Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marie Callender's Multi-serve Bakes - Review and Giveaway

I'm a working mom. My husband is a working dad. Between school, daycare, preschool, and our jobs, we're not home a lot during the day which makes getting meals on the table more than just a little challenging some days. We manage to have dinner as a family at least three times a week, but I'll be honest and admit that one of those times is out - usually at a fast food joint. 

So when I heard about the new Marie Callender's bakes, I was not just interested, I was downright intrigued. Good meals that I could microwave and that came with better nutritional stats than our fast food dinners? Sign me up. 

First I sent my husband to the grocery store and he came home with the wrong meals. (Who knew Marie Callender's had so many frozen meal options?) Then I went and surveyed the "bakes" options. The trick, which I did not know when I dispatched my better half, is to look in the family meals section of the freezer aisle, not the single entree section. 
I looked at the options offered by our grocery store - I really wanted to try the three meat and four cheese lasagna, but it was not meant to be. Instead I brought home the Vermont White Cheddar Mac&Cheese. It wouldn't do for a family dinner, but if it meant I could get dinner on the table for the girls in under 10 minutes, it was definitely worth a try. Plus, the box made the Mac&Cheese look both harmless and delicious. 

Tonight, at long last, I finally pulled the package from the freezer and popped it in the microwave. 5 minutes later I was drooling as the smell of melted cheese filled the kitchen. Another 4 minutes later and I was pulling dinner out of the microwave. I added some turkey slices and fruit to their plates and served up dinner. 

I wish I could tell you that both children fell over themselves as they gorged on mac&cheese. Sadly that wasn't the case. At first I thought it was because I've spoiled my kids with homemade mac&cheese (they won't even eat the stuff out of the box any more...), but after tasting it I understood. 

The benign dish pictured on the box had an unexpected kick to it. 

I sat down at the table and grabbed a bowl. The cheese was perfectly cheesy and the red pepper flakes gave the creamy noodles a tasty - somewhat more grown-up - twist. 

My own dinner was cooking so I regretfully put down my fork. The kids won't want this dinner again, but I'm putting it on the shopping list for those nights when my husband is out of town I'm so crazed I don't have time to cook a meal for myself. (He doesn't do so well with cheesy dishes...)

Side note: I'm an avid nutritional content checker and this dish compared admirably with other leading brands of frozen mac&cheese. It even bested them in the protein and vitamin department.

Marie Callender's Multi-serve Bakes Giveaway

Want to try for yourself? You're in luck! I have two sets of Marie Callender's coupons - one free dish and a few discounted dishes - to give away to two lucky readers. 

To enter leave me a comment sharing a quick dinner short-cut that works for you. 

Bonus entries: Tweet or Facebook this giveaway. Please be sure to come back and post the direct link to your tweet or Facebook post.

Giveaway will close at 10pm Tuesday, Dec 7th.

Please note, I was compensated by Marie Callender's and TheMotherhood for this post, but all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone. 
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Petz Fantasy - Moonlight Magic Review

This post is part of a sponsored series from Ubisoft, celebrating "12 Days of Giveaways." See below for how you can enter up to 12 times to win fun and family-friendly video games.

I have a love hate relationship with the Nintendo DS. I love playing with it and hate it when the kids play. It's not that I'm loath to share my toy, it's more that neither child can read so I constantly have to stop what I'm doing to read what it says on the screen.
Since we opened Petz Fantasy, I'm changing my tune. 

First of all, this game is cute. Seriously adorable. The little magic pet makes cute little noises and has a sweet little face. 

Second, this game is manageable for my 5yo. She still needs me to  read some of the messages, but she can sit and play without needing my help every three seconds. Even better, she's actually having fun! She loves taking care of her little beast and is even tackling the more challenging magical realm games with glee. 

As a mom I'm quite impressed with the different skills she's mastering. Even though her hand/eye coordination is quite good, since she's learning to write, extra practice is never a bad thing. To feed her little pet she has to color in his food being sure to stay within the lines (Harder than it sounds!), to console him she has to burst his tears before they explode. And that's just the start. Each level offers up a new challenge and I, like my daughter, can't wait to see what's next!

To Purchase Petz Fantasy:
Visit Toys R Us where you can find it for $29.99.
Visit Amazon.com where you can also find it for $29.99

Want to win your own copy of this game? 
Easy enough!

Leave a comment below telling my why this game sounds perfect for your child.
Get an extra entry by tweeting or promoting this giveaway on Facebook. Please make sure to come back and leave a comment with a link to your tweet or FB post. 

Winner will be drawn at 10:00pm Friday, December 3rd and will be announced Saturday, December 4th. 

This giveaway is now closed! Thank you to everyone who entered and tweeted it out! 
Congratulations to Rhoneygtn, #35, winner of the Petz Fantasy Moonlight Magic game! 

Want more ways to win great games for the whole family? Visit each of these blogs during our 12 Days of Giveaways from now through December 3!

I was selected to participate in this sponsored series by Ubisoft and Clever Girls Collective. I received a video game and compensation for my participation in this program. We believe in Blog With Integrity.

Please visit these participating bloggers for more chances to win games, including Just Dance 2 (Wii), Battle of Giants: Dinosaur Strike (Wii), Petz Fantasy (DS) and Petz Nursery (DS)!
Rookie Moms
DaDa Rocks
Crash Test Mommy
Scraps of My Geek Life
Mommies With Style
The Fairly Odd Mother
All Things Fadra
Mom to the Screaming Masses
Romy Raves
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Insect Lore Buzzerks Review and giveaway - Updated with winner!

I am not a bug lover. To be exact, I'm not a huge fan of anything with wings, bugs don't bother me beyond that. In fact, if I'm honest I find them somewhat fascinating. I often find myself wondering what it would be like to have one day, or one week be a whole lifetime. Then I ponder what it would be like to see the world through a kaleidoscope. 

Thanks to the Insect Lore Buzzerks my girls have been able to experience what it's like to "see" the world like an insect. The insect "goggles" - shaped like a fire and, mantis, and hornet - are a fun way to dress up like an insect. A neat lens inside the masks allow the kids to see the world through the multiple "eyes" of an insect.

C instantly wanted to be a fire-ant, insisting on a full outfit change so she could dress in all red to fully embrace the role. Little L donned the green glasses of the mantis and the two of them crawled around the house all day. It's a nice change from playing princess all day long! Even better, it's led to a lot of fascinating conversations about insects and what life must be like when it only lasts a day or two.

Insect Lore Buzzerks Giveaway
We've been having so much fun with our Buzzerks, we want to share the fun with you!
Insect Lore is giving away two sets of Buzzerks to one lucky winner - one set for your family, one set for your child's class.

To win leave a comment below telling me what your child would love about the Insect Lore Buzzerks or a funny story about bugs. Giveaway will end Monday, Nov 15th and the winner will be announced at 10pm PST.

Congratulations! We have a winner!

Commenter #7 was.... Nicole! Congratulations Nicole! I'll be in touch via email to get your address.
Stay tuned for more exciting Insect Lore giveaways. There's going to be one a month for a whole year!

I'm participating in a long campaign for Insect Lore. I was sent Buzzerks for review and am being compensated for participating in this campaign. However the thoughts contained in this post are mine and mine alone. Stay tuned to see what else we have in store for you!

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Disney Mickey Mote Review

Kid shows are very inventive when it comes to trying to get children to interact with the action. There are varying degrees of questions and comments directed at the child. Some shows carefully build in "wait time" to give the child a chance to react and answer before the show moves on. But until now, there were few if any shows that put an interactive tool directly in the child's hand.

I was really excited to receive and test the new Disney Mickey "Mote." I loved the concept from the get go. Anything that can turn a predominantly passive activity into an active thinking one can't be bad.

First things first though. Before being able to test out the Mickey Mote I had to set it up, which meant I had to find the DVD remote. I located it in the last place I thought to check (The empty packaging for the new TV that was heading to the trash. Thank you Mickey Mote! I would never have searched for it if it weren't for you!) and started the set up.

I set the two remotes head to head on the floor and followed the instructions carefully, pushing the buttons in order. Clearly I've been working too hard because it took me a good three times to get the set-up right. Had I read the instructions exactly as they were written I would have gotten it right the first time. It really wasn't that hard. 

With the remote set up the girls were ready to play. The timing was perfect, Little L was ready to be set up for her nebulizer treatment. I usually sit with her on the couch to read to her as the medicine does it's thing, tonight I sat her in front of the TV and handed her her Mickey Mote.

We're big fans of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so they were delighted to see the familiar opening credits, not to say a new episode they'd never seen.

A few things to note:
The Mickey Mote doesn't come into play during the usual episode. You have to select the bonus material to have access to the interactive portion of the DVD. For a child who's been handed a fun red remote, it can be a bit hard to be patient until playtime starts. Even if you go straight to the interactive section, there's still a bit of wait time before the questions start.

The first level of play was perfect for my 3-year-old. She was able to easily answer the questions, but they made her think. The second level of play was a bit easy for the 5-year-old, though she did enjoy the interactivity.

All in all I'm a fan of the Mickey Mote. I like the fact that it teaches the children to be active observant viewers. I wish the integration of the interactive parts was a bit less choppy and a bit more seamless. But all in all, this is a nice little product that will entertain preschoolers and help them feel like they're part of the action.

I received a copy of the Disney Mickey Mote and an extra DVD for review. I received no other form of compensation. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

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