Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's BLOGMANIA!! Enter 100+ Giveaways, starting with MINE :-)


WELCOME To BLOGMANIA !
My Blog is 79 of 123

You’ve arrived at exactly the right time to explore lots of new blogs, all of which ARE GIVING AWAY A VERY SPECIAL BLOGMANIA GIVEAWAY  (For One Day Only – April 30th) .
We’ve done all the work for you. No hunting or surfing. Each blog will have a number and each new blog link will have a number. These numbers will allow you to keep track of which blogs you’ve visited and how many are left to visit. Why not take a moment to make a list of blog numbers  1-123 and check off the blogs as you go.
I know you’ll want to visit as many blogs today as you can. So, if you see something that interests you on any of our participating blogs, why not bookmark that site. Later, when you have more time, you can discover all its fabulous treasures.  

CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! Here's my giveaway:

This giveaway includes a delicious snack sampler pack from Sahale Snacks, an oilcloth lunch bag from RickRack Queen's Etsy Shop, and a reusable snack bag from It's a Ten's Etsy Shop. 

Here's some information about each one:

The Sahale Snacks mission is based on three basic principles - snack better, work better, live better. The company was founded on a simple idea: Take all-natural ingredients, add a dash of culinary magic, and produce great-tasting snacks.Their all-natural snacks combine delicious nuts, healthy dried fruits, and gourmet seasonings to create delicious snacks! As a pescetarian, I rely on nuts for a great deal of my protein intake. These nuts were both sweet and savory, satisfying my salty and sweet-tooth cravings. I was sent several different flavors to try, and all of them were scrumptious. 


RickRack Queen's Etsy Shop features oilcloth lunch bags with vintage-style prints. These lunch bags can fit so many food items - see photos above. Clean up is easy with a little soap and water. You will win any basic lunch bag of your choice!



It's a Ten's Etsy Shop features reusable Sak Saver Baggies. These water-resistant nylon snack bags can replace all of those over-priced, wasteful zipper bags. Sak Saver Baggies are perfect for all kinds of snacks, like sandwiches, crackers, and nuts. They are machine washable, air dry. 

Entering to win my giveaway is very simple!
Follow me through Google Friend Connect AND visit any one of the following sites and tell me what you would love to have.



BLOGMANIA ends at midnight tonight! Check out all of my other giveaways also ending tonight.
Click on the following links to enter more giveaways!
 
**The winner of this giveaway is Janet. Thank you to all who participated!**

Maternity Consignment Boutique $25 GC Giveaway - Ends 5/9

Here's what you can give the expectant mommy or new mommy for Mother's Day!

Jodi at Expecting You Consignment would like to offer one of my readers a $25 gift certificate to her maternity consignment boutique, located in sunny South Florida. She carries a broad range of new and gently used items for you and your little one, including:
  • Maternity clothing by well-known designers/stores
  • Baby/child clothing from well-known designers/stores
  • Baby furniture
  • Slings/baby carriers
  • Breast pumps
  • and so much more!
Consignment stores are a great way to pick up some of those higher-end items that you may not be able to afford otherwise. It's also very 'green' because it allows multiple families to get use out of the same item, instead of just tossing it out after a few uses.

Would you like to win a $25 gift certificate to Expecting You Consignment? If you live in the South Florida area, you can just redeem in the store. If you live outside the area, you would contact Jodi and let her know what you're interested in purchasing.


WIN IT! Mandatory Entry: Visit Expecting You Consignment, click on 'Join Our Family,' and let me know what gently used item you'd love to purchase with your $25 gift certificate.

Here are a few other ways to win (one entry per method):
1. 'Like' Expecting You Consignment on Facebook.
2. 'Like' Huppie Mama on Facebook.
3. Follow Huppie Mama on Twitter.
4. Become a public follower of Huppie Mama.
5. 'Like' Abi's Place (the non-profit where I work) on Facebook.

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on Mother's Day (5/9) at 11:59 pm. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

**Congratulations to Meghan! Thank you to all who participated. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Natural Teething Necklace for Mom & Baby - ends 5/7

This giveaway is for a Creation Addiction stone teething necklace. They say a picture says a thousand words, so what does this one say?? It says that Lydia instantly LOVED her stone teething necklace (and that mommy needs to take more time to style her hair). 


This is a great teething necklace! It's fashionable, so it's great for mommies, and it's a natural way for your child to teethe. Lydia tries to chew on my other necklaces, so I am always afraid she'll break off a bead or charm. You don't have to worry about the BPAs in plastic or your child chewing something that can break, splinter, etc. with this teething necklace!

Creation Addiction carries a variety of teething necklaces, made of all different stones, shapes, and colors. You can win a turquoise teething necklace for you and your little one to enjoy!

Creation Addiction is offering the following promotional discounts to all of my readers if you would like to purchase something from her Etsy shop:


That's a 25% discount!

Would you like to win a teething necklace?

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit the Creation Addiction Etsy Shop and tell me what other designs you like!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on 5/7 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


**Congratulations to Jennifer! Thank you to all who participated.  

Eco-litism?

I was engaged in two different discussions yesterday that have led me to write this post. This is in not intended to offend anyone or cause any conflict, but I'm somewhat eager to get some feedback from others, so please read and comment!

Conversation one: I engaged in an online discussion with someone who was questioning different aspects of parenting/child development. These exchanges led to me saying: the only thing a baby really needs is love, 2 arms, 2 boobs, and some cloth diapers. And in actuality, when you narrow it down to needs, you basically need to be sheltered, fed, and clothed. This led to all kinds of other stupidity (why I continued to engage in it, I don't know. Ignorance just gets under my skin and my fiery Scorpio personality comes out) and she was like..."They still make cloth diapers? No thanks, I will stick with my Huggies." So I said "I'm not wealthy, so I'd rather breastfeed, cloth diaper, and put the money in a college fund for my daughter instead of a landfill." At that point, she told me I need to save money for my child's therapy since I'll drive her nuts. We were done at that point!

Conversation two: My best friend growing up lives in NYC. We got into a conversation yesterday about how people in NY take the whole eco-friendly/green-living thing too far. She said there was an unpasteurized milk movement a few years ago that seemed to be dangerous. I have heard from other people that they like to give their children unpasteurized milk. Her point was that it almost becomes a "who can do the most outrageous eco-friendly thing?" contest.

Is there an eco-litism? I have to say, it feels good to share my eco-choices with others. Why? Not to be an elitist, but because I am proud of the decisions I have made for my family and my planet.
  • Shopping for fresh vegetables, going to farmer's markets, etc. is so healthy for my family, supports the local growers trying to produce great food, and eliminates all of the unnecessary waste (e.g. gas to transport food from other places, extra packaging, etc.) 
  • Wearing cloth diapers (something I only began recently) has already saved us money and protected my baby's skin. 
  • Composting reduces the amount of waste we create and helps produce really great soil for my garden. 
  • Using fewer plastic bags helps the earth...and honestly, who wants plastic bags lying around the house with an infant learning to crawl? That's just dangerous! Additionally, a lot of places give a discount now for bringing your own bags.
  • Best of all is the decision to breastfeed. The benefits are endless: building my daughter's immunity, helping her to relax/soothe/go to sleep, saving us tons of money, reducing waste from packaging, gas, etc., and if you want to get technical, saving us money on feminine products as I have not started to menstruate yet.  Besides, it just feels good to know that I provided her with all the nutrients she needed to survive the first 6 months of life, and I continue to provide her with so many nutrients now at 8 months.
Is it pride? Is it elitism? I think I'm just happy with the research I have done and the knowledge I have gained in such a short period of time and the decisions I have made based on weighing the pros/cons... and I just want to share that information with everyone else! Nothing wrong with that, right??

Here's some additional information regarding Raw Milk.

I love raw milk cheese - my favorite being Organic Valley Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I also just tried some raw milk goat cheese from a farm I visited in Central Florida. I know my doctor told me not to eat unpasteurized cheeses during pregnancy, and I listened. In fact, as a first time mom, I avoided a lot of foods while I was pregnant for fear that they would be harmful. But the more I think about it, isn't our breast milk just unpasteurized milk created by a mammal? Isn't that the same as raw cow's milk? And isn't breast milk the best thing for our babies? I decided to do some quick research regarding unpasteurized milk. I came across this raw milk website. Here are some facts I learned about raw milk:
  • Raw milk is cow's milk taken straight from animals fed only fresh, organic, green grass, rapidly cooled to somewhere around 36-38 degrees F., and bottled.
  • Do not drink raw milk that is going to be pasteurized. It is generally mass-produced, and cleanliness standards are not nearly as high as they are for milk that is meant to be raw milk. In addition, milk is often produced by 'supercows' who are given additional hormones to produce more milk. This leads to a condition that many breastfeeding women can relate to: mastitis (I have been fortunate to not experience it, but I have heard it's awful).  Mastitis produces increased white blood cells - which leads to pus in the milk. Great to know, huh??
  • Raw milk has amazing medicinal properties and was used to treat illness for hundreds of years (until midway through the 20th century). Clean raw milk from pastured cows is a complete and properly balanced food. You could live on it exclusively if you had to - kinda like human breast milk for babies!!
I'd like to end this with a quote I've seen on a few websites recently:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Meade

Monday, April 26, 2010

Organic Cotton Cloth Wipes (set of 5) - Ends 5/7

This giveaway is for a set of 5 organic cotton reusable baby wipes from bee sew sew's Etsy shop. Here's some information about these wipes:
  • They are made of 100% printed cotton flannel and 100% organic cotton sherpa
  • They are machine washable, tumble dry
  • They come in really cute prints, from traditional baby animals to rockin' skull/crossbones
  • They are extremely soft - perfect for little babies' bottoms, faces, or anything else that needs to get wiped
  • They measure about 6" x 6" 
  • Imagine the money you could save using cloth wipes (which can be washed and used so many times over) instead of disposable wipes.
Here's one of the wipes I received. I hope you can tell how soft it is from this picture!


Bee sew sew also has some other great items, like cloth diaper inserts and handmade quilts.

Here's a great offer! If you are interested in purchasing any items from bee sew sew, enter "huppiemama" in the comments section during checkout to receive 10% off your entire purchase (good until May 26th, 2010).

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit the  bee sew sew Etsy Shop and tell me what wipe design you like the most!


Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway ends on May 7th, 2010 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

**Congratulations to Tabathia! Thank you to all who participated. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ice Cream Cone Recycled Crayons - Ends 4/30

I took a break for one day, but I'm back with a great giveaway! (Okay, that rhyming was kinda corny, but totally unintentional.) This giveaway is for Gaddy Nipper recycled crayons. They come in five beautiful colors (violet, light blue, bright orange, yellow, and green). Each crayon is made of recycled Crayola crayons. They are about 3 inches in length and much thicker than regular crayons, which is especially great for little ones just learning how to grasp writing utensils. They color beautifully...and best of all, they are perfect for summer because they are shaped like ICE CREAM CONES!


These crayons would make awesome goodie bag gifts for young children (ages 3 - 7). They would also be great for children who do not enjoy writing. Who wouldn't want to write/color with these cool crayons? 

Gaddy Nipper Crayons come in so many awesome shapes and colors - perfect for children with all different interests.

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit the Gaddy Nipper Crayons Etsy Shop and tell me what other designs you like!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


**The winner of this giveaway is Lynne. Thank you to all who participated!**

Friday, April 23, 2010

Matching Baby & Mommy Clothing Giveaway #2 - Ends 4/30

I wrote to The Earth Freak Shop on Etsy and asked them if I could do a review/giveaway of one of their organic cotton, tie-dyed baby onesies. They generously offered me and my readers a 3-piece set: onesie, matching baby socks, and matching mommy socks. Too cool!

Let me start by showing you the pictures.

Baby Onesie with Matching Socks (she's trying so hard to crawl!)

Mommy Socks

And a bonus matching baby hat

Each item is hand-dyed. The colors are beautiful - rich and bold! The organic cotton items are grown without the use of pesticides, making them safer against the skin. The socks are made of bamboo and are soooo soft! These would definitely be great at home on a cool day or under boots to keep your feet nice and snuggly. Unlike most baby socks, which tend to be short and come off easily, these socks are longer, so they can be worn folded or unfolded (and they actually stay on). And anytime mommy and baby can match - too cute!

Would you like some great clothing for you and your little one from The Earth Freak?



There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit The Earth Freak Etsy shop or the Earth Freak website and tell me what colors you liked the most!


Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


**The winner of this giveaway is Tina. Thank you to all who participated!**

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Unique, Handmade Soft Baby Shoes Giveaway - Ends 4/30

I contacted Babynme's Etsy shop, asking if I could do a hand-crocheted toy giveaway. Instead, she offered me an awesome pair of shoes for Lydia! She let me pick the design from a few different styles and pick whatever colors I wanted. She also asked if I wanted a hemp bottom, which I did want :-)

These are Lydia's first shoes. Pediatricians and physical therapists generally recommend not putting your child in shoes until the child is cruising/walking, but because these are so soft, they would not restrict growth as regular shoes would. They are hand-crocheted, so they are soft. Without the hemp bottom, they would be worn similarly to socks/booties.

I also had Babynme design a matching crocheted headband at a very reasonable price (not included in this giveaway, but worn in the picture to see additional items this Etsy shop owner can create).


Since it was Lydia's first pair of shoes, she was having fun exploring them, so it was hard to keep both of them on her feet at once. Here's a close up of the shoes:


We love Lydia's first shoes, especially since they were handmade just for her! The colors are vibrant and the style is super-cute. If you are having Babynme design shoes for a child under 8 months, I would suggest not using a hemp sole, so they would be more like little booties. If your child is beginning to cruise/walk, I would suggest getting the hemp sole to make them more shoe-like. 

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit Babynme and tell me what color/style shoes you would design for your little one!


Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


**The winner of this giveaway is Heidi. Thank you to all who participated!**

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guidecraft Tactile Bars Giveaway - Ends 5/7

This is a very special review and giveaway, one that is close to my heart :-)  This giveaway allows me to share an important part of my life with my readers.

I work for a non-profit organization for children with moderate to severe disabilities - Abi's Place. We provide intense, one-to-one educational and therapeutic services to our children. As a grass-roots non-profit, we host several local fundraising events each year and we submit several grants each month. Every so often, someone does something really amazing for the children at Abi's Place. Guidecraft Toys donated brand-new furniture and toys to our children. They also gave me the opportunity to post a review/giveaway for one of the toys we were given.
We got to review the Guidecraft Tactile Bars. Although these are not specifically designed for children with disabilities, we found them to be very appropriate for our student population. Many children with disabilities (such as autism, cognitive impairments, and physical impairments) have sensory integration difficulties. One common issue we encounter is tactile defensiveness. This is when children are unable to tolerate different textures. They may get upset and/or avoid touching certain things. These children need to be given opportunities to explore different textures in a comfortable, trusting, non-threatening environment. By making it a fun part of play without setting any rules or having specific expectations, children will begin to feel more comfortable engaging in sensory activities. We use the same techniques when encouraging children to engage in other sensory experiences, such as eating a variety of textures, brushing their teeth, and washing their hands.

We wanted to try this item with a child who we felt would benefit from tactile exploration. Caitlyn began at Abi's Place last school year and rarely used her hands to explore items. This school year, she has made amazing progress. She enjoyed the experience of touching each of the textures, soft and rough.


Do you have a child who would benefit from a set of tactile bars (RV $90)? The set comes with two tactile bars, each with 9 textures. It also comes with an activity guide with suggested activities to engage children in sensory exploration. Each texture block can be removed from the bar to be used on its own so that you can introduce one at a time. Textures include a soft cotton, fine sandpaper, cold metal, and bristle brush.

BUY IT! You can find some amazing children's furniture and toys at Guidecraft. They use sturdy wood to construct many of their pieces. Assembly is simple with easy-to-follow directions.

WIN IT! One lucky reader will win a set of two Tactile Bars for a special child!

Mandatory Entry: Why would you want to win the tactile bars?

For additional entries, you can do any of the following (one entry each):
1. Become a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect.
2. Become a fan of Guidecraft on Facebook.
3. Follow Guidecraft on Twitter.
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Become a fan of Abi's Place (the non-profit organization where I work) on Facebook.
6. Grab my beautiful new button, and tell me where I can find it!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway will end on 5/7 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

**Congratulations to Dina! Thank you to all who participated. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yumnuts Giveaway - 4/30

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I came across a delicious-looking snack: Yumnuts. As a pescatarian, my protein sources are limited, and nuts are a great source of protein. Instead of just snacking on crackers or potato chips which are basically empty calories and take a whole lot to feel satisfied, nuts offer me a filling, healthier snacking alternative.



Yumnuts are flavored cashews. I got to sample the chocolate, toasted coconut, sea salt, and spicy cajun (but they also carry lime and honey). They are amazingly delicious! Sometimes cashews have a greasy feeling to them. These are dry roasted and crunchy. They are so well-seasoned, and yet the cashew flavor comes through.

As a treat, my husband and I sometimes prepare a nice cheese plate for dinner. I can imagine the cajun Yumnuts paired with some good olives and a nice sharp cheddar. Yum! For a treat, the toasted coconut Yumnuts would probably make a great ice cream topping.

According to their website...Our philosophy is simple: nuts are nature's perfect snack. Nuts contain the protein, smart fats, like oleic acid, and essential minerals to help us perform at our best. We use the best natural ingredients to create a product with a simple ingredient statement that is both healthy and yummy. We start with premium jumbo cashews and use a special flavoring technique to add a delicate dose of delicious seasonings that ensures that every Yumnut, in every batch is truly yum.

BUY IT! You can find Yumnuts at your local Whole Foods or on their website. For $19.96, you can purchase a Variety Pack - 4 packs of 5 oz each, which will allow you to try four of their delicious flavors.

WIN IT! One lucky reader will be chosen to win a sample of Yumnuts cashews! 

Mandatory Entry: Visit the Yumnuts website and tell me which flavor sounds absolutely scrumptious!

For additional entries, you can do any of the following (one entry each):
1. Become a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect.
2. Become a fan of Yumnuts on Facebook.
3. Follow Yumnuts on Twitter.
4. Follow me on Twitter.
5. Become a fan of Abi's Place (the non-profit organization where I work) on Facebook.
6. Grab my beautiful new button, and tell me where I can find it!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

**The winner of this giveaway is Jennifer. Thank you to all who participated!**

Monday, April 19, 2010

Out with the old...

And in with the new! How do you like my re-design? Sheila (blogdesignsbysheila@gmail.com) did an amazing job, and her prices are extremely reasonable. Compare my sketch below to the actual button and header she created.

Now, I must pay tribute to my original, free design.  Here it is:


Thanks, Sheila!  I am very happy with my new design!

Little Girl Tutu & Hair Accessory Giveaway - ends 4/30

This giveaway is for a plain jane tutu and coordinating hair accessory from Boutique Hermosa's Etsy shop. The tutus come in a beautiful array of colors - you get to pick which one you want! Here's a sample:
Boutique Hermosa also creates beautiful pettiskirts, hair bows, and crocheted headbands.

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit Boutique Hermosa and tell me what color plain jane tutu you'd love to have!


Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


*I was not compensated for writing this review.

**The winner of this giveaway is Trina. Thank you to all who participated!**


Guest Blogger on The Big Toy Book

I contacted The Big Toy Book to review a toy, not for my daughter, but actually for the non-profit organization where I work. You'll probably see several posts about Abi's Place. I work there not just because I need money (the obvious reason), but most importantly because we really do good work. We accept students who would not have the opportunity to reach their potential any other way. We provide them with high-quality educational and therapeutic services. Each child is assigned to teach teachers, who we train, and the child works with one teacher for a portion of the day and the other teacher for the other portion of the day. Everyone there has the cause in their hearts, and it shows - the child have made amazing gains!

So, I asked the nice people over at The Big Toy Book if I could review a toy for Abi's Place, and they are sending us a great set of instruments (I'll post the review as soon as the items arrive and I get to take some great photos of the kids using them!)  They also asked me to be a guest blogger, and they posted my article today. Check it out:

Building Language Skills in Children with Disabilities Through Play by Dr. Carrie Wells

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Peter Rabbit Organics Baby/Kid Fruit Review/Giveaway - Ends 4/30

In anticipation of Blogmania 2010, I decided to post one new giveaway a day, all ending on April 30th at 11:59 pm EST. One of the giveaways will be available for ONE DAY ONLY!

I was walking around Whole Foods one day recently, and I noticed all of the new varieties of baby food available. One thing that caught my eye was Peter Rabbit Organics, mainly because it looked like baby food, but I found it down the snack aisle. I saw the website on the back, contacted the company, and this arrived in my mail for review just a few days later:


So what is Peter Rabbit Organics? They make 100% organic fruit pouches. They come in three different fruit flavor combinations, as you can see above. Each 3.5 oz pouch contains a full serving of fruit. Best of all, they are not just for babies! They are ideal for preschoolers and elementary-age children as well. You don't even need a spoon or a straw - you just slurp it up straight from the pouch. One really cool feature for parents, too, is that the ingredients list contains not only the fruits that are used, but also the percentage of each fruit. For example, the ingredients list on the Apple and Grape (green) pouch reads:
Organic Apple 85%, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate 13.9%, Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate. It's great to know exactly what your child is eating!

Lydia tried the Mango, Banana, and Orange pouch. She ate the first half for dinner last night and the second half for breakfast today (once opened, it can be stored in the fridge for 48 hours).


My only concern about this product is that I did not see a recycling symbol on either the cap or pouch. (Perhaps I just overlooked it??)  However, I will try placing it in my recycling bin and hope for the best!

BUY IT! Peter Rabbits Organics can be purchased at select Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores as well as Starbucks stores across the country for $1.79 - $1.99 each. All three flavors are also available through Amazon.

WIN IT! One lucky reader can win a selection of Peter Rabbit Organics.

Mandatory entry: After reading through the above information about Peter Rabbit Organics, what would make this a good product for your family?

For additional entries, you can do any of the following (one entry each):
1. Become a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect.
2. Become a fan of Peter Rabbit Organics on Facebook.
3. Follow me on Twitter.
4. Become a fan of Abi's Place (the non-profit organization where I work) on Facebook.
5. Grab my beautiful new button (when it becomes available) and tell me where I can find it!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

**The winner of this giveaway is Patricial. Thank you to all who participated!**

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Matching Mommy & Baby Outfit Giveaway #1 Ends 4/30

In anticipation of Blogmania 2010, I decided to post one new giveaway a day, all ending on April 30th at 11:59 pm EST. One of the giveaways will be available for ONE DAY ONLY!

This giveaway is for TWO items - matching mommy T-shirt and baby outfit from Dress Me Mommy. You can choose the style and size that will fit you and your little one. There are designs for boys and girls - so they can match mommy!  Sizes 0 - 6 months are even available in organic cotton. I suggest getting a size larger for your baby as Lydia is only 7 months, but needed the 12 month onesie (rather than the 6 - 9 month size).


Claudia, the shop's owner, says: I really love what I do so I always say that my designs are made with love and detail.  

There's only one way to enter this giveaway:

Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect AND visit Dress Me Mommy and tell me what design you'd love to have!


Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


*I received this product for free, and I was not compensated for writing this review.

**The winner of this giveaway is Nancy. Thank you to all who participated!**


Friday, April 16, 2010

Baby Legs Review & Giveaway - Ends 4/30

In anticipation of Blogmania 2010, I decided to post one new giveaway a day, all ending on April 30th at 11:59 pm EST. One of the giveaways will be available for ONE DAY ONLY!

Lydia and I were given an exciting opportunity to review BabyLegs!  They sent us two pairs: the Wish Upon Leg Warmers and striped Supersoft Leg Warmers.

The Wish Upon leg warmers have so many beautiful colors, like a bold aqua and sunny yellow. These would be great to dress up all of those simple onesies or pair with a super-cute tutu!

The Supersoft leg warmers are just that - super soft!  The pair we got features stripes in a bright pink, soft yellow, and light aqua. How cute are they??


Lydia is at the stage now where she is just beginning to crawl. Living in South Florida, it's already in the 80s outside, so I don't want to put her in warm pants all the time to protect her knees. The great thing about Baby Legs is that they actually protect her knees as she attempts to crawl around our tile and laminate floors...but they are lightweight enough that she won't get too warm. They also offer sun protection, so I don't have to worry as much about her little legs getting burned outside.

Another cool feature is that they grow with your child. While Lydia can wear these from ankle to thigh now, when she's a little older, the same pair can be worn from the ankle to the knee. Babies grow out of clothing so quickly, it's great to know that these will last her for quite a while.

Would you like BabyLegs for your little one?

BUY IT! Visit Baby Legs and use the promotional code Blogmania to receive a  15% discount off your purchase. In addition to leg warmers, BabyLegs also sells cute baby socks and tights.

WIN IT! Win a grab bag of BabyLegs for your little one!

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit BabyLegs and tell me which pair you would love to see on your child.

For additional entries, you can do any of the following (one entry each):
1. Become a follower of my blog through Google Friend Connect.
2. Become a fan of BabyLegs on Facebook.
3. Follow BabyLegs on Twitter.
4. Become a fan of Abi's Place (the non-profit organization where I work) on Facebook.
5. Grab my beautiful new button (when it becomes available) and tell me where I can find it!

Be sure to include your email address with each entry so that I know how to find you. This giveaway and all my other Blogmania giveaways end on 4/30 at 11:59 pm EST. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!

*I received this product for free, and I was not compensated for writing this review.

**The winner of this giveaway is Julie. Thank you to all who participated!**


New Blog Design!

My blog is getting a makeover. It should be *new & improved* very shortly! Here was my very rough sketch. What do you think?? I can't wait to see what it will actually look like!

The Real Farmville

While on our way home from our first family vacation, we stopped at Crone's Cradle Conserve. This is an amazing place in Citra, FL. Where's Citra, FL? Basically, in the middle of nowhere. We took I-75 to the Orange Lake exit, then drove many miles through the wooded areas, until we had to veer off the paved road. After that, we still had to drive a few miles...until we found this absolutely amazing place! It's a farm with a country store. They sell fresh goat cheese, eggs, grass-fed beef, jars of pickled items and jellies, and all of these wonderful fresh veggies and veggie/herb plants. They had chickens and pheasants and a big ol' pig. They're also extremely eco-friendly. I spoke to one of the employees, and he said that they try to avoid using any plastic products. It felt like stepping back in time to a simpler life, where people took pride in their work. The raised garden beds were so well-taken care of, the animals roamed free or in very large cages, eating healthy fruits and vegetables.

Here are a few pictures I'd like to share:







We purchased some fresh arugula that I put in a quiche, carrots, some romaine lettuce, several veggie/herb/fruit plants (cantaloupe, watermelon, oregano, and a few others), fresh goat cheese (which tasted so different than the store-bought stuff...so much earthier), and Richard got some grass-fed beef that he used to make meatballs.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Psst...Here's a Sneak Peak!

Here's a sneak peak at what you could win on APRIL 30th - It's BLOGMANIA! These items will be divided into separate giveaways.

Matching mommy t-shirt and baby onesie by Dress Me Mommy. Check out her other great items, like the organic cotton onesies for babies 0-6 months!



A grab bag of Baby Legs!




A baby tutu in your choice of colors from BoutiqueHermosa.


Some delicious organic snacks for babies/kids from Peter Rabbit Organics!


And a beautiful oilcloth lunch bag from RickRackQueen


Also featuring:
Creation Addiction is donating a beautiful teething necklace to this giveaway and offering the following promotional discounts to all of my readers:
5% for following you
5% for following creationaddict on twitter
5% for hearting my shop
5% for becoming a fan of the Creation Addiction Facebook Fan Page
5% bonus for doing all four
That's a 25% discount!  Please check out her awesome items for your little one!


More to come...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tag, you're it!

Tag Tuesday is a great way to link your blogs, twitter, facebook, etc. with other blogs. Visit Adventures of a Military Family of 8 for more details and start tagging!

Junk Mail

I love getting things in the mail, especially orders I placed for new products, samples to try, and giveways I've won. I try to reduce the waste by going paperless on my bills by paying through the internet whenever possible. I went out of town from Monday to Friday, just five days, and came home to a huge pile of mail. Check out this picture below. On the left you'll see all of the garbage (junk mail, packaging, etc.) and on the right you'll see the items that I am actually keeping.




This picture may not be too shocking to some people, but when you consider the ecological impact of all this junk mail and packaging piling up, I think it's pretty scary!

So what to do with all this junky mail? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Use the backs of all of those credit card applications, insurance offers, etc. as scrap paper. Just to jot down random ideas and phone numbers.

2. As long as you cut out the little plastic openings in envelopes, junk mail can be shredded and composted. You can also cut up cardboard into little pieces and place them in your compost bin. Just avoid any papers/cardboard with a glossy finish.

3. If you don't compost, place the paper in your recycling bin.

4. Repurpose cardboard boxes. Try cutting the top flaps off, and you can use them to organize drawers, important papers, magazines in the bathroom, your child's' school work, etc.

5. Try to reuse boxes and shipping envelopes (especially those pricier ones with the bubble-wrap lining). My husband just made fun of me the other day for keeping a shiny blue bubble-wrap mailer. It's kinda been sitting on my couch for a few months now...but I am waiting for the perfect gift to send to a friend in it. It's really a nice mailer!

Now, I know there's a way to limit the amount of junk mail you receive, but I fear not receiving the mail I need. Has anyone tried this?? Any other suggestions for junk mail??

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Blogmania 2010



I am so excited to be participating in Blogmania 2010! This will give me an opportunity to network with so many other amazing blog writers...and offer an AWESOME giveaway to my readers. This should be great! Please let me know if you're interested in hosting a review/giveaway on my blog.



You can follow Blogmania 2010 on Twitter.

For more info, visit Between the Pages.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cleaning out my Closet - My Breastfeeding Adventure!

My mom did not breastfeed me. She said it's because of my jaundice. She tried for a week or two (supplementing with formula), but said that I seemed to like the formula just as much anyway, so why bother? I always grew up thinking that breastfeeding was not so important... or it was something that people who lived in other places did because they didn't have access to formula, bottles, etc.

To let you in on my world a bit, when I was in college, the doctors found a lump in my right breast. I had an ultrasound, and they said it was just a fibroadenoma - basically, some dense tissue. A few years later my doctor mentioned it to me, and she suggested I have another ultrasound just to check it. We compared the results with my previous ultrasound, and the mass had just about doubled in size in a few years. The lump itself wasn't dangerous, but it was suggested to me that I have it removed because if anything formed behind the lump, it could not be detected. I was always self-conscious of my smaller breast size, and this was the smaller of my two breasts. The idea of removing a sizable portion was scary!  So, at that time, I opted for a breast augmentation (and lumpectomy). Unfortunately, the other implant bottomed-out, so I also needed a second surgery to fix that one. I guess after all that, I assumed my breasts just wouldn't work properly one day, and I accepted that as my reality.

When my friends started to have children, some breastfed, some didn't. Those who breastfed were very determined to make it to at least the one-year mark. Those who didn't had the mindset that I began to adopt "I was raised on formula, and I'm just fine!" I remember reading while I was pregnant that toward the end of your pregnancy, you may begin to leak. The day I began leaking was so exciting!  I grabbed the phone to call whoever I could - maybe, against the odds, this breastfeeding thing could actually work!  I told myself that if it did work, I would commit myself to breastfeeding.

As I reflect back now - basically, due to pure stupidity and 21+ hours of labor, I ended up having a c-section. I did get to experience pushing and trying for a vaginal birth, but it just didn't happen. I asked the nursery that they not give her formula or pacifiers when she was born. They honored my desires, so when I awoke after surgery, they wheeled me to the post-partum area, Lydia was placed in my arms, and I got to breastfeed her for the first time. I was so lucky - she took right to it! She latched right on, and everything was awesome... until they told me about her jaundice. They said I had to 'supplement with formula to flush out the jaundice.' I stood in the hallway of the hospital crying as they told me this was no big deal. Well, it was a big deal to me! So, against all my wishes, I supplemented with formula (breastfed first, then formula), and most of the time she just spit it all up. As we were packing the leave the hospital, this awesome lactation consultant came into the room. She told us about her adventures in breastfeeding and home-birthing a breech baby!  Wow! She said that the idea of having to give formula because of Lydia's jaundice was ridiculous. And so... formula gone!

Richard and I used to talk about our friend, Justin Case (get it? just in case?) This friend was always there when you needed someone to bail you out. Well, this time around, Justin Case has been hiding in Lydia's closet. You know those seminars you go to before you give birth? The hospital staff gives you a tour, and they tell you about the wonders of breastfeeding as they hand you a container of Similac. Well, that container has been sitting in Lydia's room since last summer, with an expiration date of April 2010. I guess I left in there 'Justin Case' something happened - I got really ill, my supply diminished. So as I was cleaning my disastrous house yesterday for a playdate, I came across the formula. I saw the expiration date, tore the bottle open, and slowly poured it down the sink. Something about that experience was just so amazing - it was freeing. It was like winning the school spelling bee or completing a semester of college. I set out to provide my child with all the nutrients she needs...and I'm really doing it!

As for my house, it looked really nice yesterday. It's back to disaster central today.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My First Book Review ~ The Eco-nomical Baby Guide

Let me start by saying I am so honored that the first book to review on my blog is The Eco-nomical Baby Guide: Down-to-Earth Ways for Parents to Save Money and the Planet by Joy Hatch and Rebecca Kelley. The authors have an amazing blog, The Green Baby Guide. This book is practical, sensible, and flexible. Let me explain...

The book begins by describing a spectrum of green parents, from 'defiantly ungreen' to 'extraordinarily green.' I think I'm at about the 'gladly green' level, and I found it to be very valuable. Although I was always fairly eco-friendly (brought paper home from work to recycle, avoided eating meat/poultry, looked for cars that got good gas mileage), it wasn't until I gave birth to Lydia that I realized how truly wasteful we are as a society. As I enter my garage, which I will now refer to as 'the plastic graveyard,' I am instantly reminded of all of the "need to have" items that I purchased or asked for as shower gifts. So many items are that mass-produced are only useful for the first 6 months, 3 months, or perhaps not at all because your child just doesn't like them. For Lydia, big ticket items included her bouncer and swing. In addition, you also learn that some of your earlier choices were just not that safe. This includes some of the baby carriers I initially purchased. The Eco-nomical Baby Guide gently reminds you that can live without so many of these items, but you also need not be critical of your own previous (or current) decisions. The authors are not suggesting you hand-sew your child's clothing out of potato sacks or hitchhike across the country as a family vacation to save a few dollars. The ideas are practical, and for the most part, quite convenient!

Here are a few ideas/suggestions that touched me personally:

1. I love the focus on saving money now to put toward college later. Earning my doctorate in 2008 was probably my greatest personal accomplishment ever. It has already opened so many doors for me. Richard and I already began putting money toward Lydia's college education through the Florida Prepaid College Fund. It's about $100 a month, but gives my family the security we need to plan for her future.

2. I was appalled when I saw the cost of feeding your child organic baby formula for the first year of life - about $8,000!  I had no idea. I breastfed Lydia since the day she was born. When the doctors in the hospital suggested we supplement with formula because of her jaundice, I cried. Breastfeeding has been an amazing (and economical/eco-friendly) journey for us as a family. I could not imagine paying thousands of dollars for something that is not nearly as good as what I am fortunate enough to be given for free. However, I understand for some people breastfeeding is not an option, so we are lucky to have many formula choices on the market today, and this guide evaluates those choices for you.

3. I love the emphasis on living a vegetarian lifestyle. Being a pescetarian has been a very important aspect of my life for about 3.5 years now. That decision has guided so many other decisions that I am proud to have made. While pregnant, I cut out a lot of my seafood intake, so I lived off of fruit/vegetables, pasta, rice, and dairy. Many of my friends/family members were concerned that I was pregnant and vegetarian...but when Lydia was born 8 lbs 7.7 oz, my sister said she had never heard of such a big vegetarian baby (and my sister is a nurse)! I've also been asked if I am going to raise Lydia vegetarian. I feel like that's a decision she will have to make once she is informed and understands the benefits of making that decision. Until then, she'll eat primarily fruits, veggies, grain, and dairy, but I will also prepare her some fish(wild)/poultry(free-range). I love cooking, so this should not be a problem!

4. The list of suggested companies for baby gear, feeding utensils, toys, cloth diapers, etc. is great! I even like the section where they suggest items that are really worth the splurge vs. those that you can get for less money and still be satisfied. This advice would have been amazing as I was planning my baby shower. Fortunately, though, I can use this information to advise my friends who are expecting. It's even shaped the types of gifts I'm giving to friends. I've learned that being eco-nomical doesn't mean purchasing the $20 wooden teether. It means giving your child a celery stick to gnaw on instead.

5. I began composting a while back, but I did not actually do it properly until recently (see my post on composting).  What this book taught me is that even when you discard items that are biodegradable (paper products, cardboard, etc.), they end up trapped under items that are not biodegradable. As a result, they are basically preserved in garbage heaps. This is why recycling and composting are imperative! The great thing about composting, as expressed in this book, is that you are creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Living in Florida, I am able to garden year-round, so composting is very beneficial to us.

6. There are just so many other amazing topics discussed in this book, such as cloth diapering with cost-comparisons, making your own baby food, living on a restricted budget, caring for children as a single parent, and caring for multiples.

Overall, the emphasis is on trying your best...not expecting to be perfectly eco-friendly, yet disappointed when you want to take a relaxing bath every night or take a drive to the beach in your SUV. The book reminds you that you should actively think through each decision you make for your family, evaluate your options, and do what's best for your family and the earth. It's already given me some great green ideas for Lydia's first birthday party, and she's not even 8 months old yet!

Thank you to Rebecca and Joy at The Green Baby Guide for allowing me to review your amazing, practical guide.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Eco-Friendly Family Travel

We celebrated this spring break with a great family vacation!

We traveled from Fort Lauderdale, FL to St. Augustine, FL (spent one night there). Then we went to Savannah, GA (spent two nights there) and Gainesville, FL (spent one night there) before returning home. This was our first family vacation since Lydia was born. As much as I normally consider every detail when planning a vacation, I really thought things through this time, particularly when it came to the idea of traveling 'green' and on a budget.

So here are two areas where I had to compromise my 'green' desires:

1. I drive an SUV. It's a 2008 Honda CR-V. One of the features that attracted me to this particular model is that it gets great gas mileage for an SUV. We got about 25 miles to the gallon on our trip.

2. I just didn't think I could manage cloth-diapering while traveling, so instead we opted for some chlorine-free diapers. This was convenient, but did cause Lydia to get more diaper rash than she'd normally get using our GroBaby diapers.

Okay, here's the good stuff...my list of ten 'green,' budget travel suggestions! 

1. Try to plan roadtrips where you can park your car somewhere and leave it there. Most of our trip was spent walking around. Some highlights were Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine and Forsyth Park in Savannah. The Savannah tourism website even has a "Go Green" section with lists of accommodations and activities. If walking isn't really an option, try trolleys, buses, or even horse-drawn carriages as these are still more eco-friendly than driving your car around.

2. Stay at a bed & breakfast. This supports independently owned businesses. Since your stay will also include breakfast, it is generally a good choice financially as well. In addition, they tend to avoid using disposable dishes, silverware, napkins, etc. so it can be earth-friendly, too.

3. If we're staying at a place for just 2 - 3 nights, we place the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door. It's not that we want our privacy; but we want to be eco-friendly. By placing the sign on your door, the maid will not clean your room. This saves gas/electricity/water because your bedding and towels are not being replaced. Unnecessary cleaners aren't being wasted either. And, honestly, who changes their sheets daily in their own home??

4. Either bring your own toiletries or feel free to take any partially-used bottles of shampoo, lotion, and conditioner home with you (the small bottles they place in your room). Wasting so many little bottles of soaps and such is just that - wasteful. One thing I do is collect sample shampoo and toothpaste packages that I receive in the mail sometimes, and I bring those on vacation with me. If I am going to use them anyway, I might as well use them instead of what the hotel is providing to me.

5. Bring snacks in reusable containers. This is an easy one. If you're on the road for any extended period of time, instead of stopping at a rest stop and getting small bags of chips, nuts, or candy, just bring your own from home. It's a great 'green' choice that will also save you money, as those rest stops tend to charge big bucks for small portions.

6. This is the first time I brought my own earth-friendly water bottles along on a road trip. Usually I get bottles of water and recycle them, but it's even easier to bring my own bottle along and refill at water fountains and water coolers. Plus, the metal bottles act as great ice packs (when filled with ice) to chill snacks in a cooler.

7. Another easy one - Bring your own reusable shopping bags.

8. Avoid fast food restaurants. Between the gas wasted traveling pre-packaged low-quality food across the country and all of the disposable silverware/dishes, it's just wasteful. Food is one area where I don't mind splurging a bit. We ate at a few amazing restaurants, including breakfast at 700 Drayton and dinner at the Olde Pink House, both in Savannah. You may spend a little extra, but it is so worth it. If you are going to opt for more casual dining, consider places that still use real dishes/silverware. We got dessert at Maude's Classic Cafe in Gainesville, and even though it's just a small coffee shop with an outdoor eating area, they use reusable dishes/silverware, and you just clean up after yourself when you are finished.

9. Buy local! If you are buying souvenirs for yourself or as gifts for others, buy the items that are created in that area. Avoid items like shot glasses, metal spoons, souvenir books (which you can make yourself - personalized), and snow globes. We visited some great places on our trip, including the Savannah Bee Company where I purchased a small jar of honey for my sister and some handmade soap for my mom. They let you sample all of their honey so you know exactly what you are purchasing. We also tasted 7 different types of wine at the Shannon Vineyards store in town. All the wines are made from muscadine grapes, grown about 50 miles outside of Savannah. We also tried some delicious pecan pralines. Yum! It's great to support the local, independently-run companies who are either doing some innovative things or keeping traditions alive. You're also avoiding all of the costs involved in shipping items form other areas to that particular city, just to sell to you as a tourist.

10. One other suggestion for eco-friendly budget travel is to find free souvenirs. If you are going to the beach, take shells. The forest, find some nice pine cones. One of my favorite ideas that I did on a trip to Friday Harbor, WA in 2008 was to pick some of the beautiful wildflowers and press them. I did this by laying them flat between paper (mostly all of those brochures and coupon books you're handed when you check into a hotel) and placing them under something heavy (I actually used my laptop and a copy of the bible, which is pretty much found in almost every hotel room). The flowers looked beautiful and made great gifts, such as decorated bookmarks.

What does your family do to save money and our planet while still enjoying an amazing family vacation?

My First Giveaway! Episencial Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath

I actually contacted EcoMom after I won a case of Sprout baby food on someone else's blog. Lydia (who is now 7 months old) loved it, so I asked EcoMom if I could try another product and do a review/giveaway on my blog. How excited was I when the Episencial Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath arrived in my mailbox??

Here are some of the things that initially struck me about this product before we even tried it:
1. The bottle is made out of recycled plastic that is phthalate and BPA free. Love it!
2. The ingredients on the back are not only listed, but they are described as well. For example, it says "Prunus Persica," an ingredient I did not recognize, but after that it said "Organic Peach." It makes me feel so much better to actually know what is in a product I am using on my child. 
3. It has Eric Carle illustrations on the package - How cute is that?? 
4. I opened the bottle to smell it, and the scent is amazing - like fresh lavender and peaches!

Now,  I must say, Lydia loves her baths. Probably her favorite time of the day. She "outgrew" her baby bathtub at 6 months because she would always try to sit up and move around inside it. I tried the regular bathtub, and she loved it (with very close monitoring, obviously). However, she does have mild eczema, so I am cautious about using products with fragrances on her skin. No problems here! After her bath, her skin was still moist and irritation-free. I noticed EcoMom also carries some products specifically for children with different skin conditions, which is great.

So here's what Lydia had to "say" about her new bubble bath:















 



One satisfied customer!


BUY IT! If you would like to purchase this product or any other product from EcoMom, enter SBBL187 when checking out to receive a 15% discount off your first order. Offer ends May 15th, 2010.


WIN IT! Mandatory Entry: Visit EcoMom's website and check out their new program - EcoPass. Come back here and tell me two things you learned about it. 

So many EXTRA ways to win. One entry for each!
1. Follow my blog through Google Friend Connect (righthand side).
2. Follow EcoMom on Twitter at EcoMomCEO.
3. Follow me on Twitter at HuppieMama.
4. Become a fan of EcoMom on Facebook.
5. Become a fan of Abi's Place (the non-profit organization I work for) on Facebook.
6. Sign up for EcoMom's newsletter.
7. As you can see, I don't have a button yet! Give me some ideas for a button and the contact information for the person who helped design your blog (if you are happy with the design and the cost was reasonable).
8. Comment on one of my non-giveaway posts.

This giveaway ends Tuesday, April 20th at 8:59 PM EST. Winner will be chosen using random.org. Remember to leave your email address so I know how to contact you. If you are the winner, you will have 48 hours to respond before I choose another winner. Good luck!


*I received this product for free, and I was not compensated for writing this review.
And the winner is.... Comment #41 - You will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to reply before a new winner is chosen. Thanks to everyone who participated in my first giveaway!
 
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