Wednesday, March 31, 2010

BabyBond Nursing Cover Review, Giveaway, & Discount Code

BabyBond Nursing Covers were designed by Missy, a mother who understood the importance of eye contact and communication with her children while she was nursing them. Frustrated by the available nursing covers that covered the baby's face while nursing, she developed the BabyBond Nursing Cover. Made in the USA and of 100% cotton fabric, these nursing covers come in three different styles and in a variety of colors.

What BabyBond Has To Say...
BabyBond™ nursing accessories cover mom, not her baby. Mom is able to maintain her modesty. Baby remains uncovered benefiting from the infinite opportunity to make eye contact, interact, and communicate. After all, dining is social.

Original Style
BabyBond Original™ is worn like a sash, functioning like a nursing top. Nurse from the top of your shirt. Separate the layers of fabric to achieve latch on. Double panel keeps breast covered above & below. Belly & back remain covered with your own shirt. Built-in 9 x 12″ double layer terry velour burp cloth. Stores in matching pouch.

Couture Style

BabyBond Couture™ is adjustable creating a custom fit as your body changes after baby arrives. A hybrid between nursing top and belly band, it can be worn to nurse from the top or the bottom of your shirt so it works with your entire wardrobe. When worn like a sash, it functions like a nursing top. When worn like a belt, it functions like a belly band. Rolls up into self-storing pouch.

Flex Style

BabyBond Flex™ is worn like a sash, functioning like a nursing top. Nurse from the top of your shirt. Separate the layers of fabric to achieve latch on. Double panel keeps breast covered above & below. Belly & back remain covered with your own shirt. Removable 9 x 12″ double layer terry velour burp cloth. Able to attach any cloth or wear without cloth attached. Stores in matching pouch.

"I believe every experience is a learning experience and that breastfeeding offers infinite opportunity to interact and communicate with your baby."
(Missy Reder, owner and designer of BabyBond)

My Thoughts...
The two things that struck me most about the Couture BabyBond Nursing Cover I tried were that it was elegant in packaging and that it rolls up very small (each cover comes with a matching pouch). The portable size makes this the cover that I now keep in our diaper bag--it takes up hardly any room and is easy to find when I need it! I found that this was really any easy cover to nurse from and that my daughter much prefers it over our regular nursing covers that hide her face. It's nice to not have to juggle nursing and a little person's hands trying to pull the cover away at the same time!

I would definitely suggest that you practice with your BabyBond before trying it for the first time in public. The Couture style can be worn as either a belly band to cover your abdomen and back while lifting your shirt to nurse, or as a sash that you wear over your shirt and just separate the two layers of the BabyBond to nurse through. The belly band way is easy to manage, but to figure out exactly how to use it in the nursing way is a little tricker. Thankfully, there's a picture instruction guide sewn right into the BabyBond so you never have to wonder if you're doing it right! Once I got the hang of putting it on the correct way, I found that it's quick and easy to do.

Being able to see my baby while she's nursing is huge. Let's face it--other nursing covers, even though they have that "peep hole" in top, are tricky to really look in to, and also tricky to even keep in place once your baby doesn't want to be covered any more. My daughter is particularly social and covering her up is a real chore, so I was thrilled when I discovered BabyBond's website and they agreed to a review. Due with my second child on June 30th, I plan to use my Couture cover from the start instead of a usual nursing cover. It will be much easier to teach a newborn to nurse when I can really interact with him without a piece of fabric in the way!

Buy It!
Each cover is $35.00 but you can enter code "simply" for 25% off of your order until 4/17/2010. Visit

Win It!
BabyBond is giving one of my readers a FREE nursing cover in the style and color of her choice! To enter, please visit and let me know the style, color, and SIZE of the cover you'd like. Be sure to leave your email address and a separate comment for each entry. Contest ends April 14, 2010 at noon, EST.

Extra Entries
Follow me on Blogger or Google Friend Connect
Subscribe to me via email
Fan be on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Tweet about this contest with a link and @lifemoresimply (1 entry/tweet per day)
Blog about this contest (2 entries)
Grab the Baby-Mama Shower button (2 entries)
Grab my regular button
Otherwise spread the word and tell me how you did!

Good luck and be blessed!

A sample nursing cover was provided to me by BabyBond for this review. No other compensation was received and the opinions are all mine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Undercover Mama Review, Giveaway, & Discount

Undercover Mama provides a unique solution for nursing moms: the ability to turn any nursing bra into a nursing shirt. This may seem to good to be true, but it does work and I can vouch for the inginuity of this product after having tried it for myself! I received a Undercover Mama shirt to review a few months ago and it's become a main staple in my wardrobe since then. Living on a budget and in a cold climate, I need nursing shirts that will cover me, keep me warm, and be affordable. We all know how expensive and uncomfortable some nursing tops can be, but with this shirt, I've been able to wear all of my "regular" shirts and still nurse without becoming exposed in the process. AND it's comfortable--even at 26 weeks pregnant!

What the company says...
Undercover Mama functions as an undershirt, keeping your back, sides and belly covered as you nurse. It has no straps and attaches directly to the outer flaps of any top-opening nursing bra. Undercover Mama remains attached while in use. You will feel like you are wearing a regular cami under you shirt, but when you need to nurse you still just have to undo the flap on your bra and Undercover Mama opens with it- No extra flaps or hooks to deal with each time. Undercover Mama's generous length make them great to layer under your shirts and allow you to nurse comfortably.
More of my thoughts...
I really have nothing negative to say about this product, nor can I think of a way to improve upon it other than to keep making the shirts and add some more colors and fabric selections for us to choose from! :-) I tested a white shirt for this review and found that it's not see-through, hasn't pilled, stretched, or become "worn" looking during the last few months. It's also very easy to attach to your bra and doesn't come undone on its own. This product is quite obviously the invention of a real life nursing mother who got sick of cutting holes into her under shirt and of buying over priced nursing shirts. Here's how it works:

Buy It!
Visit and use discount code SIMPLY for a 10% discount good through April 30, 2010. This can be combined with the free shipping promotion when you buy more than one shirt! The shirts are $20.00 each which I think is a great deal considering that it allows you to turn your already-made wardrobe into nursing wardrobe without having to make any additional purchases.

Win It! Undercover Mama is generously offering for one of my winners to receive an Undercover Mama shirt for only the cost of shipping ($5.00 for the US or Canada)! To enter, please visit their site and tell me the color and size of the shirt you'd like to receive if you won. Be sure to include your email address and a separate comment for EACH entry. Contest ends April 14th, 2010 at noon, EST.

Extra Entries:
Grab the Baby-Mama Shower button for 4 extra entries
Grab my regular Life More Simply button for 3 extra entries
Follow me on Facebook or Twitter for 2 extra entries each
Subscribe to me (1 entry)
Follow me on Blogger/Google Friend Connect (1 entry)
Tell some friends about this contest and let me know (include address or whatever) (1 entry)
Tweet about this contest with a link (@LifeMoreSimply) (1 entry/day)

Good luck and be blessed!

Thanks to Undercover Mama for providing me with a shirt for this review. Opinions are all mine and I received no compensation for this post.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earn $ For Posting Reviews at Franklin Goose!

I came across an awesome opportunity yesterday and just spent the last hour working on it for myself: posting reviews of products my family has tried on Franklin Goose's website in exchange for $5.00 store credit PER review.

WHAT?! Franklin Goose says that "many people have asked why were are doing this. The answer is simple. We believe in our site. When we consider all the ways to let people know, we prefer to spend $500,000 on giving money to the people who need it in a creative way rather than to an ad agency for a series of magazine ads."

Yesterday was the first time that I'd heard of Franklin Goose, and I've read on their Facebook page since then that they've had an overwhelming response to this call out for product reviews. The promotion ends March 31, 2010, but they are honoring the $5.00 credit with no limit to how many reviews you can submit--and they're getting over 20 reviews per minute submitted to their site! FYI: they have some great information on their Facebook page, so I'd become a fan after you check out their website. :-)

People, this is an incredible opportunity to support a company that provides natural products for your babies and families. It also provides YOU with an incredible opportunity to earn products for your family that you need and want---and for nothing more than sharing a few sentences on why you did or didn't like something! I'm incredibly blessed by this opportunity as there are some things we still need for Baby Monkey before he arrives and this could be the way we are able to afford some of those things. Pass on the blessings and go start writing!

What: earn $5.00 store credit for EACH product review you submit at Franklin Goose until March 31st.

How: go to , open an account, click on a product you've tried, and then on the words "Add Your Thoughts" for that product. You simply fill out the form and submit it! Because of the overwhemling response, it may take 2 days for your store credit to appear, but when it does, you'll have a "store credit" box on your "My Account" page with your earnings.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Win a trip to the Bahamas from Lands' End!

WIN a trip to the Bahamas (or some other cool stuff)!

I must admit that I'm a dork and am so excited about this contest that I had to read the email 3 times that told me about it...:-\ Oh, what I'd give to have a tropical vacation!

So in order to make your day happier as well, here's the information about the Wish You Were Here Sweepstakes from Lands' End:

1 Grand prize trip to Harbour Island, Bahamas

25 winners will receive a $100 Lands’ End gift card and tote

There are 3 ways to play and win and are all easy and fun!

1) Play “shoreliners”: fun game where you just have to unscramble words

2) Vote about what you enjoy watching the most when you’re at the shore

3) Take a quiz about what type of vacation you are!

 Good luck, and don't forget to bring me along with you if YOU win instead of me. Seriously, I will get packing now. :-)

 Disclosure: by posting this and promoting the contest, I am participating in the Lands' End Harbour Island blog promotion. Thanks to MomSelect for telling me about it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Empty Room

There's a lot of interesting things that I've wanted to write about lately. I just haven't. I've spent my time working on other things like, well, work (after all, I am squeezing my blog time into my work day), getting last minute companies lined up for the Mama-Baby Shower, and basically feeling sorry for myself because my house is a disaster, I'm exhausted, and the regular strain of the reversed gender roles my husband and I are in with our employment situation continues. :-\ Ugh. Enough about me, though. Here are my promises of an interesting and helpful future for you:

APRIL: Baby-Mama Shower coming up with a HUGE number of participating businesses and giveaways! Don't miss it! Grab some extra entries now by clicking HERE!

MAY: I think it'll be time to start the oh-so-awesome-and-needed Organize My House! Challenge. Basically, for anyone who needs to get her house into organized shape but thinks that Fly Lady is crazy, this is for you. All you'll need is a blog and 15 minutes a day. If you join up, that also makes you eligable to win some fantastic prizes, prestige, and (of course) get your house in order. All of this because I love you...and because I need to get my house in order. Desparately.

JUNE: continuation of the Organize My House! Challenge plus the usual extremely interesting posts and giveaways that I do.

JULY: photos and birthing story of my beautiful son whom I *hope* will be born on July 4th.

Until tomorrow though, I will leave you with this reminder to always be delighted by an empty room...

LoveBug, my 16.5-month-old daughter loves her pink sweater with yarn animals and decorations knitted/embroidered into the fabric. At her request, she got to run around wearing a cloth diaper and her pink sweater the other night. Daddy had just finished clearing out our mud room-turned-dining room (in process, as you can see) and LoveBug could not WAIT to get into that empty room and twirl and dance across the floor. She did this until spotting a place up on some drywall where she could sit. With eager eyes, she motioned to please be placed up on that ledge, so Daddy carefully set her up there. Met with smiles, LoveBug sat oh so proudly and elegantly as I took some photos.

beautiful girl.

showing her teeth!

kisses for Daddy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beautiful Dreams

Today's the day. For those of you who also read my pregnancy-family journal blog at, you know that I'm getting an ultrasound today that will hopefully allow us to visualize my son's stomach. We had our 20-week ultrasound (usually the only one you get with my midwife) and were then told at our 24-week appointment that they were unable to visualize our baby's stomach. No big deal, right? The sonographer recommended a follow up U/S at 24 weeks. My midwife scheduled us for an U/S at 28 weeks though she said we only needed an U/S if we wanted it.

Of course we want it! We love seeing that little man in there!

So a few days after our 24-week appointment, I began reading online about why a stomach wouldn't be seen on an U/S. Basically, it's because my son had either just peed and so had no fluid in the stomach to see when the sonographer looked, or he has a serious congential malformation of his esophagus that prevents him from swallowing. Esophageal Atresia is the name of this disorder and would require a level III NICU, surgeries, and months of hospitalization after birth given that there are no other problems.

I don't think I'd be concerned except that I have many of the symptoms that goes with esophageal atresia. Shortness of breath, measuring small and then having a growth spurt during the second trimester, fluid retention very early on, etc.. *sigh* So I called my midwife on Tuesday to speak with her about esophageal atresia and to see if I could get my U/S bumped up. I was able to get the U/S bumped up to today at 4pm but the midwife still has yet to call me back. :-\

Last night, I dreamt very vividly that at our U/S, they saw the stomach clearly right away. My amniotic fluid levels were normal, Monkey was above average in size, and everything was fine. In my dream, we recorded the U/S on a video cassette tape but as I watched the screen during the recording, I saw myself sitting in a rocking chair just after having given birth. I was holding Monkey and he had lots of dark hair that was all frazzled looking because we hadn't bathed him yet. I had him wrapped in a blanket and he was looking up at me. He lifted his little hand, fingers spread out, up towards me, and I put my palm against him. He was perfect, alert, and beautiful. Sooooooo beautiful. I woke up after this dream (for whatever reason--I think it was God allowing me to be able to remember such a precious dream) and felt my little guy bumping around in my womb as if to tell me that's how it's going to be, mama.

I want everything to be okay. I want to hold my baby and nurse him after he's born. I want to not worry about aspiration, pnemonia, and feeding tubes. But if we go today and find out otherwise, we will be okay. As I drove home from work yesterday, it occured to me that while in the womb, my child is perfect. He doesn't need an esophagus while he's inside of me. It's not until he's outside of me that his body wouldn't be perfect. What a neat realization this was for me! The Bible says that in Heaven, we will be perfect because  the veil we experience in this life will be lifted and we will see Jesus face to face. I've always assumed we would be changed and that's why we'd be perfect in Heaven. Now, though, I wonder if the reason we'll be perfect in Heaven is because we'll be face to face with God and won't need the things we do now as a result. He, like a mother, will be what we need, like a child in the womb.

May today be the realization of beautiful dreams for my family. And if it isn't, we are still comforted by knowing that God is a God of love and power to anyone who will accept Him, and that one day, we all can be perfect.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Big Happenings

Exciting things!

March 20th is officially the first day of Spring, so Rita's Italian Ice is giving away free ice in celebration of it! Mark your calendars now...I'm hungry in anticipation. My family didn't actually discover the world of italian ice and custard until last year and wow, are we ever hooked now. This Saturday, I will be making the rounds.

Only four people (two officially since the last two didn't leave a link) have entered to win the $50.00 gift card to Baby's First Phone Call! Contest ends March 31st, so go ahead and enter at!

Diaper Swappers has changed their website. It's easier to look at and navigate and now includes a blog which *ahem* yours truly is a writer of! Yup, make sure you regularly check out my posts there and leave comments so they know I'm loved and want to pay me so I can afford that at-home Internet connection i need. ;-) My first (and only) post is about sensory based St. Patrick's Day activities for kids.

Directly from Freedom2Care:
In just a few days, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the major healthcare bill that has been passed by the Senate. This vote is so close it may be decided by one vote—possibly the vote of your own Representative.

You can enter your opinion right now on that crucial vote by contacting your Representative and also by taking part in a 1-minute survey here:

This survey is provided by Freedom2Care (, an ad hoc coalition of 50 organizations supporting conscience rights in health care.

Contact your U.S. Representative to urge a NO vote on this radical and expensive legislation, which:
  • Fails to provide strong conscience protections for healthcare professionals.
  • Allows direct federal funding of elective abortions in community health centers.
  • Allows federal funds to subsidize health plans covering abortions.
  • Further injects the government into physician-patient decision making and the allocation of medical resources.
  • Does nothing meaningful to address malpractice reform and the "junk lawsuits" that are driving some of our best physicians—especially obstetricians and gynecologists—out of medicine.
Take action now:

1. Complete the 1-minute Freedom2Care survey here:

2. Call and e-mail your Representative's office, identify yourself as a constituent, and simply say that you are urging your Representative to vote "NO" on the Senate healthcare overhaul bill.

Contact information:

Thank you for taking action--you can help make the difference!
Freedom2Care is an ad-hoc coalition of conscience-affirming organizations.

Follow and share Freedom2Care on:
Why am I sharing this last bit of information? While Life More Simply has never taken a particular political stance before and probably won't in the future (that isn't the point of this blog), I am encouraging people to get involved in the healthcare debate going on right now. The outcome has the power to completely change the face of America, and as a mother, consumer, taxpayer, and Paramedic, I am absolutely not in favor of the proposed bill as it stands now. This topic is simply too important to NOT tell you about! Regardless of whether or not you agree with me, I encourage you to get involved and make your support or concern known to your local congressman and the white house.

Monday, March 15, 2010

CPSC Warning About Sling Carriers

On March 12, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a statement advising people to "be cautious when using infant slings for babies younger than four months of age." They looked at reports involving deaths associated with sling-style infant carriers from the past 20 years and determined that slings can pose two different types of suffocation hazards:

1) Baby can suffocate from the fabric being pressed up against his or her nose and mouth

2) Baby can be asphyxiated from the neck bending the chin to the chest, restricting the airway

Two months ago, slings were added to the "list of durable infant products that require a mandatory standard" by the Commission (still undeveloped or in place). Interestingly, over the past 20 years, 14 deaths associated with a sling-style infant carrier were documented. Fourteen, and that puts slings on the warning list...

Until slings are a bit more regulated, the following safety recommendations has been given to parents regarding wearing a baby in a sling:

Now, I'm glad that there are regulations on children's products and that people are paying attention. With that said, though, I'm wondering what sort of slings have been causing these problems? I don't think it's fair to lump all slings into one category. For instance, after having my daughter, I put her into a commercial Wal-Mart bought sling (it was an Infantino brand, if you're wondering). The sling lasted for about 30 minutes until I couldn't stand it any longer--her neck was tucked in, I couldn't see her, and she couldn't possibly have been comfortable! My homemade ring-sling on the other hand is awesome--it lets me keep my child's head where I can see it, her body snug against mine, and safe as far as I can tell. As a careful parent, by golly, I want to know what sort of slings seem to be the problem!

I'm also wondering what was going on in these deaths that the parent didn't realize that the baby couldn't breathe. Weren't they able to see the face of their child? Doesn't everyone think to check that the airway can be maintained at ALL times? I'm pretty sure this is my mommy-instinct and not my paramedic training that causes me to think of these things. Now, I don't want any of my readers to become paranoid parents who don't let their child experience anything in life because it might be dangerous. I do want all of my readers and parents everywhere though to use common sense and keep their children safe.

Please, when using a sling or any baby carrying device (which you should do since studies show numerous benefits of babywearing!), be safe. Be smart. Don't rely on what a government or any other agency deems to be safe or appropriate, because as we know with a lot of the recalls lately, something that we think is safe may not be. Watch your child and always remember that whatever you place your child in is just an object--it's not going to call out to you if there's a problem!

My guidelines for slinging a baby:
1) Face must be unobstructed and visible at any time.
2) Head must be kept in-line or in a "sniffing" position with chest. This keeps an infant's airway open but not hyperextended.
3) Baby must be securely attached--I don't want to feel like she's going to fly away on me!
4) Baby must be in an upright position (head above bottom).
5) If nursing, head is OUT of the sling and I use the tail to create a modesty cover (which I can peak under).

*NOTE: I am not a sling-safety professional. This advice is purely my own and unresearched. I will not be held liable for any problems you have while wearing your child in a sling!*

Have you gotten your extra entries for the
Baby-Mama Shower starting in 17 days?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Get Involved!

Stop Sitting and Get Involved!

Check out the newest additions to the Baby-Mama Shower event starting April 1st. Snag extra entries into the contest and a chance to win a $50.00 gift card to Baby's First Phone call by spreading the word during the next week and a half!

Become a fan of Life More Simply on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!

Why should I do this?
All of these little things that take you a second and can only lead to happiness and fulfilment in your life actually help me bring better things to you. With each person that becomes a follower through feedburner, Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, Google Friends Connect, or anything else that I can detect, my number of readers go up. When I contact companies about doing a review and giveaway for them, they want this information! Basically, the more people that publicly read my blog, the more willing companies are to work with me and the better the liklihood that I'll bring awesome prizes to you. Besides, I really like my readers.

Some interesting statistics:
I spend around 3 hours per review/giveaway
I don't get paid for this
About 90% of the companies I contact don't ever write me back
You can make the difference!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tips for Freezing Meals

Being a working mom doesn't leave me with much time to spend in my kitchen. On top of that, being pregnant doesn't leave me much energy for being in the kitchen! When I got online today and saw my "pregnancy ticker" was down to 111 days before Baby Monkey is due, though, the thought entered my head again about how very important it is that I get into my kitchen--and SOON!

When LoveBug was born, a friend from church organized hot meals to be brought to us for the first 5 days after we were home. It was awesome and a tremendous help for a new mama who wasn't up to juggling a newborn and a newly post-partum body while cooking! After that, I had a few meals in the freezer that I had previously put together and also some that my Mom had made for us. This experience with ready-to-go homemade meals has been heavy on my mind since getting pregnant again and realizing that not only will I have all of the normal "new mom and baby" things to deal with in July, but an active 20-month-old on top of it! Like it or not, I need to get my freezer stocked with meals within the next 16 weeks.

Freezing meals is an easy thing to do if you're already cooking and can save any mom a lot of time. Once you're actually in the kitchen, it's easy!
  • Double or triple whatever you're making for dinner, and freeze the extra
  • Freeze food in tin pans, covered in plastic wrap and foil
  • Don't want to use tin pans? Line your casserole dishes with foil before putting the food into it. Once the food is frozen, lift it all out by way of the foil and place it in a gallon freezer bag instead. When you're ready to use, just put the foiled food back into the casserole dish and bake!
  • Label everything with the name of the food, date it was made, and any special instructions
  • Stack by food type in the freezer (main dishes, side dishes, breads...or "chicken," "vegetarian," and "beef"!)
  • If you freeze in a glass dish, be sure to not place the cold glass in a hot oven when baking. You might end up with a broken dish!
  • Consider freezing meals in individual portion sizes so that you aren't stuck with a lot of leftovers when you use it.
Two other things that I do is always use ground turkey instead of ground beef and leave the frozen food as uncooked as possible so it is as fresh as possible when we thaw it.

Some of my favorite meals to double and freeze:
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Baked Ziti
  • Meatloaf (mixed and frozen; cook through before serving)
  • 3 Bean Casserole
  • Chicken (stuffed with a cheese mixture, left in a marinade, etc.)
  • Quick breads (banana, apple, pumpkin, etc.)
  • Chili
To use, I just put it in my fridge to thaw for a day and then pop it in the oven to warm up or cook! Frozen veggies are a staple in our house and are cooked by steaming over a saucepan for a few minutes before seasoning and serving.

What are your tips and recipes for freezing meals? Leave them below and help me get some food in my freezer before this baby comes!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ECOLunchbag Review and Discount

Rarely do I receive a product only to have it exceed my expectations. This isn't because I think the products I'm going to review are bad; on the contrary, it's because I only agree to review products that I think will be awesome! When I received a Crimson Gold Circles ECO lunchbag and napkins from ECOLunchbox, though, my husband and I both remarked how impressed we were!

Description from

How eco is your lunchbag? Maybe you'd like to try a machine washable ECOlunchbag with matching napkins? There are surprisingly few options available to the standard vinyl/plastic insulated lunchboxes commonly sold in big-box retail stores.

While we have grown to enjoy the benefits that these synthetic lunchboxes offer, it is becoming increasingly clear that their manufacturing burdens our environment; news is emerging about the health hazards of leaching plastics and off-gassing vinyl; and they don't decompose in our landfills.

Our handmade and machine washable ECOlunchbags are a beautiful back-to-the-basics solution for adults and children who would like adopt sustainable, waste-free lunch habits. At, we believe that lunch by lunch, we can green our world a whole bunch. Please join us!

The handmade ECOlunchbag is machine washable and 100% cotton. Sewn from fabrics that are hand block printed by artisans in India, the bag is fully reversible and adjustable to fit children and adults. It converts to a backpack, sling bag, shoulder bag and hip bag.

The lining is loose and can be easily spot washed at the sink for easy overnight drying or tossed in the washing machine and tumbled or air dried.

• The three napkins measure 16 inches by 12 inches and are designed for use as placemats or napkins.

• The bag, which is 100% sweatshop free, measures 12 inches tall and 6 inches wide. The bottom is square, measuring 6 inches by 6 inches.

My Thoughts:
First off, the bag is bigger than I'd thought. I'm not sure what I'd expected, but I was delighted to find that it's really a bag. It could easily fit my water bottle, food, and accessories. Secondly, it's very sturdy! The bag can stand up on its own and all of the pieces are thick. I'm not worried about putting too much weight in it, carrying it a wrong way, or having it tear after a few washings. Thirdly, it's beautiful with hand block prints by artisans in India. The fabric chosen looks even better in real life, and the 100% cotton napkins are a great addition (and since there's three of them, they could easily serve as a placemat, too!). I love that the bag can be worn different ways--carried as a purse, buttoned into a backpack, or worn messenger-bag style. It's quick and easy to turn the bag into any of these things, too.
This is a bag that I really like and that I feel GOOD about carrying around or sending with my child. It's a flattering accessory for your outfit as well as a healthy and functional product that will last for a long time to come! ECO Lunchbox also offers stainless steel food containers and bamboo silverwear (including sporks) that fit right into their lunch bag. I didn't have the chance to review these, but I think it looks like a great idea, especially because you can get a kit with everything in it.
 If you're still not convinced to switch from disposable, plastic methods for transporting your lunch, check out this 2010 Lunchbox Waste Study.
Buy It!
Visit and use the code "eatgreen15" to get a 15% discount on your purchase! This offer is only good for my blog readers and will end Earth Day, April 24, 2010.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

FiberOne and $50.00 Gift Card Review & Giveaway!

I like yogurt. It's delicious, quick, and filling! I primarily eat it as a snack but also use it in smoothies and even use plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Yes, it can be done, and they taste strikingly similar on Mexican food. I'm always excited when I get to try a new yogurt product, and especially when I then get to share it with you. Just today, I tried my first cup of Yoplait's new Fiber One yogurt in their "peach" flavor. Honestly, it was even creamier than a regular yogurt and I appreciate the added fiber and vitamins it contains. My only hesitation on this product is that it contains Aspartame which has been linked to serious neurological problems. I'd love to see them use real sugar in the product instead since my opinion is that a few extra calories is better than the myelon sheath of my neurons dissapearing. ;-) I'd love to try the Vanilla and Key Lime Pie flavors as well since I think they'd be great with the extra creamy taste, and also to see Yoplait add real fruit chunks! Yum.

MyBlogSpark's description gives you the 4-1-1
The new Fiber One yogurt is the only leading nonfat yogurt with 50 calories and 5 grams of fiber (20 percent of the Recommended Daily Value). It is also a good source of calcium and vitamins A and D, making this a guilt-free and all-around great choice for dieters and those watching their weights. Each cup includes the creamy, delicious taste you expect from Yoplait, and you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying it. Fiber One is available in a variety of flavors including, Strawberry, Peach, Vanilla and Key Lime Pie

Win It!
MyBlogSpark and Yoplait have teamed up to provide one of my readers with her own Fiber One gift bag that includes a Fiber One yogurt VIP coupon (good for a free 4-pack of Fiber One yogurt), and a $50 Safeway (also good at Dominick’s, Tom Thumb, Randalls, Vons, Genuardi’s) gift card that you can use to stock up on Fiber One yogurt and enjoy the everyday values that Safeway has to offer.

To enter, tell me what other ways you try to get fiber into your diet. You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 3/23/10 at 11:59, EST.
Extra Entries:

  •  Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply! (2 entries)
  • Follow me on Twitter! (2 entries)
  • Grab the Mama Baby Shower button (3 entries)
  • Follow Life More Simply via Google Friend Connect
  • Subscribe to Life More Simply
  • Tweet about this contest (1x/day, include @LifeMoreSimply and a contest link, of course)
  • Grab my regular button
  • Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...

This review is based on free samples provided by Yoplait and MyBlogSpark. No other compensation was received and the opinions stated are ALL MINE. :-)

I took the plunge...

I've done it!

I gave in.

In spite of my ridiculously busy schedule, I have added one more thing...

I am now on twitter.

Follow me! Spread the word! Send me messages and tell me how to use the whole networking site!

Seriously, leave me some information and tips below. It'll save me from researching later. ;-)

Follow LifeMoreSimply on Twitter

Friday, March 5, 2010

A "Girl's Night" Out

Last night, my husband asked me if it'd be okay if he had a "guy's night" with his friends on Saturday. Of course I'm okay with this--it's important to have friends and do things with them! Inside, though, I'm secretly a little bummed. It's not because he's not going to be with me, though. It's because I'm a little jealous. You see, I don't exactly get to do the same thing with my friends. Sure, there are groups of women whom I know who get together and shop, see a movie, or eat out. There are even more women I know who get together during the day for "play dates" and other such Mom-Socializations. Me? None of the above.

But I want to have friends, and I want to do things with them.

Why don't I, then?

My husband asked me this, and I realized that it's because of two things. The first is that I'm a mom and I'm away from my baby far too often. I can't fathom being away from her during the day and then being away from her BY CHOICE during the evening! Not only does this thought make me feel guilty because I know she needs me, but...I would miss her. I miss her during the day already. I'd go crazy if I didn't get to spend time with her before bed!

The second reason, I've determined, is because the sort of things I like to do aren't the same things that most women like to do. In fact, I tend to enjoy more male-dominated things like fighting fires and playing paintball. The problem, I've learned, is that it isn't really appropriate for a married lady to call up her guy friends to come over for an evening of fun...know what I mean?

So if I saw Lovebug enough that I actually felt the need to leave her and socialize with "big" people and if I knew other girls who were interested, these are the things we'd do during our "girl's night":

*Hike a mountain or gorge, build some lean-to's out of nature, cook some dinner over the fire, and tell scary stories until we were terrified of peeing alone in the dark. Or maybe we'd just laugh until our belly's ached so bad we threw up. Then, we'd go to sleep.

*Whitewater rafting. Not floating down a lazy river, but all out use-every-muscle-you've-got rafting.

*Texas Hold 'Em without the gambling with real money part.

*Wine tour. I think this is my best bet for finding some gals to bring with me. It will have to wait at least a year, though.


*Go into a toy store and try every stinking toy we can before being asked to leave.

*Make ridiculously silly music videos with a camera, mix them on the computer, and then upload them to YouTube with our awesome rock band name.

*Actually play real music via a jamming session. I would play drums and probably some keyboard/piano.

*Drum circle with hand drums!

*Snowboard. Except that I sold my board, binding, and boots last year in a moment of "parenthood responsibility."

*Ride every thrill ride in an amusement park that we can in one day.

*Dress up in our best clothes (meaning striped arm warmers, retro t-shirts, little skirts and either lace up knee high boots (combat, not stripper) or knee-high socks) and make our own sundaes at an ice-cream shop.

*Discuss and analyze deep topics like the spirit's connection to the brain, achievement motivation, or the physiology of sight (yes, psychopharmacology and physiological psychology were my favorite college courses).

*Quiz each other on how to treat various medical and trauma conditions like cardiomyopathy, cold water drownings, and anaphylaxis. And what about using hypothermia to treat spinal cord injuries?

*Visit a local thrift shop to buy clothes. Then we'd reconstruct the clothing into newer pieces that we absolutely love.

Am I alone in this, or are there more friends out there whom I just haven't met yet?
I miss you, friends that I don't know about.
Just think of all of the things we could do together once I don't miss my child...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do YOU want to review products on your blog?

I'm often asked how it is that I'm able to review products on my blog. Frankly, this has been my best kept secret...until now! I love testing products, telling you about the products, giving companies suggestions for improvements, and, of course, receiving needed items for my family for only the cost of my time. The reason I started this blog was to provide a place of encouragement, support, and resources for working moms in particular. Soon after I began writing, though, my daughter needed the next size up in cloth diapers. We didn't really have the money to invest in new diapers so I thought to myself, why not use my blog as a way to provide for my child? The rest is history and I don't plan on stopping any time soon. :-)

This "product reviewing" part of the Building a Better Blog series will consist of a few posts. In its entirety, the following questions will be answered:

Preparing to review products
How to become a product reviewer
Ways to find companies and products
Conducting and writing a review
Troubles that come with reviewing products

Do you have more questions?
Leave me a comment below and I'll do my best to answer it!

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making The Dive
Reviewing products may seem glamorous and get-rich-quick-ish, but it's really not a free way to get products for you and your family. In exchange for a product, whether it cost $3.00 or $300.00, you will be investing time--and potentially a lot of it! In my own experience and that I've read of other bloggers, I'd say that the overall average time spent on a review is 3 hours per review. If the average product would cost you $25.00 to buy, you're making $8.33 an hour. Keep this in mind before you decide to jump into the world of product reviews.

Given the value of time, you need to ask yourself the following questions before getting into reviewing:

1) How much time can I spend on reviewing products without taking time away from the most important things like my family, spirituality, health, and quality of life?

For some people, you may be able to devote 10 hours a week to reviewing products. For others, you may not be able to do more than 3. Be honest--it's better to start small and work up rather than build a poor reputation because you're not timely.

2) Who is my audience?

If you've read some of my other Building a Better Blog posts, you'll recall that in order to have a successful blog, you need to be focused in what you write about. If your target audience is people who like to cook and bake, you will want to write about food, not video games! As a reviewer, you need to maintain the same stability by choosing to review products that your readers are interested in, based on your target audience.  

3) What products can I provide an honest review for?

If you're to build a community of regular readers, you need to be focused in your reviewing just as you would your blog topics. On top of that, you should never agree to do a review that you can't really do. For instance, don't offer to review a baby's bottle unless you actually have a baby to test it out on! People are relying on your integrity and opinion of the product you're reviewing. If you can't really review the product, your readers will see that and they'll be less likely to look to your opinion in the future.

With that said, though, I do think that once you've proved to your audience that you can knowledgably review a particular sort of product, you then have more freedom later to review that same sort of product even if you can't "test" it completely anymore. For instance, if you've already reviewed baby bottle's while your infant used them, but then a few months after your child has weaned from a bottle, you have some freedom to still do a bottle review since you know what you're looking for and can compare features to other products.

4) What is my platform?

There are outlets for product reviewers who review through different means. Your platform may be a personal blog, friends, or a network that you've established in your community like play groups, PTA organizations, or church meetings. Think about what your platforms are and if they would be viable to a business as a good marketing opportunity. If you don't think there'd be much draw for a business to say "YES! I want this group of people to hear about my product!" then start working on ways to build your platform. A review without someone to listen is...well, not much of a review.

5) Why do I want to review products, anyway?

There's no wrong answer to this question, but you need to know what your motivation is in order to be successful. I'd love to see what other bloggers and people are motivated to review products by, so post your answer below! I'll start. :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Baby Mama Shower Event Kickoff!

Life More Simply's button

Mark your calendars now if you have a new baby, are expecting, expect to be expecting, or know someone else who fits into one of these categories! In preparation for this event, I've been in contact with a lot of fantastic companies who offer unique, safe, and innovative products for pregnant and new mamas as well as babies, and I can't wait to tell you about them. Not only will the month of April bring you lots of information on everything pregnancy, birthing, and baby related, but you will get the chance to win some AWESOME prizes, too!

Participating companies:

Organic Bath Co.
The Diaper Free Baby book by Dr. Christine Gross-Loh
...and more in the works!

Please start spreading the word now to gain an extra entry into EVERY contest during April, as well as get the chance to win a $50.00 gift certificate to Baby's First Phone Call. You must spread the word about the contest before March 31st to be eligible for these extra contest entries and to win the $50.00 gift certificate. I will choose the winner of the gift certificate from all of the valid entries below on April 1st!

Here's how to play:
1) Grab the Shower button on the side of my page and place it on your own blog, website, etc. (on a sidebar or something, not in a post).

2) Otherwise tell people about the Mama Baby Shower event by blogging or sharing the information on a mothering forum.

3) Leave me a message below with your email address. You can do each of the things above a maximum of one time. Be sure to leave me the link to your blog or post so that I can verify what you did!

Contests, Giveaways, and other good stuff

Just in case you needed a little brightening in your day!

1) Win a Laundry Room Makeover (partnership for giveaway through BSM media)
Wisk® Laundry Detergent is teaming up with TV's Designing Spaces to pimp-out one laundry room in dire need of a face-lift as part of the Wisk® Pimp My Laundry Room video contest. The winner of the contest will receive a complete laundry room makover including new Whirlpool® High Efficiency (HE) washer/dryer set and a year's worth of Wisk® HE Laundry Detergent...and her own episode of Designing Spaces

Just enter a short video from March 1 to March 29, 2010 at explaining why you deserve a laundry room makeover and Wisk® could be on your doorstep with their partners-in-design, Whirlpool's DreamLaundry® Solutions team led by Bill Thomas and Emily Johnston, owner of the interior design firm EJ Interiors and founder of Materials Girls Blog. Together, they'll take your laundry room from drab to fab in no time!

The top Finalists will be featured on from April 12 - 19 and the Grand Prize Winner will be chosen by popular ballot so be sure to get your friends and family online and voting! Even better, a vote is an automatic entry to a sweepstakes for a year's supply of Wisk HE Laundry Detergent.

2) Free Shipping
The Friendship Stone is offering free shipping on all USPS domestic priority packages until March 15th. The code is "Free Shipping".

3) Rainbow Brite Giveaway
She's back! Rainbow Brite products are now available at Target and will soon be coming to Toys R Us, too.

“Rainbow Brite has delighted generations of children with her exciting and imaginative adventures. Among adults who grew up with the original cartoons and dolls, Rainbow Brite has a significant following as a nostalgic property…but her unique brand of sweetly futuristic fantasy – and her sincere message of courage, kindness and hope – make her a true 21st century hero.

When Hallmark first introduced the Rainbow Brite brand about 25 years ago, girls all over the world fell in love with this colorful character. Rainbow Brite was launched with a consumer products program that included toys, books, comic books, cereal, party goods and even a traveling stage show. Girls enjoyed Rainbow Brite as a TV series, in addition to three TV specials and a feature film.”

Has it REALLY been 25 years?! I grew up loving Rainbow Brite and was pretty happy when BSM media sent me 10 Rainbow Brite Adventure CDroms to review and then give away. The CD is compatable with both PC's and Mac's and includes the show's theme song, and episode, printable posters/coloring pages, and a variety of fun games. Yes, I did try the games at work yesterday and even I found them to be fun. :-) The thing that I like best about Rainbow Brite is that the underlying themes are suitable for kids and also promote positive actions and morals. I'm so dissapointed by todays kid's shows and the things portrayed in them-- let's bring all of the 80's and early 90's cartoons back and enjoy our Saturday mornings again!

Win it! I'll be giving away 7 of these Rainbow Brite adventure game/activity CDs. All you have to do is be a Facebook fan of mine and then leave me a message on my wall telling me that you want this CD! The first three people to leave me a message telling me they want the CD will receive one. I will choose the next four CDs at random from the remaining people. You have until Sunday, March 7th at 1159pm, EST to enter!

4) Win Coffee and $10,000
Now, I'm not a coffee drinker, but my husband is, and I do use I think this is a decent contest. :-)
BSM media sent me information about the contest and let me know that "100% Colombian Coffee is found in numerous brands of coffee because demanding consumers the world over are aware of the importance of its origin." 100% Columbian Coffee has put together a campaign at that gives you the opportunity to learn about the philosophy behind their coffee and also to win great prizes; a grand prize of $10,000 and weekly prizes of coffee! It's very easy to enter. All I had to do was provide my name, phone number, zip code, email address, and check two boxes. Enter once per week until the contest is over!