Saturday, February 28, 2015

Eating fish for breakfast

When I was pregnant I was told to take fish oil to increase my baby's I.Q. I started to take it religiously at that time and have been taking it daily ever since.
Research supports many different reasons for taking fish oil, but for me, as someone who works in the mental health field, it is all about the brain. This stuff is GOLD, actually reducing the occurrence of schizophrenia in young adults who have experienced an episode of psychosis. Just that is enough for me. Theres also the research supporting fish oil in lowering depressive symptoms and aggression in children. Then, of course, the anti inflammatory and skin benefits. This stuff is so good I have my kids eating a pill each day too. I started with the kids oil but didn't like the additives (corn syrup, food dyes, etc) so I started giving Boo equal amounts in adult form. He just pops it in his mouth and chomps it. Yuck to me, but the next best thing to a gummy bear to him.
Recently I was given a giant bottle of Earthwell Omega 3 Fish Oil to review. I am always concerned about mercury content in fish oil (though research shows even the 'bad' fish oil has more benefits than negatives) so was pleased that this oil goes through a distillation process to remove such impurities as mercury.
I just swallow the pills down so the true test was with the kids. I am very comfortable with my kids having fish oil. The bottle states that you should consult with your doctor with small children. (I say if your doctor isn't supporting fish oil for your children perhaps you need a doctor whose head isn't in the sand). Anyhow, the kids just pop these in their mouths and chew away as usual. When I first gave them the adult fish oil I instructed that they must close their mouths and bite down on the pill like a grape (otherwise expect oil splattering on their faces and elsewhere). Another tip is to keep your fish oil in the fridge or even the freezer, this will eliminate any fishy aftertaste. I have never experienced a fishy taste with the capsules, but heard other folks complain about 'fish burps' so it's best to avoid that discomfort.
Boo's review, with wide eyes, "These are so much better than the last bottle! These are as good as the red ones I used to get!" Yep, that's the reference to the corn syrup/artificial dye junk I once placed on his tongue. Yuck. I think I will stick to Earthwell and we shall all be pleased.

***I was compensated for this review with product, however opinions expressed are my honest opinions***

Monday, February 23, 2015

My first bad review

I am bummed. Getting all this free stuff to review has been great. Still, I knew the time would come where I would have to give a negative review because I pledge to give my honest opinion. I worry it will affect my reviewer status, maybe less companies will send me items, maybe this company will take issue with my opinion? Well, here goes...

For several years The Ogre has placated his foodie wife by chopping/slicing vegetable combos, mixing up an array of spices, and grilling them ONLY TO LOSE SEVERAL PRECIOUS MORSELS TO THE FLAME when he flips them over.

Last summer (two summers ago?) we went to dinner at our friends and he described a metal basket that our friend Nate had used to cook the veggies on the grill. He wanted one too! (Of course, they always have the BEST stuff!)

At season end I watched as the grocery store clearenced one time use grill pans down to fifty cents and I bought a double pack. It was really hard to do because it went against my don't buy non-necessities rule AND was disposable. (Seriously, now you know how we can survive on two part time incomes: I fret over WASTING fifty cents!)

Well, I don't think The Ogre had the same coronary reaction over the two quarters, but he wasn't happy with the wastefulness of the product so he gave it two thumbs down.

So, I waited, as I do most times I want something. You have to wait a lot when you spend N.o.t.h.I.n.g.

Then I was given the opportunity to review The Grillfella. Answer to my grilling prayers. Cute, industrial, trendy, copper! I was thrilled that my hard working husband could finally have that grill wok!

Then it arrived.

Scratched up.

No biggie, right? But the company should know so I informed them. They responded that they dealt with the issue with Amazon shipping and that if I wasn't going to give it 4 or 5 stars I didn't have to review it and they could remove me from the promo without it affecting my review verification rate. Hmmm, that didn't sound all that honest but the scratches really hadn't bothered me enough to make me rate it less than a 4.

So we kept it and The Ogre was genuinely excited to try it.

And genuinely excited to eat the food he cooked in it.

Until we noticed the copper.

The potatoes I had carefully chopped and The Ogre had oiled and seasoned, had now picked up large copper peels which has cooked on like a crispy skin.

I tried to pick the good pieces from the top but worried I was exposing my children and their parents to strange chemicals.
The whole thing left me feeling icky and worried about the products we as a society use and what we expose others and are ourselves exposed to.

The Ogre and I wondered if there wasn't enough oil or if we missed some other instruction. I scored the messages I had received from Grillfella as well as their Amazon post and couldn't find any hints.
I contacted Grillfella and didn't respond. I offered remedies so at least I could end my review on a positive note. No response.
I tell you this all so you can be assured my reviews are my honest beliefs and so you don't waste your hard earned money on low quality product.

Don't feel too bad for us though, Moo had a better use for the wok from the beginning ;)
Grillfella says that grilling any other way is nuts, but I think they have that backwards
I told him he didn't look Ogrely enough in the first picture
Check out those gloves Debbie!
I circled the clearest examples. See the circles where the copper didn't attach itself?
MOO Thought it worked perfectly well as a bed for this guy. Right she was. That was a much better use!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Diva in the car

Boo was only one year old when we rented a van with the in laws and drove down to Tennessee without stopping. The four of us rotated driving and I envied my in laws as in between turns at the wheel they propped their heads up with cute little neck pillows while The Ogre and my heads lulled way off to the side, straining our necks and making our mouths hang all funny. Those pillows were so smart! But we don't travel often and I hate filling space with seldomly used items.

Enter the Air Comfy Travel Pillow. A sturdy pillow I was given to review that provides comfort on trips long and short and takes up little space.

Between a recent death in the family and our upcoming move we have been STRESSED in this house and quite lacking in the sleep department. So last week when we were driving to one of the memorial services I pulled out the small-enough-for-a-glove-compartment bag containing the Air Comfy Travel Pillow and blew the pillow up in 1.5 breaths! This for a woman who quit physical therapy after they made her blow up a balloon (I have like zero lung capacity!).

The part of the pillow you use to blow it up can close without taking your mouth off of it, so it stays super full. You know how you blow up a beach ball or flotation device and then take your mouth off and seal it quick but it always disappointingly deflates a bit? None of that here.

I was pleased with the feel of the pillow on my neck. It felt like I could truly relax my head and let my spine/neck decompress. And the fabric was soft, with small fibers that helped so it didn't freeze the back of your skull off if you left it in the subzero that is Minnesota in February.

Now the real trouble is keeping it for my own, because Boo is convinced it is a giant dog bone. Or, diva that he is, a face mask so he can cover his grasshopper alien eyes and get his beauty sleep .

***I received this product for free I'm exchange for this review. All opinions are my honest own***

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Closet pickers, you know who you are!

I have a secret. I am a picker. I want perfect magazine quality skin. If I spot a blemish I go at it like my finger tips will photo shop it away. Then I act surprised when the result is quite the opposite. I have memories of bathtub freckle removal as a child and the time a mole spotted up on my arm I did the only logical thing. I bit it off. Bloody mess that was. My sister had me convinced it would grow back cancerous. I was just glad it was gone.

I tell you this because, well, my skin, the largest organ of my body, has taken quite the beating over the years. I read an article that the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is going to have all us ladies examining our mons pubis in all its imperfection, so I am taking the pledge to love my imperfect skin before this gets ugly.
Part of caring for my skin is restoration, so it was perfect timing to receive a generous sized bottle of Majestic Pure Rosehip Oil to review. My skin is blotchy from abuse and Rosehip oil is known to fade scars. I don't know about other brands, but Majestic Pure's Rosehip Oil has a subtle sweet yet nutty aroma that makes the application aromatherapeutic (is that a word?) And enjoyable. And the golden yellow hue of the oil makes one's skin just glow.

Okay then, who's with me on this? I know there are a lot of closet pickers out there, so in this Valentine month, pledge to show your skin some love!

***I received this product for free I'm exchange for this review. All opinions are my honest own***

The mighty bulb: another way to save the environment and your wallet

Remember that Home Stretch course I told you about from last weekend? Well, I forgot to mention another money saving, environmentally friendly tip I learned: LEDs. Outfit your house with these suckers to save energy, money, and according to my friend Crista, your brain!

I was super pleased to be provided a BrightBulb Dimmable LED bulb ( to review. When I went to Amazon to order it I was surprised at the selling price. These bulbs are GUARANTEED FOR LIFE! I had heard they were spendy but BrightBulb's price is totally doable, especially with my plan to replace with LEDs gradually.

I am bringing this LED to install in our new house but until then have been trying it out in the bathroom. I hadn't realized how godawful popcorn yellow the lighting had been with the CFLs. My neighbor Carrie says that has more to do with the light color than the bulb and assured me that people can get LEDs in many colors too, but I think I will stick to this warm white as it seems more real to me.

Right now I have a good half dozen CFLs as back ups, then The Ogre and I plan to pile our pennies for LEDs as the CFLs burn out. Hopefully Crista will come over even more if  my house is a mercury free zone ;)

Wouldn't it be nice if these came in subscribe and save?

***I received this product for free In exchange for this review. All opinions are my honest own***


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Compression Shirts: the yoga pants of 2015

Apparently compression shirts are also called rash guards? I preferred to read this as a product that guards against Goddess Rashes. As in, "Ugh, I got a bad case of the Goddess Rash after staying too long in the sauna!"
I was provided a compression shirt to review. To be honest I hesitated when I ordered it. I have so much workout clothes I don't even wear! But the excuse? This shirt would be an excuse to exercise! I submitted my order on Amazon. The shirt is supposed to fit tight so I ordered a medium, figuring a small may result in me liking like a seal (and thus show off my well earned blubber!)

The shirt arrived within the promised two days and I set it aside to go eat tacos with my API crew where I met Erin. Erin was friendly and we engaged in some small talk until she hooked me in by disclosing that she is a ToughMudder fanatic. She TRAVELS to ToughMudders with her own crew of GROUPIES! I asked her about how she trains and found out that I am not the only mom doing ultimate playground workouts. Oh how lonely the world had been. 

So, Erin whipped out her cell phone and showed me a pic of her at the most recent ToughMudder. She was wearing a... COMPRESSION SHIRT! I told her I had just received one free to review and she seemed impressed. Perhaps there was something to these shirts?

Well, I'm tough too, so I decided to slip mine on the next day. Guess what? I LOVED IT.  It fit perfect. I was worried it would be tight and sweaty, and though it was fitted it was also breathable. And soft! Did I mention how smooth and soft it was? The only downside is the constant petting I must endure from Moo. 

So now here I am, wearing this shirt nearly every other day at home. I occasionally wear it out too. With jeans, and a belt! You see, this shirt is so comfortable that I am trying to make it A THING. Wearing compression shirts when you aren't working out. Occasionally people comment about me being in shape when I wear it. WHAT?! It is the total yoga pants effect. Oh yeah, I am so in shape that it doesn't even make sense for me to wear those real clothes all the rest of you wear. I don't have time for that! 

But wait, the only workouts I have done since wearing this are trying to get my kids to dance along to the Gummy Bear song on YouTube (a good workout haters!) But don't give up on me yet. Next week I am going to rock that compression shirt while I move into my new house RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM A COMMUNITY CENTER (where I can work out), and RIGHT ON THE BUS LINE, where I can hope on the bus to meet Erin for workout wars at Turf Park this summer. 

I cannot wait! I really must get a few more!

Reading a book without breaking a sweat!

Time for a swim party!

I heard the forecast for today was 35, negative 35. A BALMY -35. Naturally, I pulled out the swim ware.
Rocking the track jacket under swimsuit look (+camo!)

"Beach party," I informed the kids, plopping down a pile of beach towels, kid sized shades, the next couple sizes of swimwear from the hand me down box. The kids took it in, tilted heads, then proceeded to dress themselves. Boo pulled up his swim trunks, over his pants "It is too cold to take my pants off!" And Moo followed (swim) suit.

We have these swim parties at least once a year, around when we just can't stand the cold one moment longer. Besides, what else were we supposed to do? We had been invited to swim at a friend's hotel and once ready we were informed there appeared to have been a "biological hazard" in the pool area that made swimming there rather undesirable. Plus, I had been given a container of Sun'n'Fun Broad Spectrum SPF30 Sunscreen for Kids to review. With no fancy trip to the Bahamas planned, how else could I give the sunscreen a try?

Kids listening to me lecture on skin care
Boo tried this boat for a bit too
Once the kids were outfitted, they informed me this was no longer a mock beach party, rather this was A REAL LIFE EMERGENCY WATER RESCUE EXPEDITION! Quickly we hopped on our rescue boat (red sofa) to rescue Mr. Foot and Froggy Pillow from their capsized boat (Boo's bed). The rescue personnel paused to hear me explain the necessity of a stripe of sunscreen down their nose. I swiped some on Moo and Boo, and Boo made sure my nose was slathered as well.

Going to have to zoom in to see that striped nose
Let me pause here to tell you about Sun N Fun, but first let me this back a handful of M&Ms because if there is one side effect of this sunscreen it is making you crave the sweet stuff. You see, this sunscreen is chocolate scented, not all chemically laden tanning booth scented like most brands. In fact it doesn't contain all of those hard to pronounce chemicals either and the chocolate scent comes from real cocoa and vanilla! It is a full spectrum Sun screen with an SPF of 30 safe for most sensitive skins with ingredients such as Organic Marshmallow, Grapeseed and Raspberry to fight skin damage, Green tea as a protectant, kelp, rosehip oil and cucumber to moisturize and nourish, and tamanu oil which helps with dry skin and eczema. With all this you can bet it will be used for my WHOLE family, not just the kids. Plus it is thick without being greasy and it goes on smooth, which is great with my kids, who stay still for a whole .5 seconds for sunscreen application.
Boo swimming on the wood floor was slightly painful to watch

Moo treating Mr. Foot for shock
Okay now back to the previously scheduled program. I know everybody is wondering so I better update you, Once our noses were slathered with sunscreen we brought in the ropes and sailed off on our red couch rescue boat. HURRIEDLY hopping out of the boat we swam to the area where Mr Foot and Froggy Pillow's boat had capsized. Boo rescued Froggy Pillow from the depths of the sea while I performed CPR on Mr. Foot. After throwing up a lung full of water, Mr. Foot was wrapped in a towel and treated for shock Dr.Moo.


Oh, and did I mention the best part? None of us suffered a burn ;)

****As usual in my reviews, I was compensated with product, however my review is my own unbiased opinion!*****

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Unless you are supping on sauerkraut, enter this GIVEAWAY!

I was given a month supply of Microbiome Plus+ Gastrointestinal probiotic to review. I have taken many probiotics over the years as they have so many health benefits (which I will review later). I like to think of them as fish oil for the gut (vs the brain). With this many benefits why wouldn't you take them?

Now, I am not a big pill popper and don't like to take a supplement without a hefty amount of research backing up the benefits, but clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women. Speaking of the vagina, did you know you can indeed administer probiotics straight to the area of need, if indeed this is your area of need. Not sure about rectal administration, but sure beats a fecal transplant any day (sorry I am slightly obsessed with odd medical procedures)

I noticed that the Microbiome package states that they shouldn't be given to those under the age of twelve without consulting a doctor, but if that is what you need I say call up that doc. After all, there are so many things that probiotics have been proven to do for children and no research that I could find seem to show any negative effect on children. In fact, the L. Reuteri bacteria is found to pass through breastmilk without even the smallest negative impact on infants, while decreasing the incidence of infant specific ailments including necrotizing enterocolitis.

One important thing to do when taking probiotics is to make sure that the strain you are taking has proven effects on your particular ailment. The probiotic contained in Microbiome Plus+ is L. Reuteri. L. Reuteri is found to have many health benefits, including but not limited to decreasing the symptoms of colic in infants, preventing tooth decay and decreasing the occurence of gingivitis in adults, preventing ulcers, and treating rotavirus. Children and adults who take L. Reuteri display higher immunity and decreased sickness.

But Microbiome Plus+ is not only probiotics. With Microbiome Plus+ you take two pills twice per day. One is the probiotic, but the other is a prebiotic. I never fully understood this, but after doing a bit of research my understanding is that Prebiotics are food for probiotics.
That is, with the administration of prebiotics, the probiotics are more able to do their work. Again, I can't see a reason not to do this.

So, unless you are supping on sauerkraut and yogurt nightly, I suggest you give these a try.
Take on of each pill (two total) twice per day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 9, 2015

Before you buy that house...

Today I went to an EIGHT HOUR (yawn) Homebuyer class. If you are a first time homebuyer you may want to attend the course, especially as a certificate of attendance may make you eligible for certain down payment assistance programs (ask your lender).

I felt like I had a decent (beginner's) understanding of the home buying process but there were a few points I took away that I would like to pass on.

1. A loan officer spoke to the class and suggested looking at your Amortization Schedule, then before you make the first payment take the principal amounts for the next four, add them together, and send that amount in as additional interest, this way you knock out the first five payments for a rather small amount. The next month you have been in the house for two months and are on month SIX of your Amortization Schedule. Then you can continue this each month. We are SO doing this! Right now I at least double our premium but it makes sense when we are again at the start of a mortgage to pay tons to wipe these months away, and I love the mind game of following along with the Amortization Schedule to watch the months fall off (see my financial dork within BEAMING!)

2. When deciding how much my family could afford in mortgage payments I wanted to know what my other expenses would be. I knew that buying a larger home would most likely mean higher utility costs, including energy consumption. I brought up this dilemma to my realtor and she encouraged me to contact Excel Energy. I did but their lips were sealed. Why? Apparently because I live in Minnesota, a state where energy consumption is a big ol' secret. At class they also suggested to figure in energy costs, though they were familiar with this new law and had a way around it. If you find yourself in the same scenario use your realtor to contact the current owner. The current owner can easily request the previous twelve months usage history, regardless of whether they lived in the house that whole time.

3. I hate to even mention this last one as it involves a dirty little word. Upkeep. Yep, that nasty U-word that divides the renters from the owners. You know, the renters, who spend their summer weekends at the beach and their weeknights at the gym, and the owners who spend their summer weekends staining decks and their weeknights fixing toilets. Okay, besides the time and work aspect of it, one of the worst parts of the, cough, upkeep, is the cost! At this class they recommended, when figuring your budget, to allow 1-2% of the cost of the house to be set aside each year for maintenance. For a $200,000 house that means setting aside two to four thousand each year, or budgeting an additional $170-335/month above your mortgage costs. Ugh, once I rinse my mouth of this vomit I will plan to earmark a good $200 each month for this Ugly Unruly Unwanted Uninvited Upsetting thing called Upkeep.

So, how about you? Have any good tips for those on their path to homeownership?

A Valentine's dinner that will make you say "Olive Juice"

Sometimes you really want pizza but don't want to spend the DOUGH (yuk yuk yuk) to order some. You can save money by making your own,  especially if you make from scratch. I will use premade crust or sauce if I get a good deal on it, but this Valentine's Day I encourage you to reenact the Apple pie scene from the movie Labor Day, WITH PIZZA CRUST. Here are three tips to make your pizza experience all the more LOVELY for this February 14th.

1. I took this yummy pizza sauce recipe and doctored it up for a homemade pizza tonight. When I say doctored, what I mean is I swapped some of the water for Olive brine, you know, the Olive flavored packing liquid those green pizza olives float in the jar. It was so yummy for my Olive loving palate. So whip up that pizza sauce with your lover and whisper "olive juice" with a wink. *

2. I was given these red silicone oven mitts to review and was pleased when they arrived to see that the texture on the mitts is made up of dozens of adorable little hearts. These give the surface a good grip factor and make them a perfect Valentine's gift for your hunny. The silicone is surprisingly heat resistant, much more than typical cloth oven mitts. **


3. If you really are too lazy to make your own pizza go ahead and pick up a heart shaped pizza at Papa Murphy's. They are delicious and afffordable, you will still get to wear your new oven mitts, and you can always use your extra time to reenact the scene from Ghost instead (you know the one! POTTERY WHEEL!)

*I have a bad habit of opening up a can of tomato paste, using a tablespoon in a recipe, and putting the rest in the fridge to remember (aka forget!) Now I FREEZE the leftover paste in mini reusable (baby food) jars. When I last made pizza sauce I found three of these in the freezer to use.

When Boo saw these he automatically flopped them on
"Woah, look how many milkers are on this cow!" and then proceeded to milk away.
the table saying,

** I received this product for free to review. All opinions are my own.