Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vegetarian Burritos with All the Fixins {Recipe}

If you're one of the skeptics out there convinced that vegetarian food cannot be hearty nor flavourful, this one's for you.  (Assuming you like Mexican food as well, that is. :)

My hubby has made a variant of this recipe probably 8-10 times now, perfecting it along the way. The flavour combinations in this dish are explosive, the colours are certainly pleasing to the eye and it is such a fun meal to eat with all the different components. Depending on your preference, you can kick up the heat factor or not. Either way, it's exquisito! Health-wise, you're doing pretty well too with all the veggies, brown rice and beans.

It does take some time to put everything together, but it's not hard nor precise work. You can prep the filling the night before if it's more convenient.

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes
Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
Serving Size: 6

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 large jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 large jalapeno, sliced (optional)
  • 1 19 fl oz / 540 ml can of black beans, rough mashed
  • 2 cups old cheddar cheese, grated
  • Handful of cilantro, rough chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 3/4 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 6 large whole wheat torillas
To Serve on the Side:
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado slices
  • Refried beans (heated)
  • Cilantro


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees

2) Saute onion, garlic, green pepper, diced jalapeno, cumin, coriander and cayenne on medium heat until vegetables are tender.

3) In a big bowl, mix together sauted veggies, black beans, rice, corn, half the cheese, half the cilantro.

4) Spoon a good-sized "long dollop" of burrito mixture onto a torilla, placing it closer to one side than the other and leaving some room at each end. This should give you a pretty good idea of size and placement:

5) Starting at the side closer to the mixture, firmly roll up the burrito.

6) Repeat the above two steps with the remaining 5 burritos. If there is some mixture left over, don't fret - it's delicious on its own. :)

7) Place burritos in a shallow, lightly greased 10" x 14" casserole dish with the edges down. Place a clean damp wash cloth over the burritos to prevent the tortillas from drying out. Cover the dish with foil.

8) Bake for 45 minutes

9) Remove the foil and cloth. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and sliced jalapenos.

10)  Bake for another 10 minutes. Mmm, melty! (As you can see, we only added the jalapenos to half of them this time around so that S could enjoy them too!)

11) Let stand for 10-15 minutes, serve with side items and Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stonz Booties & Linerz: #Review and #Giveaway ! (Closed)

"There is no such thing as bad weather; only inappropriate clothing."
- Lisa Will, CEO and Owner of Stonz

Have you ever found yourself utterly discouraged by the lack of warm & practical footwear options available in the market for babies and young children?

Lisa Will certainly has! In fact, she founded Stonz back in 2004 to address this exact problem.

As an active mom based on Canada’s wet and rugged West Coast, Lisa discovered that finding warm footwear for her young kids was near impossible. With her five-month old son in a backpack, Lisa resorted to wrapping scarves around her son’s legs to keep him warm. 

But then, she encountered a great idea...   

When she met another mom who had 6 years earlier made a boot that looked a lot like a fleece-lined chalk bag for her child, Lisa instantly knew these booties could fill a need in the market. Together, they created some booties samples - made with a fleece lined inner and a coated nylon exterior. The booties were designed with stylish appliqués, soft soles for a custom fit, and toggles at both the calf and ankle so that they stayed on.

And, thus, the original Stonz Booties were born!

Although the primary design elements of these booties have remained the same over the years, various improvements have been made earning them numerous awards. The current incarnation features the following details:
  • Wide opening designed to slip on easily over Stonz Linerz, child's bare feet, socks, sleepers, slippers or snuggly.
  • Durable coated nylon upper designed for water & wind resistance to keep child's feet warm & dry.
  • Soft skid-resistant sole recommended for developing feet.
  • Fleece-lined for warmth & comfort on child's feet.
  • Two adjustable toggles at the calf & ankle tighten around child's foot for a custom fit & ensures the Bootie stays on!

In addition to Booties, Stonz has grown to offer additional products for outfitting babies and children, including Linerz (which add warmth to the Booties), Reversible Hatz, Pointed Hatz and Mittz. The company strives to ensure that all Stonz products encompass four core elements (function, innovation, style and quality), and key design components are highlighted on their Product Features page. In addition, all products are proudly made by hand here in Canada, at their production facility in Vancouver, BC.

Take a look at the following video to learn more about the roots of this wonderful company, as described by Lisa:

I first heard of Stonz myself late last September. Since Fall had begun and the weather was cooling, I'd started sniffing out Winter footwear possibilities for S and correspondingly made it the topic of my latest Facebook QOTD post. The two mamas who replied both mentioned Stonz Booties; one said it was her favourite brand of footwear for her own kids and the other said she hadn't tried them yet herself but had heard Very Good Things. I was certainly intrigued, however when push came to shove on a rather hurried shopping trip, I ended up procuring a cheap pair of "big box store"-brand boots, rationalizing that the temperature rating was fine and, hey, they were pretty cute.

Fast forward several weeks and I was cursing this decision each time I struggled to get my daughter ready for the great outdoors. It was nearly impossible to put the dang things on in the first place - let alone ensure they stayed on! I was just about ready to send my child into the snow barefoot when our child care provider, witnessing my frustration, told me about these amazing boots that one of the other toddlers in her care proudly sported. I looked over at the doormat, and, you guessed it - there lay a pair of Stonz Booties! Our provider went on to suggest that I review them on my blog. Excellent idea, I thought. Naturally I was super-excited when I contacted the company and they were thrilled to work with me on a blog feature. The Universe had spoken! (And Steph, you rock! Thanks for the wonderful suggestion! :)

Stonz generously offered me the opportunity to review both their Booties and Linerz. Choosing a Bootie style proved challenging as the company offers sooooo many ridiculously adorable options!

I finally decided on the Hibiscus Burgundy for our little outdoor princess. :)

As for sizing, Stonz offers 4 options, helpfully described by their sizing chart.

S (14 mths) has small feet for her age so my PR contact recommended the medium for a best fit. I like how each size encompasses such a wide age range due to elements of the Booties' design (such as the toggle-based closure) which allow a customized fit.

My Stonz Booties and Linerz arrived promptly along with a cute little reusable bag!

Here is a close-up of one of the Booties with the toggles open. Notice how wide the opening is, and the softness of the sole:

Here we have the toggles pulled tight. As you can see, the booties can secure even the teeny-tiniest of ankles!

Here's a close-up of the right Liner:

(Side note: my hubby initially had some left vs. right confusion until he realized that the logos and appliqués should face outward. This cleared things up for him. :)

Check out all that nice 'n' fuzzy Sherpa fleece! Don'tcha just wanna snuggle in there and take a li'l nap?

Here are the Booties outfitted with the Linerz. It's quite easy to put the two together, however you do want to ensure things are matched up properly with the front of the Liner directly in front of the top Bootie toggle. This ensures your little one is comfy and can walk properly, assuming he/she is at that stage. (We learned this from experience!)

Outfitting S with her snazzy new Booties & Linerz has proven to be a walk in the park compared to what we'd dealt with before - even when she's being a squirmy worm! The foot and pant leg slide right on in:

...and the toggles easily cinch things shut:

It's important to ensure that your little one's foot goes right down to the sole so that the bottom toggle tightens above it rather than on or below it, which can cause the bootie to fall off. This is easy, however, because you can actually feel the foot through the soft material, which can't be said for your standard stiff boot.

We've found that most of our daughter's pants tuck nicely into the bootie opening, even with the liner adding extra bulk.

The only pants which don't quite fit into the bootie/liner combo are her jeans with a fleece inner and rolled-up cuff, but these do fit into the booties alone and I don't frankly see how they'd fit any other type of boot out there!

When I initially heard about Stonz Booties, the design feature which struck me as the coolest was their ability to be worn over soft-soled shoes. How convenient!! Of course we had to test this out for ourselves. We found that a shoes + booties combo worked perfectly on S, however adding the liners to the mix created too tight of a fit. That's not to say this combo wouldn't work in general; for example a child at the lowest end of a size range might actually achieve the best fit by layering all three together. This layering flexibility actually strikes me as one of the nicer aspects of Stonz; if a child is in between sizes, you can achieve a desired fit for both the smaller and larger size by layering up or down accordingly.

One more note regarding fit. Although the booties are wider at the top than standard boots, they can still hitch tight enough to go under a pair of snow pants, which is perfect for outdoor play in the chilliest of weather!


So what does S think of her new Booties & Linerz? Well, she certainly likes that the soft soles allow her to get up on those tiptoes and increase her chance of getting into mischief!

(I'd like to see her try THAT with a hard-soled boot!) 

We do find she walks more confidently when she's wearing just the booties vs. the combo. This makes sense as there is less material between her feet and the walking surface which allows her to "feel" her way better. However as long the booties and liners are matched up properly, she can usually get herself going just fine.

Since we're right in the heart of Winter (albeit a relatively mild one) we put S in the bootie/liner combo when heading outside to walk or play, but we generally use the booties alone if we're driving somewhere. Here she is all decked out during backyard play time!

Two of the most important performance factors for children's boots are, of course, ability to stay on and ability to keep a child's feet warm. Stonz Booties & Linerz pass these two tests with flying colours! The only time a bootie has ever fallen off of S was when we tried the shoe / bootie / liner combo and the toggle wasn't cinched right, and her little tootsies always come out toasty warm - even after lengthier outdoor play. Note that Stonz doesn't label their gear with explicit temperature ratings as they feel it is ultimately up to the parent (or caregiver) to judge which layers are appropriate depending on weather conditions.

Alright let's switch gears and talk coolness factor. Do you know how many compliments S has received on her stylish new booties? It seems that everywhere we go, someone marvels at how cute, or innovative, or [insert complimentary adjective] they are. My father-in-law even said he wished they came in his size! And I think he was only partly joking. :)

Final topic - care & maintenance. Both Booties and Linerz can be machine washed and dried with like colours. Booties should first be turned inside out and washed on a delicate setting to protect the appliqué. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I'd like to see someone try THIS with a hard-soled boot!

For review purposes, I like to "take one for the team" and colour outside the recommended care & maintenance instructions to see how robust a product truly is. In this case, I washed our Booties and Linerz in a regular, warm load with towels. I'm pleased (and relieved!) to report that everything came out almost perfect; the only difference was that the appliqué was, indeed, a little less smooth than it was originally (though certainly not damaged). That said, moving forward I will probably wash them according to the directions in order to maximize the life we get out of these amazing products!

For those of you who prefer skipping to the chase, here is a summary of pros and cons we found with our Stonz Booties and Linerz:

+ Booties are utterly adorable, with many great styles to choose from!
+Wide opening makes it super-easy to get baby's foot in there!
+ Unique toggle closures provide a customized fit and ensure Booties stay on.
+ Booties + Linerz combo keeps little feet warm & toasty even in the coldest temperatures!
+ Many layering options / combos possible (soft shoes, Linerz, socks, bare feet) depending on weather conditions.
+ Soft soles make it easy for baby's developing feet to feel their way along
+ Both Booties and Linerz are machine washable and dryable.
+ Made in Canada! Always a pro in my books. :)

None. Honestly. Assuming these products are being used correctly (which is straightforward to ensure), I can't think of a single negative criticism. And (as most of you know), that's saying a lot for me! ;)

Buy It:

What are you waiting for? Head on over to Stonz and pick up some unique, versatile and adorable Booties and Linerz of your own! While you're there, why not round things out with some Hatz and Mittz too? ;) Shipping is free within Canada and Continental USA on orders over $50. Plus, until January 31st you can take advantage of a great "Bundle Up and SAVE" promotion - buy any two items and receive a free hat! If you prefer to shop locally, you can use the Store Locator to find a retailer in your area.

Win It:

Stonz has generously offered to give away 1 pair of Booties and 1 pair of Linerz to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Winner chooses size and style. 

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

10 Childproofing Safety Tips for the Kitchen {Guest Post}

By: Jakob Barry

Kitchens have gone through many changes over the last 150 years; their modern design being mostly a result of technological advances. With utilities like gas, water and electricity now intricately woven through its walls and cooking appliances and devices providing never ending aid, the kitchen is now a wonderland for the household chef.

At the same time, underneath all the culinary euphoria and excitement is a potentially perilous zone for small children. It’s not that merely being in the kitchen will cause them harm, but the simple truth is they just aren’t familiar with some of the dangers that exist.

The following are a few suggestions for providing a more user-friendly space for our children when joining us in the kitchen:
  1. Knives: It takes a few years before children begin understanding that knives and other sharp objects aren't toys. When not in use, return them to knife blocks, wall mounted magnetic bars, or cases - all in those hard to reach places. This will help prevent serious accidents.
  2. Stove top/oven: Heat is dangerous, but again, if you're a small child you may not realize it soon enough. When cooking, keep kids away from the stove, turn pot handles inward so they can't be grabbed or caught on something, and when the oven is baking keep kids out of the kitchen altogether until it has cooled off.
  3.  Insecticide: Unfortunately, the kitchen can be a prime location for infestations that may require an exterminator. Nevertheless, we often choose to plant poison or traps and get rid of pests ourselves.  If this is something you're considering, keep the following in mind: both sprays and dry products may give off toxic fumes, and if you go the eco-friendly route many products still cause bodily harm if ingested by humans. Whatever you use, make sure it's out of reach of your children.
  4. Counter space: Counters should be clear, open spaces with little chance of anything falling and injuring a child.
  5. Trash: We don’t always think about some of the things tossed in the garbage, but there could be broken glass or filth from cleaning agents. For this reason, use a closed container so if a trash can tips over your child won’t be easily exposed to unsafe substances.
  6. Furniture: A good precaution when it comes to furniture is to select pieces that have round edges. Furthermore, since kids sometimes scale tables and chairs, they should be sturdy and solid to help prevent a fall.
  7. Cabinets/drawers: Child proof cabinets and drawers that contain equipment, dishes, or other items which should be kept away from children. These include oven and dishwasher doors and other appliances that may be unsafe. Also, be cautious about hanging towels or aprons on handles or knobs, as kids can grab on these and start climbing. They may think it's fun, but this could allow them to reach areas that are supposed to off-limits, or worse, have a serious fall.
  8. The floor: Many kitchen floors can be very slippery when washed. Set up a barrier so if kids are running around they don’t pass through the kitchen until it's dry.
  9. Kitchen gate: It happens all too often that kids get hurt on stairs. If your kitchen has a door with a connecting stairwell, set up a childproof gate to block their passage.
  10. Table cloths: Although presentation says a lot, using tablecloths with toddlers can be a problem as they love to tug and pull on them which could send your dinner flying across the room. If you eat meals in the kitchen, placemats have good staying power and are a great alternative. Otherwise, find a permanent covering to protect the table that won't easily move around.
Jakob Barry is a home improvement journalist for He blogs about practical kitchen topics for pros across the U.S. like Salt Lake City, Utah tile contractors.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#FluffyFebruary is coming soon here at Manager to Mom!

I am super excited to announce that M2M will be hosting a review/giveaway event from Feb 8-29 called "Fluffy February". Yup, you're right - it's going to be all about cloth diapers & accessories! (My new Cloth Diaper Scoring System is certainly going to get a good workout here! :)

To keep things simple and to maximize my testing time with each product, I will publish a single review/giveaway post for each sponsor during the event and will use Rafflecopter to manage my giveaways (like I usually do).

The following three early entries can be collected between now and February 8th (event start date). Each early entry can be used for *all* of the Fluffy February giveaways so make sure you keep track of the ones you complete!

1) Tweet the following:
It's #FluffyFebruary at @managertomom ! Read #reviews and enter to #win some fabulous #clothdiapers and accessories! Feb 8-29 CAN/US
(Note: this can be done exactly once for one early entry - not daily.)

2) "Like" this Facebook post

3) Grab my event button for your blog - see left sidebar

That's it! Easy peasy, right?

Stay tuned as I'll be announcing the full sponsor list shortly!

Who's ready for the fluffy action? :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Arbonne by Andrea De Melo: #Review and #Giveaway (Closed)

I've had the fortune to be close friends with independent Arbonne consultant Andrea De Melo since highschool. There is no shortage of adjectives I could use to describe what an amazing person Andrea is - friendly, caring, gregarious, honest, reliable, intelligent, hard-working, logical, intuitive....the list goes on and on! She is also the mama of two beautiful children, including a handsome li'l man two weeks younger than S, and actively practices a gentle parenting style. All in all, I have the utmost respect for Andrea, so when I received an email from her last October with the exciting announcement that she had started her own consulting business through an emerging health & wellness company, I knew she must have tapped into something impressive!

Arbonne was founded in Switzerland in 1975 by a man named Petter Mørck (along with a team of leading bio-chemists, biologists and herbalists) who had a vision to provide skin care products unparalleled in quality and effectiveness. It has since grown to include four additional major product lines (cosmetics, nutrition, aromatherapy and weight management) and expand its global reach to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

Arbonne operates via a network marketing strategy, with independent consultants (such as Andrea) directly spreading the word on the company's history, values, business opportunity and, of course, its varied and comprehensive product offerings. There are many benefits to this multi-level marketing / direct selling approach, including (but not limited to) the following:
  • In working directly with a consultant, the Arbonne customer is educated and receives assistance choosing products that are right for him/her. Consultants are also trained to do follow-ups, suggest alternatives if desired results are not achieved and give full refunds when warranted. 
  • The money saved on traditional marketing methods goes directly back into product research & development and to the consultants in the form of commission, bonuses, etc. Arbonne consultants are well taken care of which is certainly evident in the enthusiasm, commitment and respect they have toward the company!
I encourage you to take a browse through the Arbonne Opportunity section of the corporate website as the company really does offer some incredible support and incentives for their team members. If you're just curious to see some highlights, the following video provides a nice overview.

The opportunity is particularly attractive here in Canada as Arbonne found its way into the country just 5 short years ago - so oodles of market potential remaining here in the Great White North! :)

Arbonne's promise is "to deliver pure, safe, beneficial products in line with our botanical tradition." All Arbonne products are Vegan certified, which means they do not contain animal-derived ingredients or animal by-products, and they are never tested on animals. In addition, Arbonne personal care products are formulated without parabens, formeldahyde donating preservatives, petroleum-based ingredients and PABA. Arbonne Healthy Living products are formulated without artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners, cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats. Full ingredient disclosure is offered within their printed materials and, for many of their product lines, directly on their website. Arbonne consultants and preferred clients have complete access to ingredient lists for all product lines.

Note that if you search online, you may find some negative articles & opinions on Arbonne. In the interest of providing the most balanced & comprehensive information possible to my readers, I thought it was important to address this. The first thing to note is that many of the sources questioning ingredient safety are outdated as Arbonne made a few key changes recently including the removal of parabens from all products. Some contributors have also chastized the company for claiming to have "natural" products when this isn't actually true; Arbonne clearly differentiates between "plant" and "science" ingredients and how each is used within their product disclosure sections.

All that said, a number of Arbonne products do still contain ingredients which some groups/reports consider controversial, such as oxybenzone in the sunscreen within their ABC baby line. As such, I asked Andrea if she had access to any unbiased information on the safety of these ingredients. She contacted Arbonne directly on this topic, and her customer care contact responded back with the following:

There is a lot of information about Arbonne (products and company) available in the public domain. Not all sources of information are reliable and we appreciate that you have come to the source for input. [...]

When researching product information, it is important to use reputable sources. We recommend the following websites for ingredient information:

Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board: The CIRB was established in 1976 with the support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Consumer Federation of America.
Personal Care Products Council: PCPC is the leading national trade association for the cosmetic and personal care products industry.

All Arbonne cosmetic ingredients are tested periodically for safety and effectiveness by industry experts. CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) Board is the one to determine ingredients' safety. The CIR reports its findings to the CTFA (Cosmetic, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association). The CIR and PCPC (formerly CTFA) are unbiased and extremely reputable. Unlike the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), they are not government bodies. The PCPC (formerly CTFA) is the watchdog for all manufacturing and cosmetic ingredients. We also embrace the European Commissions Scientific Committee on Cosmetic and Non-Food Products (SCCNFP), which conducts safety evaluation on cosmetic ingredients.

Rest assured that Arbonne will take immediate action on any ingredient that is unsafe in any of its formulations when guided by the FDA, the CTFA and the CIR. In our normal course of business, we continue to research and develop the pure, safe, and beneficial products our Arbonne Independent Consultants and Clients have enjoyed for more than 31 years.

Andrea also pointed me specifically toward a PCPC statement responding to the 2011 EWG Sunscreen Report which asserts that the EWG's latest claims (that traditional sunscreen ingredients such as oxybenzone are unsafe) are scientifically unfounded.

Admittedly, I do have a (healthy or unhealthy, your pick) level of skepticism myself regarding "unnatural" ingredients, products and approaches. Having said that, as companies which embrace science-based methodologies go, I have come to feel strongly that Arbonne is the Real Deal - a brand truly committed to producing and distributing safe, high-quality, effective products AND providing wonderful opportunities for passionate and driven individuals to establish successful consulting businesses.

My family has had the chance to try several Arbonne products so far, mainly within the Health & Wellness line with a few from within the skin & body care areas as well. Here are some highlights on our experiences with these products:

Arbonne Essentials vitamin/mineral shake mix (chocolate) - "Shake up your daily routine with delicious single-serving chocolate vitamin/mineral shake mix packs that delivers 20 grams of vegan protein, plus 20 essential vitamins and minerals."

Andrea provided me with this product to try as a meal supplement for my 13-month-old daughter S and myself, as she knows we've both had some challenges putting/keeping on weight!

(Note that these shakes are more commonly used as a meal replacement, or as a supplement to very light meals & snacks, for those looking to shed some extra pounds. In fact, the Essentials line can be used effectively as a full weight loss program.) 

Truth be told, I first found the taste a little peculiar (there were some interesting floral notes and I wasn't getting chocolate-chocolate, per se), however I've never had a protein shake before so perhaps I was expecting something sweeter & milkshake-like. I have to say that the taste really grew on me, however! By my fifth or sixth shake, I was really enjoying them. Note that it takes a little time & effort to whisk the powder in thoroughly and remove all the lumps, but this is worth it to get a smooth, silky consistency.

I definitely experienced some extra energy on the days when I had a shake. Not the "quick high & crash" type of energy, but a slower, steady, physical energy - which makes sense due to all the protein. And the best part is that I managed to gain 3 pounds after enjoying the shakes (along with my regular meals) 5 days in a row! This was quite the achievement for me, as I'm underweight in general and particularly so since I have been nursing.

My first attempt at giving S some of the shake was comical. I poured some in her sippy cup base with a small straw and offered it to her as she mosied about in her play area. Needless to say, we ended up with very little in her tummy and a polka-dotted ottoman. Oops. :) The next morning, I thought through things a little better and mixed some into her banana oatmeal. This was perfect! She seemed to like the taste as she inhaled her breakfast with as much zeal (if not more so) than usual.

All in all, I really like these shakes and would buy them again. Andrea gave me a set of 10 pre-portioned packets, however the mix is also available in a 30-serving jar which is nice as you get more bang for your buck and less packaging is involved. Perhaps I'll try the vanilla flavour next time around!

Update 26-Mar-2012 - I ended up buying a 30-serving jar in chocolate, and now drink a half protein shake / half "cleanse" shake (of a different brand) combo each morning. Let me tell you this - the Arbonne part definitely tastes better than the cleanse part (which was prescribed by my naturopath). All in all, I continue to enjoy these shakes and would to recommend them to anyone looking for a pleasant-tasting protein shake with high-quality ingredients.

Arbonne Essentials Fit Chews - "These bite sized treats will deliver a great tasting boost throughout the day."

Andrea gave me a package of caramel chews to try out. I enjoy the taste of them; they're flavourful and caramel-y without being overly sweet. I have't found them to give me extra energy per se, however I did notice their effect as an appetite suppressor in particular one day when I had a couple of them later in the morning. Usually I'm super-hungry for lunch right around noon, however that day I didn't end up eating until after 1:00 and I'd say my appetite was only moderate by that point.

Since I'm currently trying to gain weight myself, this product isn't so much up my own alley right now. However, I think it could definitely be helpful for someone on a weight management program looking to curb those cravings and stick to a healthy meal plan. I could also see a busy mama tossing a few into her purse for a quick tide-me-over in between meals.

Arbonne Essentials Energy Fizz Tabs - "A refreshing combination of botanicals, B-vitamins and chromium to help increase alertness and performance as well as help the body to metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins."

Each tab is about the size of a quarter, but 3-4 times as thick. It feels like you're conducting some sort of childhood science experiment as you watch it dissolve away. :) The resulting beverage itself is slightly tangy, somewhat effervescent and certainly refreshing! And let me say - I definitely do get a kick from these bad boys. I'm not surprised, as the product is packed with green tea, ginseng, guarana, taurine and rhodiola. But missing from the picture is all that crash-inducing sugar which laces the majority of traditional energy drinks.

I wouldn't personally have one of these every day as I think there are more...gentle ways to nourish the body and promote energy and wellbeing. However, we don't always feel at our best (for many reasons) so a product like this can provide an appreciable boost when we do need a li'l jump start.

SeaSource Foaming Sea Salt Scrub - "This foaming body scrub gently exfoliates and cleanses impurities from the skin’s surface, increasing microcirculation and stimulating skin to promote a softer, smoother look. Specially formulated with sea botanicals and sea salt."

I LOVE this product! It exfoliates really well leaving my skin super-smooth without irritation. I target my back in particular as my skin is thick there and prone to blackheads. I also use it on my check, neck and shoulders (about half as often) to slough off the dead skin which can tend to build up in these areas. The smell is invigorating as well. Oh, and a little truly goes a long way with this product; a pea-sized dollop is enough to scrub my entire back!

SeaSource Detoxifying Rescue Wash - "The sea algae extracts in this sulfate-free cleanser provide antioxidant benefits .This unique formula lifts away impurities and provides a moisture barrier on the skin’s surface to provide a relaxed, comfortable feel."

This product is perfect (in theory) for a practical gal like me as it is super-versatile. You can use it to wash your face, body and hair, or squirt some under running water for a stimulating bubble bath. In practice, it didn't work well for me as a shampoo as I ended up pumping a pretty large amount to get a decent lather, which felt wasteful. That said, I'm quite happy with it as a face and body wash, so that's how I've been using it regularly. My skin has felt smooth and balanced since I started using it. Thumbs up!

Update 26-Mar-2012 - I continue to use the rescue wash every day on my face & body, and the scrub once every 2-3 days. I still have well over half of each product, so a little DEFINITELY goes a long way here! I will certainly be buying more of both of these once I run out.

FC5 Ultra-Hydrating Hand Crème (with fresh kiwi cell extracts and Moisture Fresh™ Complex) - "Ultra lightweight formula moisturizes hands, leaving them feeling soft and supple."

This is the cadillac of hand cream, folks! It has a delicious fruity & spicy scent, glides on effortlessly and absorbs instantly, leaving your hands silky-smooth without feeling at all greasy. You can get back to whatever you what you were doing right away, without worrying about leaving behind any nasty residue. (On this note, I just put some on about 3 minutes ago and now I'm back typing away!)

This cream has dramatically improved the condition of my hands since I started using it. Now that I have a little one, I wash my hands approximately 2342934935 times a day, and it was starting to show. The skin on my palms and between my fingers in particular had dried right out and even cracked & bled periodically. Not anymore! My hands no longer feel like they should be buffing a child's Shop project, and I can massage my husband's back and caress my daughter's hair without feeling apologetic.

One minor criticism is that I find myself wanting to use a little more than expected. A hallmark of Arbonne products is that a little goes a long way (due mainly to the lack of animal by-products), which is still true here but much more appreciable with some of their other FC5 products (e.g. the skin conditioning oil). Otherwise, this is a super-duper hand cream.

RE9 Advanced for Men - From this line, my husband has been using the exfoliating wash and the shave gel. I bought him these products hoping they would lessen or eliminate the skin irritation and itching he often experiences after shaving. Unfortunately, after a few weeks' usage, he has reported that his skin is about the same. He's also not a huge fan of the (rather citrusy) scent. This surprised me as I've read positive reviews about these products and I know that Andrea's husband has had positive results with the line, however I guess we could chalk this up to "everyone is different". On the bright side, Andrea pointed out that this is a case where we could take advantage of Arbonne's 45-day money-back guarantee. I love that the company is so confident in their products that they allow consultants to offer this guarantee for those (presumably rare) cases when a customer isn't satisfied.

As a whole, I have been impressed with the Arbonne products I have tried so far. Although they are a little pricier than similar products I have seen in stores, I feel good knowing that I am getting quality ingredients, and the lack of fillers means that the products will go a long way. I also love the fact that I can consult Andrea directly if I have any questions or concerns about any of the products; in her three months as an Arbonne consultant she has already built up an impressive wealth of knowledge, though if she doesn't have an answer immediately you can bet she'll be off researching within a matter of hours! If you have any questions or concerns yourself, you can contact Andrea via email here.

Buy It!

You can purchase all of the Arbonne products I mentioned here as well as hundreds of others directly from Andrea De Melo's Arbonne site! Orders are generally shipped within 24 hours and can be delivered to Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Shipping rates depend on destination and order size.

Spread the Word!

If you're feeling super-excited about these products, why not consider hosting your own party? I'm sure you'll agree that the host/hostess reward program is certainly enticing! Plus, if you live in the Waterloo, Halton, Peel, York or Durham regions of Ontario, Andrea is happy to travel and present at your party! She is also happy to personally train and provide support for anyone who would like to join her team.

Win It!

Andrea has generously offered to give away a $50 credit toward the purchase of any Arbonne product(s) to one lucky Manager to Mom reader! Open to Canada and the United States.

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Comments do not count as entries, however feel free to add a comment to remind yourself that you entered or to share your product feedback with others!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Life Update - Sniffles & (Lack of) Schedules

Ever since S started daycare (back in November), settling into a consistent & organized daily schedule has admittedly been a challenge. More often than not, Chris and I both sleep in until S wakes up (7:30-8:00), I sleepily nurse her and then one of us hauls butt out of bed to get her changed, fed and packed up for the day while the other either showers or lollygags in the sack for a bit longer. So needless to say, our time with her in the morning hasn't been of the highest quality, and we're often still feeling tired and crusty by the time we get her to daycare and start work at 9:00ish. Then the whole day just kinda feels out-of-whack. (Side note: we both work from home, for the same software company. WFH can be both a blessing and a curse, as I'm sure it can be seen!)

To be fair, our family's been battling various sickies since I returned to work. S gets exposed to a lot of germs at daycare (no surprise here, and surely a Good Thing in the long run as she's building up her immune system), so she has been snotted up pretty much constantly for 2 months. Chris and I aren't sure whether or not we should be concerned with this. On the one hand, when it had "only" been 2 weeks, we took her to our family doctor who put her on antibiotics claiming it's not normal for a baby to be sick for this long without getting better on his/her own. (The antibiotics didn't do anything. :( ) On the other, many people have told us that their little ones went through the exact same thing when they started daycare. One person even said their babe was stuffed up for an ENTIRE YEAR. So...yeah. We decided to book an appointment with her pediatrician which will hopefully lead to some balanced answers/advice on this topic.

In somewhat related news, S is overdue for her MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shot based on the standard vaccination schedule, however I've recently read Dr. Sears' Vaccine Book which, for various reasons, led me to the conclusion that I'm more comfortable giving her this shot when she's between 1.5 and 2 years old. *nods*

You might have seen my FB update that I had strep throat over New Year's. Huddled on the couch feeling miserable wasn't the most ideal way to ring in 2012, but dems da breaks. Thankfully the antibiotics DID kick in here and the oh-so-pleasant sensation of swallowing razor blades faded after several days. Plus, Chris and S managed to dodge this bullet entirely which was a huge relief! I had very little contact with S for the first couple days which may have prompted a pretty significant bodily change - got my period back on Jan 2nd! So we could, theoretically, get on trying for S #2 - but not just yet. ;)

One crappy thing about my strep-cident was that it caused me to lose several pounds, which Isn't Good since I am still struggling to reclaim some of the weight I had lost following S' birth. Related to this (and likely Aunt Flo's recent visit as well) I'm pretty sure I've become iron-deficient once again. This problem has insidiously crept in several times now over the last few years. Same pattern: I'll slowly start feeling tired (despite adequate sleep), weak, foggy-headed and generally crappy which will prompt me to wonder what the heck is going on and start entertaining thoughts that I've developed some sort of deadly disease. And then I'll smack myself on the forehead and go duh, of course. A few tins of smoked oysters + several ferrous gluconate tablets later and I'm almost always feeling back to my usual productive, energetic self. So here's hoping that's all that's going on here as we have a lot of stuff on the go!

Which brings me to my next post - my ideal daily schedule. I was planning to write this up tonight but ended up doing this here life ramble instead, and I want to ensure I get in a good 8-9 hours of sleep tonight. So hopefully I'll get to this puppy tomorrow.

Because I don't want to just use my blog as an outlet to b!tch and complain about feeling crappy. That's not my bag, baby. But I do need more energy to write about all the AWESOMENESS that deserves to be bloggified. More great reviews/giveaways coming up. Tasty recipes. A green living series. Tips on hosting giveaways. Lots more.!!! (And Time!)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday: Back in the Saddle

Hi y'all! It's been a little while, hasn't it? Happy New Year to all of my wonderful readers! :) Unfortunately I managed to ring in the new year with strep throat, so that wasn't the most fantabulous apple drop of my 30-something years. I was completely out of commission for a few days there but feeling pretty much back to my normal self now, which is good as one can only watch so much Degrassi Junior High on Netflix before going a li'l stir crazy.

My main NY's resolution this year is to get myself on a better daily schedule. I'll be writing more about this, but in the meantime thought I'd "break the blogging seal" with a quicky MPM post. Weekly menu planning is something I'd dropped the ball on somewhat but am starting back up now as part of my NYR.

Broiled salmon w/ a maple glaze & steamed broccoli 

Crock pot beef barley soup 

Cream of potato & leek soup with bacon (I don't think I've ever cooked with leek before. One is coming in our Pfennings organic local basket tomorrow, so I looked up some recipes. This one looks super-yummy!)
Lobster (Chris scored a great deal the other day on some pre-cooked tails.)  

Dinner is coming to us in the form of cabbage roll casserole, one of my mom's old-school recipes. Sounds hearty & delicious. Thanks Mom! :)

Tuna, pea and brown rice casserole. This dish has become somewhat of a staple in our household. Ridicu-easy to make, tasty and reasonably healthy/balanced.

Curling. Leftovers / eat out.