Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vitacost Giveaway!

Hey guys!  This month looks like it is going to be an AMAZING month for giveaways and reviews!!

I was approved to take part in a Vitacost blogger group online.  Basically they are sending me a bunch of items to try out and blog about. Of course I will give my honest opinion.  To kick off this amazing opportunity, they are giving away a $100 gift certificate to their site!!  This is going on through NUMEROUS sites, so make sure to get your entry in!

If you have never checked out Vitacost, you should.  Not only do they have vitamins for an INSANELY good price (which is why I started shopping there), but they also have all kinds of food, baby items, body care, the list goes on and on!  I want to eat the chocolate in the picture.  :) 

One thing I have been doing for a while now is their friend referral program.  BASICALLY you sign up for the program.  When you have a friend come over through your link and spend $30 for the first time, they save $10 and YOU get a $10 credit towards your next $30 or more purchase.  SCORE!

So....if you want to click this handy link right here you will go through my special page and you can claim your reward!

But I know why you are here...the $100 giftcard.  Here is the info!  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 28, 2013 incredible awesome new subscription box service!

**Warning. This is a VERY picture heavy post of Japanese Candy awesomeness.****

I was chatting with a friend the other day who has an admitted subscription box addiction.  She saw this new box and messaged me the second she ran across it.  It is AMAZING.

Skoshbox is a brand new subscription service that delivers handpicked items from Japan to your doorstep every month.  The items range from yummy green tea flavored chocolates to pens and erasers (that they claim are "life changing")  They handpick everything because  it's important to them that "each item reflect the Japan that we love so much, for its high standards in quality, ingenuity, and wonderfully eccentric styles and flavors."

The company is ran by two childhood friends who both were raised partially in Japan and partially in the US.  Both had Japanese mothers and were raised with the games, snacks, and culture.  They saw a lacking of easily accessible, affordable Japanese items in the US and the company was created.

So.  What are in these amazing boxes you ask?  I got one.  It was packed so nice and snug.  Like a well played game of Tetris. 
 Good things really do come in small packages!! 

 I wish I thought about taking a picture of it all packed nicely.  Once the tissue was pulled back I couldn't contain myself.  I dove in.  

So what I plan on doing is telling you about everything I received.  Here is a link to the actual box contents and Skoshbox's description.  They do a posting every month with the description and also include a handy note card with the same description.    Since the box changes every month, the link posted will probably NOT have the correct descriptions in the future, but you can see what was in the current box!

The boxes were just being sent to a few people last month so they ran out of the "life changing" erasers.  I got an extra snack thrown in though!

The first thing I tried were the Milk Hardcandies.  The description said they taste like a milkshake and they weren't lying.  They really did taste like vanilla milkshakes.  I could see myself developing an addiction to them.  I received two.  I ate two.  The hubby received none.  

The next thing we tried were the Koala's March cookies.  Basically they are little cookies filled with chocolate cream.  Fun fact: there are 365 designs of them!

 The creamy center displayed.  I bit mine in half, put it on a table to take a picture, and Nate stole the rest and ate it.  The boys really liked them.

The girl did not like them.  She is weird.  She tried a nibble of the corner.  I don't think she even got any of the chocolate.  This was quickly followed by a "yuck it".  Nate ate it.

 Next were the Marble Chocolates.  They taste similar to M & M's, but not as sweet.  I notice that foreign chocolate is not normally as sweet as US chocolate.  it was still yummy though.  All the kids devoured it.

I thought the little dogs on the candies were cute.  Only some had stamps though.  I found that interesting.

Chocolate is good.
 After all the yumminess I knew I had to hit something I didn't like.  Now, I received these two things.  Judging by the package, one was suppose to taste like pizza and the other like a mad scientist?

This little guy cracked me up.  Skoshbox didn't have a description, so this was one of my bonus items.  I did some investigation.  I am THINKING, judging by the picture, that this one was "marinated pollock roe"  Um...yum?  I eat roe.  I like roe on sushi.  This scared me.

I decided to be brave and try it.  I opened it up and it looked like a big cheeto.

I did not enjoy it at all.  I forced Eric to try it though.  He liked it!

Pose for a goofy picture, I take the goofy picture and post it.   The "mad scientist" flavor was odd and spicy. The pizza one was good, just not really my style.  I didn't really like the consistency.

While he was at work I ate the Orion beer nuts.  I have never had beer nuts before.  I liked them!  They were nice and crunchy with a bit of a kick.  I was eating them when the kids were home so I couldn't really crack a beer open with them, but I could see their appeal.

Next item in the box: Kaki No Tane    Peanuts and spicy rice crackers.  Kaki No Tane means persimmon seeds.  Which is what the yummy crackers looked like!  I really liked this one.   Eric did as well.  I received two little bags of these.

Next up!  Shoyu Senbei.  Basically a rice cracker.  It was HARD.  When I bit it I did not taste the soy sauce, but when I licked my lips it was there.  Eric and I both enjoyed it.  Apparently this is a popular snack to serve to guests.  It would be served alongside green tea.  It just tasted like a rice cracker without the crumbliness of one.

Orange Bubble Gum.  There were 4 little pieces in each box. They reminded me of baby aspirin, but in a good way.  I liked the flavor.  Nate and Aidan liked it as well.  Aidan swallowed his.  Nate lost his in the living room.  Eric's shoe found it.

Haichu candy was next.  I got the sour apple flavor.  This was an interesting one.  Japanese are know for good manners and this was created as an "edible chewing gum", so you never had to spit it out.  It starts out really chewy, but eventually melts in your mouth.  Super good!  Skoshbox says it is highly addictive and I can see why!

I like the little white square in the middle.
 Chocoballs were next.  It was a chocolate covered peanut.  Again, not as sweet as American chocolate, but I liked that.  FYI the mascot is named Kyorochan and this is one of the most recognized names among Japanese snacks.

 Yeah....I played with my food.  How can you not?  The little guys made me happy. 

 Well...we are at the end.  I saved the best for last.  I REALLY enjoyed the LOOK chocolates.  They are little chocolate squares filled with green tea filling AND either azuki (bean) or cream filling.  I liked the azuki the best.  Surprisingly the girl who disliked the chocolate filled bears LOVED these.  She kept running over and stealing pieces.  So did my boys.  Weird right?  Nate especially.  He is SO picky, but loved these!

 The box comes with an easy to close flap.  I thought that was a nice touch.  Unnecessary for us since we all gobbled it down, but nice!

Japanese recycling symbol?

The chocolates.  They didn't last long.  I thought they were super cute and they were individual pieces so you didn't have to break them apart.  SUPER awesome.

I have to say.  This was an AWESOME box to review.  While I can't break down the cost of the box vs. what it is actually worth, I would still buy it and will buy it.

Are you excited to try out next months box?  I am!  Head over here to Skoshbox and sign up to receive their first month!!!  It is just $12 per month.  That includes shipping.  OH!  I have a code for you as well!  

Use the code HSEOFBOYS20 when you check out and you will receive a SURPRISE gift in your first box!!  

The code expires July 15th, which is the cut off for the first shipment order.

See you next month!

Disclaimer: Skoshbox provided me with this box free of charge to review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All pictures and opinions are my own.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Washing Machines are Suppose to Drain...right?

The other day I was feeling rather productive and put some clothes in the washing machine...and forgot about them.  This is not uncommon with three kids.  I remembered when my husband went to the store to get groceries and went to throw them in the dryer.

I opened the dryer and saw a  drum full of water.  I thought maybe the button got pulled out somehow and it stopped.  I closed the lid and checked.  No such luck.

I fiddled around with it and saw it wasn't going to drain and heard a weird, wonky sound.  Then I got to have the fun job to wringing out clothing and transferring them to the dryer, which is NOT a fun job but can be made more fun by muttering obscenities to the machine to yourself.

After it was emptied I decided to empty it out of water with a cup and bucket, this was when Eric came home.  He took over and I got to googling new machines.  Our house is about 10ish years old and the washer and dryer came with the house.  I figured it was time for it to die.

On a whim I decided to Google search "Washing machine won't drain" and I am glad I did.  There were two things that could be the culprit.  The hose could be clogged OR the pump could be shot.  At our last house we had the same thing happen.  The pump was shot.  The plumber said it would cost more to fix it than the washing machine was worth.  We said screw that, gave him the machine, and my dad bought us a used one for $50.

So Eric squeezed back behind the machine and took the hose off.  We turned it to spin and water started gushing out.  Luckily we had buckets and towels handy.  A few blobs of goo came out, but not much.  So we knew it had to be the pump.  Just to play it safe we raised the hose up and noticed that nothing was coming out.  Gravity must have been forcing out the water before. It had to be the pump.

As a family of five we can't be without a without a washer for very long.  The boys were out of underpants and I am not about to go to the laundry mat with three kids.

I saw lots of posts about replacing the pump.  Eric didn't think he could do that.  As he said "I am not a plumber."  I looked at some Youtube videos and it looked CRAZY easy.  Like I could do it.  So then I Google searched some pumps.  We have a Whirlpool washing machine.  I found one on Amazon.  The pump suggested price was over $67, but their price was less than $9.  SCORE! I forced Eric to watch the video, he thought it looked easy, so we bought it.

Now we waited.  It took a whopping day to get here.  Seriously.  I love Prime!

So here are so shots from when we replaced it.  SUPER easy!  This is KIND of a tutorial, but you will probably want to watch this video first.  This is how we trained ourselves.

So the first thing you have to do is take off the cover of the washing machine.  The hardest part was trying to figure out how to flip the control panel back.  There were screws that loked like they had to come out, but didn't in the end.  The outside wall of the washing machine is just a piece of metal.  Very lightweight and just slips off.

This is what your clothes spin in.  The washing machine drum.  I am pretty sure that that is just funk inside the wall.  I need to figure out how to clean it.  I find it rather gross.

Our $8.63 pump.  We were HOPING this was the culprit.  We just bought a new dishwasher about a month ago and they idea of having to quickly buy a washing machine as well was something we just didn't want to do.

New pump on the left, old on the right.  If you look at the center of the left it is kind of squared off.  The right is rounded inside.  We think after so many years it just got worn down and was causing it to slip, therefore the pump wasn't pumping.

New pump installed!  Literally all he had to do was unclip the little metal clips on the top and bottom of the pump, squeeze the wire holders on the tubes and move them back so the pump could slide out, put the new pump in place, put the tubes back on, and put the clips back on.  DONE.  It took all of 5 minutes after we got the top off.

We put the casing back on and were done!  Eric originally forgot to slide those clips back to where the pump meets the hoses.  Luckily he remembered and we tilted the machine back and slid them over.  That could have been a HUGE mess.

All back together!!  We even cleaned out the bleach tray before putting it together.  That has been bothering me for a while!

We tried it out and it WORKS!!!!  I am so excited.  $8.63 is much nicer than $400.  The thing that stinks though is now I know the last plumber took us for suckers.

Hopefully someone having this problem with their machine will read this and save a lot of money.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Vitacost ARO Black Series...a product review

When I started my twelve week fitness program, I was hooked up with many different bloggers.  One of them had an AMAZING connection to Vitacost and let us know about a new product line opportunity.  Lots of us pounced on it and I was chosen!

What did I get to try you ask?  The new Vitacost ARO Black Series line of powdered  supplements.
The complete line.

Their tag line is "Get ripped.  Don't get ripped off."  The prices are reasonable and I must say, the flavors are delicious.  

There are three different "groups:
Attack:  "Hit the gym. Then beat it to a pulp."  
Recover: "More gain,ease pain."
Optimize:  "Be your best self, in and out of the gym."

I have used about 1/2 of these.  The ones I have not tried, but I have smelled and they smell great, are Casein, Creatine, and Amino plus.

The Casein I received was Chocolate.  Since I got the Whey Protein powder, I have been using that one.  

The Creatine I received was Blue Razz.  It is designed to "enhance muscle performance during high-intensity exercise.*"  I heard that creatine can cause some water weight gain.  I didn't like the sound of that.  Knowing me I will get discouraged if the numbers rise, so I am holding off on this one.  Maybe once the numbers start going lower...a lot lower, I will try it out!

The last one I have yet to try just tried was the Amino Plus.  I have no clue why I haven't used it before! Helps to maintain performance*...SURE!  Help maintain lean muscle mass*...SURE!  Help support muscle tissue against breakdown*...WHY NOT!  It was okay tasting.  I am not a huge lemon/lime fan.  Rather sweet, but ok.  

One thing I really love about these items are the little scoops.  Other supplements I have tried say to use a teaspoon.  But then you have to find one.  I really like how each tub came with the appropriate measuring scoop.

I used the Pre-workout concentrate every day, about 30 minutes before exercising.  I heard from some people that it could be hard to sleep if drank close to bedtime and how I should try a little bit before going for the entire scoop.  I used the entire scoop.  While it did help with my energy, I was fine without my morning coffee, I wasn't ramped up like I was led to believe I would be.  The flavor I received was pink lemonade.  I liked it!  Very tasty.

The Glutamine I received was Fruit Punch flavor.  With previous supplements I mixed my glutamine into my protein powder for an after workout shake.  This is not possible.  Who really wants a Peanut Butter/Chocolate/Fruit Punch shake?  So I have had to drink it separately.  According to the site the glutamine helps with: 
       Workout recovery support*
       Defends against stress and muscle fatigue*  
       Helps maintain nitrogen/ammonia balance for better muscle metabolism*  
       Helps maintain normal function of the entire gastrointestinal tract.* 

 It is a rather bright pink color.  It was really yummy!

My absolute favorite had to be the Whey Protein Complex.  It was peanut butter & chocolate flavor.  When mixed up it has a thickness to it.  It is like drinking a big glass of chocolate milk.  I could drink this all day.  Sooooo good.

Overall I really enjoyed trying out this line of products.  While I can't really attest to how much lean muscle mass I gained/lost/retained I can say that I had the energy to get through my workouts and enjoyed the flavors! 

If you want to sign up on VItacost click this link right here.  It is my referral link.  If you sign up through there and spend $30 or more, you get $10 off.  Then I get a $10 gift certificate!  It is a WIN/WIN!

Disclaimer: Vitacost provided me with free samples of these product to review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review.  All pictures and opinions are my own.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Politeness, or lack there of.

I pride myself on my kids being polite.  Don't confuse this with manners though.  My kids lack those, like I think a lot of kids do.  They giggle when they pass gas and pretend to burp.

You know what my kids are though?  Polite.  They say excuse me.  If you ask Nate if he wants something and he doesn't you will probably get a "No.  But thanks for asking!"  They are polite.

Why am I pointing this out?  I see a lot of people, not just kids, that are SO impolite it kills me.

The other day I was at Target.  I went to the check out and there was one person in front of me checking out, so she was at the card swipe thing.  I had my cart in front of me and was loading my items onto the conveyer belt.  I finished and was waiting.  I was standing at the end of the belt, since my cart was in front of me.

The next thing I know, an arm was placing stuff onto the belt next to me.  Not behind me.  Next to me...and a bit in front of me.  I turned around and looked and there was an orange lady, seriously-she was orange and not an alien, taking stuff out of her buggy and placing it on the belt.    

I could have accepted this if
1) She was carrying the items either in her hands OR in a hand held cart.
2) She said excuse me...politely.

Neither was the case.  Nothing was said.  Just the floating arm and a glare.

I like my person space.  You don't have to stay an arms width away, but six inches or less is not acceptable.

So then it is my turn and I scoot the cart forward and chat with the check out guy.  My order is done and I start to push my cart forward and next thing I know I almost get hit with her cart, because it was a dire emergency to get to the card swipe machine the SECOND the cashiers hand touched an item.

I turn around again and look.  I was just surprised that I almost got hit.  What happened?  I was shot an evil glare.  Really?

This was the second time this past month that some thing has happened at Target in the checkout line that makes me question people.  The first was another cart incident.  The person in front of me pushed her cart almost into the lady checking out and the cashier stopped was he was doing, looked at the lady with the cart, and said "You need to back up.  She is checking out."  I wanted to hug him.

Has politeness gone out of the window? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coffee...Coffee...and more Coffee. An eKoffee review!

I love coffee.  As you know I have three kids and a stay at home business.  I am a busy little bee.  With summer time being here and the kids out of school I need caffeine.  I need an IV drip really of it.  Me and early mornings don't mix and sleeping late for the kids is 7am.

One day I was playing around on Twitter and I came across a picture of some ADORABLE coffee mugs that a person I follow had taken.  I don't see them on the site yet.  Hopefully they will start selling them as well!  You can never have too many mugs!  

I made a comment and eKoffee and I started chatting and magic happened.  

I was given the opportunity to review a bag of coffee of my choice.

Then it was two bags for a comparison.

Then he added a 10% off code for my readers until June 30th, 2013.  

THEN I got the opportunity for a giveaway!

As you can tell, my day was pretty awesome.  

The cool thing I learned about eKoffee is that they work with artisan coffee roasters from around the US.  What does this mean?  You get coffee that is roasted and shipped to you fast.  Both of my choices were roasted on Monday (One had a sticker on the back of the bag with the date, the other on the front) and I received it Thursday.  You can't get much faster that that.  I had two bags from two different companies and I got them at the same time.  My mailbox was very happy that day.

It was a hard decision, but in the end I picked Booskerdoo-After Dark and Golden Hills- Costa Rican Tarrazu Fruta de Oro.

The Booskerdoo came with a free sticker!  SCORE!  It is going on my van!
One of the main reasons I picked the Booskerdoo-After Dark was that it was a Fair Trade coffee.  What that means is that a fair price is paid to workers in developing countries.  They are in safe conditions.  In the end you are bettering others lives from drinking coffee! CAN change the world by doing little things! 

Does owning anything ever make you feel cool?  This did.  I love their logo.
Even their description on the bag is cool.

Make sure to note the roasted on date!

The description taken from the eKoffee site actually sold me.  "Our darkest roast. We take a blend of SHB Fair Trade Organic Honduras beans and roast them until smoke is pouring into the street. It’s a smoky cup of coffee with a buttery body and lots of punch. This is a cult favorite, which, for many, is all they can drink."    How would you NOT want to drink that?

I normally take my coffee with a tiny bit of cream and sugar.  For review purposes I tried it black.  I drank a cup.  I drank another.  It was really good!  Dark, but not hard to drink.  Very smooth.  I think I am hooked.  I can totally see myself ordering more of this.

For the second bag, I really couldn't decide.  There are seriously a lot of choices.  I told Jason at eKoffee to pick his favorite and send me that.

Since I got a dark roast he picked out a medium roast for me.  He sent Golden Hills-Costa Rican Tarrazu Fruta de Oro.  The website describes it as " a classic cup of coffee with style and flavor, you must enjoy this coffee. You will not be disappointed by its clarity toped with hints of vanilla, chocolate and caramel notes. Paring this coffee with tiramisu would be a perfect ending to a wonderful night."
Picture taken from the eKoffee site.

Here is their roasted on date.  I really have no idea why this impresses me so much, but it did.  I wish I would have taken a photo BEFORE I tore it.  Oops.

Like the description said this is a classic cup of coffee.  It is a nice, comforting, relaxing drink.  This would definitely be my go to coffee for having friends and family over when you have to please a crowd.

Also a great coffee to drink when relaxing and curling up with a book.  Just a nice, mellow drink.

Now.  Onto the fun stuff. Along with the 10% discount HSEBOYANDGIRL (good through the end of the month)  eKoffee has given me the amazing opportunity to give away a bag of freshly roasted coffee of your choice to TWO winners!  That is correct!  TWO people get a free bag of Freshly Roasted Coffee of their choice!!! They are a US based company, so it is only open to the US.

Here's how:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and a word to the wise.  I DO check entries.  Please don't like and then immediately unlike just to get entries.   Those entries won't be counted. 

Good luck!! 

This giveaway is sponsored by eKoffee.  I was given 2 free bags of coffee to review, but was under no obligation to write a positive review.  The impressions and gushings over the awesomeness of this coffee are all my own.  eKoffee will be responsible for mailing the coffee to the winners.  This contest is only open to residents of the USA.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yeah...this happened.

I was having a great morning.  The eldest was having a friend come over so I was trying to get the kids fed and clean up a bit.  The boys ate, the girl didn't.  That is normal.  She isn't much of a morning eater.  She is more of a morning grazer.

I was clearing the table and I noticed it was awfully quiet.  Like she wasn't around.  I yelled for her and heard her little voice say "What Mom?".  

It was coming from the "orange room" "Grandma room" "Aidan's study".  It goes by many names.

Since she was in there I figured she was "taking care of business".  She is not potty trained yet, but in the hiding stage.  So I left her alone.  If I try to take her to the potty she freaks out.

I put the dishes in the dishwasher and walked to the room.  I smelled something...NOT THAT.


Why yes.  That IS purple fingernail polish all over the floor....DRIED.
So.  After seeing this I did what any good blogging mom would do.  I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.

This is the culprit and her legs of shame.   I put her on the chair to get her from tracking it everywhere.   She was proud of her toes though.  She kept saying "Paint toes!  Paint toes!" and pointing.

 After the duty of taking picture was over, I poured myself a cup of Golden Hills "Coasta Rican Tarrazu Fruta de Oro" coffee sent to me from eKoffee.  (Review and giveaway to come tonight!!)  Drank some...ok....a lot.  It is great stuff! 

Need some coffee?  On their page use the discount code HSEBOYANDGIRL
for a 10% discount!!  This code is valid until June 30th, 2013

Then I got to Googling.  I figured something had to get this off the floor.  I didn't want to use nail polish remover for fear of ruining the finish.    Then I found this post.  It was perfect.  It told three ways to try.  Two didn't work.  One did.  I did the one that did.

Rubbing Alcohol and Elbow Grease

The thinner blobs were easier to get off.  The bottle I have has a squirt top so I just squirted it out onto the spots, let it sit for a few seconds, and then wiped up.  I didn't want it to sit too long.  So not even a minute.  The areas where it was on a bit thicker, it took some rubbing, but still came off rather easily!

First I want to say I hope that this never happens to you!  If it does, I hope that this simple solution gets your floors clean again!

If you have any cleaning tricks to share, leave them in the comments!