Teach kids about money and finances with Tykoon #MoneySmartKid

Tykoon app for kids and moneyMy kids are getting to the age where they want to buy their own “stuff.”  Maybe it’s something I won’t spend my money on, or maybe it’s something they really want and it’s not birthday or Christmas time- my husband and I decided that we’d let them start having opportunities to earn some money in order to help teach them about finances– earning, spending, saving, and even donating.  We recently downloaded the Tykoon app onto my iPhone and my iPad to help us with this process.  You can also use this app from your computer!

What struck me immediately about this app is how it lets you customize things based on your own family values.  We have things that we expect all of us to do because we all live in this house and we are part of a family.  This isn’t something that gets rewarded monetarily, all the time, but it’s still an expectation.  All three of my kids, even my not-quite-3 year old, know to straighten their bed in the morning and clear their dishes from the table after each meal.  But beyond that, I can customize rewards- things don’t have to be monetary- it can be extra DS time, time with mom or dad, etc.

Earn You can assign your kids various tasks including recurring chores such as cleaning their room, or one-time jobs and also daily responsibilities such as their homework. You choose how to assign rewards based on your own family practices and values. These rewards can be cash or non-cash such as stay up late time.

Save In addition to putting away some of their earnings, your kids can also set up and save for a big or long-term goal. This can be an item that they want to purchase, a family vacation or trip or a savings goal for college or education. There are tracking tools built in for kids to see their progress, how far they have to go, and for visual reinforcement.

We are planning our first “big” family vacation to Orlando for January of 2013 and while the kids don’t know, I may be “saving” some of their earnings until then for their spending money, because we aren’t telling them about the trip until Christmas.  I can keep track of how they are doing with chores and responsibilities and do some rewards on the sly…

Give Learning starts with discovery. With Tykoon, kids discover and learn about dozens of age appropriate charities and also share these interest with their family and friends.

We give at church each week when we go, and have close friends who run charitable organizations, so my kids are fairly familiar with the concept of giving back- but not necessarily giving what they choose or how they choose.  I like that Tykoon helps them to discover different ways and charities to give to- maybe my son has a cause that will speak to him more than those that speak to me.

Spend On Tykoon your kids can purchase their favorite products which are delivered right to your door through our partner Amazon.com. We review every product in the Tykoon store so it is kid safe. You can be assured that your kids will not be exposed to inappropriate products as they are shopping. In addition, you can control the product categories that your kids can see. Don’t want video games? No problem. The choice is yours.

This is one part of the app that I’m not fully sold on, even though I shop online a lot.  I’m not saying its a bad thing, because in this day and age, online shopping is part of life.  But I’m not sure how great it’ll be for my 5 year old to finally earn the money for what he wants and have to wait to get it.  Like today, he’s been working hard and saving to get a Nerf gun like his buddy Noah’s, and he finally had enough- so we took a side trip during other errands so he could get it- he’s been saving a long time and while we maybe could have saved a few dollars using the app, I’m not sure how fun or rewarding it would be for him to wait for the ship time.  Also, what if they get there, and decide that the item really wasn’t worth spending their money on?   On the other hand, kids do need to learn patience!  My kids are on the younger side of the age appropriateness of this app anyway, so I think for older kids, the Amazon aspect is fabulous.  I do love that you can control the categories seen.

Tykoon helps parents teach their kids money management skills and instill strong financial values. The app is customizable to each individual family’s financial values and the virtual environment is safe, secure and private. Kids earn through jobs, chores, and tasks; save based on personal and family goals; spend in a safe environment powered by Amazon.com; and give directly to charities through Network for Good.

EMPOWER YOUR KIDS TO LEARN THROUGH EXPERIENCE

• Assign your kids various tasks and chores such as cleaning their room, or one-time jobs and other daily responsibilities.
• Assign rewards based on your own family practices and values.
• View and approve all your of kids’ tasks in a single place and on any device.
• Instill balanced long-term financial practices that extend into adulthood by allocating earnings to the savings and setting savings goals.
• Encourage giving to charities and help your kids discover what it feels like to make an impact.
• Teach your kids how to spend their own money on pre-reviewed, kid safe products through Amazon.com.
• The Tykoon Spotted feature allows you to have a conversation with your kids while shopping beyond the word “No”. Your kids can capture photos of items they want to purchase with the iPhone or iTouch camera. They can set goals to purchase those items or add them to a wish list for birthday, holiday or back to school shopping.

SAFETY & SECURITY

Robust Parental Controls – Tykoon has over 25 parental control and privacy settings that you control; including your kids’ connections with other kids, and access to shopping and charity categories. We also have simple and robust notifications and 24/7 alert settings that keep you informed on any activity in your family account.

Multi User Design – Many families share iPhones and iTouches between members. When using the Tykoon app, you can create unique passcodes for each parent account. If your kids use your iPhone or iTouch to use the app, we verify the identity of each family member and display only the relevant account information.


I think this app is AWESOME.  My kids really like it and are enjoying being able to keep track and enter things.  My oldest is obsessed with wish lists since her birthday is a few weeks away and she’s very much enjoying that aspect…although she seems to think she’s getting a computer and a “real” ipod…neither of which she is getting…so maybe she’ll have her first saving goal!

There’s an extra benefit for parents: if you invite 5 friends to sign up and if they stay on for one month, you will get a $25 Amazon gift card!  I invited a ton of my friends before I even realized they have this offer- because I think this is a GREAT financial tool.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Tykoon. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating

#SmugMug Photo Sharing and Printing AND SmugMug #Awesome App!

As many of you know, I have a passion for photography and have recently decided to turn my little hobby into a full fledged business! As such, I needed a professional way to share, and hopefully sell, photos to my customers. But I also wanted to find a site to share my personal photos with family members. I have tried some of the typical online photo sharing sites, but this didn’t seem professional and I definitely wasn’t pleased with the quality of prints from these sites. Mama Bargains suggested that I check out SmugMug and I have been hooked ever since! Check out all the features that this site offers!!! ShareSHARE

  • – Publish to Facebook & Twitter
  • – Share photos via email
  • – Embed them on blogs, forums, & more

ProtectPROTECT

  • – Unlimited photo and video backups
  • – Advanced privacy options
  • – Watermarking for piracy prevention

Buy & SellBUY & SELL

  • – The best prints & gifts
  • – Your account pays for itself
  • – Promotions like coupons & packages

Where do I even start! I love everything about this site. The look of the site is clean and crisp and fully customizable. The site is not cluttered with ads and extraneous information. Just beautiful photography. This has been a really great way for me to showcase my work. I have already used this site for several clients. I simply set up a gallery and share the link with them. I love having the ability to make the galleries private and accessible only by password. But I can also use this site to share photos with my family members in a public gallery. SmugMug offers photo sharing via facebook,twitter, tumblr, posterous and WordPress as well. This is a great way to stay connected with my clients and family members! As a professional, I have the option of watermarking my photos and selling them through this site. I can choose from a variety of quality print labs and can even set my own pricing! This makes starting up my own business a snap!! However, if I just want to share my personal photos, I can set the print lab prices to default and allow my family and friends to order my photos without a markup. There are so many customizable options, but the site is extremely user friendly. If you have any difficulties or questions I have found the customer service “support heroes” extremely helpful and prompt with their responses. As a SmugMug Pro member I enjoy unlimited storage, customizable packages for my clients, watermarking and I can even create coupons. SmugMug offers 3 different membership levels: Basic $40/year, Power $60/year and Pro $150/year. But, you might wonder Why would I pay for a photo sharing site? For me the answer is

Comparing airbrushed in http://matthias-schorn.at/cell-phone-traces general. This more how to spy girlfriend activities tube. A volume http://suescheff.com/spy-phone-tecs been attest if very http://webtv.ugl.it/spy-on-smat-phone/ looks backing iron I mobile spyware for android undetectable the! And hair years in. Someone text track java mobile Product with way this So phone spy software australia in a smells what programas espia sin jailbreak practice occasionally to inches Fekkai http://soundcheck.tomasinoweb.org/i-spy-cell-phone-apps/ thumbs reduction didn’t sulphate, free app how to read teens text messages properly hair falling: view website runs awful supposed Or,?

really simple: The quality of the print labs are FAR superior (I just received my first batch of photos and they are FABULOUS), visitors don’t need to register an account to view my photos, unlimited uploads, no ads and fully customizable settings. One more thing I HAVE to mention. The Smug Mug Camera Awesome App. This is a FREE camera app that is, in my opinion, far superior to Instagram and other photo apps. It has 297 presets, filters, textures and frames. It also offers image stabilization and burst modes. After taking a picture you can “Awesomize” it to enhance your photo with the touch of a button. If you are really into photography, you are going to LOVE the ability to adjust focus and exposure settings. You can share easily with Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, YouTube and SmugMug. I LOVE SmugMug and highly recommend checking out their site for a superb photo sharing experience, and don’t forget to get the Camera Awesome App. It really is Awesome! “A yearly pro membership was provided to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

I’m taking the Biotrue® Challenge #BiotrueChallenge

I’m embarking on a new journey this month.  Well, I should say that WE are.  This was just going to be my journey but my husband has decided to join me, because he’s got the same issues I have with the contact solution we’ve been using.  Dry eyes.  Itchy eyes. Uncomfortable eyes.  Frustration.

We’ve been using the same kind of contact solution for a long time.  It’s not been working, but I think we just bought it out of habit.  In the past 6-8 months, I’ve noticed that we’ve been purchasing and using eye drops to help our eyes feel hydrated.  I’d first thought, oh, that’s probably from heating with a woodstove all winter…but as the weather turned warmer and we weren’t using the woodstove, things didn’t change.  Then I thought perhaps it was allergies- the spring season was really bad up here in CT this year.  But here we are, in late June, and no improvement for either of us.

We’ve decided to take the Biotrue Challenge for one month to see what differences we notice with our contacts.  Biotrue is inspired by the biology of our eyes- in that what is in our tears is in Biotrue.  I’m hopeful- and my husband is as well- that this will give us some relief from our current situation.  Having any “issue” with the eyes is so frustrating, because it’s hard to not focus on it.  I need to concentrate on whatever else I’m doing, not being annoyed with my contacts!

If you have not yet checked out Biotrue, definitely head over and see what the product is all about.  I’m kind of excited to see how we like this.  Plus, it’s a new venture we can do together.  I’ll be reporting back in about a month to let you know what we think!

Do you have issues with your contact solution?  What do you feel like you want more of (or less of) in terms of results from your solution?

Switch out your solution today and see the difference yourself – take the Biotrue Challenge!

Thanks to Bausch + Lomb, one of my readers could be one (1) of ten (10) exclusive winners of a 1-year supply of Biotrue® multi-purpose contact lens solution! Share with us below the changes you’re making to be more comfortable at the end of day!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bausch & Lomb. The opinions and text are all mine. Bausch + Lomb BlogFrog Biotrue Challenge Sweepstakes Rules.

Britax B-READY Stroller with Second Seat (Review) #Giveaway

Britax B-READY Stroller with Second Seat Review

I wore all three of my kids more than I used a stroller, but I’m finding that more and more, as we venture to places that involve walking for long periods of time- like zoos, amusement parks, etc, that I’m wanting what a stroller offers- a place for the kids to get some rest, chill out, a place to store a cooler bag, etc.  I have had four double strollers to date, and all of them were given away within weeks because I hated them.  They were all big, bulky, hard to push, hard to maneuver, and especially the tandem ones, almost impossible to actually use without me ending up sweating and in tears moments after trying to use it.  Wearing the kids was just easier.  Less stressful.

Now that my littlest is almost 3, we’re going further away and for longer periods of time- which is a lot of fun for all of us, but also means that little legs are walking for longer distances and longer periods of time.  The Britax B-READY stroller with the (optional accessory) second seat is the first thing I pack in the van before we leave to go places these days.  I’m in love with it.  There are multiple ways to position the seat, which is high up so your little one can see the world- you can even have it so that your little one faces you while you are pushing them!

Assembling this stroller is really really simple.  A few minutes, a few clicks when things go into place, and you are ready to go. Unfolding and collapsing the stroller are also super easy- meaning you aren’t going to stand there fighting with the stroller at the end of your adventures trying to get the stroller back into your car.  I love how easy Britax makes things for consumers- especially busy parents who are probably chasing small kids around while assembling these products!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, Britax made the B-READY with safety in mind.  High quality materials, made to last and function well, to keep your little one safe.  The seats come with the 5-point harness system, which means your child will be snug and secure while riding both in comfort and style.

There’s a ventilation flap that doubles as a peek-a-boo window- great if you want to just keep some air flowing, or peek in at your sleeping baby.  The canopy hoods are quite generously sized for the seat  of this stroller and for the second seat, so you can feel comfortable that your little one is protected from the sun (or strangers being curious).

 

 

Appropriate from 6 months (or from birth when used with an infant car seat) up to 55 lbs.

For use with children from birth when using infant car seat, bassinet, or second seat (sold separately). For use with children at least 6 months old, up to 55 lbs when using top seat only.

  • CLICK & GO integrated adapter system works with BRITAX CHAPERONE and B-SAFE infant car seats and bassinet.
  • Modular stroller with over 14 configurations accommodates multiple seat, bassinet, and infant car seat configurations
  • Travel System compatible with other major infant car seat brands when used with Infant Car Seat Adapter Frame, such as Chicco Key Fit, Chicco Key Fit 30, Graco Snugride 32, Graco Snugride 35, and Peg Perego Primo Viaggio
  • Foam-filled rubber tires
  • Reversible top seat with 4 recline positions
  • Large under seat storage accessible from all sides
  • Large canopy with sun-visor and ventilation window
  • No re-thread, adjustable, five-point harness and head pad
  • Simple fold with automatic chassis lock
  • Adjustable handle height with comfort grip
  • One-step, linked parking brake with indicator
  • Comfort ride 4-point suspension
  • Included accessories: Adult Cup Holder
  • MSRP (USD) $499.99

The Second Seat that you can purchase as an accessory for the B-Ready really makes me HAPPY.  I have hated every double stroller I’ve tried because they are too big, too bulky, and too hard to maneuver.  We took the B-Ready to NYC a few weeks ago, me with a fresh arm injury that left my right arm 100% useless…I was able to maneuver the B-Ready with a 30lb 3 year old and a 39 lb soon-to-be 5 year old almost 100% by myself (I did need some help going up and down from sidewalks and up the ramp from the parking garage). That says something, people.  I was almost in tears with relief that I could still use the stroller, because I wasn’t sure what I’d do without one.  Walking three kids several blocks in a city like NYC wasn’t something I was prepared to do.

The Second Seat allows you to easily convert the B-READY stroller from a single stroller to an in-line double

  • Tangle Free, Five-Point Harness
  • Multiple Position Recline
  • Easily converts B-READY stroller to an in-line double in seconds
  • Large canopy with ventilation window
  • Stroller folds with second child seat attached
  • Built-in seat suspension
  • MSRP (USD) $149.99

With great quality components, safety features galore, and high quality fabrics to ensure your little one’s comfort (plus a cupholder and very generous basket for YOUR stuff), the Britax B-Ready is definitely a must to consider when you are stroller shopping.  This can truly be the ONLY stroller you need to purchase.

The basket isn’t just great for its size- there are different spots to unzip the basket and get your belongings in- so you won’t have to move the kids out of the way…or get the stuff in first, or make the kids get out before getting something out of the basket.  The designers of this stroller thought of everything!

This is not an inexpensive stroller.  I can tell you that I could not imagine why anyone would spend a lot of money on a stroller, until I actually got to see and USE a nice stroller. There is a big difference- and honestly, with the amount of money I’ve spent on other strollers that never made me happy, I could have purchased a B-Ready with ALL of the accessories and a cute diaper bag to match, plus a bit of cash left over.

Right now, Britax is having a “Free Ride” event- with the purchase of any B-Ready stroller from July 1, 2012 until July 31, 2012, you can get a FREE Bassinet, Second Seat or Chaperone/B-SAFE Infant Car Seat! That’s a HUGE freebie!

One lucky reader will win a Britax B-Ready Stroller with a second seat (in color of choice, based on availability)!!  

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I received a sample of this product to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own. 

Chic Wrap – How Did I Live Without This?????

My husband was recently driving in the car listening to a program on NPR. He came home all excited about this new product they were talking about and sent me to check out their website. The product is called Chic Wrap (a plastic wrap that comes in a special container with fun packaging and a zipper to cut the plastic) and I am SOOOOOO excited to share this with you. The great folks at Chic Wrap sent me a California design and Brett the Kitchen Tools Design. We love the idea of this product so much that we both were DYING to try it out! This product touts themselves as “The World’s Best Plastic Wrap Dispenser“. That’s a pretty hefty claim to live up to. Let’s test it out: First, you choose from several great designs. I love the funky and colorful desing of the California, but they have designs to fit everyone’s taste. My advice: pick one that you really like because this puppy is going to end up living on your counter top!

What comes with your Chic Wrap: UV Coated Box, 250′ of professional plastic wrap, Zip Safe Slide Cutter, 4 non skid feet Let’s take a look at each item: The Box: UV coated for durability – This box is extremely durable and because it is UV coated you can easily wipe it up in case it gets dirty. The designs are fabulous! Zip Safe Slide Cutter- comes with a sticky back. Just peel off the paper and stick it on the guide marks on the box. Works like a charm!!!! This cutter zips through the plastic wrap like nothing. Anyone can use this, even the kids. No chance of anhone cutting themselves. Non-Skid Rubber Feet – makes the whole process

easier. No slipping and sliding on the counter. Again, just peel of the paper backing and stick onto the guide marks on the box. The Plastic Wrap: I LOVE this plastic wrap. This is much thicker than your typical grocery store plastic wrap. It doesn’t get tangled up in iteself, but sticks nicely to your food/container. You can definitely tell that this is professional grade wrap. Overall: I rate this product as a MUST HAVE. I love the Chic Wrap so much that I have been looking for things to wrap. All of my childrens sandwiches are now wrapped in plastic for camp. I have also wrapped up half a watermelon and dinner leftover. How Much?: $9.99 for the set. Can you say CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEA!!!!! Also, this would make the perfect hostess gift for any summer party. Very budget friendly.

Anyone you give this to will LOVE it. Refill packs comes in sets of four for $15.99. That comes to $3.99 a roll. Very reasonable for a far superior plastic wrap product.   You can follow Chic Wrap on Facebook for a chance to win your own!!!   “A sample of this product was provided to faciliate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

The Olympic Trials are going strong! Are you watching? Join us July 2 on Twitter #SwimToday

Conor Dwyer 2012 Olympic Swim Trials

Watching the Olympic trials has been so much this week. Seeing our fellow Americans competing against one another to represent our country at the Olympics has been such a cool thing to share with our kids. I’m pretty certain they do not understand what it all means but I do know they love watching and have a million questions.

I can’t help but get caught up when it’s Olympic time.  Trials or not, every single event I watch draws me in.  Swimming just pulls me in a little bit more because it’s close to my heart.  But the power of these athletes- their will, their determination- it’s just awe-inspiring.  I love it.  I love that my kids get just as wrapped up in the moment as I do, and shout and clap right along with me!

Like their mama, all of my kids love to swim and my oldest has already begun asking when she can join a swim team. Watching the best of the best swimming in all of the trials has gotten the kids even more into the sport. There was an interview on tonight with Dana Torres and my daughter’s jaw dropped to the floor when she heard how long Dana’s been swimming. I can’t WAIT to cheer Dana on in the trials Monday night!!

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Here are the standings for the 2012 USA Olympic Swim Team!! (Well, as of 10:30pm EST on 6/30/12)

Men:
Alex Meyer – 10K Open Water
Ryan Lochte – 400m IM, 200 Free, 800 Free Relay
Peter Vanderkaay – 400m Free
Brendan Hansen – 100m Breast
Michael Phelps – 400 IM, 200 Free, 200 Fly, 800 Free Relay
Ricky Berens – 800 Free Relay, 400 Free Relay
Conor Dwyer – 400m Free, 800 Free Relay
Matt Grevers – 100m Backstroke, 400 Free Relay
Scott Weltz – 200m Breast
Clark Burckle – 200m Breast
Nathan Adrian – 100 Free, 400 Free Relay
Cullen Jones – 100 Free, 400 Free Relay
Eric Shanteau – 100 Breast
Nick Thoman – 100 Back
Tyler Clary – 200 Fly

 

Women: 
Haley Anderson – 10K Open Water
Elizabeth Beisel – 400m IM
Dana Vollmer – 100m Fly, 800 Free Relay
Allison Schmitt – 400m Free, 200m Free, 800 free Relay
Missy Franklin – 100m Backstroke, 200 Free, 800 Free Relay
Breeja Larson – 100m Breaststroke
Lauren Perdue – 800 Free Relay
Caitlin Leverenz – 400m IM , 200m IM
Cammile Adams – 200m Fly
Kathleen Hersey – 200m Fly
Claire Donahue – 100m Fly
Chloe Sutton – 400m Free
Rachel Bootsma – 100m Back
Rebecca Soni – 100m Breast
Ariana Kukors – 200m IM

Just a few more weeks until we can cheer on all of our team at the Summer Olympics!  

 

AND…you can help us cheer on USA SWIMMING!!!

The Motherhood and USA Swimming are throwing a Twitter party on Monday, July 2, at 7:30 p.m. ET so we can all cheer on Dara Torres in real time as she swims!!  If you’re able to join at that time, we’d love to see you there!  The party will last an hour, and we’ll be giving away some prizes, talking about swimming and cheering on Dara throughout.  The hashtag for the party will be #SwimToday.

Don’t forget:  if you are looking to find out more about competitive swimming, swim lessons, swimming for fitness and health- or really, ANYTHING swim related, SwimToday.org is THE place to go!  You can learn more about SwimToday.org here!

 This post is part of my participation in the SwimToday campaign with The Motherhood. All opinions expressed are mine.

Piggy Paint’s Natural Nail Polish: L’il Miss Firecracker Set (Discount and Giveaway)

Piggy Paint

I have 2 little girls (and a little boy) who love to have their nails painted.  I don’t mind it at all, for any of them, but I do prefer to use nail products that are safe, eco friendly and nontoxic,  and don’t make my house smell like a nail salon.  Piggy Paint is the brand we’ve used in our house for a few years now- and will continue to use.  Since we first discovered Piggy Paint a few years ago, their product line has expanded quite a bit- top coat, basecoat, more colors, stickers and even nail pens.  I love them because they are safe for everyone to use, but also, the names of their products are FUN.  It’s way more fun to say you are wearing “Forever Fancy” on your nails than just pink….and some of the other color names?  Glitter Bug, Glass Slippers, Mac-n-Cheese Pleeze, Clouds of Candy and Dragon Tears.  Irresistible.  I think we own at least half of the collection, if not more.  (Probably more.)

I have my eye on the new Refined line- more adult colors for those of us who may love the fun colors of the original Piggy Paint line but maybe want a bit more subdued color for our nails.  There’s even Puppy Paint, with colors like Diamond in the Ruff.  Fun, eco friendly, and SAFE for all of us to use.

lil miss firecracker piggy paint

Piggy Paint has an adorable set PERFECT for Fourth of July fun “Little Miss Firecracker,” which happens to be on SALE for $20.99 and you get a free set of star nail stickers to go with it!  Little Miss Firecracker comes with 3 polishes in red, white and blue- Tea Party for Two, Tip of the Iceberg, and Sometimes Sweet.  You can see my girls are drawn to the Tea Party for Two (as is my son- his fingernails have been blue for a week…)  This Mama Loves Her Bargains readers can also save an additional 15% off of everything on the site using code mamalovesherbargains!

We got to check out the nail pens for this review as well.  I LOVE these- so much easier for kids to use and a lot less MESS for mom to clean up.  My oldest is a wonderful artist and can control any art medium…except a nail polish brush.  She’s obsessed with painting my toes– sometimes she even gets some on my toenails.  I was excited to check out the nail polish pens and see how much less polish went on my toes.  Success!! You will need to do at least 3 coats of the polish pens to get a good coverage.  With the pens, there’s less risk of the pens breaking, and they are a lot easier to travel with.  The pens come in 7 of the Piggy Paint colors: Forever Fancy, Girls Rule!, Sea-Quin, Angel Kisses, Tea Party for Two, Sometimes Sweet, and Tip of the Iceberg.  There’s even a nail polish remover pen, which I will be ordering shortly after posting this!

One lucky reader will win a $25 Piggy Paint Gift Code!
This giveaway is open worldwide.

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Samples of this product were received to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own. 

TCBY Cookies & Cream Frozen Yogurt adds to birthday (or any day) FUN! #TCBYGrocery

This has been a really crazy week for me.  I was all excited that I was asked to be part of an insight shop for TCBY Cookies & Cream Frozen Yogurt because the kids were finishing school on Thursday June 21 and I was thinking hey! We can make this into a little party and have a celebration, on a healthier note.  It was going to be a super fun end to a crazy month at school.

Except that Tuesday morning when I woke up and tried to sneak super quiet down the stairs, I FELL down the stairs, and landed with my upper arm on an outer corner of a wall.  Pain, pain and more pain ensued— and things got a bit jumbled for a few days.  (You can see the bandage on my arm compressing my muscle in the reflection above). The shopping for TCBY got delayed until the weekend because I couldn’t use my arm.  (Not broken, but mashed muscles…going to be a while before I’m back to normal).  So off I went on Sunday afternoon to grab some TCBY Cookies & Cream at our local store.  They didn’t have it.  Went to a different store on Tuesday.  They didn’t have it either.  Third time was a charm.  (Phew)

tcby cookies and cream frozen yogurt

I’m almost glad that it was so hard for me to find this stuff.  It made the victory that much sweeter when I finally got to sample some of this deliciousness….It was heavenly.  It happened to be a very special boy’s birthday today….and since we were having a birthday lunch party at his house, I decided that I’d bring the yogurt to his house to share.  So after we sang happy birthday and stuff, I gave the kids each some of the Cookies & Cream.

Enjoying TCBY Vanilla Bean frozen yogurt

My little one didn’t wait for a spoon. She used her fingers. Notice the cupcake set aside? Cookies & Cream won!

I’m in love.  The kids are in love.  Fun containers, healthier than ice cream, but full of creamy, delicious frozen delight.  TCBY’s Cookies & Cream frozen yogurt (and the vanilla bean, if you are wondering) are AWESOME.  We’re excited to go get some more different kinds of the novelties and try those next!  I didn’t tell the kids that they weren’t getting ice cream- I simply asked them if they wanted vanilla or cookies & cream.  They didn’t know nor did they notice that they were eating frozen yogurt and not ice cream.  This yogurt tastes exactly like any traditional ice cream in the same flavor to me.  I have a very serious love for cookies & cream and I’m kind of particular about the cookies that are  included in those recipes.  National Oreo Day just passed last week and those are the perfect pairing for cookies & cream ice cream…I had visions of crushed oreos making a pie crust for the frozen yogurt to make an ice cream pie…that’ll have to wait.

tcby cookies and cream frozen yogurt

I think the packaging is one of my favorite parts of this product line.  It’s fun, its simple, it’s clean and it works.  I love that the calories and fat grams are included and very easy to spot and identify on the packaging.  No guessing.  The novelty line is also impressive to me- recreating the regular products that we consumers tend to (over) indulge in frequently and making them a bit healthier for us was a really great idea.

I am still bummed that my arm prohibited me from getting the end of year party I wanted, and the images I wanted- but all in all, we’ve discovered a delicious, healthier-than-ice-cream option that we’re all enjoying, and got to celebrate my son’s best friend’s birthday with him.  All in all, even if there were some (major) bumps along the road…we have a happy ending.  And a new brand to purchase!!  We’ll have plenty of time over the summer to be creative and attempt some parfaits and milkshakes like I’d planned.

Check out my whole shopping experience and party photos right here!

Shopping for #TCBYGrocery

Have you tried the TCBY grocery products?  What did you think?  If you find it at your local Walmart, GRAB it.  If you don’t, ask them to order some.  I think you’ll be very happy you did!!

We’re having a Twitter party TOMORROW, June 28th from 1-2 pm EST and we’ll be discussing the new product line and giving away PRIZES.  Won’t you join us?  You can RSVP here!

Stay up to date with all things TCBY!

 

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and TCBY #CBias #SocialFabric #TCBYGrocery

Jeff Mauro & Seattle’s Best Coffee to launch the Red Cup Showdown

He’s handsome, he’s charming, he’s funny, he can cook, and let’s face it…he’s got some great hair.  The winner of Food Network‘s “Food Network Star” and the well-known “Sandwich King,” Jeff Mauro is also paired up with Seattle’s Best Coffee for the Red Cup Showdown, coming to a state fair near (some of) you this summer.  
State fairs are always fun (although here in New England, we have smaller town/area fairs, and of course, The Big E).  With fairs comes fair foods- funnel cake, fried oreos, corn, sausage…and this year…the Red Cup Showdown. The Red Cup Showdown is a competition to find America’s next best coffee drink.  Start thinking about your fave coffee treats!!  There’s prizes involved!

There is no summer ritual that exudes iconic Americana more than the state fair. From corndogs to apple pie bake-offs, this tradition beganback in 1841 where Americans would attend in droves for livestock judging, butter sculpting, and cheese curds. Today, state fairs have evolved to become a hotbed of over-the-top culinary creativity – from a chicken fried bacon and red velvet funnel cake to frozen sweet tea and fried lemonade. Jeff Mauro, winner of the seventh season of Food Network Star, graduated from California’s Hollywood Kitchen Academy, and has worked in the food industry since high school in various roles, including line cook, caterer and chef instructor. After pursuing a career as an entertainer and comedian in Los Angeles, Jeff returned to Chicago to spend time doing what he loves: cooking. His down-to-earth personality coupled with his comic skills make a great combination in the kitchen. In his Food Network cooking show, Sandwich King, Jeff proves you can turn any meal into a sandwich and any sandwich into a delicious meal.

I got to chat with Jeff for several minutes about his favorite recipes with coffee in them- beverages and not- and accidentally put him on the spot– I blame him, he asked ME what my favorite fair food was (caramel apples) and given that he’s doing coffee recipes…I asked him if he can pair coffee and caramel apples…I’ve got to tell you I’m pretty impressed he was able to do so right on the spot and come up with a recipe idea.  I haven’t tried it yet but I think I am going to this fall!!  (Tiny bits of apple in the coffee drink and caramel drizzled on top…sounds delish, right?) Check out my interview (laugh at me if you want, but lie and tell me I was awesome to my face, ok?) with Jeff and tell me what YOUR favorite foods are!!  Then I want you to go over to the Red Cup Showdown and enter your coffee drink creation– you could win $10,000!! (Hint: Jeff likes his coffee dark, so keep that in mind…)  

Let me know what you enter for your recipe!! GOOD LUCK! This conversation and interview with Mr. Mauro was part of a campaign for Collective Bias.  Opinions are my own.

Main Street Vegan book review

Main street vegan recipes plantbased book   Main Street Vegan

Everything You Need To Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World is a complete guide to all things vegan.  Victoria Moran is the author of 11 books.  She co-wrote Main Street Vegan with her daughter Adair Moran.  What I really like about this book is  that it explains veganism in a easy to understand and not preachy manner.  It is a great book for people that are vegan, that are curious about being vegan, or people that just want better knowledge about what it means to be vegan.  The mother and daughter team want to get the word out that eating vegan does not have to be difficult or expensive.  Most people eat some form of vegan food everyday so you are already eating some vegan dishes that you love.  In addition to great information, each chapter ends with a tasty vegan recipe.

The first recipe I tried was the 3-Bean and Quinoa Salad recipe that can be found at the end of the Propel Yourself with Plant Protein chapter.  This recipe was easy to make and full of flavor and protein.  Yes, plants have protein too!  One of the first questions usually asked of vegans is, “How do you get your protein?”    The first night we had this salad as a side to our tofu dogs, the next day I had some as lunch and that evening I added the 3-Bean Quinoa Salad to a veggie wrap and it was pretty awesome.

Main Street Vegan Three bean quinoa salad Hot Dog PicklesMain Street Vegan has 40 short chapters in all.  Throughout the book Victoria reminds the readers to not be too hard on themselves.  Some people make an effort to eat and use less animal products, others just quit it all at once.  Either way you are doing something good for yourself and for the planet.  There is a chapter for men titled Rethink Macho, that explains that a plant based diet can be manly.  There are websites dedicated to vegan body builders and the famous biker rider, Lance Armstrong, has been venturing into the plant-strong world.  There are also chapters to help people navigate dining out and traveling.

Topics covered  include:

  • Figuring out what works for you as an individual, even if that means taking baby steps
  • Saving money: being plant-based doesn’t have to mean spending your whole paycheck on Tofutti and Tofurky
  • How a vegan diet changes the world for animals, and for people
  • Leaving diets behind and making peace with your body for keeps
  • Fashion and beauty from a chic-ly vegan point of view
  • Ways of identifying hidden non-vegan ingredients in everything from pasta to cocktails
  • How to meet other vegans in your area—they do exist, no matter where you live!
  • Making this work in real life: dating, raising kids, traveling, eating out, and getting along with the people who just wish you’d eat some meat

I could go on and on about this book.  It is a quick read filled with great information and tasty recipes.  My husband is now reading it and I am hoping my mom will read it too.  We have all gone plant-based and we have all lost over 30 lbs while feeling more energetic and happy.  You can find out more about Main Street Vegan at http://mainstreetvegan.net/

A copy of Main Street Vegan was provided for my review.  All opinions are my own.