Archive for the ‘BlogHer Reviews’ Category

N-Love with my N-Tune Headphones

Friday, October 4th, 2013

It’s not super often that I get something in the mail that my husband wants even more than I do. Shockingly, I never have to fight him for newborn bonnets, Sephora samples or jeggings. But as soon as I opened my Monster N-Tune Headphones, I knew I might never see them again. Luckily (or really, not at all luckily) E works all the time so I have plenty of hours at home alone with the children where I can enjoy them. And boy, do I enjoy them. Monster N-Tune Headphones-3
Did I mention they’re noise-cancelling yet? Because that is a very, very important part of why they are so useful when I am at home alone with the children. I have an addiction to NPR podcasts, which is the only reason my house ever gets clean, the laundry ever gets put away and the lawn ever gets mowed, so headphones are crucial to the survival of my family. Life or death, people. Or at least clean underwear vs. dirty underwear.

Here are E’s top 3 favorite things about the headphones:
1. The in-line microphone. When he does have a free afternoon, E likes to play *cough*superdorky*cough* computer games online with his brother. They use their computer mics to chat and catch up while they play, so headphones with a mic built in are perfect. His brother reports the sound quality on the other end is excellent and doesn’t pick up the TV or the screaming kids in the background.
2. The sound quality. He’s the kind of person who appreciates music (hashtag marching band nerd) so he was impressed with how great things sounded through the N-Tune headphones. Although he might just have been listening to explosions on his game. Either way, they sounded GREAT.
3. Noise canceling. Because, kids.

Monster N-Tune Headphones-2

Here are my top 3 favorite things about the headphones:
1. Amazing durability. You can practically twist them in half and they’re totally fine, which means when I absent-mindedly leave them on the dining room table the kids can’t destroy them.
2. Their over-ear design, for 2 reasons. First, because they’re bigger than ear buds they are WAY harder to lose. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a dinky little pair of headphones in the pocket of a sweatshirt I’ve thrown in the wash. Second, because they’re way, way more comfortable than those torture devices a certain iCompany includes with their products. No seriously, whoever invented those things hate people and ears. I wore my N-Tune headphones for 2 hours before I even noticed them.
3. Noise canceling. Because, kids.

Monster N-Tune Headphones

I told you I was addicted to NPR podcasts

With less than 100 days left to do your Christmas shopping (ahhhh!) these would make a fantastic gift for your spouse, parent or anyone who commutes anywhere ever, especially on public transit. They basically scream “I’m not listening to you!!” What subway rider doesn’t need that?
To enter to win a pair of Monster N-Tune Headphones (valued at $150) for yourself (or someone you really like slash love!) head over to Walmart.com, check out the colors, and leave a comment here letting me know which one is your favorite! I really love the green. The comments on this post will be aggregated with the comments on the posts from the other bloggers participating in this review, and 25 pairs will be given away. This giveaway will close on Nov 1. 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/2/13 – 11/1/13

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Picture Your Dreams, Make Them Come True

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I am officially 2 months into this crazy photography business idea and I am busier and happier than I’ve been in years. Convincing people to pay you to do what you love is old, cliched advice…but it’s repeated so often because it’s true. Never do I think “Oh no, I have a photo session today.” I always, always think “Yes! New people! New location! New light! I am so lucky!”

ginger snaps pictures collage

It’s been a long road to discover what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until I showed up to my first day of Biology 111 in college I was convinced I was going to be a marine biologist. Then I wanted to be a journalist, a tv anchor, a Pilates instructor, a human resources manager, a house flipper, a real estate agent, a thrift shop owner, and some sort of unnamed, unspecific job that involved being semi-famous and doing glamorous stuff all day. I was somewhat successful at a few of those, incredibly unsuccessful at others and never got past the just-dreaming-about-it stage of most. But once the idea to start Ginger Snaps Pictures took over a tiny piece of my brain, I couldn’t let it go.

Am I still terrified on almost a daily basis? Totally. What if the day gets crazy and I flake out on an appointment? What if I drop my camera and it breaks in the middle of a session? What if my client hates every single picture? What if my computer and my back up and my back up back up all fail? What if I’m charging too much? What if I’m charging too little? What if I am the worst photographer ever and everyone is just too nice to tell me?

Believing in myself might be my biggest challenge. It’s hard not to compare myself constantly to other businesses. There is always going to be someone better than I am. Always. My goals are just to work hard, constantly improve and make my clients happy. It’s really not that different from parenting – except the clients are a lot LESS demanding and easier to please! It’s super cheesy to say that because I believe in myself I’m making my dreams come true, but it’s the truth.

Working hard to make your dreams come true no matter what stands in your way is also the lesson in Monsters University.
collage 1 Monsters University-3

Monsters University-5

Monsters University-7

Monsters University-8

This is the face I make every time someone wants to hire me.

We’re big Monsters fans in our house – we own the first one and I took the kids to see the second in the theater this summer. We watch a lot of happily-ever-after-type movies, so learning that hard work, determination and doing your best are worthy endeavors too is something I’d like to emphasize. Of course the message is cleverly hidden in an adorable, hilarious movie that my 2 year old, 4 year old and myself all liked equally. Plus I hope the kids can see that lesson in real life as my business grows. Fingers crossed!

You can pre-order your copy of Monsters University here! And to celebrate the release, Disney is going to give one of my readers their very own Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack PLUS a $50 Visa gift card. To enter, leave a comment telling me about a time you believed in yourself to achieve your dream.   

 

Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry””; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/3/13 – 11/3/13.
Be sure to visit the Monsters University Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

 

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Magic Words: Free (And Worry-Free!) Coffee

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum If you are a guest at my house, you’ll never have trouble finding the coffee in the morning. Now that Evan is in pre-K and Caroline’s going to preschool 3 days a week, my chances to sleep in are limited. Not that my chances to sleep in over the summer were great – since E works at least 6 days a week I usually get up with the kids all 7 days. At least in the summer I can throw an apple and the iPad at them and put a pillow over my head for half an hour. Now with 5 days of school we only have those two precious weekend days for fun or sports or birthday parties or getaways. It gets even harder now that I’ve thrown all this photography stuff into the mix. I’m not OMG SO BUSY for sure – my couch still has a pretty good butt dent since it’s where I “work” – but I do have to be awake and alert and on-task.

Thank GOD for coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. And especially for my upgraded Keurig® Brewing System, which has a travel mug sized option to make giant cups of coffee with just the press of a button. I’m pretty sure my parents come to visit 50% because they love their grandkids and 50% because they love those little K-cup packs. It’s so, so, so, so easy. And I don’t care that your hipster coffee press thing is easy too – nothing beats tossing those little cups and never spilling a single coffee ground on my floor.

Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum

We’ve been Green Mountain Coffee® drinkers from the start, since that’s what my office stocked a million years ago when I worked in an office and a Keurig was still a magical thing you rented because they cost a bucket of money. Now that it’s much more easily accessible, we’re already hooked – E is a huge fan of the Caramel Vanilla Cream and I like anything dark, especially iced with lots of creamer. There’s a Fair Trade Certified™ Three Continent Blend that sounds delicious.

Green Mountain Coffee-7

Ice, milk, coffee and a little sugar-free vanilla syrup and suddenly 3 pm doesn’t look so horrible.

 

It’s part of a campaign Green Mountain Coffee is launching this fall called “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade” to raise awareness of how buying Fair Trade Certified™  coffee is good for you, the environment, and the coffee growers. Green Mountain Coffee® offers one of the largest selections of Fair Trade Certified™ coffees in the U.S. (confirmed by Fair Trade USA). Buying Fair Trade Certified coffee doesn’t mean much as far as my budget goes – I’ve committed to the expense of K-cup packs and they cost about the same no matter what brand I buy – but it is one small way I can be a better global citizen.

It’s nice to know while I’m sipping my coffee that the family who grew the beans was paid a fair price that allows them to keep their farm, send their kids to school and invest in their business. Because they’re being paid a sustainable wage for their coffee, farmers can focus on quality, which means Fair Trade coffee is extra-delicious. It’s not like I’m saving the world by drinking coffee, but buying Fair Trade Certified™ Green Mountain Coffee® is supporting farmers and their families and that’s a good feeling.

Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum

Can you smell it? I swear I can smell it just looking at the picture. You can learn more about Green Mountain Coffee, Fair Trade practices, and see exclusive videos of Kelly Clarkson visiting coffee farmers in Peru at ChooseFairTrade.com. You can also check out their Facebook page.

One of you lucky readers has the chance to win a Keurig® Brewing System and a Green Mountain Coffee® gift basket!

 Just leave a comment on this post answering the question: Are you a coffee drinker, and if so, would you consider buying fair trade coffee?

 

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 09/19/13-10/31/13.

 

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A Healthy Competitive Spirit {And a $100 Giveaway}

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

My husband has three siblings and two parents, all of whom really enjoy card and board games. They all play bridge and cribbage and this thing called Hand and Foot which is not a disease but a complicated card game you play with, like, eight different decks and points and a teammate. I’m less of a game lover. I play cribbage, badly, because my husband forced me to learn. I like Monopoly for the first hour or so and then get so bored I stop bothering to do math and just throw all my money at whoever has the most hotels.

 

I like playing video games as a family; Wii is fun, it gets us on our feet, and I’m pretty good at it. And I’ve learned to play Hand and Foot, even if I have to keep the cheat sheet in my lap. I feel like my game-playing skills have improved admirably and I should get points for effort. But when it comes to WINNING, E has no mercy.

 

To pass the time while I was in labor with our first child, E talked me into a few rounds of cribbage. He beat me every time. He couldn’t even let his wife who was literally in the middle of birthing his heir and namesake win a round of cards. Now we don’t play together as much as side by side (Candy Crush, anyone?) and he STILL gloats ridiculously when he beats my scores.

 

A few years ago, game shows came back as the big thing on network television. It was a good compromise for E’s healthy competitive spirit and my dislike of being soundly trounced at every game. We could watch OTHER people fail compete and neither of us went to bed grumpy.

 

The first time E and I watched Minute to Win It on TV, the show wasn’t even over before we’d gotten a beer bottle and a deck of cards to try playing at home. The game was simple: set the stack of 52 cards on top of the empty bottle and blowing the cards off, a few at a time, leaving just ONE card on top. It looked so easy! How come these idiots on TV couldn’t do it?! Jeeze, if that’s all it takes to win a game show these days, sign me right up, Imma be rich!

 

We never won. Not even once. Go try it, it’s way, way harder than it looks. And that right there pretty much sums up Minute to Win It. It should be their motto: This is way harder than it looks. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth checking out – and now you can, because Minute To Win It is back this summer on Game Show Network (GSN).

 

They got Apolo Anton Ohno to host, which makes sense since he’s one of the most decorated American athletes of all time. And not so hard on the eyes either, am I right? We got a special sneak peek of the show this week along with a list of challenges. The idea is they can almost all be practiced at home with stuff you have laying around…so of course we had to give it a try too.

 

There are various difficulty levels, and I figured we’d be pretty safe at Level 1. The challenge: stack 6 soda cans on a plate floating in a bowl of water. You’ve got one Minute to Win It. GO!

Here’s proof he eventually did do it, even if it miiiiight not have been for the 3 seconds required: minute to win it And it wouldn’t be fair to post that without sharing my attempt, as unsuccessful as it was. GO!

The gingers wanted to give it a try too. GO! (Please note, I know my child is actually 4, not 3, even though I said he is 3.)

1-Minute to Win It

Teamwork!

Caroline looks like that because she's Super Kitty Caroline. Obviously.

Caroline looks like that because she’s Super Kitty Caroline. Obviously.

 

Since that game was a big failure, I picked a level 2 game I thought might be a little more E’s speed. I mean, it involves wine glasses, and he’s definitely experienced with wine. The goal: spin a marble in an upside-down wine glass to carry it across the room and drop it into a bowl. E’s got one Minute to Win It. GO!

If we ever get called to be on the show, I’m just going to cross all my crossables that E gets that game. $250,000, here we come! Every. Second. Counts. A new season of Minute to Win It premieres Tuesday, June 25th at 8/7c on GSN. For more information, connect with Minute to Win It on Facebook and Twitter and visit the GSN website.


And to celebrate the return, Minute to Win It wants to give one lucky reader a $100 Gift Card. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me about your competitive spirit. Are you cut-throat, like my husband? Or more its-all-in-good-fun?
Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 6/18/13 – 7/17/13.

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Thirty And A Half is the New Thirty And A Half

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I recently realized I am closer to 31 than I am to 30. For some reason, that difference feels dramatic. Maybe because now I’m “in my thirties”, as opposed to saying “Oh I just turned 30, so you know, barely a real grown up. Let’s stay up until 2 a.m.!” Funny enough, I still feel like I’m 22. Or 19. Or 16. I used to wonder how moms turned into Moms – the women with baggy pants and minivans and short hair dragging a gaggle of kids behind them. Because obviously that was NEVER going to happen to me. I am young and fun and will always be young and fun no matter how many kids I have! Exclamation point! Except that today none of my jeans fit and my kid threw yogurt on me this morning and I didn’t have time for make-up so here I am, in my minivan and yoga pants, looking like all the other Moms in the preschool drop off line. But somehow I still don’t FEEL like a Mom inside. My inner self – the one who looks out through my eye holes at the world – has a hard time believing the person in the mirror with the crow’s feet and stretchmarks is really ME.

But you know what? THAT’S OK. During every single one of my 31 years so far I’ve learned something important. Basic human skills (eating without getting food all over myself was a good one), important interpersonal skills (listen when people tell you who they are), and practical skills (like how to sew a skirt or knit a hat). There are some things I have to re-learn once a day – why oh WHY do I never take my eye makeup off before bed?! – and some I have to re-learn on a minute-by-minute basis – eating just one more cookie is not a good idea now and won’t be a good idea 8 cookies from now.

All those lessons meld together to make me who I am, and the person I am today is a much better person than I was a decade ago, and not just because I’ve crossed more things off my bucket list. Growing older surrounded by my friends and family is a joy. Every year I get to spend with my kids is the best year of my life (although it is so true that sometimes the days can be extremely long). All 30 and a half of my years so far have made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t give up a minute of it. How do celebrate your age? Do you still feel 16 inside even when your face tells you you’re not?

Leave me your answer below for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of Olay.

Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry””; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 11/13 to 12/13

Be sure to visit the Olay 60th Anniversary brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

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