05. February 2014 · Comments Off on The SodaStream Chatterbox “House Party” Pack · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,
If you talk about the product, you get to try out the product.

If you talk about the product, you get to try out the product.

Today I will be talking about our SodaStream again. I had written about it last year when we first got it, and one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written for GeekMom is about a Soda Stream syrup hack using real sugar.

We’ve had our SodaStream just under a year and we like it a lot. We’ve had to replace the CO2 cartridge three times in that year, meaning we’ve made nearly 200 liters of soda with us. We’ve tried the SodaStream-brand syrups, we’ve made our own syrups, and we’ve tried the Mio-type concentrated flavor syrups. The latter option has been the most convenient for us, and that’s what we tend to do most often.

With that background, I had applied in January through the House Party social service to try out some Soda Stream flavors and talk it up through social media.

The SodaStream pack arrived in mid-January. You can see what I had received in the photo above. The sampler box of syrups, two 1L bottles, a recipe that mixes flavors, and several coupons to give to friends. I was surprised to see that most of the flavors in the pack weren’t necessarily new. In fact, we had tried the Country Time and Kool-Aid flavors in the past. Read on for my impressions of the Chatterbox. More »

11. March 2013 · Comments Off on Our New Soda Stream — And Alternatives to the Soda Stream Mixes · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
Our new toy. Thanks to GeekMom's Amazon Associates credit.

Our new toy. Thanks to GeekMom’s Amazon Associates credit.

In February I got my Amazon.com credit for all of the product referrals I did over the holidays for GeekMom. It was a very generous payout and we bought some goodies such as a pressure cooker, a hangar for our family’s running medals, and a Soda Stream.

We got a very basic Soda Stream model, which included the carbonator with CO2 tank, one 1L bottle and a sampler pack of flavor syrups.

The system is very straightforward, and doesn’t even require electricity: screw a water-filled bottle to the carbonator and depress a button on top to carbonate to the level you desire (they recommend depressing the button three times, we’re still trying to figure out how much carbonation we actually like).

We all tasted several of the sample syrups that came with the system and they’re pretty good. Dave noticed that all the syrups were surprisingly low-calorie and upon further investigation, we noticed that they ALL had sucralose (otherwise known as Splenda).

More »

11. August 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 32: Cajun Specialty Meats, Pensacola · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

A “turducken”, which is a chicken in a duck in a turkey. Cajun Specialty Meats always has them on hand, and they also ship these throughout the Eastern Seaboard, from here to New York.

The family spent Wednesday in Pensacola, enjoying one last trip to the Pensacola MESS Hall before they close for the school year. After our time at the MESS Hall, we looked for an inexpensive — but not fast-food — lunch option.  There are typically numerous restaurants along Gregory St. near the Civic Center and we wandered up and down the main drag for something appealing. Nothing jumped out at us.

When I took a side street to make a U-turn, down an industrial-looking street, we discovered a place called Cajun Specialty Meats. It appeared to be a warehouse, but we noticed a small restaurant in front. It was still open for our late lunch so we decided to check it out.

You can read here the story of how a Cajun meat packing facility ended up in Pensacola.

The lunch menu was great (and inexpensive), and you could shop in the store while you waited for your red beans and rice, po-boys, muffulettas or etouffee.

Here’s what goodies we found at Cajun Specialty Meats!

  • One of the original national retailers of “Turduckens“.
  • Many of their traditional Cajun lunch fares are available in vacuum-sealed bags: red beans and rice, gumbo, and etouffees, for about $5-8 per 24 oz.
  • Savoie’s pre-made roux from Opelousas, LA.
  • Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup from Abbeville, LA — an alternative to corn syrup when making pecan pie.
  • Meat, meat and more meat!  Seasoned steaks, chickens and sausages galore!
  • Crawfish and seafood pies
  • Natchitoches-style meat pies!  This one really caught Dave’s and my attention, since we loved going to Lasyone’s in Natchitoches when were stationed in Louisiana in the mid-1990s.

If you’re looking for something completely different the next time you’re looking for a restaurant in Pensacola, just head one block directly BEHIND McGuire’s.

A favorite family breakfast!

I’d like to share a new favorite product in our house: Immaculate Baking Co.

No, this isn’t a “Back to Basics” type of thing, but I started by trying out the cinnamon rolls, like the ones pictured above.  I’ve been trying to migrate my kids away from the super-processed Pillsbury refrigerated dough products, and was just going to try to make cinnamon rolls with my bread machine.  But that still takes a while — I’d make up the dough the night before, assemble the rolls before bedtime and let them rise in the fridge.

But I had two problems with this: (a) I’m so tired at night I rarely do much food prep the night before and (b) such recipes tend to make too many cinnamon rolls.  And if I bake them, they will all be eaten.  We don’t need that.

At my local Wal-mart, I spied these Immaculate Baking cinnamon rolls positioned high above the Pillsbury products that are at eye level.  (Tangent: Check out this blog post about the psychology of product placement in grocery stores, at every store I’ve seen these cinnamon rolls, they’re on the top shelf).

I liked the non-GMO corn products and unprocessed ingredients.  I thought I’ve give them a shot.  The flour is unbleached and unbromated, the salt is sea salt and the baking powder is aluminum-free.

More »

I “won” this Keurig Elite from the HSC Charity Auction last fall.

Like millions of other Americans, we have become Keurig customers.  It’s like a revolution in coffee…Keurigs give you a “perfect” cup of coffee with very little work.  The American dream, right?

We got our first Keurig, a “Mini“, just before we moved from Nebraska to Florida in fall 2010.  After the movers took our regular coffee pot, it was a nice way to keep having our coffee in the morning.  It’s small and we didn’t have to keep coffee grounds on hand, just a box (or two) of K-Cups and some disposable coffee cups. That one ended up in Dave’s office.  We like how it turns itself off after the cup of coffee brews.  We get a bit paranoid about coffee pots being left on.

This past fall we got one for the home.  It’s been great.  When you register your machine with Keurig, you get coupons for free K-Cups.  BOGO for 2 boxes of 48 K-Cups.  This was a great deal after Christmas when the Starbucks K-Cups became available online.

K-Cup-brewed coffee is delicious and perfect every time.  No doubt there.

My conundrum: K-Cups are very wasteful and are expensive.  After all, traditional coffee pots brew through compostable coffee filters and then you can go on to compost the spent coffee grounds. More »

24. March 2012 · Comments Off on The Hunger Games Movie…The Odds are Definitely in its Favor · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,
This was at the Rave theater near Cordova Mall in Pensacola.  Someone had a good time making this out of posters.

Today I did something very anti-social.  I went BY MYSELF to a movie.  I can’t remember the last time I did that.  I just didn’t feel like coordinating with anyone else.  I knew I could go on Friday while the kids were at school and I didn’t want anyone to stop me.

I had been drooling to see The Hunger Games movie for about a year.  Probably because I read the trilogy about a year ago.  For the past 12 months, I discussed with the GeekMoms on our message board every time photos from the film shoot, posters and trailers were publicized.

The excitement was pretty palpable by the time I bought my ticket this morning at a theater in Pensacola.  I had to haul out that far because that was the only place in 50 miles offering showings before noon. More »

08. March 2012 · Comments Off on Another Shameless Pitch: Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I can’t believe I’m pitching deodorant!  But I am.

I happened across this product about a month ago at my local Walmart.  It sits high up on the top shelf of the women’s deodorant section.  There’s a nice, neat row of white boxes, all titled “Secret: Clinical Strength“.  Lots of scents, and at least two sizes for each scent.

I decided to choose the “Marathon Fresh” scent.  After all, I was training for a half marathon and it seemed appropriate.  See the running girl on the box?

I was sold!

At more than $7 for a container HALF the size of their standard container of Secret deodorant, I figured this had to be good.

It IS good!  I am one of those types who sweats profusely.  I’ve been hesitant to wear tank tops and sundresses for this reason.

But this product put a stop to it.  Even after my runs in the Florida sunshine, I continued to smell “Marathon Fresh!”


Also, I noticed that a little goes a long way.  With regular deodorant, I have to reapply every 3-4 hours. Seriously, I do.  In the case of the clinical strength, I can apply once and be good to go for 24 hours!  So you could argue that this deodorant may not really cost twice as much, since I only have to apply now 1/3 as often.

This is amazing!!!!

If you also have been recently converted, make sure to save those UPC codes from your boxes, because with every 4 containers, you can send in the UPC codes and get a coupon for a free 1.7 oz. product!  Learn more about the “Clinical Strength Loyalty Program” here.

Okay, done pitching — back to our regularly scheduled programming.

28. November 2011 · Comments Off on Because I Got a Bit Busy Today…A Review of Disney Universe for Wii · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
Disney Universe for Wii retails for $45-50.  Click this link to go straight to Amazon’s listing.

At the last minute, I decided to stamp/crop our family Christmas cards this year.

I’m tapping into a lot of the materials I have on hand to save a little money, and I used the Splitcoaststampers website gallery to search for design ideas for the Stampin’ Up sets I have on hand.  All I had to buy was some gold ribbon, clear envelopes and a gold pigment ink pad.

I guess I’ll need stamps, too.

Because I got a bit busy with the cards, for today’s daily post I’m just going to direct you to the Disney Universe for Wii video game review I did for GeekMom.com a week ago.  I was so pleased that the review got picked up by the BlogHer network for further sharing.  The week it was released, I wrote to Disney Interactive for a “review copy” of the game and I received one 5 days later!  Wow!

To summarize, the kids love the game, and I was a bit surprised at how twisted it is, considering it’s Disney.  It’s clear Disney was trying to replicate the incredibly popular LEGO video game style made popular by Travelers Tales games.

This week I’ll be working on another free-game we received for review: Cabela’s Adventure Camp for Wii.  I’m kinda liking this GeekMom gig 🙂

04. November 2011 · Comments Off on Marshmallow Fail! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Before I get into the main topic of this post, first let me say that this was a much much better day for Dave’s recovery.  He woke up in a good mood, and seemed to do well while I was briefly at a Hurlburt Spouses’ Club board meeting during mid-morning.  He even took a couple walks to the mailbox and back.  Things are looking good.  His surgery sites are still very sore, but at least he’s prepared for that pain and is coping.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was pretty rough.

So, marshmallows.  I like marshmallows a lot.  I always have.  S’mores are a favorite dessert at our house, which we’ll make in our backyard on summer evenings in our firepit.

I made a stupid impulse purchase at Walmart yesterday while grocery shopping.

My word, these things STINK!  I smelled them in the car all the way home, then they took over the smell of my kitchen.  Some sort of artificial chocolatey chemical smell.

I ate ONE. It was 90 calories.  Didn’t feel so hot afterwards.

Yeah, it’s pretty big.

The rest are in the trash, and that’s $2 wasted.  The odor was nauseating.

What was I thinking?

On the other hand, I found these ketchup packets for sale at Walmart and am glad I no longer have to steal have extras of them from Chick-fil-a.

Today I was at the same Walmart picking up a prescription and when I picked up some last minute groceries (I’m always suckered into picking up more than one item at Walmart, don’t you?) and I walked past the endcap with those stupid marshmallows.  Oh, the SMELL….

30. October 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Today I got home from my two-week AF Reserve tour.  Having to get on a plane and fly to my two-week tour is actually a first for me…unless you count the year I deployed, which I’m not.  I’d have had to fly to that one no matter where Dave was stationed 🙂

A tad chilly in Omaha this morning — they had to de-ice our plane before we took off!

No details about the work I did, it’s the same as what I always do, which is challenging work, but rewarding when all’s said and done.  I happened to be on night shifts — which I was two years ago — and it’s seeming like pulling night shifts is getting harder and harder on me.  Perhaps it’s the time I’m putting between having to work nights, perhaps it’s my getting older?  I don’t know.

Dave has back surgery on Monday.  The super-perceptive will start to realize a trend.  For those who haven’t been reading for as long, “let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” (to quote Indigo Montoya).

It’s autumn, and it seems it’s time for Dave to have surgery again.  His back has been deteriorating pretty quickly this year, in part from the more intensive fitness regime he’s had here.  After talking to several peers here who have had successful back procedures, he decided to meet with a neurosurgeon who suggested Dave would be a candidate for a procedure called an AxiaLIF.  It turns out his case made him a candidate so he goes in on Monday, but should be out of the hospital on Tuesday.  If the procedure is successful, Dave’s recovery will be quicker than a traditional vertebrae fusion procedure.

This post from 2010 will provide a little more detail on his past surgeries.

I’ve a couple posts brewing that I’ll get up here in between surgery and Halloween updates.  I’ll start with this one.

Another shameless pitch…

I came across these products at the little bookstore/sundries store at the airport during this trip.  I bought them for meals while I was working, since I stayed in a hotel with no fridge or microwave.

For about $7 (airport prices) these little meals were organic, well-balanced and sensibly-sized.  The meal on the left is gluten-free: tuna salad, rice crackers, applesauce and dark chocolate.  The meal on the right is salami, processed asiago cheese spread, crackers and trail mix.

These GoPicnic meals are shelf-stable and fit nicely in my backpack for when I went to work.  Each of the meals weren’t more than 350 calories.  The clerk at the airport shop told me that the salami meal could go through security, but the tuna meal couldn’t because of the larger container of applesauce.  This particular airport store was on the ticketing-side of security.

When you open up the box, you’re greeted with individually wrapped parts, and a very fun box:

These were the contents of the meal pictured on the right above.
Fun nutrition facts.
Fun food facts.  I love that peanut butter statistic!
I loved the Sudoku puzzle at the bottom of the box.  I saved it for several days thinking I might have time to work on it, but I didn’t…

The final verdict?  I liked everything except for the trail mixes that were included with each of the meals.  The nuts seemed soft, probably because of the lack of preservatives (which is a good thing).  All of the ingredients are top quality, with no artificial flavors, colors, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG!

If you see them at your local airport, I recommend them!