned baby food. I wouldn't have dreamed of using an expired carseat.

Every bird, plane, bug, etc. was an instant learning experience. And every second of their lives was monitored, watched, hovered, smothered..... Then I spent a little more time with my sister. Her kids were riding 2 wheel bikes without helmets at 2 or 3 years old. And they were outside - alone. OMG - did she want them to die?
But they didn't die. In fact, her kids were pretty resilient. If they fell down, they just got up and went back to their dangerous games. My kids cried and needed to be soothed. When they tried something new, they tackled it and mastere…

Chunky Bling Review & Giveaway

{This contest has ended: Congrats to #82 Traci} Every mom can use some bling in her life. And that goes for me too! I'm a mom who likes jewelry and I'm always excited to try new styles and looks. I recently had the chance to review an interchangeable beaded watch from ChunkyBling.com.
It was super easy to order. You just choose from one of the interchangeable watch bands and then select your watch face. I chose the combination seen above.
My thoughts: The ordering process was easy and fun. There are a lot of choices so it's easy to build a watch that will coordinate with your outfits. The watches are truly interchangeable. If you were really partial to a particular face, you could buy a few bands and swap them out at home. It's as easy as opening a necklace.
My watch arrived really quickly and was super cute. But I have to be honest that when they say "chunky" bling, they really mean CHUNKY bling. I like chunky jewelry, but it's sometimes tough to pull o…

Link & Win Mondays: Stop in to List and Win Tons of Giveaways!

Link up your giveaways in the Mr. Linky below. Be sure to check out all of the great giveaways for your chance to win! My giveaways this week:

Suddenly Salad prize pack Powermat Organic Peanut Butter Chunky Bling Watch

Uncle Ben's Brown Rice Review

It's no secret that I like to cook from scratch. And I mean scratch - scratch. There are no instant oatmeals or minute rice type products in my kitchen. Never!

I'm also a big fan of whole foods and whole grains. I make brown rice on a regular basis, so when I had the chance to review Uncle Ben's Fast & Natural Brown Rice, I thought about it for a long time.
I checked to be sure it was truly a whole grain product and was honestly interested to see how it would turn out. The box said, "ready in 10 minutes!" 10 minutes! For Brown rice!! Since my usual recipe takes about an hour, I was very interested in seeing how this worked out.

So I signed up and was sent a whole lotta rice, lol. It wasn't long before I started making it. I was sent the Fast & Natural Whole Grain Instant Brown Rice and the Boil in the bag brown rice.
According to the package, there are 3 ways to prepare the instant brown rice. Since I've never made rice in the microwave, I decid…

Lessons from Creeps in Vans

Everyone knows you shouldn't walk close to a van with a sliding door, right? And everyone knows that strangers offering candy are not to be trusted. But nobody really thinks adults have to worry about this, right?
Wrong! I was recently involved in a creepy van situation - in my own driveway! It happened in the middle of the day.
I was standing in my driveway talking to someone. A red van pulls up in front of my house. A male and female are inside and they seem agitated. The woman yells to me, "COME HERE!" And here is how it all transpires:
Lady in van: COME HERE! Me: What? Lady in van: COME HERE! Me: Why? Lady in van: I need you to help me. Me: With what? Lady in van (visually agitated - Man in van looking crazy): I need directions Me: Where are you trying to go? Lady in van (Lady starts huffing and is obviously angry): Come here and I'll show you. Me (still standing at the top of the driveway and facing lady dead on): Just tell me the address Lady in van: blah, blah street Me:

Whish Body Products Review

Don't you just Whish you knew what was in the products you put on your body? Okay, that was a stupid pun, but it's true. I really wish I knew what was in all the products I put in and on my body.
When I was offered a chance to review the Whish body product line, this was the first thing that stuck out to me:
This is the stuff I like to see. All natural (good ingredients) and none of the bad. If you can't read the words on the picture above, head to their website and check out the ingredients yourself.
But just like all natural cleaners, I want to be sure that all natural body products are going to work and smell as nice as the conventional ones. I had the opportunity to try the Whish pomegranate sugar scrub, body wash, and hair inhibiting gel. Here are my thoughts on each of those products.
Pomegranate Sugar Scrub: This was my first time using a sugar scrub. Really! The smell was divine and I did feel much silkier after using it. I had a very hard time getting it to squeeze ou…

The Peanut Table at School: Yay or Nay?

My son is allergic to peanuts. And in a lot of ways, it's been a good thing for our family.
We eat better because of his allergy. Imagine the candy, cookies, and other processed gunk that would be eliminated from your diet if you were trying to avoid nuts.
Also - picture for a moment, the ability to say "no, that might have peanuts" to any questionable item your child may want to eat.
It also made me dig into other nut butters and opened my eyes to all the trans-fat free natural nut butters (including my fave - almond butter!)
The major negatives have been mostly school related. The mere fact that I've been in the school nurses office more times than I've been in his classroom is a major annoyance.
I get calls from the school nurse with updates on expiration dates and requests for full boxes for all medications. There were a zillion release forms, required signatures, and the school policy that he couldn't receive any outside treats (regardless of whether the…

Powermat Review and Father's Day Giveaway

{this contest has ended; congrats to #21 AnnetteD} My husband and I are about as opposite as two people can be, especially when it comes to technology. He's always up the newest trends, has the coolest new gadgets, and is constantly upgrading. As for me - well, I might as well be Amish. So when I had the chance to review the PowerMat, I checked with him first.

He instantly said YES! In case you haven't seen or used the PowerMat, take a look at the video below:


Awesome, huh? My husband thought so. He has all of these devices and it's so annoying to keep track of chargers, remembering to charge them, and of course the messiness of it all.
Here's what we thought of the Powermat:
It was super cool! It looked high tech, worked great, and was super convenient. In fact, I was jealous that my pay-as-you go phone had to be charged on it's own. I'd be so much more likely to actually charge my phone if I just had to "set it down." To be fair, the Powermat does com…

Link & Win Mondays: Stop in to List and Win Tons of Giveaways!

Link up your giveaways in the Mr. Linky below. Be sure to check out all of the great giveaways for your chance to win! My giveaways this week:
Choose You Gift Basket Baby Bunch Cupcakes Suddenly Salad prize pack Sex and the City 2 soundtrack Powermat Organic Peanut Butter

If you build it - it will be ugly

I recently brought up the topic of building a grape trellis. My husband instantly shot down the idea. "If you build it; it will be ugly," he said. Now of course, he was right but that didn't stop me.My kids and I built this trellis out of stray sticks and garden twine. Both free items we have lying around. The twine originally cost me 63 cents but I use it everywhere, all the time. Yes, it's ugly. Yes it will eventually decompose and leave my grape vine untrellised. But for now it was free and is offering support for this growing grape vine.
All of my other grape vines wind around the trees in our forest. I will eventually train this one to do the same, but until then the ugly trellis reigns.

Sex and The City 2 Soundtrack - Review & Giveaway

{this giveaway has ended. Congrats to #46, ceimusic} What can I say about the Sex and the City 2 soundtrack, except "Fun, fun, fun." There are a ton of great songs on this album - music that makes you want to dance. Here's a quick look at what's on the album:

Tracklisting
1. Alicia Keys “Rapture”
2. Dido “Everything to Lose”
3. Cee Lo “Language of Love”
4. Erykah Badu “Window Seat”
5. Natacha Atlas “Kidda”
6. Michael McGregor “Euphrates Dream”
7. Liza Minnelli “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
8. Ricki-Lee "Can't Touch It"
9. Alicia Keys "Emire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"
10. Jennifer Hudson and Leona Lewis "Love Is Your Color"
11. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon “I Am Woman”
12. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “If Ever I Would Leave You”
13. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “Sunrise, Sunset”
14. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “Till There Was You”
15. Shayna Steele, Jordan Ballard, Kamilah Marshall “Bewitched, Bot…

Betty Crocker Suddenly Salad Prize Pack Giveaway

{This contest has ended. Congratulations to #83 Ohstac} Summer means a lot of things in our family - but more than anything it means parties. We head to parties all summer long, and I'm always at a loss at what to bring. In our previous circle of friends, everyone brought pasta salad so I never made it. Otherwise, there would be 8 versions of pasta salad and nothing else.
But in our new circle of friends, everyone brings cut up fresh fruit. That's my go to item, so this summer it's time to try something new. MyBlogSpark recently sent me this Suddenly Salad Prize Pack to help make our summers easier and even more fun. They'd like to give on to you as well! Scroll down to the bottom for details.
I have to be honest when I say that using a Salad kit is so easy, but what's the fun if it's easy? I always add extra ingredients. Then I feel like I "did something." I love to add fresh veggies and olives. I especially love cherry tomatoes and they're always …

One eskimO Review

One eskimO is a critically-acclaimed English band with the #1 song on the top adult rock stations. I was given the opportunity to review their new album which included their hit song, "Kandi".
My thoughts: I didn't really get it. The music was upbeat and fun, but it just didn't do it for me. Maybe it's one of those sounds that grows on you, and I'm willing to give it a few more listens, but it wasn't an instant hit with me. On the plus side, it was positive and clean so it was okay to listen to around children.

If you'd like a chance to see them live, here are a few of the upcoming tour dates and locations:
Jun 12 Memphis, TN Minglewood Hall
Jun 13 Kansas City, MO Crossroads
Aug 14 Denver, CO Mile High Festival
No compensation was received for this review, but one 2 one did provide the CD for review purposes.

Our first Strawberry!

We picked our first strawberry this week! We cut it up and shared it. Since then, we've been pulling out berries every day. Wahoo! I love summer.

"Ten Minutes" a day

Sprint has just launched Gaming on the Now Network™, bringing you the first wireless 4G network from a national carrier. Sprint and JuiceBoxJungle have sponsored me to write about what "ten minutes" a day means to me.
What do moms do with our "ten minutes" of alone time each day. Or do you even take 10 minutes to yourself? If you don't, then you need to start! I spent the first 4 years of my parenting not taking any time for myself. And I'm not exaggerating.

I spent those first 4 years like a single mother. And my babies were young and needy. I gave them everything I had. And then I had nothing. Nothing, nothing. I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have taken the time for me. And I would have been happier. And in the long run, it would have been better for all of us.
Now, I make sure to take time for myself. And to be honest, I take more than 10 minutes. I take a couple 10 minute breaks each day. Sure, my "breaks" are almost never…

Cat Toilet Training - The Final Chapter

We began our cat toilet training program when our cat was 11 weeks old. She took to it swimmingly and we were so very hopeful. We cut out the first ring and she continued to use the toilet well. Then we cut out the second ring and she got mad.
She would still urinate in the toilet, but she started pooping in the house. OMG! She pooped in the house! At first I thought - okay, okay, we'll take it back to the first hole and start over. She started using the toilet again, but then she didn't.
It was as if she was saying " F -it! I'm not dealing with this anymore." She started holding it all day long. Then when she couldn't take it anymore, she'd pee in the toilet. And poop on the floor.

And she was doing it on purpose. It was her kitty way of saying "NO!" She would bring me to the places where she pooped, just to show me. She was miserable. She wasn't very loving toward us and we were undeniably upset with her.
This went on for 6 days. As we batt…

Can you fix broken plants with tape? - yes you can!

Can you fix broken plants with tape? YESSSSSS! Read on to hear how I have done it many times and how you can fix your plants too.
A snapped Blueberry plant repaired with electrical tape and twine
I take care of a lot of plants. And when I run out of plants, I take care of my neighbors'. Every once-in-a-while, I learn something that's worth sharing. This is one of those things.

I found out that you CAN save plants by using tape. This winter, someone stepped on the main stem of one of my blueberry bushes and snapped it in half. I noticed it as soon as the snow melted and was devastated. It takes 3 years for a blueberry bush to "be ready" and it was year three. And the main stem was snapped clean off.

So I did what anybody would do in an emergency like this. I hit the garage for whatever tape I could find. My husband had recently taught me that electrical tape sticks to nothing - but itself. And it sticks to itself well.
I grabbed the electrical tape from this tool bench …

Growing Roses Organically

I grow everything organically. It started out that way partially because I was just too lazy to learn how to fertilize and mostly because I refuse to use pesticides and herbicides.

That being said, I've been growing rose bushes on our lot for 3 years. And they've never received anything but organic coffee grounds and organic tea. Where do these items come from? Free samples and friendly neighbors. :)I'm sure any "real" rose grower would be disgusted at my hybrid roses, but I'm so happy with how well they've grown and how many beautiful flowers they produce. But no one is happier than my son - since he instantly feeds them whenever coffee or tea arrive at our door. He's very pleased with his success.

Link & Win Mondays: Stop in to List and Win Tons of Giveaways!

Link up your giveaways in the Mr. Linky below. Be sure to check out all of the great giveaways for your chance to win! My giveaways this week: Duraflame Logs PearlParadise Pearls Espencial Natural Kids Products Shabby Apple Dresses Grill Daddy Baby Bunch Cupcakes

"Choose You" Gift Giveaway

{This contest has ended. Congratulations to #112 Scottsgal}According to the American Cancer Society, about half of all cancer deaths could be prevented if people maintained a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise; avoided tobacco products; and got recommended cancer screening tests. Wow! Half! I wonder how much the cancer risk would shrink if our nation grew food more organically! Either way, this is an amazing statistic. Unfortunately, we all know that moms don't always do the things mentioned above. And 1 in 3 of us will get cancer in our lifetime. To inspire women to put their health first, the American Cancer Society, Sprite Zero and Walgreens have teamed up to create the Choose You campaign. Choose You encourages women to take care of their health. If you can't do it for you, remember that you have the most influence over the health of your family. By taking care of yourself, you take care of your family and set a healthy example for them. Do it for yourself - …

I'M BALD!!!

Finally! Someone else understands! What am I talking about? Ponytails - buns - updos. I like to pull my hair back for all sorts of reasons, but I always hate the way it looks from the front. I always feel like a boy when I have my hair pulled back.
We have great pictures from our Cruise where I was in tip top shape, wore a brand new dress, AND had my hair up. I hate those pictures. Because I look like a boy.
So this morning when I combed my daughter's hair into a ponytail, I couldn't help but roll on the ground laughing when she looked in the mirror and instantly declared, "I'M BALD!!!!"
She felt the same way I do. And it was hilarious.

Baby Bunch Cupcakes Giveaway

{This contest has ended: Congrats to #11 TJ and Amy} Okay, let's just say that I am now the person to invite if you're having a baby shower. And it's not because of my bubbly personality. It's the awesome Baby Bunch gifts I've been privileged to review. Since I'm no longer having babies, I've reviewed all my Baby Bunch items by giving them away.
I recently had a chance to review the Baby Bunch Organic Cupcakes. They are so awesomely cute, and of course made from super-soft 100% organic cotton. That in itself is great, but the cupcakes are so adorable! You almost forget they are a completely practical and "green" gift. Look at what's inside! 4 gender neutral, organic onesies - wrapped up like adorable cupcakes with cute strawberries on top. My daughter was so upset that she couldn't keep the strawberries. But such is the life of a gift - once you give it, you can't keep the strawberries. lol
Baby Bunch would like to share the love with o…

June Garden Update

My garden this year can be summarized in one word: Blueberry-palooza! It's hard to get all 4 bushes in one shot. Heck, it's hard to get one blueberry bush in the shot, so take a look at a few stems and understand that all the stems on my berry plants look like these!




Berry loaded and awesome! The third year is the charm in gardening (in case you didn't know that) and we're on year three.
My red raspberries are picking up speed. The yellows and purples are still slacking. And although I successfully propagated the black raspberries, they are still being lazy on berry production.
My strawberries are producing well this year too. It's hard to tell by the photos but each plant has 4 or 5 berries. My nephew was over recently and he said, "wow, you get to go berry picking in your own yard!" Indeed!
Here are a couple more growth shots. It's so hard to see everything, and there really is a rhyme and reason to the planting in here. It just doesn't look like i…