Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2011

Lite Sprites - Hot Toy for 2011 - Review & Giveaway

Don't you wish you knew which toys were going to be the HOT toys at Christmastime, so you could run out and buy them now instead of chasing from store to store in a mad dash only to find that they're all sold out?

If you have a young elementary aged girl in your life, then Lite Sprites just might be one of those Hot Toys. We were fortunate to be able to try out Lite Sprites before they hit stores (they are in stores now) and of course before the holiday bustle.

My kids are 5 and 7. Guess what they thought when they opened the box and found multi-colored "fairy" girls, little pets, and a wand!?!

There were squeals, a lot of jumping, and some fighting over who would play with what first. Lite Sprites come with their own world. You can buy the tree of life - which is  basically the home base of all activity. Lite Sprites and pets can hang from the canopy, climb the stairs, walk the path and play around the tree just like a playhouse.

There are 5 different Lite Spr…

Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Review

I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour conducted by Clever Girls on behalf of Dannon. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program but my opinions are my own. For more information and recipe ideas, visit www.oikosyogurt.com or www.Facebook.com/oikos. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.




When it comes to healthy snacking, I do not take short cuts. I make most of my own food and when I do buy something, I read the entire package. But sometimes you find a product that is consistently good and you don't have to read the label anymore. That's how I feel about Dannon yogurts. 


This is a sponsored post, but before I ever even had the chance to try the new Dannon® Oikos® Greek Yogurt, Dannon was the only non-organic yogurt brand I purchased. Why? Because I trust the ingredients.


I was super excited to be offered the chance to try Dannon® Oikos® Greek Yogurt and was beyond thri…

Learning to Fight - Brace for Impact

Maybe it's been a while since your last fight or maybe you've never hit anyone in your life! Either way, if you haven't hit anybody in awhile (a good thing) then you may need to get yourself back into fighting condition.

Oddly, I haven't thrown a real punch since childhood. Even then, there was a lot more wrestling than actual hitting. At least on my end.

So imagine my surprise when I started hitting again. The impact hurts. It jars your bones and rattles your brain.  It kind of reminds me of shooting a gun. Everyone thinks they know how to do it (you know, by watching movies) but when you actually shoot a gun, the power and the kickback are alarming.

It's the same with punching. I do a lot of punching and kicking when I work out to cardio kickboxing videos. It's not the same. We recently added this guy to our gym and I've been feeling what a real punch is like.
And of course, the only way to brace for what it feels like to get hit is to get hit.  We&…

How to Make Coconut Milk

Coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil.... I'm sure you've heard a lot about each of these, but maybe you've never had a chance to try them. They are all really good (and good for you) but one of them is so easy to make  - you may want to consider adding it to your diet.

It's coconut milk. I use it instead of and in addition to dairy. It tastes great (especially when warm, surprisingly.)

Here's what you need: 1 1/2 cups of hot water, 7/8 cup of shredded (unsweetened! coconut), a blender, and cheesecloth

Put 1 cup of hot water and 7/8 cup of shredded coconut into your blender. Blend for 2 or 3 minutes on the highest speed. Pour into cheesecloth (use a tea towel or muslin fabric if you don't have cheesecloth) and squeeze out the coconut milk.

After you've squeezed out all the coconut milk you can (warning - the milk will be hot), put the pulp back in the blender and add 1/2 cup of water.

Blend for 1-2 minutes. Then put the pulp into the cheesecloth aga…

The Case of the Missing Cucumbers....

I take my garden very seriously. I only use organic fertilizers, no pesticides or herbicides, and I weed and check on it almost every day. So it's no surprise that people often come and talk to me in the garden. I happen to be there a lot.

But when people start talking about wanting to eat things out of my garden, I get defensive. A little much? Well, that's the truth. So when a neighbor asked if he could have "a few" tomatoes out of my garden, I did all I could not to make a mad face. My husband says you can read my emotions on my face, so I tried my absolute best. And I said, okay.

OMG! I said okay, but I was freaking out inside. Were they going to waste them? Were they going to think this could become a regular occurrence? He went on and on about how I should put a "pay box" outside the garden and let people just come in and decide how much to pay.

I was grateful to be wearing sunglasses or he might have saw me start crying. Pay what you want? Do pe…

Veggie Go's Snack Review

"Mom, why can't I have fruit roll-ups in my lunch box? Everyone else has them?" Sound familiar? It's a common complaint at our house. The answer - as always - is that I care about what goes into their bodies and fruit roll ups are nothing but chemicals and sugar.

But they taste good.... Got it. Guess what - real food tastes good too! How can you have good wholesome snacks that are as fun as a fruit roll up? You can try to make your own (it works but it's messy) or you can give Veggie Go's a try.

We were lucky enough to sample almost all of the Veggie Go's flavors. I was naive enough to think we'd have extra to tuck into backpacks next week, but I was wrong.

Dried fruit (of almost any kind) stands no chance in our house. Take a look at the varieties available:

As soon as my children saw them, they recognized them as "fruit rolls" and wanted to eat them. Our hands down favorite was Mountain Berry Spinach. But surprisingly, both of my kid…

Tell me I'm not alone....

Please tell me this has happened to you too! I know I have a disease when it comes to chocolate, but it's not normal to make a pan of brownies and eat 80% of it all by yourself, right?

Later in the day, I found my husband and son finishing off the pan. At first I was upset (really??) then I sighed in relief. They had put me out of my misery. It was all I could do not to finish the pan...but since they finished it my agony was over. There was no more need to resist the pan. How sad.....

*Does it count at all that these were made with zucchini and pure vanilla beans? I didn't think so. It just made them yummier.

Supreme 90 Day Workout Review

Is the Supreme 90 Day workout as good as good as the beachbody sets? Yes....it is. Read on to see my review of the system. As someone who likes to try new fitness gear and routines, I was really excited to try the new Supreme 90 Day workout system. My first thought was - finally, a P90X type workout that's affordable! As it turns out, my initial thoughts were right.

Sadly, I had seen the Supreme 90 Day system at Walmart and Target but didn't buy itbecauseI thought it was going to be cheap. Honestly, at only $19.99 it's a steal. But that's not even the case anymore. I've seen it on clearance at Target for $13! You can also get it on Amazon.

I'm not even getting to the review yet, because that price is INSANE! Nine dollars for 10 workouts and a complete eating plan. Insane!

But is it worth it? Yes, Yes, Yes! I am on day 17 and decided to write my review before I even get to the 90 day mark because this system is fantastic.

Yes, you may have read on other reviews …

Costume Discounters Review

When it's back-to-school time, I start planning ahead for everything. School programs, field trips, lunches, after school activities, you name it! I even start planning for holidays. One holiday that's oddly expensive is Halloween. Decorations, candy, and parties all add up. Not to mention costumes. Good quality, unique costumes are hard to come by.

We recently had the opportunity to select from the girls costumes at Costume Discounters. If you've never been to this website, then I suggest you check it out. Not only for all the unique girls costumes but also for the boy costumes. We had a really hard time deciding which one to choose! The boy costumes were pretty scary and my son was loving it!

These are definitely costumes you won't find at Target or Walmart. We decided to get a much needed Colonial Girl Costume. If that seems like an odd choice, it isn't. Our school takes a field trip to an early 1800's school house each year and the children are required t…

Introducing the Tuna Dog

Every once in awhile I create a recipe that becomes a keeper. This time, it was my daughter's turn. While we were digging around the pantry trying to figure out what to make for lunch, she came up with this idea - "let's make a tuna dog," she said.

So we gathered some lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, and cucumbers from the garden. We chopped up the peppers and cucumbers and mixed them up with tuna. Then we put slices of tomato and lettuce into a hot dog bun (the only bread options in the pantry at the time) and the tuna dog was born.

We also had a few strawberries from the garden. I love it when we can take a bunch of random produce from the garden and make a meal. And I love that she was able to take the other parts of the pantry and put something together.

We laughed about the name, but loved the sandwich.

The #1 Reason to Grow Tomatoes

There are all sorts of good reasons to garden, but this is my number one reason for growing tomatoes:
I could go for days and eat nothing but tomatoes. Well, tomatoes with basil and a little feta. This is so amazingly good, you can't even imagine.

Beyond this; you can make salsa, marinara sauces, pizza sauce, chili, roasted tomatoes, tomato soup, garnish salads, tacos, burritos..... the list is endless. And it's all tasty.


Saving Money by Taking Care of your Car - $50 Amazon Giveaway

You wouldn't spend years sitting on the couch eating chips and expect your body to be in good health, would you? Would you also expect your car to be in good condition if you neglected it for years?

The truth is, we need to take care of our things. And you can save a lot of money by taking care of your car. Here is my top 5 list for saving money on car repairs (and keeping up your resale value.)

#1 Perform all scheduled maintenance
Air Filters, brake pads, transmission fluids, fans, alternators, oil filters, belts, fuses, lights, windshield wipers, spark plugs.... This is just a small list of the things that need to be maintained and that can easily fail. Having your car routinely checked out can save you on major headaches in the future.

#2 Keep it clean
Why would you spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle, just to use it as your trash heap? If your kids throw cheerios on the floor, pick them up! Or better yet, have a no eating in the car policy (that will keep your car clean and h…

The Time has Finally Arrived - the New Release of The Legend Of Zelda - Skyward Sword!!

WOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! That's the only word I have for the good news announced this week! The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword will be released on November 20th. And as luck would have it, you can pre-order it on Amazon. Woo!

I have always liked Nintendo games and have owned every Nintendo system ever made. And my favorite game - The Legend of Zelda. I have played and beat every single one. And this year, I hope to beat the Skyward Sword.

Check out a few shots from the new game:




This is what I'll be doing this winter. Lots and lots of fighting.

OMG - PRUNES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It has been years since prunes have been in my home. YEARS! And it's not for the reasons you may be thinking! I am addicted to prunes. If I see them, I eat them. I eat them ALL.

I don't care if someone gave me a gallon of prunes. I'd eat all of them. I know what they do (bathroom-wise). I know how many calories and how much sugar they contain (naturally, but still). It doesn't matter. There is no rational way out of it. PRUNE=EAT.

And so when I first started getting coupons for these new D'Noir prunes, I threw them away. Okay, I recycled them. But eventually, the sales were too great. Plus, I've been trying to limit my candy intake so my mind was focused on sweets. So for $1.09, I succumbed to my prune cravings and bought this package.

Note the savage way the top was ripped off. I ate them in the car (yes all of them) before I even left the parking lot. And they were good......  I didn't even wash my hands after grocery shopping. OMG!

Clearly, I have a …

What Would you Pay to be Fit?

Put your money where your mouth is! That's my motto when it comes to most things, and it really should apply to fitness as well. But for years I wouldn't sign up for a gym membership because I couldn't rationalize the cost.

Really - I still can't. Great exercise can be FREE. And when it's free, it's even better because it's free. It's natural, it's organic, it's spiritual.  Even though I haven't belonged to a gym in over a decade, I still exercise almost every day. I'm not saying I get up from the couch and walk to the fridge. I mean: I exercise. Sweaty, grunty, loud music-blaring exercise.

And there is nothing that would stop me from continuing my routine. Well - almost nothing. You see, to really exercise: sweat all over your face - just you against the world - rat in a cage - run until you collapse - I can't believe I just did that - sheer bliss type of exercise needs to be done alone.

Or with a buddy, I guess - if you're i…

When Dinner gets Tough - $20 Visa Gift Card & Ragu Giveaway

You would think getting dinner on the table every night wouldn't be that hard to accomplish. But if your kids are in any activities, then sometimes you know your family is lucky if you're able to scrape up anything on time?

On those nights, it's so easy (and still healthy!) to have a pasta night. Just open up a jar of RagĂș® Old World Style® Traditional pasta sauce, boil some water (or in our house, zucchini) and you're done. Phew!

Ragu has a lot to say about dinner time! Check out this video - entitled "When Dinner Gets Tough."



You can join in the discussion and share your 2 cents about dinner at the Ragu Mom's the Word on Dinner Community on Facebook. It's easy to get involved. You can quickly share your stories and ask questions!

But that's not all. Ragu is offering one Suburban Jungle reader the chance to win "dinner on us" by giving away a $20 Visa gift card! 

To Enter: Visit the Ragu Mom's the Word on Dinner Community on Fa…

How to Make Berry syrup WITHOUT any sugar or sweeteners

If you are going to eat pancakes (waffles, french toast, etc....) then please use whole ingredients and make them yourself. But beyond that, try your best to use the very best toppings. Real cream, real maple syrup, and berries.
My favorite topping - berry syrup. I make mine without any sugar, and as you can guess, it is so simple to make. 
Here's what you do:
Step 1. Put a few cups of berries into a saucepan Step 2. Heat and mash the berries together. Cook it on low until it's as thick as you want it. Cook longer for thicker syrup. Step 3. Eat.
It's really that simple and you do NOT need any sweeteners. Not sugar, Not honey, Not splenda or whatever fake sugar people are using these days. And there's no stress about how long to cook them. You can even mix them together raw, mash a bit, and let their natural juices combine. I do that all the time. 
If berries aren't sweet enough for you, then add a few dashes of cinnamon or a few sprigs of mint. Your taste …

Disabled by the Space bar

The space bar - who needs it? Well - apparently I do. Last week my spacebar stopped working. I searched all over online to see if there was a hot key I might have accidentally hit.

I shut down my computer and started it up again. I took off the key and searched below. Nothing. And so I decided to live without a spacebar. No biggee. Or at least that's what I thought.

Obviously, I couldn't blog. Not coherently anyway. I could only type back to people in one word sentences, or copy and paste from previous emails. Not cool.

I could sort of google search - as long as google could figure out what I was really trying to say. Then - my husband showed me how to use an onscreen keyboard. After every word, I'd have to mouse down to the onscreen keyboard and pick spacebar.

I was saved! I could now email intelligently and search with ease. Well, not really ease. Then I ordered a new keyboard on ebay, waited a few days, and then my husband installed the new keyboard.

For $15, I was a n…

Would you climb over 10 flights of stairs for 15 Skittles?

I love candy. It's a curse really. I haven't found a candy I can say No to - not even Skittles, which are arguably kind of gross.

Because I don't like Skittles, I used them in our movie decorations. That way I'd be less tempted to eat them. I am slowly weeding (and by weeding I mean eating) the candy out of our house so I can finally break this addiction. We had just 15 Skittles left in the house. Phew!

I was not going to eat them. They are gross anyway, right? Well, I thought about them constantly. Damn addiction.

Let me explain a little bit about our house before you understand the drama that was about to unfold. My house has three levels plus a loft that is up an additional smaller staircase. The Skittles are on the lowest level. My office is in the loft at the very top of our house.

I was working on my computer (on this blog - woo!) and thinking of candy. I remembered the Skittles 2 1/2 flights below me. I ran down the stairs, opened the heavy glass jar and t…

Kix Cereal - Big Giveaway

Kix Cereal is proud to say they are still kid-tested, mother-approved®. When my kids first saw the "mother approved" sign, they wondered what that meant. I told them it was approved because it had less sugar than other cereals.


Guess what? They still approved of the cereal. And if someone is going to eat cereal, you might as well eat Kix. The boxes we received said each serving contained 3 grams of sugar. As far as cereals go - that practically makes Kix a vegetable. 


All joking aside, Kix is a cereal Kids LOVE with low sugar that is made with whole grain corn and fortified with a bunch of vitamins. 


As you are preparing to go back to school, wouldn't it be nice to have 6 brand new boxes of Kix in your pantry - to make for quick and easy morning meals, snacks, and car treats?


That's what I thought! One lucky Suburban Jungle reader will win 6 boxes of Kix cereal! 


To Enter: Tell me what you think of Kix cereal (do you jazz it up with berries, do you add sugar!, do you make…

The Smurfs: Dance Party for the Wii Review

If you have a Wii, then you know how fun interactive games can be. But if you haven't tried the Dance Party games then you are missing out! My favorite Wii game is Dance Party. Now Ubisoft has come out with the Smurf's Dance Party and we had a chance to try it!

Here's what we thought of it:
It was true to the spirit of the other Dance Party games in that it contained new, hip music. The format was similar too - you dance while holding the remote and the Wii judges your performance.

What makes this and other Dance Party games great is that you don't "lose" if you aren't the best dancer. In the Smurf's Dance Party, my kids loved that you could win stars and other awards the more you danced.

Even my son danced! He has never been willing to dance with any of our other games, but he was willing to dance with the Smurfs - just not Smurfette.

He actually played the game for a long time! I heard "Smurftastic" so many times, that I was almost re…

Team UmiZoomi Preschool Math Kit Review & Giveaway

Do your kids love Team UmiZoomi? Mine do! Why not use that love of the Team UmiZoomi characters to help teach your child math? 


Nickelodeon's Team UmiZoomi has created a set of Math kits designed to help lay the groundwork for preschool math skills. 


We had a chance to review the UmiZoomi: Sorting, Classification, and Reasoning Kit.


The kit contains:

48-page workbook that amplifies the curriculum covered in each episode, setting up problems and providing opportunities for practice and repetition24-page storybook that invites kids to join Team Umizoomi on a math adventure24 Mighty Math Mission Cards - portable cards that provide math-based challenges for kids48-page activity book that reinforces math skills through simple games and activitiesTeam Umizoomi episode on DVDPencil case, pencils, and eraserThe first thing my daughter wanted out of this set was the pencils. She got busy sharpening them and then wanted to get right to work. She breezed through the workbook and felt really good…

Blueberry Revival

While we were building our garden this spring, one of my blueberry plants was demolished. Branches were broken, the crown was split, and almost half the plant died. I was pissed!

I toyed with the idea of buying a new plant, but I have a really good set up with my berries and didn't want to change things. I have 4 plants - a northsky, northcountry, northland, and chippewa. A mix of half-highs, low growers, and one high bush. We get excellent cross-pollination and the best part - they ripen within a week or two of each other and I get fresh blueberries for the entire month of July.

And I have them spaced for each of their needs. So when the Northcountry took a dive, I wanted to replace it with another Northcountry. Which of course means I'd have to order it online, wait for next spring, then nurse it for a few years to bring it up to the berry producing years. Did I mention I was pissed?

So I stuck it out - and.......

The plant has more than doubled in size! Wahoo! It sent o…

Never buy flower or herb seeds again!

When plants bolt, my first inclination is to get angry. It makes the plant taste horrible and it usually means I rip the plant out of the ground and into the compost.

But last year, I decided to see what would happen if I let the plant go all the way to seed. I tried it with my spinach and cilantro. In the end, I lost the spinach seeds, but saved just a handful of the cilantro seeds (of the thousands!)
From just this batch of seeds, I grew what turned out to be a forest of cilantro. Well, it's hot outside and you'll never guess who's already bolted. Yep, the cilantro.

But this year, I have no worries. I'm going to let some of it reseed to make new plants and the rest of the seeds will be gathered up and saved for next year.
I do the same thing with our flowers. I have been planting, saving, and replanting the same Marigold batch for the last 3 years. If I could only get my hands on a few giant zinnia seeds....

Berries + Fish = Wow!!!

This year, our berry bushes are bending over with berries! The only thing I've changed is using Fish Fertilizer. I've used seaweed (kelp), compost, bone meal, and even feather meal, but nothing has produced berries like this!

Check out some of the raspberries! These berries will all be ready once school begins. Woo!





I am super excited and will definitely be using Fish fertilizer in my garden from here on out! Check out the tomatoes I just picked (just for fun.)
All organic - All tasty - All good eats!

Plank Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat Review and Giveaway

Do you ever wish you could perform a Sun Salutation on the beach with the waves lapping around you? Or what about holding a tree pose while the sun comes up over the forest? These are the feelings yoga evokes, but to be honest, yoga on the beach or in the forest isn't really as serene as it seems.

There are bugs, people, sand bits, sticks, and uneven ground to make things a little less than calm.... So, let's keep the fantasy and imagine all the calming nature surroundings with an Eco-Friendly yoga mat.

I recently had the opportunity to review the Plank Eco-Friendly Luxe Yoga Mat  in Shag (seen above.) It's almost like doing yoga on the beach - with hands in the sand - minus the dirty sand.

There is a whole collection of Plank Yoga mats with vivid/serene images. That makes your mat unique and kinda green-looking. But the best part is the cooshiness of these mats. I've done my fair share of floor-work and let me tell you that the mat matters!


Plank mats are cooshi…

Robby Wash Review & Giveaway

We have been slowly greening up our life over the last few years. Even though we've always recycled, it's taken a while to figure out how to clean and manage our household without so many chemicals. One of our biggest challenges has been in the laundry room.

A year ago, I switched to all "green" laundry detergents, but received major push back from my family because of missing fragrances. Then I went to mixing half "smelly" detergent, half "green." And that's where my laundry progress stalled.

I have been using laundry balls in the dryer for years, so when I was offered a chance to review the Robby Wash Laundry Ball, I was already familiar with the ball concept. What was hard to imagine was how one little ball would wash all of our laundry for a whole year.


I wish I had taken  photos of the actual box. It's small! But that one small box contained all the laundry "detergent" we would need for a year.

The Robby Wash ball contains …

dENiZEN Jeans Review

As a woman, I am always searching for a good pair of jeans. No - not a good pair of jeans - but the pair of jeans. You know what I mean. So when I had the chance to review the new dENiZEN  jeans from Levis, I was excited.

They are the newest line from Levi's and they'll be sold at Target. They are made for men, women, boys and girls. They come in a variety of colors, washes, and styles. They even come in "shaping" with tummy control panels. Hmm.... 
When the dENiZEN jeans arrived at my house, I took them out and turned them over. I always check the butt. My first thought - OMG they sent me mom jeans! 
This is why you always try on jeans. You can not judge a pair of jeans by how they look on the rack. I hesitantly tried them on, and....they fit. I slowly turned around and was pleasantly surprised to find out I did not have a mom butt in these jeans. Phew! 
I still have mixed feelings about the jeans though. They fit me - which is weird since most jeans never f…