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Thank you to everyone who entered these fun giveaways! Have a great Labor Day weekend!
Friday, August 29, 2014
With the start of the school year only days away, I'm equal parts excited (yay for schooooool!) and nervous (mah baaaabies!).
As much as I know my kids adore school and I'm looking forward to a return to routine and a little peace and quiet around here, I also know that the end of summer means the end of the lazy, pajama-filled, nonchalant, yawwwwn, what're we doing today? days that we've been having recently.
Instead, fall is filled with hurried breakfasts, constant homework, lunches needing to be packed, soccer practices, volunteering, PTO meetings and more. Is it any wonder that, with the rushing back and forth and the way that there never seem to be quite enough hours in the day, it ends up being easier to grab prepackaged foods when hunger calls? Whether for an after-school snack, in a lunchbox or just to eat in the car on the way to our next activity, convenience is nearly always the winning factor.
But then... what if convenient and healthy weren't exclusive? What if it was just as easy to have healthy snacks as it is to have not-so-healthy snacks? That answer is found quickly and easily with NatureBox!
Delivering a world of carefully sourced and nutritionist-approved foods right to your door, NatureBox is the subscription-based snacking program that you'll feel good about providing to your family.
Plus, the process is simple! Once you join NatureBox, you'll receive five different snacks every month. Whether you choose the snacks you want or would prefer to be surprised with their carefully curated selections, each snack contains wholesome ingredients with no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.
And, let me tell you, once you begin browsing the NatureBox Snack Catalog, you'll find your mouth watering at the huge variety of healthy, quality snacks available!
As a bonus, not only do you know that all of the ingredients offered from NatureBox are healthy (which saves time scouring ingredient lists at the grocery store), but they make it just as easy to narrow down their huge selection if you have a specific dietary need or taste preference.
Vegan? Nut free? Cutting back on gluten? Prefer savory snacks over salty ones? NatureBox has over 100 snacks to excite and delight every palate, so finding something for each member of your family to enjoy is a snap.
After I finally decided on my top five selections from NatureBox (narrowing it down was hard due to how yummy they all looked!), I couldn't wait for the box to arrive.
Ranging in size from 3.7 oz to 5.5 oz, each of these snack bags quickly proved to be fresh, delicious and perfect for at home or on-the-go.
The Salted Caramel Pretzel Pops are just right to grab a handful when you need a crisp, crunch...
...the Apple Pie Oat Clusters and Banana Bread Granola have been delectable as-is or mixed with yogurt or milk...
...and the Blueberry Nom Noms are my favorite.
As soon as I started eating these miniature cookies I fell in love with the lightly sweet taste of oats, honey and dried blueberries. I could eat these at any point in the day!
Whether you are looking for a quick and healthy breakfast, something to munch while in the school pickup line or for an after school snack to keep your children fueled up for homework or sports, NatureBox just might be the convenient, versatile, time-saving solution that your household needs.
No more fretting what to pack in your kids' lunchboxes or wondering how you're going to introduce more healthy foods into their diet when these little bags of deliciousness show up right at your door (with a list of ingredients that you know and can pronounce)!
Be sure to head over to NatureBox.com to check out the full variety and selection of their snacks and see which of their subscription plans will work best for you — plans start at $19.95/month for month-to-month and drop all the way down to $15.95/month when you sign up for 12 months.
But, wait! If you are on the fence about trying NatureBox, now is a great time to give it a go by saving a bundle! Just click here to get 50% off your first month's NatureBox delivery (a $10 value) by using the promo code SNACKTOSCHOOL*!
*Fine Crumbs: Promotion is good for 50% off your first month to month box or $10 off your first box in your first prepaid subscription. New and US subscribers only. Not valid on gift subscriptions and may not be combined with any other offers.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
In sixth grade, I wanted braces.
I can remember seeing them on other kids and marveling at the little metal bars, all the while thinking that the way that their lips had to sit uncomfortably atop them and form words over and around them was just so cool.
Did I know or care about the pain, hassle and work that actually went into braces? Nope, it was all about the cool factor.
Fortunately, my ambitions have changed in the next 25 years and, due to my good genes, my pearly whites have stayed straight on their own. Unfortunately, in what is beginning to look like karma coming back to get me, my nearly-8-year-old has a mouth currently filled with teeth out of my preteen dreams.
Granted, Big Sister E doesn't have all of her permanent teeth in yet, so we've still got a few years to see what happens on its own (which is what her orthodontist suggested).
But in the meantime, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to be prepared with the information and knowledge about what treatment options are available if and when we need them. No offense to braces and all, but options for straightening teeth have come a long way and I want to provide my daughter with only the best of the best for her beautiful smile.
I'm talking Invisalign treatment!
If you're not familiar with Invisalign, then you're missing out on this great alternative to braces. As opposed to traditional wires and brackets, Invisalign's clear aligners straighten teeth in a virtually invisible way.
As well as the convenience, I love that Invisalign Teen — created specifically for preteens and teens — all but eliminates the disruption and sacrifice that comes with the usual teeth straightening for the younger generation.
This method results in less social awkwardness to impact a teen's confidence and self-esteem during an already vulnerable time; no worry of interference or injury when used while playing a musical instrument or participating in sports; no emergency orthodontic visits for broken wires and brackets; no food restrictions (as Invisalign Teen is removable for easy brushing and flossing) and more!
Plus, although there is a common myth that Invisalign can only treat minor or cosmetic issues, the truth is that this treatment effectively treats a wide variety of orthodontic issues including severe bite issues.
From underbite to crossbite, deepbite to overbite and overly crowded to widely spaced, advancements to Invisalign's patented technology continues to increase the complexity of issues that can be treated. Pictures like these of Brandon's results give me great hope for how well my daughter's smile can turn out after Invisalign Teen!
If you're thinking that the cost of braces is already high, so the price of Invisalign must be more expensive than metal braces, no worries. The cost of Invisalign is quite comparable to the cost of traditional braces and many dental insurance plans cover Invisalign just as they would braces — up to 50% of the cost may be covered!
And, even if dental insurance doesn't apply, many doctors will help parents find options to make straightening their child's teeth more affordable, such as flexible and affordable monthly finance plans.
Why would I want anything less for my daughter than Invisalign Teen? If these removable clear aligners can straighten her teeth without a mouth full of metal and all the disruption and sacrifice that comes with it, then I'm on my way to the Invisalign Smile Assessment to find out if Invisalign will be right for us!
Be sure to find out more about Invisalign options, how this modern treatment works, whether you or your child are good candidates, Invisalign results and much more by visiting Invisalign.com and connecting with them on Twitter and Facebook.
But, wait! Why not enter for a chance to win FREE Invisalign treatment as well?
On now through September 30th, 2014, the Straight Talk Sweepstakes just might provide you or a member of your family with a beautiful, straight smile completely free of charge! Enter right here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'm keeping an eye on both of my daughters' teeth to ensure that they have the best treatment available as they enter their teen years. But now I want to hear your thoughts! How do you think Invisalign Teen compares to braces?
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Today, not only are those two pretty much a necessity, but a phone is a clear must-have and a travel mug is close behind. Whether that mug is filled with ice cold water (are you drinking the recommended number of glasses each day?) or your favorite coffee or tea, staying hydrated and energized throughout the day is a priority for all ages.
Fortunately, no matter if you're reaching for your cup during your commute, while on a walk, as you're sitting in a lawn chair or more, America's number one selling line of travel mugs has gotten a major upgrade thanks to the introduction of the Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop with Easy Clean Lid.
Knowing that on-the-go beverage cups can be messy and complicated to use, Contigo has developed a line of simple, yet functionally innovative, environmentally friendly travel mugs, water bottles, and kids cups to help everyone face life's daily challenges. Each and every one of their products are known for being stylish, yet resilient and sleek yet strong while featuring revolutionary patented AUTOSEAL technology that automatically seals between sips.
Why not opt for products that are leak-proof and spill-proof with superior insulation properties that keep beverages hot or cold longer and, in essence, give consumers the confidence they need to face the day and pride in knowing that they bought the best of the best?
While we have long been big fans of Contigo and the way that their products are made with FDA approved materials and are perfect for being on-the-go, we couldn't wait to try out the new West Loop with Easy Clean Lid to see what updates Contigo had included.
Available in a variety of stylish colors, it only took removing these travel tumblers from the box for my entire family to be impressed with the design. Let's face it, along with the practical qualities, we all want to carry around something that looks good and these are purrrrrrrty!
However, when it came to checking out the West Loop, I loved what I discovered inside as well.
Although other brands may include "spill-proof" in their product descriptions, Contigo's AUTOSEAL technology truly renders it leak-proof no matter what angle it is held. Simply press to open and release to seal. No effort, no work, no hassle, no spills!
At the same time, I adore that Contigo included a quick and easy lid-lock feature for times that you want to be able to toss your mug into your purse or workout bag and not worry that the AUTOSEAL button will accidentally be pressed.
Just lock (an audible click clearly lets you know that you have the lid fully locked) and the West Loop does the rest in preventing a single drip from getting out!
Along with the importance of leak-proof technology and being able to quickly and easily take a sip from your mug whenever and wherever you are, Contigo took the West Loop a step further with its new Easy Clean Lid... which is completely and utterly genius!
This newly-designed lid screws off easily and includes no loose parts, so there is no worry about detaching and reattaching (and losing) any pieces. Just press right on the "push to clean" tab and the inner workings pop right up for full access!
Voilà! This amazing lid can then be thoroughly washed by hand or, due to it being top rack dishwasher-safe (the body of the mug is hand-wash only), placed right in the dishwasher for even easier cleaning. It really is just that simple!
We couldn't be much happier with our Contigo travel mugs and I have yet to find an aspect that hasn't worked for every member of our family, whether during daily use or for a specific occasion.
The ergonomic grip makes these comfortable to hold; the single-serve brewer and cup holder-friendly size make them extremely convenient; the double-wall vacuum-insulated body keeps drinks hot for up to five hours or cold for up to 12 hours; the spill-proof guarantee allows these to go right into backpacks or bags; the Easy Clean Lid eases any worry of hidden dirt or germs; and the overall appeal, design and ease of use is fantastic!
Considering that there is a fashionable color of West Loop to fit every personality, a Contigo AUTOSEAL travel mug would be a universally-loved gift for family, friends, babysitters, teachers and more. These amazing mugs retail for $20.99 and are available now in stores, on Amazon and directly from Contigo... where the coupon code WESTLOOP20 will provide a 20% discount until October 31, 2014!
Find out more about the Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop with Easy Clean Lid (and all of the other unique Contigo products) by visiting GoContigo.com and connecting with this innovative company on Facebook and Twitter.
Are you ready to give these fantastic mugs a try? Thanks to the generosity of Contigo, one person will soon see just how much their family loves these tumblers as well, because...
One lucky person will win FOUR 16 oz. West Loop travel mugs from Contigo!
A big thank you to Contigo for providing four West Loop mugs 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.
I'd love to look at that dollhouse and be able to imagine that today it is a castle or a school or a zoo, but apparently my practical side gets in the way. That house is the same house it was yesterday. That doll is the same doll that it was two days ago. And that play shopping cart of pretend food needs to be checked out for the hundredth time? Sigh.
Fortunately, there are companies that have found a way to tap into an everlasting creativity and innovation with toys that not only inspire imagination and originality, but are are nearly limitless in their potential. If that house or doll or pretend food could actually be transformed into a new form, the fun would never have to end!
Which is exactly why we love the ingenuity, quality and complete uniqueness provided in each and every piece from MOTORWORKS!
Designed for ages 3 and up (due to the removable small pieces), The Manhattan Toy Company's beloved MOTORWORKS line of vehicles, accessories and play sets take traditional "playing with cars" and give it a modern, interactive twist.
Each of the three different trim levels of MOTORWORKS vehicles — Street Series, Speed Series and Extreme Series — start with a sleek, detailed European beech wood body. But then, instead of adding flashing lights, beeping sounds or batteries of any kind, the wide assortment of interchangeable pieces turn regular cars into custom rides limited only by imagination.
With everything from car decals to monster wheels to spoilers, young builders simply snap their own selection of colorful parts and pieces into place (either those that come with the vehicle or from a separate accessory kit or different vehicle), and they are able to make them their own.
How could we keep the awesomeness of MOTORWORKS all to ourselves? It was time to have a MOTORWORKS 500 Party and share the love!
Is there anything better than the combination of good friends, tasty snacks and super cool customizable wooden vehicles? It was all that the kids and I could do to not pull open the packages and start creating our dream rides or eat too many of the yummy munchies before our guests arrived!
Fortunately, it wasn't long before our guests did arrive and we were able to dive right in to three stations of MOTORWORKS excitement.
Pit Stop #1: Create-a-Car Customization Station.
As none of our party guests had any experience with MOTORWORKS, it was amazing to see them get right in on the action of swapping out accessories, adding decals and seeing their own custom vehicle come together. Just pull of a wheel and replace it with another? However I want?
In stark contrast to the majority of kids' toys that have set directions and instructions, the open-ended, innovative aspects of these vehicles truly stimulate children's minds to come up with new ways to redesign them over and over!
From elaborately detailed to sleek and simple, seeing the kids' personalities come through in their vehicle designs was a lot of fun... not to mention that they were able to return to Station 1 throughout the party if they decided that their car needed a little bit of change!
Pit Stop #2: Launch and Race Station.
As their MOTORWORKS vehicles were created, the kids were extremely excited to be able to put them immediately to the test by taking turns with a pair of MOTORWORKS Slingshot Speed Launchers. Who doesn't love a little bit of friendly competition?
These great wooden launchers are simple yet fun, as their durable slingshot construction allows users to simply pull the lever back until it clicks into place and then press down on the release button to send their vehicle zooming off to victory.
The kids were thrilled to see how far their custom car would go, what direction it would end up facing and what features seemed to make some vehicles go further than others! Pausing only to take a quick distance measurement with a tape measure and track the distance on their "Ready Set Launch!" sheets...
...this station was extremely popular for our young car designers to return to time and time again.
Although I had been a little bit concerned that there would be disappointment over one car not going as far as another, that turned out to not be the case at all — instead, each race was filled with laughter, smiles and calls of a rematch!
After a little break to eat (who can pass up car-shaped JELL-O?) it was time to move on to our final station.
Pit Stop #3: Name and Draw Station.
Considering how proud all of our young car racers were over their custom creations, it only took a little convincing to move on to the last pit stop. There, the kids drew their vehicles, gave them names, pondered over hidden words in a Word Search and (if they hadn't already) applied MOTORWORKS tattoos.
I'm not sure that we could have put together more of an unforgettably fun afternoon! All of our guests were beyond excited to have been introduced to MOTORWORKS in such a unique and festive way and, even better, they were each able to take home a MOTORWORKS goodie bag to extend the love even further.
I love knowing that we not only got to treat our friends to a wonderful party, but that they now get to continue the originality, imagination and spirit of these vehicles with their own Monster Wheels, keychain, poster, slap bracelet and more!
While we were sorry to say goodbye to our MOTORWORKS 500 Party guests, my own kids have returned to their vehicles multiple times since that afternoon to continue playing, decorating, customizing and more. I've also heard from multiple of our guests' moms that their children have been doing the same thing and are often found happily changing the wheels, spoilers, decals and more!
Whether you have a MOTORWORKS fan in your life or this is the first that you've heard of this unique line of vehicles, these cars, trucks, buggies, trailers, convertibles, accessories, play sets and more are sure to inspire driving and racing fun for years to come. Head over to the MOTORWORKS website, DrivenByFun.com, today to see the full collection!
You can also connect with The Manhattan Toy Company on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to stay up-to-date with everything that this innovative toy company has to offer.
I was provided with MOTORWORKS products and supplies from The Manhattan Toy Company in order to facilitate our party, however, all thoughts and opinions are completely honest and my own.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
From the youngest children that practice stacking simple wooden blocks to the most well-educated engineers with the skills that can turn drawings into realities, there is just something that drives us to manipulate individual pieces to turn them into more complex creations.
So, considering the entertainment and educational value, why not take advantage of our need to build by turning our own children's focus to toys that can enhance learning in science, technology, engineering, and math... while making it fun and able to instill a sense of pride?
All that (plus more) is what is found in the innovative and challenging construction sets from Eitech.
Offering a variety of stainless steel construction sets for budding builders of all different skill levels, Eitech has been designing, engineering and manufacturing their unique kits in Germany for decades and has now extended their amazing products to the United States.
Their sets come in five categories — Basic, Classic, Exclusive, Solar and Experimental — and can have as little as 100 pieces or as many as a 1,000 pieces... ensuring that there truly is something for every child to learn valuable hands-on motor skills, how to follow directions, and basic STEM skills!
Even better, although each set is initially designed to build a specific item (e.g. a robot, train or space shuttle), Eitech's intricate parts are all interchangeable with any other Eitech set or accessory pack. Therefore, while building a crane, bridge or car is great in itself, they are just the tip of the creativity iceberg in the full extent of the building possibilities!
Knowing that Big Sister E would not only love being able to screw together parts and pieces of a great steel construction set, but that she adores the Eiffel Tower, we were all thrilled to see the arrival of the Eitech Eiffel Tower Construction Set.
This set comes with over 250 parts made of high-quality steel and an instruction book that illustrates step-by-step building directions.
With photos showing clearly-labeled parts, age-appropriate, easy-to-use small tools, and detailed drawings showing just where to screw each nut and bolt together, Big Sister E was eager to get started putting together her mini monument.
After a little instruction and demonstration as to how to use each of the tools and to make sure that the bolts were sufficiently tightened, construction began!
As opposed to many toys that hold interest for a short amount of time and are then discarded when young attention spans run out, this Eitech kit comes together in such a way that a sense of accomplishment is felt with each new piece added.
Little by little, that pile of stainless steel transformed from individual precision-made parts into something that resembled a familiar structure. And, while Big Sister E did as much of the work as she could on her own, I was happy to step in and help her with the intricate steps when it was difficult to access where a bolt and nut needed to be placed.
As we returned to work on our Eiffel Tower over the span of a few days, I'm not sure the total number of hours that it took to put this together. However, it was clear that the effort was worth it when Big Sister E and I were excited to sit back and see the impressive results!
The proportions of this Eitech set are very accurate to the Eiffel Tower itself and, at approximately 18" tall, it is just right for displaying on a shelf (although it is durable enough that it could actually be involved in careful playtime as well, if your young engineer didn't want to leave it as display-only).
But, as much as the look of the actual piece itself, I'm head-over-heels with the amount of pride this masterpiece has inspired in my little builder!
Although this Eiffel Tower could be taken apart in order to use the pieces interchangeably with other Eitech kits, I do think that for now this monument is going to stay as-is. However, I have no doubt that if we bring home more of these sets or accessory packs that creativity and imagination would be involved in seeing just what might be built next!
Whether you have a child in your life that has a spark for building and engineering or you're just looking for a unique, high quality way to bring home an interesting, imaginative bit of construction fun, these Eitech kits are just the thing! This Eitech Eiffel Tower Construction Set retails for $49.99 (slightly less on Amazon), which is higher than some toys but does seem appropriate for the extreme quality.
Visit EitechToys.com to check out the wide variety of models available and look for these sets at Toys "R" Us, FAO Schwarz, and online at Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, Yoyo.com and more. Be sure to also connect with Eitech on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to stay up-to-date with this amazing company!
And, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be able to see how incredible building with a steel construction set can be, because...
One lucky person will win their choice of Eitech Construction Set*!
*Winner may choose from the Eitech Eiffel Tower Construction Set, Eitech Robot Construction Set, Eitech Trail Bike Construction Set and Eitech Train Construction Set.
A big thank you to Eitech for providing an Eiffel Tower Construction Set for me to review as well as the set of choice 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.