Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Crazy Aaron's Putty! Fun For Kids AND Adults!!

I know exactly what you're thinking. "Putty? Isn't that a toy for kids? How could adults ever have fun with putty?!" I would have agreed with you just a short time ago, until I experienced Crazy Aaron's Putty!

I received a tin of the Aura Glow In The Dark Putty for review. The putty is actually white, but when used with the Blacklight Keychain (not included) from Aaron's, it glows a purple/violet color. However, even without the glow in the dark feature, we had plenty of fun with the putty!

First of all, it's a great tension reliever. I work at a computer for anywhere from as little as 2 hours a day, to as much as 6+ hours a day. Since I'm an active person, I can get tense just from sitting at the computer for an hour or two! I've found that keeping the putty nearby to "snap, crackle and pop" helps relieve the boredom and stress. I don't work in an office, but for those of you who do, Aaron recommends doing this and enjoying the aggravation it causes your coworkers! Yeah, I see how that could be fun! :)

The kids also enjoyed making shapes and creations with the Thinking Putty. Snakes and hot dog shapes are the most obvious, but some pretty unique designs came out too.

However much fun popping and creating with Thinking Putty is, my favorite part is the bouncing. Remember the old Disney "Absent-Minded Professor" movie? If you recall the wonderful invention of flubber, then you'll have a good idea of how the putty responds. No, it's not quite as "bouncy" as flubber-I have yet to be able to leap up and slam-dunk a basketball due to attaching this putty to my sneakers-but it is remarkably bounce-able! Check out this video if you don't believe me...

As you can tell, the family is really enjoying Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty. There are so many varieties and colors available, ranging from basic putty to magnetic putty, heat sensitive putty, and even phantom putty. Check them out today for some creative, thinking, fun!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tea For Life from Teavivre!! #Giveaway #Tea

I have started trying out some different teas over the past several months; different flavored teas, white, green, black...tea options are literally endless! I was excited when Teavivre sent me some of their teas, all of which were new flavors for me to try!

I received bags of the White Peony Tea, Lotus Leaf Raw Pu-erh Mini Tuocha, Organic Silver Needle White Tea, and Chamomile Rose Silver Needle White Tea from Teavivre. I have had white tea before, but this was my first time trying a pu-erh tea. This is named after the Chinese province where it is harvested, and can actually be stored and aged for years! Apparently, the longer it is stored, the more complex the flavor becomes. I, unfortunately, didn't have the patience to store it for a few years; I tried it within a few days of getting the package! The tea comes in a small bird's nest shape, which I simply placed in the infuser to brew for about 5 minutes. The tea is very light, but very flavorful. It's perfect for a morning cup of tea to get the day started.

Another one of the teas I really liked is the White Peony Tea. This is a very delicate tea, with a light, flowery flavor. I enjoy this one in the evenings, with a piece of cake or some cookies as a nice end to the day. I also enjoy adding a couple ice cubes for a refreshing summer drink. 

Teavivre is a one-stop shopping place for all your tea needs. You can find a great selection of teaware, in addition to all the varieties of teas. 

One of my readers will receive the same selection of Teavivre Teas I reviewed!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

You'll "Smile Brilliant" With Whiter Teeth!!

I'm going to be upfront and honest about this review folks-you WILL NOT find a better, easier, or more comfortable teeth whitening process or product than this!! I've tried all the home teeth whitening products; strips, pens, trays, etc. and never found one that was actually comfortable. Sure, some of them worked better than others, but I'll be honest. Usually the ones that worked best were the trays, and they weren't just uncomfortable-they hurt after just a few minutes of use! When Smile Brilliant contacted me about a review of their product, I thought, "Sure, yet another experience with painful trays to get whiter teeth." However, when I looked at what they actually offer, I was excited!

See, Smile Brilliant is the only place I know of that offers custom-fit trays for teeth whitening. These are literally the only comfortable way I have found to whiten teeth, and it actually gets results! I love using the pens, but many of those are just for touch-ups; it doesn't actually work the way a tray does. Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself. I received the Tray Creation Kit from Smile Brilliant, which includes everything you need to make a mold of your teeth. It's a very easy and simple process; just combine a base paste and catalyst paste, place the resulting putty in a tray, and press into your teeth. This has to stay in for 2 minutes, then harden for 10 minutes. Repeat for the lower teeth, let the molds harden, and mail them back in the included envelope. 

Within a week of sending the molds in I received my custom trays, and was ready to start the actual whitening process. The kit included desensitizing gel, which you use prior to whitening, and ensures there's no discomfort. Apply a thin layer to the trays, and leave in for about 20 minutes. After removing the trays, lightly brush your teeth, then proceed with the whitening. Again, apply a "string" of the gel in the trays, insert and leave in for a minimum of 20 minutes, and up to 3 hours. I have been leaving the trays in for about 20-30 minutes, and found that works quite well. 

You can hardly even tell the trays are in!
I can not say enough how much I love Smile Brilliant's custom fitted trays! You can put them in and literally forget they're there, unlike any other tray I have ever tried. And the whitening gel works great; with just one use, I could see a noticeable difference in the shade of my teeth. It works, it's comfortable-what more could you ask for?! Check out Smile Brilliant today to see how you can also get whiter teeth, comfortably!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Where To Stay In Schaumburg? Country Inns and Suites!!

As you're probably aware by now, our family enjoyed a visit to the Chicago/Schaumburg area a couple weeks ago. Of course one of the major issues that came up while we were planning the trip, was where to stay. We had stayed at a hotel about 8-10 miles away from Medieval Times a couple years ago, but that 8-10 miles can be a nightmare in traffic! So, we wanted to find something closer. I was thrilled when I learned that there is a Country Inns and Suites less than 2 miles from Medieval Times, and even more excited when they offered a room for a review!

We actually arrived at the hotel almost an hour before check-in, but they graciously let us check in early-very much appreciated after a long day of travel! When you walk into the lobby of a Country Inn and Suites, you immediately feel as if you've just come home. Every one of these hotels I've stayed at has a lovely winding staircase, plush couches, and bookshelves in the lobby, all of which combine to give it a very homey, welcoming feel. At the check-in desk you're also offered a fresh chocolate chip cookie-delicious!

Once you actually enter your room, you're met with even more of that homey feel. A small basket of snacks and water are sitting on the counter, and there's an actual living room area, complete with a couch, table and chairs, and television. 

As you walk further in to the room, opposite the bathroom door is a small kitchenette area. Microwave, refrigerator, sink, and coffeemaker, to give you some of the comforts of home. The ability to microwave popcorn for a family movie night, or make a fresh cup of coffee as you relax in the evening. Or, my personal favorite, the ability to keep a half gallon of milk in your room to dip those chocolate chip cookies in!

The bathroom in this particular Country Inn and Suites was larger than most hotel bathrooms; plenty of room to actually step out of the shower to dry off and get dressed! Don't you hate those bathrooms that leave a single foot of space between the tub, toilet and sink?

At the very end of the room is your "bedroom". We had a king bed, which faces a dresser and television. There is also a nightstand on either side of the bed, with a lamp on one, and a phone on the other. The bed was delightful-that perfect soft, yet firm mattress. 

The Schaumburg Country Inn and Suites has quite a few amenities that make your stay even more enjoyable. An indoor pool and spa, fitness center, guest laundry, high speed internet in all the rooms and lobby, and a shuttle to anywhere within a 5-mile radius, including Medieval Times!

Even though we were headed to Medieval Times for dinner later that evening, we went downstairs for the Manager's Reception, which on this particular night featured tacos, various cheeses, crackers, and beverages. This is held in the breakfast room, which by the way, is wonderful! The breakfast offered guests their choice of hot or cold cereal, with optional toppings such as dried fruit and brown sugar for the oatmeal, yogurt with fresh fruit and whipped topping, as well as eggs, sausage, breads and pastries, and a variety of fruit juices, milk and coffee. Definitely not just your average hotel's continental breakfast!

All in all, I have to say we were very impressed with the Schaumburg Country Inn and Suites. The room was great, the amenities and services were delightful, and the staff were all very friendly and welcoming. The hotel offered a great place to relax both before and after Medieval Times, and we were disappointed to have to leave. But, at least we now know where to stay any time we're back in the area!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our First Visit To Corner Bakery Cafe!

On our recent trip to the Chicagoland area to visit Medieval Times, we were also able to check out a (new to us) restaurant for lunch. I have of course seen Corner Bakery Cafe restaurants before (if you've ever been to Chicago, you know they're all over!) but had never dined at one before. So, I was excited when they set up for 4 of us to come in and eat at the La Grange location.

Upon arrival we took a few minutes to study the menu. As I said, this was our first time at a CBC, so we wanted to look at all our choices. Once we had decided, we ordered and were given a number to put on our table for the server to bring our food.

It didn't take long before our food arrived, and we wasted no time in getting started! We each tried a different thing; the Spicy Asian Pork  Sandwich, Santa Fe Ranch Salad, Chicken Pomodori, and the BBLT-which is just like it sounds, a BLT with extra bacon!

Everybody of course wanted to have a taste of everyone else's meal, so we did a little food-swapping. I tried all 4, and although they were all delicious-I would order any one of them next time I'm at a CBC-the Chicken Pomodori is hands-down my favorite! Roasted chicken, fresh basil and spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes and provolone cheese on sourdough, topped with a pesto mayo, and grilled to panini perfection. Yeah, we're talking the BEST panini I have ever tasted! This was actually the family's ultimate favorite; each one said that was the best of all the items we ordered!

Hibiscus Lemonade-delicious!

Not to be left out, the BBLT was also raved over (actually all 4 of the meals were). I think the crowning touch to this is not even the thick slices of smoked bacon, but the cracked pepper balsamic mayo. This mayo changes it up from "just" an extra-thick BLT to an amazing specialty sandwich.  

I'm not much for spicy foods myself, but I did actually try the Spicy Asian Pork sandwich, and found to be not so spicy that I wouldn't eat it-it was delicious! The pulled pork is topped with an asian bbq sauce, sweet slaw, thin slices of cucumber, and pickled jalapeno slices. This is served with a side of the asian bbq sauce for dipping, which we found to be the perfect way to eat the sandwich. 

Ever the "healthy eater", C opted for the Santa Fe salad for lunch. This salad features both iceberg and romaine lettuce, chicken, corn, tomato salsa, cheddar cheese, and tortilla strips, topped with ranch dressing. C enjoyed this salad very much, and with the taste I had, I was impressed with the freshness of the ingredients.

As you can probably tell, we all enjoyed our first visit to Corner Bakery Cafe. I was able to learn a little history of CBC, and discovered that they were actually started in Chicago, and it all began as a little corner bakery, that made artisan breads and sweets. From that simple beginning, the popularity grew, and customers made requests, and boom! You have what is now Corner Bakery Cafe! I will be keeping an eye out on our future road trips now, because when I see a Corner Bakery Cafe I will definitely be stopping for lunch (or dinner)!!