Sweet Sponsor: Lovable Labels

My other sponsor for A Blogtastic Extravaganza 2.0 is Lovable Labels.  They’re a Canadian company that makes all sorts of labels for kids products.  These things are colorful, fun, and really great quality.

The company was started by a mom on a quest to have durable and fun labels for her son’s items at school.  I know that many of the labels for this purpose out on the market are sorry.  They just are…

These labels are awesome.  The regular and slimline labels are microwave and dishwasher safe.  The iron-on labels can hack it through washing and drying.  The shoe labels have uber-adhesive so they stay in place.  These are great qualities in labels meant for kids’ products!

We were sent the Back to School pack and chose the Polka Dot Me design.  They’re so cute, there are tons of labels {over 165 labels!}, and you even get little metal tags.

And, this might not be relevant to each order, but I love that Lovable Labels sent our items in a cute folder with lots of great info for me, as a blogger, to use in reviewing their product {even fun “I *heart* blogging” stickers!}.  Little details like that, going that extra mile, those are the things that I look for in companies I choose to continue to support.

I want to point out that even if you homeschool {like I do, and like many of you do}, you still have tons of uses for these things.  Think sports practice, co-op, scout meetings, etc.

Lovable Labels is giving away one of their Back to School packs as part of my ABE 2.0 giveaway package.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for a chance to win!

While you wait, you might want to check out their Twitter page!

True confessions:  I was given a pack of labels in exchange for this review.  I always give my honest opinion about the products I review.  I really do *heart* these labels…

Sweet Sponsor: SimplyFun – Math’d Potatoes

A Blogtastic Extravaganza 2.0 starts tomorrow!!  One of my great sponsors for the event is Simply Fun.  They produce board games that offer “learning and connecting through play.”

They sent us Math’d Potatoes to play and review {psst, this is what they’re going to offer one of you!!!}.

First, I was in love with the name!!  I mean, how cool is it?  It gave me a good teehee when I read it.

This is a quality product.  The box is nice and sturdy {and you guys know how sturdy a board game box needs to be…}, the pieces are great quality, and it’s packed nicely.

The game board and pieces are fun and colorful.  Who doesn’t want to roll stuff around in half a potato?

The object of the game {like many games} is to move your potato piece to the finish space.  To do so, you draw cards and, depending upon the card, one or all of you roll you dice trying to make a math equation to equal the number(s) given.

For instance, if you draw the potato card in the picture that reads “5 to 10,” you have to roll three numbers and two operations {addition or subtraction} that equal a number from five to ten.

Overall, we enjoyed the game.  The rules were a bit hard to follow {we had several questions as we played the game and had to hunt and search through the rules to find the answers} and there was some disagreement over whether the game should include negative numbers or not…  After playing the game a couple of times, I think it would become fairly easy to roll through and do it though.

I am so glad we got the game.  Babydoll and I have been trying to find time to play again.  It is stupendous at helping kids practice their math equations.  Just keep in mind that the game can take a bit longer than you might have thought based on how long it takes your child to figure out their equations.  There is nothing wrong with this, of course, just keep it in mind.

Math’d Potatoes retails for $38.  Want a chance to win one instead?

The super folks at SimplyFun are going to give one of you a Math’d Potatoes game!!!

Come back tomorrow and enter the A Blogtastic Extravaganza 2.0 giveaway for your chance to win!

While you’re waiting, go check them out on Twitter.

True confessions:  I was provided with the Math’d Potatoes game for review purposes, and SimplyFun is one of my ABE 2.0 sponsors.  As usual, this doesn’t mean I’ll give a dishonest review and it does mean I’ll let you know exactly how we felt about it.  For real, we liked it.

Sweet Critique: Top Secret Adventures

Top Secret Adventures

Last school year I decided I really wanted Babydoll to study geography.  I am ashamed of my limited knowledge in that area, although I will say I’m not nearly as bad as many Americans…

I know several places incorporate geography into their items, but I wanted something specific.  Somehow I stumbled upon Top Secret Adventures by Highlights.

Top Secret AdventuresWhat is it?

 

Top Secret Adventures is a subscription-based service offered by Highlights magazine, from which Babydoll receives a new “case file” each month.  Her job as a detective is to open the top secret file, read the mission assignment, review the villain cards, and then complete her puzzle book using her guide book as a research text.  In addition, with your first shipment you receive a big world map, passport, and country stickers to use with each file.

TSA

TSA

I’d like to note that our pictures show a puzzle.  This month Highlights changed some of what they send in the files.  Previously, Babydoll received a puzzle that had to be put together in order to learn where she was going to be doing her detective work.  They now send a mission assignment, spy ring, and key chain with the country’s name on it.  Babydoll enjoyed “not knowing” where she was going, so it might be good to conceal that if at all possible until they’ve read their mission assignment.

What do we think?

 

We love Top Secret Adventures.  Babydoll anxiously awaits her package each month, and can’t wait to tear into it once it comes.  She learns all sorts of interesting facts about the  countries she’s studying, and she loves the puzzles in the puzzle book.

One thing to consider is the fact that each file only comes with stuff for one child.  It’s not an issue for us obviously, but if your kids will each want their own passport, stickers, map, key ring, and key chains, you’ll want files for each kid.  And yes, that could get expensive.  I bet you creative types out there could figure out a work-around though!

Also, this doesn’t do an extremely thorough job of reviewing each country, if that’s what you’re looking for.  What you will get is a great wealth of tips, trivia, and pictures related to that country.  You do learn a great deal, but it’s not a thorough curriculum if that makes sense.

Final thoughts…

 

Despite some of the things listed above, we love Top Secret Adventures.  Babydoll enjoys it and learns something from it.  We just started getting the USA version, so we’ll keep you guys posted!

True confessions:  I was not compensated in any way for this post.  We subscribe to this as a family and I thought it might be a great resource for others.

Sweet Critique: Chef Boyardee Recipes

As I’ve mentioned before, the “traditional” school year is very busy for us, especially when it’s soccer season.  If I don’t plan a crockpot or super easy meal on practice nights, there’s a 99% chance we’ll be eating fast food those nights.  And that’s three nights a week…

Sometimes it has nothing to do with planning, but everything to do with execution.  That roast would have been awesome on practice night, had I taken it out of the freezer…

Get the picture?  I’m imperfect!

I was recently given the opportunity to take a look at Chef Boyardee’s new quick and easy recipes.  They’ve put together six quick and easy dinner options using seven ingredients or less, all ready in 35 minutes or less.

I’m going to go ahead and say it:  for all the organic, pampered cow, no hormone stuff I like to purchase and eat, I still love me some Chef Boyardee ravioli.  The stuff’s yummy!

At any rate, after consulting the family, I chose to make the Pepperoni Spaghetti Bake.  True to claims, the recipe was quick and easy.  The longest time was spent baking the item, but it still was done in 35 minutes.

Overall, we enjoyed the recipe.  Vince really liked the “dough balls” and Babydoll liked the spaghetti and pepperoni.  It was cheesy and gooey and yummy.

The recipe lists six one cup servings, but it did look like such a small amount of food.  I suppose, though, if you actually paired it with some fruits and veggies, you’d be set for a pretty filling dinner.  We polished it off that night.

I think next time I would take the suggestion at the end of the recipe {which I didn’t see before I went shopping} and add a few other ingredients such as olives or mushrooms.  The recipe is actually quite versatile.  And, compared to our normal fast food fare, it’s nutritionally much better for us.

There are five other recipes to choose from, and I think I might keep a few of the items on hand for a quick meal.

Image Credit

True Confessions:  I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Chef Boyardee and received a gift card to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  I still would have told you if I hated the recipe…

Sweet Critique: Time Island

You guys know my family loves video games.  We’re major Lord of the Rings Online gamers.  :)  So Babydoll and I thought it would be fun to review Time Island.

The premise of the game is that you are stranded on an island and must survive.  You have to keep yourself and your house clean, keep yourself fed, keep your energy up, build your survival skills, and stay free of the Goggs {really bad green guys…}.

You can explore the island, find energy and other items, shop for clothes, and play mini games.  Some of the mini-games are just for fun, some build your island skills, and others are educational in nature.  Babydoll loved the mini games.  There are even places to access do-at-home activities, which are educational in nature.

Babydoll took to Time Island right away and really enjoyed it.  I played with her for a bit as well.  The game is still in testing phases, but they’re progressing nicely.

I wanted to note that if you jump right into playing the game, there is a learning curve to it.  It’s sometimes not very apparent what you’re supposed to do.  The Time Island folks have dealt with that nicely by providing FAQ and training sections on the website.

All in all, I think the game is a cute and fun way for kids to spend their time.  The designers have made sure safety measures have been put in place for chat and other parental safety concerns, which is nice.  Babydoll gives her stamp of approval, too.

Want to win a Time Island Fun Pack, containing temporary tattoos, stickers, sunglasses, a bandanna, and bracelets, all in a nifty sack?  Be sure to enter below!!

True Confessions:  We were given the opportunity to play Time Island in exchange for a blog review.  This did not sway our opinions, and the blog review contains our honest thoughts.

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