Archive for Product Reviews

Mommy Cards Giveaway

Over the past two years or so, there’s this one mom who I have run into everywhere around town. Library, playgrounds, music class, playspace, gym – she’s everywhere. Her little guy is the same age as mine, and they play together beautifully. Although I’ve met tons of other local moms, this mom is the only one I could actually see myself being real friends with.

By now, we know each other’s kid’s names, and have chatted plenty about local kiddie attractions and mommy stuff, but between wrangling two very active toddler boys, there’s just never seems to be enough time for formal introductions or to jot down each other’s email addresses.

So I was really excited when I received this set of personalized mommy cards the other day from Tiny Acorns! How adorable are they?! They are the perfect way to simplify the process of meeting other moms and reduce awkward fumbling for pens and exchanging of contact information.

Tiny Acorns Mommy Card
Visit Tiny Acorns‘ Etsy store to check out some of their other great products, including gift wrap tags, wedding/shower notecards, and thank you notes for kids.

Stephanie at Tiny Acorns has generously offered to give away two sets of mommy cards (one set for the winner and one set for the winner to gift to a friend) to one lucky Talking Thirty reader!

Here’s how to enter:

For your first entry (mandatory), “like” Talking Thirty on Facebook and leave a comment on this post that you’ve done so. If you already “like” Talking Thirty on FB, just leave a comment on this post explaining that.
For additional entries (optional):

  • Visit Tiny Acorns and leave a comment on this blog about your favorite Tiny Acorns product/design.
  • Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and leave a separate comment on this post that you’ve done so.
  • Share a link to this giveaway on Facebook and leave a separate comment on this post that you’ve done so.US and Canadian entrants ages 18+ are welcome to enter.

    Entry period closes at noon EST, December 10, 2013.

One lucky winner drawn randomly will receive a set of mommy cards for themselves and one additional set to gift to a friend. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail and listed on this blog using first name and last initial only.

 

(Update on 12/10/13: CONGRATULATIONS TO MARIANNE C., our lucky winner! This giveaway has ended. Thank you to all who entered.)

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, I did receive a complimentary set of mommy cards from Tiny Acorns. All images, thoughts, and opinions in this post are my own and I only feature products on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused.

Run the Rainbow, Eat the Rainbow (and a Giveaway!)

This spring, ChopChop Magazine, a fun cooking magazine for families, and Boston-based New Balance, have teamed up to promote healthy lifestyles for children through their “Run the Rainbow, Eat the Rainbow” campaign which emphasizes the importance of an active lifestyle, exercise, and balanced nutrition.

Because different colors in produce are associated with different nutrients, “Eat the Rainbow” highlights the importance of eating a healthy diet which features a wide variety of fruits and veggies. The campaign also encourages children to “Run the Rainbow” in the colorful brand-new 890v3 Rainbow shoe by New Balance. Check out these vibrant sneaks!

890v3 Rainbow shoe by New Balance

890v3 Rainbow shoe by New Balance

 

As part of this campaign and in celebration of healthy kids and New Balance’s Rainbow shoe, ChopChop and New Balance invite you to enter a contest for a chance to win a monthly prize pack, including a pair of Rainbow shoes, a one-year subscription to ChopChop magazine, and a grand prize of a $400 gift card to a local grocery store. Woo hoo! Who wouldn’t want all that? Visit www.newbalance.com/rainbow to enter! The contest is live now and will run through May 31, 2013. You can enter once per day.

Since Connor is about to outgrow his only pair of sneakers, I jumped at the chance for him to try out these new shoes. On the day that these arrived on our doorstep, C was miserably sick with yet another cold (this winter has just been brutal!). He was sprawled out on the living room floor, visibly depressed from having been stuck inside getting his nose wiped raw all week. A budding Clinton Kelly, he perked right up when he caught sight of these stylish, brightly colored kicks. Glassy-eyed and with snot streaming down his face, he stroked the shoe and said, “Niiiice.”

I have to say I agree. These sneakers are simply adorable. They feature synthetic/mesh upper, a solid rubber outsole, ABZORB® cushioning in the midfoot for shock absorption, and C-CAP® midsole for cushioning and support.

890v3 Rainbow shoe by New Balance

890v3 Rainbow shoe by New Balance

 

I love the bright, bold colors (Connor’s are grey and bright orange, just like Daddy’s– a big plus) and the fact that they are truly lightweight. Over the past few days, C has put these shoes to the test, wearing them while engaging in all of his favorite toddler activities including puddle jumping, tricycle riding, and tiptoeing!

Toddler New Balance 890v3 Rainbow Sneaker

Toddler New Balance 890v3 Rainbow Sneaker

 

They appear to offer a lot of support and structure, but at the same time are well-cushioned and soft enough for a toddler. Unlike many toddler sneakers, these are a true running shoe, which is great since Connor has been taking off into all-out sprints these days and we want to make sure the feet of our future all-star are well-supported. J

With his old sneakers, a big problem we had was that the back part of the shoe near the heel permanently crumpled within days of use from the way C jams his feet into them when he tries to put them on himself. I’m pleased to report that he has been exclusively wearing these NB sneakers for a while now without this becoming an issue.

The only part of the shoe that I’m not that enthusiastic about is the “laces”. As you’ll see in the photos, instead of your standard velcro straps, this shoe has a single strap that zig-zags down the tongue of the shoe and closes on one side with a small piece of Velcro. Sure, they look neat, but they aren’t so hot from a functional perspective. I wish the laces were longer because they just barely reach the Velcro closure and pop open quite frequently when C is running.  If your child has a wide foot, I would recommend trying the W and XW sizes.

Interested in winning a pair of New Balance 890v3 Rainbow sneakers for the little one in your life? The nice folks over at New Balance and ChopChop (via Regan Communications Group) have offered to give away a pair of New Balance 890v3 Rainbow sneakers and a one-year ChopChop subscription to one lucky Talking Thirty reader!

Here’s how to enter:

For your first entry (mandatory), “like” Talking Thirty on Facebook and leave a comment on this post that you’ve done so. If you already “like” Talking Thirty on FB, just leave a comment on this post explaining that.

For additional entries (optional):

  • Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter and provide the URL to the tweet as a separate comment on this post.
  • Share a link to this giveaway on Facebook and provide the URL to your profile as a separate comment on this post.

US entrants ages 18+ are welcome to enter (Sorry, Canadian friends).

Entry period closes at noon EST, April 12, 2013.

One lucky winner drawn randomly will receive a pair of New Balance 890v3 Rainbow sneakers and a one-year ChopChop magazine subscription. Winner can  choose from available children’s sizes. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail and listed on this blog using first name and last initial only.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, I did receive two complimentary pairs of 890v3 Rainbow shoes by New Balance for the purpose of this review and a one-year subscription to ChopChop Magazine from New Balance and ChopChop Magazine (via Regan Communications Group). All images, thoughts, and opinions in this post are my own and I only feature products on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused.

Baby-friendly Boston: Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar

Now that we’re parents of a very active and vocal toddler, we find that we rarely go out to dinner anymore and we very rarely head into Boston. But a few weekends ago, we decided to venture out of the ‘burbs on a Saturday night for a family dinner in the Back Bay. After learning about their Kids Eat Free program, we ended up at Turner Fisheries Restaurant & Bar at the Westin Copley Place. Most locals would probably not consider Turners to be family-friendly, but we were pleasantly surprised by our experience there.

Immediately upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly bartender and were seated promptly by the hostess. We were particularly impressed with the courtesy and attentiveness of the restaurant manager, who brought over to our table a box of colored pencils and a little fish-themed toy for baby C and even showed him how to wear it on his finger. Later, after noticing that C had tired of those toys, she returned with a shiny toy truck, much to his delight!

Our waiter was a mild-mannered gentleman who occasionally entertained C with his smiles and waves from afar. Without us asking, he knew to move tall glasses, hot dishes, and flatware away from the baby’s reach. Since we didn’t have to bother with rearranging things on the table as we got settled in, we were able to focus on keeping the baby happy and maybe even relax a little ourselves (a rarity when dining out with a wee one).

As mentioned previously, kids (up to 12 years of age) eat free between 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Monday – Saturday, with the purchase of an adult entrée. We ordered C the Baked Haddock with rice and green beans.  It was C’s first time having fish EVER and he’s become a rather finicky eater lately so we weren’t too optimistic that he’d actually eat it. But we ordered it anyway, and were frankly shocked when he DEVOURED it. Both Jack and I tried it and agreed that the haddock was subtly flavored, moist, and delicious. We also appreciated that without even requesting it, the baby’s food arrived very soon after we ordered (thank goodness because he was hungry and, like most toddlers, is still working on his patience!) and well before our own entrees arrived.

The adult food was also quite exceptional. In a nutshell: Fresh seafood, well-sized portions, and pleasing presentation.

One of the unexpected highlights of the evening was the delightful bread basket assortment which included a delicious walnut raisin bread. We tend to order calamari as an appetizer everywhere we go, and we were very pleased with their unique version of fried calamari. Quite different from the standard calamari served with marinara on the side, Turner’s Crispy Calamari, topped with peppadew peppers, capers, and roasted garlic aioli, was nicely flavored and not too oily or dry (as is often a problem with calamari).

Although our entrees were a bit saltier than we would have liked, both were excellent. I ordered the Seafood Risotta which included Maine lobster, bay scallops, Caribbean shrimp, littleneck clams, and mussels, and the hubby ordered the Orange Crusted Tuna with edamame succotash and ponzu glaze.

A few words about logistics. Street parking in the area can be hard to find. If you plan to visit, I’d recommend valet parking at the Westin Hotel. The restaurant will validate parking and it ends up only being $15. Also, just a heads up to those of you who bring your enormous strollers everywhere– we had to walk down two flights of stairs to get from the hotel lobby to the restaurant. Perhaps there is another entrance, but I thought that was worth mentioning to you mamas out there.

On our ride home, we realized that we both forgot to try their award-winning, gluten-free clam chowder! Guess this just means we’ll have to return to Turner Fisheries again soon!

 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, we did receive complimentary meals from Turner Fisheries/451 Marketing for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and I only feature products and services on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused.

Happy Changer, Happy Mama

For about the first year of his life, baby C was an angel during diaper changes. I could take my time cleaning every inch of his adorable little tush, readjusting the fasteners as many times as I wanted until his diaper was on perfectly. My mom would stand by and marvel at how good he was about getting his diaper changed. As a naïve, first-time mom I thought to myself, “Well, of course he is. What else could he do?”

Silly me.

Around the time he turned 10 months, our once easy little baby began to boldly protest every diaper change. As soon as we took off his dirty diaper, he would flail, squirm, wiggle, writhe, and flip over non-stop. Every single diaper change was a battle. Wet diapers were somewhat manageable, but poopy diapers were simply a disaster. It got so bad that I actually had a few nightmares about poop being smeared on my walls and clothes. And of course, above all else, I was really stressed and worried that the baby might fall off the changing table during one of these fits.

Surely I couldn’t be the only mama to have struggled with this so I reached out to my Facebook friends for some advice. People suggested distracting him with toys, singing silly songs, and just using brute force (without hurting him, of course) to keep him lying still. We tried everything. Nothing worked. It became a daily struggle and I was at my wits’ end.

I googled for solutions and somehow (by the grace of God!) happened upon the Hulabye Happy Changer. Invented by Los Angeles physician and momtrepreneur, Erin Kelley, the Happy Changer is a soft fabric vest that secures to a standard contoured changing pad and prevents the baby from rolling over during diaper changes.

 

Hulabye Happy Changer. Source: www.hulabye.com

 

Sounds great, but I was skeptical about whether it would actually work for us (after all, Connor is a really big baby). After several months of use, I’m thrilled to report that the Happy Changer has worked wonders for us! I’m not being melodramatic when I say that this is a product that has honestly changed the quality of our daily lives and saved us so much stress and worry.

What I love about it is that it’s so easy to put the baby into the vest and takes only a few seconds. You just slip his arms into the armholes and velcro the fabric across his chest and you’re ready to go. Also, since it’s made of soft flannel, I am confident that it’s not hurting him even though it’s holding him securely. As a neat-freak, I appreciate that it is machine-washable. I also love all the cute patterns it comes in.

I only wish that there were other, different kinds of closures (perhaps snap buttons) in addition to the velcro closures to keep the baby in the vest after he has learned to pull apart the velcro. Now that baby C is 15 months old, he has learned to rip open the vest. It still works for the time being, but I fear that our days of using the Happy Changer may be numbered. Regardless, I would still gladly recommend this fabulous product to any new mama.

 

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, I did receive a complimentary Happy Changer from Hulabye for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own and I only feature products on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused.

Lunchskins Giveaway

The Lunchskins Giveaway on Talking Thirty is now closed. Thanks to all those who entered and congratulations to our lucky winner, ALI!

Our little water baby

We discovered this weekend that we have a little water baby! We bought baby C a kiddie pool as his first birthday present (the Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Pool and Play Center to be specific) and he absolutely LOOOOVED it. Although he technically doesn’t turn one for a few weeks, it’s been redonkulously hot in Boston lately so we decided to give it to him a little early. Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Pool and Play Center

The pool itself is pretty large for a kiddie play pool and comes with all sorts of bells and whistles (not literally). It includes two pools (a large wading pool and a smaller pool behind that), a water slide that connects the two, a water sprayer that keeps the slide wet, and various fun pool games, including a ring toss game, a ball roller game, and a ball toss game. Four inflatable rings and six plastic play balls are also included.

The little inflatable pillows on the pool’s edge make a squeaking noise when squeezed, much to C’s delight. This might just be his favorite part of the pool.

The most fun part, at least in my opinion, is the water sprayer which attaches to a garden hose. When the hose is turned up high, the water sprayer whips around constantly in all different directions and showers everyone and everything!

If you’re thinking of buying this pool for your little ones, one thing to note is that it does not come with a pump. My husband had to use our air compressor to blow it up, but I found myself wondering what others would have to do to blow it up (since I’m sure that most people don’t have an air compressor at home). Bring it to the gas station? But then how would they bring it home once it was all blown up and huge? Hubby thinks I think too much about these scenarios that don’t actually affect us. But anyway, it took about 10 minutes to inflate completely with the air compressor because there are multiple sections that need to be inflated separately.

By the way, I was not compensated for this post and I did not receive the pool for free for the purpose of review (although that would’ve been nice). We bought this online just like normal people (although we’re far from normal). I’m very happy with the purchase (and so is my little water baby) so I wanted to share it with other moms who might be looking for something similar for the summer.

Have a good weekend!

Lunchskins Giveaway: Eco-Friendly Reusable Snack Bags

Every time we pack up baby C’s diaper bag for an outing, I feel like such an environmentally irresponsible person because we use a gazillion little Ziploc bags. One for his puffs. One for his bottle parts. One for his pacifier. One for clean spoons and another to keep his dirty spoons separate from the clean ones later on.  When  I unpack the diaper bag at the end of the day, I feel pretty guilty about the pile of barely-dirty Ziploc bags that ends up in my trash can. I hesitate a little before throwing them out, thinking that I probably should just rinse them out and reuse them, but who has time for that? And who wants to get a reputation as the cheapo who reuses their Ziplocs? 
 
So, I was really excited when I recently learned about Lunchskins
from a friend’s sister, a veteran mom. Made by a group of momtrepreneurs who founded 3GreenMoms, Lunchskins are environmentally-friendly, dishwasher-safe, reusable sandwich and snack bags. I love that they offer an environmental benefit (reduce landfill waste) and a practical benefit (the same bag can be used over and over and therefore save you money over the long run). I also like that they have been certified as lead-, BPA- and phthalate-free. And of course, I love that they come in all sorts of fun little designs. My favorites are the navy sharks and orange crabs (not pictured, obvi)!
 Lunchskins: Eco-friendly reusable sandwich bags

We’ve been using them for the past several weeks now and they have proven to be quite convenient as well as durable. In addition to using them to store food, we’ve found them to be very useful as a way of keeping the baby’s pacifiers and teethers clean inside the diaper bag.

Oh and they’re not just for packing kids’ lunches. I’ve also started to bring them with me to work as a way to neatly transport my snacks.  :)

My only criticism is that I wish the closures (which are velcro) were sealable and 100% leakproof so that I’d feel more comfortable putting moist items in the bags. But all in all, I think this is a fabulous product!  

Interested in trying out Lunchskins for yourself? The nice folks over at 3GreenMoms have offered to give away one set of Lunchskins to one lucky Talking Thirty reader!

Here’s how to enter: 

For your first entry (mandatory), “like” Talking Thirty on Facebook and leave a comment on this post after you’ve done so. If you already “like” Talking Thirty on FB, just leave a comment on this post explaining that.

For additional entries (optional):

  • Follow @TalkingThirty on Twitter and leave a separate comment on this post that you’ve done so.
  • Tweet about this giveaway and provide the URL to the tweet as a separate comment on this post.
  • Share a link to this giveaway on Facebook and provide the URL to your profile as a separate comment on this post or via email to judy@talkingthirty.com.

US entrants ages 18+ are welcome to enter.

Entry period closes at noon EST, June 20, 2012.

One lucky winner drawn randomly will receive a set of Lunchskins. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail and listed on this blog using first name and last initial only.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, I did receive complimentary products for the purpose of this review from 3GreenMoms. All images, thoughts, and opinions in this post are my own and I only feature products on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused.

Teriyaki Sesame Noodle Salad & A Giveaway

Not completely satisfied with my last attempt (Asian Cold Soba Noodle Salad),  I continued my search for the perfect Asian cold noodle salad recipe. I tried a recipe that was favorably reviewed on Allrecipes.com, but it turned out to be horrendous. Let’s just say it involved Ramen and tasted like feet.  This was shocking to me because I’ve come to trust reviews written by the Allrecipes community and they rarely let me down. 

After that experience, I was afraid that I may have caused my guinea-pig husband to develop some sort of taste aversion to cold noodle salads so I was about to give up, but I decided to try just one more recipe. And I’m so glad I did because it turned out to be the best one by far!  
 
This recipe was one I found on the Annie Chun’s website, although I modified it a little based on what I happened to have on hand. Since I’m breastfeeding, I particularly appreciated the fact that Annie Chun’s products are all natural with no MSG or preservatives. The final product was super delicious and even received my Chinese mother’s nod of approval (which, trust me, is not easy to get!). Here’s how it turned out:   
 

Annie Chun's Asian Teriyaki Sesame Noodle Salad
Teriyaki Sesame Noodle Salad

Ingredients

1 package of Annie Chun’s Chow Mein Noodles or Soba Noodles
1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup grated carrots (I used a vegetable peeler because I don’t have the patience for graters)
1 cup cucumber, cut into matchstick slices
1/4 cup chopped scallion
roasted almond slivers or sesame seeds (for garnish)

Dressing Ingredients 
5 TBSP Annie Chun’s Teriyaki Sauce
2 TBSP rice vinegar
2 TBSP sesame oil

Directions

Combine the three ingredients for dressing and mix well. Set aside.

Cook noodles as directed on package. Drain and cool.

Mix noodles with remaining ingredients (except nuts) in a bowl and toss with dressing (add to taste).

Garnish with roasted almond slivers or sesame seeds (I skipped this part because I didn’t have any on hand, but I will definitely add these next time).

Interested in trying this recipe out yourself? The nice folks over at Formula PR have offered to give away one Annie Chun’s Prize Pack (which includes the ingredients called for in the recipe above) to one lucky Talking Thirty reader!

Here’s how to enter: 

For your first entry (mandatory), “like” Talking Thirty on Facebook and leave a comment on this post after you’ve done so. If you already “like” Talking Thirty on FB, just leave a comment on this post explaining that.

For additional entries (optional):

  • Follow @TalkingThirty on Twitter and leave a separate comment on this post that you’ve done so.
  • Tweet about this giveaway and provide the URL to the tweet as a separate comment on this post.
  • Share a link to this giveaway on Facebook and provide the URL to your profile via email to judy@talkingthirty.com.

US and Canadian entrants ages 18+ are welcome to enter.

Entry period closes at noon EST, June 10, 2012.

One lucky winner drawn randomly will receive an Annie Chun’s Prize Pack which includes the items you use in the Teriyaki Sesame Noodle Salad recipe. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail and listed on this blog using first name only.
 
Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post; however, I did receive complimentary products to sample from Annie Chun’s/Formula PR. I only feature products on Talking Thirty about which I am genuinely enthused. All images, thoughts, and opinions in this post are my own.