Sweet Critique: My Memories

My Memories

You guys know how much I love technology!  If I can automate it and put it on my phone or my laptop, I’m in heaven.

When digital cameras came around {yes, I’m old enough to remember when they weren’t around!}, I was excited.  Taking a picture, being able to delete it right then and there, retake it, then put it on the computer and manipulate it?   Yes please!

One thing I always wanted to do, but never could do for a variety of reasons, was to put together cute little photo albums of Babydoll when she was little.

I just don’t have a very good eye for design with some stuff {well, it takes me a while anyway} and sitting there with glue and scissors and stuff just wasn’t my idea of a good time.

I was recently introduced to digital scrapbooking and MyMemories, though, and I thought, “What a neat concept!  All the embellishments and patterns and everything all right there, digitized!”

MyMemories has some really cool features:

One of my favorites?  The fact that you don’t have to drag out a bunch of stuff and then put it away!

At just $39.97, it’s a great value for those of you who really enjoy doing this and having options.

I will admit, when I first sat down to use it, I was a little intimidated.  I had a blank canvas and tons of options; scary!

But, if that type of thing doesn’t phase you, you’ll absolutely love this stuff.  It really does have just about anything you’d need to make some awesome stuff!

Do you enjoy digital scrapbooking?  Have you created anything?

TOS Sweet Critique: Creek Edge Press

PhotobucketWhat:  Creek Edge Press Geography & Culture Task Cards

Cost:  $18

Recommended Ages:  K-8


What are Creek Edge Press Geography & Culture Task Cards

I think the Creek Edge Press site best says what exactly these cards are:

Our goal is to provide a simple tool that pulls together the best of Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori education. We do this with affordable, topic based Task Card Sets that facilitate discovery based, research oriented, independent learning.

Each card has a theme {Maps, Maps and Globes, Climate and Habitat} and a number of tasks to be completed related to that theme.

For instance, on the Maps card, some of the tasks are:

  • Define cartography.
  • Read about maps in an atlas.
  • Find a map legend.


Students use a variety of resources such as encyclopedias, books, maps, etc., to complete the cards.

Our Thoughts

Overall I love the concept of these cards.  Babydoll did similar work when she was at a Montessori school, and she loved it then, too.

I enjoy the breadth of topic covered, and like that they utilize a variety of resources, methods, and activities.  Anything that involves food is good in my book!

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was the enormity of preparing for these cards.  Maybe I’m just a bad homeschooler, but I didn’t have a lot of the books listed such as encyclopedias or a variety of atlases.

Then again, maybe this is just my issue, since I know all of this can be used at the library.  I just like having our own stuff!

Thankfully the publisher gives you a great list of resources needed.  It is broken down into specific types, which I really like.  It helps those of us that are list people to go through and mark off what we do have and purchase/borrow what we don’t have.

I was surprised and happy to see that the Instructor’s Guide also listed subjects/concepts covered by each card.  Great if you just want to grab one card to enrich a study.

I also love that they go into great detail about how to set up an area for these if you will really be delving into them for the year.

I think it was a little daunting for me, at first, to see all of this and try to incorporate it midyear {I’m just weird like that}, but I think going into next year these would be an awesome resource to include in our studies.

They cover a crazy amount of stuff for a very small price.

One thing I just have to note, and I’m probably one of the only people that noticed something like this {because I’m OCD and crazy}, but I’d like the comb binding to be a bit wider.  I had a little trouble turning pages in the Instructor’s Guide and some of my page edges got a little wrinkly which drives me crazy.

Creek Edge Press has cards related to other areas like science, art, grammar, and music; win!

What Others Thought

Be sure to check out what other members of the Crew thought!

True Confessions:  I received this set of cards in exchange for my honest review.

Sweet Critique: CLARO Acne Clearing Device

I {thankfully} have never really had to worry about terrible acne.  I had your typical skin problems as a teenager, and suffer from a few blemishes each month.  Other than that, it’s not a huge issue for me.

Still, none are better than some, and the sooner I can get rid of my acne the better.

There are many devices out there that claim to get rid of your acne, but unfortunately many of them are hard to use, smelly, or downright painful.  Other times it just takes too long for them to work.

The CLARO IPL Acne Clearing Device

Yes, I was skeptical.  Yes, it seemed a little too good to be true.  Yes, I was scared.

The CLARO uses intense pulsed light {IPL} technology to deliver heat and light directly to the acne.  This info was taken from the CLARO site:

The bacteria that cause acne produces a compound called porphyrin, CLARO uses heat and light to stimulate porphyrin to produce singlet oxygen that attacks and eliminates the acne bacteria.

To use, you simply turn the device on, place the treatment window over your pimple, and press the button.  The device flashes light on the pimple 10 times.  You repeat this a second time, completing one treatment.

You can treat the same pimple three times in a 24 hour period, waiting eight hours between treatments.

What I Thought

I messed up and did not treat the same pimple after our initial treatment, so our results are a little skewed.

That said, even after that one treatment I can tell that this little device works.  After one round of treatment and 24 hours, the acne treated had significantly reduced in size and redness.

I like this device for what it claims to treat:  mild to moderate acne.  If you have severe acne, you’d spend all your time moving this thing from pimple to pimple.

For a few pimples, though, you can easily treat them quickly and be on your way.  There’s no messy creams, no excessive steps, you just turn it on, press a button, and in a few seconds you’re done.

I know you want to know if it hurt.  I wanted to know.  I was scared to try it.

So, I did what any good blogger would do and asked my husband if he’d sacrifice his comfort for me.

He did, and he survived.

Aside from my excitement and subsequent trigger-happy fingers going to town treating pimples {which caused some moderate heat}, he said he didn’t feel a thing.

At $194.99, it might be a bit pricey for some folks.  If you are looking for an investment in something that is not consumable, this is a great one.  It’s quick, easy, clean, and effective.

True Confessions:  I have received the reviewed product from Best Buy for free.  All opinions are my own.

Sweet Critique: Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners

I firmly believe everyone is gifted in some way.  All it takes is someone showing a little attention and believing in their abilities, and they can do great things.

When many of us think of a gifted child, our mind automatically focuses on academic talent.  Gifted children can also be gifted artists, dancers, athletes, etc.

For this reason, I absolutely love Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners by Cindy West.

West gives a good overview of homeschooling, curriculum, and styles, but she spends most of the book giving the reader actionable and practical information to help them adjust their teaching to their children.

Tables, Charts, and Resources

West, a veteran homeschooler, knows how much time homeschooling takes.  Her book is not full of a bunch of irrelevant and useless information.

By including tables, charts, and lists of resources, West has made it easy to search through the book and find exactly what you need.

Interested in a classical approach to education?  West provides a list of curriculum resources specifically for that approach.

Have a child that enjoys logic puzzles?  West gives you a list of logic puzzles, grouped by age/ability.

In addition to listing these resources throughout the book, she has placed them all in the back if you’re really just looking for that information.

Those Who Excel and Those Who Struggle

This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the book.  The bulk of the material is designed to take a subject/interest {history, science, spelling} and provide the parent with information to enhance that subject if their child excels or resources and ideas to help those who struggle.

I was keenly interested in what she had to say about spelling.  I’ve noticed that Babydoll is excellent at spelling.  Never has a problem with it.

But because it is a school subject, I felt like we had to set time aside to do it.  Still, there was this nagging feeling that we were wasting our time as she always aced it.

West says what others are afraid to:  if you have a child that excels at spelling, ditch it.  Spend time building vocabulary instead.

Use the time you would have spent doing spelling and provide your child with something useful, such as the ability to understand what those words mean.

Technology, Record Keeping, Socialization, and College

West touches on each of these areas as well, and does it well.

I am a firm believer in using technology in your homeschool, so I appreciated all the ideas and resources she provided in this section.

Record keeping is something that many of us struggle with each year, and West provides yet a few more pearls of wisdom.  She shares the way she keeps track of everything, and it’s not complicated!

Socialization is never far behind when discussing homeschooling, so West gives this area appropriate attention.

Despite the fact that your child might be in elementary school, time flies and college will be a reality sooner than you think.  West provides solid resources and information about what to consider when you get to this point as well.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any homeschool parent, new or old.

The fact that the book is full of links and resources makes it a winner in my book.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful this book is at providing you with solid, specific, practical ideas that you can implement right now.

Definitely give it a try.  I think this is something I’ll be referencing for the rest of our homeschooling days.

Sweet Critique: Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter


So, yeah, I know.  Homeschooling to cat litter?  Well, I do lots of product reviews here on Sweet Phenomena, and I generally try to review things that we can personally use.  Hence, the litter.

All Hail Princess

That right there, to the right, that’s our cat Princess. She’s a princess if I’ve ever seen one… She came to us when she was about two, and was already named Princess, so we decided to just keep her name.

Little did we know how well that name fit her…

It took her months to get used to us, and at least a month to come out of full-blown hiding.  When she did, she let us know she was particular about things.  She wants stuff her way and that’s all there is to it.  And generally, she gets it, because she’s just so darn pretty.

After a little over a year, she finally came around and has began acting more like a lap cat.  She’ll sit with us from time to time, and show a teeny bit of love.  You just have to take it when you can get it, however, and always let her run the show.  When she’s done, she’s done, and she’ll let you know it…

Princess Needs Litter


Yes, all cats need litter, but Princess like really needs it.  It has to be fresh and scooped and free of little girls {the jury is still out on little boys}.  Well, the room has to be free of little girls {more on that later}.

If her litter isn’t quite up to par, she will relieve herself, um, elsewhere…  She’ll even do it with you watching.  She’s evil like that.

Given all of this {and the fact that I don’t want my house to smell like a toilet}, we’ve tried to be very particular about the quality of litter we use and how often we scoop/change it.  Of all the types I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed the Arm & Hammer varieties most.  I like the fresh scents {without being too perfume-y}, the fact that it has baking soda in it {it’s a miracle product I tell you!}, and it clumps well.  TMI? Maybe, but we’re talking litter here, so we have to go there.

I was excited to try their new variety, Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter.  Every granule is coated with baking soda AND odor-destroyers, meaning it works really hard!

When Babydoll first switched out the litter, she noticed right away that it had a powerful scent, but not overpowering.  With other litter brands, I’ve had to hold my breath because the perfume smell was too much for me.  Asthma would ensue.  Not so with this stuff.

It smells fresh and clean, and clumps really really well.  I was surprised; I didn’t know things could clump that well.  Which, for us, is important, because Princess doesn’t like any remaining clumps.

The granules are a good size, not so big that it’s weird for your cat, but not so small that it gets stuck on them and tracked all over the house.

And yes.  It really does smell great.  It had been at least 24 hours since the litter was scooped {normally Babydoll’s chore, but she was heading to someone’s house}, and by the time I got up there to do it, you’d never have known.  Freaking sweet.

I definitely recommend the stuff if you’ve got a cat.  You can get it at Walmart, and it’s a reasonable price in my opinion.

Oh, and about the little girls.  I don’t know about your cat, but Princess will not use her litter box if there are people by it.  She has her area up in the room above the garage, which is also where toys and books are located.  Generally, Babydoll and her friends sleep up there when they have a sleepover.

I found out the hard way {read: urine on my oversized chair…} that she will not use the litter if they’re up there.  Does anybody else’s cat do that?  Or is it just her?

True Confessions: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf Arm & Hammer and received a product coupon to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.