Sunday, February 28, 2010

Toy of the Week: Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Home

I would have never thought a toy could make such a difference in the lives of my family. But the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Learning Home really has.

Fisher-Price boasts that the Laugh and Learn Learning Home teaches letters, numbers, counting, shapes, opposites, colors, greetings, and more! The big lesson learned in my home wasn’t listed; it taught my 3 year old and my 1 year old how to play nicely with each other.

When we gave this to our 1yo for her birthday our 3yo was under the impression all the toys in the house were hers and her little sister was just borrowing them. The little one took to this toy right away and the older one quickly learned she could sit on one side and her sister could sit on the other and they could play together. Many an hour was spent pushing every button, turning every knob and flipping every switch. The 3yo quickly learned what was required to play her favorite songs (putting balls in the down spouts plays Itsy Bitsy Spider) and now is trying to teach her little sister all the tricks. They both enjoy it immensely!

It’s said to have 21 “delightful” songs, some of which will get stuck in your head and you’ll be singing them all day. The various activities are bound to keep the interest of just about any toddler.

The suggested age range is 6-36 months which I think is pretty much on, although I’m sure my oldest will be playing with it as long as her little sister is interested.

The only downfall I’ve found is the price. The suggested retail price is $80! You can usually find them used if you look and you can order missing parts from Fisher-Price.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Avon Ideal Shade Smooth Mineral Foundation

I am a loose powder person, I very rarely use liquid foundation anymore but hate leaving the house without something on my face. Years ago I'd use liquid foundation to cover everything and powder to cover that. Since having children, my make-up routine has dropped to about three items: powder, blush and mascara.

Let me be upfront and say I used to sell Avon so most of the make-up I own and use is, in fact, Avon. I quit selling a couple months ago and didn't even know I owned this powder. The loose powder I was using was suddenly empty and I was scrambling to find something to use before heading out the door, I found Avon Ideal Shade Smooth Mineral Foundation in Transparent Glow.

I found the coverage to be incredible, especially since it was a transparent color. When I saw the color, I expected it would simply take away any oily shine from my face but it worked so much better! It was light like a powder should be and covered surprising well, it was by no means heavy and evened out my skin fairly well. The best thing was it actually covered my blemished, I was so delighted.

Avon says the Smooth Mineral Foundations have a medium coverage of a liquid and
the featherlight feel of a powder with a natural luminous finish. I agree!

The foundation powder retails for $11.oo (it's on sale quite often) which is comparable to other mineral makeups. You can get it from the Avon website or your local representative.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Wax Removal from Carpet

Yes, it’s happened to me, I fell asleep with the candle burning and wax ended up all in the carpet. No fun!

I went online and read all the different methods and decided to try the “paper bag” method, or it started out that way.

All the different methods agreed that the first step to wax removal is to scrape the wax to remove any loose wax. I used a butter knife but hindsight being what it is, I think a stoneware scraper would work much better. Don’t scrape too hard, you don’t want to rip carpet fibers out.

For the next step you’ll need a dry iron, a paper bag or an old towel you don’t mind ruining. The directions I was attempting to follow suggested laying the paper bag on the wax, using a low heat on the iron, and then ironing the paper bag to bring the wax up. This did work. It just seemed to take forever, I even tried turning up the heat a little. I finally decided to use an old hand towel. I was able to keep it at the warmer temperature and it came up very quickly. Plus, as silly as it sounds, it felt more natural ironing a hand towel instead of a paper bag. It’s important you don’t use too high of heat on your iron or you could burn your carpet.

The upside to spilling wax on your carpet, even after you’ve removed it, your room smells good every time you vacuum.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Weigh In Wednesday: Laundry Detergent

What kind of laundry detergent do you use?

Why do you like it?

I have always been a Tide lover. Growing up, my mom used Tide always so that carried over into my grown up life until I had children. My babies have very sensitive skin just like their mother so I stuck to the baby detergents like Dreft and All Baby until I discovered Arm & Hammer Essentials. I love it!! It has no scent which is great and it is dye & perfume free which is great for sensitive skin. But the best part is that it very natural and safe for the environment. It has a natural water softener in it so even if you have hard water, you clothes still feel soft after using it. The price can't be beat also considering it costs about half of what Tide costs!!!

My husband and I have a difference of opinions as to what makes a good laundry detergent. He is always looking for something that smells good and when he buys it, it makes our munchkins break out. I look for the sensitive skin ones that contain no perfumes or dyes. I also go with what is a good price per ounce and if I have a coupon, that is always better!! I try to go with what is good for our environment now too (thanks to Ally!!).

What do you think? What makes a good detergent for you?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Hydrogen Peroxide

I know many people that clean with chlorine bleach. I, however, have never been one of those people. I’ve always found bleach to be far too intimidating. It’s ruined some of my favorite shirts, has a pungent smell, and is rather toxic. A wonderful green alternative is hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is simply water with an extra oxygen molecule (H2O2). It is produced naturally in both animal and plant cells and occurs in the environment as a product of sunlight acting on water. Did you know that H2O2 is typically the active ingredient in many “oxygen” cleaners?

When you purchase hydrogen peroxide at the super market or drug store it is commonly diluted down to a 3% solution, which is the safest way to purchase it. Here are some H2O2 tips and uses which I found on and

- Keep H2O2 out of direct sunlight and in a cool place, as exposure to the sun and heat will quickly break it down into oxygen and water; rendering it ineffective. Store it in a dark bottle and remember to keep it out of reach of children.

- Dip your toothbrush in a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide solution to help kill bacteria on the brush after brushing.

- Mouthwash: A tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution in a cup of water can be used as a mouthwash - swish for up to 60 seconds once a day; but don't swallow and be sure to rinse your mouth out afterwards. This can also help whiten teeth.

- Hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a gargle to help relieve a sore throat or to help prevent the onset of certain illnesses such as colds and the flu. By killing some of the cold and flu germs present in the throat, you decrease the likelihood of getting sick.

- To help kill bacteria such as E. Coli on fruits and vegetables, add a quarter cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to a sink full of cold water. immerse, rinse with cold water and drain. By killing bacteria this will also help keep fruit and vegetables fresher for longer. You can also use a spraybottle containing a 50/50 mix of 3% hydrogen peroxide and water - just spray and rinse.

- Household disinfectant: Hydrogen peroxide can be used to disinfect almost any household surface, including cutting boards, countertops, toilets, and floors. Simply wet the surface to be cleaned with hydrogen peroxide, then leave it sit for a few minutes. If germs are present, you will see fizzing and foaming as the peroxide does its job. After a few minutes, rinse and repeat if desired.

- Half fill a spray bottle with a 3% solution and then top it up with water for use as a bathroom and toilet disinfectant and cleaner. This is especially useful if you have a septic, greywater or blackwater treatment system as it won't harm the bacteria in the treatment areas - the hydrogen peroxide would have diluted to a point that renders it harmless by that stage through the interaction with flush water.

- Mix a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution with two parts water in a spray bottle and use on areas affected by mold. You can try a neat 3% solution for areas like bathroom tiling, but be careful on the strength in relation to painted items as it may bleach them.

- Make a whitening toothpaste by mixing baking soda and enough 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to form a paste

- Use 3% hydrogen peroxide to sterilize cuts and abrasions - the fizzing you'll see occur is normal.

- Add a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your whites wash in place of bleaches

- Remove bloodstains from clothing by blotting stain with 3% hydrogen peroxide, then rinse promptly with cold water to avoid bleaching of the fabric.

- To remove yellowing from lace curtains or tablecloths, fill a sink with cold water and a 2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Soak for at least an hour, rinse in cold water and air dry

- Acne: After cleansing, use a cotton ball to apply 3% hydrogen peroxide to the skin. Apply to the entire face to help heal existing acne, and to freshen and kill the germs that can cause new acne breakouts.

- Windows & Mirrors: Hydrogen peroxide leaves a streak-free shine on glass surfaces in your home. Simply use a spray bottle to wet the surface with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and wipe with a clean, lint-free cloth. This can also help disinfect, which is important in homes with little ones who like to put their mouths on the glass.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Toy of the Week: Leapster 2

My son loves video games, even at age 3!!! I blame both myself and my husband on this as we both love video games. But not the new high-tech video games, we love the traditional Mario games!! We both own a Gameboy Advance and Super Mario 3 along with other games. In October, we moved and were without entertainment for the kids for a few days so we decided to let Little Man try the Gameboy. Big mistake...he rarely put it down. So for Christmas, I decided to get him a video game machine that was educational. After a lot of research and comparing, I opted to get him the Leapster 2. I even managed to get him the Star Wars Edition, which he loves!! It came with one game, Jedi Math and we purchased a few additional games.

He plays it constantly and enjoys the games. It is a great item for traveling and for when we are out and he has to wait. It keeps him occupied. He has learned different aspects of math, counting and numbers with the Jedi Math. We purchased a game called Digging for Dinosaurs where he has learned about dinosaurs and science facts. In the other games we purchased, he has learned word recognition, letters, colors and shapes. The nice part is that he is always learning even though he is playing a video games. It isn't mindless, he has to think to advance through the games. And I know that he is learning!! I can hook the game up to the internet and see exactly what he excels in and what he struggles in, which helps me focus on his learning throughout the day.

The Leapster 2 is backwards and forwards compatible, so old games can play inside it and the new games can be played in the old system (The Original Leapster). The system plugs into a USB cable, and you can download your kids’ progress as a part of LeapFrog’s Learning Path. Parents just create a profile for their children on a computer, then connect the Leapster 2 handheld to it. This is a way to keep track of what kids are learning, and it’s a way of building confidence and enthusiasm for learning–both from parent and child. When kids connect to the system, they can upload and unlock online rewards–like baby Achievements! Like the first Leapster, Leapster 2 auto-levels to make sure keeps are continually challenged. It is a great system!!

The Leapster 2, which is recommended Ages 4-8, is available for around $69.99 but I have found that has some great budle prices!! The only recommendation I can make is to purchase the rechargable battery pack. It has saved us on batteries and has already paid for itself!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Weigh-In Wednesday: Diapers

What brand of disposable diapers do you prefer? With my son, I swore by Pampers. With my daughter, I just can't decide. Lately I've been buying whatever I have a coupon for. When she was a newborn I initially used the Pampers Swaddlers, but they left little bits of clear gel all over her girly parts every time she wet her diaper, even if it was just moderately wet. So, I switched to the Huggies Newborn. I loved those! I liked the cut-out for the umbilical cord stump, and I also liked the flap on the upper back part that prevented poop from going up her back. As she grew into the size 2, I had a problem with the Huggies leaking on the sides when she pooped. I decided to try Luvs, which I hated with my son because back then they didn't have a stretchy waist band, but this time I was pretty impressed. They hold A LOT of pee without leaking. But, lately the poop has been going up her back, as it does with Pampers also. I recently read some good reviews on the Huggies Pure and Natural, so I will try them next.

I think the perfect diaper would include the absorbency and fit of Luvs, the back flap of Huggies, and a rewards program like Pampers.

Now it's your turn to weigh-in. Which brand of disposable diapers do you prefer and why?

Oh, and what about Night Time diapers for bigger kids? I swear by Under Jams. They rarely leak, and you also collect Pampers Points with them. Ethan outgrew the Pull-Ups by the time he turned 3 and the Goodnights constantly leak.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Sun Bleaching

Another great stain removal tip.

I cloth diaper my one year-old and as you can imagine her diapers can stain fairly easily. I had heard many a cloth diapering Mamas rave about sun bleaching but it took me forever to try it. Now that I have, I am (or would be if the sun and warmth were present) an avid follower.

It’s simple and you can do it with just about anything with a stain. Wash your garment as you normally would but instead of putting it in the dryer, place it outside in the direct sun light to dry. Inside, in direct light doesn't work very well. I like to leave it out most of the day, I’m not sure how long is actually required. The garments will be stiff but nothing a little air fluff in the dryer won’t soften up.

This also worked on food and other "natural" stains on my daughter’s clothes.

I've had one Mama tell me if it gets rained on then sun dried it works even better but I have yet to try it.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Toy of the Week: Motor Works by Discovery Toys

This weeks terrific "Toy of the Week" is brought to you by Ally.

Back in December I hosted a Discovery Toys party. Discovery Toys is a wonderful company that specializes in educational toys for children. They offer a lot of great products, but there was one that certainly stood out to the kids at the party; Motor Works. It is an adorable little building set with a battery operated drill and a manual screw driver. The set includes a race car, prop plane and motorcycle, all of which can be easily taken apart and reassembled. The screws are large enough for little hands to manage, and the set includes extra screws in case some get misplaced. It all comes inside of an adorable tool box with a handle for portability.

The recommended age is 4+, but I would recommend it for ages 3+ so long as you're willing to help your little one assemble the toys. My 3 1/2 year old has played with this toy set daily ever since he received it, and this toy has become a favorite among his friends at play dates.

Motor Works encourages your child to develop tactile thinking skills. It's a 3-D puzzle that they will love doing over and over again, and I even have fun assembling the toys with him. It also focuses on fine motor skills.

There are also two additional vehicles, a train and a truck, available for the Motor Works toy set. They are sold separately.

Motor Works can be purchased online at the Discovery Toys website, or you could host a Discovery Toy party. Click here to find a Discovery Toy representative in your area. If you live in the Hampton Roads/Williamsburg area of Virginia, my consultant is AMAZING! The first time I met her was when she hosted my party. She's one of those people that when you meet her you feel like you've known her for years. You can contact her here:

I do have one small negative issue with Discovery Toys. I was initially considering becoming a consultant, until I saw their website. It leaves little to desire. When it comes to a company that makes sales online and through host parties, you should be able to allow customers to purchase products online and have them count towards a party. I also am not a fan of the way the website is laid out. The online shopping portion of the website looks "cheap" to me. They should take some pointers from the way the Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef websites are set up and hire a new web designer.