Organize your New Year with Lawn Bags! What?

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Happy New Year to You!

Even though I’m not a fan of Resolutions…I do understand how the New Year brings about a renewed feeling, a new lease on life, and affords some people the opportunity (through time off work, around the holidays) to work on the house!

I wanted to share what we did for New Year 2015, to help with ideas for people looking to organize and pare down their lives in 2016.

*15 Bags for 2015 *

I set ourselves up for the New Year, by purchasing 15 Lawn & Garden Bags from Amazon.com.
These are tall, big bags!
And…it was my goal to fill Every. Single. One. Of. Them!!

I started out by labeling four bags with tag words, only items of said word would go into said bag :
GIVE = Anything we no longer needed, but is in good condition & can be re-loved!
ReCy = Recycle…because boxes will be emptied, papers will be old, etc. Recycle it!
eBay =  Because, YEAH, it’ll be fun to get some funds from all this work, right?!
TOSS = Trash! There’s gonna be trash! Items that are, literally, rubbish -or- items that just simply should not be given away, because they’re broken, holey, stained, etc. Just have a TOSS bag ready and dump that trash! It’ll feel SO good!
(OK, so I, also, made a BEAN Bag…for our little Bean, because opening up all these bags in front of him was ripe for play. I gave him his own bag to play with and then commandeered it when the novelty, luckily, wore off!🙂 )

Bean BagI did not have a set count for each type of bag. I just simply knew that we needed to go through the house, room by room, and fill bags. At the end of it all, we had to have 15 of these monsters filled and out of the house!
Once a bag was filled, we’d start a new bag in it’s place.

How did we decide what needed to go?

We’ve moved so many times in a decade…SO freaking many times (including an overseas move!) Some of our boxes had, literally, not been opened in 5+yrs…eek!
Now that we have a toddler, our priorities and need for things has changed…drastically.

~ Thus, opening those 5yr old boxes, going through the contents, and remarking, “Whoa, I didn’t even know we still had this!!”, was a pretty good indication that we didn’t need “this” anymore…in a bag it went!

~ I’m big on feelings/emotions of things and how they make me feel. So, yes, I used the age-old purging technique of ‘how does this make me feel?’.
It works! There were, indeed, items that kind of gave me a low/sad feeling…why keep it!? In a bag it went!
I, also, had items that put a sweet smile on my face, but regardless, was not an item I needed to keep any longer…I wanted it to put a smile on someone else’s face vs. being pack-ratted away. So, in a bag it went!
But, of course, there were items that are just going to stay nicely packed away, because they are an important part of our lives. We just knew we had to keep it, but it would be placed in an organized manner in our new storage containers! (more on how we organized a bit later.)

~ AND…Sometimes, you just have no emotion at all…ya just pull something out and think, “Get rid of it! Why the crap do we still have this?” and in a bag it went!

~ Realistically, we did keep a “holding” pile…a pile of things that we couldn’t figure out. We’d go back to it every few weeks and rummage through…typically, we’d remove half of the pile and put it in a bag. Basically, it’s kinda in a pile for a reason, eh?! In a bag it went!

All of THIS, above, was not an easy, quick, and sometimes, not fun, task.
But we persevered, we completely filled all 15 bags by August 2015!

recy 5Then we started the drawn out task of
~ adding a ReCy Bag or TOSS Bag to our garbage/recycling collection,
~ listing eBay items for sale and re-allocating them into a new bag if they didn’t sell,
~ and, lastly, trying to find a service in Bend that would come pick up our GIVE bags! (We have a small car and couldn’t get all these bags in there…in fact, I don’t even know if one bag would have fit! HA!)

Side Note : The Teen Challenge Thrift Shop came out and picked up all our items (bags and other oversided items) for a $10 donation…Totally worth it!
(I’d called four different stores/locations, and was so happy that Teen Challenge offered this service.)

How many of each bag did we have?

All told, the number of each bag we ended up with was kind of surprising!
More ReCy bags than any and only one TOSS bag!

~ Five GIVE Bags (including bigger items that didn’t fit in bags.)
~ Eight ReCy Bags!
~ Only One eBay Bag
~ One TOSS Bag

Recy

 

 

 

 

 

give

 

 

 

 

 

 

eBay Toss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Now What?!*

Not wanting to get back into our ‘old’ ways…we followed up our purging with a big organizing binge! I went a little bonkers on the organizing front…but I LOVE the way it looks and feels!

garage holders

 

~ We got those awesome brooms, shovels, mops, etc. hanging holders from Loew’s for the garage.

closet organized

 

 

 

~ I picked up some great storage containers from Staples, I used them in the master closet for photos and other mementos, that wouldn’t fair well in the garage,

 

invitation to play supplies

and in the laundry room to hold my tot’s art/craft supplies for our fun ‘invitation to play’ art trays!

 

 

 

 

 

invitation to playing~ At the time, I ordered through a friend who is a ThirtyOne Bags consultant!
AND, NOW, I am!
First time I saw these, I wasn’t sure if they’d make a big enough difference in our home. Then I started looking at the site and considering options, including personalized embroidery.
Sooooo…I just decided to host my own party with my consultant friend!
Guest list : One! Me! (any my friend, too.)
This way I got all the goodies I wanted and tapped into the hostess specials.
I purchased during the big ‘stand tall insert’ month, so that I would get the organizational insert for the Large Utility Totes.

How did I use my ThirtyOne Bags to organize?

In the Laundry Room, sitting on the folding counter and organizing our winter accessories (brrr….), swim needs, and small items needed for my mama’s group events.
These are the awesome Your Way Rectangles with Personalization!

organized laundry roomIn the linen closet, to hold a full bed dress-up. Each Large Utility Tote has a full sheet set and blanket…making it easy for my hubs, or guests to grab and go…thus, makes it easy for me!
(if you don’t already do this, here’s how to fold a fitted sheet…then just tuck all the sheets and one pillowcase into the remaining pillowcase, for a sweet ready to grab bed package.)

guest blankeysI, also, used our new Thirty-One Bags in the car and linen closet.
Above, Large Utility Totes hold Blankets -and- a whole Guest Bedroom Set, ready to pull out and use…then dump everything back in there when taking it to laundry room.
Below, a Hostess Exclusive, at that time, came with a cube for the trunk, too!

car 31So…
Whew…
We did A Lot of work in 2015, I still have some stuff I’d like to “pretty up” and organize and that will come in time!

How about you?!
Where are you gonna go from here?

Happy New Year 2016!
Pick up your 16 bags and fill ’em up!

HelloFresh Review! Tried Three Different Services! Part 3 of 4!

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Here’s HelloFresh…I’m writing a 4-Part Blog Series on our experiences and reviews of three (3) Meal Delivery Services : Reviews and Pictures of each service, in order in which we used them. We attempted to use each service for two weeks.
Blue Apron    :    Plated    :    HelloFresh
I will complete the series with a recommendation of our preferred service!! Basically, the Winner!

Thanks for joining me and my family on this culinary journey!

~ HELLO FRESH ~

HelloFresh Whole Box

The Back Story
I received a $40 off marketing postcard in my Parent’s Magazine subscription.
(I enjoy receiving Parents magazine, for the content, and the great discount offers they present subscribers.)

Let me offer you $40 OFF your first box!!!
Go to http://www.hellofresh.com and use code : YVHN87
-or-
Simply click this link!

The Details
HelloFresh offers 3 days of meals for 2 people (this is what ‘a week’ consists of). Additionally, there is a 4 person meal option.
The meals range from 500-800 calories, include farm fresh ingredients, and offer a Flexible Subscription option.
All for $10.75 per meal including shipping. $69 per week (per their website FAQs)
($9.08 per meal for Vegetarian options.)

The Pros
~ Farm Fresh ingredients, including hormone free meat.
(AND Love Beets…ya gotta love Love Beets! Just the name is cool, then you taste them… yum!)
~ Quick prep recipes.
~ Can choose 3 of 5 meal options per week. So, you’re not ‘boxed’ into the 3 meals they choose for you!
~ Wednesday Delivery option.
~ Beautiful Recipe card booklet with pictures of completed dishes. Features a “Let’s Talk About” page on the back : Grains, Beans, Leafy Greens, Nuts & Seeds, etc.
~ One can choose a Vegetarian Option, which is slightly less expensive.
~ Actually offer a ‘recycling’ return for their padded box liners.

The Cons
~ ‘Recycling’ return is not all that, but at least it was an option available to me vs. throwing out or dumping into my recycling.
I returned 3 weeks worth of box liners at the cost of $26 via UPS, and received a $16 credit on my account. So, I didn’t even get a credit equal to the cost of shipping, but at least I got some sort of credit.
~ There is no ‘Dietary Profile’. Though, one can chose to go with the Vegetarian option, if needed.  We do have a few restrictions…some Gluten-Free, some Spices, and some Seafood. Luckily, we can choose out of 5 meals, so I pick three meals that are more catered to our needs and modify as desired.
~ Our first box has a couple frozen veggies, which they promptly credited me for.

HelloFresh Recycling

The Goods
Week 1, First Meal :
Korean-Style Beef with Broccolini & Brown Rice
30 Minutes
Gluten-Free (with correct sauces)

Korean-Style Beef!? Heck Yeah, bring it! And, yes, it was good!
We love a good Asian-inspired meal in our house and this met the expectation.
And, yippy, they used Brown Rice! We only use Brown Rice in our house, so it was nice to see a meal delivery service do that same.

Modifications : Added Garlic

HelloFresh Korean Style Beef

Week 1, Second Meal :
Walnut Crusted Salmon with Roasted Green Beans
50 Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

This was good, it was not gluten-free…but I loved the walnut crusting idea.

Modifications : None

HelloFresh Walnut Crusted Salmon

Week 1, Third Meal :
Lemony Chicken & Quinoa Stew
40 Minutes

Gluten-Free

This was surprisingly delish and I didn’t expect it to be so! The flavor and texture worked so well together.

Modifications : Did not use the Chili Flakes.

HelloFresh Lemony Chicken Quinoa

Week 2, First Meal :
Roasted Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples & Kale
30 Minutes
Gluten-Free

Delicious and gluten-free. I’m not typically a fan of sweet along side my savory dinner, though I know it’s ‘tradition’ to have apples/applesauce with pork chops, so I knew the deal. Though I loved the addition of kale and then I served mine up with the nuts garnishing the apples vs. the kale.

Modifications : No Modifications.

HelloFresh Roasted PorkChop

Week 2, Second Meal :
Seared Steak with Cauliflower Mash & Green Beans
30+ Minutes
Gluten-Free

Yum, because…STEAK!🙂
I messed up and made more of a puree vs. a mash, though it turned out lovely to have an awesome sauce to go with this dish. So…basically…the dish was Awesomesauce!

Modifications : No Modifications.

HelloFresh Seared Steak

Week 2, Third Meal :
Forbidden Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
apx. 25 Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

Good…I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’d really wanted to try Forbidden Rice. Thus, I was super happy to have this as a menu option.

Modifications : Added Chicken to hubs and nephew’s portions.

HelloFresh Forbidden Salad

Overall Impression
Very good!
Even though the cost of sending in the recycling material did not match the credit I got, I am happy that is an option.

We, also, tried HelloFresh during the Holidays…family in and out, schedules up and down and a credit sitting in my account prompted us to go for another week of HelloFresh meals!

In that week we received :

~ White Bean & Turkey Chili ~
Gluten Free and pretty tasty.

~ Sausage and White Bean Soup w. Swiss Chard ~
Not to shabby and Gluten Free.

~ Beef Bibimbap w. Carrot & Zucchini Ribbons ~
OMG! I am still thinking about this meal!
I have no idea why I haven’t recreated it yet!

Don’t forget my offer : $40 OFF your first box!!!
($55-$69 depending on Vegetarian option.)

Go to http://www.hellofresh.com and use code : YVHN87
-or-
Simply click this link!

Be sure to check back at the beginning of next week…
I’ll be posting Part 4 : THE WINNER!

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER! I can’t wait to tell you!

This post contains referral links.

 

Plated Review! Tried Three Different Services! Part 2 of 4!

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I’m writing a 4-Part Blog Series on our experiences and reviews of three (3) Meal Delivery Services : Reviews and Pictures of each service, in order in which we used them. We attempted to use each service for two weeks.
Blue Apron    :    Plated    :    HelloFresh
I will complete the series with a recommendation of our preferred service!! Basically, the Winner!

Thanks for joining me and my family on this culinary journey!

~ PLATED ~

PLATED

The Back Story
I saw the ‘Sponsored’ offer floating around Facebook and decided to try Plated next! The Offer was for $40 off a week’s delivery!

Now, I can offer YOU two (2) Free Plates with your first week.
Just Click Here!

The Details
Plated offers a minimum of four (4) ‘plates’ per week…in other words, 2 meals for 2 people. This can be increased all the way to six (6) plates per meal/recipe.
We used our plates for either Lunch or Dinner depending on the meal and our interests for the day.
This is a gourmet delivery service, there is no presumption of time to prepare, as it’s about the experience.
Plates range from $12-$24 per plate, depending on how fancy and ingredient heavy the recipe is! Shipping is included, however that’s a range of $24-$96 for the minimum of four (4) plates.
To compare apples to apples, I’ll use the base price, so six (6) total plates will be…$72.00 per week!

The Pros
~ Fresh ingredients, including hormone free meat and sustainable seafood.
~ Beautiful Recipe cards with pictures of completed dishes. Includes a little history of the dish and are reusable!
~ One can choose Vegetarian plates, which are typically always base price.
~ True to listed prep time…within about 10mins. So I knew what to expect.
~ Can edit your ‘Taste Profile’ to include or exclude plates containing :
Beef, Poultry, Vegetarian, Lamb, Pork, Fish, Seafood.
~ Delivery options allow for weekly or every other week/fortnightly shipments.
~ Delivery was on Wednesday! (earlier in the week than Blue Apron offered.)
~ Nutritional Facts, including allergen ingredients, on each meal’s ingredient bag.
~ I enjoyed that each ingredient was label with the meal title it joins with!
~ Leftovers! (we had a large meal and were able to eat leftover next day for lunch.)

The Cons
~ Packaging Waste…sorry but this makes me cringe. Though I was able to pass along the cold packs and foiled bubble wrap to local fisherman and such.
~ Ingredient waste…in our first recipe (Ribollita) directions actually read, “Peel red onion and thinly slice 1/2, discarding remainder.” (Discard remainder!? Surely, there are other uses for a whole half of a red onion!)
~ The ‘Taste Profile’ is limited and only offers the opportunity to select main entree types : Poultry, Fish, Vegetarian, Lamb, Beef, Shellfish, Pork.
We do have a few restrictions…some Gluten-Free, some Spices, and some Seafood.
~ Ordering! UGH! Really!? It was not as straight forward at BlueApron, in which they simply picked 3 meals for you and if you made no modifications then they would send those 3 meals! At Plated, you have to go in and pick your meals (they do not auto-select for you) and then you must ‘check out’ in order for those meals to be delivered. Of course, my first week I didn’t understand this and upon calling on ‘drop day’ to ask if it was going to ship or not, they simply told me that I wouldn’t be getting my box that week (2nd week). UGH! I was left in a lurch, because BlueApron couldn’t pick up the slack that late in the week…so, I just went to the market myself! HA! No big deal, of course! But, of course, it was annoying.

The Goods
Week 1, First Meal :
Tuscan Ribollita Stew with White Beans and Toast
40 Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

Plated Ribolitta StewThis was a nice way to make a gourmet soup. I loved the white bean and kale ingredients. I enjoyed the final preparation of broiling with sliced red onion and added cheese.
This was yummy and offered us leftovers!

Plated Soup Spoons

Miso Hungry…Indeed! Soup Nazi…because…Seinfeld fan here!

Modifications : Added Mozzarella atop.

PLUS…I was stoked we got to use our custom Soup Spoons, created by my friends at Colette’s Lemon Tree!
I’m mean these soup spoons are too funny…and I love the juxtaposition of having these sayings on Granny’s Silverware.🙂

Week 1, Second Meal :
Sesame Ginger Wild Salmon and Tatsoi in Miso Broth
35 Minutes
Gluten-Free

Plated Wild Salmon MisoI’d never prepared miso before and was stoked to use this as an ingredient. It turned out lovely, fun to have potatoes and tatsoi (greens) in this dish.
This made me unafraid to begin using miso on my own…in my own soup creations!
I’ve recently learned, that since Miso has great probiotic benefits, to add it last so as to retain most of that benefit and not heat up the probiotics too much, too long. (Wanted to pass that little nugget of info on to you!)

Modifications : Added Garlic and extra Sesame Oil

Week 1, Third Meal :
Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken with Carrots and Dates
50
Minutes (and marinate time)
Gluten-Free

Plated Chicken RoastFor some reason, I kept putting off making this third meal.
I liked what Plated was offering, but it wasn’t super duper overly wow’ed by the the supposed gourmet-ness of it all. So, I lost interest with a simple roast chicken dish…by the time I went to it a few days later, chicken when bad, of course, that was, actually, my bad to begin with!
So, we brought home some Chicken Thighs instead and set out to prepare the dish. I liked the marinade, it was yummy, and the addition of dates was a novel approach.

Modifications : Bought Chicken Thighs to use.

Week 2, First Meal :
…No second week!
I just couldn’t get motivated enough to move forward with Plated.
(Couldn’t be bothered!)

I guess this mean you’ll figure out that Plated was not the winner, but stay tuned there is one more service! And then a Winner will be announced!
Hello Fresh
If you don’t want to wait around for posts…
You can get $40 off your first order with Code : YVHN87
If you do, let me know what YOU think!🙂

Overall Impression
Good, I can see the potential for lovely, gourmet meals. But the cost compared to other services and the pain of ordering squelch my interest in using Plated.

I love how they have the nutrition facts for each meal presented on the bag that contains each meals ingredients!

Plated Nutrition Facts

Be sure to check back this week…I’ll be posting parts 3, and 4 every couple days! Next up…Hello Fresh review!

Oh my gosh...could soy sauce get any cuter!? :)

Oh my gosh…could soy sauce get any cuter!?🙂

This post contains referral links.

Blue Apron Review! Tried Three Different Services! Part 1 of 4!

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I’m writing a 4-Part Blog Series on our experiences and reviews of three (3) Meal Delivery Services : Reviews and Pictures of each service, in order in which we used them. We attempted to use each service for two weeks.
Blue Apron    :    Plated    :    HelloFresh
I will complete the series with a recommendation of our preferred service!! Basically, the Winner!

Thanks for joining me and my family on this culinary journey!

~ BLUE APRON ~

Blue Apron Box Oepn

The Back Story
A mama friend sent me a referral link for a week of free meals with Blue Apron! How could I not go for that!?

Having a toddler makes meal-planning a tad bit ‘cumbersome’…and, even though, it was CrockPot season, I thought it would be nice to have meal options ‘outside the pot’.🙂 I quickly signed-up!
Also, I love to cook and wanted to get some inspiration!

I was only offered the option of delivery on Thursday or Friday. I wanted something earlier in the week to allow for spontaneous weekend dining out, without worry of spoiling meals in the fridge.

The Details
Blue Apron offers 3 days of meals for 2 people (this is what ‘a week’ is).
The meals range from 500-700 calories, include fresh ingredients, and are suppose to take about 35mins to make.
All for $9.99 per meal…so, $59.94 per week!

After you’ve been with them for awhile they offer a referral link to send to friends. But I moved on after two weeks (one paid week) to the other services…thus, they did not offer me a link to share with my readers!

The Pros
~ Least Expensive of all the services :
$59.94 including shipping, for 6 total meals = $9.99 per meal
~ Fresh ingredients, including hormone free meat.
~ Quick prep recipes…most were fairly true to around the 35min completion time.
~ Beautiful Recipe cards with pictures of completed dishes. Includes a little history of the dish and are reusable!
~ One can choose a Vegetarian Option, which is slightly less expensive.

The Cons
~ Late delivery…in week AND time of day!
The earliest day we could receive our box, at the time, was Thursday!
So, I waited all day on our first Thursday…and dun, dun, dun…received our box at 8:40pm (Eight-Freaking-Forty!). Needless to say, that first night’s dinner was not a Blue Apron dinner and our Toddler went to bed a bit later than normal!
~ Packaging Waste…sorry but this makes me cringe. Though I was able to pass along the cold packs and foiled bubble wrap to local fisherman and such.
~ Recipes that were not true to the 35min time…were so far off! Nearly an hour!
~ The ‘Dietary Profile’ is limited and only offers the opportunity to select main protein sources : Beef, Poultry, Fish, Lamb, Pork, Shellfish.
We do have a few restrictions…some Gluten-Free, some Spices, and some Seafood.

The Goods
Week 1, First Meal :
Croque Monsieur-Style Sandwiches w. Bacon, Radish, Little Gem Salad
35 Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

I’ve seen this on the menu at our favorite French Cafe in Redwood City, Ca. Pamplemousse. Though I’d never ordered it myself when we lived there!
Boy, was I missing out, this was delicious!
Blue Apron portions were big and the salad was huge!

Modifications : Bacon on the side, Substituted Provolone for the Swiss.

Blue Aprong Croque

Week 1, Second Meal :
Seared Hake w. Melted Leeks & Fingerling Potatoes
50+ Minutes
Gluten-Free

I am a Leek and Potato girl, and hubs is a fish guy…so this meal was so our style!
However, the prep took forever and our total time was 50+ minutes before we ate.
Thankfully we ate it at lunch and, thus, weren’t set back for a late dinner.

Modifications : Omitted Paprika and Added Garlic

Blue Apron Hake

Week 1, Third Meal :
Yuzu Kosho-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks w. Shitake, Turnip & Rice Salad
5
5 Minutes
Gluten-Free
(Prepared on the 5th day from delivery (!) for Dinner, due to late delivery as described above in the Cons section.)

This was another wonderful dish that is very much our style.
It had a wonderful flavor and was one that our toddler enjoyed as well!
There was plenty of food for more than the allotted two servings.

Modifications : Substituted Organic Brown Rice for the Jasmine, Added Extra Sesame Oil, Omitted the Togarashi Spice Blend due to being unsure of Paprika, would have loved more Ginger.

Blue Apron Drumsticks

Week 2, First Meal :
Beef on Weck Sandwiches w. Heirloom Potato Salad
30 Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

Oh. My. Goodness! This was good! We didn’t know what to expect, and we were pleasantly surprised! The delicious crunch of the airy bread was just too amazing!
However, the beef was thinly sliced vs. shaved, as was stated in the ingredients…shaved would have been so lovely! Plus, I looooove Arugula!

Modifications : Panfried Bread in Butter vs. warming in oven, Added Mayo to Potato Salad, Added provolone to sandwich.

Blue Apron Beef Weck

Week 2, Second Meal :
Shrimp & Mustard Green Laing w. Jasmine Rice
30 Minutes
Gluten-Free

Ohhhh…yeah…this is our style, I mean Hubs is Filipino, afterall!
This was good and tasty, I loved the shrimp with the sauce, and the freshness of the cilantro was amazing.

Modifications : Substituted Organic Brown Rice vs. Jasmine Rice, Needed my own Garlic (as it was not in the box!), Kept Bagoong on the side for hubs to eat as desired!

Blue Apron Laing

Week 2, Third Meal :
Chicken Schnitzel w. Watercress, Apple, Beet & Red Walnut Salad
35+ Minutes
Not Gluten-Free

This was so yummy…just straight up goodness.

Modifications : Surprisingly, no modifications…that is so rare for me!!

BLue Apron Schnitzel

Overall Impression
Very good, except for the late deliveries.

I love how they have little brown bags labelled as “Chicken Knick Knacks” and such, these are all the little goodies for each meal, so you know where it is!

Blue Apron KnickKnacsk

Be sure to check back this week…I’ll be posting parts 2, 3, and 4 (THE WINNER!) every couple days! Next up…Plated Review!

This post contains referral links.

Awesomeness to round out the year!! Citrus Lane December ’14 Review

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Bean’s December Citrus Lane box was a wonderful end to 2014!

Wanna Try it out! Get 50% off your First Box here!

Thank you for joining me here, on my Mama Bendia blog, where I’ll provide product reviews, talk mama-ness, things to do in Central Oregon, baby-friendly restaurants, and general musings!

When we signed up for Citrus Lane, we provided age and gender of our little guy and, now, receive a wonderful box of age-appropriate goodies every month!

Here’s a look inside Citrus Lane’s December 2014 box for about a 2 year old boy :

Dec 2014 Box

I love how Citrus Lane sends ‘decorated’ boxes…this month we received a snowflake box!

Dec 2014 Snowflakes

 

~ Stockpot & Utensils by Green Toys :
We are just in love with all Green Toys goodies we get from Citrus Lane and from Green Toys themselves!
This awesome Stockpot was no exception!! Bean immediately took it to his little Melissa & Doug Kitchen and started making me soup! I like to think, since he sees me making soup all the time (and cooking in general) that he’s learned by osmosis!🙂
This is the cutest ‘little chef’ set! Colors made exclusively for Citrus Lane, but available at Green Toys site in other colors/sets!

dec 2014 green toys

~ Alphabet Nesting Blocks from Melissa & Doug :
Another great item in our December box, a cool learning toy…just like Melissa & Doug does so well!
ABC Stacking and Nesting Blocks!
Each block has a set of letters from A-Z with corresponding pictures for each letter!
Bean started telling me his ABC’s as soon as he saw these!

Dec 2014 Nesting Blocks dec 2014 nesting block out

~ a Little Book from Chronicle Books :
Chronicle Books has this cute little series of ‘little books’…I had an opportunity to decide which little book we would get, but I decided to be surprised! We received “Little Pea” a book about eating. This was, also, a pre-release of the book!
In this collection is “Little Oink” and “Little Hoot” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
This book was great for us to add to our carry-on for our holiday flight out of state!

Dec 2014 little pea

~ Green Apple Age Defy Moisturizer by Juice Beauty :
AND…a little something for mama!
I admit I love getting goodies in my boy’s Citrus Lane box! I, actually, wish there could be stuff for daddy too!
I’ve received Juice Beauty items before, and have used them in the past, and I really like them. I really like this nicely moisturizing Green Apple moisturizer! I greatly enjoy that this was a travel size, because, of course, it was perfect to take along on our out of state holiday travel, an SPF would have been useful, but I was stoked to have this one!

Dec 2014 juice

If I had purchased these items individually, I would have easily spent more than $50, not including shipping (no tax in Oregon). We, also, received great coupon codes for almost every company/item represented in the box! We opt for a yearly membership, so we pay about $16/mth…

but boxes can be ordered for a month at time for just $29 AND

Get a whopping 50% off your very one 1st box here!

It’s so fun watching our little guy open the Citrus Lane box every month!
Can’t wait for 2015!
Happy Holidays!

dec 2014 playing with box

This post contains referral links.

All Things Great!! Citrus Lane November ’14 Review

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Bean’s November Citrus Lane box was all sorts of great and great timing!

Wanna Try it out! Get 50% off your First Box here!

Thank you for joining me here, on my Mama Bendia blog, where I’ll provide product reviews, talk mama-ness, things to do in Central Oregon, baby-friendly restaurants, and general musings!

When we signed up for Citrus Lane, we provided age and gender of our little guy and, now, receive a wonderful box of age-appropriate goodies every month!

Here’s a look inside Citrus Lane’s November 2014 box for about a 2 year old boy :

Nov 2014 Box

~ Veggie Play Set by PlanToys :
We’ve received and purchased Plan Toys before…they are always a delight and so beautiful! These Veggies were no exception to the rule!
I love the colors of their toys and little dude loves playing with them…he’s still stoked about his Camera from a previous box! So…when he pulled these out of their carrying bag, he went right to work ‘cooking’ up a stew for me! Adorable and Great!

Of course, the best part of these veggies was the combination of the Mustache Cut-Outs on the Citrus Lane box, for Movember, and the perfect ‘holder’ for said mustaches in the veggies! Bean was in love with dressing up the veggies with mustaches!

Nov 2014 Veggies

Nov 2014 Removing MustachesNov 2014 Veg Mustaches

~ 12 & 24 Piece Puzzle by Barefoot Books :
This is a pretty cool idea, two puzzles in one box! Double sided and one theme…this box had 12piece puzzle AND a 24piece puzzle! Determine which one to play with depending on difficulty desired.
There are many different themes…our puzzle was the “Driving My Tractor” puzzle.
Which was a great delight, as we used to listen to and sing along to this book during our Reading Time at Reading Bug in San Carlos, Ca!

Nov Puzzle

~ Beeswax Crayons by Faber-Castell :
Oh! My! Goodness! This was Great!
For my niece’s 2nd birthday she was given a gift of these great Brilliantly Colored Beeswax Crayons with Storage Case…personally, I was a bit jealous and wanted some for my little dude!
Well…Citrus Lane sure knows how to deliver! Because these beauties were waiting in Bean’s November box for him! He LOVES to color…and Balloons are a favorite…with these great crayons he now has many colorful options for his Hot Air Balloons!

Nov 2014 Crayons

~ Mystery Item!🙂 BabyGanics Chest Rub :
And…this was, also, great timing…because we’d just run into our first icky sick and doc recommended a few things to help…including some chest rub. This Cold Relief Chest Rub smells so nummy…so that made things a bit better.

Nov 2014 Chest Rub

~ 25% off and Free Shipping from Tiny Prints :
You know…those cute family holiday cards and/or birth announcements you get in the mail!? A high percentage of those come from Tiny Prints! Cute Stuff!

nov 2014 TinyPrintsIf I had purchased these items individually, I would have spent more than $45, not including shipping (no tax in Oregon). We, also, received great coupon codes for almost every company/item represented in the box! We opt for a yearly membership, so we pay about $16/mth…

but boxes can be ordered for a month at time for just $29 AND

Get a whopping 50% off your very one 1st box here!

It’s so fun watching our little guy open the Citrus Lane box every month!

Nov 2014 Opening Box

This post contains referral links.

Bouncing Off the Wall : Play place for kids, Connection place for parents

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“Hi! You look familiar…but I can’t remember from where?”

“Hmmm…Oh, from Bouncing!?”

“Yep! Totally! Nice to see you, take care.”

If you are a Bend parent with an active kiddo, you may have had just this conversation, as well. Just as I do, about every other month.
And I think it’s cute how Bouncing Off the Wall has become such a Bend fixture, that it can now be referred to as simply ‘Bouncing’!

When we moved to Bend in Winter 2013, my sis and bro-in-law gave us a gift for a few visits to Bouncing Off the Wall. Bean and I soon became serious regulars…going three times a week during  ‘Age Specific Play’ (Now called “Pre-K Play”, more on that in a bit.).
We’d, also, go on days Daddy had off work and days that Ama & Apa were visiting, basically we were there a lot…and it was great fun!

Bouncing w. ApaSoon…the Winter gave way to Spring and Summer… during School Holidays Pre-K play goes on hiatus.

We, also, took a break from Bouncing, this gave us an opportunity to explore Bend during our first Summer living here and to see what it has to offer!
What we learned is that Bouncing is everywhere!😉 I’d see Alissa and/or bouncing houses out and about during all the Summer Festivals!

When we returned to Bouncing about six months later, it was a delight to be welcomed back with great big smiles from the staff…and it was amazing to see how Bean now interacted with the toys and bouncing houses! This gave me a real gauge of his development…it was such a joy to watch him play with things in a more involved way and interact with other kiddos in a new way!

Bouncing Off the Wall developed, also…having changed the name of Age Specific Play to Per-K Play (a more fitting description) and adding ‘craft time’, in the back (birthday) room, during this time. Fun!

Bouncing Off The Wall offers WiFi connection and a Lobby area for eating and working…plus a large sectional sofa is available for lounging and working.
Importantly, I’ve connected with some great mama’s here! Along with joining Mom’s Meetup of Central Oregon (MMOCO), I found Bouncing a great place to make a few good friends! MMOCO, also, hosts events at Bouncing periodically!

So…maybe we’ll be seeing you at Bouncing!! In the meantime, here’s some info about Bouncing Off The Wall that may be helpful to you!

~ Pre-K Play :
Mon, Wed, Fri from 10am-Noon
This is time for kiddos aged Kindergarten and under…with a few more toys out and about, such as Magna Tiles, Building Blocks, Melissa & Doug Castle, and more! Super great development opportunities for these cutie toddlers!
Pre-K Play is not on when School is out for Holidays or Vacation.

Bouncing Magna Tiles~ Toddler Corral :
All Opening Hours
This is the sweetest little spot for the under 2yr olds to play! Age appropriate toys, bouncing chairs, and play ‘tables’. Even a chair and nursing pillows for mama! I’ve seen a new mama (or two) sitting in the chair, located in this area, taking a 5min nap (likely dozed off ‘unwillingly’) with her new babe…I feel ya mama…completely understand that!

~ Play for ‘Kids’ of ALL Ages :
Bean is not yet old enough, but Bouncing Off The Wall offers a lot more that we look forward to enjoying in his future!
Tween Night (1st & 3rd Fridays 6-9 pm.  Pizza, soda, loud music & NO little kids!)
Family Fun Night (2nd & 4th Fridays 6-9 pm.  Joust your son, get in the boxing ring with your wife, stick your daughter to the Velcro wall!)

~ Birthdays at Bouncing :
We attended a Birthday Party in Fall at Bouncing…it included private play time for a while, then we all shuttled into the party room and had pizza and cake. Our little friend then got to open his gifts on the inflated Throne…ummm…THAT was so cool!!
Bouncing Off The Wall offers various packages for birthday celebrations, currently ranging from $99-$349 depending on day, number of people, and pizza and/or ice cream. There are, also, a variety of ‘add-ons’ one can add to their party package.
Let me just add, after hosting two birthdays, thus far, at home…we’ve spent as much money and had to clean up after ourselves afterwards!
So, this seems like a pretty good deal and fun time!

~ Bouncy House Rentals :
Wow! Apparently, one can, actually, rent some of the bouncy houses!
I didn’t know that until I looked at their website, in research for this blog post.
There are quite a few options for structure and price.

~ Snack Bar :
Bouncing Off The Wall offers a coffee bar, cold & hot snacks/lunches, and smaller snack packs.

~ Prices & Hours :
Currently, prices are $8 per visit, $7 per additional child
and $4 for Playing adult (read: playing)
or $30 for One Month Unlimited for One Child, $25 for additional child.
There are, also, Punch Cards that can be purchased, that thus do not need to be ‘used’ within a Month’s time.
Hours are :
M-Th 10am-6pm
Fri 10am-5pm (except during added family/tween days)
Sat & Sun 9am-1pm

~ Bring Socks!
Kiddos need to have socks on, but no shoes…if you forget, Bouncing have socks available for purchase.

GO! Bounce! And, please, Let me know what you think!!🙂

Enjoy!

Bouncing Workbench

2014 in review per WordPress STATS

This is fun to look at…Looking to grow these numbers in 2015!🙂

Future posts will be about :
~ “To iPad or Not to iPad”,
~ “Info on Teething Necklaces”,
~ “Babywearing”
~ “Traveling with Baby and/or Toddler”
AND MORE!!

Join me…Subscribe!

*~*~*

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Building on Building!! Citrus Lane October ’14 Review

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Bean’s October Citrus Lane box was all about building…building onto learning development and building a play city!

Wanna Try it out! Get 50% off your First Box here!

Thank you for joining me here, on my Mama Bendia blog, where I’ll provide product reviews, talk mama-ness, things to do in Central Oregon, baby-friendly restaurants, and general musings!

When we signed up for Citrus Lane, we provided age and gender of our little guy and, now, receive a wonderful box of age-appropriate goodies every month!

Here’s a look inside Citrus Lane’s October 2014 box for about a 2 year old boy :

~ Taxi Story City Set from Janod :
On vacation in Sacramento, when Bean was about 7mths old, we found an adorable toy store in Old Sacramento. This store had a lot of great Janod items, this was the first time we’d seen that brand and we quickly realized it was a great toy brand! So, I was excited to see this toy brand in Bean’s Citrus Lane this month…he was equally excited! The little Taxi set includes a Taxi car with wheels that fit on a standard toy train track and a little dude on a scooter…cute!

October 2014 taxi

~ Police Story City Set from Janod :
Oh! What!? He received two Janod City Sets! The second set includes a Police Car and Police Officer figure!
OK…Now, we have a thing going in our living room! I think I should get some more of these little sets and more Janod play/city toys, in general!
Of course, I can buy these on-line…but did you know!? Hopscotch Kids on Galveston in Bend carries Janod!

October 2014 sets

~ Maracitos from Hohner Kids :
We’ve received a few musical instruments from Hohner in the past…namely a Harmonic that Bean looooves!
And a Tambourine that Bean would not let go of for a week, even taking a flight with it in hand!
So, it was nice to receive more fun items to make music with and build upon his love of music. Bean was equally interested and pulls them out once in a while to shake a few beats.

October 2014 macaritas

~ Dinosaur Board Book from Chronicle books :
This month was a ‘pick your item’ month! And the options were various Dinosaur books…alphabet, shapes, or numbers. I decided to let Citrus Lane surprise me, we received the ABCs book, Alphasaurus!
Pretty cute, and again, good timing, as this builds on Bean’s curiousity of the ABC’s…he’s even started ‘singing’ the cadence of the Alphabet song!
The only thing is that I, actually, can’t pronounce all the names of the Alphabet Dinos! Ha!

October 2014 Alphasaurus

If I had purchased these items individually, I would have spent $35, not including shipping (no tax in Oregon). We, also, received great coupon codes for almost every company/item represented in the box! We opt for a yearly membership, so we pay about $16/mth…
boxes can be ordered for a month at time for just $29 AND
Get a whopping 50% off your very one 1st box here!
It’s so fun watching our little guy open the Citrus Lane box every month!

October 2014 box

October 2014 Bean Box

 

This post contains referral links.

Babies vs. WaitStaff : Protecting baby at a Restaurant

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I’m sharing a post that I wrote when Bean was 1 year old!
I still get a knot in my stomach when I spend too much time thinking about this…however, now that he is a bit over 2 years old, this diligence is even more important, as he sits with us and can reach out at any random moment and connect with sharp utensils and hot liquids.

By this point, we’ve gained enough confidence to share our concern with waitstaff (which we’ve only had to do a few times). Yeah sure, sometimes they are defensive in the moment, but when they take a few seconds and think about it, they are very understanding.
Typically, though when we order anything we have concerns about and/or see questionable utensils coming to our table, we simply cut the server off at the pass and take the item before it even breaches the table’s edge!

Happily, since we typically dine at family-friendly restaurants, most of the staff are aware of ‘child safety’…and our favorite sushi place in Bend, so far, always keeps Miso, etc. away from Bean when they place it on the table. They even deliver such with a little bowl of ice, so that Bean can enjoy himself.
After all, he does like a nice cooled spoonful of soup!

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Here’s the post I wrote for my www.SFONewb.com blog :
*

Not surprisingly, I was stunned when the burning hot water from the tea mug drip-dripped onto my leg. As I moved back I was more concerned with hot liquid so close to my baby… my fear was realized as I saw the waiter put the same mug at the corner of the table within easy reach of my baby’s fast hands!

Unfortunately or not, my fear turned to anger quickly… I moved the tea as I looked up at the waiter, who had just finished apologizing and asking if I was OK. I couldn’t contain myself, “I’m fine, but you have really got to be more aware of hot liquids when you have babies at a table! Do not place hot liquids in front of a baby!!”
Our own server was at the ready for our order… I looked at her and reiterated my concern. Having children, herself, she assured me she understood! I took a breathe, looked at my hubs holding our baby and picked up the menu… but I still couldn’t concentrate and instead asked for a minute.

Just when I thought I was “OK” I realized that emotionally my nerves were frayed… my eyes teared up and when I looked at my sweet boy’s face, my eyes welled. I asked my hubs how he felt and he agreed with my actions.

You see, we were at a favorite breakfast place on the Peninsula of the Bay Area… we’d sat at this corner table before and I didn’t like that it was so close to the coffee/tea/hot water station. This morning I figured it was alright, since baby would be in a highchair at the other side of the table. Then we had this occurrence…

In other area restaurants I’ve had to address this concern, I was just helping the waitstaff become aware of serving/delivering hot dishes to a table with a baby sitting at it. After this occurrence, I will, indeed, continue to educate waitstaff on this particular safety issue!
We love going out to eat and we like to be respectful diners. We take it upon ourselves to ‘pick up’ after our baby when we are done eating, we strive to keep baby happy and if he’s fussy will take him for walk… we, also, move utensils and other items out of baby’s reach… there is, now, just one more aspect of eating out that we will be diligent with!

I write and share this blog post in the hopes of providing a bit of awareness to this topic for other parents and for the waitstaff that do not know how quickly kids can move and pull things off a table!

Take Care!

Thankfully, the waitstaff and management were not surprised at my reaction… they were understanding and generous in their offer to pay for our complete breakfast.

Kai First Sushi January 24 2014

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