Sunday, October 30, 2011

Getting Fire Safety Training Out of the Way

As a homeschooling family, we are required to make sure we do fire safety training once a school year.  The co-op that I belong to usually goes to a local fire department, when they have time to fit us in, and they give us the safety talk including dressing up in their fire gear to show the kids they shouldn't be afraid of firemen who are wearing all those clothes and tanks.  They have a tiny fire house the kids can crawl through that has 3 rooms where they share specific fire safety techniques in the living room, kitchen, and bedroom.  They learn a lot through this method, but since we've done it for at least the past 5 years and since we are not a "school" group and they feel free to reschedule us to accommodate a "school" group, it is time for a change.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review Marshall Publishing's video entitled, "Lots & Lots of Fire Songs and Safety Tips," and the book entitled, "Lots & Lots of Fire Trucks and Firefighters."

I thought the video was very well done.  It gives students all of the vital information that should be learned during a lesson on fire safety.  They have a couple of catchy tunes included, which are more appropriate for a younger audience.  The book is excellent.  It is full of wonderful information and pictures.

The video is approximately 30 minutes long in its entirety, but it can be used as a short, 12-minute program if a shorter program is needed where safety concepts such as stop, drop, and roll; home safety plan; and calling 911 are taught.  It was created in 2008 and is clear visually and audibly. The book has 128 pages.  It includes an excellent timeline of firefighting which makes this also applicable to history class.  The video and book can be purchased separately or together for $49.90 total, but if you go to Marshall Publishing and enter TOSF1 at checkout, you can receive both for a total of $19.95 (plus S&H).  You can also call toll-free at 888-300-3455 between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. CST or visit their website, or

I also had the opportunity to review another of Marshall Publishing's videos.  This was entitled, "George Washington Carver: His Life and His Work."  Based on the website, it appears that this video was made in 2009.  I have to say that I was disappointed by the quality of this video.  It looks like it was made in the '70s when the video picture from cameras wasn't quite as crisp and clean.  There is a lot of wonderful information about the life of Carver, and the viewer is sure to learn a lot; but as my 9-year-old daughter watched it with me she said, "This is really boring."  I had to agree.  The narrator was hard to understand in a few spots also.  The first few minutes of the video was just nature scenes and animals.  I suppose this was because Carver was so interested in nature, but it loses the interest of the viewer right from the start.  This video sells for $19.95 regularly, but Marshall Publishing is offering a discount on it with the code TOSC1 at checkout of 15%, which makes it $16.95 (plus S&H).  If you are interested solely in the biographical information, this is a good buy.  If you are interested in a video which will be visually stimulating as well as educational, I don't think I'd recommend this one.

Marshall Publishing has many books and videos available to purchase about such topics as animals, educational historical documentaries, fire truck/jets and planes, monster trucks and motor sports, rockets and space, etc.  Their products are appropriate for all age ranges.  However, the songs, I think, are geared to a younger audience.  They also have some music CDs.  It is definitely worth the look on their website to find something that fits into your studies.  Some videos are just $12.95 and 90 minutes long.  The DVDs come with a lifetime replacement warranty.

The address for Marshall Publishing is 123 S. Hough St., Barrington, IL  60010.

DISCLAIMER:  I received this product free of charge to provide an honest review of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Could You Use a Little Extra Help with the Grocery Shopping?

If you could use a little extra help coming up with a menu each week and knowing what you need to purchase at the grocery store, then E-Mealz might be able to help.


This online service was created by two sisters in an effort to make meal planning easier and fit within a tight budget.  They also wanted meal time to be less chaotic and provide an opportunity for the family to come together and share with each other the day's events.

There are a number of different options when subscribing to the e-mealz program.  You can choose a menu for two people or a family plan.  You can also choose from Aldi, Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, Ralph's, or a menu that will work at any store.  You can also choose specialty menus such as vegetarian and gluten free.  All of the plans, except for the vacation plans, are $15.00 for 3 months of service which is automatically renewed.  You can cancel the automatic renewal, however.

The plan I chose was a low-fat Wal-Mart plan for a family.  Each week you print out the week's menu along with the grocery list.  The list has each item that is used in the week's menu plan and signifies which days they are used.  I found this helpful in cases where I didn't want to make a particular item they had on the menu.  I simply reduced the amount to buy because I knew I wouldn't need it on a certain day.

Now, certain people in my family are very picky and will only eat a limited variety of entrees.  Because of this, there were a few menu items each week I would not prepare.  Each item included a recipe and listed what sides were to go with it.  

I think there are a lot of benefits to this type of a program.  If you aren't picky and are willing to cook the easy recipes they provide, this could save you a lot of time.  You can tailor it to your store and your diet preference.  Because my life is very disorganized and I don't have a lot of time to do anything but make the simplest recipes that I often make on a regular basis, it was easier for me to go to the store, walk up and down each aisle, and pick and choose.  Perhaps as I get some more time back, after reducing the amount of time I work or cutting back on my kids' activities, this type of a system would be wonderful FOR ME.  Right now, it's just easier to keep it very simple by continuing to make those things I know my family loves and will eat.  You are able to change your store and your type of menu if you find your first choice doesn't work for you anymore.

These sisters have developed a very useful tool, and it would be of great benefit to many people out there.  It removes the task of deciding what to make every day; somebody already did it for you, and they even made you a grocery list.  It sure does simplify things a lot.  I wish I had had the time to really get into the habit of using it but, like I said, I am too disorganized right now to be even fit into someone else's organization.  I'm sure most of you, though, would love what these sisters have done for you.

E-mealz can also be given as a gift subscription to friends and family.  E-mealz can be reached at  They have folks available to answer questions Monday through Friday 8-5 CST.

DISCLAIMER: I was given this product for free to try so that I might provide an honest opinion.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Always Ice Cream

I LOVE ICE CREAM!!!!!  I also love Always Icecream!!!


This online educational and game website is for girls only, ages 7 to 12.  It was created by Dr. Johannes Ziegler who was looking for an appropriate internet site for his girls.  He and his team have created a wonderful place for girls to go to learn and have fun online in a safe environment.  Thankfully there are people out there with the know how to do this so that those of us who are less technologically savvy don't have to create anything from scratch.

From the first time my daughter started on this website, she has loved it and has learned a great deal from it as well.  Some of the educational choices are subjects such as language arts, math, geography, history, science, music, art, foreign languages, and religious education.  When the girls log in they create a minime, a mini version of themselves, and take up some challenges in order to win ice cream scoops.  With these ice cream scoops, they are able to "buy" things online.  On the home page, you buy an egg with the scoops you received from your first challenges and then with more scoops you can buy things for your egg.  It eventually hatches into a pet.  As I was doing this review, my daughter was helping me navigate the site.  When she realized there were new games, she started screaming, "Yay!  They added new games!"  She just loves this website.

It is impossible to list all of the different educational opportunities, aka games, there are on Always Icecream.  They are always adding new ones.  There are challenging games that stretch their understanding of different topics.  This is a screenshot of one of the geography games.  The student is supposed to click on the state they ask for.


The girls are able to invite friends to join them on Always Icecream.  They can chat on a moderated chat page.  They can "sell" things to each other for scoops and trade for other items.  They can send each other mail through the website as well.  They can go to MiniWorld where they can build items to sell.  A picture of various items appears.  They choose an item and paint it, then they can enter it into their store in MiniWorld with the price they put on it.  They can buy houses with scoops and also visit the neighborhood and see what all of their friends have inside their houses.

This website is so clever and imaginative and CLEAN!!  I just love it!  There is one thing that is just slightly annoying.  Often when clicking into a different portion of the website, a window pops up letting you know that a friend made a new minime.  If you have a lot of friends (who are all girls and you know the way girls change their minds), this can happen on a very frequent basis.

The girls are also able to send suggestions to the website designers to improve the website, which are taken into consideration and often acted upon.  This is a great way to help the girls learn how to use their voices to improve things.

There are videos that girls can watch as well that show them how to do math problems or language arts problems or listen to geography songs, etc.

Parents are able to receive email updates of their daughter's progress and can disable the community features so that chatting cannot take place.

Always Icecream offers a free trial membership.  It is free of advertising and costs $4.99 per month (the first month is only 99 cents) after the free trial per child or $29.99 per year per child.  It is payable through PayPal.  There is also a two-month membership for $9.98 or a lifetime membership for $99.99 (this option is best for girls 10 and younger).  Parents accounts are always free.  German is an alternate language the website comes in if that is the language you speak.

Always Icecream can be reached via email at


DISCLAIMER: I received this product for free to use it and provide an unbiased review.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Amazed by the Creator

I have had a growing fascination with the sky lately.  I usually only have my smart phone around to take pictures, so unfortunately these don't clearly represent the beauty that I saw which prompted me to take the picture in the first place.  Hopefully, though, you will be in awe of the creativity of the Creator.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Changing from the Inside Out

Yesterday was my one-month anniversary with my new job...independent consultant with Arbonne International. Arbonne is a company that not too many people are familiar with, at least around this area, but those who are have only had good things to say about it.

Arbonne is a direct sales company with independent consultants all over the world. I never in my life thought I'd be selling something. I love to be around people, but selling never crossed my mind as a career option.

When I was introduced to Arbonne by a good friend in Virginia, I approached the idea with skepticism. I listened to some recorded phone calls about what a career with Arbonne has done for some people, and I spent some time getting to know the product. The more I learned the more I truly believed this was a product I could feel good about sharing with people. This is not your typical cosmetics company or skin care company. This is a company that cares about the health and well being of people all over the world. The products are based on botanical ingredients. There are no harsh chemicals. There are no animal products in any of their items. There are no petroleum-based ingredients. Because there are no fillers, the products are concentrated, so they last longer than a typical department store item. These products actually help treat the skin and keep it healthy longer. The cosmetics actually moisturize the skin and allow it to breathe even though it has makeup on it.

A very small sampling of some of Arbonne's products

Arbonne will not make something unless it can be made to be pure, safe, and beneficial. The products are hypoallergenic. The eye care creams and other eye products have been ophthalmologist tested and deemed safe. The day lotions and foundations are formulated with SPF.  The products are made from the highest quality ingredients and conform to Swiss standards, which are THE highest standards in the industry.

Not only are there skin-care products and cosmetics, but Arbonne has a line of wellness products, from protein shake mixes to detoxifying skin-care products. There are energy fizz tabs which provide sustained energy without a crash like you get from high-dose caffeine or sugar drinks. They also help to boost metabolism and suppress the appetite. I have been using them every couple of days, and I love them. They work so well, and they come in citrus and pomegranate flavors (pom is my favorite).

Arbonne also has a holiday catalog with some of the most amazing smelling lotions, body washes, and sugar scrubs I've ever smelled. There is a Pampermint foot set (smells like, you guessed it, peppermint) that comes with an adorable pair of soft socks. They have perfumes and even a men's cologne.

Arbonne's signature line is called RE9. This product line helps to reverse the aging process by supporting collagen and firming the skin. It helps get rid of wrinkles. The skin-care and wellness products can all be used by men and can be used interchangeably with products from Arbonne's other lines depending on your needs. RE9 also has a men's shaving line. I use the exfoliating wash myself and shave gel. They don't have a men's shaving cream smell. The wash has a citrus smell, and the shave gel has no scent.

There is an acne line and a line to pause the aging process (FC5) which is directed at either oily, dry, or normal skin types.

I would encourage you, if you haven't already, to check out my Arbonne website at and find something that you will love. Arbonne even guarantees that you will love it or you can get your money back within 45 days of ordering. This usually gives people a good 30 days to try a product to determine if you like it.

You may also call me if you have any questions at 424-ARBONNE or email me at I would be happy to answer any questions or place an order for you over the phone.

Check us out! You'll be glad you did!

Thank you,
Tammie Bairen