Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Whole Foods Market: Healthy Snack Tips

It's back to school time for ... almost everyone. For me, that means sitting down and trying to figure out what I'm going to feed the wee ones both for lunch and snacks. While our schools require that snacks be only fresh fruits or vegetables, our snacks outside school aren't always. Whole Foods invited me to video my healthy snack tips for the wee ones and share it with you. It's currently live on the Whole Foods Facebook page.

Check it out and tell me what you think!

Are you a fan of Whole Foods? You can sign up for the Whole Foods weekly special (scroll down) and possibly win a $500 gift card to Whole Foods Market. Score!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was compensated for this campaign by Whole Foods Market. That said as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eversave: Bonus $10 And Deals

I've mentioned Eversave before, and I am so enjoying the new deal site I found. It isn't the only one I belong to, but it has some great deals from travel to online to local. And right now... they are giving everyone a $10 bonus. That's $10 free for you to use to purchase your next save. No strings attached... except that the $10 expires at midnight tonight. All you need to do is choose your deal before midnight and purchase it to get your $10 (limit to one $10 bonus per account, so if you've already used it... well, you already used it!).

Need some ideas of what to purchase with your bonus? Check out the offerings below. This is only a sampling of what is available in each city, and there are more cities available that I didn't include. How can you not find something you want, especially with an extra $10 to spend?

Online Canvas Megastore

Canvas Megastore

Today's Save:$35 for $90 worth of photography and fine art prints from Canvas Megastore, plus free shipping!

Expires 11:59 PM - Sep 03, 2011

Online Jeans.com


Today's Save:$40 for $80 worth of celeb-favorite designer denim from Jeans.com

Expires 11:59 PM - Sep 01, 2011

Online NuMe Style

NuMe Style

Today's Save:$18 for $85 worth of premium hair-styling tools and products from NuMe Style

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 28, 2011

Online PhotoBin.com


Today's Save:$36 to convert those old photos into digital form at PhotoBin.com ($99 value)

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 25, 2011

Atlanta The Mesotherapy Center

The Mesotherapy Center

Today's Save:$55 for a rejuvenating IPL laser facial at The Mesotherapy Center ($300 value)

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 27, 2011

Austin Austin's Boat Tours

Austin's Boat Tours

Today's Save:$32 for $65 toward rentals, tours and parties from Austin's Boat Tours

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 29, 2011

Baltimore T and A Detailing

T and A Detailing

Last Chance:$59 for a full auto detailing or $75 for a window tinting at T & A Detailing

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 25, 2011

Boston James Hook and Co.

James Hook and Co.

Today's Save:$30 for two lobsters, clam chowder and bag of mussels from James Hook & Co. ($61 value)

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 27, 2011

Chicago MG Rejuvenation Center

MG Rejuvenation Center

Today's Save:$49 for a customized facial from MG Rejuvenation Center ($125 value)

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 28, 2011

Columbus Skin for All People

Skin for All People

Today's Save:$49 for a resurfacing treatment from Skin for All People ($125 value)

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 27, 2011

Indianapolis Blush and Bobby Pins

Blush and Bobby Pins

Today's Save:$25 for a style or $99 for eyelash extensions at Blush & Bobby Pins

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 27, 2011

New York City Eden Salon and Spa

Eden Salon and Spa

Today's Save:$39 for a 30-minute or $49 for a 60-minute facial from Eden Salon and Spa

Expires 11:59 PM - Aug 29, 2011

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate of Eversave. I do receive a commission for any items purchased on Eversave using the links shared above. That said, I am posting only those deals that I find interesting, and all opinions expressed are my own. Those can't be bought. Period.


Yay, a couple more winners for me to announce. That's always a good day, I think!

First off, we have the winner of the Strawberry cotw asok. That was The Stockwell Family from The Stockwells in Colorado! They have 48 hours to get back to me with their contact information before I select a new winner.

We also have winners for the Giddy Snacks. Remember, this was two winners this time around. The first winner is Cheryl F. from The Lucky Ladybug. The second winner from this giveaway was Mommy who does not have her profile enabled and did not provide me with an email address. I have my fingers crossed that I receive the contact information for both winners in the next 48 hours, or again a new winner will have to be chosen.

Congrats, and check out more to come!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Event: Cadillac Challenge

Have you noticed that I love food? A lot? I love cooking or baking it, sharing it with friends, and eating it. And yes, watching it on television is a possible vice of mine. This weekend, I can attend a cooking demonstration by two renowned chefs. How fun!

In Oak Brook, Cadillac is having a Culinary Challenge with Chef David Burke versus Chef Abel Cortes on Saturday and Sunday August 20 and 21. There are three different demonstrations each day, at 11:30am, 2pm, and 4pm.

You'll be able to taste test their food at each of the demonstrations, and Cadillac is also running test drives of their cars versus the competition. You can compare how Cadillac runs to challengers from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes. And who doesn't love a good test drive in a luxury car?

Sound fun?

Come play on Saturday or Sunday all day. The event is in Oak Brook at Oak Brook Center: 100 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, IL 60523. So come, have fun - and find me on Sunday! Don't forget to register for the Cadillac Challenge if you're planning to come.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am attending this event, which is free to the public. I have not received any compensation, and as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Giveaway: Lawry's Seasonings and Marinades

It's summer, so you know I'm avoiding turning on my oven or stove as much as humanly possible. When TheMotherhood offered to let me combine some of my favorites - grilling, cooking with friends, and trying new recipes - it was a no brainer. Of course I was in.

Our team of Melissa from Peanut Butter in My Hair, Vanessa from ChefDruck Musings, Hyacinth from Undercover Mother, Cher from Mom and More, and Paula from Frosted Fingers were part of our team, assigned to come up with three recipes using Lawry's products on a vacation theme. It was such a blast, and it renewed our commitment to getting together to cook with friends.

After much thinking, we came up with a great menu, a twist on vacationing through the Mediterranean. Although Paula and Cher had to do a separate get together due to schedules, it was a blast cooking with Vanessa, Melissa, and Hy! And oh was our lunch scrumptious! We all left stuffed to the gills.

How could you possibly resist that?

Watermelon Gazpacho with Grilled Shrimp

1 Medium Seedless or Seeded Watermelon, Finely Diced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 avocados, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 T white wine vinegar
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Salt and Pepper to your Taste

Mix watermelon, cucumber, bell pepper, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a large bowl. Measure 3 cups of the mixture into a blender or food processor and puree. Transfer to another large bowl. Puree another 3 cups and add to the bowl.

Taste the soup and salt as desired. Top with the remaining diced mixture and the avocado.

Season the shrimp with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. Thread them onto skewers. Cook on direct heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Remove the shrimp from the skewers and arrange them prettily around the soup. Serve the soup chilled.

Lawry’s Balsamic Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Grilled Pineapple

3 chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 c Lawry’s Balsamic Marinade
1 pineapple, peeled and cored, and cut into 2 inch cubes

Wash and cut the chicken into 2 inch cubes, removing most fat and the tenderloins. Place chicken in a bowl and cover with the marinade overnight.

Soak bamboo skewers in water for an hour.

Preheat your grill with one direct heat zone and one cooler indirect heat zone.

Peel, core, and cut the pineapple into 2 inch cubes. Thread the chicken onto skewers. On separate skewers, to maintain even cooking, thread the pineapple. Mixed fruit and meat skewers may look prettier but they don’t cook as evenly or safely.

Cook the chicken first on indirect heat, 5-6 minutes on each side. Cook the pineapple second, also on indirect heat, 2 minutes max on each side to have it caramelize but not burn.

Serve immediately, or place in the fridge to serve cold. The peach chutney makes a delicious dipping sauce.

Peach Chutney

2 fresh peaches, peeled and diced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 T of white wine vinegar
2 T of brown sugar
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T olive oil

Chop the peaches, shallots, and onion.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the shallots and onion and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the peaches, lemon juice and zest, sugar, and vinegars. Stir well. Lower heat to medium low and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until the chutney has come together and is a little brown.

This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days after preparation.

Tomato Mozzarella Pasta Salad with Lawry’s Balsamic Herb Marinade


1/2 c basil leaves, chiffonaded
3/4 lb fresh Mozzarella balls (Ciliegine size)
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 lb pasta noodles (any round type variety that will work well with a fork)
1/2 small red onion, diced
1/2 c Lawry’s Original Seasoned Salt marinade (or you could use Lawry’s Balsamic Herb)

Cook pasta noodles but don't let it completely cool. The salad will come together better if you add the dressing and accompaniments while it's still warm. Chiffonade the basil leaves, rolling them up then slicing the roll you created. Dice the red onion, and and chop mozzarella into bite size pieces. (You can cut up tomatoes if you’d like but we kept them whole.)

Toss everything together and stir in Lawry’s Balsamic Herb. Let it sit together for a few hours in the fridge for the flavors to meld, then serve cold.

Thanks to all my wonderful cooking partners for an awesome meal I'm ready to eat again right now!

Ready to start your own grill right now and invite over some friends? Me, too. I'm ready to do this again. Now. And I already ate dinner tonight. One lucky winner will be able to replicate this meal with seasonings from Lawry's. I have a 16 oz Seasoned Salt, a full size Balsamic Herb Marinade, and a full size Seasoned Salt Marinade to give away. Yum! So what do you have to do to win? First of all, let me stress that you must follow all the rules. If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not count!

This contest is open until Monday August 29 at 7pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via random.org and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me - what is your favorite thing to grill?

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry - if you put it all in one comment, I'll count it as one entry):

1) Earn one additional entry for following me on Twitter, then tweeting this contest with the following tweet: "Time to kick up your grilling. Win #Lawrys seasoning and marinade from @honestandtruly http://bit.ly/qT8yqn" (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.

And no, you won't earn any extra entries for it, but you will get good karma for following me on Facebook, too!

Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given samples of the Lawry's products as described above for review purposes. I was also compensated for this campaign. That said as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review: Natural Versus Processed Cheese

If you know anything about me, you know that I tend to like my food natural. I would love to avoid all sorts of processed foods permanently if possible. I know not all my friends feel the same way, however, and that's fine. When Sargento approached me with the opportunity to do a natural versus processed cheese tasting with friends though? How fun could that be!

And so tonight they came over for dinner (a meal that Mister Man planned, which was so cute!) and before I fed them my food, I used them for a little taste test.

We had a little crackers and cheese appetizer. Before we dug in, we read a little about natural and processed cheese and read the tasting guide. I've done wine tastings before, and I sorta know how those go... cheese tastings though? This was new to me.

What do you do in a cheese tasting?

First, you look at the cheese. When comparing the two, it's obvious which is the processed cheese. Cheese shouldn't be shiny. It just flat out shouldn't. No matter the color of the natural cheese - and they will vary based on type - it should have a texture to it, and it should not be glossy.

Touching the cheese is next. When you bend it, it should break and not roll. Some cheese are soft, but natural cheeses in general shouldn't feel mushy. The processed cheese felt sticky and just ... not quite right to us.

Then we smelled the cheese. My husband picked up on the smell of cooked milk, which doesn't belong in cheese in our opinions. The natural cheese has a sharp smell. It smells like cheese and is much stronger than the more muted tones of the processed cheese.

Lastly, we tasted the cheese (see, it really is like a wine tasting, isn't it?). The processed cheese tasted flat to us. And it was very salty. While some natural cheese can be salty, that isn't the predominant note, as it was for the processed cheese. We enjoyed the flavor of the natural cheese better, especially the continuing flavor.

One of our tasters tried to eat the processed cheese. As she tried to peel it up from the plastic wrap it's surrounded by, it just broke apart every time she tried to pick it up. She did her best, but eventually she gave up about halfway through the slice.

That didn't sell all our tasters on the natural cheeses. Some of them purchase processed cheese for their families because their families ask for it, and they didn't really see the difference. As one friend stated, "Now that I've seen this and tasted the difference and read about the cheeses, I'm not buying the processed kind any more!" Another friend wanted me to point out to Sargento that "this was worthwhile. They just got a new customer in me!"


Natural cheese is made with only milk, cheese cultures, enzymes, and salt. It's aged naturally and tested by professional cheese graders to ensure the quality. It is made in a block and cut directly from the block, then packaged - not melted while being made. It needs to be refrigerated (that seems like a "duh" statement, doesn't it?). Interestingly, a 21 gram slice of Sargento cheddar has 130mg of sodium.

Processed cheese has emulsifiers added to it, as well as preservatives like Sorbic Acid. It is typically heated to 180 degrees and cooked with direct steam, removing delicate flavors. Many processed cheeses are sold on shelves and not refrigerated for months at a time. And creating that slice in the little plastic package? It is often pumped into plastic packaging and run over a series of rollers to form the slice. Tellingly, a 19 gram slice (smaller than the natural cheese slice) has 250mg of sodium. With the new recommendation that we get no more than 1500mg of sodium per day, that's a lot of our daily sodium in one small package!

I think I made some new converts to natural cheese. It wasn't necessarily my intention, but it was interesting to see the reactions not just to the nutritional information but to the cheeses side by side. Definitely a fun evening for all of us!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided with a sample of both Sargento sliced cheese and a processed cheese food, along with compensation courtesy TheMotherhood and Sargento. That said as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Chevy Volt

It's time for our annual jaunt down to St. Louis to visit my in-laws. It's not a super long trip, but it puts a ton of miles on our cars to do it the three to four times a year we go. When GM offered to let me try out the Chevy Volt, I immediately thought of the trip as the perfect time, after all I wasn't driving carpool with five kids in the car at that point.

Then I thought about what the Volt was and briefly panicked about driving with four people to spend four days out of town in such a small car (after all, my car seats eight!). After thinking about it, I agreed, and I'm sorta glad I did. I had this fun little treat sitting in my driveway all ready to take me down to St. Louis and back - on less than 12 gallons of gas, total. My pocket book is a huge fan of the car for that reason alone, but we'll get there.

It's a really cute car, no? It was amazing to me how many people gave the car a once over (or simply stared) while we were driving it, and even the couple at Costco who were standing there having a conversation about it while I pushed my cart full of goodies towards it - and yes, the trunk did fit the me, the wee ones, and our Costco shopping trip.

So you know the Volt is an electric vehicle, right? It has a special long charge cord that is stored in the trunk that plugs in just outside the driver's side door. It clicks into place and stays there until you squeeze the handle to remove it when you're ready to go (the manual suggests leaving it plugged in when you aren't driving to help regulate the battery). I was a little taken aback the first time I unplugged it because both the handle and the plug were distinctively warm. It seemed to be less warm when I unplugged it after it had been fully charged for awhile, and it was never burning hot, just definitively warm.

The charge is good for about 37 miles according to the book on the car, although each time we drove it, we got significantly more. There is a cool screen on the "edutainment" center (their name, not mine - but I like it!) that shows how things have been going for your drive. When you look at this one, you can see that I got almost 43 miles on my charge and drove 4.4 miles using 0.13 gallons of gas (that's over 36 miles per gallon, though we frequently got much higher mileage when driving on the gas engine). The lifetime mpg is somewhat confusing, as it includes the electric miles where you use no gas so mentally (to me at least), it's inflated.

Another pretty cool screen is the standard dashboard, which isn't so standard on a Volt. Admittedly, it took me a bit of time to get used to it, but I eventually did. There is no traditional gas gauge. When there is a charge in the car, there is a ticker with a battery icon showing how many more miles you have before it switches to the gas engine. And I am happy to report that switching from the electric to the gas engine is smooth, with no scary bumps or jerks as I feared might happen the first time. Once you have the gas engine running, the miles remaining for gas pops up on the screen with a gas pump next to it so that you know which power source you're using.

That screen also has an "environmentally friendly" meter, as I'll call it. This seems to be the popular thing in new cars now to encourage people to drive in a way that maximizes fuel efficiency and reduce wear on cars. The Volt has a little green ball that you try to keep in the middle. If you accelerate too fast, it will raise up, lose its three leaves and start to turn yellow. If you decelerate too quickly, the same thing happens except that the ball lowers in the bar. I am proud to report that I drove the vast majority of my time in the middle of the bar with all three leaves firmly attached to my spinning earth ball.

One of the coolest features (and I apologize for the horrible picture - my "good" camera was in the shop when I had the Volt, so I was back to my point and shoot that really needs to be retired) is the backup camera. Now, I know backup cameras are sort of old hat. Just about every car made now has them, except mine of course. The one for the Volt is positioned in the "edutainment" center, too - just a different display option on the screen, of which there were many. This backup camera? First of all, it's in color, which not all of them are. Second, it was really large, which was helpful. Third - and coolest, the camera has a red grid that shows your driving path. If you turn the wheel, the red grid moves, too. It was so cool. And it's possible that I played with this a lot just for fun, and that I showed it off to every friend who came anywhere near the Volt during the week I had it. When something - or someone - gets into that red grid, it beeps and has a little hazard icon appear. It also works well at night as it must be lit from behind. I really, really want one for my car now. I got a little spoiled.

The car itself is not made for families, however. The five children I carpool daily during the school year would not fit in the car, even without me. This car very clearly only seats four people. It is a very narrow car, with little room between the seats.

And when I say four people, I really mean two people and two small children. This shot shows how much room the wee ones had between the ends of the back seats and the front seat. Had they been any older or bigger, this would not have been a comfortable ride for them around town, let alone to St. Louis and back.

This is a great car. I really enjoyed driving it. That said, I couldn't have this be my car at this point in my life. I would have loved to have had it before I had children, especially when I was single. It would also be great once the wee ones are out of the house, but this is not a car for more than two people unfortunately. And given the price tag - the car I drove was $43,700 - I have a feeling I wouldn't have had the money to buy it back when I was single, even counting for the greatly decreased fuel cost. A single charge that gets me personally about 43 miles costs approximately $1.07. Translating that to the current $3.90 per gallon we have by me, the equivalent miles per gallon are almost 157 for the same fuel cost. I could live with that. Happily. Someday, someday.

In the previous picture, you can also see part of my car charger. Odd, no? Well, yeah, sorta. There is no car charger in the usual spot. In the spot of every other car I've ever seen or driven, in fact. When I first got in and searched for the car charger, I couldn't find one at all. I eventually found one on top of the dashboard, inside a hidden container, but I don't want my devices and cords hanging down like that. The only other charger I found was actually in the console in the back seat, which wasn't the most convenient. We'll leave it at that. And no, there weren't as many cup holders as we're used to either - but then again, this isn't a family car. I did miss not having my adjustable cup holder that will hold my 40 ounce water bottle, but apparently I am lucky and this is an uncommon feature.

But what is in the place of the traditional power cord? It's actually the parking brake. Yep, the parking brake. I've never seen it anywhere but than down by my feet. I thought this was a very odd placement, along with the only place containing door locks. I kept reaching to the door to lock and unlock doors, but only the window controls were there. It took a little getting used to, but I survived.

I also found it a little odd that the window lock (which I use frequently, especially in car pool to keep kids from rolling down the windows when we - meaning "me" - don't want them down) also controls the child safety lock that allows the back seat passengers to open their own doors. I actually had to get help with that one, since Mister Man freaked out when he couldn't open his door. Fortunately, the wee ones are well-behaved enough that I trust them to not use the window lock, so we were fine after that.

My other pet peeve about the car was the controls in the edutainment center. They are all essentially touch driven (you can see some of them in the above picture). When driving, if I want to check something or change something - from making it warmer or cooler, turning up or down the fans, changing the radio - I have to look at the center and ensure I press the right button. There's no going by feel and pushing the button I know is there. On the flip side, when I'm scanning radio stations as an example, my hand would continually accidentally touch one of the buttons, changing the display and forcing me to start over again. I was not a fan of this feature, and I really hope that it is changed at some point. Ironically, with the super futuristic buttons on the edutainment center, the steering wheel buttons for cruise control, etc were ummm not. They were fairly cheap feeling, clicking back and forth and sticking out like old fashioned window power controls. The juxtaposition really surprised me. For both, I'd like the happy in between that features slightly raised buttons of various shapes that tell you what they are but that aren't overly sensitive.

My last comment is another really cool feature. I think. Instead of turning a key to turn on the car, you simply ensure you have the key fob with you, press your foot on the brake, and and push the power button. Both when you enter the car with the fob and when you turn the car on, there is a very cool futuristic noise that greets you, letting you know that you have the fob with you (phew!) and that the car is on, respectively, since in electric mode, the car is quiet. That said, because I didn't need to use the key fob for anything, I was constantly paranoid that I would lose the key or leave it locked in the car, and so forth. I'm not sure why using the key gives me such reassurance, but it did. I have a feeling that once I get into a routine of not plugging in a key, I'd be fine with this - and I'm sure this is the direction most cars are now going.

All in all, I really enjoyed the Volt. It's super cheap to operate, and it's got pretty good get up and go. It's good looking and functional. I had fun driving it and loved the looks I got. Were I in a different situation, I'd seriously look into buying one, especially as I see gas prices going up - again. Unfortunately, it is not made for people who have a family. It really is ideal for single people or those who are married with no children - or grown children. I'll keep waiting until they make a car like this that can help me drive my carpool around, dreaming instead of the fun I had in my Volt, pretending to be cool for a week!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was provided with the Chevy Volt to drive for a week for review purposes. That said, I have not received any compensation, and as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Giveaway: Giddy Snacks

I don't know if you've picked this up about me or not, but I'm a little particular about what the wee ones eat. If I could go back a hundred years and feed them no processed food whatsoever, I'd do it. There are so many foods (and other products, for that matter) that have ingredients in them that we avoid. It gets difficult when other children are involved, and as the wee ones have gotten older, that's happened more frequently.

We are among the strictest parents in terms of what we will and won't feed the wee ones. My friends with multiple food allergies and issues are the exception, I suppose. However, when the wee ones have friends over, it's important socially that we have snacks that the other kids are interested in. In carpool, the healthy-ish snacks that I provide have frequently been rejected by others in the carpool as not being sweet enough or for other reasons.

Then I got sent Giddy Snacks, which is a new product that is in limited distribution in Target stores in the Chicago area. I can only hope that the distribution will increase quickly! This was a snack that not only the wee ones enjoyed, but their friends did, too. And yes, we shared. A lot.

The Dip 'Ems are pretty cool. They don't have any artificial ingredients - no HFCS, no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, no dyes, no ingredients I can't pronounce. These are the kind of snacks I am ok feeding the wee ones. They are still a cookie with a fruit dipping sauce, so this isn't an every day item like a whole apple, but it's great as a snack.

The Dip 'Ems come in four different flavors: strawberry, grape, sour apple, and tropical. We tried the first two, and while I prefer the strawberry, Mister Man likes the grape better. He isn't as much a fan of the slightly sour taste of the strawberry, but I love it. That said, he will eat them but simply chooses the grape when he can. The multiple friends we've shared the Giddy Snacks with have also been fans, including those who had rejected other relatively healthy snacks I've offered. I think we have a winner!

Giddy Snacks are sold in four packs of a single flavor. Each package contains four individual servings that contain four biscuits and a container of the dipping sauce. It isn't too much food, but it's enough to take the edge of hunger or to share amongst multiple children.

I really like that the dipping sauces aren't overly sweet. The grape is definitely sweeter than the strawberry, but it's naturally done, not by adding all sorts of fake stuff. The sauce is also slightly thicker than I had initially anticipated, which I found to be a good thing. It meant that the sauce was less likely to drip off the biscuit before the wee ones got it into their mouths. I'm all about the snacks that don't require me to do a massive cleanup afterwards!

Are you sold on Giddy Snacks yet? Do you wish they were sold in your area? Their distribution is starting to increase, and if they don't have it by you yet, you can still order them from Amazon. Want to try them first? You can! I have a week's worth of Giddy Snacks for two winners - three boxes for you to try out.

So what do you have to do to win? First of all, let me stress that you must follow all the rules. If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not count!

This contest is open until Wednesday August 24 at 7pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via random.org and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me - what snacks do you feed your kids (or yourselves)?

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry - if you put it all in one comment, I'll count it as one entry):

1) Earn one additional entry for following me on Twitter, then tweeting this contest with the following tweet: "Finally. A snack you can feel good about. Win samples of Giddy Snacks from @honestandtruly http://bit.ly/qT8yqn" (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.

And no, you won't earn any extra entries for it, but you will get good karma for following me on Facebook, too!

Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, I was given samples of the Giddy Snacks for review purposes and to share with friends to get their reaction. That said, I have not received any compensation, and as always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Savings For You: eversave

I got back from BlogHer late Monday night, and there is so much to share from there. I loved loved loved it, once again. And yes, before you ask, I will be back for BlogHer in New York in 2012. In fact, I've already purchased my ticket. Ahem.

I love connecting with new brands and learning about products I've not experienced before (and of course the ones I already love). I know I can't possibly post about them all, but I'm going to do my best. One of my favorites was the deal programs out there. I'm already a member of ahem a few programs, and I learned about more while at BlogHer. When I see some good deals coming through, I'll be posting and sharing them here for you.

And it's actually a win win (win). I was asked to sign up to be an affiliate with eversave, for example, which is a new deal site offering deals both online and in local markets. Yay, Chicago was added on Monday! I've already seen some pretty cool deals and wished I lived elsewhere so that I could take advtange of some of them. But no... that's for you instead.

For example, you can get $15 worth of Okabashi sandals and footwear online for $7. They've got some pretty cool sandals because yes, I checked them out. In fact, I have a pair or two coming to my house now.

Best of all, if you're new to eversave, you'll get an instant $2 credit when you sign up. That makes the Okabashi deal just $5 for $15 worth of sandals. You can also use this $2 new member credit on any of our local deals on family activities, dining out, spa treatments and more in cities nationwide. Why not?

Some of my other current favorite deals:

(Valid until August 12)
$15 for a 100% natural mineral makeup kit from Southern Magnolia Minerals ($37 value), plus free shipping!
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 12, 2011

(Valid until August 11)
$9 for a fiber-rich, all-natural Gnu Foods 7 Bar Sampler with shipping included ($19 value)
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 11, 2011

(Valid until August 12)
$12 for $25 worth of funky apparel with a big heart from Life is Nutz
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 12, 2011

(Valid until August 19)
$25 for $50 worth of decorative wall art for kids from ZWalls.com - plus 50% off shipping!
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 19, 2011

I now want to move to Baltimore (valid until August 12)
$39 for a 60-minute signature facial or $36 for an exfoliating body polish
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 12, 2011

Because I need to live in Boston to pamper myself this way (valid until August 11)
$35 for a Swedish or deep tissue massage at My Spa 2 in Newton (up to $80 value)
Offer expires: 11:59 PM - Aug 11, 2011

In the interest of full disclosure, I have an affiliate relationship with eversave where I earn a commission for each sale purchased with my links. That said, I am sharing the links that I find worthwhile and interesting because as always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Giveaway: Strawberries Cook Book

I recently was invited to attend an event hosted by California Strawberries. Granted, at the time I had a four pound box of strawberries from Costco in my fridge, so it's possible to say that I'm a fan already. And it was hosted at The Chopping Block downtown - which is where I honed my cooking skills and is still one of my favorite places in the city. How could I say no?

It was interesting to hear from the various speakers, farmers and marketers and the most entertaining dietitian I've ever met. They shared tons of information that made me feel even more confident buying strawberries. I was interested to hear how they irrigate strawberries - from the bottom, covered in plastic, etc - to ensure that they are as disease free. Anyone going into the fields has to be noted and checked to ensure there are no contaminants getting into our food supply. The safety taken was comforting.

Then there was the info about how they're picked. They are all picked by hand and packed into cartons in the field. Those are the cartons we buy them in - they aren't processed any further (so umm don't forget to wash before you eat them!), which keeps them fresher. Trucks have to get to the distribution within three hours, and they arrive in the midwest in three to four days after picking. No wonder they taste so good!

We also had David Grotto, dietitian/comedian, chat with us. He shared the new FDA guidelines, apologizing that it had only vegetables and no fruits, since the only one he had was one sponsored by a vegetable company as it's so new. And he complained that his suggested dessert and alcohol food groups were left off the plate. He was a hoot, and he imparted great information. I already knew they were super low in calories and good for you. But I had no idea strawberries were so full of fiber or that they had more vitamin C than an orange. Go fig!

It was a super fun event, and of course they shared strawberry recipes with us. I think my favorite was the strawberry goat cheese pizza, which I've already made, but there were some really awesome and unique items that we all enjoyed. In fact, I was lucky to get the strawberry gazpacho, as it ran out - so I shared with Vanessa from French Foodie Mama. I made a pregnant lady happy.

We also had some awesome muddled strawberry mojitos both with and without balsamic vinegar (I preferred it without). Because we have to prove you can even use strawberries in alcohol, right?

And then there were the crab tostadas. It's a shame that Melisa from Suburban Scrawl didn't want hers. I was forced to eat her portion and oh was it a chore. I think I ate someone else's portion, too, but I promise they umm didn't want it either.

All the food was incredible from the strawberry sliders to the panino

The recipes all came from a really fun cookbook that I promise you can make room for on your shelf. The California Strawberry for Everyday cookbook had tons of great recipes beyond this, many of which I can't wait to try. Have I mentioned my addition to the four pound boxes of strawberries at Costco?

And I have a copy for you, too! I am giving away one copy of this awesome cookbook. So what do you have to do to win? First of all, let me stress that you must follow all the rules. If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not count!

This contest is open until Tuesday August 23 at 7pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via random.org and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me - what do you love most about strawberries?

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry - if you put it all in one comment, I'll count it as one entry):

1) Earn one additional entry for following me on Twitter, then tweeting this contest with the following tweet: "Because we all need more cookbooks! Win a Strawberry Recipes for Everyday cookbook from @honestandtruly. http://bit.ly/nihXRo #giveaway" (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following Honest And Truly Reviews publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.

While it won't get you any extra entries, I do encourage you to like Honest & Truly on Facebook so you can stay up to date on giveaways and other cool info and news.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was attended an event by California Strawberries that featured their product and information about them. I also received my own cookbook. That said, I received no compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own.


Congrats to Liz of a belle, a bean, and a chicago dog who was the winner of the BusyBodyBook organizer. My apologies for the delay in announcing. It's been hectic with BlogHer, and I discovered that my iP*d does not post on Blogger anymore. Boo.

She has 48 hours to contact me before I draw a new winner. And yes, more giveaways going up ... almost immediately!

Update: Liz has acquired a BusyBodyBook of her own since the contest (go her!), so she is graciously giving up the prize for someone who does not already have one. That means our new winner is: Cheryl F. from the Lucky Ladybug! She also has 48 hours to contact me before a new winner is chosen.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Get Your Rock Star On at BlogHer!

I officially head to San Diego for BlogHer tomorrow morning. In fact, my plane will be taking off in ten or so hours. Am I ready? Absolutely not. In fact, instead of packing - like I probably should do soon! - I am just now finalizing my schedule for BlogHer and catching up on things at home before I head out.

Am I panicked? Nope, not in the least. This is my third year attending BlogHer, and it is funny how so many of the things I used to worry about: am I bringing enough clothes, what will I wear, will I find someone to talk to, how does this whole Expo thing work, what is an Expo, OMG what if I don't get into the "good" parties - all that has completely melted away. I know I'm going to have fun. I've simply decided that I will, and I have had fun every single year that I've attended. It's as simple as that.

No one cares what I'm wearing. And if they do, well... I have better things to do with my time than worry about that. I'm dressing in what's comfortable for me, which means resort casual (oh how I love that term). It's polished enough to have conversations with brands, and I'm comfortable enough to walk miles and miles and miles every day I'm in San Diego.

There are 3,000 women. Twitter has been a great way to find people I want to meet up with, and I've yet to run into a situation where I strike up a conversation and am completely rebuffed. People just aren't that icky. I've made awesome friendships every year, and there are so many women that I am so excited to catch up with again this year.

And the parties. Ohhhh the parties. I have to admit that I'm a little saddened by people. I've seen so much whining by so many people over who is invited to what parties and oh pleeeeaasse let me in because no one wants to be left out. Trust me. You won't be. There are so many parties that it's impossible to attend them all, and I know I have much more fun if I find something I enjoy and hang out there rather than racing from place to place to try to fit it all in. They're parties. You may not be invited to them all. I know I'm certainly not, but I have a calendar that's plenty full, and I'm planning to take advantage of it - and the down time. Some of the most fun is hanging out at the hotel with new and old friends just by ourselves where we've found a little corner or outside a party in a hallway. Plus, there are 3,000 women at BlogHer this year. Everyone's gotta share, right? It's alll good.

So ummm please. Please? Pretty pretty please? If you're not on the invite list to the Clever Rock Stars party on Thursday night, don't beg and plead with the people working the door to get in (ummm yes, I'm one of them, and I can't let you in, sorry!). People working the doors of the parties are doing their very best to get everyone in who's supposed to be in the parties as quickly as possible. Don't make it harder for them by putting them in an awkward position - but hey, you wouldn't do that anyway, would you?

My only issue right now is packing. I've already decided that I'm not checking any bags on the way to BlogHer. Yes, I'm that good a packer. Being a management consultant and on the road for three straight years does that to a person. I refuse to take swag just for the sake of taking it. If it isn't something I really want, it isn't coming home with me. My challenge now is deciding whether to just ship things home (less than the cost of baggage each way, I've figured out based on a 45 pound box being shipped to my house - and who needs more than that or even that?) or packing a duffel bag meaning I'll need to check a bag on the way home. But somehow it'll work out, and I'm just not that stressed about it. Which is why I have nine and a half hours before my plane leaves and I've yet to start packing.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go practice my Smurfy dance moves. I've heard there's a dance off at the Clever Rock Stars party, and I have to defend my title after the shocking Type A Conference win by Team Maxi Dress. Packing, schmacking.

Come find me at BlogHer. Tweet me @honestandtruly to find out where I'm at this week!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am receiving compensation from Clever Girls Collective in the form of a partial sponsorship to BlogHer. I was requested to write a post before and after BlogHer, but the topics were up to me. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.