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Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars Review #FigLove #NaturesBakeryPtc

You know when you have a favorite treat from your childhood and you can’t wait to share it with your own kiddo?  That’s such a fun experience – unless you read the ingredient list (which is probably something you never did as a kid) and find out that your favorite treat has a few things in it that you’d rather not give to your child. This happened recently when I went to pick up a package of my favorite figgy bar named after a town in Massachusetts (yeah, that’s the one).  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the rather loooong ingredient list and noticed a whole bunch of things I couldn’t pronounce in addition to some that I could, but would rather not eat, like high fructose corn syrup. I sadly put it back on the shelf and reached for another treat instead.

Luckily, the folks at Social Chorus and Nature’s Bakery reached out and let me know about their all natural fig bars. One glance at their ingredient list revealed things that not only could I pronounce, I actually knew what they were! (An added bonus – they contain whole wheat!!)  But would they pass the taste test?  Nature’s Bakery sent me a more than generous selection of their ten delicious flavors.

natures bakery fig bars

The verdict was in – they were delicious. I love that the whole wheat does NOT make me think I am eating sawdust and that there is a different flavor for every mood. The pickiest eater in the house gobbled them up and requested them for school lunches (a huge win!!). I’m still having a tough time deciding which flavor is my favorite. The new mango and lemon flavors are really good, but the vanilla raspberry might be winning. I’ll just have to grab some more and keep testing them until I can make up my mind!

natures bakery fig bars 1

Learn more on the  Nature’s Bakery Website!

Want to try Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars for yourself? (Hint: Yes, you do!!) I have a box of fig bars to give away to one lucky reader. Here’s the catch – the winner needs to be a HUGE fig bar fan. In fact, they should be a total fanatic. Let Nature’s Bakery know how much you want to try these by becoming an official fanatic by joining the Fig Fanatic’s Program and then filling out the entry form below. We will gift one fanatic with some figgy goodness on 9/15.

This post was created in partnership with Nature’s Bakery. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Keep Senior Family Members Safe with VTech CareLine #VTechCareLine

vtech careline safety phone systemWhen Josh was a baby and through the toddler years, VTech was a pretty common name to find around our house.  We had a number of educational toys from them and I always loved how durable and dependable they were. I had no idea that VTech also makes other products including phones.  I was given one particular phone – the VTech CareLine SN6197 to review and am receiving compensation for sharing my unbiased experiences with you. Since September is Grandparents’ Month, what better time to talk about how this product can help keep grandparents safe?

Let me start by giving you a little bit of the back story. While my parents are both very active and mobile, Jay’s folks are a bit older and we sometimes worry about them living on their own.  His mom has been prone to falling and his dad recently developed a back condition that has made him much less steady. Since none of Jay’s siblings live close enough to just “pop by” on a daily basis, you can see how we all might worry about their well being.  We’ve all seen those “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials and the idea of that happening can be scary.  Yet, we all know it would be a hard sell to convince my rather frugal in-laws to subscribe to any kind of monthly service “just in case”.

This is where the VTech CareLine SN6197 phone system comes to the rescue.  This system provides all the security without a monthly fee. It features a pendent that can either hang around the neck or be clipped onto the belt. This pendent can be used both to answer the phone remotely and (more importantly in my opinion) to call out should one become unable to get to the phone due to a fall or illness.

vtech CareLine phone pendent

The system also comes with a corded phone base with voice mail plus an additional wireless handset which have several unique features as well. The base allows for up to four photos  to be used to indicate pre-programmed speed dial numbers.  The system also has voice caller ID so that there is no need to get up and check who is calling before deciding whether to answer or not.  The handset has a Voice Amplification feature for those with difficulty hearing. The feature amplifies incoming sound by up to 40 decibels so that no conversations are ever missed.

vtech careline base

Personally, I feel like the VTech CareLine SN6197 system addresses the three most important challenges seniors living on their own face: the fear of being unable to communicate in case of a fall or illness, the inability to hear through the average headset, and confusion using speed dial features.  I’m a huge fan and appreciate the peace of mind having a system like this gives not only my in-laws but us as well.  I also love that you can upgrade the system to include additional handsets and/or pendents should you need them.

If you’d like a more visual walk through of the features, I also did a video review here:

Learn more about this and other VTech products by visiting the brand here:

VTech CareLine Website –

VTech Facebook Page –

VTech Twitter Account –

VTech Google+ Account –

VTech YouTube Account –

Maureen’s Must Haves for Staying Cool

After two months that felt more like fall than anything else, Summer has finally hit these parts with a vengeance! The later part of August is proving to be exactly what we’ve come to expect – hot, humid, and sticky. As someone who actually prefers the cooler temps (hey – I said cooler, not cold so don’t throw anything or leave nasty comments implying I want winter back!) I find these hot and humid days less than enjoyable. I’ve collected a little arsenal of things to help me get through the end of the summer without melting!

Puff Fresh Faces Wipes (with natural saline)

Puff Fresh Faces Wipes

Back when Josh was a toddler, I discovered Boogie Wipes and feel in love with them. I loved that they were soft and just the right amount of moist. I was able to overlook the fact that most of ours were grape-scented (Josh’s favorite) and used them quite a bit myself to freshen up.  I must not have been the only mom doing this since Puff’s teamed up with Boogie Wipes and came out with Fresh Faces for adults.  They are perfect for those hot days where your make-up has melted into a disaster and all you want to do is wash your face, but you are out and about so you can’t.  They help you cool down and look fresh and they come in great grown-up scents like lavender and even Vick’s for when those late summer allergies are making you miserable. A 45 ct pack is only $1.99 at Target!



 Ban® Total Refresh™ Cooling Body Cloths

ban total refresh

Yes, I know I’ve raved about this convenient way to stay cool before, but I’ve fallen even more in love with them as the summer has gotten hotter! I hate being all sweaty and sticky and would probably spend most of August standing in a fairly cool shower if I could.  These cloths at least make me feel like I just got out of the shower.  Not only are they cooling while you are using them, but they leave behind a gentle, silky powder that keep you feeling fresh longer than even a shower would.  These were really had to find at the beginning of the summer, but I’ve been able to find them pretty consistently at



 Bai5 Drinks (in every flavor)

Bai 5 drinkI love a nice cold glass of juice on a hot day, but I’ve been trying really hard not to drink all of my calories this summer. I was really excited when I heard about Bai5 because it is only 5 calories for a nice big 8 oz serving.  In addition to that, Bai has all kinds of crazy good antioxidants. It’s made from a part of the coffee pant you probably weren’t aware of. When coffee beans are harvested, there is actually a fruit around the bean. That fruit is full of all kinds of good-for-you radical fighting compounds that keep you healthy.  My only concern was taste – was it going to taste healthy??  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I loved Bai5! It has become my go-to drink this summer – refreshing and energizing (but no shakes like with iced coffee) and the huge variety of flavors are all good. Molokai Coconut might be my current favorite. I’ve found the best price to be at Target where you can grab them for under $2.


Seattle’s Best Frozen Coffee Blends

Seattle's Best Frozen DrinksIf you know me at all, you know I love my coffee.  As much as I love a hot coffee in the cooler weather, a frozen coffee drink in the summer is a MUST. I discovered Seattle’s Best Frozen Coffee treats back when we had a Seattle’s Best in our local Borders. But then Borders closed up and I was left alone with my cravings. Thank goodness Seattle’s Best heard my sobs and created an easy way to get that signature taste at home.  You can  pick up any of the four frozen blends in the freezer section of your local supermarket and whip up a delicious coffee treat without sweltering in the local drive thru.



Honest Lemonade

honest lemonadeWe don’t drink soda in our house, so lemonade is Josh’s drink of choice in the summer. I struggled with trying to find one that didn’t have either high fructose corn syrup or aspartame in it and had just about given up.  Luckily Honest (who I already loved for all of their awesome tea varieties) came out with Zero Lemonade which is sweetened with stevia. Not only does it not have any sugar or calories, it is organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free.  Now THAT’S some good stuff!!



So what are your favorite tips and products for keeping cool in the summer heat?  Let us know in a comment!


Sample products may have been received and affiliate links may be used.

The LeapFrog LeapPad 3 Saves Summer #LeapPad3 #LeapFrog

LeapFrog LeapPad 3

As a former teacher, I understand how important it is for students to master their math facts.  I clearly remember lecturing the parents of my 4th grade students about how much easier the advanced math concepts would be when the students didn’t need to stop and figure out the answers to basic math equations.  It’s all true and I know that my own son needs to master his facts better than he has, but it’s a whole different ballgame when you are the parent and not the teacher. As the teacher, I didn’t have to listen to the whining.

My goal for the summer was to have my son practice his math facts in one form or another at least several times a week.  I started off by trying to fine some fun ways for him to practice. I put out a call to all of my teacher friends for fun iPad apps that might help.  There were a few suggestions, but they only kept him entertained for a bit. Some others were fun but he figured out how to “game the system” quickly and wasn’t really getting any educational benefit out of them.

Then a LeapPad 3 arrived for us to review and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I had just about the whole LeapFrog catalog in our house when Josh was a toddler. We had everything from the Tad doll to the learning table (a personal favorite).  As he got older, we purchased some of the reading tools like the LeapReader system and his Leapster pretty much came with us everywhere we went.  I was always impressed with the LeapFrog brands and felt confident that anything I purchased would be both high quality and educational.

I unboxed it and had it up and running within minutes.  It easily connected with our home wifi system and gave me the opportunity to customize the parental controls so that I was comfortable with the amount of access my son had to the internet.  He had a blast checking out the apps that came pre-installed and I was thrilled with how many there were.  He spend a while playing with the camera and took lots of picture of both me and the dog and had fun aging us as well as adding some interesting accessories!

LeapFrog LeapPad 3

It wasn’t too long before I though we should get down to business with some math fact mastery.  As a huge SpongeBob Squarepants fan, he was thrilled to see that there was a math game featuring his favorite cartoon character.  The game can be purchased either by downloading it (I love the ease of that option!!) or in cartridge form.  Downloading the game was quick and easy and the game held his attention for over an hour.  If he hadn’t gotten hungry, I think he would have kept going longer than that!!

Some of the features that I feel set the LeapPad 3 Learning Tablet apart from the rest are:

  • Super fast performance. So often, kids’ electronic toys are frustratingly slow. Not this one! Lightning fast is pretty accurate here.
  • Rechargeable battery. I hate the amount of AA batteries so many toys burn through. The LeapPad 3 charges with an enclosed cord and each charge gave hours of playtime.
  • Durability. I used to cringe every time I handed over my iPad. The LeapPad 3 is easy to grip and hold onto, but it’s also not a big deal if it get dropped. It can take it!
  • Parental Controls. I want to be the one who decides what my son sees online, and tight parental controls allow that.
  • Personalized learning. Games automatically adapt to each child’s learning level and draw from 2,600 educator approved skills across reading, math, writing and more.
  • Variety. There are over 1,000 games and apps in the learning library of educational games, eBooks, videos and more—designed or approved by learning experts.

I’d love to hear from you – what do you do to help make some of the more mundane learning tasks fun??

We received a LeapPad 3 to facilitate our review as part of a promotional program with LeapFrog.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

I finally get to be the cool mom! #MC


mom central revolution

I was one of those parents who vowed my child was going to bring a creatively assembled, obnoxiously healthy lunch to school every day. Somehow, in my head, I pictured myself much more put together in the mornings.  I did not picture myself rolling out of bed bleary-eyed, stumbling around in the kitchen just trying to get a pot of coffee made.  Clearly coming up with pin-worthy lunch creations was not my forte, at least not at 7 am.

After about the two hundred and twenty-seventh sandwich of his Kindergarten year, LJ asked if he could bring a Lunchable for lunch.  We trotted off to the grocery store to find one that he would like.  I flipped it over and began reading the ingredients and thought I might have been reading a foreign language.  After looking all over the package for the ingredients in English, I realized that, no – that was the list of what was in this product.  I told LJ that there was no way I was going to send that into school with him and was immediately labelled a V.U.M.  (Very Uncool Mom) since, you know, “ALL THE OTHER KIDS GET TO HAVE THEM”.  I tried a compromise by creating my own lunch-meat-self-assembly-type-meal with healthier choices but that didn’t fly either.

Fast forward to third grade (now) and I am offered to review a healthy version of this lunch option. I am immediately skeptical remembering the long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the other product but decide to look into it.  I am immediately drawn to Revolution Foods when I find out it was started by two moms.  (I’m willing to bet they were labeled V.U.M.s too!)

revolution 3 meals

These moms started out by working to offer real food options for school lunches -by “real food” they mean no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.  Once that took off, they expanded their offerings to include Meal Kits.  These are an easy grab and go option for field trips, road trips, or just as a school or camp lunch option.   LJ gets a fun meal that also meets my criteria of having natural, pronounceable ingredients and everyone is happy!

revolution meal kits

So, now not only do I get to be the “cool mom” again, but these will make my life much easier when packing for camp or our Field Trip Friday adventures.  I mean, I really don’t see myself suddenly becoming a morning person once school lets out, do you?  Of course, I never thought I’d get to be a cool mom either, so who knows…

Wondering where to get Revolution Meal Kits? You can find a store near you here.  Don’t see a store nearby that carries them?  Go here to download a form to let your local stores know that you want access to real food too!  Connect with Revolution Foods on Facebook, on Twitter, and even print off a special coupon here.