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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Stop and smell the - a little bit of everything

Cheryl Hill of Mia Bella Candles and I spoke recently about her candles. I'm a city girl and I know all about candle parties and mall candles but I had never heard of Mia Bella Candles. I thought, "Why not?" I have two dogs; one is a lovely but quite stinky bulldog and candles are one of my best friends in this house. But could Mia Bella Candles take center stage when scents of noxious persuasion seemed to rule this house?

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The sweet orange and chili pepper candle was quite a delightful surprise. It sounded like an odd combination to me at first, but once I lit the Mia Candle, I was elated. Not only was it strong but not overpowering, it also lingered through the house. The Cinnamon Raisin bun was a pleasant scent to burn in the kitchen (well, anywhere really) as I was cooking to cover the smells of garlic, olive oils, or just to get us going during breakfast. My girls thought I was baking one morning. When you have two kids and a husband to see off each morning, you must choose between making homemade cinnamon rolls or burn a candle. I went for the candle and let them dream.

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Have you ever had a candle that looked so pretty but then, when it burned, it just stunk? And then when you put it out it was all black and soot? Not these babies! The difference is that they are made from "alternative" ingredients such as vegetables and other natural renewable sources. I know, it's usually in the sales brochure you read and it's usually a marketing ploy, but I think with Mia Bella Candles that it can honestly be said that they smell is true to the scents that are advertised. Mia Bella Candles are clean burning as well; plus, I didn't have a "dirty" or "black" issue with either one at anytime.

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I will buy Mia Bella candles. Cheryl's featured candle this month is Pumpkin Cheesecake. I can't wait to get one! Cheryl's website is www.candlesbychill.com. Alternatively, you can email her at candlesbychill[at]yahoo[dot]com.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hip clips

Accessories for your little girl’s hair are more than the rage. Hair accessories are a necessity now. I am a mom of two girls who are in the know and need, not want mind you, need to have perfect hair. I found Cynthia Lee of www.madisonsroom.com and her hair wares. When you pop on over there be sure to read her inspirational story as well, you’ll realize how much heart she puts into ever facet of her life.



She does not make bows - she creates clips, headbands, and caps. When I say, create, I mean, handmade creations like no other. Are you looking for apples, daisies, ice cream, candy, dragonfly, or flowers? She has you covered. Do you want polka dots and plaids with a few rhinestones? Cynthia is the creative genius behind these designs.



My youngest daughter is a maniac for clips, bows, headbands, and anything else that tickles her fancy now. I was looking forward to sharing Cynthia’s clips with her. My older daughter usually goes for black, pink, & red. I did not know if she would be as excited about the trendy clip that we would be reviewing. Color me wrong. As a struggle ensued over the petite Madison clip - I thought this was it - I finally found something both kids like and I can make them both happy!





Now for the test, one has very long blonde fine hair. The other has short a-line cut, thick, dark hair. With different textures and styles, we usually have a difficult time finding a clip or anything to stay in either girl’s hair. One falls out for being to fine; one falls out for being too thick. Not www.madisonsroom.com creations. It’s as if she knows every type and style of hair.



All clips are completely lined with satin or grosgrain on one side, then with velvet on the other side. All material is neatly tucked away, no fraying with the padded suede insert. This was important to me because most gator style clips have pointed ends, which can irritate babies/toddlers delicate scalps. All of her crystals are Swarovski. Madison’s Room is launching 50+ new clips and headbands within the next month or so, even cuter, hipper styles on the way!



I also spoke to Cynthia who is warm welcoming and accommodating, making your experience worth more then the trip. They have a simple contact us button right there on the main page (right side of the page) it can’t be easier to get in touch with www.madisonsroom.com plus take comfort in the fact that when you do you are in the best hands possible.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mom has an Agenda and it works for us!

Are you like me and try to schedule your life to the moment, but you have kids and know that it is a joke? Well, not anymore. The creator of mom Agenda, Nina Restieri, is guess what? A Mom so she knows what we need. It has awesome features like a week at a view that have rows for each child, mom, a place for dinner if you have that much forethought! The colors are stunning, and stylish you will want to carry it, not hide it in your bag anymore!

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Opening the book, the pages are pink in this section; there is a tutorial for the new user, helping us along. It is impressive to have the favorite websites, online resources, toll-free numbers, international holidays, and holidays for us to reference. If I need to find an acronym online, I have it readily available now. It is a neat little perk that I have yet to find in any other planner, which makes it a cut above others that I have looked into.

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The next section brings you to a sectioned out calendar in pages of blue. Pink satin ribbons help you mark the pages you want to find. One part is the monthly view, the other a weekly view with planning sections and quotations atop for inspiration as well as a pick-me-up. In addition, it includes a small calendar for the current and following month. It is set up for four children at this point. If you have more than that, there is room to write in those sections. There is also a calendar view for the upcoming year. You can make notations to carry over anything needed.

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Coming upon the green section, you have space to write in your favorite books, music, movies, fashion, wines, and restaurants, while also making a heath and fitness plan. There are pages to record gifts, entertainment resources, parties, vacation ideas and planning plus to a whole lot more. It is a fantastic tool for mom and alike. It may even give you ideas you did not even know you had.

There is plenty of room at the end on purple pages to jot down some notes, maybe make a grocery list here and there. All the colors flow together well, it is colorful in tasteful, light colors that match the chocolate brown that now never leaves my side.

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I do not want to forget to mention the detachable “momEssentials” that was part of the book too. It is what sounds like, an essential address book. I liked the detachable part, just for the flexibility of running in and out of a school function, an office, even the store to get information. If you are the mom on the go that most of us are and need to get all the kids friends loaded here and there, it is so easy now. I hate having 200+ names in my cell phone that I am lost on, who is “Glenda”?

Now in my momEssentials I can make those notes and who’s friend it is, their parent’s name (which is always good - don’t you get a bit tired of being called yourchildsname’s mom?) and any information that you think is important. I will probably insert allergies, where they live, annoying traits … just kidding. No, I really do enjoy the little address book that pulls out and I plan to use it for the school and class functions more than for personal use.

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I personally love the momAgenda and highly recommend them. There are several versions so you have to go look and find which one screams you. The colors are fun and funky. The agendas are functional and easy to use, if you get confused just turn to the beginning and there is an illustration for you. It cannot be any easier to organize your life then if you actually had an assistant.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Still your Mom’s Watkins and more!

When I was looking for products to review, I happened to cross paths with Lin Ridley, an Independent Associate for Watkins. Sure I had heard of Watkins before, when I was a child I remember seeing the bottles in my grandma's cabinets. I thought for a moment before deciding to give it a try, what harm could be done? None except childhood memories, right?

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Let me lead off by telling you I have a vivacious seven year old daughter who would live in a mud puddle if I would let her. Daughter + BRAND NEW JEANS + mud puddle = disaster = frantic mom. Not with Watkins Laundry Detergent ($11.99 up to 80 loads). A simple name for a life and laundry saving product stain remover needed. As someone who is usually adding any “get that stain out” ingredient, I was shocked to see that the mud was g-o-n-e, gone. I didn’t need to wash them three times, scrub at them, and use several products. How many times can I relay this?!? It works!

Along the food lines, I sampled onion soup & gravy base, beef soup & gravy base, and cinnamon. I made a fabulous pot roast with the onion and beef mixes. They complimented each other nicely, while still having their own unique tastes. The prices are right (7.49/8.29oz) for investing in the bases. Soups, gravies, a variety of options and there are several flavors for your palate. I made cinnamon and sugar toast for my family and again, not overwhelming and a pure, earthy taste that you know isn’t processed. You can’t fake that!

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Last but not forgotten is the shea butter samples, which in Colorado our skin sucked up. Don’t be surprised if you see quite a few lotion reviews on here! Watkins has a lot to offer in the bath and body, home care and home remedies lines, which you may or may not be aware. We sampled the lavender shea butter (7.49/7oz), lemon shea butter ($7.49/7oz) and ultra rich hand cream ($6.49/8oz). Shea butter offers incredibly rich blend of shea butter, cocoa butter and whipped for a smooth, creamy feel. The driest and roughest hand are helped by the ultra rich cream, so if you or someone you know works with their hands or even washes them a lot, it a great idea! It’s helps seal in moisture and protect at the same time, as with most hand creams but this one will not rub off with contact.

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With over 300 products, I like the variety they have to offer. Watkins has been in business since 1868 & offers a 100% money back guarantee on all products.

If you would like Watkins products or information on Watkins, you can contact Lin at jordankane@verizon.net or her website at www.allinthestore.com.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Here's the beef

One of the most stressful points of the day for a wife and/or mother is dinner. Rarely are we graced with the luxury of time. Often we are faced with the obstacle of taste. For many of us, the issue of health also looms large. Meeting all of those needs without sacrificing the sanity that will bring it all together is one of the more daunting tasks we will face during the day, and finding meals to ease that pain can be just as troublesome.

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There are a variety of choices available to help in the cause to excel in this situation, but many of those options leave little to be desired. Frozen foods can be troublesome and may lack the ability to meet all of the needs you face. Prepared meals can be very convenient but may lack the taste or quality your family desires. For many, the option of choice may be right in front of your face… sitting next to you on the sofa… the primary voice of support for the meal. That option may be your husband. Give a man a grill and a fire and you may be shocked at the effort he suddenly puts forth to make a great meal.

Of course, no great deal is struck without compromise, and more often than not, that compromise will come at the choice of food. Men like meat. They like to grill meat. Beef, in any of its wonderful forms, tends to be the subject of choice when our male counterparts hit the porch and stoke the coals that will get dinner on the table. However, in today’s market, it has become almost impossible to find quality beef capable of filling an entire family at a reasonable cost without conceding either time, convenience, or health. Beef from the typical grocery store often comes from unreliable sources where the conditions would make it difficult for anyone to eat red meat without feelings of concern. The fat content is too high, the beef has come from tainted cattle loaded with chemicals, or the meat has been treated after processing with preservatives or additives that will mask just how dated and aged the product may be. All of this contributes to bad health in numerous ways, not to mention the price paid and the time lost traveling to and from the store to add it to the menu.

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Enter La Cense Beef. In a world that turns towards healthy living and a view towards the future, La Cense is a wonderful new company that has taken that same approach and applied to a market few would consider for such motives: Healthy, convenient, quality beef products.

The La Cense Ranch resides in Montana, sitting along the Blacktail Mountains as one of the most storied and reputable cattle operations in the nation. They’ve been raising cattle since 1869 and done with a pure desire to raise the best cattle in the country. This area of the union happens to possess what may be the best environment available for this kind of farming as grass and hay rich in nutrients for the cattle to eat. This is the driving force of La Cense’s approach to the market, offering Black Angus cattle raised on natural grass, void of chemicals and preservatives. The ranchers provide a quality environment where cattle are treated as valuable commodities and are not forced to live in unsanitary conditions.

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With this in mind, Heidi Toyne with La Cense dropped me a line and thought we should give their service a whirl. Their site (lacensebeef.com) offers a wide variety of products revolving around their primary product of mail-order beef. It may not seem wise to order beef products through the mail, but La Cense makes it all simple and worthwhile. The menu of choices is phenomenal, including a wide array of steaks, roasts, burgers, ribs, and various cuts including brisket, liver, and stewing beef. There is even a section of options for your dog, including meat and bones. If you like good meat, these guys have it covered and will bring it right to your door.

All orders are vacuum sealed in a USDA certified facility where the beef is dry aged for 19 days, enhancing the tenderness of the cuts. The meat is then frozen immediately after processing to insure no time is wasted and freshness is saved. Your order is sent in an insulated container with dry ice (a phenomenal idea as the dry ice evaporates, leaving no mess to clean) or freezer gel packs. Customers have just two choices for shipping, including next day or 2nd day air, an understandable practice considering the commodity at hand. The site includes a page that provides a detailed chart of the process and delivery times and schedules. You’ll make your order and know exactly when it will arrive.

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The site is a great tool for those with remaining trepidation. Sections discussing their feeding processes, the La Cense philosophies of raising cattle and doing business, and the benefits of adding such products to your diet are there for your consideration, and you’ll also find a wonderful page of recipes and cooking instructions to help your efforts.

If you struggle to find great meals the meet your needs for health, convenience, and taste, you should give La Cense a shot. The meat is absolutely wonderful. Heidi was nice enough to send some burgers our way and they could not have been better. The meat, unlike the ground beef from the local market, was a solid beef patty void of fat or gristle. The flavor was perfect and they cooked as well on the grill as we could hope. Nice, thick, hamburger patties that were easy to make and flavorful… hard to believe you could get such a great product through the mail. If you struggle from dietary or digestion problems, this meat is a perfect solution. The lack of fat, chemical, and waste offers a burger that eats more like a steak.

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Overall, this was a wonderful experience I would suggest to anyone. I realize the cost may be a bit prohibitive, but the expense is well worth it. The meat at the store may be cheaper, but after you factor the quality, the time and energy wasted going to the store, and the benefits for your health, you are sure to find the investment in adding La Cense to your list of options is a choice well made.

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wake up with ellen

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Mom in the Know
Location: Golden, CO, USA
Who am I?

Well, aside from a mom and a wife, I'm a person who wants the best for all of us. I have two daughters, two dogs, and a husband – all of whom I wanted to be at home for – so I put my talents to use, looking out for my family. Shopping (well, kinda you send me the products!). Surfing the Internet. Meeting new people. Recommending products to friends, after I fall in love with them. And figuring out how to make products better.

Enjoy.

If you want to submit a product for review, just contact me.
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