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Old El Paso & My Blog Spark Provided Dinner Tonight! #giveaway #contest


The winner selected by random is:

#6:  Kelly D. who said, "I love Chinese food the most." 

Congratulations, Kelly! I'll be emailing you for information.

Thanks to everyone who participated in this fun giveaway!



I always love it when packages come in the mail - especially ones I'm not expecting! Today, I woke up to find a huge box waiting for me. It was my forgotten goodies from My Blog Spark: an Old El Paso Farmer's Market Kit! How fun.  Here's what I got:

  • An insulated market bag, which I cannot wait to put to good use,
  • An avocado keeper,
  • A chopper and bowl set, 
  • Old El Paso Fajita Dinner Kit, and
  • Taco Seasoning

I got together the fixin's for the rest of the dinner (ground turkey for me, ground beef for everyone else, bell peppers, chili peppers, onions, tomatoes, cheese and sour cream) and started cooking up a storm tonight. Everyone was eager to try out the goodies.


I used the taco seasoning in both the gound beef (½ packet) and


also in the ground turkey. It was really flavorful - not too spicy or overpowering; just right.


I spent a good five minutes with the chopper unsuccessfully, before switching to my Ninja food processor and getting the onions, pepper and tomato minced in a matter of 30 seconds, but I was rushed and probably doing it wrong. I could tell it was very sharp, so I'll give it another go next time. I did love that I could color-code the containers for what they, well, contained! Onions in the white, peppers in the green, tomatoes in the red and... cheddar cheese in the purple?! Hey, they're complementary colors, so it works.


In about 20 minutes, I had dinner on the table and everyone gathered 'round the table. Between the fixin's, my festive table runner, and the Fiesta Ware, it was a colorful spread, no? We said grace and then everyone fixed her own plate.


Here's mine. I skipped out on the chilis - I don't do spicy, people! I piled everything high on top of my fajita and dug in. Oh, my goodness! Fresh, tasty, and nutritious to boot. What a great dinner! Even the kids raved about it. Honest! My younger daughter, Sophia, said, "Dinner was really good tonight, Mom!" to which the oldest, Chloë, replied, "No, it wasn't good - it was great! The best dinner ever!" (She's my 'best ever' everything kid.) 

High compliments to Old El Paso 'cause we tend to eat, like, every single day.


Would you like to win your own Old El Paso Farmer's Market Kit? Cool beans! ;)

Just leave a comment on this post with your favorite ethnic food by Friday night. On Saturday morning, the Random Number Generator and I will pick a winner from the commentors. That's it! Now GO!


Full disclosure: My Blog Spark provided me with the dinner kit mentioned herein, but I was not otherwise compensated. Like always, my opinions are honest and completely my own. Amen. 

Friday Fragments, Episode 6.14.13

Unknown Mami

Link up with Mrs. 4444 Unknown Mami, who is taking over for summer, if ye be fragmentin' today!

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Is it seriously Flag Day already? Holy cow. Where is this month going? It's flying by, that's for sure. For you, too?

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I was talking with Rob (Hubs) in the car today about Kate Middleton and how I enjoyed following the Royal Windsor (right?) family ever since I watched Lady Di marry Prince Charles back when I was five years old, in 1981. He was surprised I remembered it. Who could forget this:

I've long been a fan and was honestly crushed when she died in 1997. Here she was, in her 30s, blonde and blue-eyed, dying suddenly and tragically, leaving behind two young children of the same sex... hm. Similarities to my own story much? Anyway. So I have followed Prince William's marriage and the baby bump story and all that with keen interest.

Rob posited that the Di/Charles story was a bigger one than the William/Kate one, on the world stage, as far as news stories go. I heartily disagreed. So I thought I'd ask you guys. What do you think? Is Kate as big a fairy tale story as that of her departed mother-in-law? I say equal.

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So sorry for the shameless begging request, but could you please comment on this review post? I don't have a huge ton of readers and need to get back to my sponsors with some feedback from folks. Thanks, y'all rock for helping me out! I promise I'll be a good little blahgger and visit back this week, too. No slacking for once, swears!

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Didja get your free donut on at Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, or anywhere else on Friday? It was National Doughnut Day. Yup. We partook. I didn't eat a single bite, though; I am behaving so I can stay put in Rob's jeans! 

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The kids were sent books and pens (because you write in books?) by my dad on Saturday, and the girls dove right in. Jack just rolled his eyes and sarcastically said, "Oh, yay, another book." He's picked up reading a little more in the last couple-three months, but I definitely wouldn't call him a bookworm yet. We've instituted Family Reading Hour as of yesterday, and so far it hasn't stuck. We'll keep at it, though. It's important to us.

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We made Pillsbury Cresent Rolls the other day, and Sophia took the ends off the tube and turned herself into a housefly! I loved it. She's so fun, so creative, such a happy-go-lucky girl... I do adore her so, like all the children, but Sophie really has a knack for making us laugh!

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I took the kids to the $1 movie on Tuesday for Regal Cinemas' summer movie program. Used to be a free one by AMC or Cinemark or something too (nope, I just checked; it was Regal itself that used to be free), but apparently they're all a dollar now.  It's a bit of a hike to get there, too, or we might have gone back for The Three Stooges on Wednesday. We saw Ice Age: Continental Drift this week, and it was really pretty good for a multiple-sequel flick! I'd brought my knitting along, expecting to be buried in it, but I actually didn't get that much done because of having my eyes on the screen. I can't wait to go again next week. Looks like we'll have to choose between Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and Parental Guidance for next week. We've seen the first, and isn't the latter not for little kids??

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The rain actually let up for once today, so we headed out to a park we haven't been to before this. Of course, as we made our way there, the sky completely opened up and down it came. Rob and the kids sat in the van when we got there and, hopeful, applied some sunscreen. Finally, the downpour slowed to a trickle and they got out to fish (the boys) and rollerskate (girls) while I stayed inside to knit. My nausea and dizziness returned with a vengeance after a few days off today, plus it's no fun to knit with wet yarn, or I'd have been happy to join them.


I actually did come out temporarily when I got bored of being by myself, and the whole fam-damily was all gathered on the fishing platform. I caught up with them as they watched a turtle chug down some shrimp left behind by a previous fisherperson. {As for Rob, he was using some crab legs that we'd gotten from Omaha Steaks for bait. I gave him my blessing to do that because I really didn't care for it the first time we tried it; I don't think I'll order from them again, since they're pricey and yet, a letdown! If we ever order frozen food to be delivered again, I already known Schwan's is the way to go - at least for Team Odette!}


After a spell, with no fish biting, we decided to make our way over to the restaurant at the park marina for dinner. The kids ate French potaters and mozzarella sticks - too much fried food, anyone? - while Hubs and I noshed on spinach and artichoke dip (meh, it was okay, but I wasn't wowed by any stretch) and tilapia sandwiches (total blech. I took two bites and ran to the bathroom, overcome with nausea). Rob will finish my sandwich, and I'll gladly be returning to full-on vegetarianism after this, I think!

We all shared chocolate mousse cake and Key Lime cheesecake for dessert, and I remained underwhelmed. For our limited budget to be spent on a dinner that I didn't find terrific, I was bummed. I know the grille at the park we usually visit will cook your catch and provide sides for just seven bucks a plate, so I'm planning on Rob catching some fish in the future! I won't eat it, but I can still proudly Instagram him doing it, right?

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Speaking of today's failed fishing venture, Rob managed to catch his karaoke kabuki suzuki sabiki rig on the bottom and get it stuck. He ran over to the van and got out his dive booties, so he could jump in and retrieve it. I was just looking on with interest until he said, "There are no crocodiles around, right?" Duh, Melanie! We were RIGHT NEXT TO the croc warning sign, and yet I'd forgotten about them. Instantly, I freaked out on him and refused to let him jump in, despite his protests about what we could do with his life insurance funds if he got eaten. Um, no thanks. Twelve-and-½ years ago I swore I didn't care if we were poor and living in a shack with nothing but each other (and our future children), and I meant it, dadgummit!

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Well, that's enough, I'd say. Nothing else in my brain rattling around right now. Lucky you - I'm finished! Have a good weekend, folks.


What Do Olive Oil & Sunscreen Have In Common? Read To Find Out!

What's up, party people?!

I've had lots of product reviews to do lately, and I thought I'd take a second and combine them into one, longer post so you can see what I've had a chance to try out lately. Forgive me for all the shameless plugs, but I can promise you one thing: if I didn't like the free goodies I was given, I wouldn't post about them here. In fact, more than once I have decidedly NOT liked the product and told the company so and been asked not to review it. (Subsequently, one of those companies changed their formula and has been all over the blahgosphere, Twitter, Pinterest, and more with their new campaign. I'm keeping mum as to who it is, though, so don't ask me!)


I reviewed a new eyelash serum by Fysiko just a little bit ago, and I'm plugging them again here because I'm still amazed that this stuff actually works. I nearly forgot I had hair there!


Yeah, those are my gnarly shoes and even gnarlier feet, trying out Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles for the first time. Oh, my gosh. Since I first posted about them, I have been wearing the heck out of these shoes! Have you guys tried these? If so, you've totally been holding out on me. I've switched from flip-flops as my go-to shoes for summer to these, just so I can have comfy feet as we're out and about. Like, really.


I was sent a bottle of Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from BzzAgent the other day, and I've been waiting for a dinner to make with it. I took some cut of beef or another (I have no clue; I don't eat it, so it's all dead cow to me, sorry!) out of the freezer and decided to marinate it with a little of this EVOO, some salt and pepper, and a little seasoning in our new Dutch oven to try it out. I even put some EVOO in the water to boil the corn, and Rob stopped me before I put the olive oil in the spuds instead of milk, too. Hee! Well, it was kind of dumb to "waste" my first Filippo meal on people other than myself, since I couldn't test out the meat, but it was apparently quite delishamus. The corn was really tasty; I can tell you that much! Next time, it'll be pasta, though...


What do you like to use olive oil for? I need suggestions, because if it were up to me, I'd even sweets with it. (Can you do that? I'm all ears.)


And finally, I got my Summer 2013 kit as one of the Coppertone Water MOMS bloggers! Woohoo! It's full of sunscreen for the babes and us parents alike, and I even got a beach towel. We went to the park today and, despite the rain, we applied some Coppertone - a different one for each kids' needs, even - to each person. Guess what? No sunburns. Chloë got one the other day, so we must be extra careful.

*** I have coupons ***

for everything pictured here, so you can try them, too. Okay, not for the olive oil, and if I did, I'd totally horde that away from you guys, because I love that stuff. I kid, I kid... kinda. Anyway, just ask if you want some, and I'll pop them in the mail to you.  Please leave comments below even if you don't want coupons, because I really need to tell my sponsors what you think!


Full Disclosure: I was sent all of the items pictured here (well, except for the gross feet, with which I was born, and the corn, which I bought at Target) for free to try out, in exchange for my completely honest reviews. I received no other compensation or threat of violence in exchange for my positivity.  Thanks to BzzAgent for the Dr. Scholls and Filippo Berio products, Fysiko and Sverve for the eyelash serum, and Coppertone and MomSelect for the sunscreen and towel!

Product Review: Fysiko Eyelash Growth Serum


I'm about halfway through a 16-week product review for Fysiko Eyelash Growth Serum and thought I'd share a few pictures of my progress so far. Sixteen weeks is a long time, so I was wondering if that last two months would really make a difference and wanted to document the changes thus far.


This is my before picture, from the beginning of April. Short, stubby lashes. Pardon the polka-dotty face; sun brings out the freckles in a big way!


Here's my after picture, from yesterday - you can see growth! At least to me, they definitely look longer - and that's without mascara. I put a little bit on a while ago, and this is with mascara:


Oh, my gosh! I have lashes again! I have long admired the kids' and Rob's long eyelashes, but now I have some, too! Woohoo! They look longer in the bottom photo because the tips are blonde, so they need coating to show.  I was actually pretty skeptical when I was engaged in this campaign, and now I'm shocked it really works. 

I haven't put any on the bottom lashes because I never put mascara there anyway. Now I'm wondering if I should, but I don't want spider eyes. Thoughts on this and these before/after photos?


Bzz, Bzz: Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles #imabzzagent

I just received a new Bzz kit from Bzzagent, containing a free pair of Dr. Scholls Massaging Gel Insoles for me to try. Woot! I couldn't wait; I get fallen arches, and those hurt, man. I've been wanting to try these for an age.

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So the pair I received was for women's size 6-10, which is good since I take a 5½ shoe.  Don't they just look juicy and cushy? I couldn't wait to try them out!

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I wear these shoes all. the. time, and as you can see, they are getting pretty worn out. The soles used to be really comfortable, but they're ratty now, and I thought they were a good candidate for my new Massaging Gel insoles. I eagerly tore open the package of Dr. Scholl's, which package claims it "doubles the comfort in your shoe."

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As you can see, I just had to cut away a bit of the massaging gel insole to fit inside my shoe. There are cutting guidelines on the bottom of the sole, which made this a really simple process.

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Et voila! Perfect fit, and I only had to retrim the first sole once, after I figured out how to fit it into my shoe just so.

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Okay, I know I have ugly, hideous feet (believe me, I've been told), but try to look beyond all that. I was ready to slip these babies on my barking dogs!

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First one foot,...

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... and then the other. Okay, it didn't feel that different, but I hadn't taken a step yet. I admit, it wasn't love at first step. Or second. But then I really started walking.

I walked around the house. Ahhh. It felt good. Really, really good.

And I drove. And walked, and drove, and walked some more.

You guys, I was loving my new insoles. Super comfortable, so cushy... it was like walking on squishy, little pillows. No lie. I am absolutely in the market for more of these babies. You've so gotta try them!

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Of course, I have coupons. Holler at me if you'd like one. And let me know if you've already tried these. What did you think? Awesome, right?!

I think I've said enough. You get the point. Dr. Scholl's Massaging Gel Insoles ROCK!


Sundays In My City: Random Snaps From Last Week

Unknown Mami

It's been a few weeks since I've participated, but that's because we've been kind of lazy, and I've had camnesia. Sundays in my City are brought to you by Unknown Mami. Check out this link to see more photographs from around the globe.

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If you missed it, check out this post for more about our fun NERF/Cheetos Block Party yesterday - it was a blast!

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I have no idear why that picture is showing up so smallishly, but anyway, speaking of parties and free gifts, Smiley360 sent us this wicked cool craft kit full of BIC Mark-It markers, butterfly chimes to decorate, and glittery-doodads, ribbons and more to finish the job. (Hi, my name is Smellyann, and I am addicted to markers. You could say I was just a li'l excited!)

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The photos of Sophia decorating, and of all the kids with their finished products, have apparently disappeared into the ether. Bah! But here are Chloë and Jack, who griped at first about the craft being too "girly" and then jumped right in when he saw how much fun the girls were having. Hee. Typical Jack.


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You guys may have noticed we have a teensy obsession with Romero Britto's funky pop art, no? Welp, since he lives here in Miami, damn near everything is decorated with his style. How fun was it to find an ATM when we went shopping at Target recently?! (Answer: Very.)


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The Manx kittens Rob rescued from precarious positions recently have about doubled in size since we took them in to nurse them back to health. Stick a fork in them; they're done! We're ready to adopt them out, but so far no takers on CraigsList or Freecycle (ours allows it), which is fine. Time to bring out the big guns: We're going to have them neutered and then try again. We WILL NOT be keeping these puppies (as I always call them; wishful thinking, mayhaps?), so there is not one iota of an inkling of a chance they will grow up here. NO, no, no!

Rob is pretty adamant that they go together, so does anyone want two freakishly adorable kitties? They come with the bed they've commandeered, if that helps, along with any food we have for them. (Their taillessness dictates that they be fed soft food, 'cause dry food is too hard for them to poop out. They cry otherwise, and their poor little heinies get all sore and scabby. Do NOT try it. Oh. I'm probably not really selling them very well here, huh??)

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Now this is the TRUE "in my city" part: As I left the dermatologist's office on Wednesday, amidst his requests that I drive carefully, I realized that we'd had a downpour, to put it mildly. You can't really tell from this picture just how deep that water was; it was to the floor of my Honda Odyssey and therefore about midway up my calf.

I started just walking out to Penelope (the van), but when I got about ankle-deep, I decided I didn't care who was looking out the window and started jumping, leaping, and dancing my way to Penny. The rain continued, and I lifted up my arms and laughed my head off, absolutely refusing to run. What was the point? I was already soaked, might as well have some fun with it! (Needless to say, I left the AC off on the drive home. I was frrrrozen when I walked in the door and stripped down to nothin'!)

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My hands are so shaky lately, so you get blurry pix. Sorry. We went grocery shopping last week (I saved $215 if anyone but me cares; gotta love Publix!) and got stuff for S'mores. We brought them to the NERF/Cheetos Block Party Saturday, but the kids could NOT wait. We made some in the microwave - and would you believe, Jack had the nerve NOT to finish his?! Some Girl Scout he'd make!

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Checkiddout, I found the picture of Sophie coloring her butterfly chime... but why the heck are those photos so tiny?

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Oh, looky, I've been knitting for Vinnie again. It took me a while to start up again after the move, because the people who packed for us did a pretty sucky job. I found my straights in a box labeled "arrows," which is fantastic. Anyway, the sweater. I've had the wool forever and a day, obstensibly to knit socks for Robert, but I think that ship has sailed. So while the blanket I'm making him waits for the smaller needles to be rediscovered, I cast on for a sweater. It's handspun wool with no tag, so I had no clue how much yardage I had. I nearly ran out of the blue on the back, so I decided it had to be a colorblocked sweater. (Have I ever mentioned that I freaking hate the colorblock trend? I do.) Stephanie (Vinnie's mom) will have to tell me whether she wants the whole front red or to mix it up even more. (Steph: I also have green and black.)


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Lastly - and probably least, this time - I found out Best Buy was having a clearance sale today. 49¢ for school and office supplies and, like I mentioned with the markers, I adore school supplies. I mean, few things get me more pumped. It's sad but true. Since I had a $5 Best Buy Reward Zone sitting in my account for the longest time, I determined we needed to make a beeline for that odious store and spend it on the beloved supplies o' school. Welp, we price-checked lots of things, and these are the 11 things we got for a total of 41¢! I saved over $79, y'all! I know; cha-ching. (You can barely contain yourselves over there, amiright?)

'Kay. I'm done sharing pictures. What's up with you guys?


Our NERF & Cheetos Block Party

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Recently, I was selected to be a host for a NERF/Cheetos {check out the latter site, by the way; it's pretty funny} Block Party from House Party. That's my niece, Karen, "liking" my Instagram picure from the NERF Party Pack, which included water guns, coupons for more, temporary tattoos, and of course instructions for the party host, moi.

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We were sent tons of bags of Cheetos cheesy poofs, too, with lots more coupons. I still have some coupons, for $1 off Cheetos and for $5 off a $9.99+ NERF product, so hit me up in the comments if you want me to drop any off in the mail to ya! I'll be happy to do that.

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Between the Party Pack and the coupons, I ended up with about 20 different water guns, all kinds. You may end up with a different number if you count the ones in the picture, but that's because SOMEONE, who shall remain nameless but who is 8, has blond hair, and is female, decided to abscond with several of the ones from the party pack and then proceed to LOOOOOSE them. Which is why I found myself at Walmart on Friday night at 11 PM to buy a lot more. And then forbid said child to LOOK at them, much less touch. Heh.

{Hey, it worked. You do what you have to do; I do what I have to do.}

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So that's Erica, whom Rob knows from his youth in Missouri, and her daughter, Kira. We invited them and papa Kevin to Hugh Tayor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale to have this little block party with us, and they were all in. Yay!

So, why did I need so many guns for eight people?

Welp, my plan was to con rope other park-goers into joining the party with us and handing out guns to all comers.

Guess what? It worked!

We let the kids run over to the playground with their water guns, and the came back with what Chloë hilariously dubbed "an angry mob."

They wanted our guns, y'all. So we put the "mob" to work and made them fill up all our guns in the bathrooms, and then have at it.

Yo. They had a BLAST. {Pun intended.}

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That's "Peanut," who was entirely too excited to play, once we convinced them that, yes, indeedy, they were allowed to play with us. Yes, convince. We had to tell the newcoming kids that they were invited to play with the NERF guns about three or four times before they accepted it. {{I experienced this in teaching, too. I hate the racial divide, and the suspicion, mistrust and doubt that comes along with it. It makes me sad.}} But what a beautiful kid, huh?


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The little girl in the dress, in the back, was SO worried about her dad finding out that she had gotten wet. He wasn't even at their Memorial Day party! I hope she didn't get in trouble for having a little fun...!


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It thrilled me to no end to see everyone playing together like that. That's what it's about, right there. {{Hell, of the three people I still really know here in South Florida, two are white, one's black from Trinidad & Tobago, and one's Jewish. I just realized that. Rock ON.}}


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Everybody gang up on Kira!!! Git 'er!!!


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Jack never lets his dwarfism stop him from taking down the big guys, er, girls, either. I love that about him! Look at him - he was totally kicking @$$ and taking names!


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Chloë, looking a little unsure about which gun to pick. Oh, the choices!

I think this is the point where two other kids walked into the park, shooting regular toy guns, and I said something about them having "real" guns (as opposed to water guns). Peanut rushed to reassure me that they weren't real, just toys... and I felt like a jerk for saying it! Ugh. I have no filter.


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The other kids left before I was able to hand out certificates to our party winners, so I chose among the eight of us for prizes. I know Rob won the Cheetos prize for "Most Cheesiest," and of the NERF Prizes, Chloë got "Hot Shot," Sophia received "Sly & Dry" (which should rightfully have gone to Kevin, but whatevs), and Jack won "Most Soaked." Kira got "NERF Ninja," and I can't remember what Erica won, but for winning, they'll each be entered to win a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card. Woots!

What fun we had. Thanks to House Party, NERF, and Cheetos for the great day!


HURRY! Get $25 Off Registration To The Blog Workshop In May - Use By April 26th!


Check out that video; does this online blog conference, The Blog Workshop, not look great?!

Have you ever wanted to attend a bloggers' confererence but the need to travel and the cost made you unable to go? Well, I have good news for you! The Blog Workshop is online, so there are NO travel-related costs, and it saves lots of time for you. Plus, I have a coupon to save $25 off the cost of registration for the conference for you:


When you go to the The Blog Workshop Registration using this link, you can take $25 off the registration cost using code TBW25HURRY - but you have to hurry, because the code expires April 26th. Hurry and register here now!

Conference Agenda Chart

Look at the agenda! First thing you probably noticed was there are lots of giveaways, right? There will be prizes including video blogging equipment, LLC packages from LegalZoom, etc. So make sure to attend each of the 3 days, along with the Twitter party, Google+ hangout, and more. You'll find lots of information about growing your blog, monetizing, and much more.


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There are lots of great speakers from plenty of wonderful internet/blog-related companies to help you take your blogs in the direction you want to go! All of this for only $175, or $150 if you use the code TBW25HURRY by April 26th; what a great deal for all that you get!

Any questions? Check out these FAQs for all the anwers you need. You can also tweet to @TheBlogWorkshop and use hashtag #TBW 'kay?

Have fun, and do let me know if you plan to register here!


Disclosure: All opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are solely the work of Smellyann, the author of Smellyann Strikes Again. While I did receive compensation in exchange for this post, the words typed here came out of my li'l ol' brain.

Missions Links From Smiley360

In the spirit of sharing, I have a few things to tell you guys about, from my current Smiley360 missions. (Smile.ly is kinda like BzzAgent, for those who know it.)


First, there's the Orajel survey. Take the survey for a chance to win a $200 gift card. I know I could use that! Woohoo!


Next up is Children's Mucinex, of which I received a sample in the mail to use for when my kids got sick. Only, they never got sick, so the movers packed it up in our shipment of household goods. Of course, right away, my kids got sick, and I don't have it! What's a mom to do? Well, like you, I can use this coupon here to get more. I hope it works!

Finally, we have Campbell's Slow Kettle style soups. I was given a sample (and have since bought more), coupons, and even a warm and fuzzy pair of socks to wear! Fun. If you'd like to try it, there is a $1-off printable coupon here. Let me know what flavor(s) you try, if you do! SO delish.

That's it for now, folks! Try, and tell me how you liked these!


Bzz, Bzz: SMARTFOOD Selects Snacks Product Review

I'm back again with yet another awesome campaign product from BzzAgent! This time, it's the munchies, namely, SMARTFOOD Selects all natural snacks. I received three products in my BzzKit to try:


The first was a small bag of Feta Herb Hummus Popped Chips. I (reluctantly, I might add) shared some with Hubs, and we both agreed they were delicious. He was mighty surprised to like them, since he is not a ginormous hummus fan, like I am. The bag was gone far too quickly! The chips were fresh, crispy and full flavor. I have been on the lookout for them ever since - especially since SMARTFOOD snacks are on sale at Rite Aid right now. My store down the road doesn't carry their products yet - wahhh! - but I've requested them!


(Sorry for the blurry picture, oops!)

The second bag out of the box was opened immediately after we finished the first. I meant to share these Garlic Tomato Basil Hummus Chips with Rob, too, but unfortunately for him, he left the room for a few minutes, and I wolfed them down before he could get a single one. Too bad for him; I know he would have loved these, too. Delish!!


Finally, we received this big bag of Cinnamon Brown Sugar Popcorn. I will say that Rob didn't like this as much, saying, "The only sweet popcorn should be caramel corn," but boo to him, because the kids and I snacked on this and loved it so much, I've since used the coupon provided in my kit - together with a Rite Aid store coupon in their Flu Shot booklet - at a different Rite Aid I happened to stop in and find this at, happily, (no popped chips there, either. Bummer.) to buy two more bags! We're almost done with those, too, so quickly have we gobbled these down.

So have you tried these delicious, all-natural snacks made with smart combinations of real herbs and spices yet? If so, what did you try and what did you think? If not, what are you waiting for?! Get yourself a bag or three and let me know what you like - or not - in the comments below.

The bottom line for Team Odette: YUM, bring on more SMARTFOOD Selects!!


Bzz, Bzz: Glade Expressions Product Review

 Have you tried the (fairly new) line of Glade Expressions products yet? Well, as a BzzAgent, I have been given the opportunity to try them out and get the word out about what I think of them. I bought them in all four scents I found available (more on that in a sec) a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn't until last night that I finally got a chance to start trying them out.


I love, love, love apple-scented anything, so the first product I decided to open was the Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser Starter Kit in Fuju Apple & Cardamom Spice. It was a pretty simple set-up, with the holder and diffuser card included in the package, and the only thing that needed to be done was inserting the card into the holder:


The only problem we encountered was that the directions said you were supposed to press the diffuser card into the holder until it clicked, which neither Rob nor I were able to accomplish. No click. So it's just resting in there, unclicked, but it's still quite effective that way! The apple-scented oil was immediately wicked up and started filling our home with the most wonderful scent! Even our four litterboxes, always stinky, were no match for this little guy. And the design blends right into the décor, too, which in our house is minimal at the moment - but still! ;)


I didn't want competing scents going on, of course, so I opened the Fragrance Mist in the same scent next. It's so easy. You just squeeze the top and it sprays a mist in your chosen fragrance out into the house. I don't really need to use it much with the diffuser in play, but I do squeeze it anyway, every once in a while, for a little scent boost when I want to smell it even more! Seriously, these smell GREAT.


I'll probably try the Pineapple & Mangosteen next, since I love fruity scents, and then there on the left, you can see what the Fragrance Mist refill looks like, in Cotton & Italian Mandarin scent. That sounds good, too, doesn't it?!


The final scent currently available is Lavender & Juniper Berry, which I plan on trying last.  I can't wait to see if they all smell as delicious as the apple & cardamom one, not to mention work as well. Being a fan of Glade products, I feel confident they will perform to my expectations!

So let me now if you've tried these, or plan to try them anytime soon. If you're nearby to me, I might even gift you with a set of your own - just ask! ☺

The bottom line? I love these new Glade Expressions products!


Bzz, Bzzzzz: UNREAL™ candy UNJUNKED™

Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free package of UNREAL™ candy, along with several Buy-One-Get-One pass-along coupons in exchange for sharing my thoughts on the product with anyone I felt like, so here I am. No monetary exchange has taken place. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

If a picture says a thousand words,... well, okay, this one actually DOES say a few, but they kind of make you sit up and take notice, right? I mean, CANDY? With nothing artificial and no corn syrup or hydrogenated oils? Either I've gotta be joking, or it must taste, well, like crap, right?


Check out their website, where you can learn all sort of interesting information about UNREAL™ candy unjunked™, like, well, I'll let you read their story and the FAQ, if you want (you should!), but we all know what you're most interested in finding out, don't we?


Dudes. Let me take you through each of the five varieties of unjunked candy currently on the market, and let you decide:

#1: UNREAL8™ Chocolate Caramel Peanut Nougat Bar UNJUNKED™


(Oh. I should say that I totally used two of those BOGO coupons so I could buy all five varieties, which worked out perfectly for us, a family of five, to each try one kind.)


We let Daddy go first, because it was his birthday week. Here he is Vanna White-ing his selection of candy #1.  We all watched with anticipation as he opened the wrapper, took a bite, chewed, and ... gosh, he ate some, ya dig it? So what did he think of it?


Woohoo! He likes it, he really likes it! Which, you may not realize, is actually saying a lot, since he's kind of a food snob and tends toward a rather sophisticated palate. Score one big one for UNJUNKED™!

#2: UNREAL77™ Peanut Butter Cups UNJUNKED™


Now comes the real test, folks. I mean, who hasn't had a billion peanut butter cups already, and has an opinion formed about how they should taste?


As the oldest kid, we let Chloë go second, and of course she went straight for the PB cups. She's her mother's girl, after all. She dove in much faster than her father, thank goodness. (He likes to keep us in suspense.)


She didn't even finish her first bite before flashing me the two-thumbs-up signal. I'd say that's a pretty good argument for extreme deliciosity.

#3: UNREAL41™ Candy Coated Chocolates UNJUNKED™


I know what these are. You know what these are. Everybody loves the "real deal," so how does this version stack up?


Don't ask me why Jack got bypassed and Sophia, our youngest, got to go next. I'm sure there was a good reason, but heaven help me if I can remember now what it was! ANYway, she chose the, uh, candy-coated chocolates, being quite the fan of the "regular" sort, so what did she think of these?


Two more thumbs up. UNJUNKED™ is three for three! Not too shabby, eh? And people, we like to eat, okay? If something was yucky, I'd tell ya. So far, though, not yuck. Yum.

#4: UNREAL54™ Candy Coated Chocolates With Peanuts UNJUNKED™


Second verse, same as the first (because "fourth verse, same as the third" just doesn't quite have the same ring to it), except with peanuts this time. We all know and love this guy, too. 'Least I do. But it still wasn't my turn.


Jack got to pick the peanut, um-um-um's ;) and he took the task seriously. Very. See:


What the heck?! Two more very enthusiastic thumbs up? What is going on here? Mind you, I'm sitting behind the camera the whole time, patiently (cough) waiting for my turn, expecting at least one of these dern things to, well, suck! But thumbs were popping up all over the place, and I was quite the surprised one!

So now me, at last. Guys, I am a chocolate FIEND. An aficionado. A huge lovah, if you will. So what did I think of...

#5: UNREAL5™ Chocolate Caramel Nougat Bar UNJUNKED™


Darn. Nougat. I got stuck with the nougat one. I'll say I generally don't like nougat, because I don't know what the heck nougat is. Do you? I mean, c'mon, really, you can't find nougat in anything but certain candy bars that I don't like. So I was totes expecting to be the lone hold-out on the candy-train of love we had goin' on here.


At least I looked kinda cute holding my (ick) nougat (ick) bar. Time for a taste. My answer to the camera finally pointed my way?


SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I pulled a Chloë and shot those thumbs up before I even finished chewing and swallowing my first bite! For real, this stuff is GOOD.

So, I have a confession to make: I didn't share ANY of the pass-along BOGO coupons. No, I sure didn't. I went back to the store and used 'em a couple days later, and we had some more UNREAL™ candy. PIGS, we were. ARE, because if I had more of those coupons, I'd use those, too.

So, to recap this rather lengthy post about better-for-you treats, here's what there is:


... and here's what the five members of Team Odette thought of them:

UNJUNK Blog (2)

So what about you? Have you UNJUNKED™ your candy yet? Will you try UNREAL™ candy now that I've told you how freakin' good it is? If you do, let me know, and which ones, 'cause I'm nosy like that. No, really, I want to know if you like it, too, or if we're a bunch of weird healthy-candy-lovin' mutants. 'Kay?

Thanks to BzzAgent and UNREAL™ candy for the yummy yum yums!


Bzz, Bzz: Kroger Private Selection Foods

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent, which means that I was provided with coupons for free products to sample this brand, in exchange for sharing my opinions with all of you. My opinions are, as always, my own. No monetary exchange took place for this campaign.


So... once again, I'm late on reporting for a Bzz Campaign, since it officially ended yesterday. Whoops! But we just redeemed the coupons I received earlier this week, so technically my report isn't coming that long after we actually tried the food.  Anyhoo...


The first item for which we received a coupon was any Private Selection - an exclusive Kroger brand - pizza. Little did we know how hifalutin this brand actually was, and "cheese" was not an option. We worried: would the kids eat it? Would they like it?



We opted for the Fire Roasted Vegetable pizza, and it turned out to be really delicious. Even the kids thought so, except for the peppers. But c'mon, peppers. I'm 35 years old and am still iffy on them, so it wasn't surprising they picked them off (I didn't, go me). In all, the pizza was delicious, and I would definitely buy this item again if it went on special.


We also received a coupon for a free Private Selection appetizer, and we chose this Petite Quiche collection. Those were gobbled down fast, as we all had a favorite or two of the three different kinds included in the collection. Delicious!


For dessert, we opted to go for the Belgian Chocolate Lava Cakes. I didn't get one, because it would make me sick to eat (more on that later!), so there were enough for Rob and each of the kids (four per box). They engulfed them enthusiastically, and all had raves about the cakes. Another win for Private Selection!


We had a few more $2 off coupons to share, but we ended up just using them ourselves before they expired. So we opted for these Chocolate Croissants. You were supposed to do all kinds of prep to cook these properly, but we just microwaved them out of impatience. Now, I'm sure they would have been fabulous if we'd cooked them correctly, but they were pretty darn good that way, too!


Another dessert, which only came with two, so the kids shared those, were the Apple Cobbler bowls. They gobbled those down like they were going out of style. Really, can Private Selection make a mis-step? I'm starting to think not.


This set of appetizers came with triangular mushroom-stuffed goodness for Rob, and I ate the feta-and-spinach thingies and the cylindrical other thingies. I don't remember what they were called, but all of them were so yum! If you find these in a Kroger-brand store, you can rest assured that they, too, will be delicioso.

Finally, we tried a flan-like dessert with berries and, I think, peaches in it - one each for Rob and for me. I ate my entire thing and threatened to eat his, too, which was a big mistake, gastric bypass-ly speaking, because I ended up rolfing it up four times. That was not fun, but you know what? Even that darn thing was worth the pain and hassle! I can't find a picture of that on Google and had camnesia while we were eating all our Private Selection-y goodness this week.

The bottom line is, you can find these items and more at your local Kroger, Gerbes, and other Kroger-branded stores, and each one was better than the last, in our collective opinion. Should you try it? Absolutely. Especially if/when they go on sale! Let me know what you think if you do!



Bzz, Bzz: Truly Awesome - Or Are They?


Disclosure: I received product and coupons from BzzAgent in exchange for my Bzzzzzzzz.... All opinions are my own, whether they like 'em or not!

Oops, I'm lax on my cookie-reporting post, which was due, oh, a month ago or so... But since we've been busy and various ones of us have been sick, I think you'll excuse us, right?

So anyhow, anyways, BzzAgent sent me two boxes of Kroger's "The ^Truly^ Awesome homestyle chocolate chip cookie" to try out with my friends, loved ones, and the President. Obama declined to indulge, and I declined to invite my friends, so my family of five made like a pen of piggies and scarfed down the entire two boxes in the space of an evening. Maybe it was two evenings, but you get the point: We did not share a single morsel, and I seem to remember one of us (please, God, don't let it be me) diving for a dropped chocolate chip before it hit the floor. 87-second rule and all. (You may have heard it as the five-second rule, but it increases exponentially with the amount of kids and pets you have, contrary to what it should be. A little-known fact.)

All that being said, our opinions on the cookies were slightly different. The three kids all gave them two thumbs up, but c'mon. I could've crapped on a cracker, called it a cookie, and they would have licked their lips and begged for more. They're kids. Kids are gross. So their opinions don't count for much here.

Which brings me to Rob (where's the Facebook linkage thingy when I need it?) and myself: Rob was all questioning the homestyle-ness of these cookies, which we both agreed were quite good, so he voiced his pondering aloud to the Missus (me, hello), and I was all, "Um, no. I've had homemade cookies. I've made kick-ass homemade cookies, and these are clearly store-bought-tasting cookies." He was all, "Really? You think so?" And I was all, "Yeah." He's still on the fence. I left him there. I think he likes the feeling.

In the end, would I rush right out and buy a box if I were craving some chocolate chip cookies but didn't want to bake them? No. I'd pick Pepperidge Farm ones, or even Entenmann's, first, unless Kroger was right around the corner from me. And then I miiiiight consider. Would I turn them down if you shoved one in my face, or gave me coupons for another free box or two? Nah. They were good enough, but Truly Awesome? This reviewer has to say not only "no," but "um, no, again."

And there you have it.

So... if you've had them, or ever try them, please tell me what you think. I am literally dying to know.


Black Friday Sale At Hartstrings!


Ready or not...the holidays are here! During this special time of year, there are so many occasions where the perfect outfit for your child is needed. Whether it's for family photos, holiday gatherings, school functions, or special family moments, you want to find the right ensemble that will hold meaning and create memories that will last for years to come. All of these reasons are why we're so happy to tell you about the trusted Hartstrings brand and their upcoming sale!


If you're keeping track of the hot Black Friday sales to hit up, you will definitely want to add Hartstrings to your list! For over 30 years, Hartstrings has been providing children with classic, American styles with a modern flare. From dresses to cardigans, from rain boots to pajamas, Hartstrings.com offers it all - and this Black Friday it's all 20% off - even sale items!


Disclosure: In exchange for this post, I was entered into a drawing for holiday outfits for my three children. Wish me luck!



Bzz, Bzz: Tonka XT Ricochet Tricksters R/C

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent, which means I was provided a product to try and review for this word-of-mouth publicity campaign. No monetary compensation was received for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


So, like, I don't know if you can tell, and stuff, but I wasn't the only one in Chez Odette who was excited when I managed to land this cool campaign, with a fun toy from Hasbro geared toward Jack, my 8-year-old son. I didn't tell him it was coming, so when he opened the box, this was his genuine reaction!


Immediately, he ran downstairs to get that thing Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster R/C out of the box!


This doesn't have to be just a toy for boys, though. Jack's older and younger sister eagerly awaited their turn to play with it, too. Here's Sophia, pointing out which one of the three Tricksters her brother received.


As with most boxed toys, this one came with plenty of packaging, but the boy wouldn't give up. He wanted to get it all out by himself, thank you very much.


Finally we got the little bugger out of the box! Here it is on one side...


...but check it out: when you turn it over, it looks like a completely different car!


See? Two sides! Cool, huh?  That's because each of the three Tricksters performs a signature trick: The one we received does the "Buzzsaw Spin," while the two others can do a "Rampage Flip" or a "Zig-Zag Jolt"! However, apparently they can all be done with enough practice, by each vehicle. We haven't gotten that far yet!


The boy-child had tons of fun that night doing stunts and, well, tricks with his new Trickster. The girls had their turns, too, but hmm, they seemed a little few and far between Jack's turns with the toy. I think maybe he'll get the other two for Christmas... if he's on Santa's "good" list, that is! ;)

Here are a few factoids for ya:

* Retails for about $25

* Requires (5) AA batteries (not included) for the controller

* Needs 20-30 min charge for 15-30 min of running time

* Use inside, only; not intended for outdoor use

* Available at Wal-mart, Target, Toys 'R Us, and Kmart (in the R/C aisle)

* Meant for ages 6 years +

So go! If you've got a youngster in the middle ages (wait, that didn't sound right, did it?) who LOVES cars (my kid lives for anything with wheels), try out a Tonka XT Ricochet Trickster R/C for him (or her!) - Jack gives it two big thumbs up!


Bzz,Bzz: Burt's Bees Natural Skin Solutions for Sensitive Skin

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent, which means I was provided with samples of this product to try and review, along with coupons to pass out to my friends, in a word-of-mouth publicity campaign. No monetary compensation was received for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


I've been lucky to get several great BzzCampaigns lately, and I was excited when I landed this one for Burt's Bees Sensitive Skin Care products.(And psst, there's a link to a $2-off coupon at the site, there, if you want to print it off and go give this a try yourselves!)

When my BzzKit arrived - they sure do like to use lots of BzzWords, don't they? - I had gotten two full size Natural Skin Solutions for Sensitive Skin products: the Facial Cleanser, and the Daily Moisturizer, as well as samples and coupons to pass out to my friends.

Since I am a hardcore Jafra skincare consultant, just getting back into the sales game, my plan was to do a face-to-face (heh, heh, I'm cute, eh?) comparison of the two sensitive skin product lines and provide an honest review of which worked and felt better for me.

However, by the time I got my BzzKit, I just couldn't bring myself to use anything but Jafra on my face. I kept one of the sample size moisturizers for myself to try later, but I held off on using the full-size products. As for the samples and coupons, I distributed them in the usual fashion: by laying them out on the sample table in our mom's room at the homeschooling co-op we attend weekly and giving my samplers instructions to report back to me with any feedback.

By the end of the day, all the samples and coupons were gone, but I didn't get any feedback except from MM, who was absolutely raving about the product. She had used the sample moisturizer on her dry, cracked hands, which she said were painfully dry, and the Burt's Bees moisturizer felt so wonderful, she was going to rush out and buy some immediately!


The next week, I decided to bring the full-size products to MM and ask her to be my full-size product tester, for the first time in my BzzAgent history, since she liked it so much and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Not that it's not an excellent product - I'm sure it is - but Jafra is the one for me. She was excited and readily accepted the 'challenge' - use it for a week or two and then report back with her results.

The following week, I asked MM if she had been using the Burt's Bees on her face, and she raved about how wonderful it was, once again. She said it cleared up all the issues she had been having with her face - I had never noticed any, but she said, "Girl, make-up will do wonders!" - and let her skin feeling soft and clean. In a word, she was hooked.

So, if you feel like giving it a try, head on over here to get yourself a coupon or see what else Burt's Bees carries that might appeal to you. And don't cry, Burt - I still use your lip balm all. the. time!


Bzz, Bzz: Green Mountain Coffee

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent, which means I was provided with samples of this product to try and review, along with coupons to pass out to my friends, in a word-of-mouth publicity campaign. No monetary compensation was received for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Recently, I was accepted into the Green Mountain Coffee Fair Trade Certified BzzCampaign, and for that, we received two pounds of coffee: one Pumpkin Spice, and one Organic House Blend, Medium Roast.


Rob was really excited to try the Pumpkin Spice. Pretty much, if it's pumpkin, he's a fan - and he was not disappointed. He liked the taste and the smell of this coffee, while I... well, not too much. It just wasn't the right flavor for me.


On the other hand, I really liked the House Blend, which made a rich, satisfyingly flavorful cup of coffee, tasty even before I doctored it up with cream and fake sugar in my usual fashion.

A few factoids for ya:


Fair Trade Certified™ coffee is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. specialty coffee market.

Green Mountain Coffee:

*has the largest selection of Fair Trade Certified™ coffees in the U.S.

*is a division of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc., the largest roaster of Fair Trade Certified™ Coffee in the world - purchasing over 106,000,000 pounds of Fair Trade coffee in the past 10 years.

*has been supporting Fair Trade for over a decade, working with Fair Trade USA, a nonprofit third party that certifies and promotes Fair Trade products.

*is the leading brand in K-Cup® portion packs for Keurig® brewers and is also available in ground and whole bean bags (both packages we received were for ground coffee).

*is available nationally in most grocery stores, online at GreenMountainCoffee.com, and in convenience stores, workplaces, college campuses, and restaurants across the country.

In case you needed even more reasons to love this brand, how about this:

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.:

*offsets 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions.

*invests in sustainably grown coffee.

*allocates 5% of its pre-tax profit to socially and environmentally responsible intiatives.

In sum, there are so many of varieties of Green Mountain Coffee® available, so give it a try. It tastes great, is socially responsible, and environmentally ethical. What's not to love?


Bzz, Bzz: Maybelline SuperStay 24 Color Lipcolor


Another Bzz Campaign - this one is ending, so I'm a little behind on posting about it. Whoopsie! But, I have been using the four different shades of Maybelline SuperStay 24 Color that BzzAgent sent me, so that I could write a legitimate review.

I've been using them quite a lot, actually, because I really like them. And they work very well!

 The premise is not what I expected it to be when I opened my package. I figured it would be another long-wearing lip stain, that would dry out my lips and get all flaky and be gross, and I would hate it.

But it's not!

On one end of the tube is the applicator for the color. It goes on smoothly and saturates the lips very well. You can rub your lips together without them sticking right away, too, which I like.

And then, on the other end, is the glossy bit, an applicator to make them shiny and more rub-able, like a lip balm.

So you're supposed to be able to apply the color part once, and then re-apply the glossy part as needed throughout the day. And the color's supposed to last all day, even through eating, drinking, kissing, and whatever else you nasty people might do with your lips.

Just kidding. You're not nasty. Well, maybe you are, but I wouldn't know.

Well, Smellyann? Does it work, or not?

The answer is: Well, kinda. Yes and no.

The color DOES last through all those activities, but I found that it did eventually wear off by the end of the day, if I applied it first thing in the morning. So it doesn't rub off after I drink and eat - and smooch - but it would need to re-apply the color if I were going out for the evening, too. Which is fine. I mean, I can handle applying lipcolor twice in a day. It's when I have to stop and do it 4700 times in a day to keep color on my lips that gets really annoying. Right?

So, in my estimation, it's completely worth the ten bucks (MSRP). Try it. You'll like it. And if you don't, give it to me, I'll use it!


P.S. There are supposed to be (or have been) coupons for this product on Facebook somewhere, for me to share with you, but I could never find them, which is why it took me so long to post this. If you find them, let me know, and I'll add the link. Thanks!

Bzz Bzz: L'Oréal® Paris One Sweep™ Eye Shadow and Double Extend™ Eye Illuminator Mascara


As you may know, I'm a BzzAgent and get to try new products in order to spread the word about them and give my feedback to the developers of the products. I've been a member for several years now, and it's a great program. I love it.

One of my latest campaigns is for these two L'Oréal products:


First up, we have The One Sweep Eyeshadow by Studio Secrets Professional, from L'Oréal. The premise? The specially-create applicator is shaped so that you can load all three coordinating shades at once and then, also, apply them in one sweep across the eyelid, creating depth, drama, and well, it's probably supposed to be 'cool.'

In practice, I found it to be quite a silly product, and I would never buy it in a million years. However, it was fun to try it, and I'm glad it was provided to me for free by BzzAgent and L'Oréal.

You see, it doesn't work all that well. You just can't load the three colors equally-in-depth with one swipe, and then either you don't have the desired effect when you sweep it across your lid, or you have to and scoop up some more product, muddying the lines and making the whole thing quite pointless. And then the applicator. It's kind of non-intuitive, which way you're supposed to hold it to load the product and then apply it to your eyes, although clearly they intended the opposite. It's just not comfortable, and it just doesn't work well.

Seriously? If you don't have time to apply your different shades separately, then just do one shade. Or skip the shadow altogether and go with some simple black mascara and lip gloss.

My grade: D-. One star. Thumbs down. Boo.




Secondly, we have L'Oréal's Double Extend Eye Illuminator Mascara. I received the one for brown eyes, because... duh. The premise? Thicken and lengthen the lashes with one end of the wand, and then apply the pretty sparklies with the other end, to make the eyes really pop.

In theory, again, it's a good, fun idea. In practice, it's a flop. First of all, with a really good mascara, like Almay One Coat Dial-Up, I end up with nice, long, thick, impressive lashes. So what I'm saying is, I've got 'em, and I know they're there. But with this Double Extend thing? Not so much. My lashes look chintzy even after multiple coats. Weeny lashes, who wants 'em? Not me. I have big eyes. I like to accentuate them. Whatever the opposite of that is, this mascara does it.

And then the Illuminator part? It just doesn't work. Oh, if you peer closely at yourself with a highly-magnified mirror, you can see some maroon-colored shimmer on there, but barely even then. Totally not worth shelling out eleven bucks for. Save your money.

The bottom line, for me: D-. One star. Thumbs down. Boo.


So. While I love L'Oréal as a brand overall, I don't dig these two new products at all. I would not buy them, and you shouldn't, either.


Bzz, Bzz: OFF! PowerPad Lamp & Clip-On Mosquito Repellant

As you know, I'm a BzzAgent, and my latest campaign is for these new OFF! mosquito repellant products.

Thanks to the geniuses at OFF!, now you have two effective ways to keep mosquitoes at bay without having to apply anything to  your skin! No sprays, no chemical odor, no need to hide under long sleeves. It's a revolutionary way to enjoy your summer.


The first option, for personal use, is the Off! Clip-On and refill. You can clip it to your bag, belt or purse, or just leave it on the table next to you for personal mosquito protection all around yourself. It's ideal for relaxing in the backyard, gardening, or reading on the porch. You won't find anything else like it in the USA!

Just the Facts:

  • A starter pack ($8.99, but you can find it on sale for less at Walgreens and other locations) contains 1 repellant fan unit, 1 refill disk, and 2 AA Energizer batteries
  • The Refill pack ($3.99) includs 2 refill disks
  • Clip it on, or set it next to you!
  • Each fan unit provides approximately 500 hours of use, equivalent to 40 refill disks
  • Each repellant disk lasts up to 12 hours (for best results, use up the disk within 2 weeks of inital use)
  • The repellant disk has an indicator to let you know when it's time to replace it with a new disk.

How it works:

You love summer and spending time outdoors, but hate applying bug spray. New OFF! Clip-On Mosquito Repellant provides effective mosquito protection you don't spray on your skin. All you have to do is clip it onto your belt or bag, and a quiet little fan circulates an odorless repellent all around you. Within minutes, OFF! Clip-On creates head to toe protection from mosquitoes. If you move, allow a few minutes for the protection to rebuild. With OFF! Clip-On, protection from mosquitoes is easy and spray-free. So go outside and have fun without worrying about getting eaten alive.

When to use it:

Gardening, reading by the pool, relaxing on the patio, attending an outdoor sporting event or concert, fishing

*For best results, keep your OFF! Clip-On refill in the sealed foil wrapper until you need it. You can also turn the unit off when not in use to conserve batteries.


The other option, for when you have a crowd, is the OFF! PowerPad Lamp. What's summer without hanging outside with friends? OFF! PowerPad Lamp is your outdoor entertaining ally. It's so much more than  just a candle. Simply light the candle and the heat activates the repellent pad to protect an area up to 15' X 15' (about the size of an average deck or patio). That's the same area of protection as lighting 15 Citronella buckets!

Would you rather spend $9 or $60? You could spend up to $60 on Citronella buckets to equal the area of protection of one $9 PowerPad Lamp. But why spend more if you don't have to?

Just the Facts:

  • Starter kit ($9.49, but again, you can find it on sale for less) includes 1 reusable lamp, 1 mosquito repellent pad, and 1 candle
  • Refill pack ($5.49) includes 3 repellent pads and 3 candles
  • Each candle and repellent pad lasts up to four hours, and can be easily reused until the candle is completely burned out
  • Once the candle is used up and won't relight, replace both the candle and the pad.
  • One little pad protects an area up to 15 x 15 feet, the size of an average deck or patio
  • Available in both lamp and lantern versions (lanterns include a pole so you can hang your lamp in your backyard)
  • One pad protects an area up to 15 times farther than Citronella buckets

When to use it:

Backyard BBQing, camping, summer entertaining (makes a great host/ess gift)

I've got coupons! I've given out a lot of my coupons already, but I have some left for y'all. Let me know if you'd like one, and I'll need your addy to mail them out. You can just comment, and I'll email you back. Let me know what you think of these new OFF! products, too! All coupons have been given away now, sorry!



The weigh-in this morning was good! I dropped another 2½ pounds and am now down 85 pounds in less than four months! Woot! I can't wait to go to my check-up with Dr. Clark next week. I am sure he's going to be happy with my progress.

Sophie slept on the couch with her daddy last night - oh, right, I showed you a picture - so I thought for sure she'd be up bright and early this morning. Not so, she slept and slept. So, beside her, I joined. It was a good morning nap.

When Jack came home, we got ready to go out to lunch with Linda from Bunco. I had a shop to do and, as neither Rob nor Steph was available for lunch, she was my choice.

Lunch was great, the server was not. Linda was really thrilled to get together and go out somewhere nice, and she loved the food. It makes me happy to please other people, so I was thrilled, too. We agreed that she's my go-to for all lunch dates from now on, at least when The Bob can't go.

The children were so bad at lunch, though! They would not sit down, or would not sit upright, kept yelling, fighting over crayons, and were generally just completely unruly. It was very unlike them. I was so embarrassed, but Linda just brushed it off. She's cool. Really good with kids. It's surprising she didn't have any of her own.

After lunch, she came over and hung out in my messy house for a few hours. The kids went down for naps, so we talked a bunch while I made some Jafra coupons to put in the Relay For Life survivor gift bags. She has a table at the relay, and I always donate some Jafra products for her raffles.  Anyway, so she suggested I make up some coupons for a % off all the survivors' orders, and I did: over 500 of them. We sat and cut them out and jibber-jabbered the time away.

I showed her all the prizes I've gotten for Bunco, too. She said they were cool and not lame at all. I'm always worried about that.  Then I gave her all the stuff I was planning on Freecycling, because she loves to take things and find the right person for them. She brought me four packages of English muffins that someone was giving away to military families. The kids love those, so it was great.

She was still over when Chloë came home, sobbing. She had a gigantic goose egg, all scratched and bruised, on her forehead, another on her elbow, and more on her knees. She is such a klutz, poor thing! She fell on her way home from the bus, and just sat in my arms, crying and crying. Linda made her up an ice pack, but still she didn't calm down. She was pretty banged up. My poor baby.




So then we started talking about BzzAgent, Homescan and MyPoints, because she is also all about the FREE, and I get lots of good stuff from those sites. Case in point, this lovely sandwich grill by Cuisinart just arrived today for Rob from Homescan (which is in the Nielsen family).  Let me know if you sign up!  You scan everything you purchase, upload it to their site, and accrue points good for prizes. I've gotten a dustbuster, pizza stone, this grill, and something else I can't remember from them. Nice stuff.

She left, and the Littles were still napping, so I lay down for another nap after determining that Rob wasn't going to get home in time for Chloë to go geocaching with her troop. When I explained this to her, she was pretty heartbroken and started sobbing all over again. She was inconsolable, and she was still crying when he did make it home.  I was pretty upset, too...

I was hoping Steph would babysit tonight, because we had a dinner shop, but we'll just have to go tomorrow and bring the kids, I guess.  So we went out and did my ice cream shop instead, and Jack was miserable the whole time. He didn't want his cone, he didn't want my sugar-free, fat-free raspberry swirl (and neither did I, but I didn't cry about it), he didn't want anything. It's been a very tearful day for them!

After dinner (yes, we had ice cream before dinner - so?, homework and bed, I did my Wii Fit workout. Woof! I worked my abs really hard on the hula hooping last night and really felt it tonight! I'm having a lot of fun working out on the Fit still, after all this time - and it's paying off! I was able to wear some dress pants that I haven't worn since, well, EVER, today, and they looked pretty good.

Oh, and look what someone did to the bathroom door while we were putting away groceries last night:


Nice, huh? S'cuse the mud, it's from Lily. No clue who did it or how. Just what we needed.

Anyway, I'm going to go crochet and watch that Harvey-something-or-other movie with Dustin Hoffman. Have you seen it?


Bzz, Bzz: göt2be smooth operator


A day or two ago, I received this latest BzzCampaign in the mail, for göt2be smooth operator hair products. In the box was a full size bottle of göt2be smooth operator soothing lustre lotion for me, and three smaller trial-size bottles to give away to my friends. There were also some great coupons for y'all!

So I started using it, and I put it on Chloë's fly-away hair, too. I can't smell it right now, but supposedly it smells "luxurious." And it works for smoothing hair and making it extra shiny. Rob said my hair looked really shiny and smooth, and when I put it on Chloë's crazy curls, it really smoothed the savage beast. It doesn't make your hair feel crispy or gunky, either; I still thought my hair felt as soft as usual. And you can put it on whether your hair is wet or dry, which is great since I always air-dry mine.

I'm not much of a girly-girl, but I have to admit, my favorite part is the cute little charms attached to the bottle!

If you'd like to try some göt2be smooth operator products, comment below and I'll snail mail you a coupon! If you've already tried it before, let me know what you thought of it. I really like it!


Bzz, Bzz: Afrin PureSea


I was so excited to sign up for this latest Bzz Campaign, because it's something I really need right now. Fortunately, in the midst of this virulent influenza attack I'm having, it showed up on my doorstep today!

Actually, I don't know if you're supposed to use it (for maximum effectiveness) when you're riding the raging snot rocket that I am, but I tried it out anyway.

What is it?

Afrin PureSea, a nasal rinse product.  I have had major post-nasal drip for as long as I can remember, and I recently learned about neti pots, which is another nasal rinse product. I tried to buy one at the drug store recently, but they didn't stock them, so I've semi been on the lookout for one ever since. And then I got this Campaign! Yippee! (And then I got The Sick! Not yippee!) It cleans your nasal and sinus passages of allergens, pollutants, and everything else your nose traps, so you can breathe freely.

How do you use it?

Well... that's the fun part. Heh. For the Afrin PureSea, you put the applicator tip on the bottle, and then get yourself in the shower or over a sink. (I did it over the bathroom sink.) Then you tilt your head all the way to one side, put the applicator up one nostril and press down on it. The 100% natural, purified sea water goes in one nostril and out the other, rinsing everything away. Then you tilt your head the other way and do it on the other side.

I blew my nose afterward to really clear things out (and before), and voila! For a few pleasurable seconds, I could breathe better through my nose than maybe in my whole life (hi, I'm a mouth breather, who's with me?) - certainly better than I could five minutes before! It felt a little like I had dunked my head underwater at the beach for a minute, but it wasn't burny at all like that because the salt concentration is much lower.

What's in it?

Nothing but sea water! It's purified to get rid of pollutants and microorganisms, and it's isotonic so that it matches your own saline concentration, but otherwise, it's straight from the Bay of Saint-Malo in France.

More Fun Facts

  • You can find it in the cough & cold aisle
  • It has sea water's same trace elements to minimize discomfort and match your body chemistry
  • It goes through a sterilizing filtration process
  • No drugs or preservatives
  • Can be used as often as needed (it says up to four times a day, but personally I don't see why you couldn't use it more often, since it's just sea water)
  • There is NO mixing, as with a neti pot
  • The contents remain sterile after use
  • There are three varieties, the most gentle of which can be used on babies as young as six months old
  • MSRP is $14.99, but I have $3 off coupons for anyone who wants 'em!!

My Verdict

Well, I'm glad my bottle was free, because the cost is a little off-putting for me. I couldn't afford to just stock up on it, even with the coupons! So I'd use it with a cold or something, or if I'd been around mold or something else yucky.  Also, unlike the neti pot which you buy once and keep, this is disposable.  It's recyclable, but still, that's a lot more waste.

But I did like the feel of it, and I'm getting ready to go do it again. I'm going to do it every day until it's gone, so I'll be sure and update if my opinion on it changes either way.  It was wonderful to be able to breathe clearly through my nose for the first time maybe ever! Would I buy it again? Yes, definitely. Would I cringe at the environmental impact? Yep.

What do you think? Have you tried anything like this before? Would you want to try this? Would you like a coupon?



Bzz, Bzz: Children's Claritin


I received my latest BzzKit on Wednesday, this time for Children's Claritin Chewable Allergy Tablets

Disclaimer 1: I am a BzzAgent, here to spread the word about products you may or may not have heard about.

Disclaimer 2: As far as I know, my children do not suffer from sesasonal or indoor allergies, and they have never taken this product. I have no personal history with Children's Claritin at all.

So, I am passing along the information that I received from my BzzKit, and you may do with it as you wish. If you have a child with allergies, you can comment below and request the *one* sample box of 10 grape-flavored tablets I received (first response), or a coupon or two for $3.00 off Children's Claritin!

About Children's Claritin, from my BzzKit:

  • It's the #1 pediatrician-recommended non-drowsy brand
  • Provide all-day relief without jitters or drowsiness
  • Comes in chewables, syrup, or RediTabs (no water needed)
  • Relieves runny noses, itchy, watery eyes, and other allergy symptoms
  • Great grape flavor that kids who don't like medicine seem to like (my own words)

Let me know if you have any questions about Children's Claritin, or if you'd like the sample or some coupons! [Please only request the sample if your child(ren) actually DO have allergies!]