Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

Category: Product Reviews (Page 2 of 2)

Mommy’s Must-Haves #2

This month has been absolutely exhausting. The good news is that we have lots of potentially awesome things going on (more on this later!). The bad news is that I’ve had zero time to blog! I have made some improvements in the kitchen as well as in our medicine cabinets that I’ve been wanting to share. Check them out:

1. Earth Pans by Ozeri – I love a good non-stick frying pan. If you’re in a hurry (or in our case, when Dilan fusses for breakfast on a Sunday morning), there’s really no faster way to fry eggs or make pancakes. I use our frying pans more than any other pans because they’re so easy to create one-pan dishes in as well. My big beef with non-stick pans are the chemicals that they’re coated with. Enter the Earth Pans by Ozeri. They’re 100% PFOA-free. What does that mean? They contain no PerFluoroOctanoic Acid, or for us normal people, no nasty chemicals found in traditional cookware that can enter your food. The best part about these pans is that they’re AWESOME and work as well as I had hoped for. A HUGE thank you to my eldest sister for Priming these for me for my birthday!

2. Anil has had a crush on Josie Maran ever since I’ve known him – all of 14 years. I get it, she’s pretty, she’s a supermodel bla bla bla…but who knew she would one day help me get smoother skin?! I still love the Clarins products, but wanted to temporarily switch to face products with less ingredients in them. The main reason is that I’ve had a lot of break-outs lately and just want to stick to some natural products for a while to see if these would help me clear up my skin. It’s still work in progress, but I LOVE Josie Maran’s 100% Pure Argan Oil light and her Pure Argan Milk. Excellent moisturizers and you only need a few drops of either one every night. It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to moisturize if you already have oily or blotchy skin. Just a few drops of these have prevented my skin from completely getting out of control. Maybe it will all clear up soon. These are pricey, but well worth the money, at least temporarily.

3. Another great kitchen improvement, guys! You may have heard me talk about the Boone high chair and how much we love it. Easy cleanup and it’s SO stylish. Dilan’s been growing (mostly vertically) pretty steadily, though, so it was time for us to move on to…the Prince Lionheart booster seat. My friend Jenny has this at home as well, so I got to see it at her house before getting it. GREAT seat and SO easy to clean as well. He’s been doing great in it and is so proud of washing his hands himself and then walking over to the booster to eat his meal. Highly recommended. Again, not the cheapest, but well worth the money. Or, if you can borrow this from someone, even better!

So this is what I’ve been splurging on enjoying this month. What products have you really adored lately?

 

The Juice is Loose

Yeah you read that right. We’ve been juicing! Anil really is the best hubs ever and decided to get me a belated Valentine’s day present last month. This is awesome for two reasons: 1) We don’t even exchange Valentine’s day gifts because there’s rarely a good sale on anything around that time and 2) I got a Breville juicer!! I feel like we’re the last people in the first world to get a juicer, but hey, it’s been amazing. Life changing is really more like it. So far, we’ve juiced mixes of carrots, green apples, kale, celery, sweet potato, cilantro, ginger, and zucchini.

The main benefit of juicing? You get nutrients delivered directly to your bloodstream. And you can feel this: every day that we’ve juiced, we have felt a jolt of energy and have not touched caffeine of any kind throughout the day. It’s so cleansing and you just feel so fresh and energetic. It’s also pretty cool to throw in an entire apple without having to cut it. It’s magic.

Breville Juicer

The main downside of juicing? Because a professional juicer takes out all the flesh and skins of fruits and veggies you lose out on fiber and need to make sure that you’re adding that back into your diet some other way. If you juice too many fruits, you may also be getting too much sugar directly into your bloodstream, which is why we stick to mostly veggies. Now the juicer is great, but it takes a lot of work to clean it up and we weren’t crazy about the fact that you’re not getting fiber from all the produce. So now, we mainly juice on the weekends, when we have a little more time to spare in the morning. For weekdays…

Blendtec

Enter the Blendtec. Smoothies give you the fiber you need and keep you fuller longer since they’re slower to digest. There’s also only one jar and lid to clean. Problem solved. We have an old (15+ years?) blender in our cabinet, but it’s no match for the Blendtec. When you start researching blenders, you’ll soon find that the Vitamix and the Blendtec are the top 2 high end blenders on the market. They’re both highly reviewed (and pricey), but we went for the Blendtec for several reasons: the Blendtec allows you to simply add your ingredients, close the jar, push a button and sit back. With the Vitamix, you may have to push down the food or may have to switch speeds. Small extra steps, but important ones. We also read some complaints about the jar being so tall that it did not fit under standard kitchen cabinets. This may have been fixed, though. The Blendtec also comes with a touch interface and is touted as “the iPhone of blenders”. Switches may last longer, but we’re suckers for clean designs. We were sold and have been making smoothies almost every single day since. Even soon-to-be 18 months Dilan participates. We usually feed him a protein or non-GMO cereal alongside the smoothie or juice, but as soon as he hears the sound of the Blendtec, he wants in. It’s a great way to sneak in extra fruits and veggies. As health nut and foodie parents, we just love this. We cut up fruits and veggies the night before and ta daa, breakfast is done in minutes. I used to bake breakfast breads for the week on Sundays, but smoothies and juice have now replaced these.

Stay tuned for our favorite smoothie and juice recipe making their way to the blog soon. Cheers!

Mommy’s Must-Haves #1

As many other moms, I’m constantly looking for new and nerdy items that make our lives a bit easier, healthier, and better. All with a nod to not breaking the bank either. Sounds like the start of a cheesy commercial, but I’m serious :-) Here are a few items that I’ve absolutely been loving lately:

Re-Play Plates & Bowls

These plates and bowls are made from recycled milk jugs! Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE green and eco-friendly products. These are totally in line with my tree-hugger philosophies and are a breeze to clean at the same time. Top rack dishwasher safe. Yeah baby. The best part is that they make Dilan’s food look even more colorful. They’re oh so hard to break too, which is great for when the bowls and plates hit the floor at the end of every a meal. Primed them from Amazon, of course.

re-play plate

Bumkins Super Bibs

We’ve tried many different types of bibs these past 17 months and these are definitely the best ones for when solids start. They’re flexible and soft, have pockets to catch all the little bits and pieces of food that are bound to fall when your little one is self-feeding, are waterproof and machine washable! Score. We even toss them in the dryer, though I don’t know if we’re supposed to. Oh well, it works for us. These also come in awesome Dr. Seuss designs. Cute and colorful. Don’t just buy 3 of them, though, buy a ton. You’re going to need them. I got mine from Amazon, but think other baby stores sell them as well. Adorable, right?

bumkins bibs

Clarins Creams

Enough about toddler meals. Let’s talk about mommy. After 31 years and a rascal baby, I still don’t have a single gray hair on my head. I probably just jinxed myself and will find one next week, but I will bask in the glow of youth while I can. I’m allowed to brag about this because the one sign of aging I do have are…wrinkles :-( About six months ago, my older sister and mom gave me Clarins extra firming day and night creams for my birthday. I’ve always had oily skin, so didn’t think I would need creams, out of all things. They’re pretty pricey too. I don’t spend much money on cosmetics and hardly ever wear make up. Not because I don’t need it, but mainly because I’m lazy. I switched over to completely natural cosmetics while I was pregnant, so had not used anything mainstream in a long time either. Clearly, I was skeptical about these creams, but six months later, I am absolutely loving how smooth and firm my skin and neck area are. They’re absolutely amazing and I would highly recommend them if you’re starting to show signs of…dare I say it…aging.

clarins

And with that…time for this old lady to hit the sack!

Happy Crisps

Why My Son is a Happy Tot

I’m so excited!! Happy Family gave me the opportunity to review a bunch of wonderful organic super foods. I did not hesitate to run out to Target to use their free coupons and stock up on some wonderful goodies for Dilan. Here’s what he thought about each product. It was super nice of Happy Family to give us some free food to sample and here’s how you can get the same. Don’t forget to do the following:

1. LIKE the HAPPYFAMILY Facebook Page

2. Follow Happy Family on Twitter @HappySuperFoods 3.

Follow Happy Family on Pinterest

4. Follow Happy Family on Instagram 

5. Enter your info in the box at the very end of this post for:

Your chance to win a Happiest Toddler Package (1 year – 3T) , a $25 value!

 

Happy Tot Toddler Meal Bowl – Organic Vegetable Ravioli

I decided to try this meal on a busy weeknight. It’s actually perfect for a night like that because there’s no washing, chopping, or cooking needed to feed this to your tot. The meal comes fully cooked and you simply microwave and serve it. At first, Dilan poked around a few times to get familiar with what I put in front of him. He then starting picking out the peas…the boy loves peas. I decided to help him out and spoon fed him a few times. That’s all it took to get him going. He finished about half of the meal, so I saved the rest for later. I can’t say that he was crazy about the meal, but he ate enough of it to serve it again. I did taste a spoon or two myself. My first thought was that it could use some more salt. Given how cautious we are with giving Dilan too much salt to eat, I think that the salt content was probably appropriate for a toddler, so no complaints there. There are a ton of ingredients listed, but at least I knew what every single ingredient on the package was. I’ll be buying a few of these again. I love freshly cooked meals, but this is just perfect for those nights when all you have time for is to push a few buttons on the microwave. I think we can all think of an evening like that.

veg ravioli

Happy Yogis Yogurt & Fruit Snacks – Banana Mango

I think our opinion of this product is best captured by my tweets about it:

Happy Tweet

I’m not kidding when I say that you need to get up right now and get at least two bags of these. That’s what I did after I finished one bag myself. We fed these yogurt snacks to Dilan about an hour after he had breakfast. He was playing around and was still in pajamas when we put a small bowl of these in front of him. He devoured them and “asked” for more. I love two things about these snacks in particular: they are super duper healthy and they’re not messy at all! They have some added sugar, but not much compared to most other baby/toddler snacks I have seen (and don’t buy). The amount of sugar for one serving is about a third of that in a single-serve carton of unflavored yogurt that you would feed your child. Considering that Dilan rarely gets a sugar loaded treat, I was ok with this. The Yogis also don’t crumble easily and don’t leave stains on the carpet. I took a mental note to keep a bag in the car. May make a tiring evening commute a bit more pleasant :-)

Happy Yogis

Happy Munchies Veggie & Fruit Crisps – Banana, Beet & Blueberry Crisps

Bananas and blueberries are among Dilan’s top favorite fruits, so it was almost guaranteed that he would love these. He did. Unlike the yogis, these are a bit messy, because there are beets in here. We fed these to him while he was in his high chair and did have to wipe it down afterwards. The stains came out easily, though. I love the texture of these gluten-free snacks. They’re crispy, but not crunchy to the point where there are little pieces that your child can choke on. They’re the right texture for a toddler and really delicious as well. I think that next time, we’ll try the spinach & apple flavor.

Happy Crisps

Happy Tot Morning – Banana, Blueberry, Yogurt & Oats

As I mentioned before, anything with bananas and blueberries is usually a go for Dilan. He actually was not crazy about this at first, but did end up eating the entire pouch. I tried two spoons myself and like the fact that the flavor of this mix is quite mellow. Not too overbearing and you don’t taste too much of any of the ingredients. Dilan is a big breakfast eater, so this was a great addition to his usual finger food breakfast. And who says that this just has to be served for breakfast? I think this would work great as a snack or for brinner (breakfast for dinner – my favorite meal!) as well. I love that it contains a good dose of Omega-3s, which are not abundant in most foods. All in all, a wholesome breakfast choice when you’re on-the-go or in addition to finger foods.

Happy Morning2

Happy Tot Toddler Bar – Honey Grain Sunbutter

Dilan ate this bar after a meal, kind of as his dessert. He is not one of those tots who automatically likes everything that’s sweet, so I wasn’t sure how feeding him this bar would go. He ended up loving it, though I did have to cut down the bar into smaller pieces. He’s still working on those molars, so be careful to not serve pieces that are too big when you feed this to your toddler. The bar itself is delicious. It reminds me of a Rice Krispie Treat without all the bad stuff and with brown rice instead. It’s a great gluten free option that I will probably buy for myself as well in the future  ;-). Sunbutter is great because it doesn’t have quite the allergy risk that peanut butter does. Pretty yummy and healthy bar!

Happy Tot Bar

Happy Tot Banana, Peach, Prune & Coconut 

Our coupons also covered the cost of four Happy Tot pouches. I buy these regularly as well. Toddlers can be so fickle when it comes to eating, that I usually throw in a pouch with dinner and weekend lunches. If the fruits and veggies we serve aren’t the biggest hit with Dilan, we can at least count on him getting adequate nutrition through one of these pouches. Dilan’s favorite is the Spinach, Mango, and Pear. He eats it at least a few times a week. His other favorites are the Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple & Cinnamon and the Pumpkin, Sweet Potato & Pear. All solid choices that are not too overwhelming in flavor. This time around, we decided to try something new, so we went for the Banana, Peach, Prune & Coconut. I can keep writing about this, or just share the picture below, which pretty much says it all :-)

Happy Banana Coconut

Don’t forget to enter your info below to take part in the sweepstakes for the Happiest Toddler Package. Thanks so much, Happy Family, for giving parents everywhere easy, nutritious, and organic options that take the guesswork out of healthy feeding. Needless to say, our little Dilan is an extremely Happy Tot! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Trello: My Favorite Mom App

If you’ve been following our Tweets, you know that Anil and I are pretty crazy about Trello: my favorite mom app. It’s a collaboration tool, aimed at making the management of projects more agile. Anil uses this at ArchiveSocial and although not required, I have been using it at work to manage my day-to-day tasks.

I always admire moms who keep every little detail about everything in their heads. It didn’t take me long to realize that I’m not one of those people. As a startup founder wife, I’m responsible for the vast majority of our household tasks, child rearing, and finances right now. That’s ok. I approach it all with the best attitude I have to give. I signed up for it. The tides will turn at some point. Sometimes I even feel like I’m ROCKING it in all my worlds, not just at work.  And then someone points out that Dilan’s nails really need to be cut and I feel like the world’s most disorganized mom again.

It’s difficult for ANY mom to keep track of it all. The good news is, this doesn’t mean that you have to walk around like you still have pregnancy brain. Trello’s iPhone app will keep you in check. It’s wonderful in so many ways and you HAVE TO check it out for yourself. It’s free to sign up and start using it. Not convinced that you need it? Well, let me tell you how it inspired Anil and I to start using it at home and for the baby too!

Trello: My Favorite Mom App

Trello: My Favorite Mom App

Freezer meal organization: For a super energetic 12 month old, and working-24-7-daddy-and-mommy, freezer meals become pretty darn important. We rely on frozen meals (mostly home cooked ones and leftovers, though we’re no strangers to the occasional store-bought pizza) at least a few times a week. I initially pictured coming home from work and peacefully cooking dinner while my son would keep himself entertained with his toys. I’ll pause for a moment to allow you to laugh and catch your breath. Nothing wrong with healthy freezer meals in my book. They do need organization, though.  Enter Trello and ta daa! All of a sudden you have boards for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and freezer supplies. Kind of like your own Pinterest without the pics. We add dates and checklists for multiple items and archive or delete meals as we eat them. Not sure what to pack for lunch for tomorrow? Simply check the lunch Trello board to see what’s available. We even add descriptions of what type of containers we store the food in. It takes 30 seconds to record a new item. No brainer.

Deal voucher log: You know all those Groupons and LivingSocial deals you have? If you’re like us, you buy quite a few of those and if you’re not careful, it’s pretty easy to lose track of them. We started a “Deal voucher” board just to keep track of these. We enter in expiration dates and move the used ones to the “Done” board when they’ve been used. Saves time and especially money!

Home stuff: I know this sounds so general, but there are always things to do around the house. Whether it’s ordering a new sports coat for an upcoming conference or fixing a leaky faucet in the bathroom, we store all those little to-dos here so that they get out of our heads and into our virtual brains: the Trello boards and cards. On our home Trello board for this month? Re-organizing our coat closet, getting our AC vents cleaned out, and planning what we’re doing on the only two weekends that we have left this year when Anil is not traveling or we’re not supposed to go see friends or family. Yikes!

People and gifts: This board literally saved me during maternity leave earlier this year. With a newborn, you get tons of gifts from people (which is SO awesome). That also means a load of hand-written thank you cards, emails, and at the very least, a Facebook message or Twitter mention. Hey, we’re two GEN-Yers, so we can get away with that, right? :-). Trello helped me keep track of those outstanding thank-yous and gifts that had to be purchased for others. Wonderful. I know some of you are thinking about how you never received anything from me now. The solution? Please comment on this post so I can add a card for an apology note to this Trello board! 😀

That about wraps it up. I did some Googling to find out how others use Trello and found this post on the Trello blog: http://blog.trello.com/how-do-you-use-trello-contest-winners/. Darn! Next time, we’re entering the contest! If you use Trello, we would love to find out how it makes your life easier!

Earth’s Best Acai Grape Oatmeal Review

Before Dilan was born, I had decided on one thing: I would mash up ALL his fruits, veggies, and proteins myself. What’s so difficult about peeling and coring organic apples and pears, steaming them, and mashing them into a delicious puree? Everything really. Whether you work full time outside the house or just have a lot going on in the house (or both), time is not on your side when you have a little one (or multiples) and juggling a plethora of other things. Being the foodie that I am, I did end up making the majority of Dilan’s food myself and I still try to do so with his finger foods. Where I fall short, though, there’s Earth’s Best. I loved the brand from the beginning since Dilan is in love with their oat cereal. We even substitute foods we read about in his board books with “oat cereal” since he can relate so well. Spot the puppy always eats oat cereal.  I was thrilled when Earth’s Best sent me these Acai-Grape-Oatmeal samples to try out and blog about. Acai? Who would feed their kid that?! Read on, my friend…

Earth's Best Acai Grape Oatmeal

Earth's Best Acai Grape Oatmeal

Earth’s Best Acai Grape Oatmeal

I picked the Acai-Grape-Oatmeal jars (they let me choose) because I wanted Dilan to try something different and I knew I wouldn’t take the time to mash up acai berries myself. They’re pretty hard to find as well. We try to expose Dils to as wide of a variety of healthy foods as possible, so this was definitely one of those experimental moments. At first, Dilan took a few bites, but then didn’t seem to want more. He eats close to everything, so I thought for sure that this must have been too weird for him. We paused for a moment to let the flavor sink in. He took a few bites of his tried and true waffle and finally “asked for more” (fussed and opened his mouth). He ended up eating the whole jar in one sitting.

Of course, mommy and daddy had to get in on the action, so daddy poured half of a second jar on his waffles and mommy grabbed a few spoons as well during breakfast. The Earth’s Best Acai-Grape-Oatmeal mix tastes like apple sauce, but is just a tad bit more tart. It’s not too sour and not too sweet. I honestly would eat this again myself and I don’t say that about a lot of jarred baby food. The final verdict? With all the antioxidants that Acai has, I would say this is a solid way to introduce your little one to a new, healthy, and exciting fruit. If you want to try this for yourself, I’m happy to mail you a jar since Earth’s Best sent me a ton and I have a few left to share. Just leave me a comment and I’ll respond. Bon appetit!

Earth's Best Acai Grape Oatmeal

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