The Mom Next Door

Monday, July 25, 2016

#CrazyCupsCoffee: Chocolate Raspberry Truffle

 #CrazyCupsCoffee #TasteHappiness #Ambassador


This month's Crazy Cups flavor is Chocolate Raspberry Truffle and I knew immediately that it was going to be impressively delicious, as all Crazy Cups flavors are. 

Immediately upon brewing my senses took me back to the last time I had homemade raspberry brownies. This medium roast coffee smelled exactly how those brownies did when they were fresh out of the oven. The taste? Ohhhh the taste!!

It was like biting into a fresh, hot homemade raspberry chocolate brownie. EXACTLY like it. Well, maybe not exactly like it as the coffee is zero calories and I don't even want to think about how many calories are in those brownies. That's the beauty of all Crazy Cups flavors. You get the wonderful taste of your favorite desserts and sweets without all the calories. And obviously with the addition of the "mommy's little helper" that is caffeine. 


If you wish to experience the combination of tangy raspberries and smooth, sweet chocolate, you can purchase these in a 22ct box as well as a sample size 4ct box at http://crazycups.com

You should also follow Crazy Cups on FACEBOOK and TWITTER because I know they are constantly coming out with new flavors and you don't want to miss it!



This month's recipe is, what else? Raspberry Chocolate Brownies! 
This recipe is from the Betty Crocker kitchen and it's one that I've used (although I've modified it a bit through the years). 



Ingredients

1
box (1 lb 2.3 oz) Betty Crocker™ fudge brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box
1
package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2
cup powdered sugar
1/2
cup raspberry preserves
1
oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1
tablespoon butter or margarine 

Directions

  • 1 Heat oven to 350ºF. Bake brownie mix as directed on box, using water, oil and eggs, in 13x9-inch pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • 2 Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and preserves in small bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread over brownies. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
  • 3 Place chocolate and butter in small microwavable bowl. Microwave uncovered on Medium (50%) about 1 minute or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Drizzle over brownies. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chocolate is firm. For 18 brownies, cut 6 rows by 3 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .  

Let's Color Together!

*Contains affiliate links*




I post about coloring books a lot, and it's no wonder why, since we are big on creativity and art in ou house. My husband, kiddos, and I have nights when we all sit down and color, draw, or work on projects together. My daughter is getting older and she sees the coloring books that I color in and wants to try coloring the more detailed photos now. My son just likes helping me color the pages I'm coloring. 

Artist Margaret Peot designed a really great coloring book for parents and kiddos to work on together called "Lets Color Together: A Sharable Coloring Book for Parents and Kids"


Each page is front and back, fully illustrated photos of nature scenes. One side is more detailed for the parents and the opposite page is the same photo (or elements of the same photo) with less details for the youngsters. The corresponding pages are opposite each other so you and your child can sit across from one another while you color, which is a great position to be in for engaging conversation.



The pages can also be torn out so you can sit side by side or just to display your artwork on the fridge or even framed! This is really a great project to do if you have older and younger kids as well. The older kids (pre-teen and teenagers) can color the detailed pages and the younger set can color the regular pages and they can then be framed and gifted to the grandparents or aunts and uncles!



Even though the kids portion of the book is less detailed than the adult portion, there are still some photos that have a lot more detail than others. I did find that when I did pages with my (soon to be) 4 year old son, he finished quicker than I did or just got bored with it since the pictures were a little more detailed than the coloring books that he is use to. My 9 year old daughter, however, was very interested in each picture including the ones geared towards the adults. 


Margaret Peot is an artist, writer, and costume painter. Her books include Inkblot: Drip, Splat and Squish Your Way to Creativity, which was awarded the Eureka! silver Medal for non-fiction children’s books, Alternative Art Journals, and Make Your Mark. Visit her at http://www.margaretpeot.com/.

Twitter: @MargaretPeot

*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Baffle Yoga Tanks: Fun and Fierce Fitness Tops

*Contains affiliate links*


I'm really into fitness. I mean REALLY into fitness. It's to the point where I am fairly sure I have more fitness clothing than I do "normal" clothing at this point, and I'm perfectly okay with that to be honest. Yoga pants, sports bras, sneakers, tees and tanks...

I'm pretty obsessed with burnout tees and tanks because they always come in such great, bold colors and they are great for air flow because they are thin. That's why I'm really diggin' these yoga tanks by Baffle. 



Obviously you can wear them for more than just yoga. I wear them on my runs/walks, on the elliptical, when I'm weight training, and of course, when I'm doing yoga. All the tanks come in a variety of bright colors with really fun sayings on them. Yoga, Wine, & The Bachelor? Heck yes! Especially that wine part! 

I love the fit and feel of these tanks and have even worn them out running errands or around my house as well. Although, they are a bit see-through, so if you go that route with them, I definitely suggest wearing a cami or another tank under them. 


*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Pop Manga Coloring Book by Camilla d'Errico

*Contains Affiliate Link*

About a month ago, in the latest Previews catalog (a catalog of upcoming comic books and nerdy stuff), my husband had showed me this Pop Manga Coloring Book that was available for preorder. Since I love coloring as well as Manga and, let's face it, beautiful Japanese art in general, I was extremely interested. Then the opportunity fell into my lap to obtain a copy for review and of course I jumped and squealed at the chance. 

The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful to the point where I almost can't bring myself to color them! Each one if very detailed and there are even a few that are spread out across two pages. Since I would like to keep the book intact, my plan is to scan and print a few of these off onto watercolor paper so I can paint them with watercolor and eventually frame them for in my library. Camilla d'Errico has worked with Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Hasbro, Disney, Sanrio, and Neil Gaiman, as well as creating Tanpopo and Helmethirls. She is also known for her melting rainbow, big-eyed girl oil paintings. 

There's so much I can say about this book, but I really think the photos will speak for themselves. See the entire book, page-by-page, in my video below:



Be sure to check out more of Camilla's work at camilladerrico.com

Purchase Pop Manga Coloring Book

*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Delectable Desserts with Orange Glad Box


Two years ago, I featured Orange Glad in my Holiday Gift Guide (See that post HERE) and I fell in love with it immediately. The box and website look has change a bit since then, but it's still the same, great company it always has been. they still handpick delectable desserts to send to you monthly from small businesses through out the United States. This gives you the opportunity to try handmade desserts from companies you may have never heard of. 


I did get a little sneak peek at one of the items in the July 2016 box and I was super excited for the box to get here. The box came in a white USPS mailer envelope, which I don't think I've ever seen a company do before, but I kind of like it that way. Then no one knows exactly what it is and if you are gifting it to someone you live with, they won't automatically know it's an Orange Glad box (unless the read the shipping address). This month's box definitely did not disappoint!

Instead of the card with the items listed, they now provide a booklet with not only a little info on th items in the box, but a little information on the companies that the items came from. That's always a nice touch, I think, because I like to know more about the people behind the goodies. 


The first thing I tried from the box were these hard candies in pomegranate & nectarine flavor from Torie & Howard. The candies remind me of those raspberry candies that everyone's grandma had in a candy jar at Christmas time (or at least mine did). I don't normally eat candy, but these are so good! They are the perfect combination of those two flavors and the tin they come in is absolutely adorable and completely reusable. Torie & Howard offers a variety of flavors of hard candies and they even produce fruit chews as well!



Whimsy & Spice is a company from Brooklyn New York and they provided the Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies as well as the Espresso Dulce de Leche Brownies. The shortbread cookies have a nice, light flavor to them. You can definitely tell they are lavender flavor, and this was my first time ever having lavender flavored anything, but I really liked the taste. The cookies aren't too hard and are the perfect snack with tea! The brownies definitely have a bold espresso flavor and my husband and I loved them! They were soft and surprisingly fresh. 


The Salted Caramel Cream Cookie came from The Cravory, a shop located in Point Loma, San Diego that makes freshly baked cookies in many mouth watering flavors. It was very soft and the caramel flavor was smooth and delicious. They also offer limited monthly flavors as well, so check out their site!

The sneak peek in the email for this month's box was the S'mores Biscotti, this month's Orange Glad exclusive item, from The Candy Store in San Francisco. I love S'mores and I love biscotti (it's my favorite thing to eat with my coffee in the morning!) so like I said, I was extremely excited to try this. It's a graham cracker crust, with chocolate biscotti, topped with toasted marshmallow. 

Orange Glad never disappointed when it comes to shipping you the best quality sweets every month and these always make the best gifts. 

They have two great options for boxes:

Single portion box ($25/month) - 5 deluxe treats from around the country which serve 1-2 people
Double portion box ($40/month) - 10 treats from around the country which serves 3-4 people.

You can subscribe at https://orangeglad.cratejoy.com

Follow Orange Glad on the following sites:

*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .  

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Body of a Mother



As a woman I've encountered body shaming my entire life. I've suffered low self esteem and even have Body Dysmorphic Disorder where my mind thinks there are thinks wrong with me skin, me weight, my hair and basically everything in between. Things only I can see that other's cant. Even at a very tiny 98 pounds at age 20 right before I had my daughter I hated my body and my weight. My thighs were big because they were muscular from walking and dancing every single day. My butt was round and perky and also muscular and I thought I had a big butt that I just wanted to get rid of it. Oh if only I knew then what I know now. 

Those muscular thighs and rear end that only a massive amount of squats could produce. The kind that you see on models in yoga pants. The kind that almost look fake because they are so perfect. If only I wouldn't have taken those for granted. 

Now, a mother of two, those things don't exist anymore. My breasts are bigger than they were then, but breastfeeding has made them not so perky anymore. Same with the rear end. The muscular thighs are now thicker and with less muscle. My stomach is flat...until I sit down or lean over. That's the mommy pouch that only a tummy tuck is going to fix. My body is emblazoned with stretch marks. Tiger stripes, most mom's call them. A badge of honor.

I've proudly lost weight not once, but three times. Each time that I had my kids and then again recently. I enjoy fitness and eating healthy. But you know what? Even through all those triumphs, I am the victim of body shaming. We all are at some point in time and it's sad that we as humans (mothers, those not mothers, men, children, and women alike) have to face those kinds of critiques about ourselves. 

As a reviewer, I test out many products. Summertime brings a lot of requests to review swimsuits. Something I have never been confident enough to wear even when I was a tiny 98lbs adult out on my own. Through the years I've learned to push my insecurities aside and silence my BDD and even though it still takes everything in me to agree to review these products, I go ahead and do it. Recently, I reviewed a bikini that I actually do like. I posted photos with my review and not too long after that, I discovered that someone decided to stalk my social media and Amazon profile and body shame me and make fun of my stretch marks, mommy tummy, and basically everything else that being a mother has done to my once fit body.




I am going to be blunt here.

This is the body of a mother.
A body that produced, grew, nurtured, and birthed two human beings. 
This is the body of a mother who eats healthy, stays active, drinks only water (with the exception of my morning coffee and on occasion unsweetened tea). 
This is the body of a mother who only weighs 127 pounds. That's right, ONE -TWENTY-SEVEN.

While that's not the 98 pounds I started out at, I'm a mother. It's unrealistic to think that weight is normal and for my height, that's an unhealthy weight. 

I am not fat. This is what having children does to your body. Maybe some people who judge can't have children, and I'm sorry they can't, but body shaming those of us who have had children is a disgusting way to show how insecure they are. 

Even former Playboy model Kendra Wilson has the body of a mother:



No one forces you to look. No one forces you to look at and read my Instagram, Twitter, Pinterst, Blog, Facebook and even more psychotic: my Amazon profile! If you don't like seeing what a REAL mother looks like, don't look at us. Don't look at any of us. We all have "imperfections", but those imperfections produced our sweet, innocent, cuddle bugs that we hold in our arms and kiss goodnight every single night. They produced little versions of ourselves; little pieces of our hearts that are walking around outside our bodies and that we love more than life itself. 

Look up "Real Post Baby Body" on Google. Look through the images. That's what real mothers look like. That's what proud mother's look like. That's the body of a mother. 


Friday, July 8, 2016

JapanFunBox: Monthly Japanese Snack Box



I had the opportunity to try out JapanfunBox, which is a monthly food box straight from Japan that sends you Japanese snacks each month. I have always loved trying new snacks from different countries. I am a little more open about trying new snacks and drinks than I am other foods, but I've found so many snacks from other countries (mostly Japan) that I have a great love for. Some things, like Pocky, can be found just about anywhere now, but other things I end up having to order online which can get a little expensive, but it's so worth it! 

Japanfunbox comes in 3 sizes:
Mini (5-7 items) - $14.99/month
Original (15-20 items) - $32.99/month
Family (25-30 items) - $49.99/month

The two larger boxes guarantee you at least 1 DIY kit (like the Poppin' Fresh sets) as well as specialty items like drinks and toys.

I received the mini.


I'm always thankful to these snack subscription boxes from overseas that include a write up of the products you get with an explanation of what flavors they are. Since these come from Japan, and I can't read the labels, this is hugely helpful. Although, sometimes this becomes a little bit of a game. Got the braver folks, you can just start in on the goodies without reading about them first and try to figure out the flavors yourself. For the not so brave, you can read the flavors right off the bat and decide if you really want to try it or not, although, trying things you typically would not is definitely part of the fun!


I have to say, this was a pretty good box! 
Immediately upon opening I claimed the pizza chips and tomato Pretz because lately I can't get enough pizza. I've literally had pizza in some form every single day for the last week. On days I wasn't eating pizza something or other, I was eating other Italian foods. I mean, I'm Italian, so that's not surprising. 

Also included in the box was whistle candies in grape flavor (those round life saver looking things), the Japanese version of pop rocks, chocolate biscuits, and I'm not sure what to call the other item, but it's a taffy texture with a fizzy center. It legitimately fizzes in your mouth when you bite into it. It was a strange texture and a little weird on your tongue, but it tasted okay. My kids claimed the pop rock candy and whistle candy. 

My husband and I tried the pizza potato chips and I honestly was not impressed with them, which was disappointing, however, my husband did remind me that pizza in Japan is hugely different than pizza in the United States. I mean, it looked good on the bag at least! The Tomato flavored Pretz sticks were a huge hit! They are thin pretzel sticks, similar to Pocky to be honest, that have more of a pizza flavor to them than the chips did. There were two packages of those in the box and we went through them pretty quickly on family trip to ride ponies and go carts. I found these on Amazon where you can get 10 boxes, and while they are $33 for the 10 boxes, I'm going to stock up since we really enjoyed these. They even come in other flavors that I'd like to try.

The chocolate biscuits were another favorite of mine. They aren't chocolate covered completely. In fact, the biscuit is just on the back of the chocolate, but the chocolate was smooth and went well with the biscuit. They were delicious and I'm ashamed to say that I ate them in one sitting while catching up on some of my shows. 

The mini is worth it to try a few snacks every month and the family size is nice to give as a gift. Since you can cancel anytime, because it charges you month-month instead of yearly plans, you can get one box to try and cancel before the next month comes if you decide it's not for you. 

Check out photos of past boxes and learn more about Japanfunbox at https://japanfunbox.com


*Disclosure: This product was received in exchange for an honest, unbiased, review. The reviews and or opinions on this blog are 100% my own. No monitory compensation was received and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsement and Testimonials in Advertising .