Category Archives: Product & Service Reviews

Stretch Your Tax Return with a Cheap Wireless Plan! #FamilyMobile

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This #MaxYourTax post about unlimited talk, text and data from Walmart Family Mobile has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for #CollectiveBias and its advertiser. After all, who doesn’t want to know about the cheapest mobile plans, right?

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I’m glad I have online access to my bank account, because I’ve become a serious stalker. My tax return should be here any day! The arrival of that check used to mean a shopping spree, but these days we’re a little more frugal (because kids.) Now, we plan carefully so we can stretch those dollars. For example, each year, we invest $100 in 10 new blueberry bushes, because we know that in the long run, that money will multiply like crazy and cut our food costs. Here are a few of our new babies from last year:

blueberries

This year, in addition to our blueberries, I’m looking to cut our monthly bills down. You may have already seen how we’ve cut our electric bills using tips from #ProjectEnvolve! Next up: the cell phone bill. I pay a lot. About $130 a month. It’s nuts, I know. So we’re investing part of this year’s return in the Walmart Family Mobile Plan with unlimited talk, text and web/data for only $40 a month. Big savings, right?

Walmart Family Mobile #FamilyMobile #collectivebias

Not all Walmart stores carry the plan, so it’s a good idea to call first. Or, you can just look for the blue section in the Computers & Accessories aisle. It’s easy to spot.

Walmart #FamilyMobile #collectivebias

Walmart not only offers the Family Mobile Plan AND wide selection of phones for under $100, but you can get all your phone accessories on the cheap there, too. I got my new Samsung Galaxy Exhibit for only $98.99, along with a ton of accessories and only spent a little over $200. A car charger, a bluetooth for the car (safety first, folks), some microfiber cleaning cloths, and a Sport Sleeve armband.

Walmart #FamilyMobile #collectivebias

The armband was a splurge instead of a “need”, but the price was right. Now I can wear my phone at the gym! (The membership to which, I might add, I can afford now that I’ve cut down my wireless bill.)

Walmart #FamilyMobile #collectivebias

Setting up my phone was easy, which surprised me because I took both kids with me to Walmart and I expected a total meltdown. As it turns out, you can set the whole shebang up any time you want online at home! (You can do it in-store or on the phone, too, if that works for you.) You just have to purchase a Starter Kit with a SIM card for $25 and you’re ready to go.

I started at 6:45 pm and by 7:30, I was signing in to Facebook on my new phone.

Walmart #FamilyMobile #collectivebias

Of course, you might be even faster if you don’t get interrupted by bored little ones. I spent the rest of the night playing around with new apps, picture messaging, sending emails. I’ll admit, I get a little bit giddy over new devices. Especially affordable ones.

Other plan perks:

  • Pay your bill online.
  • Get your phone at Walmart, or bring your own.
  • No annual contract.
  • No credit check.
  • No deposit.
  • Live support 24/7.

The only issue we’re having is that we don’t get strong service from home, but we don’t get service through Verizon, either, so it’s no surprise. Walmart let us know that up front, so we knew what to expect. I need this phone for when I’m away from home, and the wi-fi works on my network so we’re good. The plan works on the T-Mobile network, and you can easily check wireless coverage in your area on the Family Mobile website.

There are definitely some areas where this plan is not the right choice due to lack of coverage. But if your part of the map checks out OK, you could be saving a ton of money each month. I’m pretty thrilled to have a new phone, all my accessories, and an unlimited monthly plan for way less than I would have paid anywhere else. That means a little bit of our tax return will be left over for fun things like this:

Sesame Character Collage

…and of course, more blueberry pancakes for everyone!

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Spring Forward with Natural Probiotics #NaturalProbiotic #shop

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This post about natural probiotics and digestive system balance has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

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Coffee is not breakfast. I know this. And thinking about running is not the same as actually hitting the pavement. We all know this, too. But, like so many time-starved, too-busy parents, I’ve let a lot of my healthy habits slide down to the bottom of my to-do list this winter. It’s a slump, and I want out!

So, as we spring forward into Daylight Savings Time, I’m embracing the energy of the upcoming season and stepping away from the hot chocolate mug in favor of things like longer runs, longer sleeps, actually taking my prescriptions meds (oops) and getting back to a fresher diet that makes me want to dance through my garden with my babies. (Smoothies full of tiny fresh spinach leaves, please!)

Insync Probiotic #NaturalProbiotic #shop

And, because my family has a history of digestive problems, I’m making some changes to my diet that should help balance my system. In short, more probiotics. Good bacteria = a healthier, happier gut! The great thing about this new promise I’ve made to myself is that there are so many yummy ways to get those good “bugs” in your belly!

#shop #NaturalProbiotic

I think the most obvious way to get probiotics is to eat yogurt. Homemade yogurt is the easiest thing ever, and so delicious when piled high with odds and ends from around the kitchen. Mine is different almost every day, including things like you see above: almond butter, homemade jam, bananas, pumpkin seeds, Greek yogurt chips and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

#NaturalProbiotic #shop yogurt bowl

The truth? Despite the benefits, I do tend to get yogurted out quickly. That’s why this will be my first year of fermenting! I’ve been reading a lot about making probiotic-rich homemade sauerkraut, and I’m determined to make it happen this year. If I have luck, I may even move on to kimchee. I’ll admit, the idea of live things in my food really did bug me out a bit at first, but now I’m just fascinated. I can’t wait until our fresh cabbage is up!

BUT, I know all too well that sometimes the yogurt doesn’t yogue, the cabbage harvest tanks, or the kids simply do not allow ANYthing but Play-Doh, and for those times, there’s Insync Probiotic (available at your friendly neighborhood CVS.)

Insync Probiotic #NaturalProbiotic #shop #cbias

Insync Probiotic contains B. infantis, which is doctor-recommended. Because probiotics are delicate living organisms that promote better digestive health, it’s important that they land in your digestive tract alive and well. Insync Probiotic uses GI Guard®, a gradual release system that ensures your friendly bacteria don’t get killed off by heat, moisture or even your own stomach acid. (Because who wants to bother taking them if they don’t arrive alive, right?)

Insync Probiotic #NaturalProbiotic #shop #cbias

To learn more and join the conversation about natural probiotics, connect with Insync Probiotic on Facebook and Twitter.

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Filed under Product & Service Reviews, Recipes & Food, Uncategorized

The One Food You Should Always Buy Organic

One Food to Buy Organic
Sure, there’s the Dirty Dozen Plus,™ including apples and strawberries and those items that have been found to contain the highest levels of pesticides*, but are those really the fruits and veggies that should be at the top of your “Do or Die” organic list?

In a word, yes. It’s important to keep those high-level foods in mind, but it’s not quite that cut and dry. Grapes made the dirty list, but if you only eat grapes once every few months, you may not need to worry so much about them. On the other hand, if you’re eating asparagus or mangos every day in your lunch, you should consider springing for organic varieties even though they are stars of the Clean Fifteen™.

The point? The most important food for YOU to invest your organic budget in is the one YOU eat most frequently.

For us, walnuts are at the top of the list. That jar in the image above? Walnuts and cranberries. I pass them through the food processor and my husband uses them on his oatmeal every morning. Every. Single. Morning. For five years and counting! And he uses a lot. I fill that jar more than once a week. It costs us a fortune, but with all the health benefits of walnuts and oats, I can’t really complain.
Organic Walnuts

So, since they play such a big role in his diet, I’ve been looking for a good organic supplier. The oats were easy – we get those from a local Amish bulk store. The walnuts took a little more searching, but now we’ve found SunRidge Farms. They sent us some samples, and we were hooked. In addition to having great quality in taste and texture, just about everything we want to see on a label was there, too:

Organic Walnuts

I, myself, am not a fan of walnuts, but I did see the benefits of snacking on almonds first hand when I had gestational diabetes (twice!) I know they help control my blood sugar, so I was glad to see that SunRidge Farms offers them, too. Here’s a list of what we’re snacking on and why:

Organic Walnuts ­ USDA-certified organic and a wonderful natural source of Vitamin E and essential minerals copper and manganese.
Organic Almonds ­ Full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and copious amounts of Vitamin E, potassium and magnesium.
Pistachios ­ A lower-calorie option among most nuts. They contain significant amounts of protein, fiber, Vitamin B6 & B1 and magnesium.
Tamari Roasted Almonds ­ All natural, non-GMO almonds that are freshly roasted in-house in small batches, and then coated in mouth-watering, savory, tamari shoyu.

All of SunRidge Farms products are not only great for you, but are also great for the environment! Conveniently packed in re-sealable, BPA-free packaging, each snack is produced in their recently expanded solar-powered manufacturing facility. To learn more and see their entire selection of organic and non-GMO products , please check out SunRidgeFarms.com.

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*Source: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

 

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Magic Castle Bounce House Review and #Giveaway (5 winners)

After months of this Polar Vortex nonsense, my kids are bouncing off the walls. Well, we decided to put that energy to better use and let them bounce where they’re supposed to: in a Magic Castle Inflatable Bounce House! We recently got one to review, and while we’ll have to wait until it warms up just a little more to really give it a workout, my son saw the picture on the box so we decided to give it a trial run last weekend.

My husband gave me the huffy face when I asked him to set it up. I guess he thought he was in for a big job, but we were all delighted to see how easy it was. You just plug in the blower and turn it on! It went from flat to UP in no time! Really, it was like 2 minutes. Maybe less.

Magic Castle Bounce House Giveaway

Look how proud he is! That is one happy boy, and I’m going to be one happy mama when I have this to keep him busy in the spring. The Magic Castle holds 3 kids at a time, or up to 300 pounds, so it looks like the cousins might be hanging out with us this year!

Magic Castle Bounce House Giveaway

I think we might set it up near the garden so I can weed while he bounces. I can’t think of a better afternoon! Our ground is just a tad too frozen right now for the stakes that are recommended to stabilize the whole setup, so for the sake of safety, I just let him have one quick bounce and then we packed it up for a few weeks. I’m so glad we took a trial run, though, because now I know I can set it up by myself with the 2 kids in tow. #WIN

Magic Castle Bounce House Giveaway

I think it’s safe to say he likes it, and that I’m the best mom ever. ;) If you think your kids would like one, too, read on! There’s a giveaway, and it’s HUGE!

My Silly Monkeys

Buy it!

The Blast Zone Magic Castle Inflatable Bouncer is available at Amazon.com, and it’s on sale for $229.09 right now! (That’s 35% off!)

Win it!

I’ve teamed up with a group of my best blogger friends (led by Jess at MySillyMonkey.com) to bring you a crazy big giveaway!

FIVE winners will each receive a Magic Castle Bounce House! Enter using the easy Rafflecopter form below. (Stop back each day to increase your odds with daily entries!)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Family Fun, giveaways, Product & Service Reviews, Uncategorized

Happy 45th Anniversary to The Very Hungry Caterpillar! {Giveaway}

babyphoto

We’re a reading household. As a long-time writer and literature major, most of my life revolves around the written word. My husband burns through library cards like crazy, and we’re happy to report that the kids seem to be picking up our love of books! My son is even starting to read and he’s picking it up quickly. Watching him read some of the classics I read as a child just makes my bookwormy heart flutter, and one of our favorites is The Very Hungry Caterpillar – a book that just happens to be celebrating its 45th anniversary!

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Filed under Family Fun, giveaways