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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Makes Your Oven a Disaster? Get Back to the Fun With EASY-OFF!

So Smiley360 gave me a get my oven seriously dirty so that I can see how fabulous EASY-OFF Oven Cleaner works. I opted for the Fume Free formula, because I am seriously smell-sensitive.

Let me just be honest and say that it's not exactly a stretch for me to have a dirty oven, particularly after Christmas dinner, which includes glazed ham and apple pie. I know, bad Mommy. The evidence convicts me:

 Where'd all that mess come from? Mostly the glazed ham. I use a cola glaze, and it gets everywhere. Want to try it? It's actually pretty simple.

1/2 cup cola (not diet)
1 cup brown sugar
2 TBS mustard. The yellow kind is best.

Mix it up, and when your ham has about a half hour left in the cooking time (I cook mine at 275), pour it on and turn up the heat to 450. It's awesome. But VERY messy and sticky.

Since my biggest excuse for my nastiness is lack of time, I decided to see if you really could have a clean oven after just a two-hour wait. So I foamed it can actually see it working already to lift the grunge off.

Two hours and an extremely filthy sponge later: success!

Is it perfection? No. There are still some clinging bits. But it is CONSIDERABLY better...I don't have to be ashamed to have people seeing anything coming out of this oven. And for me, that says that I need to keep EASY-OFF Fume Free on hand to get rid of both my grime, and my excuses. At least about the oven...

I received a free product from Smiley360 for testing and review purposes. My opinions and shamefully gross oven are my own.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Canon EOS Rebel T5i: A Great Gift, and Best Buy's Got It!

It's getting down to the wire for gifts, and we all want to make sure our friends and loved ones have a great holiday. Want to put a smile on someone's face AND have it recorded in full HD?

Check out the Canon EOS Rebel T5i.

 To me, storage is a MAJOR concern...I hate running out. The EOS Rebel T5i boasts a multiformat memory card slot that accepts a variety of memory cards, including SD, SDHC and SDXC formats, so that's not an issue.

Another problem I have is trying to find the perfect light to get my ideal picture. Seriously...I have walked from room to room and outside, trying to get a great pic. This camera has a built-in flash that features multiple modes for optimal lighting conditions. Built IN. Problem solved.

But what about the picture quality? Well, head down to Best's worth the trip.

Best Buy is the ultimate destination for the latest cameras to capture your holiday memories. The Canon EOS Rebel T5i is one of the best-selling DSLRs. This camera makes advanced photography easy and fun, and gives you exceptional image quality, along with a host of features to enhance your creative expression.

•      Capture Hollywood caliber full HD video

•      Continuous autofocus while taking HD video

•      Features an 18.0-megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 5 image processor to ensure vivid, crystal-clear images.

•      The 3" vari-angle touch screen simplifies navigation.

Save $150 on the Canon EOS Rebel T5i at Best Buy*. Visit Best Buy to learn more.

Oh, and if Twitter Parties are your thing, join Best Buy at the Canon Twitter Party on Thursday, December 18th at 7pm CST for a chance to win Best Buy gift cards and other great prizes. Tweet #HintingSeason with your top gifts that you want this Holiday from Best Buy.

*offer valid 12/7-12/20. So what are you waiting for???

  Note: the reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Listerine ULTRACLEAN: Not Just Pretty Breath.

Through Crowdtap, I was introduced to the latest from Listerine: ULTRACLEAN in Artic Mint!

Listerine ULTRACLEAN doesn't just give you sweet, lovely controls tartar buildup AND kills plaque and gingivitis germs. And the sweet, lovely breath lasts for hours, which we all like, right?

I'm a Listerine fan from way back, and this product doesn't disappoint. I have had extensive dental work done, including a bridge on both the top and bottom. This is difficult to really get and keep clean. After using ULTRACLEAN, my teeth felt cleaner than they had in a long time, and smoother. And fresh breath? Get outa here...even my TODDLER noticed. Which may or may not be an insult. In short, it's a simple step to add to your dental hygiene process that makes a BIG difference.

Plus, it's totally cool. Check it out.

I received a product from Crowdtap for testing and review purposes. My opinions and newly clean teeth are my own.

Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes: Eliminate Sticky Hands AND Germs!

So I have kids. I know, nothing new. Something else that isn't new? Kids are cute, dirty little germ carriers. My secret weapon, courtesy of Smiley360? Wet Ones Antibacterial Hand Wipes.

Thanks to the packaging options, you really can take them the car:

Keep them in the glovebox or your bag:

And of course, handy in the living room to catch icky kid hands before they get all over your furniture.

Wet Ones are available in two scents, Fresh and Citrus. Personally, I prefer the Citrus, but that's always been my thing. The wipes are sturdy and hold up to even a spaghetti-paw cleanup, which is saying something with my kids. The germ-killing is a great bonus that I sincerely appreciate, because they come home from school dirty and having touched who knows what...or whom. Any safety measures are a very good thing.

With packaging this user friendly and so many benefits, what's stopping you from hooking yourself up? Go!

I received products from Smiley360 for testing and review purposes. My opinions and newly disinfected kids are my own.

Secret Outlast Completely Clean Clear Gel: Deodorant With Power

So my latest BzzAgent adventure takes me into what might be considered TMI territory, but I promise to keep it clean. As in Completely Clean Clear Gel, the latest innovation from Secret.

So what's so cool about it? Well, it smells fabulous, if that helps. It looks pretty cool, too.

It has a water-based formula that is designed to permeate sweat glands faster and more efficiently than solids, yet dries super fast. This is what the applicator looks like.

It also has advanced annoying white mess protection, which is a bonus. But is all of that really true? Well, I can show you. Don't worry, I'll spare you the actual area this product is applied to, and use my arm instead.

This is a healthy swatch of the product applied to my arm, more than you would normally use. For testing purposes...don't try this at home.

This is my arm 20 seconds later. Even with the thick application, it was dry. Note the lack of gross sticky white stuff.

As for the white mark protection? Here's the black cloth my arm is resting on. I rubbed it quite vigorously across my thickly layered arm, and this was all that came off.

So it's pretty clear to me that if applied where intended and in the correct amount, this will be one seriously clean situation. In addition, I left it on my skin for several hours, and it didn't irritate it at all, which is a plus for me.

But 48 hour protection? For real?

In the interest of Secret Science, I gave it the old college try and went 48 hours on one dose. No, I didn't leave the house. As nasty as it seems, I am able to attest that it does indeed protect for that long. The scent was still fabulous even as I got in the shower.

It holds up to the massive sweat test as well. I'm a stay at home mom, and I live in a three-level townhouse, so my cleaning procedure is like being on a Stairmaster. I can really break a sweat. Secret Outlast Clear Gel kept up beautifully.

So there is indeed something new in the deodorant world, and you all should really check it out.

I received a free product from BzzAgent for testing and review purposes. My opinions and strange science experiments are my own.

Resource Natural Spring Water: Keeping Hydrated the Green Way! #refreshwithresource

As part of my Influenster Moda VoxBox, I was pleased to get to try out resource natural spring water!

Resource is 100% natural spring water with naturally occurring electrolytes, which add a fresh, clean taste. The bottles are made of 50% recycled plastic, which is 100% recyclable, so you can feel green while getting your hydration on. The taste really is different...I thought it was very refreshing.

Something even cooler than the water: you can get it delivered right to your door. Whether a home or a business, they can hook you up. If you're curious, go here for more info.

It's also the official water of the Wanderlust Festival, which really sounds like one fabulous party. If they like this water, you should check it out. I liked it too, if that helps.

I received a product from Influenster for testing and review purposes. My opinions and hydration are my own.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Rhodes Christmas Baking Party: Not Your Average Dinner Rolls. #tryazon

I was given the opportunity to host a Rhodes Christmas Baking Party through Tryazon, featuring Rhodes Bake N Serv frozen dough products. Rhodes has a wide range of products, from dinner rolls to cinnamon rolls to bread dough. However, despite my checking several stores in my area, I was only able to locate this:

Create a whole party menu from these? Challenge accepted. Thanks to my Rhodes Home Baked Family Favorites with Frozen Dough cookbook, it's not only possible, but fabulous.

For instance, there's Baked Hot Dogs on a Stick. Cut the dogs in half, put on a skewer, wrap in dough, and bake. So good.

I got creative with a recipe for Pizza Cups, and turned them into bite-sized taco snacks using a mini-cupcake pan instead of a full-sized muffin pan.

Next, Mini Monkey Bread. I think these would be a great make-ahead item for breakfast or brunch as well. They take a bit more prep, but it's worth it.

Finally, the star of the show, a Christmas tree made of Glazed Lemon Rolls. These taste DIVINE, and just use a few simple ingredients.

I really did make all of these items using just the Rhodes Dinner Roll Dough as a base. This is great on many levels, because it makes it so easy to whip up tasty treats on the fly, just by keeping a bag of the dough in your freezer. It thaws fast and is good to go, and the recipes are quick-fix and SO delicious. There are great recipes on the Rhodes website, if you want to join my baking fun, as well as this cookbook, available for purchase. I personally am going to try a few more, just to see how versatile it can be.

I received products from Tryazon for testing and review purposes. My opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Toss the Tube: Scott Naturals Tube-Free TP! #sponsored

Crowdtap introduced me to a very simple way to go greener...Scott Naturals Tube-Free Bath Tissue.

Why are the tubes a big deal? Every year, 17 million of them are thrown away. Nobody can make that many crafts. Enough to fill up the Empire State Building...TWICE. This helps with that....unless you really feel the urge to build a TP roll building.

It looks a little something like this.

Pretty cool, eh? I know what you're can't roll just as well as the tubed ones. Well, it does. Here it is in my bathroom. It rolls nice and smoothly.

In addition, I tried using it as tissues by leaving it on my desk. Even without the center spindle in, the roll holds its shape, so there's no worries about storage. Oh, and it stays secure all the way to the last toddler was only too happy to help me test that.

So if you're looking for an easy way to improve your personal carbon imprint as well as maintain your personal hygiene, go for Scott Naturals Tube-Free Bath Tissue!

I received product from Crowdtap for testing and review purposes. My opinions and slightly worn bathroom decor are my own.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kids Upset Tummy & Nausea Relief: Truly Mommy's Bliss!

Thanks to Moms Meet, I was able to try and share Mommy's Bliss Kids Upset Tummy & Nausea Relief, an all-natural nausea supplement that also helps with gas and indigestion.

Cool thing: it's not just for kids. One pack is a kid's dose, three is for adult.

Why is this so cool? I already's all-natural.  ALL. The ingredients are Deionized Water, Glycerin, Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Citroflavex, Potassium Sorbate, Natural Cherry Flavor, Organic Ginger Root Extract, Organic Dill Extract, Organic Fennel Seed Extract, Organic Peppermint Extract, Organic Catnip Extract. That's it. Nothing crazy.

Oh, and by the way, it's sugar free, gluten free, 100% vegetarian and vegan, and contains no alcohol or parabens, no artificial flavors or colors, and no dairy or soy.

I know, that's fabulous, but does it work?

My two-year-old certainly thinks so. We were at a convention, and she started throwing up. I gave her a dose of this. No fighting involved...she liked the taste, A good nap and some snuggles later, she was feeling much better, and able to take in fluids. This is a great thing when you have a sick child and you're far from home.

Since it's in single serve packets and doesn't require refrigeration, it's simple enough to tuck it into a purse or a diaper bag, just like I did.

When it came to sharing, I decided to grab an opportunity. My eldest had a stomach virus, and the other moms at the bus stop in the morning said their little ones were all down with it. When we all returned to the stop to pick the kids up, I was prepared with the samples and coupons.

The next day, everyone who took a sample said it really helped their children's symptoms, and two of them went looking for it to get more. They felt comfortable with the ingredients list, even the ones who lead a very clean lifestyle. Some said they would bring it up to other moms, and I gave them some extra coupons to pass on.

To sum up: it's natural, and it works. You gotta try this stuff. Not that I'm wishing tummy troubles on anyone, but should they happen, this is your weapon.

I received free products from Moms Meet for testing and review purposes. My opinions and toddler's unhappy tummy are my own.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Snuggle Exhilarations: Soothes Your Body, Mind...and Laundry?

As a member of the Snuggle Bear Den, I was given the awesome opportunity to try out the latest innovation from Snuggle: Exhilarations Fabric Softener and Scent Enhancer in White Lavender and  Sandalwood scent!

This isn't your standard laundry agent. This one goes rogue, but in a good way. It not only rocks the Snuggle fabric softener you know and love, it releases a long-lasting scent that is as soothing as it is delicious.

You use it like you would any other liquid fabric softener, so it's a part of your normal laundry routine. But the scent is what works's a soft combination of lavender, sandlewood, and a freshness, with just a hint of musk. I wanted to bury my nose in my kids' clean socks, and trust me, that's only for the bravest under normal circumstances.

I mentioned long-lasting, right? It really is. I washed my favorite throw blanket last week, and the scent still lingers. A much welcome change.

Even my Snuggle Bear approves!

I received a free product from Snuggle for testing and review purposes. My opinions and urges to sniff aare my own.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Influenster: A Memoir, Or, For Whom the VoxBox Tolls.

If you actually read my blog, which is much appreciated, by the way, you'll see Influenster crop up often. Not to mention the very obvious badge. But why am I happy to be an Influenster?

Well, first off, they were the reason I started review blogging in the first place. For real. As a member, blog posts were among the options to share, and I thought, I have a blog, why not? Now that's what my blog's all about. So I thank them to giving me that extra push to get started.

I've been a member for two years, and in that time, I've become well acquainted with the coolest thing about being an Influenster...the VoxBoxes! What are they? Well, have a gander.

Those are just a small example of the coolness that has crossed my desk over the two years I've been an Influenster. I love the "surprise package" aspect. They were actually also my first exposure to those kind of box collections, and how easy it is to get addicted to them.

Most of all, I enjoy being an Influenster because I love interacting with the brands, and seeing their appreciation of my posts and pics. It really makes me feel like I am a part of the promotion process, and getting the word out about these awesome products.


5 Hour Energy: Keeps Me Feeling in The Pink...for Charity!

Thanks to the generosity of Smiley360, I got to enjoy one of my favorite ways to perk up: 5 Hour Energy!

I see you noticing its lovely pink swirls. Well, that's because from now through December 31, 2014, Living Essentials will donate five cents from the sale of every specially marked bottle of Pink Lemonade flavored 5-hour Energy to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. LBBC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support. The minimum guaranteed donation is $200,000.00.

Now, how fabulous is that?

 Even beyond the charitable contribution. 5 Hour Energy is a very convenient way to keep going no matter how much your schedule drags you down. I keep one in my car glove box and another handy in my purse, just in case. A couple of sips, and you're good to go. Only 4 calories, and no sugar, unlike most of the booster type drinks out there. The Pink Lemonade flavor is particularly tasty, like a lemon candy. It's a staple for this busy Mom.

I received free products from Smiley360 for testing and review purposes. My opinions and serious lack of sleep are my own.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Dr. Teal's Lavender Epsom Salt Soaking Solution: A Surprising Spa at Home!

When I was chosen by Smiley360 to try out Dr. Teal's Lavender Epsom Salt Soaking Solution, I had no idea it would be this much fun, or such a major beauty boon. Behold: My personalized mini-spa.

From left to right: Hair volumizer, using my usual conditioner, facial exfoliator, using my normal cleanser, and lip treatment, using petroleum jelly.

Here's me before:

And after:

So yeah, they really do work. The hair volumizer was particularly hair felt super clean, but also very soft.

The most dramatic, though, was the foot soak. I did my right foot only so I could compare, and it's a huge difference. The dead skin just sloughed off easily. See?

So in short, don't be fooled by the "epsom salt" portion...this is a soothing, relaxing, fresh-smelling product that can make you pretty AND happy. Go for it. If you want to try everything you've seen above, click here.

I received a product from Smiley360 for testing and review purposes. My opinions and hideous feet are my own.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Tazo Chai Tea: Sweet Meets Spicy in the Most Wonderful Way! #sweetmeetsspicy #sponsored

So Smiley360 was cool enough to hook me up with a chance to try out the Tazo Chai Teas. I have a love of tea that goes back to my way younger years, so I was very excited.

What is Tazo Chai?

From the website:

Steeped in 5,000 years of Indian history, chai is a black tea blend as complex as it is rich. Tazo brings together the best ingredients from across the globe to honor this ancient tradition. Sweet cinnamon and creamy vanilla meet spicy black pepper, fragrant cardamom and bold star anise in this unforgettable beverage.

What does that mean? It's a total sensory experience. The scent and flavor completely immerse you in beauty. It's just that good. It's available in both filter bags and boxed liquid concentrate in Classic, Organic, Decaf, Vanilla Caramel, Chocolate, and Pumpkin Spice, and can be enjoyed either hot or iced.

So what could be better than that?

How about cupcakes?

Yes, indeedy. Cupcakes made with Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Latte concentrate, and topped with Pumpkin Spice Chai buttercream frosting. Intrigued? Here's how to make them. My inspiration came from this recipe.

Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Latte concentrate
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line pans with cupcake liners.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together.

Combine the chai concentrate and milk together in another bowl, stirring well.

In a big bowl, whisk the eggs for 20 seconds, then add the sugar and whisk 30 more seconds. Add oil and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

Alternately pour in the flour mixture and chai mixture, beating until completely combined. Pour into lined cupcake pans.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a probe inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp chai concentrate, divided

Reduce the 1/2 cup of chai concentrate over medium heat until it's down to about 2 tsp. It will thicken, but it should still stay a liquid. It thickens a bit as it cools, so watch for that. Cool in refrigerator.

Beat butter until smooth. Add 1 cup of sugar and combine.

Add the 2 tbsp of unreduced chai concentrate and combine. Add the remaining sugar in 1/2 cup increments, combining after each.

Add the cooled, reduced chai concentrate and combine on high to mix completely.

Frost and enjoy! I used a pastry bag myself.

And what more appropriate accompaniment than a hot cup of the same Tazo Chai?

An interesting side effect of making this recipe is that your house will smell FANTASTIC. Between the baking and the chai reduction, the spicy scent permeates is truly wonderful. You really gotta try this tea, whatever you do with it. They're all SO yum.

I received a free product from Smiley360 for testing and review purposes. My opinions and old-school tea set are my own.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Ricola Revitalizing Herb Drops: The Candy That Kicks Fatigue's Butt. #swissherbs #sponsored

Because I'm a Chr├╝terchrafter on Crowdtap, I got to try out Ricola's latest herb drop...and this one gives great rush. For real.

 Image from

It's still a cool cough drop, like you'd expect from Ricola. But it not only eases coughs, it gives you a hand when your cold gets you dragging. It even makes you feel perky when you're not sick at all. They have B vitamins mixed in with those herbs, and ginseng. Two drops provide 20% of the Adult Daily Value of B6 and B12. My experience? I did feel more alert and awake after only two drops.

The best part? It tastes like a fizzy lemon drop. They are seriously good.  Since you can have 2-10 drops per day, you can really get your lemon party on. And as you can see, they're very much easier than toting an energy drink around. They've found a new home in my purse, anyway. And my glove box, and my desk...

I received products from Crowdtap for testing and review purposes. My opinions and addiction to lemony things are my own.