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Treats for Allergy-Prone Dogs

Posted on Apr 16, 2014 by No Comments

My dog has so many allergy issues. We have to be very careful about the food and treats we give him, and if my daughter happens to drop some dry cereal on the floor and he gobbles it up, his skin starts to itch and he starts to smell horrible.

We usually stick to the Blue Buffalo brand for almost everything because he’s never had a bad reaction to anything from the line. However, we found another treat alternative that’s working just as well. It’s the Newman’s Own Organics Medium Size Heart Shape Dog Treats. We got the turkey and sweet potato flavor, though I doubt the ingredients vary much from flavor to flavor.

Others include:

  • Chicken
  • Salmon & Sweet Potato
  • Peanut Butter

The ingredients list for the flavor we got includes: organic barley flour, organic ground turkey, organic sweet potatoes, organic carrots, organic apples, chicken fat, rolled oats, and rosemary extract.

Every now and then, we’ll hear that there’s been an issue with dog treats from China. These treats don’t come from China and neither do any of their ingredients. That’s not to say that the company will never have any issues with their products, but it makes me feel better to give him these over some of the alternatives out there.

Another thing I like about these treats is that they’re small (they’re meant for medium breeds). My dog is a large boxer/bulldog mix, but these are still big enough for him to enjoy. He has a tendency to put on weight easily, so we typically do choose the smaller treats. These even break in half easily, so if you want to give an even smaller treat for weight control or to avoid burning through the bag quickly, that also helps.

These bags are 13 oz. and cost about $5.99.

Photo credit: Chewy

A Homeopathic Answer to Seasonal Allergies that Really Works

Posted on Apr 14, 2014 by No Comments

I can’t take any allergy medication whatsoever unless I want to behave like a zombie for the better part of the week. It’s not just drowsiness. My mood changes, my eyes glaze over, I feel so dehydrated no amount of water will help, and my brain gets so foggy, I almost need to stop trying to function until the effects wear off.

I’m not sure why that is or what’s in traditional allergy medication (I’ve tried Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin…) that does it to me, but I had to look for a natural solution for my horrible allergies. I was almost constantly dealing with watery eyes, stuffiness, sneezing, and general misery when I picked up the homeopathic Hyland’s Seasonal Allergy Relief tablets from the Vitamin Shoppe (less than $10).

I didn’t really expect much, and they don’t knock my allergy symptoms out completely, nor do the effects last all day the way they do with some of the other medications. However, they do give me substantial relief almost instantly and I can actually take them without the zombie-like side effects.

I don’t think they’re completely non-drowsy (the package says “non-drowsy formula), but then dealing with allergies can be kind of exhausting anyway. I usually feel like I need a nap a little while after taking them, but I don’t have to have one in order to be able to finish the day the way I did when I took Benadryl.

These tablets are meant to be dissolved under your tongue and you take one or two at a time every four hours or as needed. These are not for children under 12, but Hyland’s does have other allergy products for kids. The allergies they target include: animal dander grasses, mold, pollen, and ragweed

Photo credit: Hyland’s

San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company Makes Coffee an Experience, Not Just Fuel for the Day

Posted on Apr 14, 2014 by No Comments

San Francisco Coffee Roasting Company is my weekend coffee shop. I wish I lived closer to it. It’s where I love to get my whole beans because the flavor is superior to anything else I’ve tried (and I’ve tried other local roasters).

When they updated their Facebook page, I ended up clicking on a link to their page and discovered they actually will grind their coffee beans for you (French press, perc, metal cone, paper cone, paper flat, espresso or Turkish) and ship them to you. You can also choose whole bean if you have a grinder at home. The average price is $14.00 to $14.50 per pound.

If you already know your preferences, you can browse by location: the Americas, Africa & Arabia, the Pacific, or choose to take a peek at their signature blends. My favorite one to buy is Old Whaler’s Blend, and my favorite way to brew it is in a French press, though I do grind it up for the recyclable Keurig cup, too, when I’m short on time.

If you live in Georgia or one of the neighboring states, this is one way to get some of the freshest coffee possible, which means you get to experience the full, complex flavor of your coffee. They don’t over-roast the beans like some roasters—they’re seriously talented–and if you live close enough to get the coffee very soon after it’s roasted, you’ll get even more nuanced flavor, not just the bitterness or stale, dull flavor you may find in coffee from the grocery store.

If you live in the Atlanta area, you may even want to stop in and try their offerings on-site and talk to the experts about which type of coffee you may want to buy a pound of and take home (the Cake in a Cup drink is incredible!).

Photo credit: OliBac

One Word for the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber: Amazing

Posted on Apr 7, 2014 by 2 Comments

I’ve been a fan of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers since they first came out. They tend to live up to their name in most instances. There was one place, however, where the regular Magic Eraser (and all other cleaning products I used) just couldn’t quite get the job done: my ugly, textured shower floor.

The Magic Eraser was the best of all the things I tried (and I have tried everything, from natural cleaners I mixed up on my own to the ones that were supposed to be the strongest of the strong available at the store. No matter what I did, the disgusting-looking gray-brown floor won.

It’s white now. Totally white, not just lighter. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Bath Scrubber is now my new best friend. That thing made cleaning the shower floor almost effortless (I had scrubbed on my hands and knees for an hour at the time with barely any progress before).

The soap scum on the glass door? Poof—gone with one swipe and a rinse. I haven’t had trouble getting the door clean in the past, but this does make it about five times easier and it’s kind of fun to watch all the cloudiness melt away.

So this product is actually the Magic Eraser plus something a little extra that helps it cut through the soap scum, and it’s also bigger and more durable than the regular one (the site says it’s 30 percent larger).

Check the website to see if coupons are available coupons before heading to the store.

Photo credit: Mr. Clean

The Grade 1 Math App Is Educational, Free (or Paid), and Fun

Posted on Apr 4, 2014 by No Comments

We still have the free version of the Grade 1 Math app for iPhones and iPads right now, but my daughter’s irritated by the 20 question limit per day because she loves it so much. We’ll be upgrading soon to gain access to the full version. The full one doesn’t give you access to all grades, unfortunately, so each year, you’ll need to purchase a new app.

This app has a cute sea theme that makes kids want to explore it more to play around with the starfish and other fish. The app lets the parents choose the number of questions and the number range (so you can only include single digit numbers, for example).

My daughter has learned so much from just the free app, her teacher was really impressed when it was time for the parent-teacher conference. She grasps the addition and subtraction concepts very well and will be moving to more advanced work soon.

She’s always liked math to a degree, but she gets very excited to play this game. The colors and graphics are great and you can customize them to make the problems harder over time.

If you purchase the whole app for $10, your child can branch out into additional (no pun intended) categories:

  • Place Value
  • Count and Compare
  • Add with Models
  • Addition Facts
  • Subtract with Models
  • Subtraction Facts
  • Advanced Addition
  • Advanced Subtraction
  • Time
  • Money
  • Measurements
  • Geometry
  • Data and Graphs
  • Mixed Operations
  • Two Digit Operations

I recommend this app to parents of first graders or kindergarteners who are a little bored with what they’re learning in school and looking for more of a challenge. I’m guessing the preschool, kindergarten, and higher grades are just as good, too, so it’s at least worth giving the free version a try.

Photo credit: iTunes

Dunecraft Sprout ‘n Grow Coffee Science Kit Is a Fun Idea for Kids and Parents (If It Works)

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 by 1 Comment

You know those things that sound like a good idea at the time, but then in hindsight, you realize they weren’t so great after all? This kit may be one of those, but maybe not. It seems like it all depends on your luck.

I’m all for an educational kit for kids that results in a coffee plant (that is said to produce about a pound of coffee) for the parents. That sounds like a total win-win.

As intriguing as it sounds and as educational and fun as it may be, you may be disappointed with the results if the seeds don’t sprout. A few reviewers have reported that their seeds never sprouted, even after waiting two months for something to happen.

The website says to give it more time if that happens, up to six to eight weeks longer, even though the product description says they’ll sprout in three to four weeks. Other reviewers say that their plants are going strong.

When the plants are growing as expected, keep in mind that they can be six to fifteen feet tall (or taller!). Make sure you have the space and the ideal location aesthetically for a plant like this. Three to 16 weeks is also a really long time to wait when you’re a kid (or heck, even a grown-up. I would have trouble waiting and would probably forget about them by the time they were ready to plant).

The kit is $10.93, so you won’t be out too much money even if it doesn’t work (I’ve planted plenty of flowers and other plants that never grew), especially since the kit comes with everything you need. If you’re willing to take the chance on some coffee beans you can proudly say you grew yourself, this might be a fun kit to try with your kids (it’s for ages four and up).

Photo credit: Amazon

Sephora Cream Lip Stain Is Opaque and Lasts Almost All Day

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 by No Comments

I’m on a lip stain kick because I love dark and bold colors but hate the way they always end up on my teeth or smeared onto my skin if I accidentally bump my lips with my hand. I like the Sephora Cream Lip Stains I just discovered, but I’ll warn you that they’re not the normal stain consistency you may be used to.

Usually, with stains, you can still see your lips. Those have a fairly liquid consistency and they soak into lips like spilled coffee or ink on paper. These are somewhere between a typical stain and a long-lasting lipstick you could get from brands like Cover Girl and Revlon (minus the moisturizing top coat).

These aren’t drying at all, but they are matte and you do need to exfoliate before you apply it so you don’t pick up the flakes on your lips. The color is opaque and most of the colors are on the bold side (I have the Strawberry Kissed shade, which is a matte pinkish red).

It spreads beautifully and it’s easy to get a precise line with the doe foot applicator. I’ve found that if you don’t touch your lips together while it dries, they stay evenly coated for six hours or more, depending on what you eat and drink. It’s lasted almost 10 hours on me, but I didn’t eat anything too oily.

These are priced at $13 each, and there are 10 colors, from the perfect classic red to the deepest almost-black purple. There are only two colors that most people would consider neutral, everyday colors: a matte, pinkish deep beige and a satin golden pinkish-peach.

Photo credit: Sephora

The Melissa and Doug Suspend Game Is Fun for Everyone

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 by No Comments

I’m always on the lookout for fun games for everyone to play together. After days of Candyland and Chutes & Ladders, we were ready to graduate to LIFE, Battleship, and Trouble.

Those are great, but we’re big fans of variety around here, and the Suspend game from Melissa and Doug was intriguing when I saw it for the first time at Hobbytown. It reminds me of a cross between Jenga and those games for kids from the 80s and 90s where you had to stack things, like plates, on a flat but unsteady surface, hoping they wouldn’t fall on your turn.

This game is for one to four players and consists of 24 wire pieces with rubber on the ends. They’re all notched and you have to hang them from one another, carefully balancing them so the whole thing (or even just part of it) won’t come crashing down.

Each time you take a turn, you have to reevaluate and possibly change your strategy, because with each piece added to the “sculpture” the balance changes.

The game is for ages eight and up, but my six-year-old has been beating me in games like this for at least a year, so I think if you have a child who’s mature for his or her age (and one who has quite a bit of patience!), you’ll be fine with this game.

It’s $16.99 and can be personalized for $1.99 more if you order from the Melissa and Doug website. Personalization allows you to add a name or a brief message to the supporting block at the bottom.

Photo credit: Melissa and Doug

The Good and Bad of the SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 by No Comments

I’ve tried the SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque two different ways. One really impressed me while the other didn’t provide the results I was hoping for.

Both moisturized my dry, flaky scalp, though, so if you’ve never had any luck getting rid of dry scalp, this may be just what you need. There’s argan oil, shea butter, and sea kelp, and the ingredients are natural/organic. I paid about $11 at Target for the 12 oz tub (the only size I saw).

The first way: I apply tons of it (nearly ¼ of the jar at once) to dry hair (my hair is past my shoulders and there’s a lot of it, so you may need more or less than me). I then put it up in a shower cap and leave it for an hour or two. My favorite way to pass this time is with a nap. I like to think the extra heat from being snuggled up under the covers makes the oils penetrate better. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

When I get up, I rinse the product out, shampoo, and condition the ends again with a lighter conditioner. This method leaves my hair soft, silky, and very manageable, but it doesn’t weigh it down somehow. I find that a little odd since I don’t skimp on applying it to my scalp and the roots. You do have to be careful using this method if you have fine hair because the tugging of the cream against the dry hair shaft, in my experience can cause some breakage.

The second way: I wet and wash my hair in the shower, then apply the treatment. I finish up with showering, shaving, etc, which takes about five minutes or so, then I rinse it all out (no extra shampoo or conditioner).

In this case, the results are disappointing. Even without heat styling my hair, it looks dry and frizzy. It may help to leave this on for about an hour after washing my hair (pretty much doing the same thing as the first way, but starting with wet hair), but that’s never going to happen because I hate getting in the shower to wash my hair only to have to get back in an hour later.

One more thing worth mentioning is the smell. I don’t like it at all, and it’s strong. It lingers just a bit after your hair is dry, but it’s only overpowering when the product is in your hair, before rinsing. It’s a mix of a fresh, clean scent and an earthy, herbal one.

I like this for the most part and recommend giving it a try, especially if you have trouble with dry scalp or like to use hair masks for an hour at a time, whether starting with wet or dry hair. I’ll probably look for something that works a little better in the shower next time instead of purchasing it again.

Photo credit: Target

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