Saturday, August 31, 2013


The lucky winner of a Fabio Viviani Comfort Mat from Smart Step Home is...

The lucky winner of a $50 gift card to The Home Depot is...

The lucky winner of a "Making Memories & Encouraging Kids" Gift Pack from Hallmark is...

The lucky winner of a $75 Walmart gift card from Fruit of the Loom is...

A big thank you to everyone who entered these fun giveaways! Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Shaklee 180™ Program Month 6 Update: Final Thoughts {#ShakleeBlogger}

 Shaklee logo
As seems to be the norm with life these days, the past six months of the Shaklee 180™ Program flew by in a blur of events, activities, sports, appointments, playdates and more. How does time always seem to pass by quite so quickly?

Earlier this month I faced my Shaklee 180™ results head-on as I compared my Before and After photographs to truly see what a difference 14 pounds and 14 inches can make. Less chins, less love handles, less... overall.

Except for confidence and smiles, as there are more of those.

So now that I have completed a full half year of Shaklee 180™, what aspects am I taking from it and applying to the rest of my life? Here I am to tell you... as well as a bonus appearance from both Big Sister E and Little Sister B with their thoughts as well:

I made it six months on the Shaklee 180™ program and you can, too! If you'd like to find out more and see if this is the next step for you, connect with them on their website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

You can also find out more about all of Shaklee's incredible products for healthy nutrition, home and beauty by connecting with Shaklee Corporation on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating in the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. My opinions are my own. I am also a Shaklee Independent Distributor.

People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

HABA Sand and Water Toys Provide Fun Year-Round {Pat-A-Cake Bake Set Review & Sand Toy Truck Giveaway}

HABA logo
I'm not sure what this says about my personality, but I dislike the sand.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take the opportunity to relax on a lounge chair on the beach anytime, but it's the sand itself that typically ends up bothering me. How is it possible that it never seems to come off? And why oh why does it have to get under my fingernails the minute that I touch it?

My kids, on the other hand, rank sand up there on their list of Most Awesome Things Ever and have never passed up the chance to dig and play and imagine with it... provided that they had great sand toys, of course. Sit them down with only sand and they'll look at you like you asked them to count every grain, but give them a bucket and a shovel and they'll dig right in.

Which is why when I heard that one of our favorite brands, HABA, had added a variety of sand and water toys to their already-fun collection, I had no doubt that all future sand play would be a true adventure of digging, patting, pouring, sifting, measuring and dreaming.

HABA sand toys

Unmatched in their selection of unique, high quality toys, games, gifts and furniture, HABA has long offered the whimsical and innovative toys for babies, toddlers and beyond that reflect their European values of staying playful and environmentally-friendly.

As we have never met a HABA product that we haven't loved, I took one look at their colorful sand and water toys and knew without a doubt that the Sun Bistro Pat-A-Cake Bake Set would result in all sorts of creative masterpieces.

HABA Sun Bistro

Providing little sand cake bakers with everything their hearts desire, the Sun Bistro Bake Set includes a mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cup, pie tin, plate, strawberry mold and fruit stamp — all perfectly-sized for little hands and big imaginations!

HABA Sun Bistro review

With zero instruction required, I handed over the Sun Bistro Pat-a-Cake Bake Set to Big Sister E and Little Sister B and they went immediately to work preparing our next meal in their sand table.

My little chefs were thrilled to mix...

sand toy whisk


sand toy measuring

...and create all sorts of meals for me to sample. Were we in a restaurant? Going on a picnic? At home whipping up dinner? It didn't matter, there were always plenty of delicious sand treats to enjoy!

Of course we did find that using completely dry sand didn't result in sand food that stayed very well-formed...

HABA sand pie tin

...but that has never stopped how seriously my bakers take their work.

HABA Pat-a-Cake Bake

Plus, by simply adding in a little water (this set would be perfect to bring to the beach!) we found that our cookies, pies and cakes came together even easier. The results are just so cute and fun!

HABA Pat-a-Cake Bake review

HABA was already a trusted name in our house for quality wooden toys, but the Sun Bistro Pat-a-Cake Bake Set (retail price $21.49) has expanded that adoration even further! I love that my kids can be creative with both their minds and their hands and that this set can be used by nearly any age (HABA recommends it for 3+) and still bring interest and use at home, at a park, on vacation and more.

I have no doubt that we'll be playing with these baking tools for years to come and keeping them in mind for gifts for friends who enjoy the sand as much as we do. Head over to (you can also use the store locator to find their products in hundreds of stores from coast to coast), to bring home the award-winning fun that HABA provides to educate and inspire the children in your life, as well as connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Thanks to HABA's generosity, one person will also be able to enjoy the individuality, style and value that comes along with their amazing sand toys, because...

One lucky person will win their choice of HABA Tanker Truck, Sieve Roller or Shovel Excavator sand toy truck!

HABA giveaway

A big thank you to HABA for providing samples for me to review as well as the choice of  sand toy truck 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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Creamy and Crunchy Yogurt: YoCrunch with Trail Mix {Review & Giveaway}

YoCrunch logo
Although I'm never quite sure if my children are going to love a particular food from one day to the next, I'm fairly certain that we've never gone wrong with yogurt.

From the time that they were babies, I don't know if there has ever been an instance that either of my girls has turned down the opportunity... and, considering that it is such a quick, easy and healthy snack, it ends up being a winning selection for all of us!

But when it comes to taking something that can be rather ordinary and turning it into something special, that's when we know that we can turn to the delicious varieties of yogurt available from YoCrunch.

YoCrunch yogurts

Smooth, low-fat yogurt packed with the fun of crunchy toppings that allow moms and kids to compromise on food choices, YoCrunch provides added nutrition while the toppings deliver on taste. Instead of boring snacking, these convenient dual packages include creamy yogurt and a wide variety of crunchy mix-ins such as granola, M&M's, Reese's Pieces, OREO cookies, Chips Ahoy! and many more.

YoCrunch has debuted many new varieties since their introduction and now includes a Fruit Parfait line, Pie Parfait collection, Greek Super Fruit with Almonds flavors, 100 Calorie Packs and more. Knowing that my kids would be thrilled over the taste while I would be more than happy about the health benefits, we were excited to try out their newest addition, YoCrunch with Trail Mix.

YoCrunch Trail Mix

Big Sister E and Little Sister B couldn't have been more excited to see that they were not only going to get to eat yummy vanilla yogurt but that it had such tasty mix-ins to go with it.

While I might not normally give my kids M&M's, peanuts and raisins with breakfast, they sure do make for a really fun treat!

YoCrunch with Trail Mix

As suspected, the girls were extremely anxious to open these containers and marvel at the trail mix and the yogurt and the ability to combine them together.

YoCrunch yogurt

Big Sister E immediately stirred her trail mix into the yogurt and mix, mix, mixed it up...

YoCrunch Trail Mix review

...while Little Sister B preferred to eat a little of one and then a little of the other.

Either way, they both gave YoCrunch with Trail Mix two big thumbs up!

eating yocrunch

As with our past experiences with YoCrunch, my kids have been big fans of being able to customize their yogurt for a personalized, homemade taste and I'm just happy giving them low-fat yogurt (protein! Calcium!) with a fun bonus.

Visit the YoCrunch website to find out more about their products (27 varieties!), explore all of their special offers (coupons!), and to find a store near you. You can also connect with this tasty company on Facebook and Twitter.

And, thanks to the generosity of YoCrunch, one person will soon get to try the combination of creamy, crunchy yogurt and trail mix as well, because...

One lucky person will win FIVE coupons for free YoCrunch multipacks of yogurts and a YoCrunch t-shirt!

YoCrunch giveaway

A big thank you to YoCrunch for providing samples and coupons for me as well as coupons and a t-shirt for the 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, August 28, 2013

Shark Sonic Duo Cleaning System {Review}

Shark logo
My husband will attest to this (probably too strongly) but I'm not very good at being a neat freak. It's like I want to be one... but I'm just too lazy. It's so much easier to just ignore the mess rather than put in the work to do something about it. Not to mention that my kids will just replace all of the dirt by the next day anyway, right?

But I really do want to have a cleaner home, it just seems that I need easier ways to accomplish that.

So, instead of letting the dishes pile up, I'll make the effort to put them into the dishwasher right after each meal (as well as, ahem, teaching my daughters to do it for me).

And instead of not wanting to pull out a grimy mop and bucket to wash the floor and then an entire separate massive, bulky machine to clean the carpet, I'll turn to the people who are known for engineering innovative cleaning solutions and the newest addition to their family: the Shark Sonic Duo Cleaning System.

Shark Sonic Duo cleaner

Designed to work on carpet and area rugs as well as all sealed hard floor types — we're talking hardwood, tile, vinyl and stone — the Sonic Duo really can go just about anywhere. On your softer floors, this machine not only lifts the visible dirt on the surface, but also cleans the stuck-on dirt that is down in the fibers.

At the same time, moving onto your hard surfaces, it then breaks down even the toughest messes and removes the dirt and stains while still being gentle. Shark claims that it is due to the Sonic Cleaning Technology that the Duo can scrub your floors and carpets 1,000 times per minute, but I'm not convinced it isn't some sort of magic. C'mon! That's over 16 powerful scrubs every second!

After having an amazing introduction to the Sonic Duo while in Chicago for BlogHer (when else would I have the chance to clean hardwood and carpet while on the roof of a beautiful hotel?)...

Shark Sonic Duo test
Great job cleaning, Leanne!
...I was already itching to bring the Sonic Duo into my own home to see if it would do just as great of a job removing the stuck-on dirt on my floors and carpets as it did then.

Let's see if your magic can defeat the sticky, crusty, gross messes that my kids dish out, Shark!

Shark Sonic Duo

Right out of the box and already Shark was making my life easier — it literally took snapping the top of the handle into place and the Sonic Duo was completely put together and ready to go!

Shark Sonic Duo review

Putting this innovative machine to work was just as easy. As it weighs only 5 pounds (without solution), I had no problem lifting and carrying it to where I knew needed cleaning first and foremost: my dining room floor.

Once there, it was also fast and simple to get started, as Shark thoughtfully color-coded the bottles and pads so that there is no question which one to use on which surface. For hardwood, use the green; for carpet and rugs, use the purple.

Shark floor cleaners

Preparing the solution and adhering the pads are nearly foolproof, as the bottles are labeled with precisely the amount of water (and solution) for filling, and the pads clearly point out which direction is forward right on them.

Sonic Duo prep

Just fill the bottle, click it into place and stick the Sonic Duo right down on top of the pad. Then it's time to flip the switch (there are "I Low" and a "II High" options) and get your floors and carpets truly clean. And if you've never thought that cleaning could be fun, then you haven't tried this machine yet!

While I hadn't heard the term Airglide Maneuverability before, it's one that I won't soon be forgetting now that I've experienced it with the Sonic Duo.

It truly does just glide over the floors and requires almost zero effort on your part. Just stand there and let it practically float across the ground... all the while it is scrubbing and scrubbing it!

Sonic Duo kids

As seen in the video and photos above, both of my children have no problem controlling the Duo and often jump at the chance to get to wash the floor with it. I love knowing that it is not only simple enough for them to handle (just turn it on, press the electronic spray button now and again, and scrub!) but that Shark included safety features to protect them as well as my home.

The headlights give a clearer view of what is on the floor, the bumper allows for getting right up to the baseboards but not worrying about denting them, and the Duo even stops automatically if the handle is tilted too far horizontally. Although I would hope that my kids wouldn't just put this down and walk away, at least if they do it won't scrub the finish off of one spot on my hardwood!

Sonic Duo surfaces

From hard surfaces to throw rugs to carpet, I've used the Shark Sonic Duo all around our house and have only been impressed with the results.

As well as the difference that this makes in brightening the carpet and removing all of the spots, sticky substances, and icky mess off of my hardwood without me having to even think about getting down on my hands and knees...

Sonic Duo before and after

...the proof is also seen right there on the pads afterward.

reusable floor cleaner pads

Ewwwwwww. Good thing these are washable!

The Shark Sonic Duo has ended up being one of the easiest and most versatile floor cleaning tools I've ever used. It is a breeze to handle; the 180° swivel lets you reach anywhere and everywhere; the no-rinse solutions don't have a bothersome scent; hard floors are left clean, streak-free and dry extremely quickly; carpets are brighter and cleaner; and the entire thing is safe for use around children and pets.

Whether you reach for this weekly to do one whole-house cleaning or you grab it daily to clean up a spill (as it dries so quickly and cleanly, you can't at all tell if one section was done and another wasn't), the results prove that this is one cleaning tool that can tackle the job!

clean floor

The Sonic Duo Cleaning System retails for around $200 and can be purchased directly from Shark, at retailers such as Target or Walmart, or on

To find out more about how this incredible cleaning system can eliminate the need for you to ever reach for a mop, sponge and bucket again (as well as to see more of the great products that Shark has to offer), visit and connect with them on Facebook.

Other than the Sonic Duo that I was provided by Shark in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about this product.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Next Generation of Micro Robotic Creatures: HEXBUG Nano V2 {Review & Giveaway}

Hexbug Nano V2 logo
There are many, many aspects of my kids that often make me confused.

Why do you think that's funny? Doesn't it hurt when you do that? That game/toy is incredibly boring, why do you continue to play with it? What in the world are you even talking about? Do you REALLY think that's a good idea?

And so on. Etcetera.

At the same time, however, there are aspects of them that I get.

I agree, a second dessert sure would taste good right about now. You know what? I also wish this line to get off of the airplane would move a whole lot faster. You want to play with that toy again? Bring it on, I love that one, too!

When it comes to the latter, one toy that I have enjoyed nearly as much as my kids have since its arrival here has to be the uniquely innovative and addictive HEXBUG.


We were first introduced to the HEXBUG Nano two years ago (and then the HEXBUG Warriors Battling Robots last year) and our adoration for these micro robotic creatures has only grown with each passing year — even from me, a professed sufferer of entomophobia.

After the debut of the original HEXBUG creatures, the brand has continued to grow to include more versions and additions that draw people in even further. Once you have seen the products' fascinating behavior, intelligent bug-like attributes and eye-catching movements, you'll find yourself riveted watching their life-like animation in awe!

So now that HEXBUG has fascinated children and adults alike for quite a few years and have added all colors, shapes and sizes to their collection, the question left is where could they go from there?

The answer is UP.

HEXBUG v2 megaset

The introduction of the all new breed of gravity defying HEXBUG Nanos is here, as the Nano V2 can now climb vertically, horizontally, around corners, through loops and tubes, and just about everywhere else in their V2 habitat sets.

By redesigning the exoskeleton of the Nano itself, the V2 now includes three rubber spikes on its back that, combined with the internal strong technology, allow for navigation in in any direction. Let me tell you, when I first set my eyes on this new generation of HEXBUG while at BlogHer, my jaw quite literally dropped.

So by the time the HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole arrived, I was more than ready to play (with or without my kids!) with these new and amazing minis.

HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole set

Including 58 assorted pieces that can be configured in any number of ways, there isn't a limit on the variety of customizable playgrounds that this set can create.

HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole pieces

Straight, curved, long, short... the kids and I dove right in to snapping these pieces together to see just how much fun our two new Nano V2 friends would have in their tri-level fun house.

HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole review

I'm not sure that the HEXBUG Nano V2 could get any more fun!

Since the first day that we opened the box, we have built and rebuilt and have loved watching the bugs climb up, down and around. They shoot through the clear tubes, spin in the Helix 180°, scurry around the Watch Tower, and free fall down into the Black Hole... only to pop out a random exit and continue on their way!

HEXBUG Nano V2 review

While we've loved the original HEXBUG Nanos, the V2 have been able to take things to a whole new level. Seeing them climb up and around in all directions has kept my kids' (and my) attention unlike the majority of toys and you just can't help but cheer for them when they land on their back, flip themselves upright, and keep on moving!

Whether you are new to the HEXBUG world or are previous fans, the Black Hole set is one purchase that is going to provide entertainment and fun for quite some time to come. Even if you happen to build the same configuration as a previous day, the mystery of which way the bugs will go, climb, twist and fall will never be repeated!

Often the girls will stop whatever other activity they are doing (in this instance, swimming) and rush over to grab a HEXBUG instead!

HEXBUG Nano V2 reactions
Some of their reactions have been priceless!

Retailing for $49.99 from HEXBUG (or on Amazon), the Nano V2 Black Hole is an incredible jump into the world of the new HEXBUG. This set allows for great heights, twirling barrel rolls, free falls, and all of the twists, turns and climbs that kids create and control. As you can also purchase more tracks and sets separately, each new addition would just take things a step further into your HEXBUG mega-world!

To find out more about the original collection of HEXBUG Micro Robotic Creatures, visit their website at and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information. Not to be outdone, however, the new Nano V2 have their own website at

Thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be diving into the 3-dimensional world of the new Nano V2 as well, because...

One lucky person will win a HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole!

HEXBUG Nano V2 Black Hole

A big thank you to HEXBUG for providing a Black Hole set for me to review 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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back To School Lunch Box Ideas with Kraft {#KraftRecipes}

Kraft logo
With fall right around the corner and the return back to school quickly approaching, I find myself feeling a mixture of anticipation and dread.

Anticipation because the excitement that my kids have for getting to be back with their friends and focusing on their love of learning is contagious.

Dread, however, over the fact I know that I'm going to miss their little faces every day... and that I have to pack their lunches. I'm not the only one who looks at a child's lunch box and silently curses it, right? Why is it so difficult to come up with something nutritious and filling that they will happily eat?

This is why this year I am determined to not leave things to the last minute, only to find myself scrambling to throw something together every weekday morning. Instead, I've been happily browsing through the wide selection of recipes, ingredients and more at to get a few new sandwich recipes and other ideas.

Upon stumbling on the Polka Dot Sandwich, I hardly was finished reading the ingredients to my kids before they were enthusiastically nodding their heads!

Polka Dot Sandwich

Both of my girls tend to stick with the classic peanut butter and jelly, so as soon as I saw that this sandwich combines a little sweet, a little chewy and a whole lot of flavor, I was reaching for my loaf of bread to try it out.

Polka Dot Sandwich


2 slices whole wheat bread
2 tbsp PHILADELPHIA Strawberry Cream Cheese Spread
9 banana slices (about ½ of a medium banana)
1 tbsp raisins

sandwich ingredients


Spread both slices of bread with cream cheese spread.

Top one bread slice with bananas in three rows of three slices each. Sprinkle remaining bread slice with raisins; press gently into cream cheese to secure.

fruit sandwich recipe

Close sandwich to serve. Enjoy!

kids sandwiches

As suspected, my girls were thrilled with this new sandwich option and have both declared it a must-have for school lunches (and beyond).

In fact, we've already been discussing variations that we would like to attempt, for instance, using regular PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread and strawberries or replacing the banana with slices of nectarine. The options are endless!

This season, be sure to browse the large number of recipes available at to find a huge selection of snack and sandwich ideas that are creative, delicious, fun and perfect for enjoying at home or in a lunch box.

This post is a part of a partnered campaign with Kraft Foods, however, all thoughts and opinions shared are honest and my own.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


The lucky winner of an Old El Paso Prize Pack is...

The lucky winner of a Pillsbury Grilling Prize Pack is...

The lucky winner of a TravelWise Packing Cube System 3-Piece Set from EatSmart is...

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