Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ramini Brands Microwave Splatter Guard Review



As much as I am not so find of microwave use (always slightly wary of it) we do use our microwave daily. As much as we try to keep it clean, it really never looks great inside. We will often reheat a tomato sauce dish such as rotini or spaghetti, and splatters are frequent. We generally would put a paper towel on top or sometimes a plate. The plate does not allow the steam to escape and the paper towel just blows off. A few weeks ago I was sent a splatter guard from the Ramini Brands company. This is a plastic cover with air holes to allow steam to be released. The guard / cover is slightly curved and fits over several sizes of bowls and containers. This seems to work well and has prevented several messes from happening. Sadly a big mess did occur when I tried to make steel cut oats in the microwave in my large bowl. I tried to monitor it and made sure the bowl was deep and large enough with not too much water. I had only put the oats in the microwave for 3 minutes and 40 seconds. It was pretty frustrating. It was REALLY early in the morning, I was trying to make enough for me and my 4 years old, we both were really hungry, I needed to feed my 9 month old, and I needed the oats to cook without me watching a pot on the stove. Luckily not all the oats were lost, but basically my portion. I cleaned up the mess and gave my daughter the remaining from the bowl. The strange thing is that the cover lid was still on the bowl. I guess it expanded and lifted the lid temporarily while making a volcano like mess over the sides, then the cover settled down on top again. I have had success with the cover for soups and other reheating of left over meals, so it does work. I just will need to deal with the fact that if we are to enjoy steel cut oats, I am going to have to take the 20 minutes of stove top time.

The 10" x 12" round cover is translucent which makes it nice to be able to have some idea of if the food underneath is going to explode (if you have the microwave open).  The holes do allow proper release of steam.  Please note that you need to be careful as when removing the lid, it can be really hot.  I appreciate that it is made from BPA free materials and food grade plastic.  The two things I do not like about it are the fact that it cannot be washed in the dishwasher (not even top rack) and that it is not USA made.












Visit Ramini Brands on their website for other products.  If you are interested, you can purchase their splatter guard on Amazon.

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*Ramini Brands sent me one Splatter Guard for this review, all opinions and experiences are my own.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Two Rivers Company and Tootsie Roll Cocoa Multipack 40 ct Kcups: Reviewed (GIVEAWAY)



My husband and I are coffee lovers and although I drink more hot tea than coffee myself, I do enjoy a cup once or twice a week.  My husband drinks at least 2 cups a day.  We do not use much sugar in our coffee but like to flavor it with sweet creamers or hot cocoa powder.  We were sent a box of candybar/sweet treat inspired hot cocoa k-cups and have been using them in our coffees this past month.  I have reviewed the Brooklyn Beans / Two Rivers Company previously and have enjoyed their products.  One thing I want to mention is these fit in all the regular Keurig brewers from the Platinum and previous, but do NOT work in the newest version which is the 2.0.  I am not sure if Keurig will be coming out with a universal kcup in the near future.  We have a Platinum brewer so these worked perfectly for us.

The box we were sent was a combination pack of 40 Tootsie Roll and other similar sweet chocolate candy inspired cocoa kcups.  They smell delicious when brewed and taste very similar to their solid candy counterparts.  For us they were a little too sweet when drank full strength, so we would brew a kcup and split it and put in our coffees.  If only my husband was having coffee that day, he would brew a cup for him and then pour half into his coffee and have a second cup (finishing the remaining cocoa kcup) when that was finished.  We both liked all the flavors and they made for some really delicious coffee especially when we used our milk frother and 1% milk. The picture of the mug below was before I put any milk or cream in my drink and before mixing with coffee, this was the Sugar Babies flavor. :)

I really like this company, they have an amazing assortment of teas, coffee, and hot cocoa for your taste bud;s delight.  They offer samplers so you can have many fun flavors for you and your sweetie, or to find your favorite and then purchase a box of just one flavor. 

* The company sent me a 40 ct. cocoa pack for this review, all thoughts are my own.  You and I might have differing views on this product.







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Speaking of Giveaways, would you like a box of these to try yourself? The company is sponsoring one of my readers to receive a box of a random assortment of kcups ( not 2.0 compatible). USA ONLY PLEASE.

Two Rivers Company and Tootsie Roll Cocoa Multipack 40 ct Kcups



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hango Lunch Bag Set of Two Sizes (Small and Large) Review

Going out of the home with small children can be manageable, and easy when you are prepared.  I tend to over-pack for trips (taking several bags for me and 2 kids just for even an overnight trip) and loading my diaper bag/purse combo bag, and storing extra of most everything in our small suv much to my husband's dismay.  But let me tell you, the one or 2 times that I took only what I *thought* I needed and no extras, was the day(s) we were in trouble.  I remember when my now 4 year old was about 18 months of age.  We went to an Italian restaurant about an hour away from home and she was doing great eating her pasta.  When we left, she "got sick" so to speak in the parking lot (thank goodness it was NOT in the restaurant) and I cleaned her up and changed her into her ONE spare outfit. :) Unfortunately I myself did not have a spare shirt, so I had to wing it on that day with Clorox disinfectant wipes and a smile.  Exactly 10 minutes later while we were just finishing up cleaning up everything, she had another issue, but in a different way. :) We had a spare diaper (we use one size, adjustable snap diapers from Bum Genius) but we had no more clothes and it was about 30 degrees outside.  It was also around 7 pm at night and we were in a town where we did not know where many stores were.  We found a department store and had a thick blanket that we use for going to the park (that we store in the back of the suv) and wrapped her up and went into the store with a bright reddish orange burrito baby. :) We found an outfit that was on clearance and purchased it and put it on her right after checking out.  I remind my husband of that crazy night every time her grumbles at clutter / my over-packing.   All that to say, I now always have at LEAST 2 spare outfits for both my 4 year old and my 9 month old.  I also pack a small medi-bag of spare headache medicine, band-aids, disinfectant hand and face wipes, antacid, mints, and the like.  My 4 year old, is always hungry and has the metabolism of a runner and the appetite of a middle school boy it seems.  She is always wanting to eat and is always thirsty.  I make sure to have the back of the suv fully stocked with the mini raisin boxes and mini bags of cheddar crackers.  Our baby is still fed naturally but he is on baby food veggies and so we always keep at least 4 jars with us at all times in case we are out all day.

I was sent a set of insulated lunch bags to review.  The bags arrived with a really nice white cotton canvas like bag (thick like canvas but not).  The white draw string bag is roughly 15x11 inches and REALLY NICE for a freebie bag.  I am not sure what I will use it for, but I know I am going to use it.  I think it would be a good laundry bag for my baby's clothes when we travel due to the size of the bag.  I might use it for travel toys (yes toys are VERY important to have a collection of in the car---a wide variety so the kids do not get board with one or 2 items).  The set of 2 lunch bags are from Hango, and they are 2 different sizes.

I was sent 2 fuchsia pink, thick polyester bags with a stainless steel zipper (nice!) and a light brown handle.  I would have personally preferred the handle to be black or a matching pink as I coordinate accessories (yes, even to car bags or diaper bags) and I never wear or use brown.  I also have several black items and I get slightly stressed when black and brown are together (which is why I am super happy I was sent the pink set instead of the other black bags they had (brown handle).  I think the black bags look nice, and are more functional for my husband to be able to use, however, I am happy to not have had a black and brown shade on the same bag.  :) (I know, I am weird)

The Hango lunch bags at first glance are VERY sturdy and seem well made.  The large bag is 6 inches in length by 6 inches in height, and 10 inches in width.  This is a great size for 6 soda cans (we do not drink sodas so this works well for us to pack LOTS of baby food jars, some healthy snacks, a full sized silicone baby / toddler bib, some spoons, and LOTS more.  The second bag is smaller and is 5 inches in length by 5 inches in height, and x7.5 inches width.  Both bags pack really easily and I like the smaller bag for my diaper bag or the bottom compartment of our stroller.  I do not put liquids in the small one, just some baby food jars.  I would say the smaller bag would work great for a preschooler lunch bag.

The bags did have a strong chemical smell when they arrived so I did air them out a week before using them and then wiped them down fully with a Clorox disinfectant wipe.  The seams on the bag are neat and the zippers function well.  We have used the 2 bags for the car and going to restaurants with baby food.  These lunch bags are available on Amazon if you are interested in checking them out.

The packed lunch bag pictures show what the large bag held for us (with room to spare).  There is a green molded silicone big in there that I was able to roll up and store in there for restaurants.  These bags hold a lot of stuff.  There is one improvement I would request, I find the handles a bit too short for comfortable carrying.  I think these would be easier if the handles were slightly adjustable and had a release buckle (like the kind on a backpack).  This way we could clip it to the stroller to have on hand within easy reach. 

















I did not receive any compensation for this post. Full Disclosure: I did receive the set of 2 Hango lunch bags for free to try and then review. This is my honest opinion. My opinion may differ from yours.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Natural Thinning Hair Solution by Ageless Derma

My husband is only 34 but started getting really thin on the top back of his head and a receding hairline around his late twenties, sadly in the last year it has gotten really bad and there is a noticeable ring of scalp showing from a short distance.  I am sure it also does not help that he does not take his vitamins daily and  does not drink enough water.  He had been using Rogaine for a few years but Rogaine seems very chemical based with no natural or nourishing ingredients.  I had the opportunity to review a thinning hair product from Ageless Derma, a company I have tried previously for mineral makeup and skin creams.  The serum comes in a dark amber glass bottle and uses honey based alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) to thoroughly cleanse the scalp and unclog surrounding hair follicles.  AHA work to detox the scalp, exfoliate, and rid the scalp of follicle clogging buildup and bacteria.   Often hair growth is stunted by dead skin cells, excess natural oils, and hair product residue.

The serum contains ingredients that stimulate and nourish the hair follicles.  I am hoping with extended use that this product will provide some improvement in his hair texture, growth, and appearance.  Natural Thinning Hair Solution contains Cayenne Pepper Extract, which as you know is a spicy substance that has been used to help with various ailments in the body.   Some people have used it for settling stomachaches and improving digestion and others have used it for muscle aches and pains and for circulation. 

Since cayenne is a spicy and stimulating ingredient, it is used to waken dormant hair follicles and acts as a natural exfoliate. This action has had success with some users to promote follicles growth. Cayenne Pepper Extract is considered an essential herb for hair growth and I am seeing rise in more hair remedy products today. Cayenne is an extremely effective stimulant of blood circulation and allows the other ingredients  access to where they need to go to nourish and regrow hair.  Among some of the wonderful properties of cayenne is that it contains fatty acids, flavonoids, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and C. (source)  Sage is also a great ingredient in this serum and has been used as a medicinal herb for many years.  Sage contains properties that make it anti-septic, astringent and relaxing when used.  (source) Chamomile is always a soothing and nourishing herb to use in teas and skin/hair products.  It is used for anti-dandruff, calming irritated skin, fighting free radicals and acts as a beauty treatment for under eyes and anti-aging for skin. 

I have been having my husband use the Ageless Derma  Natural Thinning Hair Solution twice a day (when he remembers) but usually he uses it just once per day.  I am hoping that he will keep using it twice per day and that we will see some great results.  He has only been using it a month and so I do not expect to see anything yet as with most supplements, results are generally seen after 2-3 months.  So far, he likes the way it feels on his scalp when applied and he likes the ingredients. 




 
Directions:

Apply approximately 15 drops once or twice a day, depending upon need and area to be covered. A 2 oz. bottle should last about 60 days.

Ingredients:

Aqua, SDA-40, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, panthenol, Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract, salvia officinalis (sage) extract, capsicum extract, polysorbate 80, glycolic acid, malic acid, methyl nicotinate, fragrance.

He likes this serum and says it is easy to apply.  He does not have any irritation when applying it and has not noticed any dry scalp or flaking.  It does not make his hair sticky or stiff.  The fragrance is a bit strong in my opinion but I cannot smell it when it is being worn, only if I hold the bottle or get some on my hands when I apply it for him (which usually he applies it).  We like this serum and think that it is a good product.  He and I are excited to see if it works.  *Sample bottle was sent for review, all opinions are his/mine and not everyone will share our opinion or views.


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Friday, January 23, 2015

BRI Nutrition Spirulina Caps Reviewed




I was sent some Spirulina capsules from BRI Nutrition.  I had heard about the numerous benefits of taking this algae and had gotten some powdered form but have honestly had great difficulty stomaching it.  It is quite a potent flavor that I try to hide in my smoothies.  Sometimes I am able to mask it well and sometimes it is just too pungent.  When I had been offered capsules I knew that was how I would be able to get the wonderful ingredients without having to hold my nose and gulp quickly. 

Spirulina is an excellent source of enzymes, omega essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, iron, probiotics, and and contains 22 essential amino acids.  It is consumed by pregnant mommys, athletes, those interested in managing their weight, and those wanting to boost their immune system and overall wellness.  Spirulina is a super hero of a nutritional supplement that absorbs the toxins and heavy metals from the body.   It is very rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA).  GLA is an essential omega 6 fatty acid that fight inflammation.  It has been said that Spirulina can be used to beautify your skin and assist with antiaging.  Those who take this alga regularly have often claimed that their skin is more luminous and have seen small areas of improvement in skin texture and smoothing of fine lines.  I make a lot of at home facial masks.  Last week I experimented with making a seaweed and bentonite clay facial mask.  I might try using some of my bag of powdered Spirulina for a mask.  

As mentioned above, Spirulina contains iron, and protein, both of which can help create more energy so that you can power through your day with ease. I will still try to find ways to sneak in Spirulina powder into my foods.  I think I will try slowly increasing my intake, but will rely on the capsules as my main source of Spirulina.  It really is an amazing source of nutrition and having it in capsule form has really been useful to me. The veggie capsules are easy to take and according to the bottle, I only need to take 4 each day. 

Spirulina contains vitamins B-1(thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B- 3(nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A and vitamin E. It is also a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.

Spirulina Uses (this is just some of what this amazing algae can do):

• Aid digestion
• Reduce bad breath and body odor
• Provide the body with Antioxidants which can assist with beautiful skin and hair, and antiaging
• Help prevent cancer
• Boost immune system, Prevent the common cold, and Fight viral infection (I actually had my husband take some of my powder when he was sick a few weeks ago)
• Provide the body with protein
• Probiotic
• Weight loss
• Remove heavy metals such as lead and mercury and Remove toxins from the body
• Increase mental alertness and brain cognition, and energy
• Generate new blood cells
• Strengthen the nervous system
• Improve the speed of wound healing

I am really loving this supplement and the ease of use.  There are no unpleasant flavors or after taste, and I can take this with plain water or my orange juice.  *One bottle was sent to me for review, this is my honest opinion.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters from Crowdtap Review

I was sent a sample bag of chocolate clusters from Brookside and Crowdtap.  I had seen the commercials for this treat and it really had piqued my interest.  I was sent the  Brookside Dark Chocolate Crunchy Clusters Berry Medley which are crispy multigrain granola clusters with sweet, tangy cranberries and fruit juice.

Ingredients: DARK CHOCOLATE (SUGAR; CHOCOLATE; COCOA BUTTER; MILK FAT; COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI; SOY LECITHIN; MILK; SALT; NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOR); SUGAR; PALM KERNEL OIL; CRISP RICE (RICE; SUGAR; BARLEY MALT EXTRACT; SALT; RICE BRAN EXTRACT; TOCOPHEROLS, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS); WHEY (MILK); BUTTERMILK POWDER; COCOA; GRANOLA (OATS; HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP; PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL; HONEY; WHEAT); DEIONIZED APPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE; RICE SYRUP; CRANBERRIES; MALTODEXTRIN; CORN MEAL; WHEAT FLOUR; FRUIT JUICE CONCENTRATE (POMEGRANATE; APPLE; RASPBERRY; BLUEBERRY; LEMON; CRANBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE); BROWN SUGAR; NATURAL FLAVORS; SOY LECITHIN; PECTIN; RESINOUS GLAZE; MALIC ACID; ASCORBIC ACID; SALT; SODIUM BICARBONATE; SODIUM CITRATE; ACAI PUREE CONCENTRATE; CITRIC ACID; HONEY; SUNFLOWER OIL; SODIUM BICARBONATE; TOCOPHEROLS, TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS

These are good, but the sized bag I was sent (5 oz) seemed pretty small and had a lot of air in the bag.  These did go fast and only lasted about a day and a half between 2 adults.  I did use a few of them in a smoothie as I am a daily smoothie lover.  I used coconut milk, almond milk, unsweetened  shredded coconut, pure organic cacao and maca powder, Brookside clusters, and some ice and blended it in the Bullet.  It was a nice treat.  I never add sugar to my smoothies so this was sweeter than I usually have, but was a nice treat, with an antioxidant boost.

I also enjoyed sharing these with my husband on my late grandmother's vintage dishware.  We both enjoyed the chocolate flavor as we always select dark chocolate over milk.  These were sent to me as a courtesy from Crowdtap and Brookside.

These are available in stores and on Amazon.  The price on Amazon (@$15 for 23 oz) does seem a bit much, but I have heard that is similar, and perhaps even a bit cheaper than in the stores.   The bag I was sent was a 5 oz bag.












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