EasyLunchBoxes review and giveaway

Every once in a while something so simple yet so brilliant comes along you wonder why it took so long for someone to come up with it.  An lunch system that is affordable, convenient and eco-friendly.  It doesn't get much better. Yeah, it was invented by a mom. 

Here are a couple that we have packed so far-  a quickie bento Kyra made for Ian with an octopus hot dog, organic baby spinach and cheese, pretzels and organic blueberries and some leftovers she packed for her lunch-  general tso's flavored chicken foil packet she grilled, potatoes and onions and some fresh buttered bread.

We were fortunate enough to receive a set from EasyLunchBoxes to review.

 The set included 4 - 3 compartment containers with tight fitting lids and I could go on and on about the safety ratings, but you can read about it here and save me the time.

The deal is-  you can feel good about packing meals for yourself or your family in the containers -  they are sturdy, dishwasher, freezer, fridge and microwave safe and if you have a miss (or mr) picky you can be sure the foods won't touch each other.

In our world that is important. I also know it is very very important to my sisters-in-law and friends with autistic children who have meltdowns of epic proportions-  I am not claiming to have the medical info, but I am saying I know in our life, things like textures and things touching each other are major to the kids I know, and having tight fitting lids knowing something won't accidentally move when being transported matters.

Sure, the lunches could be packed in separate containers but if your house is like mine, finding several different sized lids to fit several different sized containers is kind of like trying to match up every single pair of socks in the house.  Just isn't going to happen.

Some of the things we love...  the price-  getting the 4 containers and the bag was less than I've paid for many a lunchbox or bag that came with nothing else.  There is a variety of colors- something for everyone, really.

You can fit 3 of the containers in the bag so if Kyra and I want to take Ian for a picnic we're all set.

The girls take lunch or dinner to work depending on the shift and this makes it easy to take leftovers they can reheat in the microwave.

No baggies to toss out and fill the landfills with.  It's unreal the amount of trash generated in a school cafeteria in one day.

If you need inspiration you can click here for pics and descriptions of various lunches others have packed.

You can go as simple as a sandwich, some veggie sticks and a few nuts to sushi and some muffins to...  well, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.  These are also awesome containers for making bento.

They are really good for portion control as well, if that's an issue.

You can save a ton of money by packing your lunches instead of buying them.

It really is a time saver in the morning (or night before- especially if you are taking leftovers, just stick in fridge til you are ready to leave) just fill the compartments, put on one lid, toss in an icepack and go.

The Giveaway:  EasyLunchBoxes has generously offered to give one of our lucky readers the same set as we reviewed (4 containers, 1 bag in choice of colors).  Open to US residents 18+ ends 7/15 at 11:59 pm CST. 

Main Entry:  Head on over to EasyLunchBoxes and tell us what color bag you would choose if you won or something you liked or learned.   1 entry

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.

Fan (like) EasyLunchBoxes on Facebook
Follow EasyLunchBoxes on Twitter 

You can use the following tweet if you like:
#Win a set of @EasyLunchBoxes from @dddiva at Our Loonyverse #SummerBash http://bit.ly/d79yyb

We received  a sample product to facilitate this review, no other compensation was received, this is our honest opinion.
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Robby Wash review & giveaway

In keeping with our easy theme we were thrilled to try out Robby Wash.

It seems really odd that you can toss a ball into the washer and have your clothes come out clean, but that's just what happens.

We were skeptical, of course, but other than missing the strong smell of the detergent (scent junkie) when moving to the dryer - and we still use fabric softener, so it's not like you can't have a smell if you want one-  we've not really noticed a difference in how clean our clothes are except for two instances-

Kyra used the cold water ball (she does her clothes all on cold to save $) it didn't take out the hot chocolate from Ian's very light colored shirt first time, but it has come out since even washing just on cold. 

The second was that when we do really large batches with jeans etc we will have to rinse twice to get the detergent residue out and it wasn't necessary.

I'm not going to pretend I know (or care about) the science behind it but in case you do, here's why / how it works:

The Robby Wash ball uses a unique and patented worldwide technology to clean your laundry even better than the powder laundry detergents it was independently tested against.  Its activated macromolecules are gradually releasedthrough the wash, dissolving dried-in stains by generating ions whichactivate the water molecules.  This increase in the pH enables the activated molecules to penetrate deep into the fabrics and attach themselves to the stains. As the motion of the drum agitates the clothes, the stains come away easily from the fabric and dissolve in the water.  Of all the systems on the market, Robby Wash's effectiveness is tested, proven and guaranteed.

How does this make our lives easier?  No lugging heavy boxes or jugs of detergent.  No spills or mess in the laundry room.  Can trust anyone in the family to wash your clothes since they aren't having to know which load gets how much detergent etc.  Hypoallergenic-  don't have to worry about who might be sensitive to what.  Good for the environment-  they last for up to a year and the refills up to 2 years and that's a lot of chemicals not going into our clothing or the environment.  It's very easy on your wallet-  $32.95 for the starter ball that lasts up to a year and then only $49 for 2 years worth of refills.

You can get the blue ball for both hot and cold loads or the fuschia for cool wash only.  The balls work in either front or top loading machines.

Want one?  You can purchase the Robby Wash ball at Oransi.

Better yet, they have generously offered one of our readers their choice of a fuschia (cold) or blue (cold or hot) laundry ball pack.

THE GIVEAWAY:  One lucky reader will receive their choice of either a blue or fuschia Robby Wash Ball.  Open to US residents 18+ ends 7/13 at 11:59 pm CST. 

Main Entry:  Head on over to Oransi and tell us something you liked or learned.  1 entry

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.
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Keeping your pets healthy and happy in the heat

Our dogs are members of our family-  and Dude and Groucho are Ian's best friends, so they are inside dogs.

Most of these are common sense and years of experience.  You can find more tips from the ASPCA and the Humane Society.

Keep your pets well hydrated-  whether inside pets or outside, make sure your pets have plenty of cool fresh water at all times.

When it is really hot out, bring them inside-  even if you don't normally allow them the run of the house have at least a small area to bring them in when it is unbearable-  the 100 + degree temps are brutal to your fur wearing friends and even in the shade- the only way they can help themselves is panting and through the pads of their feet and sometimes it's just not enough.

If you walk your dogs, try to keep it during the cooler early morning or evening hours, and if you take them to a park or something, bring fresh water and a collapsible bowl (or let them drink from the bottles- ours like to do that).

 Keep your pets inside when the fireworks are going off outside- not only are many animals afraid of the noises, some of the materials are toxic to them so if you live in an area that you can set off your own, make sure the area is well cleaned up before letting your pets back out where they were lit.

When traveling with pets, make sure they are secured in the vehicle-  for their safety if there is an accident as well as for making sure they don't make a run for it in an unfamiliar area.  Homeward Bound was cute but do you really think your pets could find their way home?  Yeah, I'm not willing to risk it either.

If you plan on being on the road overnight, scope out pet friendly hotels ahead of time-  NEVER leave your animals unattended in a vehicle in the summer- it's a lot hotter inside a car or truck than outside and very easy for pets to get overheated to the point of heat exhaustion, brain damage or even death.

Practice water safety, same as you would with kids-  contrary to popular belief not all dogs are good swimmers.

Popware for Pets Expandable/Collapsible Travel Cup, Small, Turquoise
The Ideal Pet Soft Crate / Carrier for Travel, Indoor and Outdoor - Medium 24"Lx17"Wx17"H

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Menu for week of 6/28 - 7/4

Summer is here in full force, so lighter menus for us.  Do you change your menus with the seasons?  What's cooking at your place this week?

Eat whatever doesn't eat you first aka eat what you want night

Brats or smoked sausage, sweet corn, creamy cucumbers

Chicken salad wraps

Angel hair pasta (spaghetti squash for those who like it) with roasted veggies

Slow cooker taco casserole

Tuna mac salad, toasted corn muffins

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Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage

While we like to eat lighter in the summer, once in a while we just want or need a bigger meal or comfort food.  Times like this, the slow cooker can be your best friend.

1 green cabbage*
1 lb ground beef or turkey, browned and drained
1/4 cup uncooked rice (not instant)
1 egg, beaten
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced or shredded
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 oz can tomato sauce

Mix ground meat, rice, egg, onion, carrot, salt and pepper.

In another bowl mix together vinegar, brown sugar and tomato sauce.

Drop cabbage in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove 10 large leaves.   *Can also freeze for several hours to overnight then defrost before peeling leaves off.  If using Napa cabbage this step is unnecessary.

Place 3-4 tablespoons of meat mixture in center of each leaf.

Roll up and place stem side down in slow cooker.   (Can use toothpick but I'm not that fussy if they aren't perfect.)

Dump sauce on top, try to get it pretty even.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes if desired.

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Do you like your birth name?

Day got away from me again so here's a quickie NaBloPoMo prompt:  How do you feel about the name given to you at birth?

I actually like my name fine-  it was not very popular when mama named me but then there came a song-  and another and... 

Plus, it means (some say) princess-  since that's what I am, I'll go with that definition.  A princess is no head dictator of the loonyverse, but close enough.

It used to bother me when my brother would tease me about it then they came out with one with his name- a really really lame one.

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Keep your kids safe this summer

Summer is the time for fun in the sun-  free from school, the days are longer and the fun seems never ending.

Unfortunately, sometimes summer fun can turn into a tragedy that could possibly been avoided and Underwriter Laboratories (UL), a leading product safety testing organization has some tips to try to avoid these accidents around pool and play areas.

•   At any water spot, the 10/20 rule states an observant parent should scan the pool every 10 seconds, and never be more than 20 seconds away from the area. Supervision, along with a basic knowledge of CPR, stand among the staples of pool safety.

•   At any playground, watch for enclosed spaces, protruding bolts or tree stumps, and comb through the sand box before your child digs in to help avoid risks presented by glass shards, animal droppings, or other hazards.

•   Before installing a play set, find a suitable place for the set free of any dangerous obstacles like cable wires or tree branches and follow the building instructions closely. Laying safety materials (such as mulch or rubber tiles) can help make the entire area more secure.

•   To avoid constant worry at the pool this summer, construct a tall fence, keep the area around the pool clear of tree limbs and other debris, and clearly mark all drains and filters. Store rescue devices nearby, drain wading pools after use, and always remove toys from the pool so children don't try to play with them without supervision.

Click here for a cute video that UL and Disney have produced featuring the lovable Timon and Pumba from the Lion King teaching kids how to stay safe while swimming.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Underwriters Laboratories. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.
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WW The fresh tastes of summer. Add your link here.

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Mini Diva checking in from Cali


I had the highest pass possible and got to see everything.

I didn't try much out, but I watched a lot and talked to the owners of the booths and made some cool new friends.

I accidentally became the BGRMods booth babe, because they gave me a giant toy machine gun from Halo to carry.

Basically, it was super amazing and I can't wait until next year!

More to come when I'm back home, but now we're looking for a place to rent.

*Sings* California Here I Come.

Halo 2009 Wave 3 - Series 6 ODST Soldier The RookieHalo Reach Legendary Edition Halo ReachXbox 360 120GB Elite Spring 2010 Bundle
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What was the worst job you ever had? Mine- being a mom.

NaBloPoMo prompt What was the worst job you ever had?

Being a mom.  Don't jump all over me before you read my reasoning-  I love being a mom and there is no job I'd rather have, but when the kids are sick and I can't fix it it sucks harder than anything.

However you look at it, the best job and the worst job-  just different ends of the same stick- when it is good there is nothing better and when it is bad there is nothing worse.

I've only had a few lame teen jobs, was in the USAF and been a mom (well okay volunteering as a sub in grade school was no picnic, but I stand by what I said.)  They weren't bad jobs, and I actually enjoyed them for the most part-  trying to make the best of things and all-  as well as most of the volunteering, even with the kids you couldn't correct as you might damage their self-esteem. *rolls eyes*

How about you?  What was your worst job?  Or your best?  Were they one and the same?

What Color Is Your Parachute? 2010: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers What Color Is Your Parachute? For Teens, 2nd Edition: Discovering Yourself, Defining Your Future (What Color Is Your Parachute for Teens)What Color Is Your Parachute Workbook: How to Create a Picture of Your Ideal Job or Next CareerHow to Find Your Mission in LifeNow What?: The Young Person's Guide to Choosing the Perfect CareerDo What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality TypeThe Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and SuccessCareer Match: Connecting Who You Are with What You'll Love to DoI Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It
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Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped or shredded
2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 lb lentils, rinsed
9 cups veggie (for vegetarian option) or chicken broth
2 cups V-8 juice regular or spicy
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup dried smallish pasta - elbow macaroni, mini penne, corkscrew, stars, etc
OR some diced potatoes, chef's choice here
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down some, stirring occasionally, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and V-8 and stir. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.

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Menu week of 6/20 - 6/27

More deliciousness for us this week.  We may like simple things, but they sure better be delicious.

Burgers with cheese of choice and lots of fresh veggies

Slow cooker pork loin roast and veggies, creamy cucumbers

Eggplant parmesan, (baked, not fried), either pasta with red or alfredo sauce if anyone wants, salad

Pulled pork bbq sandwiches made from leftover pork roast with coleslaw

Breakfast for dinner- poached eggs and english muffins, fresh fruit

Vegetarian lentil soup, some type of bread

Chicken breast tenders, mac & cheese, green beans, applesauce  (some of Ian's faves)
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Our Ultimate Summer Playlists

As you probably know, the divas love music.

Summer has its own kind of vibe, so we're going to share some of our faves with you-  broken down and put into categories so you can find just what you are looking for.

That being said, many of the songs we chose can go on any or all of your lists  but we only chose the best fitting one here so as not to have a ton of repeats, so look at all the lists, tell us what you think, and let us know what we forgot or are missing-  you never know, we just might add them.

We are horrible at remembering titles and artists, so these lists will be expanded as we think of them.  :-)

I am not super uptight and never was about the lyrics and such as I have always figured my kids know the difference from right and wrong, and when we sing we change the words to half the songs we listen to anyways, but there are radio edits for all of these-  if you are looking on youtube to preview or buying them, make sure you get the version that is right for you and your family.

Ultimate summer songs playlist  These songs say summer

Ultimate road trip playlist  These songs are great for long drives

Ultimate fun playlist  Crank the volume, sing at the top of your lungs and dance like a lunatic- yes, in your seat- these are super fun summer songs

Ultimate playlist for raising your vibration  Readers know I believe in the law of attraction, and here's what gets me going-  I just can't stay in negative energy when I am listening to these songs

Ultimate kids playlist (appropriate for all ages) Mostly from Disney and Nickelodeon

Ultimate 4th of July Playlist You won't be hearing about the amber waves of grain, but nonetheless, these songs are America to us

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Ultimate 4th of July / Independence Day Playlist

Let me start off by saying-  the little divas dad and I met while in the USAF, both sides of our family served, some of them still serve, same as Ken's family, so don't get all over me for not having your favorite patriotic song here-  this is what we like to listen to, and while we get choked up with the best of them during a parade, here's what we want to hear while we watch the fireworks.

Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen

Little Pink Houses - John Mellencamp

Fortunate Son - Creedence Clearwater Revival

R.O.C.K in the U.S.A. - John Mellencamp

Miss Independent - Kelly Clarkson

American Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

American Pie - Madonna (or Don Maclean if you are old school)

In America - Charlie Daniels Band

Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock
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Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

Born To Be Wild - Steppenwolf

Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightning
Heavy metal thunder
Racin' with the wind
And the feelin' that I'm under
Yeah Darlin' go make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature's child
We were born, born to be wild
We can climb so high
I never wanna die

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Love Shack - B-52's

Highway to Hell - AC/DC or Quiet Riot

Life is a Highway - Tom Cochrane

I Can't Drive 55 - Sammy Haggar  (I know, I know, the speed limit hasn't been 55 in a gazillion years, but it is still good for road trips.)

Road Trippin' - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen

Paradise City - Guns 'N Roses

Shut Up and Drive - Rhianna

I Get Around - Beach Boys

Permanent Vacation - Aerosmith

Drive My Car - The Beatles

Rambling Man - Allman Brothers

Life in the Fast Lane -  Eagles
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