Adventures in feeding, parenting and generally managing a household of five boys

Adventures in feeding, parenting and generally managing a household of five boys

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cafe Escapes Review

 I have the great pleasure of being a BzzAgent.

What is a BzzAgent you ask?  Well . . . by being a BzzAgent I get to have the experience of trying new products and services when they are first being marketed.  I then give my honest review and promote those products that I like.  Oftentimes, BzzAgent will send me full-sized products, samples and coupons.  They tailor the items that they send me based on my profile and quick surveys that I complete.

What does it take to become a BzzAgent?  Nothing, really.  It's free!  All they want from you is your honest opinion.  Check it out . .

Recently, BzzAgent sent me some product from the new Cafe Escapes line of Kcups.

I love my Keurig brewer!  (I actually got introduced to the Keurig brewer through House Party, but that's a different story.)   I like the ability that I have with my Keurig brewer to brew a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea at a whim.  I love that I can brew iced coffee and iced tea in the summer.  So I was very excited to try the Cafe Escapes line of Kcups that BzzAgent sent my way.

My samples!

I was sent samples of their Chai Latte, Cafe Mocha, Cafe Vanilla and Cafe Caramel.  I also received samples of their Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoas.  My family and I have tried them all and enjoyed them all greatly.

I was already a big fan of their Chai Latte and Cafe Mocha.  Their Cafe Vanilla was very yummy and a good substitute for a cappuccino.  Their Cafe Caramel is to die for.  I just needed some salt to make it like a salty caramel from that famous store down the street!

The kids enjoyed the hot cocoas the other day after I made them walk home in the cold!  With the added marshmallows, they finished their drinks in no time.  I do have to admit, since I usually make my hot cocoa with milk, that these were not quite as creamy, but at least I didn't have to worry about burning any milk in my pan.

Waiting to be warmed up!

All in all, the Cafe Escapes line is a big hit!  I certainly plan on replenishing my supply of Cafe Escapes Kcups and the $2 coupons that I was provided will definitely help.  

Are you a BzzAgent already?  What great products have you tried?  If not, what are you waiting for?!  Go check it out!

Need a coupon?  Just ask!

Disclosure:  BzzAgent sent me samples and coupons to review this product.  No other compensation was received.  My review and opinions are my own, as always.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What I Read - February 2013

February was another great month of reading for me.  I had two great books that I read for my two (!) book clubs and one other book that I squeezed in.

Two books clubs?!  Am I crazy or what?

Yes, I am cheating . . .

My first book club, which I adore, is filled with ten incredible, accomplished, fun, beautiful and very busy women.  So busy though, that we hardly read any books anymore.  We still meet once every couple of months for dinner and drinks.  We have great discussions.  We just rarely talk about books.  That is okay with me, because I enjoy these women and the time that I spend with them.  I don't want to lose my commitment to them.

But, it leaves me wishing I had someone to talk books with.

Lo and behold, I started talking books with a friend.  One thing led to another, and we started our own little book club of two!  Very low key, but I love it!  And it fills that desire I have to discuss books on an intellectual level.

Such a slippery slope cheating is.  The justification.  The "it's not you, it's me".  Oh, my!

Seriously, though . . .

For my new book club:

11/22/63 by Stephen King - 

This is the first book that my friend and I decided upon as our inaugural read and there is nothing like starting off with a bang!  I used to read a lot of Stephen King in high school.  He was definitely a favorite author of mine, but I fell off the King bandwagon in college and beyond.  This novel, despite it's almost 900 page size, was incredible.  I loved the story line, the characters, the dilemmas, and eventually even the length.  It is the somewhat familiar question of what would have the world been like if JFK not been assassinated?  King takes the question a bit further though and you get to see the ripple effect ("butterfly effect") of some other smaller events as well.  Time travel, combined with love story and historical fiction proved to be a real winner for me.

If you could go back in time and change an event, would you?  Your answer might change after reading this!

My Goodreads rating:  5/5 stars

For my "old" book club:

Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless -

Now,  after totally dissing my "old" book club, this was my other book club read for the month.  Only a couple of us actually read the book, but I was impressed a book was even chosen (usually we don't even delude ourselves).  Points given.

This is a memoir along the lines of Mommy Dearest.  I actually liken it to The Glass Castle with money.  In Chanel Bonfire we have an addicted, mentally ill (I would guess manic depressive) mother with two daughters that provides a lot of fodder for a novel. While the novel doesn't necessarily give a lot of depth, it does score highly on the train wreck/entertainment scale.  I found myself turning the pages quickly if only to see what other horrible things these poor girls had to endure.

The novel does invoke a lot of questions/discussion about the powerlessness of children in situations of addiction and mental illness.  I also think it is interesting how oftentimes the fathers are not held to a higher standard of protecting their children when this is going on.

If nothing else, you will walk away from this thinking, "hey, my childhood was not that bad!"

My Goodreads rating:  4/5 stars

And lastly for this short month :

Heft by Liz Moore -

My own pick for the month, Heft is the interwoven story of 4 people who all carry a burden on their soul.  Be that burden 550 pounds, mental illness, addiction, parental desertion, loneliness, whatever . . .  and the toll that weight takes on your life.  Loneliness is a big theme in the book.  It is how the various characters deal with that loneliness, and how the others in their lives confront it as well, that was so interesting.  Do you embrace your aloneness?  Do you wallow in being lonely?  All very singular reactions.

I loved this book and the character development.  My heart ached for the figures depicted.  I had a difficult time when it ended for I wanted to continue with their lives.

My Goodreads rating:   5/5 stars

What is Goodreads you ask?  Only the most awesome place to connect with your friends and fellow readers!  Get great book recommendations.  Read interesting book reviews.  Share your love of reading!  Join me, I'd love to be your reading friend!

Did you read anything great in February?  Any wonderful books to recommend to me and my new book club of two?  Who do you cheat on?!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Deep Breath

It's amazing how quickly life gets away from me sometimes.  I blink and suddenly I am behind ten loads of laundry and have no food in the house.  How does that happen when I don't feel as if I ever stop moving?

The mental challenges of parenting older (adult?!) children have been interesting lately.  Eighteen is definitely not an adult, except in the legal system, and particularly when still being full supported.  Just a number, right?  Combined with the knowledge that there are the watchful eyes of four younger siblings, we have had a time navigating this new territory.  Lines of communication, trust and lots of prayers are being worked on.  More on this later?!

Also, the funny dichotomy of teenagers pulling away and not allowing you to be involved, but then angry when you don't have the answers abound here.  I love this (not).  Don't talk to anyone, but why weren't you sitting near the other parents?  Come to the game, but you're not allowed to cheer.  I need a ride, but don't get out of the car to find me even when I don't answer my phone.  My only consolation is the fact that I navigated this once and that child allows me to talk to his friends now.  Sometimes!

It makes me long for those physically exhausting days of making sure that they didn't run into the street, drown in the bathtub, fall down the stairs, or choke on the perfectly cut-up grapes.  Instead of falling into bed in an exhausted stupor, I'm awake all night with my stomach in knots over "issues".

All good problems to have though!

I have some great boxes I received this month to review, yet.  Some wonderful books I read last month that I have to suggest.  I am also considering to start posting some of my favorite things.  If Oprah can . . .   Oh, and we have birthday hell week this month too!  Fun, fun, fun!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Birchbox Review - February

Birchbox was amazingly, awesomely fast with their delivery/shipping this month.  Oh, how I wish it would continue like that!  In fact, I've gotten to the point where I don't even check my shipment notice, because it really just upsets me that it takes so long!

Kudos Birchbox!!

What I received:

February Birchbox

The theme this month was Red Carpet Ready.  Items were chosen to help you look your best for whatever big event you had coming up this month.  I wish!

Closer look

Oscar de la Renta live in love - perfume sample.  Unfortunately, perfume samples are becoming the norm for Birchbox.  I like this scent okay.  I'm just over all the perfume though.  Especially since this is the same exact size I would get at the perfume counter of the department store if I asked, for free.  I'm considering changing my profile to state that I have a perfume allergy.

Jouer Matte Moisture Tint - this is stated to give you a healthy glowing complexion.  It is also SPF 15.  I'm looking forward to trying this.  It is a bitty sample though.

Kiehls Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream - I like Kiehls products and this is a nice sized sample.  This is touted as an anti-aging powerhouse.  Yes, please!

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle - I was most excited to receive this product after watching the Birchbox spoiler video.  I have fine, straight hair that tangles like crazy.  I live for detangling sprays.  This is one product I may have to purchase full-sized if I like it.

Ghiradelli Milk Chocolate with Caramel Square - enough said.  I don't think it lasted five minutes after opening the box. Thank you!

Overall a fairly decent box.  I can't wait to try the detangling spray and hope I love it.  As you can tell, I'm most disappointed in the amount of perfume samples, but I think I can fix that.  Still, Birchbox continues to be a nice surprise for me every month, and I love that they stepped up their shipping timeliness!

What did you like most in your Birchbox subscription this month?  Did you get different products from my box?

Want to try Birchbox?  For just $10 a month, you can!  Check it out: (my link).

Disclosure:  I purchase my Birchbox subscription myself.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.  My link does get me referral points, so thanks for clicking!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


It's a beautiful thing . . .
(source: Pinterest)

Congratulations Rowan!

Rowan 02/09/13

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Graze - Box #1

There's a new snack subscription box called graze.  It is a service that sends you four snack-sized servings of healthy snacks that are "nature delivered" on a weekly basis.  Graze costs $5 a box, but I was able to sign up with a promotion where I got my first and fifth boxes for free (essentially $15 for 5 boxes).

What is great about this service is that you can go on their website and note any allergies, likes and dislikes prior to receiving your first box.  Gluten free, nut free, no problem!  Currently, you can choose between a nibble box and a light box (lower calorie).  I chose the nibble box.

Nice box!

I was very excited to receive and try my first box!  Even better when I opened it  . . . .

How cute is this?

The box is beautifully done!  Even better, it comes with a card with nutrition facts and expiration dates.  They include a napkin (for people who get it sent to work).  Everything is environmentally friendly and recyclable.

My snacks:

Loved this!  Very moist granola bar.

A nice salty, sweet snack
A savory selection of snacks and nuts

A dried fruit medley
(Sorry for the sideways pic)
All-in-all a very cool idea!  I tried all of the snacks before posting and truly enjoyed them all.  They vary in calories from 127 - 240 per serving.  Everything was very fresh and provided a nice variety of options.

Now, you are suppose to receive a box weekly, but there has been a slight delay receiving my second box.  Graze sent an email outlining the delay and apologizing.  This was very nice from a customer service standpoint.

Interested in trying Graze?  Check them out at  You need an invitation code (here's mine):  Z1HRVQZD.  You get your first box for free by using this (I get $1 off my next box)!

After trying your snacks you then go back to their website to "rate" the items you got.  Hated something?  You don't have to ever get it again.  By the same token, you can specify those items you really liked and find others that are similar.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What I Read - January

January was a great month for me on the reading front.  I read several great books.  I love when I get in a groove like that!

I'm a member of Goodreads and love connecting with my reading friends and finding great books to add to my to-be-read list.  Consider joining up!

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis

I must confess that I read all of the Oprah recommended books.  Truly, as soon as she announces a book, I'm on Amazon ordering it.  Not sure why, but I just do!  I also must confess that I usually like the books that she picks, including this one.

Since we are confessing, I ordered this book before Christmas (the day it was announced).  When it arrived, I felt bad buying myself something so close to the holiday, so I gave it to Mark to give to me.  Especially since I really couldn't come up with any ideas for gifts for myself.  I threw the poor guy a bone.

This book chronicles the life of a woman and the profound effect she has on her children.  It was amazing how different of an effect she had on each of her children, primarily based on where she was in her life at the various impressionable stages of each child.  It was a very different insight into the importance of that mother figure in a child's life.

Even more than the story line itself though, I loved this book because of the writing.  It was written so beautifully and with such wonderful descriptions.  I do not appreciate poetry and do not enjoy reading it, but to me Ms. Mathis' writing felt poetic.

My Goodreads rating was 5 stars (out of 5).

City of Thieves by David Benioff

The next book on my pile was given to me by a good friend who simply said that I "just had to read it".  Boy, was she right!

This story is set in WWII Russia and involves a young man who is arrested for looting.  He will be pardoned for his crime if he procures a dozen eggs, with the help of a fellow jail mate, for the wedding cake of the Colonel's daughter.  Of course, the task sounds a lot easier than it is, given it is wartime Russia.

This was a humorously disturbing historical fiction.  I found it to be a very interesting story that highlights the integrity of the human experience in very inhumane times.

More importantly, it drove home to me how fortunate I am as an American, not to have experienced war on our soil during my lifetime.

My Goodreads rating was 5 stars.

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon

The last book I read in January was a much lighter read.  It is the story of Alice, who becomes Wife 22 in a study of marriage in the 21st century.

Alice is a 40-something year old wife and mother of two who has reached that too comfortable point in her life and marriage.  She begins to question her relationship with her husband, and then she really begins to critically look at it, while responding to the study questions.  Naturally she begins to feel a camaraderie develop with the researcher assigned to her case.  Twenty years of marriage angst can easily make one look for virtual "viral" comfort.

This was a very easy and compelling read.  The book was presented in an unique format of texts, tweets and facebook posts, making it very modern and true to today's life.  I found it to be a very readable story.

My Goodreads rating was 4 stars.

I have some great books on the docket for next month, including two book club books.  I hope that this may have given you some good books to put on your night stand!

Any good book recommendations for me?  Have you read anything that you just can't put down?
Leave me a comment!  Want to be friends on Goodreads?  Check it out!