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Showing posts from September, 2011

Mechatars Robots - Review & Giveaway #CleverRobot #Spon

Robots are cool! I have loved robots ever since the first Short Circuit movies, but I love watching my kids enjoy them even more. There is just something great about being able to animate something semi-human.

If you have a child that likes robots, you are going to love Mechatars! We were lucky enough to be able to play with Mechatar Wrexx:
Robots are always cool, but Mechatars are in sync with this generation. They are controlled by remote and can interact with others online. You can complete online (and offline) missions, battle with friends, and collect badges and points. All you need is a computer with a USB port - Easy.
They are robots. They fight. There's a bad guy (swarm). It's everything a boy could want. My son loves it! I am just waiting for one of his neighborhood friends to get a Mechatar so they can battle each other. Oh, and they get stronger (and more skilled) every time you do battles. And you can "buy" weapons at the online store to change up the ba…

TEAS' tea review

People are always astounded when I tell them I don't drink tea or coffee. I just don't. But I have been trying to branch into the world of Tea. You know why. There are so many antioxidants and other good reasons to drink tea.

I am all about improving my health, and so it only makes sense that I would try to like tea. Just like people try to like vegetables (Eggplant...I'm talking to you!)  So when TEAS' teas offered to let me sample their low (and zero) calorie teas, I thought why not.

My previous impressions of tea include dark, bitter liquid with little bits of leaves floating around. Blech! And when I realized some of these teas were unsweetened, I braced for the worst. But they were surprisingly good! As a big water drinker, it's hard for me to imagine swapping over to any flavored beverage, but I'd gladly take these with to a party or even have them at our own get-togethers.


I'd much rather drink a healthy tea, then soda or other artificially sweetene…

Sante Nuts Review

We love nuts in our house! If we went a day without almond butter, I just might lose it. We take nuts seriously! But even though we love and eat almost every nut, I've never even tried Candied Walnuts or Candied Pecans. 
I'm mostly a raw-nut kind of gal. Well, there is a first time for everything. Sante Nuts sent us a few bags of their candied and roasted nuts. 
What did we think of them? Let's just say the candied nuts were a big hit with the kids. They were sweet and tasty, but still nutty. I liked them, but to be honest, I am not used to nuts tasting like anything but nuts. I could taste the canola oil used to roast them and that's not a taste I enjoy.
It wasn't a deal breaker and didn't prevent me from eating the whole bag or anything. And my kids were such a big fan of the candied pecans that I will be substituting any little chocolate chips or candy pieces in their trail mixes with candied nuts. 
If you want to check out Sante Nuts you can save 25% on yo…

PÜR Gum - Aspartame Free Gum Review

A few years ago, I gave up gum forever. It eventually wheedled back into my life, but not without a lot of stressful contemplation. What's the big deal, it's just gum right? Actually....


If you flip over the package on most gums you'll find all sorts of scary ingredients. Dyes, artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, and more. 


But if you like gum, you're kind of stuck with the fact that you're chewing chemicals. Maybe not anymore? I recently had the chance to review PÜR Gum and it's free of aspartame! It's also free of sucralose and sugar. 


I've scoured the ingredients list and have not found any artificial dyes/colors. According to the manufacturer it's also gluten-free, vegan, non GMO, diabetic friendly, and nut-free. It also contains antioxidants. I noticed Vitamin E in the the ingredients list.


The flavors were great - pomegranate mint, peppermint, spearmint, and excitemint. Pomegranate mint was my favorite. 


I'm happy to have found an asp…

Ten Strategies for Decluttering your Playroom

If you have kids, then you probably have toys....everywhere! Kids naturally drop what they're doing and run off to the next thing. This can mean toys, crafts, and mess scattered throughout the house.

Obviously, it's a good decision to start training them to put things where they belong, but in the meantime, how do you tame the clutter?

Since I have 2 children of opposite gender, we have a ton of toys for both of them. This can get out of hand pretty quickly, but we've found a way to keep it under control. Here are my top 10 tips for decluttering the playroom.

#1 - Have your kids pick up what they play with before they start something new. This is a never ending battle, but a lesson that needs to be learned. And when they actually do it, it makes a world of difference.

#2 - Only allow toys in designated areas. This keeps your living room and dining room table from being toy dump spots. And in the worst case scenario, you shut the door to the "toy room" and the me…

Green Works Cleaning Supplies - Review

Cleaning is one of the most challenging chores. All of the stinky (and harmful) chemicals make it even worse! For the last few years, I have been slowly greening up our cleaning procedures. I've used green cleaners, used less product, and even made my own.
It's been a multi-year process because not all green cleaners have made the cut. I'm really sorry to have to say that, but it's true. Some of them have been a real let down - either in performance or scents. 
So when I was offered the chance to review the Green Works line of products, I jumped at the chance. Even if I have to mix and match green products to get the whole job done, I'm fine with that!
I had the opportunity to sample the Green Works Naturally Derived Cleaning Wipes, All-purpose Cleaner, Laundry Detergent, and Bathroom Cleaner.
My hands down favorite were the Naturally Derived Cleaning Wipes. They didn't have an offensive odor (like most chemically laden ones do) and they are 100% biodegradable…

Entenmann's Big Book of Baking

When I hear the word "Entenmann's" I think cake. They are well known for their quality baked goods. And by quality, I mean tasty. So it would make since that Entenmann's would come out with a coffee table book about baking.

I had the chance to review Entenmann's Big Book of Baking and I could barely look at the words. The pictures were so unbelievable! All the tastiest goodies you could imagine filled the pages.

The book is sectioned off into "Almost homemade" and "From Scratch" recipes. The almost homemade section features easy dessert recipes that feature Entemann's cakes or pastries to save a step or two. The desserts shown are amazing.

But I'm the kind of girl that likes to make it from scratch. Lucky for me, this book contains everything I would ever want to bake - including donuts and all sorts of chocolately goodness.

After I ogled every picture, I went back through and read through my favorite recipes. And I decided making don…

Give Back when you Shop at Sam's - plus enter to #win a $25 Sam's Gift Card #Giveaway

Beginning on September 19, 2011 - your purchases at Sam's Club can help benefit Breast Cancer Research. By purchasing specially-marked General Mills products like Cheerios and Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies at your local Sam's Club, you can help fund the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

For 5 years, General mills has partnered with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, and this year thy are making their annual donation of $2 million to the foundation o advance breast cancer research and support education and community projects.

By voting at PinkTogether.com from now until April 14, 2012, you can help decide how half of that contribution will be donated.  The donations will be divided between the Treatment and Assistance program and the Prevention Research program. Voting results will be announced on Mother's Day 2012.

Want to start contributing now? Then head to Sam's and look for specially marked General Mills products. To help you out, Sam's Club and…

Calling all Star Wars Fans - #Win a $25 Walmart Gift Card #Giveaway

Are you a Star Wars fan? Come on, who isn't? This September, the Complete Saga will be available on Blu-ray. In honor of this new release, select General Mills Big G cereals will have a limited edition Star Wars good versus evil image on their packaging. 


They will look like this:
And when you flip them over and put them together you can create a panoramic poster like this:

Starting September 16th, the 9-disc STAR WARS: THE COMPLETE SAGA will be available on Blu-ray. You can find the special Star Wars Big G cereals for a limited time at Walmart.

To help you celebrate, MyBlogSpark is giving one Suburban Jungle reader 3 Big G cereals with the special edition Star Wars packaging and a $25 Walmart Gift Card!

To Enter: Fill out the rafflecopter form below. <a href="http://rafl.es/enable-js">You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>.
Disclosure: The cereal, gift card, information, and giveaway have been provided b…

Finding Balance to Inspire you to Become your Best Self

The importance of finding balance in your life cannot be understated. It's something I have been working on for years. Even though I've somehow survived into my thirties, I haven't always been "balanced."

What does it mean to be balanced and why is it important? To me, balanced means not being to extreme in either direction. For your health, that might mean finding a happy medium between exercising intensely for hours each day and lying on the couch 24/7.

It may also involve finding a way to schedule your time, your workload, your sleep, and deciding who you spend your time with. And of course, it would mean finding a balance between treats and healthy food choices.

But what about mentally and spiritually? Balance means being mindful of every moment. Not speeding through life, and not going so slow that you don't do anything.

Spiritually, it may mean discovering your role in this great big universe and finding what works for you. It may mean connecting with …

Growing Mushrooms in Your Kitchen - Easy and Delicious!

Foodiacs is the newest online community for food enthusiasts. And it's not just about good food. They are also doing really good things for our communities. From September 6-20th, Foodiacs featured an event that helped local schools.
During that time, every "Foodiac" that purchased two Back to the Roots boxes received a third box and classroom curriculum to be donated to the school of their choice. Isn't that great?!
Do you know how cool it would be to grow mushrooms in the classroom? I had a chance to review one of the Grow-Your-Own Mushroom Garden kits and I'm currently growing them in my kitchen! 
I plan on bringing them in to show my children's classrooms. The best part about the growing boxes is how contained it is. Growing mushrooms is a moldy, wet business and the box really contains all of the ooze.

Also, each box of mushrooms is growing in sustainably grown and recycled coffee grounds. A-W-E-S-O-M-E!! After your box is done, you can chuck it in your …

Sibu Beauty - Hydrating Serum Review

Summer is tough on my skin. The heat and humidity make wearing moisturizers too much for my skin to handle. But you want to use something to help repair and replenish what the sun and chlorine take away.

That's where serums can be helpful. I recently had the opportunity to review Sibu Beauty's Sea Buckthorn Hydrating Serum. It was a summer godsend. I had been battling the greasies all summer, but I found this serum to be so light and hydrating. I could use it at night in place of a moisturizer and in the morning under my sunscreen.

Fast forward to fall and winter, and you still have an excellent first step under your usual lotions. I have enjoyed using the Sibu Hydrating Serum. My skin tone is more even, some of the summer acne issues have resolved, and my skin just feels better.

Wondering about what makes Sibu Beauty different? For one, Sea Buckthorn is an ingredient in all of their products. Sea Buckthorn is a plant that contains vitamins A, C, E, K, minerals, carotenoids, …

Hearts for Hearts Girls - Authentic Doll Giveaway

When you purchase toys for your kids, do you prefer if part of the proceeds go toward helping others? If so, then you are going to love Hearts for Hearts Girls dolls.


These dolls remind me of the hugely popular dolls that every girls begs for. You know what they are, and you know why they're popular. Girls like to play with dolls that look real and can really be played with.
The Hearts for Hearts Girls fit the bill. They are lifelike, come with interchangeable outfits, and brushable hair. But they also come with a gift for someone else. A portion of each sale is donated to a children's cause in the country the doll is modeled after.
Meet the girls: Meet Consuelo from Mexico City. Colorful and warm, Consuelo provides aid to hungry children who are homeless and live on the streets near her parents’ bakery.
Meet Lilian of Belarus. Determined Lilian provides aid to girls whose parents must find work in the big city and are forced to leave their children with orphanages.
Meet Dell fr…

39 Days down - 51 left to go!

I am great at starting things. Exercise programs, jobs, projects, you name it. I am GREAT at starting. I'm not so great at finishing. If you read my blog, then you know that I've started the Supreme 90 Workout system. And you know that once upon a time I attempted to finish the 30 day shred.

I failed the 30 day shred because I ended up with severe bronchitis. I had it for almost a month. Oh and my hair started falling out and my "cycle" became wild. Never go vegan, have a creepy house guest, commit to extreme exercise, and get sick all at the same time.

But those are just excuses. I probably would have quit from boredom eventually. Not anymore! I am a new "finish what I start" kind of person. Actually, that's my new motto:

Finish what you Start
And I am finishing. If you've done the Supreme 90 day workout, then you KNOW it's intense. Like every day intense. Like don't eat for hours beforehand or you will barf intense. And I don't have a …

Rodelle Baking Challenge and Real Vanilla Bean Review

Real, fresh ingredients are the secret to good food. If you agree, then you are going to want to get ready for the Rodelle Baking Challenge!

Starting October 1st, you can enter your baking stories (include photos and videos if you like) and enter to win a year's worth of baking supplies and a Kitchenaid Mixer. Three winners will be selected.

So what does Rodelle have to do with baking? Well, if you're like me than you may not have heard of Rodelle before now. Rodelle supplies the finest baking essentials like pure vanilla, extracts and spice blends, all responsibly sourced from premier growing regions.

I initially came across Rodelle in my search for pure vanilla. Yes, I've been using "pure" vanilla extract for years, but I wanted to use Real vanilla beans. But how do you go about finding a supplier you can trust? After reading a few foodie blogs, I determined that Rodelle was an excellent source of vanilla beans and pure vanilla products.

And I had the chance t…

Professor Wormbog in search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo Review & Giveaway

Mercer Mayer has created so many fantastic children's books. There was a time when we owned ALL of the Little Critter books and even though we had read them over and over again, my kids still wanted to hear them.
But we had never heard of Professor Wormbog or the Zipperump-a-Zoo. Have you? "Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo" started it all and now it's been re-released in a collectible version. 
My kids recognized the illustrations right away as a "little critter story" and were eager to jump right in. Just like all of the Mayer books, it is full of great pictures, mischief and sneaky words/images. My kids loved it and yours will too.


If you want to buy a copy of Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-a-Zoo, you can find it at FastPencil. Keep your eyes open because FastPencil will be publishing a whole line of classic collectibles.


One lucky Suburban Jungle reader will also have the chance to win their very own copy of Professor Wormbo…

Justkidcostumes.com Review

Halloween is just around the corner and it's time to start looking for costumes. I'm going to suggest you forgo the trips to the mall and look for your costumes online. JustKidCostumes.com has a fantastic (if not overwhelming) selection of costumes for kids, babies, and adults.

You can find almost every type of costume imaginable. I'd recommend you consider JustKidCostumes when you are hunting for the perfect Halloween costume, but also for other holidays. I saw plenty of costumes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Patrick's day, Independence Day, Valentine's and more.

You just don't find this type of selection in stores (and not in the sizes you need!)  Take a look at some of these super cute costumes:




My hands down favorite is an infant costume called "hotdog" and because the baby's legs are inside the bunting, she looks like a big hot dog. L-O-V-E it!

There are also a lot of really creepy costumes. My children and I poured over the site to decid…

Kashi Peanut Butter Granola Bars Review

Every once in a while I get together with a group of moms and we talk about life. And by life I mean fitness and food. Our favorite food topics are organic food, gourmet recipes, and proper nutrition.

This may not be your idea of a good time, but my friends and I wouldn't have it any other way. Feeding our families is our job and we want to do the best we can. As former type-A career women, we take it seriously.

Recently, Kashi asked if we would review their line of TLC organic granola bars at our meeting. Um....yeah. We sampled the Kashi Peanutty Dark Chocolate Layered Granola Bars. Try not to get lost on the chocolate part.

I've tried Kashi products before (in fact our pantry is always sporting a few Kashi accessories...) but somehow these must have escaped my shopping cart. I've always purchased the coconut chocolate ones. Mmmmm....chocolate.

So when they arrived at my door, I sampled one. And I almost called the entire meeting off. I mean, who in their right mind want…

Moon Dough Review - New and Improved!

We love moon dough in our household. The molding sets are fantastic and the dough outlasts any other dough we've ever used. 
Well, just when you thought moon dough was the greatest molding product on Earth, they went and changed the formula. Now - moon dough is less crumbly and still NEVER dries out. Wahoo!
So we gave the new formula a try, and we loved it. It was less crumbly and since our original moon dough has still not dried out (going on a year and having been left out a zillion times) I'm guessing this new formula will last as well.
Check out moondough.com to see all of the new push n' pop play sets. We had the chance to try the breakfast set and I highly recommend it. Kids love breakfast foods and what could be more fun than making waffles, pancakes, and toast. 
*We received a complimentary moon dough play set for review purposes. Thank you to Team Mom and Spin Master for supplying the dough for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tropical Traditions Organic Skin Exfoliator Review & Giveaway

If you are what you eat, are you also what you put on your skin? In the quest for better health, I very much believe that you are what you eat and you are what you put on your skin.

I know that sounds scary. As women, we use so many crazy things on our skin in order to look beautiful. Or at least presentable. You know what I'm saying.

Because of this, I've started ditching all of my old cleansers and cosmetics. I started washing my face with natural oils like olive oil and coconut oil. I'm not a beauty expert, so google washing your face with oils and you'll see that it's actually a very normal (and healthy) thing to do.

Some sites even get fancy and give you recipes to make your own scrubs. I wasn't as good at making those, mostly because I didn't have big enough sugar or salt crystals.

That's where Tropical Traditions Organic Skin Exfoliators come in. I had the chance to review the Lavendar skin exfoliator.

Here are the ingredients:
Ingredients: sea s…

Zhu Zhu Pets Quest for Zhu the Movie Review & Giveaway

Are your kids really into zhu zhu pets? My kids love them. They have loved them from the beginning and they still love them now. My son even bought a zhu zhu baby hamster the other day. A baby!

They were more than thrilled when they found out we'd get to watch the new Zhu Zhu pets movie before it even came out in stores.  It's called Quest for Zhu and as you might expect, it features zhu zhu hamsters as the main characters. In fact, Mr. Squiggles is one of the lead hamsters, and I think we own Mr. Squiggles.

Here's what you should know about the movie from a kid's perspective:

My 5 and 7 year old loved it. They loved it from the moment they saw the cover, and surprisingly they claim to have seen commercials for this movie. They were engrossed in the movie for the entire show. They really, really liked it.

Here's what you should know from a parent's perspective:

This movie is absolutely okay for kids to watch. There are some "scary" parts, I guess, but …

Fundamiddles - Review & Giveaway

Do you shy away from cupcakes because of the huge frosting messes? Yep, it's a disaster. By now you've probably seen coupons and commercials for Fun da middles from Betty Crocker. Fun da middles take the mess out of the frosting by putting it on the inside. 
Kind of like the packaged snack cakes - only fresher. And a lot more fun because you get to make them. I let my kids make these and share them with their friends. They had a blast.
Want to see how it's done? Take a look at this quick video that shows just how easy it is:


 I bet you're itching to try these yourself. Go here to print an 85c off coupon.  And of course, one Suburban Jungle reader is going to get the chance to win a Fun da Middles prize pack:


You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway.Disclosure: The Betty Crocker Fun da-middles product, information, and giveaway have been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark

Baking Molasses Cookies - Enter to win a baking set

Have you ever tried to make Molasses cookies? I have - and it was horrible. Messy, messy, messy. But they are so yummy!!! Guess what, now there's an easier way to make Molasses cookies.

Leave it to Betty Crocker to create a Molasses cookie mix that's ready in under 20 minutes. We made them and loved them. Actually, my kids made them. They were that easy.

Want to give them a try yourself? You're in luck. You can download a 75c off coupon here. And one Suburban Jungle reader will win a Betty Crocker Molasses Cookie Prize Pack (seen above) that contains one packages of molasses cookie mix, a non-stick baking pan, apron and stirring spoon.

<a href="http://rafl.es/enable-js">You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway</a>. Disclosure: "The product, information and prize pack has been provided by Betty Crocker through MyBlogSpark."

You can't swim? - Well then try the DEEP END....

Over the weekend, we had a pool party for my son and 6 of his friends. Make that 5 of his friends and a son of one of my friends. I knew she'd find out about the party and she'd be hurt if he wasn't invited. So, that's the back story. That - and the fact that this boy occasionally does destructive things on purpose.

All is going well and the boys are having a great time. My daughter is trying her best to keep herself busy. Eventually, she starts chumming around with one of the boys. You know which one. They eat together and play games near the water.

Eventually I see them standing near the deep end. Whatever. He tells her to get in the water and she says "No, I can't swim. So I can't go in the deep end." With that, he pushes her into the water.

I jump from my seat and start running toward the pool. I scream out her name and I hesitate. I try to decide if it's better for me to jump in and swim across or run around the side of the pool. In my 2 sec…

It's time to prepare the garden for fall

School is back in session, and that means 2 things for the garden. #1 Fall raspberries are in their full swing. #2 The frost is coming and it's time to prepare.

If you're a northern gardener like me, then you know the season is much to short. But you can still make the best of the summer season before fall.

Here are my top gardening priorities for September - I hope they help you ready your garden for winter.

#1 - Remove all new flowers on tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, and similar fruiting veggies. Prune out any suckers, new growth, or excess foliage so the plants can focus on ripening the fruit they are currently growing. For tomatoes, this also means removing any tomatoes that are starting to turn color. They can ripen on the counter (see above) while the plant put its energy into increasing the size of it's smaller fruits.

#2 - Prune any summer bearing raspberries you didn't get to in July.

#3 - Stop watering and/or feeding blueberries and other garden perennials …

$40 Sam's Club Gift Card Giveaway

It's back-to-school time, and we are stocking up on easy (healthy) snacks for lunches and activities. Yogurt is one of those snacks that I routinely pick up. It's portable, easy to eat, and versatile. I add granola, raisins, berries, and nuts to round out the nutritional needs of the snack/meal.

Right now you can load up on Yoplait yogurt products at Sam's Club. Sam's Club usually has good prices, and now they've extended their selection. You can now find Yoplait Light with Granola and Trix yogurt. I'm sure you'll be able to find a variety that works for your family.

To make it even easier - MyBlogSpark is offering one Suburban Jungle reader a $40 Sam's Club Giftcard to stock up on your favorite flavors of Yoplait yogurt.
You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway.<a href="http://rafl.es/enable-js">You need javascript enabled to see this giveaway<…

How do you get your kids to eat healthy food?

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If you're sending your kids back to school this fall, then chances are good that you're thinking about what they'll be eating. I know I'm thinking about it! Everyone tells you that it's hard to get kids to eat healthy food. That's a lie. For a while anyway. 
If you want your kids to eat healthy, you need to start early. Offer them plenty of fresh whole food options as soon as they begin eating and keep everything else out! Up to the age of 3, this approach works fantastic. 
This method might mean a few (or a lot!) of food fights. Not with your kids - but with other adults! Once your kids start selecting their own snacks and going to play dates or school, then you'll be battling with them.
I had a food fight just the other day. My dad asked, "your kids aren't on a diet are they?" What??!??!?!? And a fight broke out. A fight that lasted the whole night and eventually brought my husband into the disaster. 
When it comes to healthy eating…

HandTrux Review

Here's a toy you probably haven't seen at the park or beach: HandTrux. But in the sand is exactly where thi toy belongs and the first place your little one will want to take it!

This summer, we had the chance to review HandTrux. My kids looked at it and thought it was so cool. They could be their own "digger" truck. They could dig, scoop, and look like a robot all at the same time.


They ran to the sandbox to give it a try. And that's when they lost interest in it. Unfortunately, my kids found it tough to dig with. The idea was great. The toy looks super cool and other kids wanted it. But they really had a hard time digging with it.

Maybe it was just them? Check out this video of a little boy having a great time with the Handtrux at the beach.


If you have a child that's really into dump trucks and equipment, then they will be excited about this toy. And hopefully they will have more determination to make it work than my kids did.

*I received a complimentary H…