Archive for the ‘ Product Reviews ’ Category

Links for The Newbs

Hey there brand new Mamas. I hear you want to cloth diaper your baby that is still gestating or is yet fresh. Congratulations on that kind of awesomeness. Feels kind of like entering into an insane hippie world where I will be forced to make my own granola too (I’m sure it is delicious! I love reading your recipes! I just buy Cascadian Farms because it is so EASY).

In spite of those patchouli scented fears, I will admit that I SOMETIMES, every so often, when everything is not aligned, think about it. Should I jump in and get a system? Should I be the only one in this house who diapers the next baby? Would this change how much sleep I get post partum?

These thoughts have nowhere to go. Scratch that. Had nowhere to go. For now, the incredible Amalah has written down her thoughts on it all. They are good thoughts. Thoughts you may or may not be interested in reading. If not, don’t click. If you are, here’s where to look:

Post #1 – the preamble

Post #2 – the dirty truth

Post #3 – yet to come

Yeah. These were so good that I am posting a link to the third installment that is yet to come. Sorry, it was that good.

Thought you might want to read for yourself and perhaps jump into the comments over there or here or whatevs. Kisses, hippies!

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Product Review: 30 Day Shred

I work at home and from home with my children in constant tow, which is exactly how we planned this whole thing to work.  I love it that I don’t get up and go somewhere to work. I love it that my kids expect me to stay with them and the thought of going somewhere during the day includes all of us.  It’s not necessarily the most financially advantageous decision, but nothing of value comes without a price.  Unfortunately, after I had Piper, that price was showing up in bat wings, love handles and tummy flab.

After Gideon was born, nursing was a magic diet pill of which I sang great praise.  For whatever reason (I was older. Piper doesn’t eat like Gideon. I loved brownies even more in 2009) I had to work to get back into my pre-pregnancy pants.  And it took me a year to figure that out.  When I finally committed myself to working out four days per week, I knew I needed something that would keep my interest and keep me at home.  I already had a gym membership, which I would use when Jud was home and bedtime wasn’t imminent.  The sleep deprivation of motherhood had completely removed my will to get out of bed to the sound of anything but a child needing me.

We weren’t interested in purchasing gym equipment for the house, primarily because we are safety nuts.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that each year about 8,700 children under 5 years of age are injured with exercise equipment.There are an additional 16,500 injuries per year to children ages 5 to 14. We just weren’t interested in opening our home up to that kind of risk.

So I turned to videos.

I already had The Biggest Loser Volume 2.

It was good, but it wasn’t great.   I don’t really care for Kim Lyons.  She’s a little whiny and too much cheerleader for me.

So I bought Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.

It has three levels with self-contained 25 minute work outs.  She leads you with two other women demonstrating the exercises (one modified for injury or laziness).   Each workout begins with a warm up that changes slightly for each level and a cool down that is exactly the same each time.  Each workout is 3 sets of 3 minutes of strength training with 2 minutes of cardio and then 1 minute of abdominal work. You should have some light weights (2-8 lbs).

Level One – It is pretty easy, really. If I do level one now, I do all of the cardio moves with weights, but I didn’t start there.

Level Two – The second set of cardio makes me feel like I could puke. For real. Power through it and you’ll be okay. Probably.

Level Three – It seems like it’s not as hard as Level Two until the next day when you realize that all of those odd movements you copied were moving muscles you haven’t used since they were given to you. I once threw up while doing the jumping lunges on this level.  I didn’t feel ill or anything.  I am pretty sure that squeezing my core to stabilize myself and jumping at the same time with a little kick of lactic acid made the vomit cocktail a reality.  I would give yourself plenty of time to digest before you workout.

BUT DOES IT WORK?  IS IT ANY GOOD? I DON’T JUST WANT TO PUKE!  I WANT RESULTS!!

It does.  You’ll get results.  BUT, and this is a very big but, you’ll still need to modify your diet if you want to see real results. I worked out with this, added running (between 3 and 7 miles up to 4 times a week) and Bob Harper’s Bootcamp dvd (which has a great arm section – level 3) for about a year. I kind of have muscle definition.  I kind of still eat too many carbohydrates.  I kind of love cheese.

I can guarantee that you will feel it.  You’ll have pain.  You’ll want it to end.  You’ll want those Aleve you took to kick in.  IF you apply yourself and don’t cheat the movements, which you, of course, would then your body will change.

Verdict: If you will actually do the dvd, you will both love and hate it. You will get a real work out.  It will only eat 25 minutes of your day (you can even grab a shower and write a blog post while your child[ren] take their naps!). It will change your body if you keep at it, but you’ll probably need more than 30 days to see it. If you are already running or cycling or something and want some added boost to your workout, this would be a great one.

 

Anybody else want to weigh in?  Do you own it?  Do you love it?  Do you hate it?  Am I right? Am I wrong?  Did I forget something important?  Tell me!  And tell us all!

Restaurant Review: Ingredient Omaha (One Pacific Place)

Restaurant Location:
10317 Pacific St,
Omaha, NE 68114
402-932-2544
Visit their website.

Date I Dined: May 21, 2011
Meal: Supper
Diners: Me, Jud and Allison

Decor: Located in the old California Pizza Kitchen bay of One Pacific Place, Ingredient, is open and spacious. Windows and natural light keep it from seeming dark, but the tint kept it cozy too. There was a heavy use of plexi-panneling with bamboo and dried flowers and swirls and such to add privacy and visual interest. This is an order at the counter diner trying to feel like it’s upscale, except that they plastered the place with televisions. You can watch sports! And look at wheat encased in plexi-glass! I don’t know, either.

The menu is large, and I don’t just mean that there is a lot to order. The actual menus that hang on the wall are gigantic with writing so far up the wall that I literally had to crane my neck to read them. Granted, I’m 5’2″, so this is mostly bothering me, the little people and children. Still. Proportions matter.

Ordering: The young woman behind the counter seemed tired and a little overwhelmed, with a deep line of people coming her way, I couldn’t blame her. We asked about the ‘draft of the day’ which is $3/glass she stated it was Coors.

Can you see why that seemed slightly ridiculous?

Yeah, it should’ve been obvious that things here weren’t going to go well. If only, we’d gone straight to Red Mango at this point.

But we didn’t. We ordered the following:

Crispy Asian Salad – ALLISON
thai-chili glazed steak, napa cabbage, bok choy, glass noodles, edamame, crisp red peppers, snow peas, carrots, and spicy cashews with sesame ginger dressing, topped with crispy wonton strips 9.95

Thai Pie Pizza – THE JUD
curry chicken, grilled broccoli, red onions, julienne carrots, thai peanut sauce, fresh cilantro, and chopped peanuts 9.95

Meat Lovers Pizza – ME
Italian sausage, pepperoni, apple wood bacon, capicola ham, with rustic tomato sauce and our three-cheese Italian blend 10.95

AND, unfortunately, Allison and I decided to share a carafe of margaritas.

It seemed like a good idea. But it wasn’t. It really, really wasn’t.

First, it was a TINY carafe. Now, I know, in their defense, it says right there in giant numbers that this is a 1/2 liter. I, of course, am spatially stunted, so that means nothing to me. I expected one thing and got another.

When the young woman brought it to our table, she seemed apologetic. Probably because the carafe was full of ice. It was mostly ice. And I have never really hoped to pay $15 for a carafe full of ice, unless maybe I was taking the carafe with me at the end of the meal. Even then….

There were so many harbingers of the horror to come! If we had only been paying attention and not trying to catch up with each other and enjoy our birthday celebration. Be ye not so unwise, dear readers!

And then the food came.

And it was not pretty. I should say that the pizzas were not pretty. In fact, they looked barely baked, save for some char on the crust rim. The cheese was just to the other side of melted. You could still see the outlines of the shredding in some spots. Not gooey. Not bubbly. The salad was bright and had some nice pops of color. Jud and I were both immediately jealous of Allison (as if we weren’t already! Have you seen her stuff?).

And then we started eating. I know this guy, doesn’t agree, but it was awful. I believe my exact words were “I wish I was eating a Totino’s Party Pizza. I would be $9 richer and it would taste better.” The meat wasn’t high quality. The cheese was nothing of note. And the crust was bland, rubbery and flaccid. Jud’s pizza was no better. The thai peanut sauce tasted exactly like Kraft’s Asian Sesame Ginger sauce (which is pretty awesome on a salad at home, but less so on a pizza). The vegetables weren’t especially cooked. They clearly needed to spend more time in a ridiculously hot oven. The cheese and crust were just like mine.

Meanwhile, over in awesome land, Allison was not too unhappy with her salad. She munched. We all talked. Jud and I choked down our pizzas because we were STARVING. And then, IT HAPPENED. There was a terrible noise, like grinding and enamel and rocks. Why? Oh, because THERE WAS A ROCK IN ALLISON’S SALAD. Not like a little pebble or something. A rock. A rock that had been hiding in some lettuce and that she bit into multiple pieces. How large? Here you go. We photographed it.

Salad Rock - Post-Bite

After she had a moment to catch her breath and pick the rock shards from her mouth, Allison went to the restroom to inspect the damage. We asked to see a manager. When he came over, we explained what happened and he said “Well, lettuce grows in the ground so these things happen.” And then, as Jud as my witness, the dude Kanye shrugged. As if to say “Whatev!” “Not my problem!” “Lettuce can be rocky!”. And then he was all “do you want another salad?”

Let’s see? Another salad that you most likely have also poorly washed? NOPE! We’re good, sir!

Jud said “You know, water comes from the faucet and you should wash your produce.”

Another Shrug. “Do you want your money back,” asked Shruggy McShruggerton.

“This isn’t about the money,” I said. And it isn’t. It still isn’t. It’s about proper food preparation. It’s about public trust. It’s about taking responsibility and owning the fact that someone was INJURED eating the salad for which your name should be vouching.

Then he picked up the largest piece of rock and walked away.

Allison returned. We walked out and over to Red Mango where all of our hopes and dreams for humanity were restored.

Verdict: Eat at your own risk, Dan. I bet the rest of you are with me. Any place that wants to pride themselves on what goes into their food (hence the name ‘Ingredient’ I suppose) ought to start off with something great, make sure it is prepared properly and serve it with class. They missed the mark on every level and we will be using our own ingredients from here on out.

Product Review – Conditioner is better, I make the hair silky and smooth. Oh yeah?!

I am still formulating a restaurant review post, so in the meantime, I give you a product review. You will be so happy that I did (if you’ve ever been inside of Trader Joe’s and been out of conditioner and thought “why not?”).

Kim’s Review of: Trader Joe’s Refresh Citrus Conditioner with Vitamin C

It’s own description:
Unique Aroma-Therapeutic Blend of Orange Blossoms and Grapefruit
Created with Vitamin C and B-5 and Soothing Chamomile
Cruelty Free – Never Tested on Animals; No Animal Products in Ingredients
16 Fl Oz (473 mL) Bottle
100% Biodegradable

My take on it:
Okay, so it smells delicious. It’s biodegradable but not edible, so I haven’t tasted it or anything, but I could. Almost. It is fresh and lovely and everything you would want your head to smell like, especially after you have been outside for a while and you get that awful funk. I wish that summer smelled like this conditioner instead of sweaty children and sunscreen, but alas. It’s not to be.

And the bottle is cute. Look! Cute!

(Disclaimer: I didn’t try out the shampoo, although it is pictured here).

It is also ridiculously cheap. We’re talking under four dollars for all of that conditioner. It could be so awesome.

But the love stops right before I put it on my hair. It is so hard to get out of my hair, almost as if I slathered some Aveeno Oatmeal Lotion on my head. That kind of hard. And in spite of the fact that I take socially irresponsible showers (people everywhere don’t have water and I act like standing under the shower head is some kind of right), I still have conditioner in my hair when I comb it out afterwards. What is that? Why? Wax? All the lotion they mixed in? I’m not sure.

And my hair does not look better for it. It kind of looks like the hair I imagine people who listen to NPR have on their heads (What? Well, yes, I do happen to listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and Click and Clack and Morning Edition and, oh, I get it).

Of course, Trader Joe’s has the awesomeness to take back anything you buy from them if you aren’t satisfied and I could return this to them and they would be super cool about it, but it would probably cost me more in gas to drive over there than to just keep using it and marveling at the left overs in mah hairs. And that is what I am going to do. Keep using it until it is all gone. And then I’ll buy some Bumble and Bumble.