Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mooney Farms Bella Sun Luci Review and Giveaway!

Mooney Farms began as a small, family-owned company operating out of Northern California. They first sold kiwis to local farmer's markets, but then introduced their famous Bella Sun Luci sun dried tomatoes. Their very first batch sold out quickly and it was clear that they had a unique recipe which would bring them much success. In 1994, Mooney Farms relocated to Chico, California, where they would expand to a 100,000 square foot building. Mooney Farms now sells a variety of healthy, Mediterranean-style food products which are sold across the country. They pride themselves upon creating authentic and quality flavors and on being a company that is based on family values and integrity.

Mooney Farms sells the following variety of products:
  • California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Greek Oregano, Basil & Garlic
  • California Sun Dried Tomato Halves
  • California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut
  • California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Italian Basil
  • California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Zesty Peppers
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs - Halves  
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs - Julienne Cut
  • Sun Dried Tomato Pesto with whole pinenuts  
  • Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta with Italian Basil
  • California Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sun Dried Tomato Risotto  
  • Tomato & Artichoke Pasta Sauce
  • Basque Norte Meat Marinade
  • Carne Asada Meat Marinade
  • Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves in Olive Oil 35oz.
  • Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut in Olive Oil 35oz. 

They also have the following gift basket selections available for order on their website (perfect for any occasion!):

  • The Mooney Family Story Gift Box - $49.95
  • Gourmet Marinade Basket - $44.95
  • Mediterranean Pantry - $59.95
  • Dinner for Two - $54.95
  • California Olive Oil Double Pack - $28.00
  • California Olive Oil Single Pack - $15.00

Besides their great taste and distinct flavors, Mooney Farms' products also have many health benefits. Being that their products are Mediterranean-inspired, they contribute to what has been referred to as the "Mediterranean diet". This diet has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, as well as heart disease. There have also been implications in the prevention of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The diet favors olive oil to butter and herbs and other seasonings to salt. Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and grains are all an important part of the diet, while red meat and sweets are generally avoided. This diet helps to inspire a long, healthy, and active lifestyle. Bella Sun Luci products are all based in 100% pure olive oil. The sun dried tomatoes have "12 times the amount of Lycopene than a raw tomato"; Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can lead to a reduced risk of many cancers, heart disease, and even digestive problems.

Mooney Farms' products are all certified gluten free and kosher. If you do not use the entire jar of sun dried tomatoes in your recipe, not to worry! They will last for approximately 6 months in the refrigerator.

Mooney Farms was generous enough to send me the entire package of Bella Sun Luci products shown above. They sent: Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs - Julienne Cut, Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs - Halves, Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta with Italian Basil, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Greek Oregano, Basil & Garlic, California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Italian Basil, and the California Sun Dried Tomatoes Julienne Cut with Zesty Peppers. What an amazing package! There are so many possible dishes and appetizers to create with sun dried tomatoes that I hardly knew where to start. I had never tried the Bella Sun Luci tomatoes previous to writing this review, though I have had other sun dried tomatoes in the past. I love the Mooney Farms has such a wide variety of flavors available, literally for any kind of dish you could hope to prepare. Their products are relatively inexpensive (averaging $2.99/3.5 oz bag, $4.99/8.5 oz bag) and a little goes a long way.

For dinner one night, my family decided to help me create "Mediterranean Chicken" - a recipe listed on the Mooney Farms website. It was an easy and inexpensive dish that looked and tasted gourmet. Everyone in my family loved it and devoured it...we had no leftovers for the following day like we usually do! The Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs really provided the flavor and distinction for this recipe. They went perfectly with the chicken and artichoke hearts. These tomatoes really had a stand-out quality compared to ones that I have tried in the past. Generally I cannot taste sun dried tomatoes in a dish, but here, they were a complement rather than overshadowed. I think that if you use Mooney Farms' products, you will definitely be pleased and maybe even opened to the idea of sun dried tomatoes if you were ever turned off to them or if you haven't tried them before. They are tasty, filling, and healthy to boot! Here is the recipe that we were following from the booklet that Mooney Farms sent with my package:


  • 1 Jar - 8.5 oz. Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil & Herbs
  • 1 cup well drained, chopped artichoke hearts
  • 4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, flattened slightly to an even thickness
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain sun dried tomatoes, reserving oil.
  • In a large mixing bowl blend 1/2 cup of the drained tomatoes with the chopped artichoke hearts, Feta and Parmesan cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic, green onions, salt and pepper.
  • heat reserved olive oil (from tomatoes) in a large skillet placed over medium heat; when hot, add chicken and sear both sides to light brown.
  • Remove chicken to oven-proof casserole dish and arrange in a single layer.
  • Top chicken with tomato-artichoke mixture. Place uncovered dish into the preheated oven and bake 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  • mix remaining sun dried tomatoes with the cooked rice and almonds.
  • Press 1/4 of the rice into a cup or large ramekin, then invert onto plates.
  • Rice should come out in a molded shape, repeat.
  • Place chicken on top of each serving of rice and sprinkle with basil leaves.
The only thing that we skipped were the almonds, because we weren't sure how that would taste. We also used fresh basil from the garden! I was surprised at how well it turned out, because I really am no cook. Here are pictures of the preparation and final results:



Another night, we chose to select an appetizer from the recipe booklet that Mooney Farms sent us to go along with our main course. We chose the "Sun Dried Tomato Artichoke Dip"...can you tell we love artichokes yet? For this recipe, we utilized the Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves in Oil. I am so excited because I have found a new party favorite! This is the perfect dish to bring to your next pot-luck or event. I guarantee your friends and family won't believe that you made it, and will think that it took much longer to create. It plates very nicely, and could literally be paired with anything to dip -- we used tortilla chips, but I bet it would taste great with a baguette, or any type of vegetable. Here is the recipe we followed from the Mooney Farms' website, and afterward are the pictures of our creation:


  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, diced
  • 6 Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves in Oil, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a glass 9-inch pie pan or baking plate mix cream cheese, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Using a large fork, blend together.
  • Add the Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes, parmesan cheese and basil. Stir together until well blended.
  • Flatten dip with fork or spatula so dip is an even layer in pan.
  • Sprinkle top with the Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Bake at 375ยบ degrees for 16-18 minutes.
  • Dip should be golden brown on top. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Serve with sea salt bagel chips or your favorite cracker.


I would love to hear your ideas for future recipes that I should try with my remaining Bella Sun Luci products! I am taking the rest to my new apartment so my boyfriend and I can whip up some new dishes in a few weeks. I will be sure to report back with the rest of my creations. So far, these products get an A+!

Interested in learning more about Mooney Farms and their products? Check out the links below:

One lucky reader will win their own Bella Sun Luci prize pack, courtesy of Mooney Farms! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Giovanni Rana Pasta Review and Giveaway!


Giovanni Rana, from Verona, Italy, has been a master pasta maker for more than 50 years. At a young age, he entered the food industry by joining his brothers in a local bakery. By 1959, he was hand-delivering tortellini to families in his region via motor scooter. Several years later, he was able to open his own company, "Pastificio Rana", which quickly became a hit throughout Italy. Giovanni Rana invented machinery for his company which would replicate his unique handmade process for creating the perfect pasta. In 2012, Giovanni Rana opened his first factory in the United States.

Giovanni Rana clearly takes great care in providing customers with authentic, quality pasta. Some companies lose that special homemade taste when they start mass production, but that is not the case here! Giovanni Rana utilizes top-notch ingredients, many of which are D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin -- meaning that they must come from a specific place and must be made in a specific way). Some of these unique ingredients include: Genovese Basil (grown in the mountains of Liguria), Golden-yolked eggs (from specially raised hens), Parmigiano Reggiano (a certain cheese from Northern Italy), and flour (for perfect consistency and al dente taste).

Giovanni Rana offers the following delicious pasta varieties and sauces:

  • Tortelloni Prosciutto
  • Ravioli Cheese "Forte"
  • Ravioli Spinach E Ricotta
  • Ravioli Chicken Rosemary
  • Ravioli Artichoke
  • Ravioli Mushroom
  • Ravioli Caprese Duet
  • Tortelloni Cheese "Delicato"
  • Tortellini Cheese "Delicato"
  • Ravioli Cheese "Delicato"
  • Tagliatelle
  • Fettuccine Paglia E Fieno
  • Oven Ready Lasagne Sheets
  • Gnocchi Di Patate 
  • Spaghetti
  • Basil Pesto Sauce
  • Bolognese Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
 Giovanni Rana is sold in many major grocery stores and small markets across the country, and they are continuously expanding the reach of their products. Some stores you might find their products in include: Hannaford, Price Chopper, Costco, Shoprite, Shaw's, Giant Eagle, Shop n' Save, Sweetbay, etc. You will find their products in the cold but not the frozen section -- both the pasta and the sauce. I think this is a great aspect of the pasta, because I feel like it tastes more fresh and more gourmet this way. Also, it makes meal preparation a lot faster, which I appreciate!

Giovanni Rana was generous enough to send me the package of pasta and sauces pictured above. I received the Marinara Sauce, Basil Pesto Sauce, Bolognese Sauce, Ravioli Artichoke, Ravioli Spinach E Ricotta, Ravioli Cheese "Delicato", Ravioli Cheese "Forte" and Tortelloni Prosciutto. I was very impressed with their quick response and wonderful customer service. The pasta arrived at my door in a refrigerated box, packaged very precisely. They included many freezer packs to keep the pasta at the proper temperature when it came. I have seen Giovanni Rana products in the local grocery store where I work, and customers have been buying them left and right. This prompted me to reach out to the company, so that I could try the pasta myself and pass on the good word. I wanted to see what all the hype was about!

My family wanted to try the Ravioli Artichoke first, because we are huge artichoke fans. I have never seen such a unique ravioli flavor; I'm used to either purchasing cheese or beef filled varieties. We decided to pair this Giovanni Rana product with the marinara sauce that we received, along with some homemade garlic bread. I usually rush out the door to work, and I know that I will be busy with medical school, so it was very comforting to see how quickly a quality meal could be produced. I will stop heating up Ramen noodles and I will instead devote those 4 minutes to cooking Giovanni Rana pasta. All you need to do is boil water, throw in the pasta for four minutes, and sprinkle some cheese on top and you have a dish that tastes like it took four hours to prepare. The Ravioli Artichoke was amazing; it was very flavorful, and four minutes gave it just the right amount of tenderness. The marinara sauce was the perfect complement, and also tasted extremely authentic and flavorful...not like the cheap cans of tomato sauce I am used to buying! This is honestly the best ravioli that I have ever had, and I am a big ravioli fan who has tried many brands.  

Another night, my mom and I had more time to prepare dinner, so we chose to use Giovanni Rana's Ravioli Spinach E Ricotta as a base. We love to use our left-overs in a creative way so as not to waste them, so we incorporated them into our ravioli dish. After boiling water and cooking the pasta for four minutes, we added Progresso's starter sauce, mozzarella cheese, and either leftover chunks of cooked ham or my mom's homemade meatloaf. Then we added a simple garden salad and buttered bread to make a filling meal. This Giovanni Rana Ravioli was just as tasty as the artichoke flavor. I love that I am getting the added touch of vegetable with my dish without having to boil spinach. 


Since Giovanni Rana's products have quite a lengthy period of time before they "expire", I decided that I would wait until I move into my new apartment to use the other pastas and sauces. My boyfriend and I love trying to make new dishes and will certainly need help stocking our new fridge! When we make meals with the other products that I received, I will be sure to update this post with my "recipe" and pictures. In the meantime, I highly recommend that you go out and find some Giovanni Rana pasta to try for yourself! The retail price is very reasonable for the quality and simplicity of preparation that you are receiving. 

Interested in learning more about Giovanni Rana and their products? Click the links below:

One lucky reader will win their own pasta and sauce prize pack, courtesy of Giovanni Rana! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

Goose Valley Review


Goose Valley rice comes exclusively from a family-owned ranch (Goose Valley Ranch) in the Cascade Mountains, south of Mt. Shasta. They are the only company to produce and mill their own wild rice, as well as have it packaged in an organic certified facility. Goose Valley's unique location on many acres of land gives its rice a certain unbeatable quality and distinct flavor. The red volcanic soil lends itself to a nutty taste, and the specific weather conditions (hot summer days and water from a spring snow melt) to overall enrichment. For their Family Reserve products, Goose Valley uses only grade A wild rice that is hand selected. They are the LEADERS of certified organic and natural wild rice production in the country.

Goose Valley really makes an effort to provide for and protect their environment through sustainability. They use goats, sheep and cattle to curb weeds, instead of chemically infested herbicides. Their organic wild rice receives only lime, gypsum, and green waste compost, while their regular rice only uses a small amount of fertilizer. Goose Valley makes a very small ecological footprint - they also use eco-friendly packaging, and pay attention to the quality of the air by planting trees and minimizing fuel use by tractors and harvesters. Goose Valley also gives back to Trust for Public Land -- a charity that helps America preserve wildlife regions. 

Goose Valley has been featured in many magazines, including: Delight, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Cook's Illustrated, Clean Eating, The Boston Globe, Food and Beverage, and the Improper Bostonian. 
Goose Valley offers retail products available in many stores (like Hannaford, if you have one near you) across the country, as well as larger products for the foodservice industry. The varieties of rice that Goose Valley sells which you can buy for yourself include:

  • Certified Organic Wild Rice - Family Reserve - No pesticides or herbicides are used for this product -- only organic fertilizer and old fashioned farming techniques. Available in 5oz or 10oz sizes.
  • Natural Wild Rice - Family Reserve 
  • Brown and Wild Rice Fusion - Family Blend
  • Basmati and Wild Rice Fusion - Family Blend - Contains basmati rice and wild rice blended together with vegetables and herbs. Has a strong, lemony flavor. Available in a 10oz pouch.
  • Arborio and Wild Rice Risotto Fusion - Family Blend - An American blend with an earthy, nutty flavor. Creamy rice with color and texture that is Kosher and gluten free. Available in a 10oz pouch.
  • Rice and Bean Fusion - Family Blend - The beans give this rice blend a sweet touch, while the rice adds a nutty flavor and texture. Kosher and gluten free. Available in a 10oz pouch.

Goose Valley was kind enough to send me a 10oz pouch of Brown and Wild Rice Fusion (Family Blend) and a 5oz sample of their Natural Wild Rice (Family Reserve). Goose Valley's Brown and Wild Rice Fusion includes the following ingredients: CalMati Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Heirloom Red Rice, and Calmochi Sweet Brown Rice. Goose Valley describes it as having a "hearty flavor with a hint of spice and nectar". It has only 150 calories per serving. Both types of rice can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, or even diabetes. A diet rich in wild rice can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and can supply you with many essential minerals and nutrients. Goose Valley's Natural Wild Rice is "higher in fiber and protein yet lower in calories and carbohydrates than most other whole grains."

After browsing Goose Valley's website, I chose a "recipe" for a quick and easy meal to prepare for lunch one day. I used the 10oz pouch of their Brown and Wild Rice Fusion (Family Blend) to make a healthier pasta alternative. My boyfriend and I are moving to a new apartment soon and around my medical school education, budget and time will be tight, so it was nice to be able to test Goose Valley's rice ahead of time. Now we have a new product to add to our shopping list and a new idea for meals! This dish was simple, filling, and really quite tasty. 

Healthy Pasta Alternative
  • 1 10oz pouch of Goose Valley Brown and Wild Rice Fusion
  • 1 cup of Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz. jar of Alfredo sauce
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Pinch of Oregano
  • Pinch of Garlic Powder
  • Pinch of Herbed Spinach

 All you need to do to create this pasta alternative is to first boil four cups of water. You can add the pinch of salt and pepper at any time. Next, add the rice and cover your pot. Turn down the heat and let it cook for approximately 30 minutes. While cooking, add a pinch of spices; the ones that I chose and listed above were a nice complement to the sauce and the flavor of the rice. After 30 minutes, drain any excess water from the rice. Next, add one cup of mozzarella cheese and stir so that it melts faster. Finally, add the 1/2 15oz jar of Alfredo sauce..and enjoy!
If you have more time, I would suggest boiling some kale or Swiss chard and adding it for even more flavor. However, I thought this turned out great. I was able to sit at the table and work on paper work, with minimal stirring or preparation involved. These portions made enough for a family; my boyfriend and I both took a large plate full and did not finish.
Our opinions? We loved Goose Valley's rice! It really does have a unique nutty/spicy flavor from its area of harvest, which could really add to any dish. You can tell that their products are quality, rich, and flavorful. I would love to use it to create the Turkey Tarragon Wild Soup or the Broccoli and Cheese Wild Rice Casserole for dinners in the future. I have not decided what to make with my 5oz sample of Natural Wild Rice, but as soon as I do, I will post pictures of it!

 Interested in learning more about Goose Valley and their products? Visit them at one of the following places:

Monday, June 24, 2013

TheraPearl Knee Wrap Review

TheraPearl is a company that offers products for pain relief and comfort, which extends to all parts of the body and all situations. TheraPearl utilizes unique Pearl Technology in their products; the pearls are designed to hold a hot or cold temperature for twenty minutes, as well as to be flexible while frozen. TheraPearl has been featured on Fox's "The Mindy Project", as well as in Cosmopolitan and In-Style magazine. 
TheraPearl has a variety of products, including:
  • Shin Wraps
  • Eye-ssential Mask (to help with tired, puffy eyes, tender eyebrows and headaches)
  • Sports Pack (for post-workout aches and pains, comes in pink as well)
  • Knee Wrap
  • Neck Wrap
  • Contour Pack (bring it anywhere and wrap around any body part with an ache or pain)
  • Back Wrap
  • Face Mask (for migraines, sinus infections, and post-cosmetic procedures)
  • Children's Pals (cute animal-shaped wraps to help with cuts, scrapes, and other boo-boos)
  • Drink Koozie (to keep your beverages cold)
  • Breast TheraPearl Pack (for better breastfeeding)
  • Round "pearl" Pack (smaller in size for relief from post-waxing, injections, etc)
  • Oval Pack (smaller for small bumps and bruises and insect bites)

TheraPearl was kind enough to send me one of their Knee Wraps to review, so that I could share my opinions with you. The Knee Wrap measures 14 in x 10.25 in and features a circular opening with an outer ring of Pearl Technology, as well as a Velcro strap. The opening is placed over your kneecap, so that when you attach the Knee Wrap, you can still bend and move comfortably. The Velcro strap holds the Knee Wrap in place, while the Pearl Technology is there to aid with discomfort. It is non-toxic, as well as latex and lead-free.

The Knee Wrap is reusable and is designed to help many different sources of discomfort/pain. It can help ease sprains, swelling, arthritis, bruising, post-exercise strain, day-to-day wear and tear, plus more! You can wear it after you have strained your knees, or even while you are putting strain on them. It is flexible enough to be used while kneeling (to do gardening or housework) and moving (exercising or doing errands).

TheraPearl's unique technology allows the Knee Wrap to be used in two ways -- hot or cold. For heat therapy, the Knee Wrap should be placed in the microwave and then tested for a suitable temperature, with these settings in mind:
  • 700 Watt Microwave: 40 seconds
  • 1000 Watt Microwave: 35 seconds
  • 1250 Watt Microwave: 25 seconds
For cold therapy, the Knee Wrap needs to be frozen for 2 hours prior to using. Afterwards, the Knee Wrap should be applied to the affected area for twenty minutes. If you need to wear it longer, you can remove and reapply for twenty minutes. 

I wanted to review TheraPearl's Knee Wrap for my mother. I have mentioned before that she had a total knee replacement just about a year ago, and she still suffers from some discomfort, numbness, and swelling. Her other knee, while not replaced, is not far behind. She has arthritis and pain in that knee. We are always looking for products to provide the relief she needs for an active lifestyle. She works as an assistant Pre-K teacher, so she she needs to be able to run around after the children. She also actively gardens (but has problems kneeling), does chores, and works at the Farmer's Market selling her baked and craft goods on the weekend. Needless to say, she uses her knees A LOT, so this Knee Wrap looked like a great temporary relief for the middle of the day, to recharge her for all of the activities she needs to complete.

I had my mother try the TheraPearl Knee Wrap both hot and cold. Being so hot out these past few weeks in New York, she definitely preferred the cold therapy, although she liked the convenience of how quickly the microwaved Knee Wrap can be applied. There are different times where heat or cold would feel better for certain aches and pains. She thought that the Knee Wrap felt very soothing and relaxing, and allowed her to still go about her day-to-day activities. It was not an annoyance, and it did not fall off when she walked around. The Pearl Technology fit closely and comfortably around her skin. She said that she did find temporary relief from her knee replacement pain.

The Knee Wrap retails for just $19.99 and can be purchased here from TheraPearl's website or from one of many major retailers such as Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger's, Wegman's, Dick's, Toys "R" Us, etc.
Want to learn more about TheraPearl and their products? Use one of the links below:


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Winners of the Dr. Scholl's Coupon Giveaway

Here are the winners of the $4.00 off Dr. Scholl's coupon. They have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen. Congrats!

Cade's 3rd Birthday Bash Giveaway!

Hosted By: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys

Co-Hosted By: Elitemama

Welcome to Cade's 3rd Birthday Bash where there are tons of awesome prizes waiting to be won!

Very special thank you to our Co-Host Elitemama as well as a thank you to all the blogs who have signed up to help out with this event!!

An EXTRA Special Thank You to all of our wonderful Sponsors!

SoftBums Echo System

Schylling Toys: BRIO Farm Railway Set

 Polka Tots- $25 Gift Certificate

Petite Lemon- $50 Gift Certificate

Kidorable- Umbrella

One Wild Oat

Momma Loves Baby

Imagine Baby "Smart Fit" Prefolds

Dakko Baby SC- $30 Gift Certificate

OllieBeez- Wooden Building Blocks


Baby Duds Boutique- Personalized Baseball Cap

Heads Up Designs- Rash Guard or T-shirt

Rachel Burton Design- Rolly Polly

Ellison's Organics- Organic Firetruck Soap

Little Sofie's Boutqiue

LaLa4U- $10 Gift Certificate

Original Sprout

GoGo Blanket- Snoozy Baby GoGo Blanket

 bubba brands, inc.

Brothers-All-Natural- Variety Pack of Fruit Crisps

Baby Magic- Hair & Body Wash and Moisturizing Cream

 The giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 years of age or older. There will be one winner for each prize, a total of 16 WINNERS! If your unsure of what some prizes are you can click the links above to read my review and find different ways to connect with the sponsors. Also, there are tons of discount codes so be sure to check out the reviews, if you comment on reviews you can gain 5 extra entries per review at the bottom of the Rafflecopter form. The giveaway will run from June 21st through July 4th! To enter for your chance to win, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclousre: The Second Thought and other participating blogs are not responsible for the fulfillment of the above prizes.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Neoprene Bottle Suit Beverage Koolers Review


Great Online Promotions, LLC is a business located in Charlotte, NC, that manufactures and sells promotional products to small businesses and corporations around the world. They began with the SlapKooler (a new version of the "slap bracelets" from years ago) and expanded to a large variety of creative and usable "branded" items. They promise NOT to sell rinky-dink items which aren't usable in the real-world!

Drawstring Sports Bags by!Besides SlapKoolers, Great Online Promotions also sells products such as water bottles, travel mugs, beverage holders, and sports bags. They can incorporate logos and sayings for your company, your wedding, your college, or even your next tailgate party. Their prices are very affordable and they even offer a 100% price match guarantee if you can find a lower price from a competitor company. This is such an inventive way to showcase your event, or to increase the breadth of your advertisement. I would be more likely to remember a company or a party by a water bottle or a drawstring bag than by a pen or a key chain! I can't tell you how many health fairs I've been to where my bag is full of these things by the end of the day; I couldn't tell you where one of them is anymore. I either lose them or throw them away. I could actually use the products that Great Online Promotions sells.

Great Online Promotions sent me a camouflage Neoprene Bottle Suit Beverage Kooler to review, so that I could share my opinions with you. These Neoprene Beverage Koolers come in a large variety of colors and patterns to fit any occasion: aqua, ash, beige, black, orange, brown, dark purple, deep green, electric blue, emerald green, evergreen, fluorescent green, fluorescent pink, fuchsia, gray, jungle green, lime green, magenta, maroon, navy blue, off white, pastel pink, red, rose, royal blue, teal, texas orange, violet, and yellow. The ink color for your saying or logo is also customizable! You can upload artwork and enter text to create a preview of your Kooler before you place an order. 

The Neoprene Bottle Suit Beverage Kooler is made from a high-quality 1/4" Neoprene (also in wetsuits) material, which will keep your beverages at a suitable temperature. It comes with a white collared zipper and a glued-in Neoprene bottom. Imprintable bottle openers are also available at an additional cost. Great Online Promotions also makes beverage "koolers" for cans, but this particular one fits the shape of a beer bottle. 

I like that the material of the Neoprene Bottle Suit Beverage Kooler is thick and resistant. It is built correctly; my bottle stands up on the table while inside. I have purchased beverage coolers in the past that are wobbly -- especially not a good combination if I'm going to be drinking a wine cooler or a hard apple cider! I like that it is customizable...I'd love to have my blog logo on promotional items such as this one in the future, if I decide to make a larger, local impression. I think that this would really get noticed, because people will take it out in public and all of their friends and strangers will get a peek.

I took my kooler outside with me onto the deck today, since it was 70-something degrees out and I wanted to keep my hard apple cider cold. I can definitely see myself using this at the beach in the near future, because the combination of sun and hot sand always warms up my drinks too quickly. I would also use this indoors because I do not have air conditioning and it would keep my drinks cold after I take them out of the fridge. 

Want to learn more about Great Online Promotions and their products? Visit them here:

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Winner of the John Paul Pet Giveaway!

Congrats to the lucky reader who will get their choice of awesome pet wipes! They have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Bluapple Review and giveaway!


I'm a science geek, so I was excited to learn all the chemistry behind Bluapple, and to share it with you. There is a reason why this product works, not just a gimmick like other food-freshening products! It turns out that ethylene gas (H2C=CH2) is responsible for the ripening of produce, and that there are ways of manipulating this to our advantage.

Here is a little blurb from Bluapple's website that I found informative:

"In fact, it was discovered that fruits and vegetables actually produce ethylene as they ripen. Experts think that the ethylene gas acts as a signal to the other plants to synchronize and coordinate ripening, thus maximizing the appeal of the plant to their seed disseminators (e.g. birds) and assuring the dispersal of their seeds. Scientists have since studied the effects of ethylene gas on produce and found that the effects are widespread. Other plant tissues can produce this gas as well. Even after harvest, fruits, vegetables and flowers are still alive, continuing their biochemical processes, including ripening and the generation of ethylene gas. Bruising or cutting some fruits and vegetables can even cause them to increase their ethylene gas production. For more information please see this Wikipedia's history of ethylene in plant biology."

Manufacturers have the ability to either expedite the ethylene gas process and cause produce to ripen faster, or to remove ethylene gas to slow ripening (for shipments and such). So, why not bring this technology into our homes? Bluapple has created a product which actively removes ethylene gas given off by produce to slow the ripening (or the "going-bad") process. 

How does it do that? Using a combination of NaMnO4 (sodium permanganate) and natural clinoptilolite (zeolite). To be "absorbed", ethylene gas needs to be oxidized, or changed into a different compound. Sodium permanganate is an oxidizing chemical which changes ethylene gas into manganese oxide and CO2. Zeolite, a type of volcanic ash that has been turned into rock over centuries, basically allows the ethylene gas and the sodium permanganate to come into contact with each other. Bluapple's chemical design provides "highest percentage of available reactant and the longest life per gram of any other ethylene absorption product".
The two chemicals are held within a water-resistant package inside of the plastic blue "apple". You do not have to open the packet inside the Bluapple, because the packaging was designed to be permeable to ethylene gas. When replacing a packet, you simply put the Bluapple on a solid surface and push down on it. It will split apart and you can change the packets rather quickly. When you're done, you can even give back to the environment by putting the packet in your garden -- plants thrive off of the zeolite.

How can you check and see if the Bluapple is working; when you do you need to change it? It's actually a really simple answer. I thought it was neat because the active ingredient contained within the packet inside the Bluapple actually changes colors when it has exerted its full potential. To know if you need to replace it, all you have to do is cut a corner of the packet, remove a few crystals, and either grind them or simply observe the outer color. If the Bluapple is still actively absorbing ethylene gas, the crystals will have a purple hue (and will appear purplish white when broken down)...if they have been completely used up, the crystals will turn brown. You can simply put a piece of tape over the edge that cut when you are finished. The Bluapple typically lasts for about three months before you need to buy a replacement packet.

Although the Bluapple works best in an enclosed space (it is easier for it to absorb the ethylene gas), you are not limited to using it in your fridge. It also works in other places that you put your produce, such as on your counter or in a fruit bowl. It will still extend the life of your produce, but the bigger the room, the less effective it will be at fully absorbing the gas.

The average family throws out over 600 dollars worth of produce a year -- the Bluapple helps us save both our wallets and our environment! Think of how much money you will save. Bluapple also stresses the following three "essentials" to obtain the freshest produce and best results with your Bluapple: temperature (keep at 38-48, keep produce in a crisper), ethylene gas control (using Bluapple), and humidity (holes in plastic bags or use damp paper towels). 

The Bluapple is available at many of your larger supermarkets nationwide, including Stop and Shop, Whole Foods, Giant Foods, etc. You can also purchase the Bluapple two-pack on the company's website here for just $9.95! Bluapple offers a money back guarantee, and has had less than 50 returns out of hundreds of thousands of products sold...those are pretty good odds!

Bluapple sent me my very own package to test out, so that I could share my opinion with you. I think the design of the Bluapple is cute and convenient. As you can see from my pictures, it doesn't take up a ton of room in either the crisper in the fridge or the fruit bowl. I contacted Bluapple initially because I tend to buy more produce than I can eat before it goes bad. This is especially true with greens of any kind (especially Swiss chard) which seem to go bad the fastest, as well as kiwi and some other tropical fruits. I am moving in just a few weeks, and I intend on taking the Bluapple with me, to help save me money and additional trips to the grocery store. I want to be able to go to the store a week or two in advance and be able to buy everything I need, instead of having to go back twice a week to avoid having rotten produce when it comes time to make a meal. A few weeks ago I bought Swiss chard to put with tofu, and within one week, I went to open the bag and it was slimy and wilted. That was 2 bucks down the drain! I am constantly wasting avocados, because I like having them for a snack with a little Italian dressing, but only when I have time for a snack or remember that the snack is there. I'm guilty of forgetting that I have produce tucked away in the crisper, and the Bluapple will help me have a pleasant instead of a not-so-pleasant surprise next time I open it! My parents want to keep the two Bluapples that I have here right now, but I had to break the news to them...I'm taking them with me. I know that they are really going to help out, and I can't wait to show you some more pictures in the future to prove it!

Interested in learning more about Bluapple? Visit them at one of the links below:

Three lucky readers will win their own Bluapple pack, courtesy of Bluapple! All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I am not responsible for the shipment of the prize, that is the company's duty. I will contact the winner via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

Dial Body Wash Review and Giveaway + the Dial $65k Gold Giveaway!

Dial has been successfully making products for healthy and clean skin for 65 years now. They have introduced several lines of products, including: bar soap, liquid hand soap, foaming hand soap, hand sanitizer, lotion, and body wash. They have a great line of products for men (Dial for Men) and for children (Dial for Kids). They are continuously introducing new scents and new products. It is obvious why they have been a trusted brand for so many years -- they have the quality and the affordability. 

As a member of the Purex Insiders, I was given the opportunity to test two full-sized Dial body wash products, so that I could share my opinion with you. I chose the Coconut Water and the NutriSkin Goji Berry and Orchid.

The Dial Coconut Water Body Wash is a new product that I saw featured on their website. It is the first of its kind and contains an ultra-hydrating bamboo leaf extract, along with the coconut water itself. It was made to leave skin feeling fresh, moisturized, clean, and hydrated. The coconut water is known to contain many antioxidant properties as well as electrolytes; it comes from young, green coconuts. Over the past few years, many coconut products are being manufactured for the body, hair, and even for food, because of the many healthy properties.

It has the following ingredients:  Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, peg-8, fragrance, glycerin, cocos nucifera extract, bambusa vulgaris leaf extract, polyquaternium-10, cocamidopropyl pg-dimonium chloride, isostearamidoproyl morpholine lactate, propylene glycol, dmdm hydantoin, citric acid, tetrasodium edta, sodium chloride, blue 1, red 33

The Dial NutriSkin with fruit oil Goji Berry and Orchid Body Wash is another hydrating and moisturizing product. It contains a clear formula with embedded fruit oil microbeads. Instead of being a "creamy" moisturizing body wash, this has a lighter feel.

It contains the following ingredients: Water, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine,  acrylates copolymer, fragrance, glycerin, lycium barbarum fruit extract, polyquaternium-7, peg-7 glyceryl oil, gelatin, helianthus annuus seed oil, acacia senegal gum, vitis vinifera seed oil, silica, xanthan gum, tin oxide, dmdm hydantoin, tetrasodium edta, sodium hydroxide, sodium chloride, mica, iron oxides, titanium dioxide, blue 1, red 33

Although I cannot show you pictures of myself using the body wash (for obvious reasons (;), I CAN tell you what I thought about them. I was so excited to receive the body wash that I went out the day I received the coupons and got them. I used one yesterday for my shower and I used the other one today for my shower. When I originally picked out these two body washes, I chose them not only for their formulas but also for their scents! The Goji Berry and Orchid smells like fruity candy, and the Coconut Water smells like a mixture of coconut and a "fresh", cottony scent. I love all products with coconut in them (like coconut oil in my food, or coconut milk for my hair), so that's another reason why I chose that body wash. I'm glad I did, because I felt the same way about it as I do with most of my coconut products. It definitely left my skin feeling fresh, clean, and moisturized. I really do think the coconut extract adds something special to the formula! My skin was very soft and smooth the following day. The Goji Berry and Orchid I also chose because I was attracted to the microbeads. I like that moisture came not in a creamy body wash, but in a thinner, more oily form. This body wash also left my skin feeling moisturized and clean. I love the feeling of the microbead/fruit oil combination. Just a little of both Dial body washes went a long way; it lathers up nicely unlike some cheaper varieties. I also like the fact that Dial costs less than some of the competitor brands, but without compromising quality.

I also wanted to let you all know about a great sweepstakes that Dial is sponsoring. It is called the "Dial 65k Gold Giveaway" to commemorate Dial's 65th anniversary, and the prizes include: one grand prize of $65,000 worth of gold and 65 second prizes of a year's supply of Dial Body Wash! The second prize winners will be announced daily from June 16th-August 19th, 2013 -- so hurry up and enter so that you have the best chance of winning! The entry form is very easy, and it can be located here. You can share the sweepstakes through your own social media accounts and be eligible to receive a coupon towards your next purchase.

Want to learn more about Dial and their great products? Connect with them in the following ways:


Purex Insiders and Dial were also generous enough to offer THREE of my lucky readers a coupon for a free Dial Body Wash. All you need to do is enter on the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. readers, 18 and over, unless you have permission from your parents. Please be honest when submitting Rafflecopter entries -- remember, I DO check all of your entries for verification, and I will throw them out if they are false. If the form has a spot for you to enter information, please provide me with the appropriate username, link, etc so that it is easier for me to verify your entries! I will contact the winners via email (so make sure to use one that you check) and you will have 48 hours to respond with your shipping information. If you have any questions or if the Rafflecopter is not working properly, you can always contact me via Facebook or email (links on the sidebar). Good luck!!

I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Purex Insiders sponsored the review post, but my opinions are all my own.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway