Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Green Giant has #AGiantSurprise... The Debut of Veggie Snack Chips! {Review}

While I always say that I'm going to try to cut down on snacking, let's face it, that's like me attempting to make it through the morning without coffee or to stop obsessing over my email. It's just not going to happen.

Alas, even though it makes my taste buds happy to grab a candy bar or sneak a few chocolate chip cookies while my kids aren't looking, my waistline and my conscience continue to disapprove. Why can't someone invent a luscious brownie that has zero calories? Or chips that are made with real vegetables, include whole grains, and still taste amazing?

I haven't discovered the former yet (if you do, email me immediately), but to my complete and utter astronishment, the latter exists!

As a giant surprise that we can all appreciate, the Jolly Green Giant has now debuted a great tasting chip that you can also feel good about eating: delicious Veggie Snack Chips!

Veggie Snack Chips

I'll be the first one to admit that I've tried chips made from vegetables in the past... and I haven't been wowed. So when I heard that Green Giant had added these snacks to their already-vast collection of canned and frozen vegetables, I didn't have extremely high expectations for their taste.

And then they arrived.

Green Giant Veggie Snack Chips

Okay, looks interesting.

The Green Giant Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips – Zesty Cheddar Flavor are made with real vegetables, include 17 grams of whole grain per serving (48g are recommended daily), and are naturally flavored.

At the same time, the Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips – Sea Salt Flavor are made with real sweet potatoes and include 14 grams of whole grain. Plus, they contains 40% less fat than regular potato chips (only 6g of fat per 28g serving compared to regular potato chips' 10g of fat per 28g serving).

Vegetable Snack Chips

But let's face it, if they taste like cardboard, I'm not eating them no matter how healthy they might be.

First, the Sweet Potato Chips.

Green Giant Sweet Potato Chips

Now, hold on a minute, these are GOOD. 

Filled with plenty of crunch, just enough salty sweetness, and a light, crisp flavor, I suddenly found myself going back for another. And another. And another. After all, they're made with sunflower oil, so they contain less saturated fat... so it's all right to have an extra handful or two, right?

I begrudgingly handed over a single chip or two to my mini taste tester's outstretched hand...

Green Giant Sweet Potato Chips review

...and, even though she agreed that they were extremely yummy, I have to admit that I greedily put the bag away so that I could eat them myself later on.

Think that's mean? Then you'll think even worse of me when I tell you that, upon sampling the Veggie Tortilla Chips...

Green Giant Veggie Tortilla Chips

...I wouldn't even hand over a single chip. I wasn't willing to share even one.

To say that I was instantly obsessed with these cheesy, crunchy, delicious chips is somewhat of an understatement. They taste similar to a popular nacho cheddar tortilla chip that we all know, yet more... real. Maybe it is the whole grain corn, the dried red and green bell peppers or the sunflower oil, but these Green Giant Veggie Chips don't have any sort of "junk food aftertaste" (or bellyache) as the others do.

See how there is just one full chip in the photo above? That's not because the bag came with a whole lot of broken pieces, that is because that was the only full chip left when I went to take a picture.

While I'm not proud of my greed, I am quite happy to have been introduced to Green Giant's newest product. Considering how much I love the taste (and how much I know my whole family would concur as well, if I ever decide to share) and all of the better-for-you, non-greasy, natural ingredients, these will surely be making more appearances in our house in the future.

Who knew that Green Giant had such skill in the chip category? In celebration of this surprise, they are on the hunt for more talented folks — you'll want to check out the surprise talents they've unearthed in this video and even more of the Jolly Green Giant's favorite surprise talents at the Green Giant YouTube channel.

surprise talent

Have a surprise talent of your own? Be sure to share it with the Giant as well and you might end up in their online film (there's also a printable coupon available for 75¢ off of your Green Giant Veggie Chips, so head over there even if you don't have a talent to show off)!

Next time you're at the store, pick up a bag of these new chips — be sure to get two if you think that your family will want a taste, because once you try these, you might not want to share!

Green Giant surprise

Thank you to The Green Giant™ for being a sponsor. Show the Giant your surprise talent at

What Does Your Child Aspire to Be? Tell Gerber Life in the Bring Dreams to Life Video Contest! {$25 Visa Gift Card Giveaway}

Gerber Life Insurance logo
If you were to ask my kids what they want to be when they grow up, Big Sister E would answer immediately and decisively that she is going to be a teacher. She came to that conclusion a few years ago and has never wavered from it.

Little Sister B, on the other hand, would most likely pause, break into a grin, and begin a list that goes something like, First I'm going to be a princess and when I'm done being a princess, I'll be a rock star. Then, when I'm done being a rock star, then I'll be an astronaut, you know? To go into space? And then I'll be a teacher, too...

Most recently she has added being a doctor to her collection of future professions and, as with every other career she has ever mentioned, I've told her that I'll support her no matter what she decides (even if I do happen to be secretly rooting for doctor over rock star).

When it comes to those aspirations that all children have, Gerber Life Insurance has found a way to not only celebrate the dreams, but to help make them a reality: the Gerber Life Bring Dreams to Life Video Contest and its $10,000 Gerber Life College Plan grand prize.

Bring Dreams to Life contest

Running now through April 1, 2013, the Gerber Life Bring Dreams to Life Video Contest gives parents the perfect opportunity to show off their child's ambitions... while also earning them the chance to win a $10,000 Gerber Life College Plan!

Ready to enter? The steps are simple:
  • Step 1 - Take a video of your child (who must be 8 years or younger) telling what he or she dreams of being when they grow up.  If your child is too young or can't talk, feel free to add your own thoughts and be creative.
  • Step 2 - Log onto the Gerber Life Facebook page and submit your video to the Bring Dreams to Life Contest.
  • Step 3 - Share your child's video with friends and family on Facebook and urge them to vote. Videos with 100 or more votes will automatically qualify for the final round.
  • Step 4 - A panel of judges will select the grand prize winner and 10 runners-up from among the finalists. The grand prize winner will be awarded an amazing $10,000 Gerber Life College Plan and the 10 runners-up will receive a $100 gift card.
All that's left to do is find out what endeavors your child has for their future career. Firefighter? Musician? Police officer? Librarian? Lawyer? Pteranodon and cross country skier, perhaps?

childhood dreams

No matter what path your child yearns to follow in life, now is the perfect time to get it on video and help make their dreams come true! Find out more details and rules for the Gerber Life Bring Dreams to Life Video Contest on Facebook today.

Plus, thanks to the generosity of Gerber Life, one person will be able to make a smaller scale dream come true as well, because...

One lucky person will win (1) $25 Visa Gift Card and (1) Gerber Life Calculator and Pen!

$25 Visa gift card

A big thank you to Gerber Life for providing a gift card for me as well as a gift card, calculator and pen for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Top Quality Products with Friendly, Knowledgeable Service: PishPoshBaby {$50 Gift Certificate Giveaway}

PishPoshBaby logo
Looking back at my pre-baby shopping, I remember quite a few days that were filled with feeling rather bewildered and confused. What in the world is all this stuff and do I actually need it?

When it comes to purchasing those special items — everything from high quality gear to tiny onesies — I remember being torn between wanting to be practical but also not wanting to neglect the extreme cuteness of so many items out there. Where's the happy median? And geez, don't pregnant women have enough on their minds that a website can't go just ahead and do all of the baby products research for them instead?

Fortunately, that site exists. Designed to provide moms-to-be the clarity, confidence, and comfort that they need when making important and significant purchases, PishPoshBaby combines sensible with adorable and lays it all out clearly and neatly.

baby gear

Founded from a dream of creating a high-quality store that supplies the facts and advice, along with the right choice, to parents who are completely lost in the whirlwind of baby gear, PishPoshBaby is the place to go to find moms that have only your best interest in mind.

That's right, moms! There are knowledgeable Mom Reps available from 9am until 9pm, making it beyond easy to call, chat or email and get a real mom answering your questions or concerns instead of an answering service. Who knows better than a mom?

real moms

The personal, live experience that these moms can provide comes along with professional service, immediate shipping, up-to-date inventory, and the security of knowing that your purchase is backed by PishPoshBaby's Satisfaction Guarantee.

All that is left to do is browse through PishPoshBaby's stylish and easy-to-navigate site in an attempt to narrow down their large selection of quality items available.

Shopping for a stroller? PishPoshBaby doesn't simply have a generic category for strollers, they have their huge selection of top-of-the-line strollers broken down so that you can search by Brand, Type (single strollers, double strollers, convertible strollers, lightweight strollers, jogging strollers and stroller accessories), New Arrivals, Best Sellers, Clearance...

high quality strollers

Trying to find just the right baby shower gift? PishPoshBaby not only offers gift certificates, but they have all sorts of Maclaren Gift Sets, toys, layette, blankets, hats, headbands and more that are sure to bring a smile to your recipient's face.

baby gifts

With everything from gear to feeding to decor to bedding (and so much in between!), PishPoshBaby has the products you need and the advice and information you desire. With fast shipping (free on orders of $75 or more!), price matching and easy returns and exchanges, there's just no need to search any further.

But PishPoshBaby wants to do even more than give their customers a great shopping experience, they want to award one lucky fan a brand new stroller for free!

stroller giveaway

Head over to PishPoshBaby on Facebook and find out more about this amazing contest and be sure to enter for your chance to win a shiny new Bugaboo Bee!

As well as becoming a fan of PishPoshBaby on Facebook, you'll also want to connect with them on Twitter, Pinterest and their blog to stay up-to-date on everything baby.

Plus, thanks to their generosity, one person will be on their way to picking out their favorite piece of baby gear as well, because...

One lucky person will win a $50 gift certificate to PishPoshBaby!

PishPoshBaby gift certificate

A big thank you to PishPoshBaby for providing a gift certificate for me as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

AppStart Learning's iLearn ‘N’ Play Collection Combines Technology, Education and Fun! {Review & Giveaway}

iLearn logo
I've come to suspect that if my kids could do everything through an iPad or iPhone, they would. More than just playing games or reading books, if there was a way to eat, sleep and get dressed by tapping, swiping and tilting, they would. Is there an app for that yet?

Fortunately, as companies have realized the high level of interest that children everywhere have with iOS devices, they have found ways to take that love and turn it into an opportunity for education. Instead of assuming that all kids are going to want to do is use a slingshot to send birds flying across the screen, it is time to introduce them to ways that they can stay fully entertained... while learning at the same time.

Thanks to AppStart Learning, that dream is a reality in the form of their innovative and fun iLearn ‘N’ Play toys, apps and curriculum.

iLearn N Play

By taking a variety of early learning concepts and making them the basis of their iLearn ‘N’ Play Apps, AppStart Learning has combined technology and play into a revolutionary experience that excites kids as well as adults.

Letter Explorer app
As opposed to some toys that function as accessories to an app, iLearn ‘N’ Play has integrated iPads, iPhones and iPods right into the function of the app itself. Simply download onto the device of your choice, pair with Bluetooth to your iLearn product, safely lock your Apple gadget right into the toy, and let the educational entertainment begin!

As I looked over the iLearn ‘N’ Play toys — the Learning Tablet, Adventure Explorer and Robbi — I was immediately intrigued with the thought and work that AppStart Learning had put into each one. Have your children practice their letter forms and penmanship on the Learning Tablet, practice letter recognition and motor control by driving with the Adventure Explorer or reinforce numbers and counting with Robbi!

While I had no doubt that my kids would be thrilled with any of the three options, when the Adventure Explorer arrived, the repetitive When can we open this? Can we open this now? Is it time to play with this? was only the first indication that they were happy with the choice.

Adventure Explorer toy

Before I even opened the box, I was liking the features of the Adventure Explorer.

AppStart Learning

Of course I appreciate all of the educational aspects (what mom wouldn't?) but the fact that AppStart Learning took their curriculum even further and integrated it with a toy that would protect my devices, have the ability to be played on the go, and works with all versions of iOS devices? Bring on the learning and fun!

AppStart Learning Adventure Explorer

There was a split second after I removed the pieces from the box when I assumed that the setup for this toy couldn't be this easy... could it?

After popping a few batteries (not included) into the bottom of the Adventure Explorer, I went to my iPad's Settings and was pleased to see that the two immediately paired through Bluetooth. It only took another minute or so to download the Letter Explorer app and we were nearly ready to go.

Thanks to the stand that snugly fits into the base of the Adventure Explorer...

AppStart Learning Adventure Explorer stand

...placing my iPad in and knowing it was secure was a snap. All that was left was to launch Letter Explorer and my kids were driving their way through letter recognition, blending and reading.

AppStart Learning Adventure Explorer game

While there are times when I have had to walk Big Sister E and Little Sister B through the directions and use of games or apps, they both were using the Adventure Explorer's steering wheel, sound effects and controls to interact with the app nearly immediately.

By simply turning the steering wheel and using the accelerator and direction controls, the girls have had a great time driving left, right, forwards and backwards to collect the letters indicated on the screen. Although Big Sister E is already fully proficient in knowing the alphabet, I love the way that this game has been reinforcing them with Little Sister B!

She just loves to drive through the various levels and see what surprises (vehicle, background location, etc) will change. As for me, I'm thrilled that every day since the Adventure Explorer arrived she has been so happy to recognize letters, sounds and spell simple high frequency words.

This really is a seamless combination of education and entertainment, and, as there is no time limit or pressure (if you miss a letter, simply back up and try again!), I'm thrilled that there is no frustration or stress that comes from it — just fun!

AppStart Learning Adventure Explorer review

Along with popping the iPad into place to play Letter Explorer, the Adventure Explorer is also compatible with an iPhone or iPod — any version, so no worrying if you don't have the latest iPhone, your iPhone 3 or 4S will work just as well!

Simply lock your smaller iOS device into the upper casing and place the entire thing securely onto the stand (or take it to go) and your child is set to drive their way through this curriculum once again.

Adventure Explorer iPhone

With plans to roll out new apps for each of their toys throughout the year, we can't wait to see what AppStart Learning comes up with to further increase my kids' love of the Adventure Explorer! This innovative device retails for $39.99 (as does Robbi; the Learning Tablet has a $19.99 price tag) and can be found in Target stores near you.

Just be sure to pick up the correct toy (and app) to coincide with the Apple device that you own:
  • Learning Tablet: compatible only with the iPad, utilizes the Letterbox app.
  • Adventure Explorer: compatible with the iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch, utilizes the Letter Explorer app.
  • Robbi: compatible only with the iPhone and iPod touch, utilizes the Numberbots app.
To find out more about this and all of AppStart Learning's toys, apps and curriculum, visit their website. You'll also want to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube so that you never miss their latest and greatest happenings.

And, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be combining technology, learning and fun as well, because...

One lucky person will win their choice of any one of the iLearn ‘N’ Play toys from AppStart Learning!

iLearn N Play giveaway

A big thank you to AppStart Learning for providing an Adventure Explorer for me to review as well as the choice of iLearn 'N' Play toy for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Three New Hand-Crafted Griddle Melts at IHOP {Review & $25 Gift Card Giveaway}

IHOP logo
Although there are a few conversations that I've had multiple times with my kids, one that occurs quite often begins with my Are you SURE you're done eating? Your belly is full? It's a long time until [next meal]!

At which time Big Sister E usually contemplates if she wants to eat more or Little Sister B replies I'm going to ask my belly. Belly are you full? and then, in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, Yes! I'm full!

Does any of this mean that either of them won't be complaining that they're hungry an hour later? If you've been around kids before, then you already know the answer to that.

So when it comes to filling my whole family up and keeping them satisfied throughout the day, I'm happy knowing that there are restaurants that know what it takes to continually reinvent the family dining experience.

And now they've done it again! IHOP, the chain known for its world famous buttermilk pancakes for more than half a century, has recently turned up the flavor for breakfast by announcing the availability of three new Griddle Melts!

IHOP griddle melts

For 53 years, IHOP has served its world famous pancakes and a wide variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner items that are loved by people of all ages. As we have always found that IHOP does indeed offer its guests an affordable, everyday dining experience with warm and friendly service, we were excited to get to head over for a visit.

After hearing about these new large, hearty, hand-crafted Griddle Melts, our mouths were watering to bite into the artisan sourdough bread even before we arrived at the restaurant.

IHOP restaurant

Right inside the front door, we found the three new Griddle Melts showcased in a special display... with each one looking just as delectable as the next.

IHOP sign

Spinach, Roasted Pepper & Cheese, Western or Ham & Egg Melt? Yum! Right away I appreciated that the three options ensure that whether you prefer a flavor that includes more vegetables or the taste of more meat, there is a Griddle Melt variety that is sure to be perfect for your meal:
  • Spinach, Roasted Pepper & Cheese: Sautéed fresh spinach in a fluffy egg omelet topped with roasted red peppers and onions, melted Provolone, Parmesan and Pepper Jack cheeses on grilled artisan sourdough bread. Served with your choice of hash browns, French fries or seasonal fruit.
  • Western: Smoked ham and sautéed peppers and onions in a classic omelet, topped with sliced ham, melted American cheese and served on grilled artisan sourdough bread. Served with your choice of hash browns, French fries or seasonal fruit.
  • Ham & Egg Melt: Sliced ham and melted Swiss and American cheeses over a fluffy egg omelet served on grilled artisan sourdough bread. Served with your choice of hash browns, French fries or seasonal fruit.
As soon as we made our way to our table, the Griddle Melts were calling me from there as well!

IHOP Griddle Melt sandwich

While all three Griddle Melt creations sounded tasty (and I love that you can select your side to make your meal more "breakfast" or more "lunch"), I decided on the Spinach, Roasted Pepper & Cheese and was happy to know that the chefs would begin to custom-make my sandwich just for me. If you've eaten a fast food breakfast sandwich that has been sitting out for a while, then you know the difference!

Sure enough, when my plate was put in front of me a short time later, this sandwich looked and smelled fresh and delicious!

IHOP Griddle Melts review


I'm a big fan of quite a few breakfast foods, but the combination of this fluffy egg omelet with the melted cheeses, tasty red peppers and onions, and the thick artisan sourdough bread just works together so well!

IHOP Spinach, Roasted Pepper and Cheese Griddle Melt review

I had expected that I would enjoy this Griddle Melt, but not that I would love it so much from the first bite! I felt just as pleased with my meal as my kids did with their cute Create-A-Face pancakes — we were all grinning due to our happy bellies!

eating at IHOP

IHOP's hand-crafted Griddle Melts are available for $4.99 for a half sandwich and $6.99 for the full, so be sure to head over and try them today — they really are tasty for any meal of the day!

For more information on these (and all of IHOP's yummy meals) or to find an IHOP restaurant near you, visit Plus, thanks to their generosity, one person will be able to try out the classic favorites or these new Griddle Melt creations themselves, because...

One lucky person will win a $25 gift card to IHOP!

IHOP gift card

A big thank you to IHOP for providing gift cards for me as well as a $25 gift card for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Macy's Culinary Council and Macy's Heart of Haiti Have Me Dreaming of Spring!

macys culinary council heart of haiti logo
By this time of year, daydreaming about spring seems to be in full swing for all of us. I'll catch myself just staring out the window, picturing the green grass and colorful flowers, while Big Sister E will ask It's almost spring, can I go outside and swim? even though it's snow as far as we can see.

Along with yearning to get out and enjoy warmer weather, the ability to have friends and family over to kick back and relax out on the deck makes me even more eager for spring to arrive. Who doesn't like pulling up a chair, grabbing a drink, and having a laughter-filled good time with the people that they enjoy most?

And right now the folks that are making it even easier to pick out your favorite drink are the talented and creative ladies and gentlemen that make up the Macy's Culinary Council chefs.

Macy's Culinary Chefs

In an effort to boost my plans for springtime entertaining, I received award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson's Fresh Citrus Wine Cooler recipe and was ready to put it to the test.

Fresh Citrus Wine Cooler
Serves 8


Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons sugar
2-inch piece fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
8 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
3 cups dry white wine
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
Crushed ice

Chill tall glasses. In a small saucepan, combine the orange, lemon and lime juices and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the sugar and ginger, stir briefly to dissolve the sugar, and remove from the heat. Let cool completely.

Pour into a large pitcher and add the mint, the wine, and the orange and lime slices. Fill the glasses with crushed ice, pour in the cooler, and serve immediately.

Aside from turning away for a minute and accidentally letting my juices boil over a bit, this recipe was extremely easy to follow and the results ending up just the right tangy, refreshing drink!

To find out more about this and many, many other enticing recipes and tips, be sure to visit and find out how these amazing chefs can get you ready for entertaining all year round!

As well as delicious food and drinks, what can make you even more excited to have guests over to your home? When you love your decor, of course! Which is precisely why Macy's Heart of Haiti initiative is the place to go. Not only will you find an amazing, handcrafted work of art to display, but you will know that you have made an incredible difference in the lives of those that need it.

Macy's Heart of Haiti

Helping Haitian families construct and restore their lives after the devastating earthquake in 2010, items in the Heart of Haiti collection use some of the most unlikely materials to create jewelry, home decor items and accessories.

From raw materials such as recycled oil drums and wrought iron to paper-mâché and stone, each item is handmade by a Haitian master artisan. By creating art that reflects their rich culture and history, artisans have a sustaining income to provide nutrition, education and health care for their families.

Just think of the conversations you would have with your guests if you served them a Fresh Citrus Wine Cooler on a beautiful Periwinkle Floral or Large Banana Leaf Heart of Haiti Tray!

serving trays

Considering how beautiful these are, I think that they would also be gorgeous simply placed on a shelf as a work of art... which is exactly what I've done with the Set of 2 Tea Leaf Nesting Trays.

unique decor

I was admiring the vivid colors and decorative appeal of these handmade Tea Leaf nesting trays even before I had them out of the box. The beautiful bright turquoise is the perfect background to the beige and red accents, while having both trays made from eco-friendly paper is just so unique.

The raised edge along each tray would make them great for holding small items such as jewelry, change or perfume bottles, however as they are created from recycled paper you do have to take care that they don't get wet (they can be wiped clean with a damp cloth).

I had quite a few ideas as to where to place these in our house, and while I tried splitting up the trays so that I could enjoy the beauty in two separate rooms...

attractive knick knacks

...ultimately I ended up placing them together on a shelf in our guest bedroom. I love the pop of color and the overall way that these add style in such a different, attractive way.

shelf decor

These trays regularly retail for $45 but are currently on sale for $29, so if you are looking for a gift or new item to spruce up your home for spring, check them out!

With nearly 100 home items in the Macy's Heart of Haiti collection — including servingware, decor, jewelry, candleholders, picture frames, ornaments and more, you're sure to find pieces you'll adore.

The collection can be found exclusively at Macy's stores around the country and at, while you can also support the initiative on Facebook. Most items fall in the price range of $15-$60 but the added benefit of feeling that you've supported something great is worth a whole lot more!

Other than the Set of 2 Tea Leaf Nesting Trays that I was provided in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this review in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion of these initiatives and products.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


The lucky winner of a Brazilian Peel by Advanced Home Actives is...

The three lucky winners of their choice of t-shirt from are...

The two lucky winners of a Dollar General P&G Prize Pack are...

Thank you to everyone who entered these fun giveaways! Have a great weekend!