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Urban Southern Review and Giveaway!

Urban Southern

Urban Southern Market ToteBeautiful bags are a weakness of mine. I especially adore bags that are pretty and functional. As a mom of four very busy kiddos, I need bags that stand up well to the constant on the go lifestyle I lead. Pretty things are nice and all, but delicate fabrics and colors don’t stand up well between trips to the stables and farms we visit.

So when the folks from Urban Southern reached out to see if I would review one of their artisan leather bags crafted in a simple but classic style, I was so excited to work with them.

Leather is sumptuous, isn’t it? I just love the smell of it and I especially appreciate how it feels to the touch. A bit of luxury that stands up to everyday life.

Urban Southern handcrafts each and every product they offer. Leather masters hand tool the leather and buff the edges with wax to create a superior product. You can see the workmanship in everything they create.

I received the Market Tote which is an especially roomy bag. It’s a full 20″ high and 14″ wide.Perfect for shopping outings. It’s fitted with two wide straps which allows it to sit comfortably on your shoulder or you can carry it by the handles. Super versatile.

Let’s check it out in action…

Michael Charlotte HallSay hi to Michael! My son was my date on this beautifully sunny day in Southern Maryland. Corn is just now coming to market here, so we set out to the Charlotte Hall Amish Market to pick up some ears along with some other fresh produce. A fine time to try out the Urban Southern Market Tote. Just the right size for a farmers market outing!

Charlotte Hall Farmers Market

Charlotte Hall Amish MarketI probably could’ve fit a couple dozen ears of corn into the Market Tote. It’s really that roomy. I was sorely tempted as it looked so good. Instead, I grabbed a half dozen ears and saved room for other produce treasures sure to come.

Charlotte Hall Green BeansThe green beans are looking good right now and I’ve been thinking about pickling a few pounds for winter eating. Into the bag they went!

Amish Baked GoodsOk, this didn’t make it into the bag because hello calories! But I have to tell you that I was so very close to blowing my diet on the Amish homemade Twinkies. So very very close.

Urban Southern Market ToteFresh herbs always make their way into my purchases at the market and this day was no different. Look at how lush that basil looks. Pesto is on the menu this week at Casa Melanie!

Charlotte Hall Market

In the end I picked up everything you see above (minus the Twinkies) and I added a few jars of various jams, jellies and pickles. It all fit easily into my tote and the straps distributed the weight on my shoulder which made it so much easier to carry around.

Urban Southern Market ToteAnd while it worked perfectly for a trip to the market, it also was a nice choice for a day outing into the city. The Colonel and I took a day trip to Alexandria, VA where we did some sightseeing and shopping.

I found that the bag was the perfect choice to carry all kinds of things like sunscreen, camera, guide books and other bulky things that don’t fit in the smaller purse I usually carry.

So if you’re looking for a fine crafted leather bag that’s not only beautiful but practical, this is a very good choice.

Urban Southern offers many different bag styles and also leather accessories that would make fine gifts. Be sure to check out their website to learn more about their products and how they’re crafted. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Win It! 

Urban Southern has offered up a very lovely giveaway for my readers. One of you will win your own Urban Southern Market Tote (ARV $275). All you have to do to enter is comment on this post by leaving your first name, last initial and the state you are from. That’s it! Open to US residents ages 18+. Entries must be received by Friday, July 10th, 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

This is not a sponsored post. I was given a complimentary sample to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

The Fragrance Foundation Consumer Choice Awards and a Giveaway! #TFFAwards

consumer choice scrollGood smelling things make me happy. Even better if that good smelling thing is me! I love trying new scents, don’t you? When I go to a shop that sells fragrances, I thoroughly enjoy testing out all the new scents. There’s something a little thrilling about finding a fragrance that you can identify with.

Sitting on my dresser right now there are at least six different fragrances that I like to wear for different occasions. Light clean scents for everyday running around, heavier sexier scents for date nights and some wild card scents that work only when I’m feeling a little… er…. wild!

If you are like me and love fragrances, I have something super cool to share with you…

The Fragrance Foundation 2015 Consumer Choice Awards are going on right now and fragrance enthusiasts are invited to vote for their favorite fragrances!

Here are the categories and the finalists….


Dahlia Divin Givenchy

Daisy Dream Marc Jacobs

Ralph Lauren Midnight Romance


A Thousand Wishes Bath & Body Works

Avon Luck for Her

Jessica Simpson Signature

Sofia by Sofia Vergara

Taylor Swift Incredible Things

Victoria’s Secret Scandalous

Between now and May 29th 11:59pm EST you can vote for your favorites. The winners will be announced at the 2015 Fragrance Foundation Awards hosted by Alec Baldwin on June 17th at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York. So head on over to the Fragrance Foundation website and cast your vote for your favorite picks!

You can be a winner too! How you ask? By entering to win an entire set of all nine nominated fragrances! That’s over $500 worth of wonderful smelling scents for you to enjoy!  All you have to do to enter is comment on this post with which of the nine fragrances you’d most like to try. Leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your pick. That’s it!

Entries must be received by Friday, May 29th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

Veggies Can Be Fun With Birds Eye and a Giveaway!

birdseyeLast week the girls and I traveled to New York City to spend the afternoon with the folks from Birds Eye vegetables for an afternoon of all kinds of veggie goodness fun.

Executive Chef Michael Christiansen was on hand to share kid friendly recipes that had the kids munching happily on healthy foods all day. Really, it was something to see kids trying veggie smoothies with heart healthy ingredients like peas and carrots in the mix.

As I watched him add banana, pineapple juice, peas and carrots into a blender, I thought there was no way my kids would drink it. But guess what? They did. And they liked it. Amazing.

Leela Birdseye

birdseye nickelodeon eventPeople say that I’m really lucky that all of my kids like fruits and vegetables. And to that I say that it was by design. The best nutrition advice I ever got was from my pediatrician. He told me to introduce a new food to my kids three times before I gave up on them trying it.

And he was right. When it came to fruits and veggies, the third time was always the charm. My diligence with introducing new healthy foods was rewarded with kids who will eat just about any fruit or vegetable I put in front of them today.

Girls and Jeanette McCurdyKnowing that kids will more likely copy their role model’s behavior, Birds Eye has teamed up with the star of Sam and Cat, Jennette McCurdy, to promote the Nickelodeon and Birds Eye’s Play With Your Veggies initiative which encourages kids to make healthier choices in a fun and relaxed way.

Mom and the girls at BirdseyeAnd as a concerned mom of four, it’s an initiative that I can totally stand behind.

The folks from Birds Eye would like to offer a giveaway for my readers. How would you like to win eight free product coupons for Birds Eye veggies (each coupon is worth $3.49) and a $50 Amex gift card so that you too can try out some kid friendly and heart healthy recipes from Birds Eye?

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and the one fruit or veggie you wish you could get your kids or yourself to eat. Entries must be received by Friday, August 16th, 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

This is not a sponsored post. Birds Eye did invite us for a media event in New York City. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Come Sail Away With Me, A Giveaway! (Local Boston Area)

Odyssey BostonHow awesome is girl’s night out? How much more awesome would it be if you spent it enjoying an indulgent champagne dinner cruise on the Boston Odyssey while taking in the spectacular Boston Harbor skyline?

Odyssey BostonSpending a night out on the town with close girlfriends is such a battery charger. Don’t you think? We women thrive on that one-on-one girl time and spending that time on a dinner cruise enjoying a fabulous meal, breathtaking views and live entertainment sure sounds like the perfect way to spend an evening.

From the moment you board the Odyssey, you know it’s going to be a very special evening. Being greeted with a glass of champagne is a really fabulous way to start.

And as you enjoy that glass of bubbly on the recently renovated deck while watching the sunset with your closest friends as you cruise around the harbor, you’ll feel your depleted battery recharge in a jiffy.

Time with girlfriends has a way of doing that.

Odyssey BostonAnd you would invite me along on your girl’s night out, right? Of course you would. Matter of fact, I’m not going to give you an option. I’m coming along. I mean, there’s champagne involved. You are not leaving me out of that equation.

So, here’s the skinny on this giveaway…

One winner is going to win a girl’s night out Friday Dinner Champagne Cruise on the Boston Odyssey for themselves plus one guest and you are cruising and dining with… ME!

Does that float your boat? Good. Here’s what you’re going to do to enter…

Comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and why you want to go on a dinner cruise with yours truly and/or why you deserve a girl’s night out.

Now there are a couple of rules

No men allowed. Sorry guys.
You need to be within driving distance to Boston.
You need to be a little flexible with your dates because you and I are going to have to coordinate this shindig.
You need to like me. That would be a real awkward way to spend the evening if you didn’t.
And finally, you need to be 21. It is a champagne cruise, after all.

Entries must be received by Friday, August 9th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

For more information on the Boston Odyssey, be sure to check out their website for sailing dates and ticket information.

Thank you to the Boston Odyssey for offering this very generous reader giveaway.

Seattle’s Best Coffee Hot Iced Giveaway!

Seattle's Best Prize PackLike every other summer that I can remember after becoming a mom of four, my life gets very busy this time of year. Between shuttling kids to their various activities, running the never ending household errands and that crazy little thing called work, sometimes I get frazzled. Ok, I get frazzled a lot of the time. So I recognize how important it is to stop and take a break once in awhile.

And honestly, I don’t have time to go do something crazy like sit on the beach and read a book all day long. Not that I wouldn’t LOVE to do that. I just don’t have the time. However, a break doesn’t have to be something time extravagant. It can be something as simple as going out on the back deck with a cup of iced coffee when no one is looking. And I’m not beyond locking myself into the bathroom if need be. A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

Seattle's Best Iced CoffeeThere is something therapeutic about sitting alone while drinking a bit of caffeinated icy goodness. It chills the mind.

So ,when the folks at Seattle’s Best Coffee asked if I’d share some info on their products, I thought it would be like a humanitarian thing to do.

Seattle’s Best Coffee offers up lots of different products to bring that coffee shop experience to your own kitchen. I myself prefer their Level 5 Dark and Intense Ground Coffee. But they have everything from a Level 1 Light and Crisp Roast to blends made special just for iced coffee. Lots of choices that help you bring a little bit of indulgence to your day.

After spending last week in Chicago, devouring the city a la Godzilla style, I’m keeping things light and simple the rest of the summer. So, my special mom break today was a simple cup of black iced coffee.

And using the Melitta Pour-Over Coffee Brewer that Seattle’s Best Coffee sent me, I was able to take my chill break right when I needed to. No fussing over an entire pot. One cup, just for me in a moment’s notice.

Just enough time for me to center down and prepare for the rest of my crazy day.

The folks at Seattle’s Best would like to offer one of my readers the chance to win the following gift package so that you too can enjoy a sanity break…

The Hot Iced gift-set includes:

    • One-month supply of Seattle’s Best Coffee® (4 bags!)
    • Seattle’s Best Coffee Tumbler for your iced and frozen coffee drinks
    • Seattle’s Best Coffee Hot Travel Mug to enjoy our brewed coffee on-the-go
    • Melitta coffee brewer and recipe for a totally new way to make a single cup of coffee
    • Simple Iced Coffee recipe featuring our go-to cold brew method
    • Coffee scoop to measure the perfect amount of coffee

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and how you take your coffee. Hot or iced? Lots of cream and sugar? What’s your favorite way to enjoy your cuppa joe?

Entries must be received by Friday, August 9th 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

Thank you to Seattle’s Best for sending me the same gift pack that they have offered my readers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Johnson & Johnson Donate A Photo App and a Giveaway! #HealthyEssentials

J&JAs an avid couponer, I was really happy to get a booklet full of Johnson & Johnson coupons in my paper last weekend. I’ve grown up using their products. Band-Aid, Listerine, Neosporin, Visine. These are just a few of the Johnson & Johnson products that not only my mom used when I was growing up, but now I use them with my own children.

It’s a brand that I trust and feel good about buying. Not only do I trust their products, I love their commitment to giving back to others. On April 2nd Johnson & Johsnon launched a new free cell phone app called Donate A Photo for both iOS and Android platforms.

It’s such a simple idea, really. Take a photo of just about anything in your daily life. Then, using the Donate A Photo app, upload it  and choose a non-profit group you’d like to support…

  • Save the Children: One photo helps a newborn get medicine to thrive
  • Safe Kids: One photo helps protect a child from sports injury
  • Keep America Beautiful: One photo helps restore a public park

It couldn’t be easier. You can post one photo each day and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 per photo shared through the Donate A Photo app.*

With no expense to you at all, you can help babies get much needed medicines, help kids play sports safely and fix up a public park. All for just sharing a photo.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly have plenty of photos to share. Last I checked I had over 1,000 photos in my phone. Here’s one I uploaded using the Donate A Photo app…

20130331_105824My Michael. Oh how this photo makes me laugh every time I look at it. Such a good egg. And it does my heart good knowing that sharing this photo will make a difference in someone else’s life.

The donations made using the Donate A Photo app must be made through a mobile device and you can donate up to one photo per day. And while you must use your mobile device to make your donations, you can view the photos online at Donate A Photo.

When a cause reaches its goal, another takes its place. The causes that have reached their goal stay in the app so users can continue to learn more about the organizations and see the photos that helped support them.

Now that spring has finally sprung, this would be a good time to start rooting through your medicine cabinet in order to get rid of all your products that have expired.

And to make it easier to restock with fresh supplies, Johnson & Johnson has coupons for you over at HealthyEssentials.com. Register and you can save on many of your favorite Johnson & Johnson products.

Speaking of products, how would you like to win a box chock-full of full sized Johnson & Johnson products? To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your favorite Johnson & Johnson product. Entries must be received by May 20, 2013 11:59pm EST. Good luck!

No purchase necessary. Open to legal residents of the (50) United States and Distict of Columbia, eighteen (18) years of age or older. Sweepstakes ends May 2nd, 2013. Prize(s) provided by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company Division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. Void where prohibited. 

This is a sponsored post on behalf of The Motherhood and Johnson & Johnson. All opinions are my own.

*Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.

Brunch Featuring Eggland’s Best and an Eggcellent Giveaway!

eggland's best eggsI think I would love breakfast if it was later in the day. Matter of fact, I would like morning better if it was later in the day. That’s why I love brunch.

Brunch is relaxing. Brunch doesn’t care if you don’t eat it until 11am. Brunch does not make you stick with just breakfast foods. Want something savory? How about something sweet? Brunch is a pretty accepting meal.

The entire world should partake in brunch. I think it would be a more peaceful place if everyone started their day with a mimosa and a plate of some brunchy goodness. All after 11am.

crepes with strawberries and NutellaWhen the folks at Eggland’s Best asked if I would share some pics of a brunch featuring their eggs, I said sure thing. I love eggs. Eggs are easy and my kiddos love them too.

And while Eggland’s has all kinds of groovy recipes to inspire you with, I made my own special something for our brunch. Crepes filled with Nutella and strawberries. Chocolate anything in the morning is A-OK with me.

eggland breakfastCrepes filled with Nutella and strawberries makes everyone feel like they are celebrating something. And we are. We are celebrating only having to wash one sink full of dishes. Brunch is pretty wonderful that way too. Only two meals in one day to clean up after. Brunch rocks.

IMG_6729Crepes are so very easy to make. Don’t let the fancy French name fool you. It’s the same as making pancakes, just thinner. And you don’t need some fancy crepe pan no matter what your cookbook or favorite food blog tells you. Use your skillet. And make them big. The bigger they are, the more chocolate they will hold. Truth.

Crepes With Nutella and Strawberries

For the crepe batter:

1 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 Eggland’s Best Eggs
2 Tbsp water
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter (for cooking crepes in)

1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 pound strawberries, sliced

Place all the ingredients for the crepe batter (except butter) in a food processor or blender and process just until smooth.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough butter to coat the pan. Pour just enough batter in to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook for 30 seconds on each side.

Once all crepes are cooked, smear Nutella onto the surface of the crepe and top with strawberries. Fold over and serve.

IMG_6678And as decadent as my recipe is, it’s full of some pretty good stuff too. Eggland’s Best Eggs has ten times more vitamin E, double the amount of Omega-3’s, twice the amount of vitamin D and 25% less saturated fat than regular eggs. That’s one fine egg.

And if all of that wasn’t eggciting enough (sorry, couldn’t resist), Eggland’s Best is offering up a brunch giveaway gift package for one of my readers!

One reader will win the most adorable egg shaped cutting board, free Eggland’s Best product coupons, a large porcelain mixing bowl, whisk, reusable grocery bag, coffee mug and a handy dandy scraper.

To enter, comment on this post with your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your favorite egg dish. Entries must be received by Wednesday, April 17th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

For more information on Eggland’s Best Eggs, you can visit their website, Facebook page or follow them on Twitter.

The Eggland’s Best coupon, information and gift pack for giveaway have been provided by Eggland’s Best. I have received no compensation for this post but they did send the same gift package to me in order to facilitate my post.

Harvard Sweet Boutique and a Giveaway!

Harvard Sweet BoutiqueOver winter vacation the girls and I drove up to Hudson, MA to visit the Harvard Sweet Boutique. A delightful bakery founded in 2007 by the talented Sue George, Harvard Sweet Boutique has garnered both local and national attention in Coastal Living, the Boston Globe and also on the Rachel Ray Show for their whimsical treats.

cheesecakeUpon entering the bakery, the girls and I noticed all kinds of delicious small bites. Cake balls, individual cheesecakes, pop tarts, whoopies pies and all sorts of sweet treats lined the shelves of the bakery display cases.

We chose a few items to sample and let me tell you, that was no easy task. Getting two young girls and one mom with a serious sweet tooth to come to consensus on baked goods was a real challenge.

But after much debate we made our selections. First up, we sampled an individual chocolate cheesecake. Each of us took a bite and thoughtfully chomped. Shannon and I agreed that it was as a cheesecake should be.

Rich but not overly heavy. Chocolatey and decadent. Leela is not a cheesecake lover. So, Shannon and I eagerly gobbled up her piece.

20130221_132851The next bit of baked goodness we sampled was the Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel Brownie. Holy yumminess. Both girls agreed that this was pretty spectacular, but I’m pretty sure they couldn’t fully appreciate how delectable this was.

Silky vanilla salted caramel sandwiched between a layer of chocolate ganache and a dense chocolate brownie, this was a sweet that I could appreciate. I really didn’t want to share this with the kids. It was that special.


20130221_132009The Harvard Sweet Boutique has all kids of kid friendly treats, but the girls were most enamored with the cake balls. Especially the ones shaped like sheep. They were so smitten with these sweet little guys that they were reluctant to bite into them.

But after much ooohing and ahhing, they bit into the strawberry cake filled sheep with much giggling and finger licking. I don’t think a crumb was spared.

20130221_131408 The Harvard Sweet Boutique is also known for their signature cakes. With cakes for every occassion such as weddings, birthdays and showers, you are sure to find just the right cake for any special event. Carrot cake, chocolate decadence and lemon raspberry are just a few of their offerings.

I actually purchased a cake for my mother-in-law while I was there. Coincidentally, it was her birthday and she even lives in the same town as the Harvard Sweet Boutique. I picked out a delicious raspberry filled layer cake with buttercream frosting and it was a total hit.

The Harvard Sweet Boutique also offers gluten free options. Cookies, brownies and toffee are all offered in gluten free varieties.

We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Harvard Sweet Boutique. And I’m so excited to announce that they are offering a giveaway for my readers so that one of you can enjoy a sweet treat of your own.

To enter to win a $30 online credit for the Harvard Sweet Boutique, comment on this post with which treat you’d like to order from their site. Leave your first name, last initial, the state you are from and your choice by Tuesday, March 12th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

Thank you to the Harvard Sweet Boutique for allowing myself and the girls to come in and sample their baked goods. This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Bootights Review and Giveaway!

BoottightsI often joke that I have a winter uniform. And if you could see how I dress when I go out, you would know it’s true. A top, a skirt, tights and boots. If I were to have a signature style, I guess that would be it.

I look at tights the same way I look at my other accessories. A way to change up an outfit. I especially like patterned tights and tights with loose weaves. The only issues is that my feet don’t usually like them.

My toes often times get wedgies and the bottoms of my feet ache when walking around while wearing patterned tights.

Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable in order to look nice, right? Well, that’s how I felt about my tights. That is, until I tried out my first pair of Bootights.

What are Bootights you ask? Let’s take a look…

Bootights sock

Bootights are part performance sock and part premium tights. An innovative design that allows you to be comfortable while wearing tights. The moisture-wicking sock keeps your feet dry and warm and has added arch support for a contoured fit.

There’s also a control top for a smooth silhouette and a soft Lycra waistband that won’t dig or bind.

No more feet slipping around in boots, no more toe wedgies and no more freezing cold feet during the winter. Fashion and comfort. Who would’ve thunk it?

Bootights come in all kinds of fantastic colors and patterns. So, you are sure to find the perfect pair for any outfit in your closet!

How would you like to win your choice of a pair of Bootights (ARV $30-$40)?

One lucky winner will be able to chose any pair from the current product line. To enter, head on over to Bootights and pick which ones you’d like to win. Then, come on back over here and leave a comment with the pair you’d like, your first name, last initial and the state you are from. Entries must be received by Monday, March 4th 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

I received a free sample of Bootights to facilitate my review. This is not a sponsored post. All thoughts are my own.

Got Milk Breakfast Blitz and a Giveaway!

Breakfast-Blitz-logo_thumbMy kids start each day with a healthy breakfast and a glass of milk. As you know, milk does the body good. But not all kids start their day with a nutritious breakfast. The Got Milk folks are working towards changing that.

Every milk purchase* you make up until February 17th will help support breakfast programs at local schools when you enter your milk UPC code at the Breakfast Blitz website. For each entry you make, you can vote for a local school breakfast program. The top 250 schools that receive valid votes will receive a $1,000 Fuel Up To Play 60 grant to use towards school breakfast programs.

Not only that, but by entering your milk UPC code you are also entering to win tickets to Super Bowl XLVIII amongst other prizes like free milk for a year and a $200 NFL.com gift card!

BB Giveaway image Final-1 (2)But that’s not all! The Got Milk folks are also offering a giveaway for my readers. A gift basket full of cool prizes which include:

    • A super cute spilt milk bowl
    • Spoon straw
    • Tackle your day challenge chart
    • Milk mustache magnet
    • Cow slippers
    • Milk mustache glasses
    • Breakfast Project recipe cards

To enter, comment on this post by leaving your first name, last initial and the state you are from. Entries must be received by Friday, February 22nd 11:59pm ET. Good luck!

* No milk purchase necessary. See rules for official details and enter here.

This is a sponsored post for The Motherhood on behalf of Got Milk. All opinions are my own.