June 29, 2010

CSN giveaways around the blogosphere!




I love giveaways! And I love CSN Stores! So what's better than a CSN Stores giveaway?

Why, nothing. That was merely a rhetorical question. ;p

So here are some chances for you to enter to win CSN Stores giveaways --

The Fifty Factor $80 gift code ends 8/4

Kitten With A Whiplash $40 ends 7/4

Allison's Reviews and Giveaways $40 ends 6/29

Tara's View of the World $100 ends 8/10 (yes, August!)

Passages to the Past $100 ends 6/29

Room Remix $125 ends 6/30

Oh My Giveaway $60 ends 6/30

Peace & Quiet $60 ends 6/30

A Few of My Favorite Things $50 ends 6/30

Peach Rainbow $50 ends 6/30

Get Along Home $40 ends 6/30

Slow This Ride Down $40 ends 6/30

Dropped Stitches $40 ends 6/30

Bass Giraffe $60 ends July 3

Ginger is the New Pink $100 ends 7/2

I'm Just Your Average Mom $40 ends 7/3

Just Another New Blog $40 7/17

Forgetful One $60 ends 7/5

2Paws Designs $60 ends 7/6

A SAHM Looking for a Deal $60 ends 7/6

Go YAY! $100 ends 7/7

Growing A Baby in Seattle $50 ends 7/28

Carma Sez $60 ends 7/13

Broken Teepee $60 ends 7/15

The Maxwell's Madness $60 ends 7/18

The Wide World of All Things Cute & Cuddly
$50 ends 7/11

Thrifty Canucks $40 ends 7/11

Frugality is Free $40 ends 7/7

Under the Big Oak Tree $40 ends 7/14

Gustosa $40 ends 7/15

Great Blog Giveaways $70 ends 7/9

Whatever DeeDee Wants $60 ends 7/4

Go Green St. $70 ends 7/8

Are You There, God? It's Me. $40 ends 7/13

Faithful Finances 3-pc candleholder ends 7/13

June 27, 2010

Giveaway! Novica artisan incense sticks & ashcatcher

Read my review of Novica and find out what fabulous items I received to do my review.

One of those items was a set of Lavender Green incense sticks and a turtle ashcatcher. This actually came as TWO sets, each in an individual box. What a value!

In the spirit of sharing, I am hosting a giveaway to give one lucky Shady Lady reader a chance to win one of the two boxes that I received. I thought about saving it to use as a gift later to someone special in my life, but instead I am "gifting" it to one of you.

This is my own personal giveaway and is not affiliated with nor sponsored by Novica (although they did provide the items at no charge to me other than shipping for my review).

~~GIVEAWAY~~

Win an incense set from Thailand just like the one I reviewed.

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries, or they will not count. I check each and every entry. I determine the winner through Random.org. Please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you. Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.

~~Mandatory~~
Visit Novica and tell me something you found that you'd love to have. Please leave the description and link directly to the item in your comment.

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

DAILY ENTRY - Visit the Novica website and pick another item you love. Leave item description and direct link in your comment. No duplicates please.

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see sidebar)

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady leave your Twitter id.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

#Giveaway Lavender Green Incense set from Thailand courtesy of Novica and Shady Lady! @tnshadylady Pls RT http://bit.ly/acj4RW ends 7/14

TEN ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see sidebar)

FIVE ENTRIES if you get my email and/or rss feed. Tell me what email and/or reader you use. Five entries for each one.

TEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or linky or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Wednesday July 14, 2010. Giveaway open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen.

Remember to leave separate comments for each method of entry! For instance, if you follow me on Twitter, leave THREE comments with your Twitter ID. This is the only way to insure that you get all your entries.

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Novica gratis in exchange for providing an unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

For shopping online, nothing beats Novica - the world at your fingertips!

The first time I ever visited the Novica website, I was astonished at the range of beautiful items offered from artisans all over the world. The more I dug, the more impressed and delighted I became. At Novica, the world is your market and global artisans and their art are available at your keyboard fingertips.

I was instantly drawn to the jewelry section. Hey, I'm a woman, I love jewelry! The selections were outstanding. I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the products featured. Take a look and you'll see what I mean.

There is an amazing section called Unique Gifts that categorizes gift shopping to make it easier for you to find the perfect unique gift for someone special.

In need of corporate gifts? Novica has you covered there too.

I could go on and on. The Novica website is chockfull of delightful items that would make truly appreciated gifts, even if you just "gift" them to yourself. :)

What impresses me most about Novica is their philosophy. Here's what their website says:





We want to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity. And, we want to provide you with access to unique, hard-to-find items at great values that only the Internet infrastructure can allow.

At the deepest essence of our philosophy, we want to create a bridge between you and the many talented artisans across the globe.

We want you to know about who you're buying from. We want you to feel that attachment to the product and to the hands that created it.

In the spirit of the Internet, let us bring you together.

NOVICA. The World is Your Market.


Aside from the fascinating products listed for sale on the Novica website, I am most intrigued by the Microfinance Program. Novica has offices around the globe in order to facilitate getting an artist's products to buyers. Being close to the artists, they see firsthand the hardships these artisans face in producing and marketing their art. Novica is launching the first-ever microfinance website where customers can purchase products and lend money directly to artisans.

And with no middlemen involved in the process, Artisan Loans will carry 0% interest. Yes - artisans will not be charged any interest. This revolutionary concept is possible only because Novica has offices in developing nations working directly with artisans and fulfilling customer orders. Now, their offices will also serve as disbursement centers for Artisan Loans, providing artisans access to the credit that they need to grow.

Please take a moment to get the facts on this exciting program and see the artisans in need of loans to expand or enhance their enterprises. You can pledge as little as $25 to help an artist achieve his dream! I personally am going to participate in this program and I urge you to check it out too. For less than the cost of taking your family to the movies, you can help an artist somewhere in the world to continue to create and support his/her family. It's a very worthwhile endeavor.

Novica gave me a gift certificate to use so that I could see for myself the quality and beauty of these products. As most of you know from some of my other reviews, I love fragrance, so I chose an incense burner and pack of incense sticks. Also I have spoken of this before, but in case you weren't paying attention :) I have had two hip replacements and still have difficulty walking for an extended period or distance. So I was delighted to find handmade walking canes on the Novica website.

Here is a picture of the two products I selected:
I was really impressed with the packaging. These products came to me directly from India and Thailand and they were packed with extremely loving care.  Cards are included with each item, a note from the artist and a bit about the product itself.

I was most impressed with the packaging of the incense from Thailand. It came wrapped in some beautiful recycled paper with a jaunty red bow, ready for gift-giving! I've saved the wrapping paper to reuse later. It's too beautiful to throw away!
Love the leaves implanted in the paper! The incense boxes themselves were also very beautiful, made from recycled materials.
The incense is absolutely wonderful and fills the area with a remarkable aroma. The cute little turtle ashcatcher is a conversation piece. :) The artist card included says: "Lavender Green: Lavender's discreet sweet aroma will bring calm and relaxation in the form of these scented incense sticks. A turtle, image of unperturbed serenity, comes along on a lotus petal - an ideal incense holder." And a note from the artist Sirinart Bongkotmas: "We craft souvenir products by hand at home, like scented candles and incense sticks. My elder sister...designs the articles. I help...and also create new craft lines." I was so impressed with the craftsmanship and loving care that I will be purchasing more from this artisan.


I also chose this Classic nickel-plated brass walking stick. Isn't it beautiful? The enclosed card says: "Crafted of brass and bathed in gleaming nickel, this design comes from Sourabh Mehta. He presents a classic walking stick to be used as a fashionable accessory. It unscrews into two pieces." And about the artist Sourabh Mehta: "I specialize in meenakari, which is a colorful and vibrant style that truly expresses the beauty of Rajasthan."

I couldn't be more pleased with these products available through Novica. And knowing that I am helping an artist in India and Thailand gives me a warm feeling inside. I strongly urge you to visit the Novica website and see for yourself the stunning array of items available from all over the world. I know you'll be pleased with your purchase!

There are some very good Novica giveaways going on right now in the blogging community. If you'd like to enter to win a Novica gift code, check out these giveaways:

My Silly Monkeys $50 Novica GC ends July 2

The Art of Random Willy-Nillyness $75 Novica GC ends July 17

Mom of 3 Dolls
$50 Novica GC ends July 8

Networking Witches $75 Novica GC ends July 1

Piece of Me $50 Novica GC ends June 28

Katydid and Kid $75 Novica GC ends June 27

Disclaimer: I was provided samples from Novica gratis in exchange for providing this unbiased review. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.


June 25, 2010

WINNER! Truvia natural sweetener giveaway!



Congratulations to CJ! She was the winner of the 40-ct box of Truvia natural zero-calorie sweetener on my blog contest.
http://tnshadylady.blogspot.com/2010/06/truvia-natural-sweetener-review.html

Enjoy your Truvia, CJ! And thanks to everyone for entering.

Please don't forget to check back at Shady Lady... I've got some AWESOME giveaways coming up, some from brand new sponsors to the blogoverse! You won't find these giveaways anywhere else! So stay tuned!

Prevent Summer "Brain Drain" by Planning Ahead




School is out and children are so excited that summer is here, but it won't be long until you hear the infamous, "I'm bored" from your little ones.

Primrose Schools, the leader in educational child care, recommends encouraging imaginative play and having a plan in place to keep children's minds engaged during the summer months. Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year.

That's why Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose, has come up with the list of ideas below as a starting point for summer activities that offer a balance between the freedom of child-initiated play time and more structured activities.

Here are 11 ideas parents can use to keep young minds active during the summer months:

1. Boredom Buster Jar: At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your family and brainstorm a list of activities that can be done alone or that you can enjoy doing together. Encourage your children to share their own ideas and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family "Boredom Buster Jar." They'll feel more involved in the project and more likely to think this is a "neat" idea, if they participate in the creation and idea generation. Next, write everyone's ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues.

2. Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important waysto keep young minds engaged during the summer.Make reading even more fun by finding ways to bring the stories to life. For example, in the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, children create a make-believe town in the desert out of rocks, boxes, and their imaginations. Read the book with your children and then challenge them to create their own town with materials they find in the backyard.

3. Art Start Box: You'll need to gather basic art supplies-child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty oatmeal boxes and paper towel rolls, colorful magazines and bits of aluminum foil. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there's always something new for the children to find. Even if you normally have these supplies around the house, it's fun for children to know that the Art Start Box is just for them. They'll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies.

4. Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out. They are the directors, actors, and producers. They can also make musical instruments out of pots/pans, wooden spoons, empty canisters and have a parade; or everyone can play along to your family's favorite songs. Record or video the performances, and enjoy the replay. You'll also be capturing a bit of family history everyone will enjoy for years to come.

5. Family Dance Party: Crank up the music and encourage your entire family to boogie down. Dancing gives children a great outlet for self-expression through their own motion and helps build self-esteem. It also enhances motor and coordination development by incorporating skills like jumping, landing and leaping. Dancing is a great activity that can involve the whole family and doesn't take very much preparation.

6. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures--from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you need can be found around the house- some chairs, cushions, blankets, and of course adult supervision.

7. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and ask your children to choose a recipe to try. Measuring can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh.

8. Summer Scrapbook: All you need for this project is a spiral notebook. Encourage everyone in the family to draw pictures of favorite activities and collect mementos from special events throughout the summer. Children love to go back through scrapbooks and albums and tell about what happened at each occasion. They will also be building their storytelling skills at the same time.

9. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening.

10. Camping Out: Pretend to campout in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite. You might even decide to spend the night!

11. Scavenger Hunt: Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list. Invite friends or neighbors to join in the fun to make it a competition.

To find these and other great tips for parents, check out Dr. Zurn's blog at DrZandme.com. And don't forget to grab Dr. Z's Widget while you're there!


For more information on Primrose Schools, visit www.primroseschools.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter!


Disclosure: I was entered for a chance to win a gift card in exchange for this post. No monetary exchange took place.

June 23, 2010

Be Safe! Don't Drink & Drive!




The summer picnic season is upon us, and one of the biggest weekends of the summer is almost here!  With the Fourth of July right around the corner, it's time to plan now for a safe and sober way home.



While many of us focus on fireworks safety each Fourth of July, we also need to keep our roads safe for the drive home after the festivities. 



Whether at a family picnic or viewing the local fireworks display, many of us will be on the road this Independence Day.  It's time to spread the word about the dangers of buzzed driving and to remind people that Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving, and the best way to stay safe is to plan ahead.



We need your help in keeping the roads safe for everyone this July Fourth by spreading the word that buzzed driving IS drunk driving.



There are four steps you should take to protect your loved ones on the Fourth of July.   



1.) Designate a sober driver before you leave for your Fourth of July events. 



2.) Be ready to take alternate transportation such as a bus or taxi.



3.) Have the phone number of a taxi service stored in your phone before you leave for the party.



4.) Call 9-1-1 if you see an impaired driver on the road.



Even if you will not be drinking alcoholic beverages this Fourth of July, keep in mind that over the course of 2008, 1,179 people in other vehicles were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.  And there were a total of 491 motor vehicle traffic fatalities during the Fourth of July Holiday period (Thursday, July 3rd, 6 pm to Monday, July 7th, 5:59 am).  And for those who say they don't plan on over-indulging . . . a buzzed driving crash looks the same as a drunk driving crash.



We are working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council as they continue their efforts with the "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving" PSA campaign. Buzzed drivers drink and drive, but do not consider themselves a hazard on the roadway because they have had "only a few" drinks. 



To learn more about the impact buzzed driving can have on a life, please watch this important video about the financial and personal repercussions of getting a DUI: http://buzzeddriving.


adcouncil.org/sign.php#video
 
  




Remember: Buzzed Driving IS Drunk Driving. Plan ahead and ask your loved ones to do the same.


June 22, 2010

Best financial advice I ever got....

.... was to PAY CASH FOR EVERYTHING!

It's not easy. I'll be the first to admit it. But it pays off in the long run.

Trust me on this.

For more good financial advice, check out (Mis)Adventures of an Army Wife.
{mis}Adventures of an Army Wife


June 21, 2010

Everything but the.... bathroom sink??

I hate my apartment. There. I said it. I mean, don't get me wrong, with so many folks out of work and everything, I'm lucky to still have a job that I love and still have a roof over my head. So it's not like I'm ungrateful...

It's just that I look around and wish things were a little different. Living in an apartment, you don't have the luxury of "fixing it up" like you would if it was your own. Know what I mean?

Take my bathroom sink. Please. No, seriously, take it. Because I want this one from CSN stores.

Isn't that gorgeous? And only $240! It looks like it cost waaaaaay more than that! Simply magnificent.

And it comes in other colors too - check these out -

Just.... stunning.

I've always appreciated apartments because I don't have to mow the lawn and I don't have to worry if something goes kaput. But then I don't get to decorate or renovate when something like these bathroom sinks catches my eye...

CSN Stores... I have a love/hate relationship with you right now... know what I mean? :)

WINNER!! Sleep Scentsations aromatherapy pillow liners



The Sleep Scentsations aromatherapy pillow liners giveaway has ended and the lucky winner is Bev! Congratulations! Bev won a 10-pack Pleasant Dreams collection. I know she's going to love it!!

But if YOU didn't win, fret not! Sleep Scentsations is going to be doing ANOTHER GIVEAWAY right here on my blog and this time it's for an 8-pack of Day At The Beach. Wow!! Some lucky winner will get a supply of this fabulous scent!

So stay tuned. The new giveaway will be announced soon. Make sure you're signed up for emails or rss feeds so that you know when to come and enter. Or heck, just come back every day to read my blog. You never know what you'll find. :)

Don't forget two current giveaways going on now -

Truvia natural zero-calorie sweetener 40-ct box ends 6/24

Sunglass Warehouse $20 GC ends 6/30

Get your entries in now. There are LOW ENTRIES on these two giveaways, so you have a very good chance of winning!

June 18, 2010

Celebrate Summer with Solo! Fun Photo Contest

Our friends at Solo are back this summer with their second annual Solo Online Photo Contest! And like last year, they are unveiling new must-have product just in time for summer barbecues. Solo Squared™ plates and bowls are the perfect complement to their popular Squared cup. These durable, single-use cups, plates and bowls cut down on clean-up time, which means more time for summer fun!

Speaking of fun, how does winning great prizes sound? The Solo Cup Company has launched their second annual online photo contest with a grand prize of $5,000 for the best photo featuring Solo products. You'll be able to enter your favorite photos at www.SoloCups4ever.com until August 6th. In addition to the grand prize, two $1,000 runner-up prizes will be awarded at the end of the contest. By entering, you'll also have the chance to win daily and weekly prizes of gift certificates and Solo products- a great way to extend the fun of summer well into the fall!

Entering is easy!

How to enter: During the promotion period, visit and login at WWW.SOLOCUPS4EVER.COM and follow the instructions to upload your photo and caption for the promotion. Entries must include an identifiable Solo Squared cup, plate or bowl, Solo Grips cup, Solo Ultra Color cups or Solo's Straight-walled cup.

Prizes:  Daily winners received a coupon for one (1) free package Solo product to be sent via US mail (approximate retail value: $4.00). Each weekly winner will receive one (1) $100 gift card (for a retailer of the winner's choice and approved by the sponsor). The grand prize winner will be awarded $5,000 USD. Two runner-up winners will each received $1,000 USD.

Get all the details at SoloCups4ever.com and get your camera and gang ready for some summer Solo fun!


June 17, 2010

National Adoption Month Twitter Party with Nia Vardalos!

Please join us for a very special Twitter event with actress, screenwriter, and motion picture director Nia Vardalos! She is also an adoptive mother.
On Wednesday, June 23rd at 1 pm Eastern (10 am Pacific time) we will welcome adoptive mom Nia Vardalos (@NiaVardalos) as she joins us for our next #AdoptUsKids Twitter chat about the importance of foster care and fostering to adopt.

Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated writer and actress, Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and her husband Ian adopted a little girl from the United States foster care system in 2008. When Nia began the fostering process, she did not know if she would be able to adopt her foster daughter. But when she moved forward with the adoption, she was surprised to find that the process was not as difficult as she anticipated - now she's here to help others learn about the fostering/fostering to adopt process!

Not only will Nia be sharing her experiences and answering questions, but experts from AdoptUsKids will also be available to answer your questions about foster care and adoption. AdoptUsKids works to increase public awareness about the urgent need for foster and adoptive families for children in foster care. They also support States, Territories and Tribes in their efforts to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children in foster care. AdoptUsKids is a project of the Children's Bureau of the Administration of Children and Families, U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services.

To learn more about adoption from foster care and how you can help spread the word about children in care waiting for forever families, please visit www.AdoptUsKids.org. To find children in your area, visit AdoptUsKids Child Search .

Again, please join us Wednesday, June 23rd from 1-2pm Eastern (10-11 am Pacific time)on Twitter. To participate, please follow @AdoptUsKids, @ResourcefulMom, and @NiaVardalos, and use the hashtag #AdoptUsKids. Facebook users may also wish to become a fan of AdoptUsKids at http://www.facebook.com/AdoptUsKids.

June 15, 2010

Truvia natural sweetener {review & giveaway}



I love trying new products, especially food products. I'm a big believer in samples. Everyone has their own opinion about what tastes good. That's fine. What would this world be like without variety? :)

For example, I can't stand the taste or smell of cantaloupe. Yeah, I know all you cantaloupe lovers out there are turning up your noses at me. {haha} But it's my personal preference. If you like it, fine. If I don't, fine. To each his/her own.

Same goes with artificial sweeteners. Some just taste better than others. Everyone responds to the taste and level of sweetness in different ways. To me, one packet of artificial sweetener is plenty enough for a small cup of coffee. Even too sweet, almost. But I have seen my brother open and spill 3 or 4 packets into that same coffee cup because that's the way he likes it. One packet isn't enough for him. Just watching him do that almost makes me gag{!} but hey, he's the one drinking it, not me.

So when I was offered the chance to try new Truvia natural non-caloric sweetener, I was excited. Artificial sweeteners to me taste...well, artificial. Truvia is made from rebiana which comes from the leaves of the stevia plant, so it's all natural. Stevia is a plant native to portions of northeastern Paraguay. It has been used to sweeten foods and beverages for more than 200 years. I wasn't exactly expecting a cane sugar taste, but I did expect more than an artificial sweetener taste.
I love my coffee in the morning! I usually use an artificial sweetener just to save calories, but often I'll use sugar just for the taste. When I opened my first packet of Truvia, I was delighted to see that it didn't look all powdery like artificial sweeteners, it actually looked like sugar, crystals and all. Great! I poured it into my cup and filled the cup with coffee. Oh, and a little cream too.

My first sip was... disappointing. Yes, I have to admit it. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Hard to describe...like nothing I've ever tasted before. But definitely not like sugar or any other artificial sweetener I've ever used. There was an aftertaste that I found unappealing.

The packets are supposed to be equivalent to 2 teaspoons of sugar each, but I found that for me it was more like 1 teaspoon, so I had to use two packets to get the level of sweetness I prefer (which, as I said earlier, is one packet of artificial sweetener - I shudder to think how many packets of Truvia my brother would have added!!). And that meant that the strange taste was amplified as well. I added some hazelnut-flavored coffee creamer and that helped a lot to blunt the Truvia taste for me, but still it was not a taste I liked very much.

But that's just my opinion. Everyone has one.

So while I won't be buying Truvia to use as a coffee or iced tea sweetener personally, I can definitely see its usefulness in cooking. Truvia natural sweetener is safe for people with diabetes, because it has no effect on the glycemic index (it does not raise or lower your blood sugar). It is also kosher certified. And Truvia rebiana is safe. Government agencies in the United States and around the world, including FDA and the World Health Organization, have recognized its safety.

So if you are concerned with the artificial taste of artificial sweeteners but want a sugar substitute that is safe for diabetics, give Truvia a try. You might like the taste. I don't like cantaloupes, remember? :)
Truvia is available in boxes of 40-count ($3.99), 80-count ($6.49) and 140-count ($10.99) packets at the respective suggested retail price and you can buy it at supermarkets like Kroger, Publix, SuperValu, Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant and Martin’s. You can also buy it at Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Target.

Truvia rebiana is also used as an ingredient in foods and beverages at the store. Current products include:

Glaceau vitaminwater10™ and vitaminwater zero™
Coca Cola Sprite® Green™
Odwalla® Reduced-Calorie Quencher
Kraft Crystal Light Pure Fitness
True® Lemon Naturally Sweet
Kraft Nature’s Splash®
All Sport Naturally Zero™
Hansen’s® Natural Lo-Cal Juices
Blue Sky® Free sodas
Minute Maid Premium® Pomegranate Tea
Breyers YoCrunch® 100 Calorie Pack
Velamints breath mints
Dippin’ Dots© ice cream

Hundreds of new products are in development, and will be available soon.

I tried Breyers YoCrunch 100 calorie pack yogurt and LOVED it! It is sweetened with Truvia, so there you go. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just don't like Truvia in my coffee. It seems to work fine for everything else, at least for me. But it's like anything else, I guess... some people like a lot of salt and pepper and some don't. I'm not a big ketchup fan, but my brother puts ketchup on everything from eggs to brownies.

I'm not kidding. That's my brother. I love him dearly but his "tastes" are definitely not my "tastes". So you'll have to decide for yourself if Truvia is what you have been looking for in a natural 0-calorie sweetener. You can get lots more information at Truvia.com.

~~GIVEAWAY~~

Luckily, you can try it for free because the Truvia people are going to give away one 40-count box of Truvia free to one of my readers!

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries, or they will not count. I check each and every entry, and if I can't verify the entry, it will be deleted from the competition before I determine the winner through Random.org so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you, otherwise the entry will not count. Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.

~~Mandatory~~
In a comment below, tell me how you would use Truvia.

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see sidebar)

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady leave your Twitter id.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

New giveaway at Shady Lady: Truvia natural zero-calorie sweetener {review & giveaway}: http://bit.ly/cEVkYi @tnshadylady Pls RT

 TEN ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see sidebar)

FIVE ENTRIES if you get my email and/or rss feed. Tell me what email and/or reader you used. Five entries for each one.

FIFTEEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Thursday June 24, 2010. Giveaway open to US residents only. (Truvia is not yet available in Canada - sorry!) Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen. I will provide winner's mailing address to the sponsor, who is responsible for prize fulfillment.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of Truvia gratis in exchange for providing this unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

June 13, 2010

Step Into Summer giveaways beginning soon!



GoGrahamGo and JollyMom are teaming up to bring you some super fun summer giveaways beginning June 21st!

What's summer without a favorite road trip story? Mine is the time my sister and I went to Tampa to visit relatives and coming back, instead of taking the Interstate, we took the scenic coastal road. Imagine our delight when we stopped at a stop light and looked up to see that the street intersecting ours was "Follow That Dream Parkway"!

Of course nothing would do but that we had to make a slight detour. Being Elvis fans, we knew this could only mean one thing... and we were right! We found the very beach where Elvis filmed "Follow That Dream"! We had no idea it was there, and if we hadn't stopped for the stoplight we would never have seen the sign.

Don't you love little adventures like that?! Share yours!

Sleep Scentsations - aromatherapy pillow liners! {review & giveaway}



If you've followed my blog at all, you know how I adore fragrance! Everything from perfume to scented candles to room spray to aromatherapy pillow liners.

What? You haven't heard of aromatherapy pillow liners? Well, don't be embarrassed. It's a new concept developed by Sleep Scentsations. You'll be hearing more about this, I'm sure, because this is one idea that nearly everyone can agree on!


"Sleep Scentsations aromatherapy pillow liners are thin, soft liners infused with essential oils and fragrance oils that will not stain your bed linens. When placed on your pillow, underneath the pillowcase, you will enjoy a relaxing scent that will lull you to sleep."

It's absolutely true.

I was provided a couple of Sleep Scentsations pillow liners in order to do this review. I received White Tea & Lily and My Boyfriend's Shirt.

I decided to try the White Tea & Lily first (saving the best for last!). Using the pillow liner is a breeze. Each one comes individually wrapped in a foil-like package to preserve the scent. When you open it, you immediately smell the wonderful scent. The liner itself looks something like a thin panty-liner, only about ten times the size. It has a light adhesive backing that makes it stick to your pillow without shifting.


Directions:
1. Open the packet and peel the protective backing from the liner.
2. Apply the liner onto the pillow underneath the pillowcase.
3. Once scent diminishes, remove and replace with a new liner.

And that's it. Couldn't be easier!

As I said, I tried the White Tea & Lily first and wow, I was amazed at how well I could smell it through the pillowcase without it being strong or overwhelming. The White Tea & Lily scent is sweet and gentle and almost like powder, very soothing and pleasing. There was definitely a smile on my face as my head hit the pillow and the scent was there waiting for me. Falling asleep with a smile and such a comforting scent filling your nose is heaven!

This went on for about three or four days, then I began to notice that the scent was diminishing. The package says it should typically last for 4 to 7 days. After 4 days, I could tell the scent was becoming weaker, but I left it on my pillow until I could barely smell it anymore, and it was exactly 7 days.

When I pulled it off to apply the next scent to review, there was still a lot of scent left on the liner. So I doubled it, pressing the adhesive sides together, and tossed it into my lingerie drawer. It isn't strong enough now to really scent anything in there, but I couldn't bear to throw it away when there was still some scent left!

Next I tried My Boyfriend's Shirt. The package describes it like this: "now you will feel like he is sleeping beside you as you enjoy his sultry scent". Wow. That is NOT an overstatement at all! This scent smells like HIM. I wanted to cuddle my pillow all night!

{ahem} There is no "boyfriend" or HIM in my life right now, so the experience was a bit strange for me, I'll admit. It actually made me crave closeness with a man. Talk about sensual! Their website describes it best - "Like the scent of his favorite shirt, enjoy the sexy blend of musk, jasmine and sandalwood." Oh yeah!! I like it, but if you're a single woman like me, beware--it might make you just a wee bit lonesome for some male company!

The scent was not strong at all. In fact, I daresay I would have liked it a little stronger. I had to press my nose into my pillowcase to be able to smell it. While the White Tea & Lily seemed to envelop my whole head with its gentle smell, My Boyfriend's Shirt was quite the opposite. Just like pressing your man's shirt to your face to inhale his scent, that's the way I had to do my pillow to get the smell.

And after only using it for one night, I can already tell that the scent is fading away. This one might not last 3 days, much less 4 to 7. Maybe I just got a bad one? It happens. Someone else may get a liner that emits the scent for several days. I envy them! :)

Anyway, these products are fantastic and I am definitely going to be buying some of these. Can't wait to try the other scents:

RELAXING LAVENDER - Classic blend of lavender, bergamot, chamomile and cedarwood essential oils to help you unwind.

DAY AT THE BEACH - Feel like you are falling asleep on your beach towel with the scents of the ocean air, warm sand and suntan lotion.

FRESH CUT GRASS - Fall asleep to the pleasant memories of a spring day and the scent of freshly cut grass in the air.

GINGER & AMBER - Create a sense of calm and relaxation with the warm blend of white ginger and amber.

SHANGHAI NIGHTS - This delicate floral blossom scent, laced with a hint of musk, transports you into the serenity of an Oriental Garden.

SNORE Rx - A therapeutic blend of essential oils formulated to suppress snoring and provide a more restful nights sleep.

Don't they all sound wonderful?! I can't wait to try the whole product catalog!

You can buy boxes of each scent with 8 liners for only $19.99. And if you're like me and want to try them all, there's a PLEASANT DREAMS collection. Enjoy a variety of scents and experience a sleep like no other. Collection includes: 2 each of Relaxing Lavender and White Tea & Lily and 1 each of Day at the Beach, Fresh Cut Grass, Ginger & Amber, Shanghai Nights, My Boyfriends Shirt and SnoreRx. 10 LINERS PRICE: $24.99

If they help you get a good night's sleep, they are worth every penny. Go check out the Sleep Scentsations website. I know you'll be placing an order just like me!

~~GIVEAWAY~~

Sleep Scentsations is giving one lucky reader a free Pleasant Dreams Collection of 10 liners so you can try them all! Lucky you!!

Entering is easy. Please do the mandatory first step before doing the extra entries, or they will not count. I check each and every entry, and if I can't verify the entry, it will be deleted from the competition before I determine the winner through Random.org so please make sure you use the same username, name, and/or email address for each entry, or tell me how to identify you, otherwise the entry will not count. Thank you for adhering to these giveaway rules.

~~Mandatory~~
In a comment below, tell me which
Sleep Scentsations aromatherapy pillow liner
you are most anxious to try.

Extra entries - please leave separate comments for each:

FIVE ENTRIES if you follow my blog with Google Friend Connect. (see sidebar)

THREE ENTRIES if you follow me on Twitter @tnshadylady leave your Twitter id.

DAILY ENTRY - Tweet this giveaway and leave a link to your tweet. Feel free to copy and paste:

New giveaway at Shady Lady: Sleep Scentsations - aromatherapy pillow liners! {review & giveaway}: http://bit.ly/9TktPv @tnshadylady Pls RT

 TEN ENTRIES if you follow me with Networked Blogs. (see sidebar)

FIVE ENTRIES if you get my email and/or rss feed. Tell me what email and/or reader you used. Five entries for each one.

FIFTEEN ENTRIES - Help me spread the word! Post this giveaway on your own blog or giveaway site or other social networking site. Leave me a link so I can verify.

Giveaway closes midnight CST Sunday June 20, 2010. Giveaway open to US and Canada residents only. Winner will be chosen by Random.org and notified by email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond, or another winner will be chosen. I will provide winner's mailing address to the sponsor, who is responsible for prize fulfillment.

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of Sleep Scentsations pillow liners gratis in exchange for providing this unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

June 9, 2010

A chance at $200 courtesy of Flip Video and Blogher!



To introduce the new SlideHD, Flip Video and Blogher are hosting a giveaway and you've got FIVE chances to win $200 that you can put toward a video camera of your own!

Visit each of these blogs to enter -

Jenny On The Spot

Fraase Family

Confessions of a Young Married Couple

Finding Bonggamom

Doobleh-vay

June 4, 2010

Homemade quesadillas - in an electric skillet! {review}


I love eating out, don't you? I love tasting different dishes and seeing how professional cooks season and present their best. But what I love most about eating out is... not having to cook! :)

But guess what...that changed when I got my new Presto 16" electric skillet courtesy of CSN Stores. I LOVE IT!!
(sorry for the glare - darn flash!)

I love this skillet and I love CSN Stores! They have everything you could possibly want. When I was invited to review a product from CSN, I knew immediately what I wanted to review. You see, I have no kitchen stove. Well, let me put it this way - only two of the four rangetop burners work and both of them are the teeny-tiny small ones. Try boiling a stock pot of pasta or frying chicken in a big skillet on one of those tiny burners. Doesn't work, does it?

So I'd been thinking for a while about purchasing an electric skillet. CSN came to my rescue! My new Presto is just fabulous. And did you catch the size? 16" ain't small! SIXTEEN INCHES! You can fry TWO chickens in this thing! You can make a dozen silver-dollar pancakes at a time. I was craving Rice-A-Roni the other night and one package looked so lonesome in this big ol' skillet that I ended up cooking two packages at once. With no problems whatsoever! Love it!!

Tonight I had a craving for homemade quesadillas. Yeah, try doing THAT on a tiny stove burner! First I browned some hamburger meat -
Just so you know, that's almost three pounds of ground chuck in the skillet. And there's still plenty of room for more. I cooked it until done at about 350-400 degrees (yes, there's a temp control on the skillet).

Next, I drained off all the fat and removed the browned beef. Then I plopped a flour tortilla into the skillet and didn't add a smidgen of oil. There was enough fat from the beef still coating the skillet so that I didn't have to add anything else. And when Presto says "non-stick", they mean non-stick! I've practically burnt stuff in this skillet and nothing stuck. Nothing. Anyway, here's my tortilla in the skillet -
Cook it to your desired brownness and crispiness. I happen to like mine well done and crispy, so I turned the skillet temp up to 400 for this part. Brown it on both sides, then remove it and add another flour tortilla. When you've browned one side of that and turned it over, that's the time to start adding whatever your favorite quesadilla fillings are.
I added some refried beans to the tortilla, then topped that with the browned chuck, then topped it all with shredded cheese. You might like to use shredded chicken instead of beef, or mozzarella instead of cheddar. That's the beauty of homemade quesadillas - make 'em how you like 'em! Then put the other tortilla on top and mash down gently.

At this point, I usually turn the skillet completely off and put the top on it for about two or three minutes. This insures that all ingredients get warmed through and the cheese melts, without continuing to cook the tortilla that's on the bottom. When ready, remove it to a plate, cut into eighths with a pizza cutter (I knew that gadget would come in handy one day for something besides just pizza!) and add a little salsa if you like.

And voila!
Perfect! And I guarantee as good as anything you'd get in a restaurant! Couldn't be easier. Try it sometime! Oh, and for you math majors out there, yeah, I know the picture only shows seven slices instead of eight. I snitched one before I could take the photo. Couldn't resist!! :)

Next up I think I'll make country-fried pork steaks. Just fry them up the way you like them, then remove them for a moment. Add a little flour to the oil in the skillet, stir it around until it browns nicely, then add about a cup of water or to your desired thickness. Instant gravy! Sometimes at this point I'll return the fried pork steaks to the skillet with the gravy and let it all simmer gently for about fifteen minutes. You won't believe how tender the meat will be! It will just melt in your mouth! Maybe I'll do that this weekend and take pictures so I can show off my culinary skills. :)

The whole point is it doesn't take culinary skills to be a decent cook at home. You need the right equipment - that stupid cookstove wasn't going to cut it, so I got something that would - the Presto 16" electric skillet from CSN Stores. And would you believe it is only $41.99?! List price is $52.99, and it would be worth every penny of that. But you can always count on CSN to give you better value for your shopping dollar.

One other thing I LOVE about the Presto 16" electric skillet is that the top doesn't warp. Remember those older electric skillets with the metal tops that warped and after a few uses they no longer fit on the skillet? What a pain. Well, that's no longer a problem with this jewel. The top is made of some kind of hard plastic that won't warp under high heat like metal will. Just one more reason to love this baby!

So now that I'm getting my kitchen needs taken care of, I'm thinking of other parts of my home that I can improve by shopping online at CSN Stores. I'm in desperate need of a corner tv stand, because there is only one place in my tiny living room where I can put the tv, DVD player, game console, etc. and it's right in a corner. Now I just have to decide how much my budget can stretch, because CSN has so many choices it's impossible to choose!!

I'm leaning toward this one -
- because that's about all I have to put on a tv stand at the moment. But I also like this one -
- because it just looks classy. :) And I like having the components behind glass doors when not in use. Now if I could just afford a big screen tv like that... hey, CSN, how about letting me do a tv review!!

Asking too much??

Oh well, it never hurts to ask... :)


Disclaimer: I was provided a sample gratis in exchange for providing this unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.

Summertime is Frozen Treat Time!



Jen at Whole Food Kids, 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven, 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time, Mega-Family Blogs, and life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day, is giving away a Zoku 7-Minute Pop Maker!

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And just in case you don't know any awesome Popsicle recipes, she's throwing in THIS book, too!

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This entire package is worth over $60! To enter, go HERE.

Father's Day initiative - get a check-up, Dad!

My father was experiencing fatigue and general pain about six months ago and we finally talked him into going to the doctor. Turned out he had advanced leukemia. While the doctors were trying to build his strength back up enough to begin cancer treatment, it was discovered that his kidneys were cancerous as well. One kidney had to be removed, and four months later he passed away from total renal failure.

It's useless to play the "what if" game, but I can't help but think that he might still be with us if he had gone for regular physical check-ups, instead of waiting until there was a problem. By the time there is a problem that causes a man who never goes to the doctor to actually go to the doctor... it's usually too late.

Did you know that new research has found that men are 31 percent less likely than women to have visited a doctor within the past year? In fact, men report making fewer routine health care appointments compared with women (56.5 percent vs. 73.8 percent).

What can you do to help? Glad you asked. :)

Send the men in your life this new e-card for Father’s Day (http://www.dadtothedoc.org)

Ask your husband, father, brother, etc. to take the health quiz (http://www.ahrq.gov/healthymen/quiz.htm)

Encourage the men you know to visit ahrq.gov/healthymen, which provides recommended ages for preventive medical tests, a health care quiz designed to test knowledge of preventive health care, tips for talking with doctors, a glossary of consumer health terms, and links to online resources to find more medical information.

Dads, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and go now to get a check-up. Please don't wait until a problem appears. We want you to be around for yourself and your family for a long, long time.


Happy Father's Day!




June 3, 2010

Personalized fragrance from ScentCrafters - {review}


I love fragrance! Perfume, cologne, body spray, room spray, scented candles, anything and everything that has a delightful smell is a delight to my nose. The term "aromatherapy" resonates with me. Not that I actually use "aromatherapy" on any kind of regular basis. But my favorite fragrances always lift my mood and soothe my spirit.

I love to smell myself. Wait...that didn't come out quite right. :) What I meant is I love to smell my perfume when I'm wearing it. I hope I don't offend anyone else if my scent is too strong, but I want it strong enough that I can smell it constantly. You'll often catch me lifting my wrist to my nose during the day, just to remind myself that my scent is still there and to indulge in the delightful feelings that the fragrance creates for me by just smelling it.

Am I alone in this? Or are some of you the same way?

I'll forgo dinner out just so I can restock my favorite perfume. I'll pass on the new pair of jeans and head straight for the perfume counter. It's almost an obsession with me. I have my favorites, of course, but I love getting samples and trying new scents. You never know when you'll find your next favorite scent!

So you can imagine my excitement when ScentCrafters agreed to let me review their product. Oh, you haven't heard of ScentCrafters? Where have you been?? :) Just kidding! ScentCrafters and their sister site ScentMatchers provide you with an experience you won't find anywhere else. ScentMatchers claims to be able to replicate your favorite scent, even if it's no longer being produced. They have a vast database of scents and their respective fragrance notes, so if you're looking for an alternative to a nostalgic scent, give them a try.
But if you're looking for a scent package that is uniquely your own, give ScentCrafters a try. Placing an order is easy, and their website walks you through every step of the process. After clicking on "Craft A Scent Now!" and then "proceed" -

Page 1. You will see a list of scents, pick your favorite scent then hit "NEXT" at the bottom of the page.

Page 2. Choose one of our scent recipes based on your favorite scent, or create your own. To select one of our suggested recipes hit "CHOOSE"

Page 3. Pick a name, color, and bottle for your fragrance. Also upload a picture if you like. Hit "NEXT"

Page 4: This page summarizes your order and lists the price ($39.99). Hit "SUBMIT" and you will receive your custom fragrances in the mail.

And that's it! Simple! ScentCrafters gave me the opportunity to place an order for perfume so I could do this review. It couldn't have been easier! I simply chose my favorite scent base - my favorite happens to be Egyptian Musk. Yours may be Frangipani, Baby Powder, or Strawberry, whatever. Click Next.

Then they give you the option of choosing a "recipe" of recommended notes that will complement and work perfectly with your chosen scent base. Select one of the recipes that appeals to you, or alternatively you can choose to add your own additional notes. This is what I chose to do, so that I could give you a better review of the process.

Next, I selected up to 4 additional scents that would be added to my Egyptian Musk base scent. The whole idea was to create a fragrance that would be uniquely my own. So, since I love orientals, I chose Amber Dark, Chypre, and Sandalwood. But I wanted to add just a little something extra so that it wouldn't be so "heavy", so I added Honeysuckle as my 4th scent. Yeah, I went all out. :)

Next comes the really fun part! You get to name your new scent and choose a bottle shape and top. The bottle printing is really high quality. They can even do a logo. This would be a terrific gift for bridesmaids and bridegrooms and you could commemorate the occasion with your own personal printing! Love it! I also love that you get to choose your own bottle style and top, even the color of the perfume. I chose clear, but you could choose pink, light blue, or light yellow as well. You can also designate it as a perfume for women, men, or unisex.
After that, you get a page that shows your selection and bottle choice so you can double check everything before you place your final order. Ordering is easy too. And you'll get a shipping notification when your order is shipped so you can track it until delivery. They also offer a terrific bonus - after your first order, you get a password and then you can come back as a preferred customer and get a great discount on reorders or new orders! They even keep track of what you ordered previously so you can restock as necessary and save money doing it!

When I received my scent, I couldn't wait to see what they had done with my fragrance choices. I wasn't disappointed. I could definitely smell the Egyptian Musk base note as well as the sandalwood, amber dark and chypre. The only thing I might do differently next time is swap the honeysuckle note for something else. I love honeysuckle by itself, but in this particular combination, it just didn't work for me.

Or perhaps I'll take ScentCrafters' recommendations of what would go best with my base of Egyptian Musk. I mean, let's face it, this is my very first attempt at "creating" my own unique fragrance, so I'm only disappointed in my lack of education as to what scents mix best with what. I was not disappointed with ScentCrafters at all. They produce a splendid product that will more than satisfy your expectations.

I would only caution you, however, that if you decide to "create" your own blend, you must be prepared if the end result isn't quite what you anticipated. A good knowledge of what blends well with what would be a good idea to avoid any kind of disappointment. After all, when you choose your own notes, ScentCrafters is only following your instructions, right? By the way, did I mention they also offer a 30-day money back guarantee? Yep, that's right. If you are dissatisfied with your results, you can return the bottles within 30 days for a refund. So you really have nothing to lose.

The price is reasonable too. $39.99 for a 3.4 oz bottle. The 3.4 oz. bottle is known as a large bottle in the fragrance industry. Priority Shipping (2-3 day delivery) is only $6.99. And if you're a repeat customer, you get a nice discount.

Everything you receive is of the highest quality. The fragrance comes in an Italian glass bottle with custom printing. The scents themselves are made from only the highest quality natural ingredients.
For bulk orders please e-mail bulkorders@scentcrafters.com for special pricing. Bulk orders are perfect for birthdays, weddings, and other special events. Also GIFT CERTIFICATES are available by e-mailing support@scentcrafters.com

I'm thinking of giving a ScentCrafters gift certificate to my sister for her birthday. That way she could get just the fragrance she wants, and even get to name it herself! And what about that guy you just can't find a gift for? Guys love fragrance too, and knowing that this is your own unique fragrance makes anyone feel special!

Disclaimer: I was provided a sample gratis in exchange for providing this unbiased review of the product. No other monetary consideration was involved, and my review was not influenced in any way.