Sunday, February 28, 2010

Using Cloth Diapers While Working Full Time

We began using cloth diapers on LoveBug before our stash of newborn sized disposables that people had given to us as gifts even ran out. It was a decision that I carefully researched and knew would be the BEST decision for the health of our baby and our sanity (who really wants stinky, oily diapers sitting in a can? Not to mention the cost...). Her grandmothers would be the primary caretakers of LoveBug during the day and when we mentioned using cloth diapers, we were met with a look of horror and a comment of "well, you can just buy disposables for me! I'm not using cloth!" from one of them. Yikes.

Day care and family providers both may show resistance to cloth diapering your child. On top of that, there are a lot of logistical factors to figure out when your child is watched outside of the home during the week. Here is a list of things that can help you make the transition to or maintaining your use of cloth while still working outside of the home:

1) Educate your provider. Instead of telling her that your child will be using cloth diapers, bring a diaper to show her when you approach the topic. Most people still envision prefolds, pins, and Gerber rubber pants when they think of cloth diapers! Showing them a ready-to-go, cute, and easy to use diaper may make the entire difference. It wasn't until my mother-in-law actually saw one of our pocket diapers that she decided she could try it.

2) Only send easy-to-use diapers with your child. The easiest diapers would be an all-in-one, sized diaper (not a one-size which requires more snapping), that uses aplix (Velcro) to keep it on. That way, your provider doesn't have to stuff anything, doesn't have to Snappi or pin anything, and doesn't have to try to remember which snap setting works best for your child. An AOI aplix diaper is as close to the convenience of putt on a disposable that you can get! If you want to keep using pockets or something (like we do), pre-assemble everything for the provider. Make it easy.

3) Be educated yourself. A provider may still have reservations if she doesn't know about the benefits or ease of cloth diapering. Bring a wet bag to show her about storage and come prepared with a list of benefits to using cloth. A little information can go a long way as long as you don't come across as rude!

4) Have a big wet bag on hand. If your child is going to need 7 diaper changes, your regular sized wet bag that holds 4 diapers may not do the trick. For any size, I recommend using a bag from Monkey Foot Designs. They're the best made bag I've used and come in a variety of prints and sizes. You certainly don't want a leaky bag or one that isn't big enough. Should your provider ever run out though, tell her to just use a plastic grocery bag for used diapers!

5) Consider using disposable liners. The Diaper Junction offers a variety of liners that you just lay on top of your diaper like usual, but then can throw into the toilet, taking any solids with it. Biodegradable and easy to use...and you won't have to deal with 8-hour-old poo.

6) Buy a diaper sprayer. There will be times where your dirty-diaper bag sits for a few days before you can get to them (embarrassing to admit, I know). In those moments, a diaper sprayer will make your life a lot easier. My top recommendation is the bumGenius Diaper Sprayer.

That's it! Continuing to cloth diaper while working is not only easy (with planning), but affordable, better for your baby, and better for the environment. More questions? Shoot me an email!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Zak's Dr. Sears mealtime prodcuts for kids


Spokane, WA (November 3, 2009) – Zak Designs is well known for making mealtime fun. But now it’s also helping to make meals healthier. Zak Designs has partnered with America’s Pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, to create a line of meal­time products for children designed to "help promote healthy eating." All of the products are BPA-, PVC-, and Phthalate-free, and as an added bonus, they also include value added inserts with healthy eating tips from Dr. Sears.
 “Dr. Sears is well-recognized as one of the foremost au­thorities on healthy eating for children,” said Irv Zakheim, President and CEO of Zak Designs. “Partnering with him was a natural fit for us, and we’re excited to work with him to develop products that help make healthy eating fun.”

“I know how important it is for children to develop healthy eating patterns when they’re toddlers,” Dr. Sears said. “The habits they develop at a young age have a lasting impact on their long-term health.”


Nibble Tray™“Children are born grazers,” Dr. Sears said. “They love to nibble their way through many meals all day long.”
With the Nibble Tray™, and its convenient snap-on lid, having small, healthy snacks at their fingertips is easy. The top of the tray includes three separate sec­tions that are designed to hold healthy dips such as yogurt, applesauce, or gua­camole that add a little more flavor and fun to snacking.

My Thoughts: I love it! Not only is the pineapple shape fun, but the detachable green dip part is weighted so it's less likely to spill. My favorite feature is actually the raised images on the bottom of each snack compartment. They're themed to remind you to provide a variety of foods. For instance, grains are shown in one, veggies in another, and so on. LoveBug has really enjoyed it as she loves to have finger foods, and this also provides her with a way to sort her mixed cheerios and raisins into separate containers. We've had no trouble keeping the lid on which is very important since LoveBug goes to Grandma's every day and her food travels in the diaper bag.This would be a perfect product for a picky eater, or a child who likes to keep food separated.

Smoothie Sipper™ and Sippy Cup
Dr. Sears also recommends that parents use smoothies as a tasty way for kids to get vitamins and minerals through fruit and dairy products. With the Smoothie Sipper™ that’s part of the Zak line, kids will have the perfect way to sip on these nutritious drinks with a cup that’s just the right size. For younger kids, Zak’s also included a Sippy Cup with a patent-pending Flo-Control™ valve that lets parents adjust the amount of liquid that flows through the valve and prevent drinking too much, too fast.


My Thoughts: LoveBug isn't consistent in her ability to use a straw yet, so we haven't been able to use the Smoothie Sipper all that much. It has a nice wide straw, though, which helps to develop muscles needed for eating, swallowing, and talking--and is also particularly nice for young children who are just learning to drink from a straw! The material is transluscent enough that you can see through, but colored enough to disguise anything that may look unapetizing to your toddler. :-) I like that the shape is easy to grasp, and it's not a slippery surface so spills should be reduced.

We LOVE the Sippy Cup of Zak's! The only photo I have is up at the top of this post--look for the purple cup with a green top (sorry, didn't realize it's not on Amazon yet). This is the first cup we've used that LoveBug must actually suck from to get the liquid out. In fact, with their patent-pending Flo-Control valve, the parent can actually set the level of sucking needed in order to get the liquid out. If your child needs to suck more than drink, just turn the little rubber "dial" to the smallest number of drops pictured. If your child needs to drink more than suck, turn the dial the other way (and, of course, you can choose anywhere between the two)! I wish we'd had this when we first started transitioning her from nursing to a cup (she does still nurse, though). Babies, especially mine, have a need to suck. If they don't get this met through feedings, they'll generally need a pacifier or a thumb to supplement. I'm thinking that because this cup does require sucking action, it could help meet both the liquid intake and sucking needs of a baby or toddler and thus reduce the need for other sucking.

I have found that since the mouth piece is firm (as opposed to the sillicone pieces we've used before), LoveBug does have to tip her head back almost fully in order to get to the bottom of the cup. I don't really like that since it puts her at higher risk for aspirating, so I would recommend parents to always keep the cup at least 1/2 full so your child won't have to tip his or her head back so far.

Divided BowlMy Thoughts: again, a product I love! This divided bowl is great because it has a lid (transportation, food storage, you get the picture), a non-skid bottom, and is a fun watermelon shape. I've had enough of glass and plastic dishes flying across the floor because they slid off of the high chair or table. Every toddler dish should have a non-skid bottom as far as I'm concerned! The divided shape helps LoveBug to scoop her food onto a spoon better, and also provides a cleaner (more contained) environment for her to pick foods up with her fingers. This is a keeper, for sure.


Flatware Set
My Thoughts: this has become LoveBug's favorite flatware to use. It is fun, the right size, and the right shape for little hands. The "face" handle part of the fork and spoon are a grippy surface, providing less mobility once in the hands of a toddler. Something the photo doesn't show you is the finger indentations that are on the back of the flatware. It's such a smart idea to put indents where fingers are! I've noticed that this helps LoveBug grasp the flatware appropriately and to keep in control of it while eating.




Snack ContainerI didn't get the chance to review this, but wanted to share it with you since I think it's a great idea and I've been very pleased with all of the other Zak products we tested. It has three snack compartments, as you can see, with easy-open tabs and no scary chemicals leaching from the plastic. :-)
“Getting kids to eat good foods doesn’t have to be a chore,” Zakheim said. “It just takes the right knowledge and the right tools. With Zak’s Dr. Sears line, we’re helping give parents both.”
After having tried a variety of different mealtime products for babies and toddlers, I can say without a doubt that Zak's Dr. Sears line is my #1 recommendation. They are safe, fun, and functional. They're available to purchase through Amazon.com--just click any of the photo links in this post!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Decisions

I know, I'm supposed to be telling you about safe eating things for babies and kids. I will, I promise. In the mean time, though, there's a lot on my mind. Long story shortened, my husband was basically offered a job today. This is a big deal as he's been looking for steady employment ever since we graduated with our bachelor degrees almost two years ago. The problem is that while this job would pay well and allow for me to be at home with our babies, it would sacrifice our time as a family.

The job would require for him to be gone for one month after accepting employment. After that, he would be bussed a state away for 16 days at a time. During that time, he'd live at a work camp doing hard labor for 16-18 hours a day. He would then be bussed home for 5 days, and then back for 16 more.

He wants to provide for his family and he wants to make enough money that we aren't struggling. He also wants to be a father and husband that's around, though. He wants to be there for the birth of his son in July. He wants to spend time with his beautiful daughter who is almost 16-months-old. This lifestyle-job wouldn't allow for this, really.

My husband has to call and let the company know his decision within the next few days. If he says "no, this isn't for us," then there is a chance he could be hired by another natural gas company that would have a better work schedule and be local. This same hiring agency will be doing hiring for other gas companies who would have better work schedules in a few weeks, and they told my husband that they would put his resume in the top of the pile of applicants if he was interested in that instead.

Oh, so many things to think about.

Thoughts?

Monday, February 22, 2010

snackTAXI Review & Giveaway

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review a set of reusable snack bags from snackTAXI. Started in 2003 by a mom who realized her family was eating over 500 sandwhiches a year--packed in disposable Ziploc bags--this company has grown to now supply their bags online and in many stores in the US and Canada. One cool thing about them is that they keep things local; the bags are all sewn in their home based workshop right in MA!

My Thoughts
The snackTAXI sandwhich bag has two layers (cotton/nylon) and reminds me of an envelope as it's open only at one end, unlike the Wrap-N-Mat. A hook and loop fixture keeps the bag closed, and it works well as I've never had my bags open up unexpectedly. I do think it'd be nicer to have a longer piece of velcro on the bag, though, as you can't stuff the bag full and still allow it to close.

The prints are super fun, and snackTAXI even offers a make-your-own one that your child can color on to decorate and personalize! They've also expanded their line to include produce bags and cloth napkins which I think is great--and which I also need. ;-) Back to the bags, though. I used them to store sandwhiches, pretzels, and even cheese with no problem. Nothing got stale, even when the cheese was stored in the bag indefinitely in our fridge! It was easy to get the food into and out of the bag, too, which was nice. I was a little worried about cleaning the bag since it's only open at one end, but I found that if something was sticking inside, all I needed to do was fill up the bag with warm water and soap, let it sit for a little bit, and then the mess came off real easy. The bags are also very durable and are showing no signs of wear even after months of use!

From their website...
What materials are used to make snackTAXIs?

The exterior of a snackTAXI is comprised of 100% cotton. The manufacturer from which we order most of our cotton has had their material tested and found that it is free of lead and phthalates. We are considering ordering all of our cotton from this manufacturer in the future.

SnackTAXIs are lined with a waterproof material that consists of nylon with a polyurethane coating. After talking to many manufacturers of this product, we understand that this type of coated nylon is free of heavy metals and phthalates. We have found a supplier of this coated nylon who has had their product extensively tested. The tests revealed that the nylon is free of heavy metals (including lead), phthalates, PBBs, and PBDEs.

Honestly, I think re-usable snack and sandwhich bags are something that everyone should have. It saves a LOT of money overall, they're more durable than plastic bags, and it's a lot less trash in the landfills. Not that I know much about plastics, but I'm also thinking that nylon is safer than the plastic-baggie plastics out there! The cost for a sandwhich bag at snackTAXI ranges from $4.95-$8.95, and a snack bag from $4.95-$6.95. For my family, this is a bit pricey, but I still think it's worth it. Me? I'd shop the clearance section once in a while, and build a collection of bags over time. One or two bags per person in the family should be just fine!

Buy It! Visit http://www.snacktaxi.com/

Win It! snackTAXI is giving one of my readers both a snack and sandwhich bag! Leave a comment below with your best food-saving tip that is also SAFE (meaning, you can't tell me you microwave your plastic dishes to kill bacteria before you reuse them). Be sure to include an email address and a seperate comment for each entry! Contest ends March 12th at noon, EST.

Additional Entries:
* Enter the Holey Donuts! contest BEFORE February 28th when it ends! (FOUR entries!)
* Follow me on Facebook
* Subscribe to me via email
* Follow me through a reader or Blogger
* Visit http://www.snacktaxi.com/ and tell me your favorite print
*Tweet about this contest (1x/day)
*Sport my blog button (TWO entries)
*Otherwise spread the word...just tell me how!

Of course, this review was based on free product samples from snackTAXI. I didn't receive any other compensation, but if you'd like to send me a donation, I will gladly accept.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tips For Making Your Own Baby Food


Making your own baby food is an inexpensive way to provide maximum nutrition for your child. Most people don't realize how easy it is to do, too! I first got into making our own baby food after reading the Super Baby Food book and after comparing it to the cost, ingredients, waste, and unappealing nature of jarred baby food, I am hooked. :-)

Items needed to make your own baby food:
  • Baby CubesTM 2 Oz. Baby Food Storage Contains no Phthalates, Bisphenol-A, PVCa blender
  • oven or steaming method
  • ice cube trays
  • something to store the food in like tin foil, freezer bags, or tupperware
Choosing your food:
Choose your food wisely. Things that freeze well are sweet potatoes, beans, broccoli, carrots, rice, pastas, applesauce, etc.. Things that don't freeze well are white potatoes, bananas, and celery (plus more that I'm just not aware of, I'm sure). If you can afford it, buy organic and local! This will reduce your risk of allergens, food diseases, and exposure to chemicals.

Preparing the food:
  • Wash fruits and vegetabls.
  • Prepare the fruit, vegetable, grain, or meat as you would normally. Baking or steaming is preferred as these will preserve more nutrients than microwaving, boiling, or sauteing.
  • Don't put any added fats, sugars, or dyes into the food. Keep things pure and natural!
  • Once food is soft, put some liquid (mama's milk is best!) into the bottom of your blender and then add chunks of the soft food on top. Liquids to consider would be breast milk, formula, water, or diluted 100% fruit juice. Be sure to only use enough liquid to get the food to blend properly.
  • Poor or scoop the now pureed food into ice cube trays, and pop into the freezer with a sheet of wax paper sitting lightly on top to reduce any freezer burn.
  • Once things are frozen (around an hour or two, depending on the temperature of the food and freezer), pop the cubes out and put them in a sealed container (or wrapped in foil) for storage. Be sure to write the contents and date of the food on the package!
Eating the food
  • Ideally, take however many cubes your baby will eat out of the freezer and let them thaw in the fridge over night. Otherwise, thaw them in any method you choose.
  • Once it's unthawed, mix fresh mama's milk, formula, water, or diluted 100% fruit juice with the food until you achieve your desired consitency. Why not do this before freezing? Because then you'll take up more freezer space (the cubes are denser when containing more food and less liquid), and you will also be able to adjust the food to the consistency your baby needs as time goes on (a 6-monther will need a smoother and thinner consistency than a 9-monther will).
  • Warm on stove, in oven, or microwave (least desireable). Be sure to stir well and test the temperature before feeding to your baby!
  • Note that most food stored properly in a deep freezer will keep for up to one year.
Thoughts on making your own baby food
LoveBug always enjoyed our "home made" food better than out of a jar--and I don't blame her! It's much tastier, is more pleasing aromatically and aesthetically, and fresh! Many people are turned off by the thought of making their own food because they think it'll take a lot of time. Honestly, it really doesn't. I cooked three large sweet potatoes in the oven (5 minutes for washing, poking holes, putting in the oven, and then taking them out later), mixed them all in the blender at the same time (another 5 minutes?), froze them, and stored them. This all took less physical time for me than a trip to the grocery store, and I didn't have a zillion little glass jars to clean out when we were all done. :-) You'll be surprised at how LONG three sweet potatoes will last for a baby!

The key is to make a lot at once. A few potatoes, a head of broccoli, or a pot of rice. A little goes a long way for babies, and even making food once a month will last for the entire month. If you don't have enough ice cube trays (which you probably don't), just store the food in the fridge as you get through freezing everything. The effort put into this should be less than it takes to go to the store, and the peace of mind you'll have knowing that you're providing better and cheaper food for your baby can't be beat!

Upcoming this week: reviews of SAFE eating products for babies and toddlers!
We'll visit companies like Zak!, bambu KIDS, and more

Thursday, February 18, 2010

44 Things

Boyfriends
I think I was 16 when I had my first "boyfriend." It wasn't really much since neither of us could drive, but it taught me the lessons I needed to learn. It ended with me spending three days of my life crying in my bedroom because he had moved on to bigger and better things (meaning, a good friend of mine) and no one had the respect to tell me in the process. After those three days, I realized that I had just wasted three days of my life on a boy that wasn't a part of my future. It was then that I made the decision to date my husband rather than date to find my husband. To help me recognize my husband when I saw him, I began a list of characteristics that I wanted him to have. I wrote them in the back of a notebook I had.

Notebook
Rewind two years. I was 14-years-old, focused on playing drums, eating Skittles, and teaching myself how to hack into websites. I was also the girl who paid attention to those around her, and who decided to take the abstinance route of sex before marriage after hearing the stories and seeing the results of pre-maritial sex among her friends and older teens. Hormones, crushes, and dreams don't just dissapate with such a decision, though, so I bought a spiral notebook and began to write letters to my future husband to help remind me of why I wanted to wait and also to keep the hope that this guy really did exist somewhere. I didn't know who or where he was, but he mattered an awful lot to me.

Over time, more and more letters were added to the notebook, and the list of "husband characteristics" grew. By the time I entered college, my list contained 44 items.

College
I was going to go to a university or 4-year school. Instead, I could only afford to attend our local community college. I was going to take my math class at night, but it conflicted with my Basic Firefighter class. Instead, I attended a day class. The first day of class, the guy sitting two chairs away from me leaned over and said "nice purse," referring to my messenger style purse that was constructed soley out of Duck Tape. I said "thanks."

Ron was going to go to the Pittsburgh Institute of Art after high school. Instead, he was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 and ended up getting his GED a month or two before graduation. He worked, and waited until he turned 23 so he could get financial aid to attend school. Instead of an art institute, he ended up at the same community college. After telling me he liked my purse that first day of class, he went home and called his mom. He told her that he had met his wife. When she asked what her name was, he replied "I don't know yet. She's the duct tape girl." Then, he broke up with his girl friend and began the wait.

Math class
Day two of class came and went. Day three of class came and I called the college to drop the course--it was boring and I could take it online just as easily. They told me it'd be no problem, but then came back on the phone after putting me on hold only to tell me that their computer system had a virus and they wouldn't be able to drop me today. I would have to go to class. On day three, all of us were to turn in papers stating the members of the "study group" we were mandatorily forming. I didn't know anyone in the class because I'd been home schooled, so as I randomly started writing my name on a paper, the professor pointedly told the class that anyone who hadn't given him a paper yet would be assigned to a group. My group consisted of myself and four guys, none of whom I knew because I had vowed to not have a social life in college and just get good grades instead.

Ron had vowed not to talk to anyone either. He was 23 and most other people were 18. He was there to get the grade and get out...until I showed up with my knee high striped socks, argyle skirt, rocker t-shirt, and the purse. Then he was there to get his wife, I guess.

Fast forward
We met in August, and by October 3rd, I knew he was it. We fit. Perfectly. Physically, personality, interests, and abilities. I refused to look at my list, nor did I tell him about it. Instead, I waited until I knew I could compare him to that list and honestly ask myself if he fit it instead of trying to make him fit it. After all, even though I was dating someone, I wasn't going to continue to marriage unless he really WAS The One.

Forty-Two
There's two things my husband is not on my list: he is not a musician, and he needs to improve on his anger expression skills. There are Forty-two things on my list that he is: an artist, loving, tallish, blue eyes, a Christian, enjoys snowboarding, an awesome daddy.

Nineteen
My family went on vacation the summer of 2004. Ron went up to my house every day we were gone and built a stone bench near our creek, and a banner out of sticks and twine that read "RACHEL WILL YOU MARRY ME?" It poured rain all that week, but he kept working with the ring he had designed for me in his pocket. Much to my parents' dismay at the time (that's a whole different story), I said yes.

February 18, 2006
We were married, and it was beautiful. We made almost everything by hand and had the most gorgeous wedding I've ever been to. I gave him the notebook that night, list still intact. Many waters cannot quench love.

Today
We have been married for four years. Not always easy, but it's right. So right that I think we should have just rebelled and gotten married back in October after we'd met. I love my artist husband and am so delighted that he's mine for the keeping. He is what I'm not, and together we would make a pretty spectacular being (maybe that's why our daughter is so completely awesome?). Since getting married, we've moved  8 times, graduated with our bachelor degrees, traveled most of the US, made two kids, and lived beautifully.

And yes, good little girls do make mighty wild women.

So here's to my husband who doesn't read my blog. But if he did, I hope that he would read this and remember the sweet moment when he first knew he was in love. I hope that those are the memories we will keep ready in our mind to re-capture our hearts again every day.

Want to see some paintings of us? Visit Ron's website at http://EastFineArt.com.

What's your story? Share it below, or put a link to your own blog with your story!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Holey Donuts prize pack and $250.00!

Holey Donuts is giving away a huge prize pack to one lucky reader! It includes their February Love Assortment consisting of 4 boxes of their latest, best selling, super yummy Holey Donuts! Low Fat Treats and $250 Holey Donuts! store credit good for 1 year.


Click HERE to fill out the entry form. You must put "Life More Simply Blog" in the subject box or your entry will NOT count! It's also not a bad idea to mention "Life More Simply" again in the subject box and that you want to win their blogger contest. :-) Note that by filling out the form, you will be joining the Holey Donuts! mailing list to get special offers, free shipping, super private discount codes and to be entered into this fantastic contest! Please only fill out the form once per email address.

Please enter! I want YOU to win, because when you win, I do, too!

Keep your eyes peeled...I'll be releasing a special way for my Facebook fans to earn an extra entry into this contest. Become a fan now so that you won't miss out!


And just in case you couldn't wait until February 28th to try some donuts or cinnamon rolls...

Tomorrow there will be a 1 day, 24 hour sale you wont want to miss! All Holey Donuts! yummy Low Fat Gourmet Donuts will be only $5.99 per assortment!!!! (Regular prices are from $11.95 - $18.95).These prices are so low your shipping may actually cost more than the donuts! What a deal!! We want you to see how amazing these LOW FAT donuts are that we are willing to offer this below cost special!

With this super low one time offer there will be a strict limit of 5 boxes (assortments) MAXIMUM. Please do not order more than 5 or we will not be able to accept your order. The demand will be huge and we want to satisfy everyone. The usual minimum purchase of three assortments will apply, but can you imagine only paying $5.99?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things to know about...

Some things you might want to know about...

1) Remember the Valentine's Event review and giveaway from Gourmet Gift Baskets? Well, they asked me to include a contest entry for everyone who becomes a fan of theirs on Facebook, but I wasn't able to find their Facebook page for the life of me, so it didn't go up! They kindly sent me a link today, so I am extending the contest for one week, and giving you the chance to earn an extra entry by becoming a Facebook fan of theirs. Visit the review here to let me know you became a fan!

2) You can save yourself a ton of money by buying used cloth diapers (may sound gross, but our experience is that they're in the same shape as new diapers and a fraction of the price). Here are some of my favorite places:

Stores:
Diaper Junction (click on "Preowned Diapers")
Jillian's Drawers (can anyone say "prefolds for $1"?)

Sites:
DiaperSwappers.com (find cheap diapers, free diapers, and everything else here)
MyUsedDiapers.com
The Diaper Jungle

3) Kelly Ripa's doing a Cake Off where you virtually design a cake (very fun) and can vote on your favorite REAL cake designed by Buddy the Cake Boss. The purpose behind it? For every vote and cake sent to someone, $1 is being donated to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. Not only is it fun, but there's also decorating/baking tips from the Cake Boss and you're personally entered to win a new Electrolux Induction Range stove for each vote or cake you send.

4) Check out this post to find a way to win a fabulous prize package.

Yoplait Smoothie & Hamilton Beach Blender Review & Giveaway

I think we all know that Yoplait makes a lot of delicious types of yogurt--but now they're making frozen smoothies, too! I was really excited when I was contacted to do a review of the new Yoplait Smoothie, and then was really dissapointed when I visited 3 different grocery stores in my area only to find that none of them currently carry any Yoplait Smoothies. :-( For this reason, my posting is a little delayed, and I can't honestly tell you about the quality or ease of using a Yoplait Smoothie. Once I find a store near me that lets me redeem my coupon for a smoothie, though, I'll let you know about it! Until then, let me share some information about this neat product and also give you a chance to win your own Yoplait Smoothie and a Hamilton Beach Single-Serve Blender to make your smoothies in!

Some information from MyBlogSpark:
Did you know seven out of 10 Americans do not consume the daily recommended amount of fruit? Every Yoplait Smoothie contains a full serving of fruit as well as real Yoplait yogurt pieces with live & active cultures. Yoplait Smoothies are a good source of calcium when prepared with milk according to directions, and an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C.
Simply add milk to a Yoplait freezer package, blend, and in less than two minutes you can enjoy a nutritious and delicious smoothie guilt free! At 110 calories per serving, Yoplait Frozen Smoothies make creating the at-home smoothie convenient, simple and worry free.
Some things I like about the Yoplait Smoothie:

1) each package is small, yet contains 2 servings
2) each smoothie contains 1 serving of fruit for the day!
3) it's made with fruit chunks and yogurt, which I LOVE and keeps me full until lunch (unlike cereal!)
4) it's fast and easy--you only have to add milk!


As I mentioned before, I was also able to try the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender. I think it's fantastic, and I even bought one for a friend of ours as a gift! I'm a mom who wants a filling, nutritious, and quick breakfast. I've found that smoothies are the answer to this, but it's definitely a pain to make one serving in a big blender (I'm forever making too much, and spilling some as I transfer it into my travel mug). A single-serve blender is a great alternative to a big one for smoothie making. It takes up less space, and everything's all-in-one with this blender since you can just take the blending cup part off and go with your drink!

Yoplait Smoothies are sold in the frozen fruit sections of your grocery store (unless you live next to me, boo), and come in three delicious flavors: Strawberry Banana, Strawberry Mango Pineapple, and Triple Berry. Click here for a $1.25 off coupon!

Buy It! Visit your local grocery store to buy a Yoplait Smoothie, and visit Amazon to purchase a Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender.

Win It! Yoplait and MyBlogSpark have teamed up to give one of my readers her own Yoplait Smoothie prize pack containing both a Hamilton beach Single Serve Blender and a coupon for a Yoplait frozen Smoothie! To enter, you will need to share your best tip for mainting health while enduring a busy life style. For example, I make smoothies in the AM for a quick way to get a healthy breakfast in as I run out the door.
You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 3/2/10 at 11:59, EST.


Extra Entries:
- Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply! (2 entries)
•Follow Life More Simply via Google Friend Connect
•Subscribe to Life More Simply
•Tweet about this contest (1x/day)
•Grab my regular button
•Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...

Review is based on free product sample provided by MyBlogSpark and Yoplait. No other compensation was received.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Vivabox USA Review

WOW! is all I can say about Vivabox USA. It's a company whose idea is simple, yet brilliant: give a gift that someone will want and be excited about receiving. If I could recommend one Valentine's gift to buy, it would be a Vivabox.

What is a Vivabox? The company says it best on their website at http://www.vivaboxusa.com/:
A vivabox is an exciting new product that combines the freedom of choice with the personal touch of a real gift. This two layered gift can be the answer to all of your gift giving dilemmas. The first layer is a gift inside the box that is intended to familiarize the recipient with the product. The second layer is the gift card that can be redeemed for their gift selection from a menu of choices.



1. You Pick The Theme
Do you have an idea as to what type of gift someone would like? Select one of our themes that you think they would enjoy the most. This is the part that gives it a personal touch.


2. They Try The Samples
They open the box and enjoy the gift inside. Depending on the box this could be a gift to try, taste or use and they all relate to the theme of the box.

3. They Choose The Gift
After enjoying the first gift, the recipient visits this website and enters their card number. They will be taken through the redemption process where they choose their final present. This is where the freedom of choice happens.

Result: You have given them a present they actually WANTED! The basic theme was chosen by you for a personal touch but the actual gift was customized by the recipient. This ensures that you have given what he or she will most enjoy. Plus, they got to experience the joy of receiving the perfect present for longer than ripping off the wrapping paper.

Vivabox USA brings us the following themes for their gfits:
  • Movie Experience
  • iPod Accessories
  • Bar-B-Que
  • Wine
  • Tea Time
  • Coffee Talk
  • Gourmet to your Door
  • Fun with Photos
  • Photo Art
  • L'Occitane Experience
  • Spa Massage
  • Spa Beauty
  • Women's Magazine
  • Men's Magazine
  • NYC Museum Experience
  • NYC Tapas Experience
The Wine Box Review
Are you in love with this concept yet?! Vivabox USA sent me their Wine box to review. It was nicely packaged, with black velvety lining inside the box and with an indented space to hold the key elements: a gift card for a six-bottle collection of wines, and the Wine Spectator's Essentials of Wine book. Even though I live in THE wine country of the East Coast and have even attended huge wine festivals, I didn't realize how complex of a thing wine is until I opened the Essentials of Wine book. This is a great resource to have on hand, as it easily explains every aspect of wine from the process to the product. I've looked through it a few times and have only begun to realize how intricate of a thing wine really is! I'm pretty sure that I'll sound almost intelligent now when I try to talk about wine after I'm done reading. :-)

This book also helped us to choose the right selection of wines that comes with the Wine Vivabox. We went with the Chardonnay Assortment, but could have also chosen "Big, Bold Reds," "Worldwide Reds," "Delightful Whites," "Top Selections," "Mixed Medley" (three whites, three reds), or the premiere "Red, White and Sparkling" collection (regular and sparkling reds and whites). Not only will the recipient of this box get to choose from a selection of wines to receive, but a 12-month subscription to "Wine Spectator" magazine is also included with every redemtion except for the Red, White, and Sparkling choice!

For $145.00, I'm not sure how Vivabox is even making money off of this box. The magazine's newstand price alone costs nearly $100.00  ($49.95 online), and six bottles of wine could EASILY top $145.00! Impressive, to say the least. I think this particular box would be awesome for Valentine's Day, or as a wedding or corporate gift to someone. Never again will you need to spend hours trying to determine what another person's wine tastes are so that you can buy them a bottle.

Redemtion of a Vivabox is also very simple. There are instructions included in each box, but basically you just go to their website, click the "redeem a vivabox" button, put in your information and the number of the card included in your box, click your choice, and whola! you're done.

My vote? ABSOLUTELY, YES. This is a seriously fun company and I can't wait to have an excuse to buy one of these boxes for someone. :-)

*Product review is based on a sample provided by Vivabox. No other compensation was received for this post.*

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gourmet Gift Baskets Review & Giveaway

Gourmet Gift Baskets is an Internet based company speciailizing in gift baskets of all sizes, price, and contents. Their selection includes everything from organic food baskets to new baby bath baskets and range in price from $29.99 to $299.99. They even offer plants and flowers!

I love making my own gift baskets for Christmas presents, and often do it for wedding and baby shower gifts as well. The great thing about gift baskets is that it's more than one item, so the recipient is going to feel like they're getting "a lot," and there's also a greater chance that they'll really enjoy something within the contents since there's more to choose from! The thing that struck me about the pre-made baskets that Gourmet Gift Baskets does is that they're perfect for family and friends that live far away. They're designed to withstand being shipped from place to place, so you won't have to worry about things looking nice or staying un-spoiled during travel.

Check out the gift basekt they sent me to review:


My Thoughts:
The basket came wrapped in plastic, so everything stayed in its place without a problem. To my enjoyment, I also found that when I took the plastic off, everything still stayed in place--which is great if you want to give someone a gift basket NOT wrapped in plastic! Things were arranged aesthetically in the basket, though I think it'd be nicer if the company did a little more to the box's inside to make it look nicer (a card or some tissue paper would be a great addition).

The chocolates are both handmade, and I thought tasted great and unique at the same time--there's chocolate covered dried cherries and hand-dipped nuts that are assorted, so you don't know what you're getting until you bite in! My husband, though, is a chocoholic and doesn't actually care for either box of chocolates. His favorite chocolate is Dove, so I'm guessing these chocolates were a little too exotic for him. Try it for yourself and decide! On another food note, I love that the sparking cider is organic. :-)

Also included is a Cupid Teddy Bear, which is deliciously soft to the touch! It's a First & Main product, and I know about that company because I used to buy from them wholesale and then wax-dip the animals and sell them. First & Main produces some really cute and cuddly stuffed animals, all in the mid range of quality and price. So while this Cupid bear isn't the same caliber as a Boyd's Bear, it's still going to hold up for a while.

The only things I would change about the basket would be the extra packaging in the basket (everything sits on TOP of the basket and stuffing so as to look nicer...but then you're left with a lot of stuffing-stuff!), skip the candy hearts (I don't think they're really on the same level as organic cider and hand dipped chocolates--maybe include some gourmet cookies instead?), and lower the price $5.

Buy It!
Would I buy from these guys if I was going to buy a gift basket? Yes! They have so much to choose from, it's convenient, and you really can find something for everyone. So if you're wondering what fabulous thing to buy for your lovebug this Valentine's Day, check out http://www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com/!

Win It!
Gourmet Gift Baskets is giving one of my readers their own Cupid Valentine’s day basket to enjoy!  Since it is Valentine's Day, all you have to do is tell me why you want to win this below. You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 2/15/10 at 11:59, EST. Contest Extended until 2/22/10--be sure to grab an extra entry by becoming a Facebook fan of Gourmet Gift Baskets!


Extra Entries:
- Visit http://www.gourmetgiftbaskets.com/ and find something interesting from their site to tell me that's not in this review and that no one else has commented on yet.

- Become a Facebook fan of Gourmet Gift Baskets! (2 entries)

- Enter my other active contests (1 entry per contest)

- Become a Facebook fan of Life More Simply! (2 entries)

•Follow Life More Simply via Google Friend Connect

•Subscribe to Life More Simply

•Tweet about this contest (1x/day)

•Grab my regular button

•Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...



Review is based on free product sample provided by Gourmet Gift Baskets. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surprises

Wow! I've been without the Internet for three days and do I ever have some catching up to do now! First, you may want to know that I'll be soon posting our last Valentine's Event giveaway from Gourmet Gift Baskets as well as a review from Vivabox. Check back later today (and tomorrow if I get busy here at work) to enter and read about some really unique gift ideas for Valentine's Day.

Secondly, I want to share a little secret with you...shhhhh...I have big plans in the works for two awesome things. The first will be a full month long Baby-Mama shower event in April. I've got some fantastic companies lined up for this event including Charlie's Soap, Baby's First Phone Call, Milk Paint, Snoedel, Organic Bath Plus...and many more! I'm about half way to my goal of having each day focusing on a different product, so prepare to be very, very excited once the line up is totally ready. :-) If you're a business owner or have a product that you'd like featured, be sure to email me ASAP to get in on everything! mailto:lifemoresimply@yahoo.com

The other fantastically awesome thing that will be happening in a little while is a 6-week long Organize My House! challenge. Basically, I'll be helping you get your home organized in a way that can actually be done and will be successful for even busy moms like myself (unlike FlyLady, geez). AND this will be a competition, so expect some prizes to be involved. :-D When, you ask? I'm thinking May-June, but it could be sooner.

And one last thing...To make up to my faithful "daily" readers for my lack of posting the last few days, I'm going to give anyone who reads this post a special invitation to an un-advertised contest (just to test who really reads this and who doesn't, haha). You will have just over 48-hours to enter, and it's all very simple. At 11am, EST, on February 11th, I will be getting my ultrasound for our little Monkey who's due June 30, 2010. As long as things go as planned, I'll be finding out if we're having a boy or a girl! In addition to this excitement, I finally started a Facebook Fan Page for Life More Simply (okay, not nearly as exciting as a baby, but hey). To celebrate these two milestones, I will be offering a prize package of your choice to the winner of this contest! Here's how to play:

1) Become a "fan" of LMS on Facebook (click the Facebook Fan link in the upper right hand part of this page).

2) Leave me a comment on Facebook (write on my wall) telling me if you think I'm having a boy or a girl and which prize package you want to win.

Of all of the correct entries, I'll choose one at random to win the prize! The contest will not end until I post about my ultrasound results on here. Earn an extra entry into the contest by referring a friend who also becomes a Facebook Fan. That person will need to mention that you referred them, though, or it won't count for an extra entry for you. All of the extra entries will go into the draw--you don't have to choose a gender; and there's no limit to how many people you can refer! Note: a minimum of 50 fans are needed to be able to run this contest. Any less than that, and I withhold the right to change this contest without notice.

The winner will get to choose one of the following (you must pay shipping if you're outside of the US):

Prize Package #1:  New Baby Box!
Will include some Snappi Diaper Fasteners, a HypnoBirthing "only happy birth stories--baby is listening" t-shirt (specify size and I'll do my best), laundry soap, birth announcements, small photo album, and whatever else I find that will fit into the box (let me know: boy or girl).

Prize Package #2: Happy Mama Box!
Will include a wooden massage tool kit (multiple massagers), a book, a candle, Susan G. Komen note cards, and whatever else I find that will fit into the box.

Prize Package #3: Mystery Box!
Could include any of the above as well as things like Green cleaning supplies, bath and body products, decorations, music CD's, books...the sky's the limit.

Prize Package #4: Advertising-Not-Box!
You will get a free 125x125 spot on my blog to advertise your business or blog for FREE for one whole month! *subject to my approval*

Good luck guessing and recruiting people!

Friday, February 5, 2010

BedVoyage Review & Giveaway

Finally, a way to travel in comfort, style, and safety while you sleep! My husband and I have done our share of road trips, usually camping out in a tent, but often sleeping in motels or cabins. Unfortunately, some of our most memorable stays have been in motels where we had to sleep in our clothes and sleeping bags on top of the bed because we didn't dare sleep between the sheets! With BedVoyage, this apparently doesn't have to be the case any longer. Made from bamboo, BedVoyage offers beautiful travel sheets and a new travel blanket that are all naturally anti-bacterial, odor resistant, and hypo-allergenic. Not only is bamboo an awesome sustainable resource, but the fibers allow you to always be comfortable--cool in the summer, warm in the winter and dry (since it wicks moisture away).

Why for Valentine's? When preparing for this Valentine's event and contacting companies, I thought BedVoyage would be a great one to include because, hey, who wouldn't want to take a romantic rendezvous somewhere? On the other hand, for people who don't have anyone to go anywhere with, or who have kids and so travel is out of the question, this is still a fabulous product! It's something that everyone can use and enjoy regardless of if it's on the road or at home...and I know that I always feel better having silky warmth next to my skin that I know is safe for everyone. There's no better way to relax at night!

My Thoughts...BedVoyage had just released their new travel blanket when I contacted them, and so asked if I would review it for them. When it arrived, I was first taken back by the absolute soft, silky feeling it has (and the packaging said it will just get softer with washings!). I have a few bamboo shirts, and love, love, love the feel of them, but this blanket was even softer than I'd expected! The sage green color also impressed me because it's just a nice, neutral, relaxing color which I definitely appreciate when I'm trying to get into a relaxed mood. I first used it to snuggle up with my daughter to nurse and take a nap on our couch together and was delighted at how warm it kept us. The blanket is so thin that you wouldn't think it'd be real warm, but it works fantastically! The only thing I'd like to see different in this blanket is that it could be offered in a variety of sizes (this one would fit a single/double sized bed) and colors. I would definitely recommend this as a travel and anytime blanket because of it's eco-friendly properties, comfort, ability to be compact, and cost.

Travel Blanket - $39.00

•40” wide by 70” long

•sage green color

Here's what BedVoyage has to say about their travel sheet sets (which you need to check out on their site because they look pretty darn cool and, yes, I hope to personally test them out some day):

BedVoyage bed sheets are exquisitely woven to accentuate the incredible softness of bamboo with a sprinkle of natural sheen. These 100% organic bamboo sheets are subtly cool and extremely breathable, with a feel softer to the touch than a 1,000 thread-count cotton, and they are non-pilling. Bamboo is known to be one of the strongest natural fibers, which makes this BedVoyage product especially appealing because of its longevity, durability and easy-care. Those with sensitive skin will benefit from the all-natural round bamboo fibers which contain no harsh chemicals or synthetic substances to irritate the skin. Studies have shown that children are suffering from allergies today more than ever, BedVoyage's linens provide an allergen free sleeping environment both on the road and at home, as bamboo is grown organically with no pesticides or fertilizers.

Buy It! Make yourself or someone else happy this Valentine's Day and snag something from BedVoyage at their website: http://bedvoyage.com/. Free shipping through February!

Win It! BedVoyage is giving one of my readers her own bamboo travel blanket! Since it is Valentine's Day, all you have to do is tell me why you want to win this below. You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 2/15/10 at 11:59, EST.


Extra Entries:
- Visit BedVoyage and find something interesting from their site to tell me that's not in this review and that no one else has commented on yet. I recommend visiting their Travel Tips or Bamboo Information pages.
- Enter my other active contests (1 entry per contest)
•Follow Life More Simply
•Subscribe to Life More Simply
•Tweet about this contest (1x/day)
•Grab my regular button
•Grab my V-Day button (two extra entries if you grabbed it BEFORE 2/1, 1 entry if after!)
•Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...
 
Review is based on free product sample provided by BedVoyage. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pacific Jewlery Designs Review & Giveaway

Pacific Jewlery Designs (http://www.pacificjewelrydesigns.com/) sent me a beautiful Beach Glass Necklace to review for our Valentine Event. It's made of upcycled glass that's hand wrapped in wire and attached to a 16" Sterling Silver chain. I love it for four reasons:

1) it's beautiful
2) it's good quality (I've had my share of crummy chains)
3) it's hand made and in the US
4) it's repurposing something considered to be trash (beach or other used glass) into a piece of art (necklace)


Pacific Jewlery Designs is owned by an artist and painter who began selling her hand made jewlery creations five years ago. She offers quite a variety of things including intricate bracelets, elegant ear rings, youthful holiday pieces, and even necklaces boasting unique items like real arrowheads! Having tried one of her pieces, I can vouch for the quality. Looking through all that she offers, though, I am blown away by the prices knowing how pleased I am with the necklace I was sent. Honestly, I think the Beach Glass Necklace would be double the price many other places--she's selling them for $20.00! I love that her prices are reasonable because it means that more people can afford it, providing a beautiful gift for someone and by boosting the self confidence and beauty of the wearer.

Here are my top three Valentine's Day gift picks:

Swarovski Crystal Puffy Heart Necklace - US $ 40.00
Vert et Rouge Necklace- US $ 80.00
Coral Bellflower Earrings - US $ 25.00
Buy It! Visit their website at http://www.pacificjewelrydesigns.com/ and receive FREE shipping on US orders!

Win It! Pacific Jewlery Designs will be giving one lucky reader of mine a $20.00 gift certificate towards anything the store. Since it is Valentine's Day, all you have to do is tell me why you want to win this below! You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 2/15/10 at 11:59, EST. Yeah, that means you'll actually need to buy your own necklace to give to someone for V-Day. :-)


Extra Entries:
- Visit Pacific Jewlery Designs and tell me what other peice of jewlery you love
- Enter my other active contests (1 entry per contest)
•Follow Life More Simply
•Subscribe to Life More Simply
•Tweet about this contest (1x/day)
•Grab my regular button
•Grab my V-Day button (two extra entries if you grabbed it BEFORE 2/1, 1 entry if after!)
•Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...

Review is based on free product sample provided by Pacific Jewlery Designs. No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Alex and Ani Jewlery Review & Giveaway


Alex and Ani is one of the coolest jewlery companies that I've seen in a long time. Not only is their jewlery trendy, unique, and simple, but it's also made entirely in the United States and of recycled materials. I thought this was pretty neat when I found out about them, and so was thrilled when they agreed to participate in our Valentine's event. Each piece is designed with the intention to "adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit," allowing the wearer to compliment her own uniqueness. Alex and Ani make bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, and hair bands--and almost everything is expandable, providing a comfortable fit for the wearer.

Eco-Friendly Jewlery
Founder and creative designer, Carolyn Rafaelian embraces a philosophy that is based upon using eco-friendly, recycled materials made entirely in the United States. Carolyn believes that by creating designs that support the environment and encourage social consciousness, consumers can use their purchases to make a difference in protecting our planet and our future.

Charity
Alex and Ani have a line of beautiful bangles that represent particular needs--and a percentage of the profits go towards meeting these needs. Right now, they're offering bangles for Haiti relif with 100% of the proceeds being given to Doctor's Without Borders to help meet the medical needs of the Haitian people. Check out the other charities and organiziations that they've partnered with as well!

The Fit
The bangle bracelets are really what make Alex and Ani who they are. On their website, they have a "Bangle Bar" application that lets you pick the finishes, bangles, and adornments--seeing what it will look like--so that you can create that unique piece of jewlery that fits you perfectly. The other cool thing about these bangles is that they are expandable so your skinny wrist and your fat wrist will both be comfortable. :-)

What I Think
Well, I think you already know what I think from reading the above. In case you're wondering about details though, I was sent a single Crazy Love Charm bangle to review. I chose the Russian Gold color and found it to be more bronzy than gold, but their website photo shows that as well--just don't be thrown off by the "gold" name! It's a single bangle with the "LOVE" charm dangling from it, and I've enjoyed wearing it with both casual and dressy outfits. I'm hooked now, though, so I really want to add some more bangles to the look so that it's complete in my mind. :-) On a side note, the packaging of the bracelet was nice in a professional box and with a hand written note. I also haven't found any tarnishing yet, it's comfortable to wear, and easy to move the size around!

Buy It! Visit http://www.alexandani.com/
The Love Bangle Set is on sale for $81.00 (normally $108.00)!
The Crazy Love Charm Bangle is on sale for $16.00 (normally $21.00)!
Enter the case sensitive code IC2010 at checkout to receive 10% off of your ENTIRE purchase.

Win It!
Alex and Ani is generously giving one of my readers her own Love Bangle Set valued at $108.00. You'll be receiving the many bangles that make up this set in the finish of your choice (Russian Silver or Russian Gold). Since it is Valentine's Day, all you have to do is tell me why you want to win this below! You must include an email address and separate comment for each entry. Contest will end 2/15/10 at 11:59, EST. Yeah, that means you'll actually need to buy your own bracelet to give to someone for V-Day. :-)

Extra Entries:
- Visit Alex and Ani and tell me what other peice of jewlery you love
- Tell me which finish you want the bracelet in if you win
- Enter my other active contests (1 entry per contest)
•Follow Life More Simply
•Subscribe to Life More Simply
•Tweet about this contest (1x/day)
•Grab my regular button
•Grab my V-Day button (two extra entries if you grabbed it BEFORE 2/1, 1 entry if after!)
•Spread the word about this contest (leave the link below)--can be anything! Facebook, message boards, emailing friends...

Review is based on free product sample provided by Alex and Ani. No other compensation was received.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Making Money Through Swagbucks FAQ

Building a Better Blog: How to make money online and through your blog

Search & Win
Post #2: Swagbucks

Swagbucks.com is (in essence) a paid to search program with a twist. You do searches (just like one would use Yahoo or Google) and randomly throughout the day you'll be rewarded with Swagbucks (which work like points). Swagbucks can be "cashed in" for rewards like giftcards to Target or Amazon.com (plus lots more), sports memorabilia, video games, etc. Swagbucks have no monetary value though (so there's no option to get a check rather than buy a giftcard).

Q) Does it cost to join or receive rewards?
100% free to join. I've only ever gotten e-giftcards (for amazon.com) so there was no charge whatsoever. I honestly have no idea about say, a bass guitar if they charge shipping or not.

Q) It says I need a swagcode to join. What's that?Swagcodes are keywords that are put out by Swagbucks.com so you can earn automatic points rather than earning points by searching. You don't need to enter anything in in order to join though.

Q) Does Swagbucks have a referral program?Yes, they do. For every referral you have, Swagbucks will match their swagbucks up to 100 swagbucks (so after your referral earns 100 you don't earn anything from them). So, say I have a referral who earned 2 Swagbucks on a search--that means that I also earned 2 Swagbucks.

Q) Do I have to download the search toolbar?You can either search (after joining) by going to www.swagbucks.com OR you can download their toolbar and it just replaces my google/yahoo/etc. bar in Firefox. No virus warnings or any issues whatsoever on my computer.

Q) How many searches should I be doing a day?I do searches all day long. However, do not do too many searches back to back (like rapid fire) or Swagbucks will think you are some kind of spambot and you'll NEVER get Swagbucks. This is what happened to DH. On average winning happens 2-3 times during the course of a day. Some searches you'll receive only 1 buck... but sometimes you may get 2,3 or even 20 swagbucks for a search!

Q) So, what should I be search for? Are there keywords that always work?GOOD question. For the most part, swagbucks are random. Some words may get a swagbuck for one person, and not for the other. However--in my experience, I've found that mainly proper names do pretty well consistently with winning Swagbucks (So, search for your name, your DD's name.. or any other proper nouns). We like to share when a word does work for us because it MAY just work for you too! But, for the most part, they're random.

Q) What's a swagcode and how do I enter them?Swagcodes are released by Swagbucks.com. They earn you Swagbucks instantly rather than having to do searches in hopes of a swagbuck. They normally have a quick expiration on them, so if you see one, go on and enter it in then. Where do you enter them, you may ask? Here's how I do it: Go to Promote on the top of the screen (black menu bar) after you do a search. Then I go to "Your Swagbucks" (it's in a grey menu bar a little lower)--then you should see a place that says "have a swagcode".. enter it in here. Swagcodes are case-sensitive and always click "Gimmie" rather than enter. I've entered swagcodes and thought I didn't get anything, but then a day later they'll show up.. so some are not instant.

Q) Is it legit? Have you earned anything?Yes. It is legit.. or I wouldn't be going on and on about it. lol. I have received 2 giftcards to Amazon.com using my Swagbucks and made purchases very easily. If you order stuff--shipping is free!
A big "thank you" to http://screamingpenny.blogspot.com/ for writing this guest post!