Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Welch's Grape Juice Bzz Review

So I got this Bzz Agent campaign for Welch's 100% Grape Juice. They sent me a free bottle and some awesome coupons to share with friends and family in exchange for my review, so here goes:



Can I just say, WOW. If you want to really bring back a taste from childhood, pop open a bottle and pour yourself a glass. Mind you, it's stout stuff so when I say a glass I mean like, an 8 oz. mason jar and sip slowly. After that trip down memory lane I decided it might be better to use IN things instead of drinking straight (yes we're still talking about grape juice here). I started adding it to the Mister's and my smoothies--double yum.

So here's what you do.

Get Your Grape On Smoothie:

In the larger Nutribullet cup, fill halfway with Kale or other leafy greens. Fill to max fill line with frozen mixed berries (I buy mine from 0.99 Only, because let's face it we were living like students for the last two years and now who doesn't love to save money?!). Pour in about 1/2 a cup of grape juice, fill the rest of the way up to the line with water. Throw in a tablespoon of chia and a tablespoon of flax seeds. Blend until it changes colors a little--if you've used your Nutribullet before you know what I mean.

Yum. Mister loved the grape juice because it "covered up the kale". OK, I kinda like the kale but whatever. It has a super strong, pleasantly refreshing flavor that compliments the berries. Besides that, the polyphenols are awesome for heart health and let's be honest; we drink smoothies for health right? It just helps that much more if they taste good.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Bic Soleil BzzKit


So I signed up for BzzAgent a little while ago, and last week I got my first campaign kit. BIC Soleil razors! This momma might make, but this momma also loves her free swag. Naturally I was dying to rip open the pack for a little me-pampering. The whole point of BzzAgent is product reviews so I tried to pay attention to the details. Here's what I thought:

1) The package required a sharp object to open. I've got a 3 year old running around, do you know how hard it is to carve out 15 minutes to shave my legs, let alone find a sharp object I haven't hidden to open the package?! Please incorporate an easy-open feature, BIC!

1a) For the same reason, I appreciate the harder to get off safety cover. It took me a good 30 seconds to realize it slides off instead of snapping off, so my 3 year old probably couldn't get into this before I caught him trying to shave the cat.

2) Love the fun colors on the handles and the shape of the grip. Pretty much love the handles for everything they are. They fit my huge hands nicely, they're pretty and girly (not like my hubby's Mach 5 razor handles, because I've been known to swipe one every now and again).

3) Not a comfortable shave unless you like that old-time razor scraping feel on your legs. I wasn't cold, so it wasn't the goosebump effect. The comfort band across the top seems too recessed to really lube up your legs, unfortunately, because the comfort band is pretty much the saving grace of most razors on the market. I do like the idea of the big plastic frame around the blades--makes it harder to nick yourself.


All in all--do I love them? No. Do I appreciate getting to try them? Yes. Would I buy them? Yes, but not as my first choice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Being a working mom is lonely

I'm going to come out and say it. Being a working mom is lonely. Now hold on, SAHMs of young kids, I know--you're probably lonely too. If your kid(s) haven't entered school yet, and if you haven't found a play group or a circle of friends with young kids, you're probably lonely too. And before you say "but I'm tired too...I can't take my kid to daycare to get a break..." first of all, going to work is not a "break" it is work. The only "break" there is the coffee break in which you actually drink a cup of coffee while it is still hot. Guess what? Buy a Contigo. Boom. Your coffee can be hot too AND you still get to raise your children. You don't have to drop off your 3 year old while he's screaming MOMMY so loudly you can hear it down the preschool corridor during one of his "difficult drop off periods" that last for weeks. You have memories of your children that I don't have, and you have all day to do what I have only a few hours to do outside of work while trying to give my child the attention he needs and deserves so really, this post is not about the Mommy Wars but sweetheart, you really don't know how good you have it. You know those memes about why moms of little ones can't get anything done? Now imagine that between the hours of 6pm and 9pm plus dinner, bath, and stories. It's physically exhausting and emotionally draining. I cannot fathom who in their right mind thinks this is "having it all".

And I'm not you. I'm me. I'm a candle at both ends, tired, cranky, overworked, and moderately at best appreciated working mom who has to use my sick days (while I'm sick, mind you) for a moment of peace and quiet, the first one in years--and that is IF there are any sick days left for me after taking care of my son when he is sick and can't go to daycare. I feel guilty dropping my son off at preschool, I am sad for the time I miss with him, I get frustrated for the lack of choices in his day to day life and the lack of consistency between home and preschool for potty training.

I don't have many friends, and that's not necessarily by choice but out of necessity. I have acquaintances, some even with kids my son's age. But between working 40 hours a week, taking 6 graduate credits at a time, taking care of my family, and taking care of my 2 nephews and my special needs niece on a somewhat regular basis (and no we do not "trade" sitting services, I just do it)...I don't have the emotional stamina or physical energy to pursue friendship. Would I love it if one of my acquaintances invited me for coffee, or for a play date (at a set time, not a vague "you guys should come for a play date...")? YES. GAWD, YES. But do they? No. Because a) "I just don't know how you DO it all! You must be exhausted!" or b) MOMMY WARS. See, my friends with kids are all SAHMs. Baseball board members, PTO members, soccer moms. And I'm the out-of-place career woman at the baseball field who's telling a tongue in cheek story about the pens I insist on using because that is my world. Preschool (albeit a really nice one thankyouverymuchwedidchoosecarefullyandNOIdon'tpreferworkingitisnotmychoicebutIhavetosoImayaswellsendhimtoagoodschool), office drama, grocery shopping, quick cooking meals, storytime, bedtime snuggles, study, and repeat. Once a week I make conversation with another working mom who doesn't have time to socialize while my son is at swimming. And when my son gets invited to birthday parties (which are quite a thing at his preschool...amazing really) I have a circle of moms I chat with at length.

But I no longer enjoy the close friendships I once had. My best friend from college and I used to live together and we would still call and chat between classes if we didn't meet up at the house. It's been since January since we talked last. JANUARY. She doesn't have kids. That's another category of friendship. The childless friends.

So you see, being a working mom is lonely, because SAHMs don't respect us (or at least refuse to believe we have anything in common), other working moms are just as harried and exhausted as we are, and our childless friends assume we don't have time between everything listed above to socialize. Which isn't far from the truth. But that doesn't mean we don't want to TRY. It doesn't mean we don't want a text or a phone call to say hello--because even though the texts from us are few and far between, we do TRY. Plus, the only women who understand everything we are going through are working moms, who again, don't have time to commiserate with us. So can ya'll reach out to a working mom friend and TRY too? I promise, she will be happy you did.

Monday, January 26, 2015

If Facebook and Twitter posts read like the emotions behind them

I'll admit, I'm having a F.I.N.E Monday. F*cked-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. Well maybe not the neurotic part be the rest is right. I've also posted twice on Facebook this morning which I almost never do except to repost some kind of animal welfare/rights/adoption meme or a picture of Bobo (read: look at how cute he is everyone) myself (read: everyone like this and make me feel pretty) or my husband and I (read: look, see, we are happy and everything is right in the world...or, I'm staking my claim creepy girl from the high school reunion).

Today I have posted two tongue-in-cheek posts that should have said "I'm educated and supposedly successful, why do I have to share my office with this ass clown" and "I'm feeling rejected by my family, someone reach out and make me feel validated and loved". Is this what social media has come to? Are we really all so disconnected from each other that we reach out, or rather cry out, for love and validation by posting to social media? Yeah, actually, I think we are. And it sucks. It sucks because I have no idea how to fix it. And because each generation is getting worse.

I am from the part of the Millennial generation that came of age when technology as we know it now was just barely taking root. In high school, most of us didn't have cell phones, we still had teen lines in our bedrooms with brightly colored corded phones. Texting was really, really new my freshman year of college. At least, new to me. I *finally* got a phone with a monthly plan (instead of a prepaid card with only minutes) that allowed texting. The iPhone came out the year before I graduated with my bachelor's degree. Facebook, when I was in college, was still just for registered college students. Yep, you had to have a .edu email address to use it. MySpace was in. We all still connected face to face, or at the very least picked up the phone and called.

Did my awkward, disconnected, black sheep of the family dynamic still exist back then? Yeah, it did. But I had enough interaction with other people to fill the void a little bit more. Today, I walked into my office and the ass clown that I have to share the room with barely said good morning, and has not uttered another word all day. We.Don't.Connect.Anymore. Not just the office mate and I. We never have. But we as a people. How many times did you approach a cashier last week and not even make eye contact during your transaction? I think for me, that was at least three times last week.

This isn't one of those super motivated, or slightly positive posts. But in the theme of This Momma Makes, I think I will make a commitment to connect with people more. Make eye contact, greet them. Call the family members that don't make me feel like a black sheep on a regular basis.

What will you do to connect more?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Starting Small

Yes, about two weeks have already passed since I last posted. No, I didn't take a "no internet" oath, or wind up in the hospital. Life is just plain busy and the last two weeks went by in a blink. Bobo's birthday party was this past Saturday and we have been keeping good on another resolution of sorts: to make time for our friends. We have been lucky enough to go on double dates with two couples who happen to be some of our dearest friends in the last two weeks.

So, in keeping with the re-realization that life is just plain busy, I am starting small with my "I want more" mission from the last post. We are on a buy less, consume less, mission to chew (literally) through our pantry and freezers (yeah, I said it: freezerS. When this is said and done it will be freezer). Any projects I embark on will be using things already gathering dust in my craft closet. It's not a no-spend month because frankly those never work out for us. Bobo always ends up growing out of shoes, or we forget his nap sheet and have to weigh driving 30 minutes home to get it or just buying another one to add to the rotation, etc. We will however consume less, and only buy what we will actually use.

This will be especially challenging for me because I come from a family in which the pantry was not just stocked, but stockpiled. For me, part of this kind of shopping is the thrill of the deal. Why am I buying another 10 boxes of pasta when I have 5 at home? Because its $0.25, for crying out loud! Yeah, seems kind of silly. I am all for long term food storage, but that can be done with more purpose than I have been doing. Freeze dried foods keep longer, require less rotation, and more balanced nutrition for the buck.

Additionally, we will start clearing out the crap that is cluttering our lives and our minds. In the spring, when we can count on not having to wear coats all day, we will have a yard sale, save the cash towards one of our umpteen financial goals, and donate the rest. Then maybe we will not be constantly tripping over (literally and figuratively) the overwhelming amount of stuff in our lives.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I'm Back. What's my motivation?! And baby steps

Well, the last few months went by in a whirlwind. School, some setbacks in my husband's back surgery recovery, a month of Sundays spent with my niece and nephews, and the holidays and my son's third birthday provided plenty of distraction.

This time of year always makes me restless. I want to travel, to go out, to move, change...it's an annual quarter life crisis. In my young adulthood I would wake up with this (albeit painfully optimistic) mindset that I was going to "do something great today". Over the years that optimistic self talk diminished to a more realistic "I'm going to do my best today", or even so far as "I'm going to get through today". I miss the optimistic, 20 year old me. I want to do something great. I don't know how I will find the time, or the focus, or maintain the motivation, but I want to do something great. I am going to channel that optimistic me this year.

I recently got hooked on The Vampire Diaries and as a roundabout result I have started following the Ian Somerhalder Foundation (OK and Ian Somerhalder because let's face it he's gorgeous and what a beautiful spirit he has). I love that his foundation is so broad in its purpose, and I love that he uses his influence to inspire and enable good in this world. There's a lot of ugly in this world, but there is a lot of good too. I am thankful to have stumbled upon ISF and frankly to have been just whimsical enough to follow a celebrity crush on social media. I was in a period of my life when just getting by was enough, I was letting myself be sloppy about a lot of the things that that 20 year old me held dear: conservation, the environment, and animals. Sure, we foster kittens, and I put in 10-15 hours a year at NHS since my son was born, but now I'm restless and eager for more. Something bigger.

One of the interviews I read that Ian did said something to the effect that you have to choose things to tackle that are small enough to be within reach but big enough to matter. I sew, I knit, I stamp metal, I take pictures, I bake, I cook, I blog (sometimes). Now I've got to figure out what to do with those talents to make an impact on the causes that I hold dear.  If you happen to stumble upon this blog, and you have any ideas for me, please share.

For today I'll take a baby step: I pledge to reduce the amount of plastic my family uses, and recycle what we do use whenever possible (our neighborhood recycling is still only #1 and #2 plastics, sigh). I'll remember to use my reusable grocery totes, use reusable containers instead of Ziplocs to pack my lunch, and get out of the habit of buying individually packaged foods.

Monday, September 8, 2014

This Momma Makes...the Money

Today is day 1 of our family's new journey...but day 7 of our "Living Well Spending Zero" challenge over at the LWSL blog...http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/31-days/livingwellspendingzero/.

First--on our family's new journey. Today is the beginning of The Mister's career change journey. He will start the accelerated IT program at the career college on October 13 but for the next few weeks will getting ready to be a full time student and looking for part time work. That also means that today is the first day I am the official sole breadwinner of our family and thus the inspiration for the 31 Days of Spending Zero challenge. Hopefully the sole breadwinner thing won't go on for too long, but we are assuming it will for a while.

Now--it's day 7 and Ruth over at LWSL (link above) has given her readers some points of reflection for the end of the first week. I should say that I am a couponer and we are preppers-lite so we have a pretty substantial stockpile of most things. This first 30 days will, in reality, not get too hairy as far as pantry food or household goods. I should also say that we aren't doing most of the daily activities because my online QA classes started last week and I just don't have the time.

Q: What was the scariest part of starting this challenge?
A: Nothing really, like I said we have a pretty good stockpile so we are excited. We need to rotate our stock so this is a great way to force ourselves to do it.

Q:What is the one thing you are most excited to get out of this challenge?
A: A change in our spending habits. We have been the easy come easy go spenders for too long. We find ourselves in a position now where we want to minimize and downsize. It is no secret that my dream is to be a stay at home mom. Part of that is The Mister's education and career change, and part of that is learning to live with less. (Why am I still pursuing my Master's? That's for another discussion!)

Q:What has been the biggest struggle for you this week? Where have you been tempted to (or where did you) cheat? What are you most worried about looking forward?
A: There were a few rules we are playing differently. Bobo is only 2 1/2 so we decided that we would continue to buy his essential foods--yogurts, milk, granola bars, fresh fruit. The things we know he will eat, because he isn't always open to reasoning that, for example, we only have oatmeal for breakfast because we are on a spending freeze when he wants a "lanola bar" (though for a 2 year old he is surprisingly reasonable). We are also allowing eachother to spend any loose change we may have in our consoles, purse, wallet, etc. but once it hits a piggy bank or jar it is off limits. So we pooled our quarters and bought 2 hotdogs at Costco on Saturday. Cheating? Maybe. Technically it was pocket change though. The Mister bought a premade pizza crust at the store so we could use the pizza ingredints we already had for a quick dinner, instead of waiting till we could make one from scratch. Cheating? Maybe. But our grocery bill was less than $15 last week so I still count it as a win.  Looking forward I'm worried about the temptation the next three Saturdays will bring. We have a very social month coming up.

Q: What has been the most surprising thing about not spending this week? Did you have any "aha" moments? Any funny moments?
A: I think the biggest thing has been sticking to my list. I actually went into Target today on my lunch break and ONLY bought diapers and wipes, in the size packages I intended to. (Bobo goes to daycare, so making wipes is not practical--otherwise yes I'm sure we could have made them.) The "aha" moment I guess is that I can go into a store and not buy anything we don't need. It sounds funny, I know. I am a compulsive clearance rack shopper, so just the simple act of not buying anything marked 70% off on a trip to Target is huge. I'm always adding to my gift closet or stockpile. I can't say there were any knee slappers this week. Ask me again after I run out of conditioner and try to make my own though... :)

-A