Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Wish For You

Merry Christmas!

On this Christmas Eve, I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May this be a blessed time spent with your dearest friends and family. 

Thank you for your continued support, emails, comments, and participation throughout the year. I'm grateful for you all and this blog, which allows me to work from home and homeschool my son. So THANK YOU!

I'm taking a short blogging break to spend some extra time with my family. I'll return in the new year with some fun new reviews and of course, giveaways too! I will be popping in on occasion through social media, and also replying to emails. Feel free to get in touch by using the contact tab above or email me at thereynoldsmom@gmail.com.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Aunt Bessie's brand

Disclosure: This is a guest post submitted by Kira B.

Yorkshire puddings make an important part of any English family dinner. Aunt Bessie's brand has built its business selling frozen Yorkshire puddings with traditional taste but without the hassle of cooking. Pudding is a classic English Christmas delicacy. Being popular in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and the former British colonies, this dish is prepared with flour, bread crumbs, eggs, fat, cream and spices in a boiling water bath. The “pudding” word comes from the French “boudin”, which means "little sausage" and proves that in ancient time pudding was not a dessert at all, including meat as stuffing.

       Today the situation shapes in such a way that the tradition of Sunday lunch with classic puddings is rapidly losing popularity. Therefore, Aunt Bessie's brand began to expand this product category promoting Yorkshire puddings as a dish for every day, and not just for Sundays. They offer a wide range of Yorkshire puddings for any occasion, large, giant and bite-sized, of any shape and perfect for chicken, meat and other dishes.  Be ready to find a few interesting observations about this below.

Category leaders should take care of the brand’s growth

Being the market leader in UK Aunt Bessie's brand benefits most from its growth. It is very difficult or almost impossible to change the purchase frequency. Therefore, it’s much easier to increase the frequency of consumption. That’s what the company’s approach is designed for.

Communication as a fundamental component of brand building

Aunt Bessie's brand represents a great example of how you can create and strengthen key visual elements of the brand. In the latest Aunt Bessie's advert we can see two excessively curious neighbors named Margaret and Mabel who have been invariably present in brand advertising for many years. Those funny old women never cease to amaze how do shoppers of Aunt Bessie's products manage to cook delicious traditional food for their family despite being very busy. “She is doing roast chicken with Yorkshires! It’s so warm! How did she make it?"- They ask a question. The answer is simple – a good housewife always uses frozen food products from Aunt Bessie's brand to prepare delicious and nutritious dinner for the whole family.

Focus on the main point

Despite the expansion of the product line, Aunt Bessie’s brand continues to focus on its core product, Yorkshire puddings, not being spread too thin. They managed to avoid the temptation of trying to be different by shifting their investments to more dynamic categories. This is very true with a purely financial, as well as branding perspective.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Cord Blood Registry :: Important Facts About Cord Blood Banking

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for the Cord Blood Registry. I received promotional item to thank me for my participation.

When I was pregnant with Buddy (over five years ago now), I remember receiving a pamphlet or two on cord blood banking. A new concept to me, I brushed it to the side and never heard a word about it from my doctor. Since then, I wish I had looked into it further for Buddy. Thankfully he has been healthy up to this point, but as an infertility mama, the precious, delicate state of life is incredibly magnified. As a parent, I can't imagine what I would do if something tragic happened to my child and I didn't have any more options.

As the world’s largest family cord blood bank with over 500,000 cord blood and tissue stem cell units stored, Cord Blood Registry offers the collection, processing, and long-term cryopreservation of stem cells found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. These newborn stem cells have the potential regenerative ability to improve and cure common health issues including autism, cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke and traumatic brain injury. Cord Blood Registry is also the first and only family newborn stem cell bank to help establish FDA-regulated clinical trials using cord blood stem cells in regenerative medicine. The medical strides that are being made with newborn stem cells are just astounding.

To see an incredible story of cord blood stem cells at work, view the short video below. 

I love that this mom calls cord blood banking "insurance". When you put it that way, it does make sense to have that safety net that might be needed some day for your precious child.

While I don't know of anyone who has personally benefited from banking their child's cord blood, there are plenty of amazing stories from clients of Cord Blood Registry. With cord blood banking comes peace of mind that in the event of a devastating diagnosis or accident, there's hope that perhaps you wouldn't have if you didn't save you child's cord blood. We will always have many what-ifs and worries as parents, but I can tell you that if we are blessed with another little one in the future, we will likely opt for cord blood banking.

5 facts about cord blood banking that expectant parents should know:
  •  Cord blood is collected immediately after birth and the collection is painless, easy and safe for the mother and infant. The whole process is simple!
  • Cord blood stem cells have been used in the treatment of more than 80 conditions, including certain cancers, blood disorders, immune deficiencies, and metabolic disorders.
  • Cord blood banking isn't as expensive as you think. With financing, your monthly payment can be as low as $55.
  • There are three options to choose from. Family banking - Your baby's cord blood is stored for a fee for exclusive use by your family. Newborn Possibilities Program® - CBR offers cord blood and cord tissue collection, processing and storage at no cost for five years when a family member has been diagnosed with a condition that can be treated with stem cells. Public donation - Your baby's cord blood is donated anonymously for potential use by a patient who needs a transplant. You must give birth in a participating hospital.
  • Family members that are a suitable match can also benefit from using cord blood stem cells, so banking can potentially benefit more than just the child if needed.

 Learn more about cord blood banking today at www.cordblood.com.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: A Surprise Every Month with Citrus Lane {Review & Special Offer}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

I love receiving packages on my doorstep, especially when the contents inside the box are a bit of a surprise! Enter one of my obsessions: monthly subscription boxes. For a gift that keeps on giving month after month, consider this subscription box company for the little ones this gift-giving season.

Citrus Lane helps you discover the latest and greatest products on the market for young children. Through their monthly subscription box you'll be able to keep up with the hot new natural brands that continue to emerge. Citrus Lane boxes are tailored to your child's age (from newborn to 5 years), so the contents of each box are age appropriate and relevant.

Buddy will be turning 5 this week, so the 5-year-old box is what we selected to review. I was curious to see how this box would appeal to Buddy since sometimes subscription companies aim too young for their aged boxes, but upon opening I knew he would love it.

Buddy was really delighted with his box, which was the November box with a "travel" theme. The Green Toys hamburger toy has been a big hit and I love that the pieces don't have that chemical-laden plastic smell like most play food sets. We have far too many art supplies in our home so the Doodle Pad and Beeswax Crayons didn't excite him too much, but I'll save them for when we need them. Buddy couldn't wait to eat his new organic snack and use his new reusable lunch bag though!

Our box also included a discount code for Tiny Prints, information on each product and discounts for each of the brand's websites to shop some more. I think this box is very well-rounded, and thoroughly thought out. Each month is a surprise, so your child will get something new and exciting with each box. What kid doesn't love getting a few "presents" in the mail, right?!

Subscription boxes are fun because they're often filled with items I wouldn't normally pick up on my own, or run in to at an actual store. It's a great way to get a little adventurous, and sneak away from the normal brands that you might be used too.

Citrus Lane seems to partner with a lot of my favorite natural and organic brands. I also love seeing that they are focusing on eco-friendly, healthy products to encourage bright futures for our children. For a truly fun, exciting gift this Christmas, give a Citrus Lane subscription to the little ones in your life. There are several subscription options to choose from, and monthly boxes are as low as $19 each with a 6-month subscription.

***Special Offer***
Use code CLBLOGGER to get $10 off any Citrus Lane subscription
{Offer Terms: can only be applied to subscription purchases by new Citrus Lane customers. It cannot be applied to gift subscriptions. Subscriptions automatically renew to full retail price. You may cancel anytime.}

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Baking With Safeway, PLUS a Gluten-Free Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe {Giveaway - Ends 12/18}

I don't bake often throughout the year, but during the holidays I seem to catch up a bit. My need for gluten-free, (and my preference for) organic ingredients can sometimes make it difficult to find what I need though. I have several go-to grocery stores I check, and Safeway is one of those.

I received a gift card for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

I've noticed in the past year that Safeway is continuing to expand their gluten-free and organic options throughout the store. Last week I was really thrilled to see lots of gluten-free baking mixes, because I enjoy the convenience of not always having to bake from scratch. Safeway's organic brand, O Organics, also has several ingredients, like organic brown sugar and organic vanilla extract that I picked up.

 With Christmas just around the corner, baking is in high gear in kitchens everywhere. Finding the right ingredients in no longer a big issue for me, since Safeway has lots of gluten-free options that are also either organic, or pretty natural!

As a kid my mom used to bake several kinds of goodies for cookie exchanges, neighbor gifts, and Christmas parties. Since I grew up eating gluten, there's a huge learning curve for me with baking, even over a year after going gluten-free. I've mastered only a few recipes that have become favorites, and here's a recent one that's staying in my roundup of good ones for holiday events, parties, and anytime Buddy wants to help me bake up a treat.

This awesome gluten-free cookie recipe was inspired by The Rehomesteaders', recipe. It's perfect for holiday parties! I've tweaked it a bit, and swapped out the peanut butter for almond butter for a better nutrient profile. They taste amazing, the texture is soft, and they're super easy to make! I also love that this recipe makes only a dozen cookies, so I don't have too many sweet treats hanging around my house to tempt me.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup Almond Butter 
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2/3 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 cup Chocolate Chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine almond butter, eggs, brown sugar, molasses and vanilla until combined.

3. Add oats and baking soda. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Let cool and enjoy! Makes 1 dozen. 

What's your favorite cookie recipe?

Win It!
One winner will receive a baking gift basket from Safeway! {$40 RV}

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Importance of a Furnace Tune-Up & an Exclusive Discount from Beutler Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing

Disclosure: This is a sponsored article written by me on behalf of Beutler Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Heating. All opinions are 100% my own.

The past week has brought freezing overnight temperatures here in the Sacramento area. As a result, our furnace has been running a lot extra to keep our home comfortable and warm. Thankfully our furnace maintenance inspection/tune-up we received recently as part of the Home Service Plan from Beutler Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing confirmed that our furnace is in good shape for the cold winter ahead. Thank goodness!

In response to all the great feedback on that post about their Home Service Plan, and to spread some holiday cheer, Beutler is offering an exclusive discount to my readers! Enter promo code SACMOMMY when you enter your information to set up an appointment to receive one of the following offers: 

  • Home Service Plan for $125, instead of the regular $169. This includes two visits per year – one for A/C and one for furnace. It also includes special discounts on additional services and diagnostics.
  • Tune-up cost (for someone without a Home Service Plan) for $79 instead of the regular price of $119.
  • 5% off the book price of replacement installations.

Offer disclaimer: Valid only at participating Beutler® / ARS® Network Locations.  Not valid for third party, new construction customers, with any other offers or discounts, or prior sales.  Coupon required at time of service. Void where prohibited. Offer is for one drain line cleaning and drain line must be accessible for clearing or additional fee may apply.  See service center for details.  If your drain line passes our camera inspection we will extend our standard 30 day warranty up to one year.  Cash value $.001.  Offers expire 12/1/14.

Beutler has also offered the following tips on why it's important to get a fall furnace tune-up at this time of year:

-Having your furnace tuned-up helps it to work properly. When dirt builds up in your furnace, it causes friction. That friction forces the system to consume more energy, resulting in a higher energy bill. By getting a maintenance checkup, you can extend the life of the furnace and also save money on your monthly bill.

-When your furnace ducts have a buildup of dirt, turning on your system can create a burning-like scent in your home. This scent is not only bothersome, but could also result in an actual fire.

-When dirt gets in to the air filter of your furnace that can lead to the decline of heat being generated. You’ll notice a difference from room to room; some being too cold and some too hot.

-A clean and well maintained furnace will be able to operate at its best efficiency and your home will be more comfortable as a result.

Have you had your furnace inspected yet this year?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thomas & Friends®: The Thomas Way {Giveaway Ends 12/17}

I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Just in time for the Christmas, Thomas & Friends®: The Thomas Way was just released on December 3rd. This fun new release can be found on DVD, Digital HD and Video from HIT Entertainment and Lionsgate.
Everyone’s favorite #1 True Blue Engine and his steam team learn that they must work together to stay on track and reach their destination! This one includes 5 great CGI-animated adventures plus a BONUS episode along with a game and puzzles. Buddy was besides himself when this arrived, as usual! Another fantastic Thomas DVD, perfect for young kids who love Thomas and trains.

Hop aboard for fun on Sodor as the engines find out that there is always something new to learn! While Thomas and Duck learn how to steam ahead together with a special delivery, Luke and Millie find out what it's like to drive in each other’s tracks - literally! Percy steams straight into a lucky encounter with Bill and Ben, Caitlin gets a lesson in how things are done and Paxton works hard to recover Thomas' lost puff. With so much activity on Sodor, it's always important to steam ahead and remember that the best way is the Thomas Way!

· “The Thomas Way”
· “The Switch”
· “Percy's Lucky Day”
· “Calm Down Caitlin”
· “The Lost Puff”

· BONUS EPISODE: Luke's New Friend
· Lift & Load Crane Game 
· Guess Who? Puzzles

Thomas & Friends®: The Thomas Way is available on DVD with an SRP of $14.98.
Win It!
One winner will receive the Thomas & Friends®: The Thomas Way courtesy of Lionsgate and HIT Entertainment!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: Handcrafted body care products for the whole family from Zoe Organics {Giveaway - Ends 12/15}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

I'm very picky about what products I put on my body. If it's not completely all-natural (preferably organic), it's just not going to make it into my regular routine. My excitement piqued when I was introduced to this body care line recently.

Zoe Organics is a lifestyle brand for the conscious family. They make handcrafted body care products that are made in the USA with only the purest natural and organic ingredients. Committed to fair trade and social responsibility, Zoe Organics is celebrating and protecting life through their toxin-free products.

When I first investigate skin and body products that are new to me, I head over to the EWG's Skin Deep website and check out the safety of the ingredients in the product. With Zoe Organics, you can count on most ingredients checking out as "0", the safest rating possible. Those that are not are the organic castor oil for example. Totally natural? Yes, and perfectly safe in moderation so I'm okay with that!

With an assortment of body care products that work for the whole family (baby included!), it's easy to cut back on just how many products you need for each person with Zoe Organics. They carry balms, creams, oils and more. I was sent their Bath Wash, Breathe Balm, and Refresh Oil to try on my own family.

Bath Wash : Perfect for sensitive skin, this mild wash is made with organic oils and essential oils. It smells invigorating and bright with rosemary, lavender and mandarin. It features a foaming pump which really extends the use of this soap. The pump is also convenient for Buddy to use as he practices washing himself in the tub, without spilling everywhere! The Bath Wash suds up nicely (without SLS!) and feels thick and concentrated. A little goes a very long way.

Breathe Balm : Nights of congestion and coughs are likely on the way as we move into Winter very soon. Breathe Balm can calm, soothe, and encourage airways to open with it's organic essential oils blend. Featuring eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and cedar, this is a must-have for cold and flu season. This formula is not greasy, and actually feels quite moisturizing on the skin. It's fragrant enough without being overpowering, and is best applied on the chest, back, neck, and soles of the feet.

Refresh Oil : Utilizing organic essential oils in a carrier blend of jojoba and coconut oils, the Refresh Oil is an excellent aromatherpy oil. The scent is light, yet mood-boosting, and features lime, peppermint, ginger and spearmint. The spearmint is what I found to be most prominent. Refresh Oil works well for an extra energy boost, or for aiding in relief of nausea, a queasy stomach, or stress. The roller is very convenient, and easy to apply on the skin while on the go. 

Buddy loves to sniff all my essential oils when I have them out, so naturally, he loved each of these products. I love them too because they work well, they're completely natural and pretty much entirely organic, and they're everyday products that we'll actually use. It's hard to find body care products that are this great! 

These are the perfect size for stocking stuffers, or tucking into a gift basket! Give safe body care this year that uses locally sourced raw ingredients that you can feel good about. I highly recommend checking out Zoe Organics.

Price:  Bath Wash - $9 and up, Breathe Balm - $12, and Refresh Oil - $12

**Exclusive Discount**
Use code TRM25 to get 25% off at ZoeOrganics.com! {Code expires 12/13/2013}
Win It!
One winner will receive the Refresh Oil from Zoe Organics!

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: 100% Silk Scarves from More Than Alive {Giveaway - 12 Winners - Ends 12/14}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Scarves are one of the easiest gifts for women. Who doesn't love a new fashion accessory?

In September I featured More Than Alive and their wonderful assortment of gluten-free bulk baking ingredients. They are a family owned stores that offers products for healthy living, including bulk herbs, bulk foods, supplements, water filters, emergency preparedness products and books. They also sell several clothing accessories, including 100% silk scarves that I'm featuring today!

More Than Alive has over 50 different 100% silk scarves to choose from. They are handmade, and come directly from weavers in Laos. By providing fair wages, these native artisans are able to sustain their livelihoods and provide an education for their children. More Than Alive sells three scarf weave styles: Open Weave, Loose Weave, and Raw Silk.

For the Open Weave scarves you'll find a bunch of gorgeously soft solid colors. These are incredibly versatile, and offer texture to your outfit. They are also moderately warm but breathable when you're bundled up. Shown above are the colors Forever Green, Cayenne and Snow Fall.

For colorful, variegated scarves you might want to consider the Loose Weave scarves. Similar to the Open Weave scarves, these are slightly more chunky with the varied colors and thickness of the silk. They really jazz up an outfit! These are 11" wide and 64" long, perfect for any type of scarf tying. Shown above are the colors Festive, Spring's Allure, and Purple Orchid.

The Raw Silk scarves are the most delicate of the weaves, and definitely the lightest of the three. These are great year-round in mild climates, and feature a very soft feel. Use this style as a shawl or scarf with casual jeans or for dressy occasions too. The Raw Silk scarves measure 13" wide and 66" long. Shown above are the colors Yellow Jacket, Patriot Tye Dye, and Magical Blue.

I just love these scarves from More Than Alive! The variations of each shows the hand-crafted uniqueness of each one. For Christmas, support a small business and native artisans in Laos by picking up a few of these scarves for you and your friends.

Price:  Scarves - $35 $20/each (on sale NOW!)
***Exclusive Coupon***
Use code DECSILK25 for 25% off already discounted scarves!
Win It!
TWELVE winners will receive a scarf from More Than Alive! 
(scarf will be chosen at random)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: Tea Gifts from Mighty Leaf Tea {Giveaway Ends 12/13}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

The warmth and relaxation from a hot cup of herbal tea is something that I especially look forward during these cold months. With the holidays upon us, giving the gift of tea is perhaps one of the easiest universal gifts you can give. Who doesn't enjoy sipping on the flavors and scents of Christmas?

For the tea connoisseur, there are many gift options to choose from when you discover the large selection of artisan, handcrafted teas at Mighty Leaf Tea. They are passionate about tea, and source their high quality ingredients from around the world.

Choosing from an assortment of beautiful tea gifts, I requested to review the Green Tea Latte Set. This set includes the Mighty Leaf Tea Matcha green tea frappe mix, 2 Bodum glasses, and a Bodum Milk Frother Set (a battery-operated frother and a heat-resistant borosillicate glass beaker).

I've become a bit more experienced with tea over the last year, but Matcha green tea is totally new for me since I'm usually more drawn to herbal teas. However, this set is perfect for green tea latte newbies life myself. The green tea frappe mix can be prepared hot and topped with freshly frothed milk, or iced. I don't think this can get any simpler!

Not quite knowing what to expect when I created my first-ever Matcha green tea latte, I was a bit nervous to taste it. But it was delicious! It wasn't too "green" tasting, and not bitter at all. It's more earthy and subtly sweet than anything. There are many unique health benefits of green tea, so I'll likely continue to have it on hand in my tea cabinet in the future.

I have several Bodum products so I knew I would be happy with those. Sadly the Bodum glasses were out of stock at the time I was sent this set, but the Mighty Leaf Tea mugs I received instead work perfectly for tea as well. The Bodum frother and beaker have been getting lots of use around here, since Buddy figured out he likes a bit of froth on top of hot chocolate. :) The frother is really quite fun to use! Overall I think it's a wonderful set to gift to a tea lover.

Check out all the Mighty Leaf Tea holiday tea gifts to find that perfect Christmas gift! Also, be sure to sign up for Mighty Leaf email newsletters to receive a coupon for 15% off tea.
Price: Green Tea Latte Set - $47.95 
Win It!
One winner will receive a Green Tea Latte Set!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Save Money at the Pump with the Fuel Rewards Network, Shell Gas Stations & the Great American Fuel Price Relief Tour {Coming To Sacramento!}

This is a sponsored article written by me on behalf of the Fuel Rewards Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

With the season of gift-giving upon us, I'm trying my best to catch sales and save in various areas of our budget so I can buy the gifts I need. With Christmas, several birthdays in our family this month, and traveling to see family, that's a lot of scrimping and saving I need to do! I'll be spending more money on gas this month as a result of all the festivities, shopping, and events. Saving at the gas pump is one area that I'm able to really cut costs.
An easy way to save throughout your gift-hunting ventures is with the Fuel Rewards Network™ (FRN) at the gas pump. The FRN rewards program is reducing the everyday cost of fuel for Americans across the country by turning shopping power into savings power. Members of the program can earn Fuel Savings for their regular purchases, redeemable as cents-per-gallon rewards at Shell Stations around the country.  In fact, the average FRN member saves approx. 28 cents per gallon.

How does it work? 

You can start to earn savings by registering for a free FRN account and then by linking your store loyalty cards for additional rewards. For my local Sacramento residents, link your Save Mart Customer Reward card to the FRN program. You can stack your earned fuel savings from your Save Mart Rewards Card on top of your FRN savings!

With your FRN Card, you automatically earn 3 cents per gallon at participating Shell gas stations, every time. More savings can be earned through purchases made at restaurants including Blue Prynt Restaurant & Grill, Pizza Rock and Ju Hachi Japanese Cuisine in Sacramento. There are hundreds of online retailers that participate as well including Macy's, Kohls, Best Buy, and Target.com.

The Great American Fuel Price Relief Tour
To celebrate this incredible fuel savings program, the Fuel Rewards Network and Shell gas stations will be holding special events around Sacramento for residents to receive fuel savings instantaneously. Through December 13th, The Great American Fuel Price Relief Tour will be traveling around the Sacramento area, giving away free fuel savings that will earn you fuel rewards worth up to 25 cents off per gallon, right at the pump!

Join the fun at these participating Shell gas stations around the area!

  •  Shell Station – 1813 Taylor Road, Roseville on December 4, 20133PM-6PM
  • Shell Station – 3050 Zinfandel Drive, Rancho Cordova on December 5, 201310AM-1PM
  • Shell Station – 1021 Saratoga Way, Eldorado Hills on December 5, 20133PM-6PM
  •  Shell Station – 730 29TH Street, Sacramento on December 6, 201311AM-2PM
  • Sacramento Kings Game – 1 Sports Parkway, Sacramento on December 6, 20136PM-9PM
  • Shell Station – 3998 Foothills Blvd, Roseville on December 10, 201310AM-1PM
  • Shell Station – 7969 Watt Ave, Antelope on December 10, 20133PM-6PM
  •  Shell Station – 8900 Pocket Road, Sacramento on December 11, 201310AM-1PM
  •  Shell Station – 1599 West El Camino, Sacramento on December 11, 20133PM-6PM
  • Shell Station – 7401 Sheldon Road, Elk Grove on December 12, 201310AM-1PM
  • Shell Station – 8607 Elk Grove Blvd, Elk Grove on December 12, 20133PM-6PM
  • Shell Station – 9100 Harbour Point Blvd, Elk Grove on December 13, 201310AM-2PM
  • Shell Station – 2221 Del Paso Road, Sacramento on December 13, 20133PM-6PM

Reset Reality :: Support for Overcoming Opioid Dependence

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Opioid dependence – also known as opioid prescription painkiller and heroin addiction – is a chronic disease affecting increasingly more Americans each year. Yet opioid dependence is still often stigmatized as just bad behavior, poor judgment and weak morals of the affected. This is not necessarily true. It can happen to anyone, and it happened to me, even though it was for just a matter of weeks.

As I've shared before, the proper pain management of my c-section surgery resulted in myself becoming increasingly needy for my prescribed opioid painkillers. Over time prescription painkillers can alter the brain’s chemistry by “resetting” the brain so you begin to physically and psychologically feel you need opioid prescription painkillers just to get through the day. Yep, that was me, until I reached out for help.


ResetReality.com is public health initiative designed to spread awareness and understanding about the prevalence, science and treatment of opioid prescription painkiller addiction in the United States. It encourages those living with prescription painkiller addiction to step back, reflect and hit the “reset” button by working with a healthcare professional to work towards creating a new “reality.” Reaching out for help with my increasing dependence on my prescription painkillers was how I was able to reset my reality, and that's the goal of this great online resource.

At Reset Reality you can find information and tools to help learn about opioid dependence, including a symptom screener and a resource to find a doctor that is certified to treat opioid prescription painkiller and/or heroin addiction.
Additionally, check out Reset Reality's community called “Words of Reality” where you can share your story or show messages of support to others. These stories of real people that have reset their reality are inspiring, and proof that you can get better if you're struggling with opioid dependence. 

Help a family member or friend struggling with opioid dependence. Get them started on the track to wellness and a better reality with Reset Reality.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: Artterro Eco Art Kits {Giveaway - Ends 12/10}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

I love the rare opportunities I get to be really creative and crafty. The chance to forgo my perfectionist side and just create is somewhat freeing! Since the craft store can be a bit overwhelming for me and I always overspend on materials I don't end up using, a pre-assembled craft kit is a great option.

Artterro Eco Art Kits supply you with natural and recycled materials for hours of creativity and inspirational fun. With twelve kits to choose from, these kits include all the major components necessary for each project. You just provide basics like scissors or glue.
Committed to sustainability, Artterro sources high quality natural materials like 100% post-consumer waste handmade paper, copper wire, glass marbles, 100% wool felt, and wooden beads. They also use minimal, reusable and recyclable packaging, and they utilize green printing methods for their instructions.

With all those subscription art boxes for kids out there today, it's about time for pre-assembled art kits that both kids and adults can enjoy. Artterro Eco Art Kits are best for ages 7 and up, depending on the difficulty of each individual project. But they're also not too juvenile or simple for adults to have fun completing either.

There are several Artterro kits I would personally enjoy, but I wanted to start out with the Paint With Wool kit. I've never tried needle felting and I thought it would be fun to try it myself.

This kit includes 4 square 100% wool felt canvases, 13 colors or roving wool, 3 felting needles, ideas and instructions. You simply need to supply a towel or foam pad surface to work on for this project.

Yes, I think I was channeling my tween years with this one, but you can see just how simple needle felting is! Simply place the roving wool where you want, and start felting it into the felt canvas with an up and down motion. Eventually the roving wool sticks and holds together to the felt canvas below.

Arttero includes several ideas on what to create, from an abstract pattern to something real like an animal or person. They also include ideas on how to expand your project by using beads or other added materials.

Needle felting is really quite easy, and I've enjoyed this Eco Art Kit a lot. Their beautiful yet subdued colors and simple technique offer a relaxing project opportunity that any perfectionist can have fun with.

These affordable craft kits are a great gift idea for your budding artist or crafty friend this Christmas. I encourage you to get your creativity flowing with an Eco Art Kit from Artterro.

Price: Paint With Wool Kit - $19.95
Win It!
One winner will receive a Paint With Wool Kit and an Art Journal Kit!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: Custom Engraved Hand & Footprints from Stone Prints {Giveaway - Ends 12/8}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

What if you had the opportunity to capture your child's hand or footprint in a way that would literally last forever? I'm not talking about those clay type options that can break and erode over time. What if they were engraved into stone? That's the story behind Stone Prints, the amazing company behind this incredible personalized gift idea.

Each Stone Prints River Rock is handmade by expert artists so you'll get the most esthetically pleasing final product possible. Each stone is approximately 7-12 inches and is size appropriate for children age 3-10 years old. The process to get your own custom rock from Stone Prints is quite simple. When you purchase your Stone Prints River Rock on Etsy, a print kit is immediately mailed to you. It includes an order form, an inkless wipe with step-by-step instructions, 5"x7" paper and a pre-stamped, self-addressed envelope.

The order form includes options such as the color River Rock you'd prefer, and how your child's name should appear. You can collect your child's hand or footprints on their provided paper, or you may mail in a copy of their prints from their birth certificate. I thought the order form and instructions were very thorough and professionally done.

 Once we mailed in our print kit, we patiently waited for our personalized River Rock to arrive, which can take several weeks. I knew I would like it, but what I didn't know that I'd love it.

Absolutely beautiful! Words cannot express how I felt when we opened Buddy's River Rock (and here we reveal Buddy's actual name too). I was speechless at first, and then all I could say was "WOW" a billion times. It's much larger than I expected (and about 9 pounds), and the detail is just stunning.

I opted to have Buddy write out his name and the year since he's writing so well. It's exactly as he wrote it! What a memory! While the engraved name can be personalized, a standard font or initials can be chosen instead.

It's really his handprint! There's no size difference at all, and the engraved handprint does match the ink print we sent in. The engraving is not just a print on top of the stone, it's actually engraved in great depth to reveal a lot of texture in his handprint. All the creases in his palm, and the shape of his fingers show up. I'm going to cry just writing this!

I regret that I've been horrible at writing down Buddy's milestones, or capturing more photos of everyday life. But this, this can't be beat. His handprint, captured just a month before his 5th birthday. Something I'll treasure forever, because he'll never be this small again.

This is by far the most touching custom gift I've ever seen or received. Perhaps I'm bias because it's my son's precious hand, but really, this is a very special thing that Stone Prints is doing.

Some might choose to place their Stone Print River Rock in a special place in the garden or by the front door outside, but I'm keeping mine inside for now. I'll be showing it off to everyone who walks in my door for Christmas gatherings this season! I'm astonished at it's beauty, and what a wonderful memory that Stone Prints has given me. Thank you Stone Prints, thank you.

Price: Stone Prints River Rock - $89
Win It!
One winner will receive their own custom Stone Prints River Rock!!

{Christmas delivery cannot be guaranteed, but every effort will be made to make that possible!}

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013 :: Real Salt for Every Kitchen {Giveaway - Ends 12/8}

 I received complimentary product for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

What kind of salt is in your kitchen? About a year ago I switched from regular table salt to Real Salt, another awesome brand from Redmond Trading Company. Most salt companies you buy from use additives or strip their salt of it's natural trace minerals, leaving you with a useless, unhealthy product. With Real Salt, you'll quickly see that in moderation, authentic sea salt is wonderful for you.

Real Salt mines it's ancient sea salt from one particular source in Redmond, Utah. They use no chemicals, additives, or heat processing of any kind to achieve their naturally pinkish sea salt. What you get is an unrefined, perfectly pure sea salt unlike refined salt brands that use anti-caking agents, and nasty chemicals that result in a lifeless, white table salt. Over 60 naturally-occurring minerals remain in Real Salt, offering a nutrient rich product that's also full of flavor. Real Salt has an excellent comparison infographic that I highly recommend checking out.

Real Salt offers their sea salt by itself, and also flavored salts. I received a shaker of their fine Real Salt, Organic Garlic Salt, Organic Onion Salt, and Organic Seasoning Salt. All organic seasonings are used in latter three and nothing more, really. It's as natural as you can get when it comes to salt! 

As my first experience using the Real Salt flavored salts, I have to say I'm impressed. Salt by itself always enhances the natural flavors of my dishes, but the flavored salts just bring it up a notch! I particularly enjoy the Organic Season Salt on sauteed veggies, and the Organic Garlic Salt on salmon with butter before cooking. The possibilities are truly endless, and I use one of them almost everyday. I love that they're affordable and easy to find, which are certainly added bonuses.

Real Salt is the best-selling brand of sea salt in America’s health food stores, and I definitely can see why because I'm a customer myself. For every recipe that calls for salt, I use Real Salt. In fact, I don't even have your typical table salt in my home anymore! Real Salt has replaced my needs for every kind of salt necessary. I even use their coarse Real Salt for my homemade laundry recipe. Salt is a vital mineral for the body and you know I'm not putting junk in mine. I'm thrilled to support a company that is right here from the USA. In my opinion, Real Salt offers the best ancient sea salt you can buy.

Win It!
One winner will receive an Organic Seasoning Gift Box, a $19.99 RV! What a wonderful gift idea for the cook on your gift list!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen :: Newly Remodeled Arden Fair Mall Location & Gluten-Free Options

 I received a complimentary meal & gift card for review purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

California Pizza Kitchen at the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, California recently unveiled a complete remodel along with enhanced menu offerings. With this in mind, I was thrilled with the invitation to experience this newly re-imagined CPK location with my family last Saturday. 

The newly designed restaurant features reclaimed wood on the interior and exterior, creating an elevated yet casual appeal. I felt very comfortable inside and I enjoyed the large windows, allowing in plenty of natural light. There is lots of seating, and even a bar area too.

Since going gluten-free over a year ago, eating out has been a struggle. I've had restaurants tell me certain menu items were gluten-free, only to discover that cross-contamination was not only a huge possibility, but a guarantee. Fries cooked in the same oil used for battered and fried chicken are not gluten-free, for example. I've been "glutened" more times than I'd like to admit.

Thankfully, there are some restaurants that actually know what it means to make every effort to offer menu items that are really gluten-free. CPK is one of those, however, they go even further by partnering with the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) for their four delicious gluten-free pizza options.

CPK's four gluten-free pizzas are The Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, Pepperoni, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage, and Margherita. Although any of CPK's pizzas can be made on their gluten-free crust for an additional $2, these four pizzas are the ones that can be prepared using the strict procedures approved by GIG as outlined here:
  • Using a certified gluten-free crust and other ingredients verified by California Pizza Kitchen’s suppliers as gluten-free.
  • Sanitizing prep areas.
  • Washing hands thoroughly and wearing designated gloves during preparation.
  • Using separate and designated equipment, such as separate pizza peel, spatula, pizza wheel, utensils, plates etc.
  • Cooking the pizzas in a separate foil pan.
CPK also partners with GIG to perform unannounced restaurant site visits to check that GIG’s strict procedures are being followed. The gluten-free pizza menu also displays the Gluten Free Food Service (GFFS) certification logo to indicate the independent verification of quality, integrity and purity of food preparation policies, education and standards at CPK. It's important to understand that cross-contamination is always possible when you're talking about a gluten-filled restaurant, but it's comforting to know that every effort is being made to prepare and cook my pizza without coming into contact with gluten.

Before our pizza arrived, I enjoyed my salad! The menu has several gluten-free options to choose from, including this delicious Caramelized Peach salad. The combination of peaches, cranberries, red onions, toasted pecans and Gorgonzola was lovely, and their simple housemade white balsamic vinaigrette seemed to really bring out the intensity of all the flavors. I loved it, and will definitely be ordering this same salad next time.

We ordered two gluten-free pizzas that are designated as gluten-free on their menu. This the Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage. It's perfectly spicy and reminiscent of a meat-lovers style pizza from my former gluten-filled days.

We also ordered the gluten-free Original BBQ Chicken Pizza. This iconic pizza is what CPK is really known for. The BBQ sauce is one of the best I've ever had, I just wish there was more of it! Next time I'll be asking for a side of BBQ sauce so I get more in each bite. I'm definitely a sucker for BBQ.

Both of these gluten-free pizzas were absolutely delicious. The crust wasn't at all similar to cardboard, or overly gummy either. It was crispy and just like a normal thin crust pizza. Hubby ordered a regular pizza also, and he didn't notice any difference between his pizza and the gluten-free pizzas, except for the obvious puffy outer crust on his regular pizza. I definitely didn't feel as though I was missing out on real pizza, and really found it these to be quite satisfying.

The outstanding service from our waiter, the CPK manager, and the rest of the staff at CPK was definitely memorable. Everyone was very attentive, drinks were always refilled without asking, food was brought out timely, and there is nothing poor I can really make note of. We had a very pleasant experience.

California Pizza Kitchen is concerned about food allergies and sensitivities. Check the CPK menu for links to their allergen menu, gluten-free menu, vegetarian and vegan menu, and nutrition guide. It's so exciting to see a company recognize the need for gluten-free regulations especially. With GIG's strict procedures in place, I can eat at CPK and actually enjoy my meal without fear of what I might feel like later. I'm excited to try some other gluten-free menu items next time we stop in at CPK.