F 2011 ~ Critique of the Unique

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Welcome to Critique of the Unique

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In the Kitchen with Amelia

Welcome Amelia to the Critique of the Unique! Join Amelia in the kitchen for great down-home cooking ranging from appetizers, to tasty main dishes all the way through to awesomely delicious desserts!!

"Winnie the Pooh" in Theaters this July

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood this July and revisit your old time favorite characters!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Win a Family Pass to "The Bretts" in Branson, Mo

Having appeared on worldwide television and in more than 3000 live performances around the globe, The Bretts deliver high energy, high-caliber professional entertainment to audiences of all ages. Voted Best Morning Show in Branson, The Bretts consistently make their daytime performance the place to be on the Strip. As singers, songwriters, dancers and musicians, each of the Brett family members has the talent to deliver a full-length solo performance, but together The Bretts are captivating, exploding onto the stage with a moving display of music, dance, lights and artistry that has inspired audiences across the world for years. Visit www.brettfamily.com

Super US Family Guide Special:  http://bransonkidsguide.com/coupon.php?bid=9389&dealid=431

This coupon enables the holder to purchase a family pass to see The Bretts at $50 plus tax (Savings of $13.50 per pass). A family pass includes two adults and all children 4-16 yrs old (0-4 are always free). They may also purchase adult tickets at $20 per adult (Savings of $10.50 per adult ticket), and child tickets at $5 plus tax (Savings of $7 per child). Please present this coupon to the box office prior to purchasing your tickets. Not valid with any other offer. Call 417-336-3100 to reserve your seats today!  

Register to Win: http://www.usfamilyguide.com/The_Bretts/Win a Family Pass to The Bretts
The Best Morning Show in Branson
One Family Wins EACH WEEK 

Disclosure: I have to give a big thanks to the US Family Guide for providing our family with a free family pass to attend this wonderful attraction.  I am in no way affiliated with US Family Guide nor The Bretts. Copy ad was provided by the US Family Guide. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the Spotlight: Activist Lisa Sellman

Guest Post:

What Can One Person Do?
Activist Reveals How One Act of Community Service Can Spark Thousands More

Don’t tell Lisa Sellman that one person can’t make a difference. She knows better.

Sellman, a community activist and lifelong volunteer, recently learned how one act of kindness can set off a chain reaction that can span the globe.

“It just started out with me asking a regional pet food company for a donation of dog food for Red Lake Rosie’s in Minnesota,” said Sellman, a professional dog trainer and owner of a pet care business. “I called Solid Gold Northland, and one of the marketing managers there advised me that they were trying to increase the number of people who ‘liked’ them on Facebook, and that if I could get 40 new Facebook members to click on their ‘like’ button, they’d give me $200 worth of pet food.”

So Sellman, who currently volunteers for six different community groups, sent a message out to all her Facebook friends inviting them to Solid Gold Northland’s fan page on Facebook. Somehow, the invite made it to the Facebook page of The Patrick Miracle, a page devoted to the story of a two year old pitbull found by a janitor in a dumpster. Their Facebook page has charted over 109,000 “like” clicks from users. When the founders of the page posted Sellman’s invite, Solid Gold Northland received more than 2,000 new fans from all over the world in the course of about 48 hours.

“When I contacted them the next week, they were blown away by how quickly the response took off,” said Sellman, also author of the children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake (www.dreamcatcherpress.us), which contains the theme of the value of community service and which she hopes will serve to inspire others. “As a result of the combined outreach, Solid Gold Northland and Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet have committed a donation of $2,000 worth of pet food, and I’ve helped to forge new friends from other countries who all care about the same things I care about. And it all started with a simple posting on Facebook because I wanted to help a local animal shelter. It’s been magical.”

Sellman’s simple act was a drop in the bucket compared to her schedule of volunteer activities. She works as an after school care volunteer at the Minneapolis Indian Center, a special events assistant at the Loft Literary Center, a volunteer marketing director for canine events at the Gunflint Lodge (the real location contained in her children’s book), and a trail staff assistant with Wilderness Inquiry, where she and her husband take disabled children and adults on outdoor adventures throughout the US. They’ve been volunteers with this organization since 1997.

“Although I work hard, I love being able to serve my community.” Sellman said. “The people in all the organizations I’m involved with, all share my values and my world view and they are my friends and my family. The people and the activities fill up my life with fun, joy and a purpose I could never have achieved any other way. It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should take the same path that I have. I know most people don’t have the time. My point is this: it only takes one simple act, one click of a mouse button to start a movement. It happened to me and it can happen to you. All you need to do is give it a shot.”

About Lisa Sellman:
Lisa Sellman, owner and professional dog trainer at Aloha Pet Care & Dog Training, volunteers for half a dozen charitable organizations. She believes that community service is its own reward, a message that resonates throughout her new children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake.

Thanks to Lisa Sellman for sharing her story. I found it very inspirational and worthy of passing along!

Let's talk about it:  What is the one thing you do to make a difference in your community? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Winnie the Pooh" Sneak Peek

Don't forget "Winnie the Pooh" hits theaters July 15th!!

Sneak peek brought to you by courtesy of Disney:

Website and Mobile Site: Disney.com/Pooh
Like on Facebook: facebook.com/WinniethePooh
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/DisneyAnimation

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln by Robert L Bloch Review

Product: My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys from Indiana
Author: Robert L. Bloch
Illustrations: John W. Ewing
Publisher: Castlebridge/ Big Tent Books
Category: Books, Children
Price: $13.95

Story Summary:

In 1820, Sam Harding and Abe Lincoln forged a strong friendship, based on their love of learning and of the outdoors. This timeless story is about the special bond between two boys, the experiences they shared growing up in early America, and how one of the boys eventually became the sixteenth President of the United States.

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys From Indiana is a wonderful story written by Robert Bloch geared toward readers aged 5-8 years old! This book is about the budding friendship of two boys... Sam Harding (a fictional character) and young Abe Lincoln. It takes the reader on a historical journey through Abe's childhood on upward into adulthood where Abe eventually earns the title of President of the United States. The pages are full of amazing artwork thanks to the talented illustrations of John Ewing, who has previously worked with Disney animation in such works as "Winnie the Pooh" and "Sleeping Beauty".

What I loved about this book is that it inspires a love for history! Although the book is fictional, the plot interweaves fact and fiction so delicately that it allows for the reader to learn interesting facts about our sixteenth president in a way that is not too preachy, but more of an insider's view of the type of life Abe Lincoln might have had up until his presidential election.  It touches lightly on political issues of the time such as poverty and slavery, giving children a glimpse into what life would have been like during such trying times. The suggested age range is appropriate in both reading level and interest and I would even recommend it to earlier readers if you want to read it aloud to your child, as there are enough interesting and entertaining illustrations that a younger child can easily associate the pictures with the spoken words.

If you are looking for a book about Abraham Lincoln based solely on fact, then this is not the book you are looking for, but if your goal is to make your child more interested in learning about history and you want a story that will start their natural curiosity, then this book will definitely be on your "must read" list!

Author Questions and Answers:
Describe the specific event that occurred which inspired you to write  the book.
I was in an antique shop a few years ago and had a fun, “Walter mitty” type experience. I imagined I found the missing diary written by the childhood best friend of my hero, abe lincoln. then I saw it in my mind as a fun children’s book.

Why did you decide to write the book through the eyes of a best friend?
I know from raising my own kids that children enjoy hearing stories about other children. they naturally relate better to the characters in books in this way. I also wanted to tell a story about a close and personal relationship between two boys who had a lot of fun together, and one grew up to become famous.

How did your research into the times and life of lincoln influence the adventures you chose to write about in the book?
History books have relatively little personal information on  lincoln’s childhood years. I built the story around the few facts I did find—lincoln family history, pioneer farm, knowledge that abe worked hard and went to school, small descriptionsof his personality and physical appearance to name a few.
then I researched the pioneer era in the little Pigeon Creek region—log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, fishing creeks, caves, bats, Indians, and slavery. I tied it all together in the form of a fictional tale geared to four through eight year-old readers.

How were you personally influenced by President lincoln as a child, and how did that carry over into your adult life?
My parents took our family on a trip to Washington, DC when we were old enough to appreciate the fact that our great-great grandfather knew Lincoln. He had also been a guest in their home. 
I was extremely impressed with the imposing and powerful lincoln memorial. (It also didn’t hurt that 
he was on the $5 bill and the penny.) The older I got the more I wanted to learn as much as I could 
about this great leader. I am impressed that he stood up for his high principles that changed America forever!

What advice would you give to parents about how to help their children form values of hard work, honesty, humility, and building good relationships?
Reading biographies is a great way to learn how to live one’s life. Lincoln sets great examples 
because he always learned from his difficult experiences and mistakes in life. this made him a very 
powerful and wise leader. more important than anything, true wisdom is attained by learning from 
our mistakes.

What will be the focus of future books you are planning?
I intend to create a series of “My Best Friend” children’s books. Kids are inspired by all types of 
people who can enrich their lives. the series will include famous artists, explorers, political leaders, 
famous women, scientists, and athletes

About the Author:

Robert Bloch has worked at the H&R Block Foundation since 1989. He lives in Mission Hills, Kansas, and has four sons and a wonderful wife. Bob graduated from Menlo College in Menlo Park, California, (1974) and the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1979). His passions are Art History and American History.

Bob's great-great-grandfather, Jonas Wollman, was one of fifty-two Leavenworth merchants and businessmen who signed a letter written by Mark Delahay requesting that Abraham Lincoln visit Leavenworth, Kansas. Lincoln obliged by traveling there to give his first campaign speech in December, 1859.

About the Illustrator: 
John Ewing attended Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles before joining the team at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. In his eleven years there, he worked on many projects, including Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book. In addition to John's illustration work with Dragonpencil, he is also an art professor and an avid flight enthusiast.

Work can be seen at www.Dragonpencil.com.

How to Connect:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Salsa

Tomatoes- the vegetable-turned-fruit that comes in over 7000 different varieties can help prevent certain types of cancers, according to the latest news provided by AARP The Magazine.  Simply incorporating three or more servings a week can even reduce risks for heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Photo Source

Here's a great recipe to get you started toward a healthier you! Just in time for the July 4th celebrations!

Yield: About 2.5 cups

            2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes (red, yellow, and orange)
            ¼ cup diced red onions
            ½ teaspoon minced garlic
            ¾ teaspoon freshly ground cumin, roasted
            2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
            1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
            1 banana pepper, stemmed and diced
            ¼ cup diced green mango (optional)
            Salt and pepper
            ½ cup minced cilantro leaves (for garnish)

Combine the first seven ingredients and the mango if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Just before serving, garnish with the cilantro.

Recipe provided by AARP The Magazine.
Reprinted with permission.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Winnie the Pooh' Premieres in Theaters on July 15, 2011

Coming to a theater near you!!! This July, don't miss the return of your favorite Hundred Acre Wood characters as "Winnie the Pooh" premieres in theaters nationwide.

Walt Disney Animation Studios returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with “Winnie the Pooh.” Featuring the timeless charm, wit and whimsy of the original featurettes, this all-new movie reunites audiences with the philosophical “bear of very little brain” and friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo—and last, but certainly not least, Eeyore, who has lost his tail. 

 “Ever have one of those days where you just can’t win, Eeyore?” asks Pooh.  

Owl sends the whole gang on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit. It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply set out to find some honey.

 Inspired by three stories from A.A. Milne’s books in Disney’s classic, hand-drawn art style, “Winnie the Pooh” hits theatres on July 15th!

Follow "Winnie the Pooh" on Facebook

Four Free eBooks for the Collector in You

Photo Source
If you are an avid collector, then you will love this great deal! From now until July 4, you can download four great eBooks courtesy of Krause Publication and F+W Media, Inc, an offer extended in consideration of our nation's birthday!!

These great titles are compatible with the Nook, Google and iTunes! To view available titles, visit their site!

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Thanks to Krause Publication and F+W Media, Inc. for this gracious offer! FTC regulations require that I disclose that no compensation was offered or accepted for the sharing of deal. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Endangerables CD Review and Giveaway

Product: Endangerables CD
Performed by: Fred Bogert
Category: Kids, Family, Music
Price: $7.99

"No matter How Far Away We Are, We Will Always Be Linked Together"
                   --The Endangerables

Deputy Endangerable is here to save the day!! Deputy Endangerable (aka --your little ones) first pledge to do their very best to protect all the species of our planet (including one another)! All they have to do is raise their right hand and repeat the Endangerables Oath and then the fun begins! It starts with learning the secret and official Deputy Endangerable handshake that will surely be a hit with your little ones and their friends! Then, put on the rocking CD and learn about ways to help save the planet through 10 originals songs, all composed by Fred Bogert, the three-time Emmy nominated musician-performer! Your child will learn such songs as:

  • Extinction For Extinction
  • Crocodile Shoes
  • Girls Rock & Rule
  • and many more!
The Endangerables consist of the following pals, all who are either endangered, threatened or vulnerable species, all working together to protect and care for all those that need help! You will meet:
  • Ulysses the Eagle
  • Milton the Orangutan
  • Sasha the Baby Seal
  • Bucksnort the Indian Rhino
  • Ms. Scarlet the Scarlet Macaw
  • Khul the Tiger
  • and many more!
Not only will your child learn some amazing, rocking tunes but these tunes will help to raise your child's awareness about the endangered species on our planet and how to help these species, as well as other animals on our planet!  The Endangerables pals are available in a plush toy as well, so your child can collect them all!!! 

Our Experience: As soon as I put the CD in, my son started dancing to the music! He's nine and although he has his own taste in music at this point, he was still greatly entertained by the Endangerables CD. The music is in tune with the current music trends and is definitely a CD that can be enjoyed by all ages!! My son loved the song "Crocodile Shoes" and I have admit, it was my favorite too!! Had a familiar beat and was very upbeat! He thought it was fun to learn the oath and the secret handshake and he immediately felt as though he was part of a special club!

Want to hear more songs? Not a problem. Simply visit the Endangerables website and preview some of these amazingly fun songs!! Also, if you have children  that would love to become Deputy right away, then visit the sign up page for them to become deputies! It's free and includes other great activities such as coloring pages, games and much more! Simply by signing up and putting "SSA" as the option for where you heard about the Endangerables, you will receive an email with a link to the free mp3 of the Endangerables theme song "Extinction to Extinction". 

Where to Purchase: The Endangerables website

ONE lucky reader will win an Endangerables prize pack consisting of:

  • One PLUSH TOY (winner can choose either Ulysses the Eagle, Milton the Orangutan, Sasha the Baby Seal, Bucksnort the Indian Rhino, Ms. Scarlet the Macaw or Khul the Tiger)
Giveaway Ends on JULY 10, 2011. Midnight Central

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT:  Winner of this giveaway is Eileen L. from Missouri!! Congrats Eileen!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guest Post: I’m Lost! How to Prevent and Handle a Lost Child Situation by Keith Kepler

A lost child is a parent’s worst nightmare. And, as families plan to spend more time outdoors, on vacation and in busy public places this summer, it is important to be prepared. A survey of parents by the Center to Prevent Lost Children showed that 90 percent of families will experience losing a child in a public place at least once, and 20 percent said it has happened more than once. The United States Department of Justice reports that more than 300,000 children become temporarily lost for at least one hour, but the good news is that a majority of those children are quickly found and not harmed.
It is important to try to prevent a child from getting lost but even more important that the child knows what to do if they do get lost. Preparing yourself and a child can make this frightening situation become a bit easier for everyone involved.
·        Before you go anywhere, talk to your family about what to do if someone gets lost. Discuss a designated place to go if you get lost or advise children to stay right where they are when they feel they are lost. Tell children to find a security officer, police officer or an employee if you are in a public place, or remind them they can ask another mom with kids for help.
·        Prepare your children so that they can identify themselves. For younger children, have their identification information in their pocket. If they are old enough to speak and can relay the information, practice reciting your phone number with them, and let them know they can always call 911.
·        For younger children or when clothes don’t have pockets, be creative. Make a bracelet out of numbered beads or write your phone number inside a shirt collar or on a shirt tag with a fabric marker.
·        Dress children in bright colored clothing so they can easily be spotted. Lemon yellow and lime green are the suggested colors because they easily attract the eye. You might also have a piece of clothing that is only worn when the child goes out in public so you can easily remember what they are wearing.
·        Take a photo of your child with your phone before you leave home or when you arrive at your destination. This will help police find a lost child because they will be aware of exactly what the child is wearing, and how they look that day.
·        Positive reinforcement is the best way to prevent a child from wandering away from you when you are in a public place. Speak with your child about stranger danger, and remind them of the importance of staying with you.
Sometimes children do get lost, and it is easy for parents and guardians to forget what to do in this scary situation. Many public places have standard procedures of what to do when a child is missing, so make sure authorities and the venue’s management are notified that the child is lost. Authorities will be able to help because they are familiar with the area’s surroundings, and could have the capability to lockdown buildings or issue an alert.
Amusement parks and vacation spots are not the only places where children can get separated from their parents. This can occur at home as well. If the child is lost at home, be sure to look in the most common hiding and play spots first.
·        If you are at home, search your house first before going outside. Check closets, laundry baskets and piles of clothes, in and under beds, in large appliances, in vehicles and other areas where the child may hide or play.
·        If you still can’t find the child in the home, call 911 to notify them and let them know if you feel the child is in any danger. Police departments would rather be aware of the situation and called back when the child is found, rather than wasting valuable minutes to find the child. Time is crucial once a child has been separated from you.
·        Stay calm. Screaming the child’s name won’t help you locate the child any faster if they are not close by. Plus yelling the child’s name could lure the wrong type of person to your child who may be screaming back for you.
·        Make sure the phone number your child knows, preferably a cell phone, is on and is receiving a signal. Also, be sure to have a close family member or neighbor near your home phone so that you can stay in the area where the child was last seen.
Just like any other emergency plan, it is important to review and practice your family’s strategy if a child gets lost. Children can be better prepared to know what to do in the situation, and will feel more confident that they will be reunited with their family if they understand the family’s “lost” procedures.
About the author: Keith Kepler is the Vice President and General Manager at AlliedBarton Security Services. AlliedBarton is the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including higher education, commercial real estate, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

National Tire Safety Week June 5-11

Summer driving season has officially arrived and while we are all concerned with safety on the road, we often forget one of the most important components: our tires.  According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 660 highway fatalities are caused by underinflated tires annually.
This National Tire Safety Week (June 5-11, 2011) tire expert and Michelin subjective test driver, Sarah K. Robinson shared her tips for tire safety.  She also explained some of the simplest steps you can take to ensure you have a smooth, and most importantly safe, ride this summer travel season including:

  • Check you tire pressure – Check your tire pressure at least once a month and before and after a long trip.  Tires can lose 1-2 psi per month.
  • Examine your treads – Always make sure your tires have at least 2/32” of tread depth (the penny trick). Examine the wear patterns; the wear patterns can tell you whether your tires are over or under inflated and if your alignment is off. 
  • Avoid hydroplaning – Simple adjustments to driving including reducing your speed and avoiding wet spots, especially standing water can reduce your risk of hydroplaning.
  • Rotate – Tires should be rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles.
  • Keep deepest treads in the rear – Make sure when replacing just two tires that you put the two tires with the deepest treads on the rear axle regardless, whether you have front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Thanks to Sarah K Robinson for these great tips!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

In the Kitchen with Amelia

I am proud to introduce a new regular contributor to Critique of the Unique. Let's welcome AMELIA to the house!!!

Amelia will be sharing wonderful recipes and cooking related reviews and giveaways, so be certain to check out her posts!! We look forward to all the tasty dishes she will be preparing and sharing with us! So be sure to go "In the Kitchen with Amelia"!

A little about Amelia (in her own words):

Greetings readers, my name is Amelia and I have been married to the most wonderful man for a little over a year, together we are raising my step-son and I'm loving every hectic minute of it. They are my everything and I strive to be the best person I can be for both of them. My step-son loves to be in the kitchen with me, he's the best sous-chef I've ever had! 

From a very early age my family and I were always together in the kitchen cooking, whether it was at Grandma's, Aunt's, or my Mama's kitchen. I remember thinking when I was little that it was so neat how a home baked cookie or cake could make someone who was feeling down, start smiling and feeling better, or how people would ooh and aah at the dinner being set down in front of them it was like magic to me and I knew I wanted to be a part of that reason of making people feel happy. So, that's where it all started: baking cookies with Mama or Grandma, and as I grew older I started to experiment, not all of them good ideas, haha,  but hey live and learn right?!

I've come to a point in my life where I'm starting to think of all the different types of food I've yet to try and I get excited over the literally millions of different combinations. I tend to gravitate towards Italian dish's mostly, but hey, who doesn't love a bowl pasta right?! My favorite thing to do is bake, but I can't say I have a favorite thing to bake, I love any baked goods! My husband likes to tease me and say I'm having an affair with food, because I will, seriously, do a little happy dance when I'm eating something I find to be really great tasting, I'll rock side to side in my chair while saying yummmmmmm, haha! 

Besides cooking and spending time with my family I do enjoy to be outside: any outdoor actives, fishing being a family favorite, swimming, hiking, camping, floating the river, bungee jumping or just something as simple as sitting on the porch drinking coffee in the morning while gossiping on the phone with my Mama! I'm very excited to be apart of this blog and can't wait to get feed back from the readers, together we can make the world a magical place by the food we cook for our families and friends! And remember....a recipe is just a guide-line, make it your own, experiment!!! Bon Appetit!! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Zarbee's All Natural Children's Cough Syrup Review

Product: Zarbee's All-Natural Children's Cough Syrup
Category: Health and Fitness
Distributed by: Honey Naturals LLC
Price: $7.99

My children had a great winter, hardly getting anything but a runny nose! I thought we had made it into the clear with the warmer weather coming soon, but low and behold, right before the onset of Spring, both of my kiddos come down with the cough. It started as soon as I woke them up for school and I would have thought it was their way to try to get out of going to school, but my son's coughing nearly had him choking as it was so continuous.  I thought about keeping them home, but then I remembered the cough syrup that I had been waiting to review called Zarbee's.  Zarbee's is an all natural cough syrup made by a pediatrician named Zak Zarbock who wanted to offer his young patients cough relief medicine that wasn't laden with drugs or alcohol. That is when he developed his natural remedy using antioxidant-rich dark honeys, Vitamin C and Zinc. 

My daughter is the worst when it comes to taking medicine and if it tastes bad, she'll spit it out (even though she is almost 12), so I gave her a dose first. I didn't want her brother influencing her idea of the taste. The sample that I received for review had a natural grape flavor. She did that little "poke test" first, sticking her tongue just barely on the spoon and pulling it back. Her eyes lit up... "more", she said, so I gave her the full teaspoon dose. She didn't spit it out!! When I asked her how it tasted, her response was "good". No drink afterwards either! Wow...that impressed me! Next was my son's turn and he didn't hesitate taking the full teaspoon dose. "Not bad" he said. Mary Poppins would have been proud! He was headed out the door to go to school, so I had to remind him not to go to the school nurse for "medicine" until after lunch as one dose is good for four hours! When they came home from school, I didn't hear one cough from either of them! I didn't have to repeat the dose at all. 

I was quite impressed with Zarbee's! Not only was it 100% natural but it is naturally gluten, dye and preservative free and contains no drugs or alcohol and it WORKS! It is safe and effective for children 12 months and older. With so many recalls of medicines on the market, I felt good giving my children an all natural product that did not contain the risks as other over-the-counter medications. I am a convert and won't be purchasing anymore alcohol based cough syrup for my children! 

Ingredients: Proprietary blend of buckwheat and other dark honeys, water, natural flavors, Vitamin C, malic acid, zinc gluconate and tartaric acid.

Where to Connect:
Zarbee's on Facebook
Zarbee's on Twitter
Zarbee's Blog

Where to Purchase: Zarbee's website

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Glee Gum: Make Your Own Gummies Kit Review

Product: Make Your Own Gummies Kit from Glee Gum
Produced by: Verve, Inc.
Category: Cooking 
Price: Approximately $13.00 (varies with retail outlet)

Need something to keep the kids busy on a rainy day? I've got just the thing!! My two kids had a blast with the Glee Gum "Make Your Own Gummies Kit", where they chose to make cute little gummy bears!! 

Glee Gum has been in business since 1992 when the founders of Verve visited a chicle-producing community in Northern Guatemala. It is here that they learned how chewing gum was made and decided at that point to help the economically depressed community by purchasing their main product- chicle (Chicle is the sap from the Sapodilla (pronounced "Sap-oh-dee-yah") tree, which grows in the rainforests of Central America. Chicle was the original basis for all chewing gum, until synthetic gum bases were developed...excerpt from website). Since then, Verve has been producing Glee Gum and the "Make Your Own Chewing Gum Kit" so that others can have an educational and environmental experience while having fun making their own Glee Gum. Not only is it fun, but it also provides a sustainable income to those in Northern Guatemala!

The product line soon expanded to include other kits, such as the "Make Your Own Chocolate Kit" and the "Make Your Own Gummies Kit".  When our gummy kit arrived in the mail, the kids were super excited! They could not wait to try it out!! We quickly learned that there was a little bit of process involved in making the gum, and we soon embarked on a chemistry experiment of sorts! It's all relatively simple. The ingredients come individually packed and labeled, so no messing up. Simply follow the included directions and in no time at all, you've become a master chemist...well, in a round about sort of way! 

Inside the kit is a "secret ingredient".....seaweed! The seaweed stalk contains special ingredients that make the gummies stick together (agar and carrageenan)! After a brief soaking of the seaweed stalk and a little mixing and heating in the microwave, the concoction is ready to pour into the molds! My kids found little erasers to use for their mold. The kit contains a mold base powder that you simply spread out on a plate or large pan. We found that it was a little difficult for my kids to indent the powder with the mold without messing up the one they previously made, so we put the powder into a larger pan and added a bit of cornstarch to the powder to accommodate the depth of the pan. This made it a little easier for them to make their molds! Once the mold is ready, simply drop the mixture onto the indentions and the gel fills the molded areas. Then, place in the fridge to let settle!  The kit also contains sour candy coating. All I can say is ....woah! This stuff is S.O.U.R. We put it in a plastic bag and the kids shook them until their little gummy bears were coated!! 

Click to enlarge
The last step is best!! Eating time! These gummies had such great flavor! My kids loved them and it was hard for mom to sneak a few for herself!!! 

I highly recommend these to anyone that has kids and wants an educational experience that is fun to boot! Word of caution--do not leave the gummies in the bag with the sour candy coating and then put in a hot backpack. They do tend to melt!! Store your finished gummies in a cool place!! 

How to Connect: 
Glee Gum Blog
Glee Gum on Facebook
Glee Gum on Twitter

Where to Purchase:  Store Locator

Winner's Circle- Check inside to see if you are a winner!

Cinch! Book Winner:  Nancy D! 

Nordic Omega 3 Gummies Winner: Susan V!

Cool Off Towelettes Winner!! Amanda S!!!

Congratulations Winners!!!! Come back soon for more great reviews and giveaways, and once it warms up.....more uniquities!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Get Energy! by Denise Austin Review and Giveaway

Product: Get Energy!
Author: Denise Austin
Category: Health and Fitness
Price: $16.99

"With busy schedules, demanding careers, and little time, many of us battle just to stay awake. But energy is something that is in our control, even when time is short. Now fifty years young, fitness guru Denise Austin shows you how to super-charge your life using her innovative lifestyle plan. Eating the right foods at the right time of day, harnessing the power of stretching and breathing to feed your body with energy-enhancing oxygen, and participating in mini workouts all help to increase energy even on your busiest days." --excerpt taken from back cover. 

When thinking about gaining energy, most of us probably think in terms of physical energy. Denise Austin address how to gain physical energy, as well as mental energy and emotional energy, in her new book, Get Energy! The book is divided into three sections:

Part one: Energy 101 
Part Two: Energy Prescriptions
Part Three: High-Energy Living

In part one, there is a checklist to help you determine what is zapping your energy. You simply check the statements that apply to you. There are five different sections that cover lifestyle habits, state of mind relationships job and personal time and sense of purpose. For an example: Section A, I checked the following:
  • I skip breakfast most of the time, or have only coffee before noon. 
  • I typically eat only one large meal a day, usually dinner.
  • I cut back on sleep at night to do housework or meet other personal or job-related obligations
  • and so forth...
At the end, you simply tally your check marks in each section to see what part of your life is causing you the most energy drain. 

In section two, Denise shows some simple stretching that can help you to start your day. Don't worry, these are simple exercises that are meant to get your blood flowing. She emphasizes proper posture, and explains how your diet affects your energy level, as well as the importance of a good night's sleep (my main problem being a chronic night owl).  My favorite chapter in this section is Chapter 5: Change Your Outlook, Recharge Your Life. In this chapter, Denise encourages you to laugh!!! She talks about the power of positive thinking  and how helping others can give emotional energy!  She gives some tips for an "attitude makeover" and plenty of ideas on how to reduce the stressors in your life. She has great insight and when reading this with an open-mind, it is easy to see areas in your life that you can change so that you are not overloading yourself with stress. She gives a formula for a balanced life:

B - Be flexible
A - Accept a less-than-tidy house
L - Learn to manage your time
A - Ask for help
N - NO! (just say it, it's okay)
C - carve out family and "me" time
E - Enjoy life!

In part three, you develop a personal energy plan worksheet. It's purpose is to help you to consider your habits, schedule and gives you the tools to devise a 14 day pep plan. It includes many checklists and words of wisdom to help you through your day with more energy, including a 20 minute workout illustrated with photos of proper technique.

I would not read this book as an exercise book, but more as a tool toward developing an understanding about how you can reduce the stress in your life and make your life easier so that you are more physically, mentally and emotionally able to handle the stressors of life. It is a great little self-help book and you will find that once you start reading it, it is hard to put down. Not all the information will be new to you. Some of it will be common sense, but some of the ideas presented will allow you to think outside the box a little. I would think of it as a feel-good book, because by the time you finish it, it leaves you motivated to make some changes in your life. 

How to Connect:
Denise Austin on Twitter
Denise Austin on Facebook

For iPhone users, download the free iPhone application 

Where to Purchase: Amazon.com

Win it!

One winner will receive a copy of this book for their very own!! Open to U.S. and Canadian Residents aged 18 years or older.  No P.O. Boxes. Winners are subject to the one copy per household rule, meaning if you win the same title in two or more contests, you will only receive one copy of the book in the mail.  This is per sponsor's request.

Giveaway ends on March 10, 2011, Midnight Central Time.

Jane Fonda's WORKOUT review

Product: Jane Fonda's Workout
Category: Health & Fitness
Price: $9.99-$14.99

Ready for a workout? Want to shed some pound and get in shape? Not a problem with the Jane Fonda Workout series!

30 years after the original launch of Jane Fonda's bestselling fitness book and award-winning workout video, Jane Fonda has teamed up with GoFit to relaunch Jane Fonda's WORKOUT.  Each workout is led by a new generation of expert trainers handpicked by Jane Fonda herself.

"I originally created WORKOUT thirty years ago, and I am excited to bring it to the next generation. What I started then, can now be continued by the best of today's rising fitness stars. My hope is that through these new faces, handpicked by me for their individuality and unique styles, I can continue to make the pursuit of fitness relevant for years to come" --Jane Fonda

Let me stress up front that I am totally out-of-shape. It was no wonder that when I first started these workouts that the warm-up was near all I could make it through without being completely out of air. I started with the DVD  that I felt would be more my pace--Daily Yoga.

Daily Yoga is led by Tara Stiles, and supplies approximately 60 minutes of invigorating yoga into your daily life. It allows you to learn how to do authentic yoga stretches and reaches that will improve your balance, flexibility, strength and help to reduce your stress.

Even though Tara makes yoga accessible to everyone, it is still quite a challenge if you haven't ever done yoga and I can promise you that you will work muscles that you didn't even know you had. The pace is good and Tara explains thoroughly how to do the moves. However, as the workout continues, the pace gets faster and the moves a little more difficult. Even under Tara's guiding voice, it often became difficult to keep up! I have done a little bit of yoga, but not enough to feel comfortable with some of the poses, but it does get easier with repetition. If it gets too hard, just tone it down to a level that you feel comfortable. Surprisingly, after a few weeks of doing this one, I looked forward to it!

The next video in the series is Sculpt + Tone. It is led by Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson. It is a little over 45 minutes long, but is very challenging! It is described as a "high energy, cardio and strength training routine, guaranteed to scorch thigh, bums, waistlines and upper bodies! Super challenging, and so much fun!"

Trust that guarantee! It's definitely a workout that will make you sweat! When I first started this I thought I was going to D.I.E. Karena and Katrina are fit and they make the moves look easy, but they kicked my butt. The routines are varied and include weights and circuit training that you will most likely have already done as some point in your life. They aren't difficult moves, but they are repetitive which really gives your body a great workout! Like the other workout, just do as many as you can and when it becomes too difficult, simply tone it down to the level you are comfortable.

The last video I was sent to review was the Ultra Bootcamp led by Jeanette Jenkins. This workout is over an hour long, but if I am being honest, I haven't made it through to the end. It's a riveting and high energy cardio workout. It leaves no muscle un-worked and will certainly get your heart pumping. It's full of stretches and kicks and at a fast pace that will help you to get that aerobic exercise needed to help you lose those extra pounds!

The GoFit line includes a multitude of Jane Fonda products from the WORKOUT dvds to stretch bands, sliders, stability balls, hoops and mats.

Where to Purchase: GoFit.com, and Target

Saturday, February 26, 2011

PhitGrips Review and Giveaway

Product: PhitGrips
Category: Health and Fitness
Price: $9.99 per pair

"PhitGrip was invented by a gymaholic germaphobe. Sick and tired of getting sick (and then tired) from frequent gym visits our plucky entrepreneur decided to do something about it."  --excerpt from PhitGrips website.

This semester at college, I had to fulfill my physical education credits. One of the classes I am taking is more of a sit down kind of class that teaches health and nutrition, but the other is a basic physical fitness course where I actually have access to a gym with treadmills, weights and other gym equipment. This was the perfect opportunity for me to try PhitGrips, which are designed to create a barrier between you and the millions of germs commonly found on gym weights and workout equipment.

PhitGrips are made with liquefied rubber that has been injected with oxygen, which creates a very light and cushioned feel. The logo printed on the PhitGrips is infused with an antimicrobial agent that helps inhibit the growth and spread of bacteria. To use, simply rub your hands together occasionally to spread the microbial agent over the entire surface of the palm. When the logo wears off, it's time for new PhitGrips.

Germs are everywhere and they are mostly spread by contact and are often left behind on objects that people share with other people. This means the risk of contaminating yourself is high, especially in humid gyms and sweaty palms.

"In Good Morning America's tests, microbiologist Dr. Philip Teirno found the most germs are on equipment used by "multiple people in quick sequence, such as dumbbells". Germs found in the doctor's tests included staph aureus, klebsiella, enterobacter and E. coli, which can cause various ailments."

PhitGrips fit snuggly around dumbbell bars, handrails and other type workout equipment. When I first go to the gym, I start my warm-up by walking on the treadmill, and these grips fit nicely around the hand grips, although the heart rate could not be read when using the PhitGrips (not a big deal to me as I stop and take it manually throughout my workout anyhow). I also used them when lifting weights and using other circuit type exercise equipment. They go off and on very quickly, as one side is open, which allows you to simply slap them on and go. With some of the circuit equipment, the grips were wider than the equipment bars, but it didn't seem to matter as my hands held them in place nicely. I am not a power lifter, but even with the light use, I loved how the PhitGrips prevented my hands from callouses from the dumbbells. No need for gloves! I like that they are lightweight and flexible, so I could easily slip them into my pockets until needed.

PhitGrips are just one tool to utilize in the gym to reduce the risk of contracting harmful bacteria. Other ways of reducing your risks is to bring workout clothes to change into and a special pair of shoes specifically for gym wear. Clean these off and disinfect before packing into your gym bag to take home. Shoes from the street will bring in whatever germs you have picked up wherever you have been in them. Bring your own towels. A hand towel is perfect for wiping sweat from your body. Use footwear in the shower and always bring your own hand sanitizer for places where you can't use your PhitGrips.

How to Connect: 
PhitGrips on Facebook
PhitGrips on Twitter

Where to Purchase: PhitGrips website

Win it!

One winner will win a pair of PhitGrips for their own! Simply fill the form out below to be entered! Giveaway open to United States residents aged 18 years or older. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be selected using random.org and will have five business days to respond to winning email before win will be forfeited and a new winner chosen. For complete rules and regulations, disclaimer and disclosure, please visit the "legal" page.

Prize: One pair of PhitGrips
Contest ends: March 15, 2011, Midnight central standard time

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ortholite Fusion Insoles Review

Product: Ortholite Fusion Insoles
Category: Health and Fitness
Price: $19.99

Sometimes, slipping on a new pair of shoes is like slipping your feet into a portable cloud!! Ever get that feeling?! It's usually because a new shoe gives your foot a new insole to rest upon, creating an immediate improvement over your old shoes! Sure, there are after-market insoles that you can put in your shoes, but not all insoles are the same. Not all insoles offer you moisture management, anti-microbial agents, long term cushioning or breath-ability, but the new Ortholite Fushion insoles do just that and so much more!  I call them new, but these insoles have been on the market for some time, hiding out in some of your favorite brand shoes such as Reebok, Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Timberland, Fila, Prada, Puma and many more. It is simply the first time that these insoles have been available to the general public as a separate entity from your favorite shoe! Now you can make any brand of shoe as comfortable as some of the more popular brands seen on the market!!

My greatest downfall with shoes is that I hate to wear socks. I know...how disgusting right? I agree with you! Trust me, no one wants to be near me when I take my shoes off in the summer time. Yes, it's that bad. I hate throwing away my shoes simply because they get that funky odor to them, so  I try to mask it with foot powders. Yep, you guessed it...just makes it smell like smelly feet and powder. I decided to try the Ortho Lite Fushion insoles in one of my most comfortable walking shoes. I tore out that old stinky insole and measured it against the OrthoLite insole. I had ordered a size 8 for myself, and I didn't even have to trim at all. Perfect fit. I was a bit hesitant about wearing the insoles. I've used insoles in the past that have done nothing but make my feet sweat even more, but the OrthoLite insoles use a moisture managment system that helps to keep moisture away from the foot, due to the open cell structure design. Any moisture dries up fast as the airflow through the open cell network is much greater than any insoles I've used in the past. Best of all, even if the Ortholite did cause some sweating, all I have to do is take them out, toss them in the wash, and viola, good as new!! Plus, the EPA/FDA approved anti-microbial formulation helps to fight fungus, bacteria and odor!

My husband ordered a pair for himself as well. He uses big heavy work boots all day long, and his feet are often wet. His old insoles had to be rolled out as they had gotten so thin, it was hard to grab hold. He loves his Ortholite insoles. Not only do they provide him the extra cushioning, but the Ortholite insoles have a spring-back technology that helps them to retain over 95% of their thickness over time, meaning they won't flatten out like his old insoles did!

Overall, we were both very pleased with the Ortholite Fushion Insoles and I will be purchasing several of these to replace the insoles in my daughter's shoes. She is pigeon-toed, like her mother, so she wears down her insoles quickly on one side. My hope is that these will help to keep her shoe from forming so much to the inward turn of her foot, and provide her more support until she is able to train her feet to the proper position. She wears the same size shoe as me, so I feel confident that this will at least make her shoes fit more comfortable.

Important Facts: These insoles are not made to go over existing insoles, but are instead made to replace existing insoles, so be certain that you can remove the insoles for the shoes you intend to use the Ortholite insoles in.

Giving Back: I love companies that give back to the community. For every pair of Fushion Insoles purchased, Ortholite will donate $1 to the Level Field Fund, a grant-giving program that strives to bridge gaps in funding to uniquely talented atheletes.

Where to Buy: Amazon.com

Discount: Save $5.00 on a pair of Fusion insoles when you order from Amazon.com. Simply use the code

Review Lineup- Stay tuned for these great products!

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