Friday, September 28, 2012

Big Grips frame and Stand for iPad review and #GIVEAWAY

I am so excited to tell you that I will be partnering with Apps For Children with Special Needs (A4cwsn) in reviewing book apps for the iPad. A4 is run by Gary, who is passionate about putting iPads in the hands of children with special needs and their teachers and therapists.
A4 will be giving away 40 iPads on their website. For more information on how you can enter to win one of the 40 iPads that will be given away, simpy go here!

A4 is going to be launching a new website that is choc-full of book apps for the iPad! I am one of the two lucky people that were chosen to review the apps. I will be reviewing the apps for A4 for a year. After the year is up, I get to keep the iPad sent to me from A4 and also all the apps I will have the opportunity to review!

Just yesterday I was thrilled when this little device showed up on my doorstep!
I am really new to the iPad. I do have an iPhone, which both my boys adore. They are allowed a few minutes a day playing the free games I've downloaded on there for them. I do limit their access though to make sure they are not 'hooked to electronics' all day. I believe that children need to be outside playing and playing with toys (pretend play) more often than playing on electronic devices. In fact, my two boys don't even know (as of yet) that we have an iPad!
I know from experience with my phone that keeping the iPad protected is of great importance to me.
I recently was researching protective covers for the iPad and came across Big Grips Frames!
Big Grips Frames has donated 40 frames and stands to A4 to be given away with the 40 iPads that will go out!
I was thrilled when Big Grips agreed to sponsors a review and giveaway of a Big Grips frame and stand here on the blog. I was sent a purple Big Grips Frame and Stand for the iPad 3 for the purpose of my review.
This is what I received:

One of the things that really attracted me to the The Big Grips frame and stand is that they are non-toxic, free of lead and latex, phthalates, PVC's and they are resistent to oils, chemicals, stains, mold and germs! Doesn't get much better than that!
It is simply awesome! It provides protection for your iPad which means peace of mind for moms, dads, teachers and therapists alike! It is a soft, squishy easy to handle (non-toxic) iPad case perfect for little hands!
HERE is an excellent video demonstration that you can watch which will show you the Big Grips Frame in all it's glory!
The innovative design of the Big Grips Frame keeps your iPad safe and secure, while giving you easy access to all of the iPad's ports and switches!

You can purchase the Big Grips Frame directly from the Big Grips website, for either the original iPad or the iPad 2 or new iPad. The frame alone costs $34.95, you can purchase both the frame and stand for only $49.95! Or you can enter to win one here!
Big Grips Frames has graciously offered one LWML reader the chance to win their own Big Grips Frame and stand in winner's choice of color and style (for use with the original iPad, or the iPad 2/3rd generation)!
This giveaway is open to US residents only!To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below! You may have to click "read more" in order for the whole Rafflecopter form to load!

Good luck and Have fun!
~Mama of the Littles~

Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned above in exchange for my review. This review is my honest opinion based on my own personal experience, and may differ from yours. I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for this review!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Wonderful Walls Review and $100 GC #GIVEAWAY {

When we moved from Maryland to Tennessee a few months back, we really had no intention of buying a house. Our wait time for a place on base was about 6-9 months so we decided we'd rent a home off-base. The search led us to nice homes that were for rent, but well above our budget. Since the turn-around here is so large, the cost of rent for *nice* homes was high. We then entertained the idea of buying a home. My husband crunched the numbers (one of the things he does really well) and told me it would save us about 2 thousand a month to buy. So we did.
We bought a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath 2-story home with a large bonus room above the 2-car garage (aka the kids toy room/guest room)!
It's perfect for us, for now! It's a large corner lot, we bought a wooden privacy fence and the yard is HUGE!
The one thing that needed work though was the two bedrooms upstairs. They would have been great if we had 2 girls. One was pink with a bright rainbow on one wall, and a few fairy princesses painted on the other and the other room, which ended up being my 4 yo's room was purple with a large apple tree painted on one wall, with a flying elephant, a mother and daughter and on the other wall, about 5 painted cats all lined up in a row! Don't get me wrong, the momma that lived here before me was a great artist, but it was just WAY too girly for my two boys!
So we painted.
I've searched high and low for the pictures of the room before we painted, but I just can't find them! So I'm going to post the after pictures of my 4 yo's room!

Notice that his room is not filled with toys and books and lots of stuff. I like to keep their rooms clean, and minimal, until he is done with the napping stage. He still naps for me every day (except while in pre-school) for about 1-2 hours each day!

The lack of toys and books leaves him peaceful and not distracted by all the 'stuff' that kids have in their rooms today. This way, when he goes up to his room for 'quiet time' he is more likely to fall asleep. Which makes for a much more joyful boy in the late afternoons! This is just how it works for us!
I was thrilled when given the opportunity to review a product from My Wonderful Walls. They offer fabric wall sticker kits, full-room stencil kits, and color-adjustable canvas art for decorating kid rooms and baby nurseries. To include adorable nursery murals, wall decals, and kids wall murals!
With their vast selection, you are sure to find just what you are looking for.

For my review, I really wanted something for the boys, who will more than likely be moved into one bedroom once the new little one comes! I was really tempted to do a nursery design, but seeing that I don't know the gender of my baby (and won't until s/he is born) I decided it was a good choice to treat the boys! I was almost set on the wall sticker kits, but then I knew in my heart of hearts that we will not be living in this home long term and decided it was best to go with something that would be easy to just take off the wall and take with us to our new home (when the time comes)!
This is why I chose My Wonderful Walls canvas wall art! I was actually browsing their selection when my 4 yo caught a glimpse of the Underwater Ocean Kids Murals and he was sold! I decided that since they were going in his room, I'd let him choose! This is a great way to help kids feel a part of the decision making within the home, especially when it affects them directly! This is what he picked:
Being that I grew up on the Oregon coast and LOVE all things that have to do with the ocean, I thought it was pretty neat that he chose those prints!
So, yesterday the canvas' arrived! This is what we received:

The canvas' measure 15" x 20" and are are very well made! I love the fact that I can just take them down when we move very easily and put them up at the next home for the children to enjoy! My Wonderful Walls also offer customized canvas' with your child's name! I decided not to go that route though seeing I have two boys (right now) and thought that when my 4 yo is ready to move on to something else for his room, I can re-purpose these wonderful canvas prints to my 2 yo (or even the new baby on the way)! These pieces are so nice that you won't want to just get rid of them, but will want to hold onto them and use them for as long as you can!
The quality of the canvas' are awesome!

My Wonderful Walls has so many options for decorating your child's room or nursery it's amazing. They even have a YouTube channel to give you tips and tricks on how to use and apply their products.
If you need help with your wall stickers, or wall stencils, or even have questions about their canvas wall art, you can find your answers in their YouTube channel videos! If you still have questions, you can simply contact their awesome customer service support team, who are always willing to help!
Another really awesome thing about My Wonderful Walls canvas is that they will adjust the color on the print to match your room decor, for free! You simply send in a photo of the decor (bed spread, or wall color) in the room you are planning to hang the canvas and they will do the rest of the work for you!

My boys are thrilled with the new sea life that 'lives' in our home! They were so anxious for me to hang the prints, so I got right to it! *please note, they are still in their nap-clothes as they had just woken up from nap* :)
You can purchase the two canvas wall art prints just like I received directly from My Wonderful Walls' website! The seahorse and angelfish print, and the sea turtles both retail for $54.99! My Wonderful Walls has graciously offered a special 15% discount code for all LWML readers! To save 15% towards your purchase of anything at My Wonderful Walls, simply enter the code lml0912 at check out! This code will end on 2 October, when this giveaway ends!

My Wonderful Walls has not only been gracious enough to provide a discount code, but is also so kindly giving one of you the chance to win a $100 GC to be used towards the purchase of anything on their site!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US, Canada and Puerto Rico!

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below! You may have to click "read more" in order for the whole Rafflecopter form to load!

Good luck and Have fun!
~Mama of the Littles~

Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned above in exchange for my review. This review is my honest opinion based on my own personal experience, and may differ from yours. I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for this review!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weck canning jars review and #GIVEAWAY 2 winners {US only}

As a little girl growing up in a small Oregon town we did the best we could to live off the land! My parents always had a vegetable garden where we grew everything from tomatoes to squash and everything in between! We were members of Gleaners, picked our own produce at the local farm and bought whatever we could find that was on sale. Gleaners is a program back home where after the harvest, certain farmers would let members of Gleaners (usually ladies with 3 or so kids in tow) come glean whatever crops were left in their fields. My mom and I usually went. She would pull the wagon, I would ride until the picking began. We picked corn, cabbage, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, whatever was available. Then when we got home, we'd sort, clean and can our findings! It was a lot of work, but we always had a stocked pantry come winter time! Those were some of my fondest memories! I really learned to appreciate the hard work that goes into growing, gathering and preserving your own food. It was a much simpler life back then. We'd sit out side with our hot cups of tea (my dad was an English citizen) and just enjoy each other's company! Ahhh different times. Now that I'm grown with a family of my own, things seem to move along at a much faster pace! We are always on the go, doing this and that, spending time on the computer, the iPhones (which my boys love) and the Leap Pad!
Being that I married a soldier, we are constantly on the move. When we lived in Maryland, we were in the same house for 5 years! My wonderful husband built me a raised bed and we grew tomatoes, squash and a few other veggies.
That was one of the hardest things for me to leave behind in MD, that beautiful garden!
Now here we are in Tennessee and I have only managed to pot a few tomato seeds this year, and it's already September and the plants only have yellow flowers. I think I planted them too late, but they are looking good so far!
The one thing that I have been made aware of since my days of becoming a mommy is the harmful chemicals and toxins that surround us. Canning is a great way to preserve the most fresh fruits and veggies around, but it's really not all that safe. Not unless you are using the right canning materials. Recently it was brought to my attention that Ball canning lids are lined with BPA, a harmful chemical that mimics estrogen and is linked to prostate and breast cancer, early onset of puberty, obesity, hyperactivity, lowered sperm count, miscarriage, diabetes, and altered immune system in animal studies. So for the health conscious person out there who has set out to preserve his/her own fruit/veggies that is a huge smack in the face. Just when you think you are doing something that is safe, wholesome and awesome, you find out that the utensils (the lids of ball and kerr) you are using are coated with harmful chemicals! Aghhh one can't win! That is until you discover the BPA-free jars from Weck!
I was thrilled when I found these jars and even more thrilled when I was sent some for review! Weck graciously sent me a set of 6 of the 742 (1/2L Mold) and a set of 6 of the Mini Tulip jelly Jars for my review. This is what I received:
Here you can see the difference in size of the 742 (1/2 L) mold jars (left) to the 762 mini tulip jars (right):
The 742 mold jars are ideal for canning and the 762 is ideal for jams and jellies and fruit butters!
I had the intention this summer to go out and pick a bunch of strawberries and making my own strawberry jam, but unfortunately, between moving to TN, buying a house, unpacking, deployment and now expecting a baby, I realize that next summer would be a better time for me to attempt that!
I did however make my own applesauce! It is so good and good for you too, and it really is easy to make. This was one of the first foods I introduced to my boys when they started solids as infants!
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
First you will need to gather your ingredients.
I had about 6 yellow delicious apples that I had bought that day from the local farmer's market, and 2 organic Fujis from Kroger.
You can also add nutmeg and cinnamon for some spice:
You will also need a pot with a basket to steam your apples and a food processor or blender! If you like an overly sweet applesauce, you can add a sweetener such as honey, agave nectar or sugar. I found the mixture to be just the right sweetness for me though so I didn't add anything except the cinnamon and nutmeg!

Next you will need to peel, core and cut your apples!

While you are prepping your apples get your pot of water boiling on the stove. Add your cut apples to the basket, place over the boiling water, with a tight fitting lid. I did all mine in one shot, so the steaming time took about 30 minutes. You want your apples to be soft when you stick them with a knife.
Nice and soft! Reserve the water that is left in the pan for adding to your applesauce during the pureeing to get the right consistency!
Add your apples to the food processor, add desired amount of nutmeg and cinnamon and a bit of remaining juice, and blend until desired consistency:

Pour into washed Weck Jars and enjoy! All those apples only gave me 1/2 L worth of applesauce. I didn't seal the jar as I would for canning because I knew that applesauce would all be gone in a matter of a day or two, and it was!

Another great blog that often features awesome and creative uses for Weck Jars is called "Food in Jars." Simply go to that site and search for Weck Jars and you will unveil a wealth of recipes to use with Weck Jars!
Weck jars can be purchases directly from the Weck Jars website. The mini tulip jars (762) cost $13.55 for a set of 6. Each set comes with 6 glass jars, 6 glass lids, 12 metal clamps and 6 rings! The 1/2 L mold jars (742) cost $18.40 for a set of 6. Each set comes with 6 glass jars, 6 glass lids, 12 metal clamps and 6 rings! Weck Jars not only make canning jars but they also have loads of jars for food storage!
Aren't they lovely! I'd love to have all Weck jars in my pantry!
Weck jars has so very generously offered 2 of you the chance to win your very own set of 6 Weck jars!
1 person will win a set of 6 mini tulip jars (762)!
1 person will win a set of 6 1/2 L mold jars (742)!

This giveaway is open to US residents only!
To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below! You may have to click "read more" in order for the whole Rafflecopter form to load!

Good luck and Have fun!
~Mama of the Littles~

Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned above in exchange for my review. This review is my honest opinion based on my own personal experience, and may differ from yours. I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for this review!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Laundry Tarts Review and #GIVEAWAY {US/Canada}

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know that I love, adore, ok am obsessed with cloth diapers! With that, comes laundry! Oh, the never ending loads of laundry! Now that I only have one in cloth diapers, I only wash a load every 2-3 days or so! But man, my boys are messy! I'm not sure if it's children in general or just boys! It seems that every time we eat a meal, I have to change their clothes! Oh, then if they go out back to play, the normally come in covered in fresh cut grass, dirt, mud whatever they can find to get into! I love it though, I wouldn't change it for the world!
When I received the opportunity from Crystal and Brian over at Nature Bumz to review The Laundry Tarts I was thrilled. This is what I received:
Three samples of The Laundry Tarts Laundry Detergent in Banana Bread, Birthday Cake and Plain Jane unscented, a sample of Strip It, and a Sweet Spot Stain Remover Stick!
I used the Strip it first of all!
Strip it is designed to take all sorts of residual build up out of your clothes and cloth diapers. In fact, it is recommended to use Strip It if you are switching from another brand of detergent in order to remove everything from your clothes/diapers before using Laundry Tarts!
The instructions on the sample pack of Strip It said to use the whole bag, but when I checked the Laundry Tarts website, it stated that only 2 Tablespoons were needed, so I followed the online instructions, which are: (taken from The Laundry Tarts website):
"Directions for Strip it!:

Directions: Pre-rinse garment in cold water. Dissolve 2 tbsp of Strip it! In 8-10 gal of warm/hot water (soft water requires 1 tbsp). Soak rinsed garments in the solution for 1 hr, stirring occasionally to loosen embedded residues. Drain solution and rinse items thoroughly. WARNING: This product is intended to treat built up residues, odor causing bacteria; only use as required and do not use more than recommended or soak overnight. For BEST results, soak in basin or large area. Washing machines may be used if there is enough water to do a sufficient soak. Although our products are very natural, they do contain soap ingredients which may irritate eyes should contact occur; for this reason, please keep away from pets and children. and flush with warm water should this happen."
Once the Strip It cycle was complete, I used the Birthday Cake scented detergent on my cloth diapers!
Instructions (taken from The Laundry Tarts website):
Directions For Detergents:

"TOP LOADERS: For small loads use 2 tbsp. For medium to large loads, use 4 tbsp. For heavy or stubborn stains, soak for 1 hr or make a paste with water and scrub lightly with natural bristle scrubbing pad.

HE MACHINES AND FRONT LOADERS: Energy efficient machines use 1/3 less water than traditional top loaders making them better for the environment by saving water and less energy. Less water means less soap. Use 1 tbsp for small loads and 2 tbsp for med-large loads. If needed, dissolve detergent in ¼ cup of warm water for machines requiring liquid detergents. Caution: Do not overload your machine with heavily soiled items; doing so may require an additional rinse for proper soap and water dispersal.

CLOTH DIAPERS/CLOTH MENSTRUAL PADS: After a cold water wash or rinse to remove any particles, use a warm water wash with the above instructions based on your machine type. When switching detergents, always do a cloth diaper strip to avoid any residue or conflicting ingredient combining with other detergents. For cloth diaper stripping, ammonia or odor causing bacteria check out our Strip it! Formula.

VINTAGE/DELICATES: Hand wash or soak items for 15-30 minutes. Cold water wash. Hand to dry. For small delicates, wash in lingerie or mesh fabric bag.

HARD/SOFT WATER: Our detergents are formulated for city and hard water, simply use half the amount recommended for soft water.

CAUTION: Always keep your cleaning products, including laundry detergents away from pets and children. Although our products are very natural, they contain soap ingredients and may cause eye irritation should contact with eyes occur; flush with warm water should this happen. Our detergents should not be ingested, despite how delicious it may smell. Refrain from sticking head directly in bag."
The laundry room smelled so yummy I thought I could just hang out in there for a little while enjoying the smell, but no, I had to get back to my 2 littles that seem to 'need me' ever so much more now that daddy is away! :)
I was kinda toying with what to use the Sweet Spot stain remover stick on, until my boys solved that issue for me. We have had the same sofa since we were married (almost 10 years now)! It is really time to replace it. We had been coloring for most of the morning and (probably while I was going pee) left them alone *at the kitchen table* for 5 minutes, came out to find this:
And this:
So, I took out the stain remover stick and went to work. I filled a little cup with warm water, dabbed the end of the stick sample in the water and rubbed it on the crayon marks and the other gross saliva looking marks on the sofa (don't know why but my dog *love her* a yellow lab seems to jump up on the sofa and make herself at home whenever I go out, unless I put a few laundry baskets in her way)! So those are probably what those other gross looking marks are... dog saliva Yuck!
Anyhow, this was the result immediately after rubbing the sofa with the stick:

You can see that the crayon marks are completely gone.
So then, after rubbing the stains with the stick, I filled up my bathtub with hot water and a tablespoon of the Birthday Cake detergent, and let it soak:
It soaked for a good hour or so, and this was the result:

Then I did a normal wash in the washing machine and this was the final result:
Amazing! The sofa covers came out so clean and the stain stick totally took out all the crayon and the yucky unidentified stains as well!
I really like The Laundry Tarts detergent. Want to know why?
For one, the scents are made with all natural essential oils, and their products to NOT contain any of the following (taken from The Laundry Tarts Website):

Chlorine is very irritating to the skin. It dries out the skin's natural oils and can cause rashes, hives, soreness and irritation to the eyes, lungs and mucus membranes.

Phosphates are made from a phosphorus base, which is a very important mineral for plants and animals. Excess phosphorus into rivers, lakes and fresh water can offset the delicate balance of biology and produce an excess of algae and bacteria, making water inhabitable for aquatic life, unsuitable for swimming or ingesting.

Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate (SLS/SLES):
SLS/SLES, is a skin irritant and is absorbed into the skin very easily. Like many other commercial ingredients, it is also a xenoestrogen, making its way to the bloodstream potentially causing hormonal imbalances in the body.

EDTA is used as a preservative in cosmetics, food, chelation therapy, the textile industry and pulp mills as well as in laundry detergents for treating hard water. EDTA is more harmful to the environment and can as a hormone disrupting agent according to large study groups.

Phthalates are synthetic fragrance enhancers which can be irritating to asthma sufferers, cause headaches, migraines, dizziness and are being linked to disrupting hormone levels, feminizing males in the womb and blocking natural hormone receptors in females."

There were a few things about the samples though that I didn't like. The detergent samples did not come with any sort of instructions, you had to check the website to see how much to use per load. Also, the detergent sample packs were not resealable. So in order to keep your detergent fresh and smelling good, you would need to transfer it to a ziplock bag or air tight container!

This stuff smells amazing, and really gets the job done! Now, my cloth diapers didn't come out smelling like Birthday cake, but did come out smelling fresh, clean and lovely! The Laundry Tarts also offer a few other yummy smelling scents such as Apple pie, bubble gum, Black forest cake, key lime pie, pina colada, rootbeer float and strawberry shortcake!

Buy it! You can purchase The Laundry Tarts directly from Nature Bumz! (prices shown in Canadian currency)
Strip It is $14.00, Sweet Spot Stain Remover Stick $5.97, The detergent (72 loads) for $21.95!

The awesome folks over at Nature Bumz has graciously offered one of you the chance to win a sample pack of The Laundry Tarts products. One winner will receive 4 samples of detergent (Banana Bread, Pina Colada, Birthday cake, and unscented), 1 Strip It, 2 stain stick samples!
Just a reminder, you MUST follow my blog publicly via GFC in order to be eligible to win any of my giveaways. If you are new to my blog and want to familiarize yourself with my giveaway rules, here is the link!

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents!

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below! You may have to click "read more" in order for the whole Rafflecopter form to load!

Good luck and Have fun!
~Mama of the Littles~

Disclosure: I received the product(s) mentioned above in exchange for my review. This review is my honest opinion based on my own personal experience, and may differ from yours. I did not receive any monetary compensation in exchange for this review!