Sweet Critique: Reader’s Digest Educational Gift Pack


Reader’s Digest has sent me more awesome books!!!  And this time, they’ve put them together in a pack of four, just for the student in your life!

These are great books filled with tons of information about each specific subject.  Here’s a look at each one:

  • I Wish I Knew That:  Geography – James Doyle:  Earlier this month I reviewed a similar book, but it was more suited to adults.  This book is perfect for little minds to learn all sorts of fun stuff about geography.  It’s got cute illustrations, a fun font, and it covers things like continents, the Earth, and oceans.  There’s even a cool little section on ecological communities.
  • I Wish I Knew That - Steve Martin; Mike Goldsmith, Ph.D.; and Marianne Taylor:  This is my absolute favorite of the set, and probably my favorite of all the RD books I’ve gotten so far!  I enjoy learning the “why” behind things and learning about all sorts of miscellaneous things.  Sure, I may not really ever need to know that Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, but it’s still great to have the opportunity to learn it.  The book is divided up into sections like literature, history, and math.
  • i before e (except after c):  Easy Cool Ways to Remember Facts - Susan Randol:  Like things like Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally?  Then this is the book for you!  Filled with a myriad of ways to remember all sorts of facts, you’ll find an acronym, rhyme, or acrostic for just about anything.
  • Write (Or Is That “Right”?) Every Time:  Cool Ways to Improve Your English - Lottie Stride:  This book is filled with all sorts of grammar, spelling, and punctuation goodness!  This is a great reference for your child; it’s very thorough and complete.  The material is presented in a fun and intriguing way, though, making it great for kids!

Reader’s Digest is giving all four of these books to one of you!!  Use the Rafflecopter form to enter!

True Confessions:  I was provided with copies of these books in order to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

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Sweet Critique: Barilla Whole Grain Pasta

Barilla recently launched their Barilla Whole Grain Taste & Share Challenge.  To help get the word out, they sent me a Challenge kit full of all sorts of goodies!!  I received:

  • Six boxes of Barilla Whole Grain pasta – Linguine, Thin Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Medium Shells, Rotini, and Penne
  • Barilla apron
  • Academia Barilla 100% Italian Olive Oil
  • Academia Barilla Balsamic Vinegar of Modena – aged 3 years
  • Academia Barilla Pesto Alla Genovese
  • Academia Barilla Canned Cherry Tomatoes
  • Academia Barilla Sicilian Sea Salt with Italian Black Olive

I was ready to start tasting!

What Did I Make?


Well, the genius people at Barilla came up with the Whole Grain Dinner Kit to help people find tasty and healthy recipes to prepare with their pasta.  It’s a pretty neat little doodad, definitely go check it out!

After using the Kit I decided on Rotini with Creamy Bolognese Sauce and Peas.  It was a special occasion recipe {which, in this case, meant it took a while to prepare} and we really enjoyed it.  Personally, it had a few too many peas for our tastes, but the overall dish was excellent!

The key to working with whole grain pasta is to properly prepare it* and flavor the dish as a whole well.

*  Prepare the pasta according to package directions, otherwise you end up with a gummy mess.  This means adhering to cooking time and heavily salting your water!

What Do I Think About the Pasta?


I love it!  I’m the first to admit that I steer clear of most whole grain stuff unless I know it tastes good.  We’ve tried other whole grain pasta and it just wasn’t good.  The texture was off and it was just blech…

Not the case with Barilla!  The pasta of course tastes different than traditional pasta {51% whole grain will do that}, but it’s a great wheat-y full-flavored taste that doesn’t overpower the dish.  The texture is awesome, pretty much like that of traditional pasta.

I was so shocked at how much I liked it that I decided to give it a second go, you know, just to make sure the first time wasn’t a fluke.

This time I used one of my recipes:  good ole spaghetti.  The only alterations I made were to include the can of peeled cherry tomatoes in the sauce and use the whole grain noodles instead of traditional ones.

How did it go?

Well, Babydoll actually said something to the effect of this being the best sauce I’ve made.  The pasta was still good, and filling.  Looks like the Barilla Whole Grain pasta really is awesome!  Yay!!

What’s This Taste & Share Challenge?


Glad you asked.  You can get all the details here, but basically by sharing your experience with others on Facebook, you AND your friends get Barilla coupons.  Awesome!

I’m so excited to let you guys know that Barilla is giving three of you {!!!!} a Taste & Share Challenge Dinner Kit just like mine!  Use the Rafflecopter form to enter!!

True Confessions:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Barilla and received a Taste & Share Challenge Kit to facilitate my review, kits to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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Getting Healthy with Nature Made #VitaminD #cbias

Nature Made

As a mom, I have that nagging in the back of my mind to regularly go to the doctor so that I can be healthy for my family.  Well, there’s that, and then there is the fact that she holds the power to write the prescription I need…  So, I go.

A big part of my hesitancy is not necessarily in going to the doctor, it’s in the blood draw.  Long story short, they can never find my veins, and four stabs later and looking like a pin cushion, I emerge from the room exhausted form the 30+ minute ordeal.  It usually ends up with them taking it out of my hand, and having to really work it out of there, so it’s really not fun.

I do have a point, though.  After my last visit not too long ago, my doctor called to let me know I needed to start taking vitamin D.  She didn’t explain why, so it was interesting to research the benefits of vitamin 3.  I learned quite a few things that are really helpful to know when taking a vitamin such as this.

Why Vitamin D?


  • Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium.  I don’t get a lot of calcium anyway, so I really need to hang on to all I can.
  • Vitamin D promoted breast and colon health.  That’s always a plus in my book.
  • Vitamin D contributes to a healthy mood.  This is probably the main reason my doctor prescribed this.  I have terrible anxiety…
  • Vitamin D supports bone and teeth health.  I’d like to have good teeth for a very long time…

Did you know that almost half of all Americans over 50 are deficient in Vitamin D?  Given it’s importance in the body of absorbing calcium {which helps your bones}, that is an astounding number.  Check out this little video to learn a bit more about the importance of Vitamin D in calcium retention:

On to the Shopping!


So, now I know why I need it, I just need to actually get it.  I’ve always been a fan of Nature Made vitamins.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I think it’s a combination of price, packaging {hey, it makes a difference; subconsciously or not, it makes a difference}, and availability.

I prefer purchasing things like vitamins, toiletries, medication, etc., at Walmart for the great prices.  So, off to the store I go, hoping to get my vitamins and a few other things I need.  If you’d like to check out my shopping trip, please view it in my Google+ album.

I got home and started my Vitamin D routine!  I feel healthier already!

What about you, do you take Vitamin D?

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  All statements are my own.

Sweet Side: The Day Baby Was Born Web Application

Tommee Tippee, maker of tons of great and natural baby stuff, has come up with a cool new way to commemorate your baby’s birth: The Day Baby Was Born!

This free service allows you to choose a variety of media to include in your digital storybook such as social media information related to the pregnancy and birth, news and facts about the birth day, and pregnancy journal info.  Check out a sample book here.

What I love about this is that it is so simple, however, if you want, you can choose to put a bit more effort into it and really customize the book.  Either way, you get a great keepsake.

Once your book is ready, The Day Baby Was Born creates pregnancy and birth announcements for Facebook and allows you to share your book online.

While I won’t need this, I thought many of you that are still having children, or who know friends and family who are, might like knowing about this awesome free service!

Sweet Side: BK Crown Program

BK Crown Box 1-WEB

Burger King has revamped the crown and added a cool new program to the package!  Now, each time your child gets a BK kid’s meal, they will get a code that allows them to help BK decide where to put their charity dollars.

I’m not gonna lie, I miss the old crown.  It’s not that this one is bad, it’s just not what I’ve grown up with you know?  But, I think it comes with the territory:  you want to revamp and start something new, you kind of have to go all the way.

What I do like is the way the kid’s meal is packaged.  I like the box and how the crown is attached to the box.  I enjoy that the focus of the box is not based on the toy of month.  Instead there are games and other fun stuff!

The BK Crown Program


The BK Crown program {BKC} was developed so that kids could help BK determine where to put their charitable dollars.  A fund has been set up to contribute to the Wildlife Conservation SocietyNational Parks Conservation AssociationDonorsChoose.org and Have It Your Way™ Foundation.  By visiting BKCrown.com, kids can learn about the various charities and how their ideas can help change the world.  Total win!

In addition to learning about the charities, kids can play games, learn about the kid’s meals, and what the featured toy is.  You can even sign up for a parent account to keep track of what your child is doing on the site.

The BK Family Bundle


For a limited time, you can visit a participating Burger King and get the Family Bundle.  For $9.99 you get a Whopper, Whopper Jr., two small fries, two small drinks, and a kid’s meal.  That’s an awesome deal!

Burger King has offered up an awesome Prize Pack:  a $25 Burger King Crown Card to go and purchase your food!  The package is cute, but I won’t spoil it for you!

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a Burger King Prize Pack by Burger King Corporation through MyBlogSpark.  We went to eat at Burger King.  It was yummy.  All statements are my own.

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