Sweet Critique: Yum Yum Dishes

Yum Yum DishesYou hear a lot about portion control nowadays.

Don’t eat an entire chocolate cake in one sitting.  Yes, I can handle that.

Making sure each serving of chicken I eat is about the size of a deck of cards?  I’m not down with that…

It just so happens portion control is what Yum Yum Dishes are good at!

What is it?


perfect portionYum Yum Dishes come in sets of four.  These four ounce dishes are perfect for snacking, just place your chips, crackers, or other snacks in the bowl and enjoy!  Barring any unnecessary refills, you don’t have to worry about gorging on a massive amount of junk.

Now, I’m sure you’d never do this, but you should probably avoid filling the dishes with oh, say, M&Ms.  That would not be smart portion control.  Then again, if you only eat the four ounces versus an entire huge bag, that’s still better right?  Anyway, for most things, the Yum Yum Dishes work great!

What did we think?


Yum Yum Dishes are adorable!! I’ll be honest, we used them for other food purposes more than we used them for portion control.  That’s the beautiful thing about these dishes though!  Not only can Yum Yum Dishes be used for portion controlled snacking, they can also be used for sauces, spices, and cute presentation of any number of items.  They are so versatile.

I also like that the Yum Yum website has a section for snack ideas submitted by users.  Yummy stuff!

Lisa Mosley {of The Biggest Loser fame} endorses the dishes, and even offers a Tip of the Week that you can sign up for on the Yum Yum Dishes site.  You can also check out Yum Yum Dishes on Facebook and Twitter for even more fun stuff.

Final thoughts


Yum Yum Dishes are cute, versatile, and a great idea!

A set of four dishes retails for $22 US, but for the next two weeks, Yum Yum Dishes is offering readers of Sweet Phenomena a coupon code for $5 off each set of four dishes you order! Stock up on a few sets and let me know what you think!

Coupon code:  “SWEET” {no quotes, all caps}

Sweet Critique: Math Blaster


Math is not one of my favorite subjects. Babydoll likes it, but it’s still more fun when there’s some sort of game involved.

When I was asked to review Math Blaster, an online math game by Knowledge Adventure, I was pretty excited.  Babydoll has played JumpStart before {another Knowledge Adventure title}, and she really enjoyed it, so I figured Math Blaster had a good shot in our house!

What is it?


Math Blaster is a browser-based video game that combines arcade-style games and learning, focusing specifically on math.  The game is set in outer space, and each player creates a Blaster to start training at Blaster Academy.

Throughout the game, Blasters have access to all sorts of missions, games, and math quests.  As they complete these tasks, they attain new cadet levels, new uniform pieces, and achievements.

What did we think?


We really enjoyed Math Blaster! And yes, I said we; I played, too!

Blaster CreationCreating your Blaster is fun; you can choose from all sorts of eyes, noses, hair colors, and even species.  Yep, you can make your Blaster an alien or other weird things.

When you’re done creating your Blaster, you’re dropped off at Blaster Academy.  If you’re lucky like we were, you’ll get dropped in right as a Red Alert happens.  You rush to a spaceship and get to blast the heck out of bananas, basketballs, or other random things.  This isn’t totally pointless either, you’re earning points to level your Blaster!

Cadet Level

There are many areas to explore within Math Blaster, but we spent quite a bit of time in the Academy.  This is where you’ll find the Job Board, which is how you access the math games.

Three math games are currently accessible at the Job Board, but they have so many different levels that it’ll keep your kid busy for some time.  Oozami and Bolt Cruncher were my two favorite games. I probably sat there for about 30 minutes playing…


Oozami fun!

Bolt Cruncher

Bolt Cruncher

I was actually surprised at the level of difficulty of some of the levels.  And I’m not saying it as a bad thing; I was very happy to see that the games really challenged you to think about math in ways other programs might not focus on {finding a specific number in a certain place value spot was fun}.  The easier levels are good for young learners as well; the game really does a great job of structuring the levels so that kids won’t get frustrated.

The game can be played as single player or multiplayer, and Knowledge Adventure has done a great job of putting many safety checks in place for parents to use.  This and other features can be accessed in the parent’s section.

Babydoll was able to easily navigate the game, and was off and running in no time.  She liked playing around with Monster Morph {you use “chemistry” to create monster potions that are used to change other players into monsters!}, Oozami, and her favorite, the rock climbing wall.  As you guys know, I’m a technology geek, so I love anything that uses computers and other “geek stuff” to help reinforce learning!

There are several parental features in place as well, such as the Math Blaster Blog and the Game Guide.  I highly recommend checking out the Game Guide; there are quite a few areas in Math Blaster and it will help you immensely to go ahead and review what each one has to offer.  It also informs you of your chat options and other important information.

Final thoughts


Math Blaster is great; you should definitely check it out!  You can access a small portion of the game for free, and membership as of the writing of this review is $7.99 per month, $74.99 per year, or $149.99 for lifetime access.  Oh, and if you’re a member, you get free access to JumpStart World!!! Babydoll did spend quite a bit of time there…

The folks behind Math Blaster have offered to give one Sweet Phenomena reader a free three month subscription to Math Blaster!!

To enter:

Use the nifty Rafflecopter form below!

Mandatory entry: Follow Sweet Phenomena via GFC

Extra entries:

  • Like Sweet Phenomena on Facebook
  • Follow Sweet Phenomena on Twitter
  • Like Math Blaster on Facebook

The giveaway ends at 12:01 am EST June 18, 2011.  The winner will be chosen randomly via the Rafflecopter application and announced on June 18, 2011.  The winner will be emailed and has 48 to respond and confirm.

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Sweet Critique: Earn It, Learn It

Earn It, Learn It

Earn It, Learn ItAllowance.

This word comes up quite often in many homes:  kids wanting money and parents wondering whether or not to give it to them.  And really, it’s not even that simple.

Should I just give them the money?  Should I pay them after chores are done?  How much should I pay?  And on and on the questions go.

That’s where Earn It, Learn It comes in handy:  a fun and meaningful way to teach your kids about hard work, the real world, and how to properly manage their money.

What is it?


Earn It, Learn It, by Alisa T. Weinstein, details the Earn My Keep Allowance Program.  The program incorporates experiential learning, career exploration, and many other skills to teach kids about the way the real world works.

When you need money to pay your bills, what do you do?  You get a job and earn income.  You perform a task well and you are then compensated at regular intervals.  Don’t perform well, you lose your job and your ability to meet your financial obligations.

So, why shouldn’t kids do the same?  There’s no reason they can’t!

After a brief explanation of how the program works, the book lists 49 careers {and a fun create your own career} for kids to pick from; this is their “job.”  Each career has info from experts in that career field, tasks that represent what it is like to work in that profession, and other goodies.  Kids are given a set amount of time {one week, two weeks, etc.} to complete the tasks they’ve chosen, and at the end of their “pay period” they are paid for their great effort and work!

How much you pay your kids {or if you pay them at all, for that matter}, how many careers they complete, and many other aspects are wide open for you to fit in with your family dynamic.  Alisa has done a great job of addressing many of the questions and concerns that one might think of when starting this program.

What did we think?


Oh my goodness, we loved it!!!  The book is fun to read {any book that uses “awesomeness” is sweet in my book}, entertaining {there’s a story about a certain little someone’s desire for more lip gloss, which led to the development of this program}, and the program is so flexible.

Alisa provides so many different choices that anyone can do the program.  Even if you choose not to pay your children an allowance, she encourages you to still explore the careers with your kids. It can help develop a passion for learning and life and will broaden their knowledge of what there is to do in the real world.  And, the program does not involve a lot of time or money on your part!

There are so many fun careers listed in the book.  Babydoll, of course, picked archaeology as her first career, but was also interested in Event Planning, Toy Designing, and a Chef.  There was even a career I had never heard of before:  UX Researcher.  Let me tell you, there are some fun careers in this book; I want to do the activities too!

  • Costume Designer
  • Curator
  • Diplomat
  • Guest Relations Manager
  • Publicist
  • TV Writer

Icons are used to categorize the tasks, ranging from quick and easy to more in-depth assignments.  Pick as few or as many as you’d like.  There are even forms in the back of the book and on the Earn My Keep website that can be used with some of the careers, such as a tax return, hotel feedback form, and adoption petition.

Final thoughts


I highly recommend this book to all parents, whether you use it as an allowance program or not. As a homeschooler, the book is even useful as a tool to choose field trips, activities, and enhance career exploration.

Companion items are being developed, such as a chef’s kit, to go along with some of the careers, as well as review journals that allow kids to create keepsakes detailing their adventures.

Review Journals

Chef Kit

Visit Earn My Keep to learn more about Alisa, the book, and other fun tidbit, as well as to purchase the book or companion items.

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a copy of  Earn It, Learn It for review purposes.  I was asked to give my honest opinion of the material {both positive and negative}, and received no other compensation for doing so.  I included an affiliate link for the purchase of the book through Amazon, however, feel free to purchase the book through the Earn My Keep website, which I have no affiliation with.

Image credit

Sweet Critique: Factory Direct Crafts

Factory Direct Craft

Factory Direct Craft


One thing you won’t find very much here on Sweet Phenomena is original crafts.  But, you will find me copying others’ crafty goodness.  Or, you’ll find guest posts by folks that are craft geniuses.

I do love creating things, though, and that means we have a fairly regular need for craft supplies.  Our area is not known for its variety as far as shopping and items goes, so I often find myself having to order things online.  Until now, I’ve never really had a central source from which I got these things.

Enter Factory Direct Craft


How did I not know about this place before?  They have everything.  Like, seriously.  Everything.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many craft supplies in one place.

The site is organized well, and has a logical structure.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a site looking for fabric, glue, specialty craft items, etc., and their headings/categories make no sense.  Factory Direct Craft knows how to group like items together {you know, like we teach our kids when they’re little?}, and then sub-head things under that.  Take a look at this:

Factory Direct Craft


To the point.  That’s what I like.  If I’m looking for general craft supplies {the stuff you just “have on hand”}, I see where to go.  Painting supplies to go along with that awesome new art curriculum?  Know where to go.  Totally love it.

And while this might not be a huge thing, I love their pictures.  They’re basic, but eye-catching.  I was instantly drawn to that painting supplies picture.  As we all know, pictures can make or break a site…

But How Are Their Prices?


Their prices are awesome!  I’m not even kidding you.  9″x12″ felt for $.43?  Everything I checked out was an awesome price.  I tried to find things I’ve purchased in town recently, so I remember how much I paid.  After you add in the gas and the hassle, this stuff beats it by so much, it’s crazy!

The prices, coupled with the selection and the convenience of shopping from home?  I’m too stinking excited about this place!!!

Final Thoughts


Run to them.  Make a list of the craft supplies you need and visit Factory Direct Craft.  Any place that has specific categories for googly eyes and glitter is OK in my book!

True Confessions:  I partnered with Factory Direct Craft to bring you this post.  All opinions are mine.