Friday, September 30, 2011

Review: Kraft Mac & Cheese Veggie Pasta

Gone are the days when moms make kids sit at the dinner table until they finish their broccoli- companies are finding all sorts of crazy ways to sneak servings of vegetables into foods that kids love. I'm amazed it took this long for Kraft to jump on the bandwagon!

In one cup of Kraft's Veggie Mac & Cheese, there's a half cup of veggies! How awesome is that?! Thanks to the Amazon Vine Program, I had the opportunity to taste the new Kraft Veggie Mac. I definitely couldn't tell the difference, and I've been eating original Kraft Mac & Cheese for a long time! My only hope is that they'll eventually make the shapes (e.g. Cars and Spongebob) with the veggie mac, because I prefer the shapes over the tube-like pasta (it's a consistency thing- no, I'm not that hung up on cartoons).

Your kid will never know they're eating veggies while they eat their dinner- there's no difference in taste, color, or consistency! Kraft should start cranking this option out for Easy Mac too- then lots of college students would get more vegetables in their diet as well!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Taco Bell's Bold and Creamy Jalapeno Sauce

I was recently hanging at my brother's house and a friend came over. He had stopped at Taco Bell on his way over and commenced eating his lunch while we played a rousing game of Scrabble. At one point, I had grabbed his Taco Bell bag off the table with the intention of throwing it away to clear space on the table when he snatched the bag and said I almost threw away his green sauce. He explained that Taco Bell has this AMAZING new sauce and that he had snaged lots of packets of the stuff so he could stockpile some at home. When I asked if I could try it, he refused to share.

When I received my monthly Amazon Vine newsletter, I noticed they were offering up some of Taco Bell's AMAZING green sauce, so out of curiosity I requested it. My final opinion? Whoop-de-doo! It's got some mild kick (I emphasize mild, because I'm a wuss when it comes to spicy foods and I had no problem with it), which can add a bit of dimension to some bland food, but the sauce itself is borderline tasteless. I tried it on tacos and found it less than thrilling. It added some creaminess, but I think I still prefer adding some good 'ole fashioned salsa to my taco. I then started adding it to random foods to see where it would fit in... As a dip for chicken strips? Nope. Dip for fries? Definitely not. Chip dip? No. As a substitute for mayo on a sandwich? Yeah, it works there. Seeing as it fit best as a sandwich condiment, I'd be more likely to grab this if I saw it in with the mayo than I would be if I was in the Mexican food section at Walmart.

Nutritionally, it's not exactly healthy (it's a creamy sauce, what can you expect?) but then again, if you're planning on adding condiments to your Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch, I'm thinking calorie counting isn't your thing. Give it a try- obviously there are those out there who love this stuff! Personallly, I'll stick with my salsa and guacamole.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Winner of The Body Shop's Dreams Unlimited is...

Wow, it's amazing how much traffic is generated by posting a giveaway on a couple of giveaway sites! I've run all of the entries for the 50mL bottle of The Body Shop's Dreams Unlimited perfume through Random.org, and the winner is... 

carole!!!

Congrats! I'll send you an email, and you have 48 hours to respond before I move on down the list to pick the next winner! I've included the top 10 below, so in the event I don't hear from carole, you all know who is coming next!

Please don't forget that you can still enter to win a digital copy of MyMemories Digital Scrapbooking Suite v2.0 [Ends 10/2]! You can also add your name to the Book Box to have your choice of 2 books [Ends 9/30]!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream!


Guess where I'm headed? I'm a passholder, so I go to Busch Gardens Howl-o-Scream every year, but my parents attended the passholder event last weekend and were informed that after a lot of negative feedback (it's been getting so family-friendly that it's more funny that scary), the park is reverting back to being downright frightening! They said folks can bring kids during the day, but it's recommended they take them out of the park come nightfall... Here's hoping they live up to our expectations... I'll try and get some photos (weather permitting)!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Review & Giveaway: MyMemories Digital Scrapbooking Suite v2.0!

I was recently contacted by the people at My Memories regarding a review of their latest Digital Scrapbooking Software, My Memories Suite v 2.0. Being the avid scrapbooker that I am, I was eager to try it out!

You may or may not know this about me- I LOVE scrapbooking! Being the crafty sort, I tend to go a bit crazy in the craft store, buying all of the super fun little embellishments and pretty papers. I have multiple scrapbooks- one for my Postcrossing postcards, one for my movie ticket stubs, one for my European travels, and one for my U.S. travels. Lately, I've been toying with the idea of converting to digital scrapbooks because as much as I love the tangible nature of my scrapbooks, they don't really fit anywhere. I have those big 12" x 12" scrapbooks, and they don't fit on any of my book shelves, so they sit in a pile in the corner of my bedroom. It drives me crazy!

I was super excited to have the opportunity to try digital scrapbooking software! After downloading the program (plus points for not requiring a CD!), I created a random page to get a feel for the software. My first impression was of how incredibly intuitive the program is- You can select a basic photo layout and then you have various tabs such as paper type, embellishments, text, etc to select from. In under 10 minutes, I threw this together (click to see larger):

The program comes with loads of freebie presets, so while I was experimenting with the pages I've shown here, I didn't need to spend any additional cash. That said, embellishment packs and such are very affordable on their website (more-so than paying for various embellishments at the craft store!). They run between $1 and $6 from what I've seen, and there are kits for all manner of events and memories! There are even some freebie kits and sale items!

If you're interested, you also have the option of joining the MyMemories Design Club. The $5.99 per month membership includes 5 new kits every month (exclusive to club members for 30 days), plus an additional 5% discount off all the designs in the store and the discount gets bigger the longer you are a member! The kits come with fun papers and embellishments. It's a fantastic deal (where else can you get 5 kits worth of papers and embellishments for $6?)!

The website also offers tutorials and links to videos on YouTube where you can learn some neat tricks (I'll have to watch them all... as you can see, I'm no pro at scrapbooking).

When you complete your scrapbook, you can view it in a slideshow, video, export it as an image, or print it! So you're eliminating the cost of printing photos and buying tons of paper and embellishments, and saving space! Awesome!

I definitely love this software! It's incredibly easy to use- everything is drag & drop and you can rearrange and rotate to your heart's content. It seems much cheaper than traditional scrapbooking, and because you can add and delete things as much as you want, the sky is the limit as to how you want it to look! When everything is finished, you're not stuck with a huge, cumbersome album, and you can share it with everyone near and far! If you're into scrapbooking, I'd recommend trying it!

If you're already doing the digital scrapbooking thing, you can get $10 off the MyMemories Suite v2.0 and $10 off scrapbooking supplies in the My Memories store by entering the code STMMMS7910 during checkout ($20 value)!

Win it!

One lucky individual is going to win a digital download of the MyMemories Suite v 2.0, compliments of My Memories! Contest ends Oct 2nd at 11:59 PM EST and is open to everyone (hooray for digital downloads!)! The winner will be chosen with Random.org and will be contacted. If I hear nothing back within 48 hours, I'll pick the next winner on the list!

Mandatory Entry:  Visit the My Memories Website and leave a comment here stating which scrapbooking kit is your favorite!

Extra entries:
(+1) Follow the My Memories Blog
(+1) Follow My Memories on Facebook
(+1) Follow My Memories on Twitter
(+1) Follow Confessions of a Bookworm (GFC, Networked Blogs, RSS, etc)
(+1) Leave a comment on another post on Confessions of a Bookworm
(+1) Tweet about this giveaway (include @VaBookworm87 so I see it! You can just use the Twitter button below this post to get the link)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Win a 50mL Bottle of The Body Shop's Dreams Unlimited!


Start believing in your dreams

Whatever your dream, Dreams Unlimited exhilarating scent will inspire you. The exotic combination of citrus, green chili and white flowers will fire you up with energy and optimism.

I won this in a contest but I'm not a perfume wearer, so I've decided to do a giveaway! It's a cute little bottle (would it be wrong to dump the perfume and keep the bottle? lol) but as I said, perfume isn't my thing...
 
Ok, so here are the giveaway rules:
Open to the US and Canada (sorry rest of the world- I haven't got $20 to drop on international postage)
You must complete the mandatory entry to qualify
Make sure you leave me an email address to contact you!


Mandatory Entry:
Comment on another post on my blog. Post in a comment here which one you commented on

Extra Entries:
  1. Leave me a comment with some feedback about what you'd like to see/change about my blog (I'm trying to improve it and am always looking for opinions)
  2. Follow me (GFC, NetworkedBlogs, Twitter, etc) +1 entry for each (leave a comment)
Contest ends 9/26 at 11:59PM EST. Winner will be drawn with Random.org. I'll email the winner on 9/27, who will then have 48 hours to respond before I'll pick a new winner.

P.S.- I've been remiss in picking a Book Box Winner for the past couple of months. For this reason, I'll pick 2 (maybe 3 if I feel like it) winners on Oct. 1 so get your name in the box!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quickster to Replace Netflix DVD Service


If you haven't heard (meaning non-Netflix users because Netflix emailed all of their users), Netflix DVD Service will be no more... No, it's not going anywhere- they're simply refacing it. Now that DVDs and streaming are two separate plans, they're separating the business further, into Netflix Streaming Service and Quickster DVD Service.
The name Qwikster is supposed to be representative of the quick delivery of DVDs. That's fine by me, but I have one comment to make on the name- why, if they were aiming to separate the businesses while maintaining that it's still good 'ole Netflix, did they not name it something like Qwikflix? Netflix... Qwikflix... Is anyone else with me on this? There's more continuity there, I think.
Now, I've been a Netflix user for about 7 years... I was doing the DVDs + streaming up until recently, but between 2 jobs and various other projects, my time to sit down and just watch a movie has been limited. Since I like to watch movies on the go with my phone and laptop, I decided to step down to just streaming. It's been a bit tough actually, since a lot of my programs are only available on DVD. And now I've heard they're adding video games as an upgrade to the DVD service! As an avid gamer and movie lover, what is a girl to do?! If I get more free time when I finish up with my two jobs, I think I might be going back to the DVD service... Or, I might just create an account on my parents' plan, since they do the 3 DVDs + Unlimited streaming plan.

One last comment though- in the email that Netflix sent out, the email opened with this:

"I messed up. I owe you an explanation.
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing."

Really people? When are people EVER going to respond happily to a price increase? Sadly, the companies that provide Netflix with their movies increased their prices when it was time to renew their contracts with Netflix, and in turn Netflix had to increase their prices for us users. But what grown person has so little to deal with in their normal lives, that they felt truly offended by how Netflix handled it? I'd have been pissed if they'd done it without saying anything, but they contacted all users and openly explained the situation... and yet, for some folks out there, apparently this was not the right way to go about it. Why do people offend so easily these days?

Really though Netflix, you've done what you had to do to survive in this rubbish economy! As a longtime user, I understand why you did it and although it sucks losing my DVD service, I know it had to happen this way. I don't blame you. I blame the media companies behind the contracts that decided to gouge you for every penny they could, even though they already make ten gazillion dollars every year through TV and film.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Time and A Place

I'm a BIG fan of courtesy waves... I give them constantly on the road, even if technically all I did was change lanes and there was plenty of room so it's not like the person behind me had to make room for me to slide in. I'm just a happy driver, what can I say?

Then there's everyone else... I am a super courteous driver (much to the dismay to anyone behind me) and tend to let everyone in (unless it's some jerk who is driving up the shoulder to get ahead of the traffic a bit before they have to cut in- I let them sit). It drives me nuts when there's a TON of rush hour traffic, and I'm nice enough to let some person jump into traffic from a side road, and they give me nothing. I get courtesy waves so rarely that I get truly excited when I get one. Sometimes I'll get one with my brother in the car, and we'll both be like, "Hey! Courtesy wave! Awesome!" How sad is that?

So yesterday I'm driving home from work and traffic is pretty bad. I noticed a guy trying to pull out of the Hardee's parking lot but not finding space in the wall of traffic. So, being me, I let him squeeze in. Now, I can see that in his left hand he's got food (a chicken sandwich or a burger or whatever) and his right hand is on the wheel. As he's pulling into traffic, he gives me a wave with his right hand! I'm always happy to get a courtesy wave, but rather than just give a little tip 'o the burger (so to speak), he opted to remove his hand from the steering wheel while in motion!

I love courtesy waves, but in terms of priorities, I'd rather at least one hand be on the wheel than get that little wave!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Word to Parents...

I'm going to rant for a moment, and I'll preface this by saying I know that this won't apply to all parents- quite frankly, I'm appalled that it applies to ANY and that's why I feel the need to bring this up...

As some of you know, I work as an athletic trainer at the middle school level. For those who aren't familiar with it, athletic training is a branch of sports medicine that provides preventitive care, assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports related injuries. I spend my afternoons on the sideline of practices and games, ensuring that the kids receive immediate care in the event that they are injured.

Since the start of the middle school season last week, I have had three football players with broken bones! Last Monday, a kid broke his wrist doing up-downs. After assessing him and determining his wrist may be broken, I splinted him and spoke to his parents when they arrived to pick him up. Their immediate reaction upon seeing their kid blew my mind- rather than sounding concerned about their kid's arm being in a splint, their tone was one of irritation. I explained the situation, and they seemed totally put out that they'd have to take their kid for an x-ray.

On Friday, another kid was stepped on and upon assessment, I determined he had a fractured fibula (the skinny bone on the outside of your lower leg). I was barely touching the bone during my assessment and the poor kid was crying his eyes out from the pain. I called his parents, and his dad arrived to pick him up. His dad very gruffly and disbelievingly asked why he had been called to the school and asked to see where I thought the bone was broken. His dad kneels down beside him and grabs the kid's leg so hard his knuckles turned white, as if he was checking to see if the kid was actually in pain or just putting it on. The assistant student activities coordinator, coach, principal and myself all looked at each other in disbelief that he would do something so cruel! He then stands up, looks at us and says, "I'll wait until his mom gets home from work and we'll talk about whether or not we'll take him for an x-ray." He then started walking towards the parking lot, his son limping along behind him (fibulas are non-weight bearing bones, so it's possible to walk with a broken one) and when he reached the parking lot he turned to his son and told him to hurry the hell up.

Really??? Seriously parents, if you're not willing to deal with the potential consequences of your child playing a sport, DO NOT send them out there to play! FOOTBALL IS NOT DAYCARE. When you sign off that your kid can play, you're signing off that you are willing to take them to the ER if need-be. You are signing off that you will leave work and come pick up your kid from practice if need-be. If your child is BROKEN, act like you give a damn! That poor boy on Friday sat there and listened to his dad say he "might" take him to the ER. What the hell do you think that does to a 12 year old kid to hear his dad make it blatantly clear that he doesn't care that he's got a broken leg? If you don't want to take care of a kid, don't have one in the first place!!!! For the record- the kid with the jerk of a dad has a history of bad behavior at school- hmm, I wonder why?

And one last note- I had this same conversation with all three of the kids with broken bones:

Me to Kid: How much milk do you drink?
Kid: None! Milk is disgusting!
Me to Parent: Your child says they don't drink milk.
Parent: Oh no, he hates milk.

I'm sorry, but when did kids gain such total control over their parents? Parents, quit being doormats! I hate milk too, but I still drink some on occasion, and - shocker - I've never broken a bone! Do you let your kid eat cake for dinner? Or do you make them eat a bit of vegetables? I hate broccoli, but as a kid my mom made me sit at the table until I ate it. Unless your kid has some medical condition that means they shouldn't consume milk, make them drink it! You're an adult, and they're a child! Be the adult! Take some control! This is almost as bad as the fact that I've got 11 year old athletes with tattoos!

I will say that when I spoke to the parents of the kid who I believed to have a fractured fibula yesterday (2 in a week- what are the chances?), they were totally cool with taking him for an x-ray. They thanked me for making the call to keep him from playing in the scrimmage yesterday, and said they'd take him to get it checked out. So I know it's not all parents... but quite frankly, I'm mad that there are any parents out there who are so flippant about their child's well being, let alone two out of three. Regardless of whether your kid is deliberate or accidental, you've put another human on this Earth and you're responsible for its upbringing.

Rant over.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hi!

I know what you're thinking- Lindsay has fallen off the face of the Earth! I swear I'm alive and still blogging... Actually, I've been working hard on something for the blog, and I hope to have it working soon! In the meantime, please bear with me!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Review: Heelys Shoes! [VLOG]

Heelys and Business2Blogger recently teamed up for a campaign to bring Heelys shoes to a larger audience- Heelys is hoping to prove that their shoes aren't just kids! Out of curiosity, I signed on for the campaign. I was given my choice of shoes and once I'd received them, my brother and I headed outside for some wheeling fun!

Mind you, before putting on the shoes, I read up on the Heelys General Guide to see how to operate the shoes, and the Heelys Safety Playbook to ensure I was not going to crack my head open on the cement. Fortunately, they have an entire site called the Tricktionary which has tutorial videos and such that you can watch to learn how to operate the shoes!

So, here's my vlog of the Heelys experience!


All in all, I actually rather enjoyed them! I had a lot of trouble telling my toes to stay up, but my brothers and I were thoroughly amused watching me struggle to learn to use them! I now understand why kids wheel around in stores in these shoes... the ground needs to be rather smooth to get a good roll going- unfortunately we don't really have any smooth surfaces around unless I were to go into the house (and then my mom would kill me!).

I really like the look of them, and I was really pleased to see that the wheels were removable! I can honestly say I got some exercise out of these... I'm sore today after only an hour in them yesterday!

We already know kids love them, but for all the adults out there- you can totally enjoy these too! If you grew up with roller skates/roller blades, I think you'll have fun in these! It just takes some practice!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Labor Day at Grandma's!

My brother and I drove up to Grandma's in Maryland this past weekend to meet up with a couple of the girls I met on my trip to Europe! They live in Pennsylvania, so we decided Grandma was sort of the halfway point. I was fantastic! And I had fun taking photos out on Grandma's porch, so I wanted to share a few:
Grandma has quite a few hummingbirds. Sorry I didn't get a better shot... for some reason I didn't think to bring my zoom lens to the place where I knew there would be tons of awesome birds...
Blue-tailed skink! We have them all over in Virginia and Maryland!
We fed the squirrels some peanuts. He saw me and was a bit suspicious of my motives...
But he could not resist the peanuts!
Nom!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blog Tour Review: The Last Seal by Richard Denning

The date is September 1, 1666. London is about to be ravaged by the worst fire in its history, but they only think they know the cause...

Benjamin Silver knows all too well about fire- he lost his parents to one not long ago. Since their death, he's been acting out at school and repeatedly getting into trouble. Today is no different- after being told to stay in his room, he decides to sneak away from the school and wander London. He ends up at a bookstore where he sees a symbol of a portcullis that matches a pendant he wears around his neck.

From the moment Ben walks into the bookstore, his life changes forever. He suddenly learns there is more to the world than anyone had ever imagined. Hiding within the city of London is a beast of unspeakable horror and power-hungry men who have decided they want to unleash the beast. In just a few days, Ben discovers many new things about himself and with the help of a few new friends, he hopes to save London from a worse fate than the fire. Can they do it?


I think what I love most about Richard Denning's books is the fact that he manages to integrate true historical events into his stories and successfully integrate elements of fantasy and the supernatural. Today is in fact the 345th anniversary of Day 2 of the Great Fire of London, so I love that I'm reviewing a book about it today! Did you know that 13,000 homes were destroyed, leaving 70,000 of 80,000 London residents homeless? Fortunately, the fire only killed a dozen or so people, but it also killed off the rats that carried the fleas that transmitted the bubonic plague!

The writing in this book is fairly simple- it's youth fiction, so it's easy reading. The character interactions are entertaining, and you learn a bit of background on each character as the story moves along. The characters also grow as individuals as the story develops- Ben confronts the trauma of his parents' death, Gabriel confronts his fears, etc. The story itself was quick paced. Just when things seemed to start slowing down for the characters, something else would go awry and they'd be off and running again! It isn't all death and mayhem though- there is a bit of humor intertwined with the story to lighten the mood a bit!

Richard Denning, the author of The Last Seal
Mr. Denning has obviously done his research- the beast Dantalion isn't merely the the fruit of his imagination, but a powerful demon with various abilities, according to demonology. These abilities are all exhibited in The Last Seal. He also explains various events surrounding the Great Fire of London, such as how the winds spread the fire and suddenly stopped after three days. I love when books are well researched! It makes me feel as though I'm actually learning something new as I'm reading! In fact, I know quite a bit more about the Great Fire of London since reading The Last Seal!

If you enjoy tales of the struggles between good and evil, I highly recommend this book to you! It's a fun, quick paced read that you won't be able to put down! It made for an excellent summer read!

Check out more reviews/info about the book at Richard Denning's Blog Tour page! You can also follow Mr. Denning on Twitter here, and on Facebook here!

You can also check out my review of his previous book, Tomorrow's Guardian!

**I received a copy of The Last Seal from Richard Denning in exchange for an honest review**

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: Mat Kearney's Young Love

 

I recently received a copy of Mat Kearney's latest album, Young Love, from the One2One Network to review. I don't normally listen to music with lyrics (I'm a film score junkie), but I listened to some snippets on iTunes and decided I liked the sound of it. As soon as the CD arrived, I dropped the music onto my iTunes and had a listen. So, what do I think?

I love it! The music has some great beats, and meaningful lyrics. The first single released from the album, "Hey Mama" is a fun, foot tapping/hand clapping tune about when Mat first met his wife. My favorite song is "Ships in the Night"- it's got a great beat, and I like the spoken rap/hip hop sound that Mat has (I really like his voice!). I also enjoyed the more mellow tunes, such as "Rochester" which is a tune he wrote for his dad.




This album is considered rock, but most of the songs are either really mellow or really upbeat, so I love it! I find that I can listen to this album both as I'm falling asleep and as I'm driving in to work in the morning and need something to wake me up.

It's $10 on iTunes, or $5 on Amazon mp3 (and you can get 20gb of free cloud space for downloading the album from Amazon) so if you like the sound of the music in the video above, I highly recommend you check it out!