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Filtering by Category: Product Review

Product Review: BooksTo.me

John

books-to-me-product-review-twinmommy101 I LOVE taking pictures, but showing them to people in real life can really get to be a pain in the butt. "Where is my phone? Is it charged?" Or (if you are like me) "I dropped my phone and I didn't have it backed up." THE WORST!!! Welcome to 2015, where the struggle is real for our photos. The best thing I can do to make sure I don't lose all of my memories is to upload as many of them as I can to social media sites. Of all the social media sites, Instagram (IG) had not really been a favorite of mine to use, BUT I would jump on from time to time because I LOVE looking at (and sharing) photos and making new friends. Now, ever since I started receiving my BOOKSTO.ME books, Instagram has become my new favorite. Not only am I able to share my most favorite moments with the world, but I get them sent straight to my doorstep in a sleek and stylish book that my kids will be able to forever cherish.

Why BOOKSTO.ME?

My thoughts before I signed up: Up until I tried BOOKSTO.ME, I grew VERY tired and frustrated of never being able to find my photos when I wanted to look at them, or show them to the girls/friend/family member. Social media sites quickly became my go to for uploading photos so that I wouldn’t lose them. (Besides, who doesn’t love seeing EVERY moment of my life in their news feed. lol). Early 2015, I opened my @twnmommy101 IG account, but I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. I knew that IG was a great networking tool for my site, and a great way to connect with others and share our twin-ventures, but it felt so exhausting. Between all the hashtags, square images, and filters I wasn’t sure how to deal.If you know anything about me, I like my pencil and paper. I don’t mind digital, but for me nothing beats HARD COPY! Shortly before tossing in the towel on IG, I discovered there might just be a way for me to have it all!

While at MommyCon Atlanta 2015, I passed by a lot of tables and found myself coming back to this one in particular. (Books tend to grab my attention.) It was there that I learned about BooksTo.Me: A company that takes your IG photos and prints them into a sleek and chic black hardback book. It’s a pretty nifty concept and, because I’m already sharing my favorite photos on IG as it is, they had my full attention. I liked the fact that I had full control of which photos were printed. (If there are any photos that I share on my account that I don’t want printed, I can simply hashtag #nobtm to have it omitted.)  And I had the flexibility of either printing monthly or quarterly, with no contract- which is always a plus! I honestly wasn’t sure that this was something that I would be interested in at the beginning, but I do love my photos, so I accepted the offer to team up with BooksTo.Me and see for myself what they were all about.

My experiences: IMG_0256The first month flew by so fast that I had almost forgotten I was expecting mail. I was VERY excited when my favorite mailman dropped it off, and immediately ripped open the box- well, after taking a selfie with it of course. I loved the way everything was set up inside. SO fun and exciting! The first thing I saw was a letter informing me about the details of my book and who inspected it. Underneath that was my book, and on the front sleeve were my 12 most favorited images from that month/quarter! (Talk about memory lane!) To top it off, the texture and look of the fabric cover made it so inviting and fancy. They did a great job of picking something that would stay in style forever, which is great news for my future grands and great grands.

Now to get to the most important part…  THE PHOTOS. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well between the color and the quality, I'm thinking a million words isn't even close enough. I have never seen such sharp, clear, and saturated photographs. And NO pixelations! I seriously had to hide all my scissors to fight off the urge to cut and frame.  The paper, I noticed, was unlike any I had felt before. I later learned that it is made of archival paper, which is cotton based (vs wood like our standard paper). Needless to say, your photos are NOT going to get ruined any time soon! (The papers shelf longevity is 200 years +) And if that’s not enough to make the eco friendly girl in me happy, the paper is GREEN-E certified! The Green-E rating has to do with the way it was manufactured and the plant it was manufactured in. (In a nutshell, it means that the plant itself is rated as being energy efficient and eco friendly.)

So far: I LOVE LOVE LOVE them! The only thing that I wish they did was offer the option to also have your captions/comments printed under the photos. Yes, the photos are more than enough, but it would be nice to read the thoughts that you had when you were in the moment too. Maybe even get a little note about how many likes and comments it got? You know a little heart and comment bubble with the amount next to each. (I have been informed that they are currently working on improving text availability for future books.)

One thing I like is the flexibility they offer in their plans. Since I post daily to my @twnmommy101 account, I feel like I would benefit more from the monthly plan. But if we were back in the days of when I used my personal account, I would more than likely opt for the quarterly since I didn’t post as often. True, I don’t have the money to buy a book for myself every month, or even quarter. BUT, for occasions like birthdays, family reunions, holidays, etc, I could see myself ordering a book so that I always have the photos in print. It’s WAY easier than taking them and trying to get them all printed myself. And then trying to file them in an album or box; somewhere I will probably completely forget about them. And then, we are back at square one: The phone album. (AND since they offer gift certificates, I have a GREAT gift idea for my IG friends now too!)

Overall, if you are like me and post your most memorable and cherished moments on Instagram, you definitely need to check these guys out! If you use your profile to promote your own business/groups or as a portfolio for your art/photography this is THE BEST thing to happen to you! Either way, unless you are already running back and forth to the photo department at your local drug store, be sure to add these to your Christmas list or list of “must have splurges” for special occasions and holidays. Nothing beats looking back at the good times that are NOT on a phone screen!

 

We loved it so much we are teaming up with BooksTo.Me to give you THREE FREE MONTHS! (a $72 offer!)! Be sure to follow both of us on IG, and if you follow my blog, you will get instructions on how to get bonus entries throughout the giveway! Official rules and details will be posted Sunday evening (8/30).

giveaway announcement

Babywearing Review: Nunamoochie Anya

John

nunamoochie-anya-handwoven-wrap-review Nunamoochie never lets us down when it comes to colors and prints, and Anya is no exception. The vibrant summer colors are guaranteed to make you feel sunny no matter what mood you or your baby may be in.  The softness leaves you with not much left to ask for because straight out of the bag, it is soft and buttery, let alone after its first wash. The width and weave of the wrap makes it a great choice to have around early on and grow with your new squishy, which is especially nice for your wallet.  And best of all, Anya will leave you wanting to learn new carries and finishes to show off her beautiful pattern of the colors.

*FYI: Earlier this year I did a review of Nunamoochie's first handwoven Retro, and it was pretty much love straight out of the box. (Retro was also my first handwoven wrap!) It is very similar to Anya, except that Retro's width is about 1 inch narrower and it is made of organic cotton, which makes it slightly stiffer. They are mostly comparable that different when it comes to how they wrap.nunamoochie-anya-and-nunamoochie-retro-comparison

nunamoochie-anya-babywearing-review-checklistEnter ANYA...  The first 4 things that will always come to mind when I think of Anya is the warm feeling of the sun, my girls giggles (which make me SO happy), raspberry lemonade and of course Anya herself.  (Did you know the wrap was named after Colleen and Tanni's (the owners) sweet new baby girl! All of whom I had the pleasure of meeting at MommyCon 2015! #fangirl moments!) I was sure that this new release was going to be just as, if not even more, exciting than Retro because I feel like Nunamoochie is up for trying new things, which makes me excited to try all of their things! Right off the bat, after opening the package, we had to cuddle with Anya. Not wrap, just cuddle. It was SO soft and floppy, and despite it's thinness, I could tell that there was enough cush in the 100% cotton threads to keep from digging. The very first thing I did after she was done washing was take her for a tandem HJBC ring finish Rebozo stroll around our street. (Note to self: don't wrap in a strapless top! Hence the lack of photos lol.) I was so impressed with how easy it was to handle the material during the shoulder flip, how easily the pass glided across my baby, and how much it did NOT dig in my shoulders.

 

nunamoochie-anya-babywearing-review-checklistBecause the wrap is so smooth, I ended up really enjoying the FCC (front cross carry) finish for my very active and chatty toddler in tandem carries. She wants to look around and point and chat about everything, so I need the extra pass to reinforce her. I love that with Anya, the passes are SO easy to spread over her back, which comes in especially handy when she is not really in the mood to go up right when I put her there. No muss, no fuss. After the few seconds it takes to get her situated she is usually as happy as can be. These are the same reasons that I could not stop doing the CHCC (coolest hip cross carry) with Anya. The slip knot (and sometimes square knot because... well, twin brain lol) held so well in place and it became the carry I used most (for solo carries) with this wrap. While we were on vacation in Chicago, I wore Anya in CHCC practically every morning at breakfast. She not only brightened the hotel restaurant's dark morning setting (no windows and rather large), she made it SO easy to get my baby in and out because the wrap glides across its self so easily, and the stripes help easily navigate the top and bottom rails. (You know you will always need seconds of strawberry cheese blintzes.. and that your toddler will alway want to come with... be prepared!) nunamoochie-anya-babywearing-review-checklistSpeaking of the stripes... I seriously cannot rave enough about the colors. (Did you know the threads were custom dyed JUST for this wrap?!) While, in general, prints and colors are always an added bonus, they aren't always enough to motivate me to really test my creativity and knowledge. With Anya, I felt like I had an endless combinations of carries and finishes to wrap and show off her colors, which in turn motivated me to really test and expand my wrapping knowledge/abilities. The candy cane chest belt (CCCB) twist that finishes off the CHCC (as seen in photo on review banner), has by far been my most favorite way to show off the colorway.

I also had the chance to wear my 9 month old, 25 lbs nephew on my back and tested the Christina's Ruckless Back Carry waters for the first time. While he was completely content, and virtually weightless, I noticed that over time I felt some digging in my neck. This is because I had not placed the shoulder passes flatly or spread them all that great before I secured the carry. (Note to self: pay a little more attention to how you place your wrap as you go. But then again it was my first go with this carry.) Another possible factor: smoothness of this wrap. I found pulling out the slack to be so easy breezy. Anya always worked WITH me, making it easy to mold the carry and keep everyone secure and in place.  I do think that it is important to note here that because Anya is so lightweight,  it was easy to lose tension as I wrapped if I didn't keep the wrap pinned tight enough. (Pinning can occur between the knees, under the chin, under the arm, under the neck, or between the teeth and helps keep baby secure until you tie off)

Overall, I REALLY love this wrap for someone who has a little bit more of a flexible budget. ($149 for a size 6 is NOT BAD for a handwoven!) And if you are looking to wrap a smaller squish you are really going to get your money's worth because you are likely to be able to wrap your baby in Anya until you and your little end your wearing journey. I wouldn't mind wrapping a bigger kid with this as well, but because it is so lightweight I worry about it inadvertently digging. (will update post if I have the opportunity to do so!) I would love to have this wrap in my stash and think it would make a great addition for both experienced and novice wrappers. I look forward to seeing what Nunamoochie comes out with next!

*GUEST REVIEWS COMING SOON*

READ MORE NUNAMOOCHIE REVIEWS:

Babywearing Review Retro nunamoochie mehndi review banner

 

Product Review: Diva Cup

John

diva-menstrual-cup-prodcut-review

No one really likes talking about their period, or having to keep up with tampons and pads all the time, but for most of us Aunt Flo is coming to town every month whether we are ready or not. Prior to this review, I had never used or even seen a menstrual cup. It only took me one “cycle” to know that I was officially converted, and 4 months later I still cannot rave enough. One of my most favorite things, aside from how easy it is to use, is how much time AND money I save by not having to run to the store and worry about being stocked up on tampons and pads every month. And who doesn't love saving time and money?

Why DivaCup? I had scrolled past talks of menstrual cups a time or two in my "crunchy" groups, but never paid them any mind. Then comes the eve of MommyCon Atlanta 2015, and I am trying to figure out which sessions I want to attend. When I noticed that Diva Cup was presenting, I wasn't sure what to think. Of course my initial (mainstream mind) was like "ewww, so gross." But I was sure there was something I was missing. When my friend whom I had been discussing the schedule with informed me she had used a cup for about 10 years, and I knew I had to shake my close mindedness away. I mean, what really made the concept of a cup gross? There is no risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome- associated with the use of tampons), and you can completely skip the feeling of being diapered with a pad. After sitting in during their session, I was completely intrigued. Why had I never heard of these before and why were they not used by more women? Something that keeps everything in one place without having to constantly be reminded that you are on your period? Seemed like a miracle product to me.

My thoughts before trying it: diva cupWhen I opened my package, I was a little thrown. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to make this happen. The cup itself is really soft and cushy, and it folds and molds easily. It is made from 100% healthcare grade silicone that contain no plastics, dyes, or chemicals which left me with so much peace of mind. My biggest concern was having to go "up there" during "that time," but when you really think about it, it's not that different from a tampon without an applicator. I read and reread the instructions, unsure of how I was going to be able to dive in when my monthly visitor came back around. A few fellow cup using friends strongly urged me to test it out once or twice BEFORE my period came so that I could get used to the motions of inserting and removing. That's when I realized that I was even more scared to remove it than I was to put it in. (At least it goes in empty.) The thought of removing took me back to square one as far as my comfort level, but overall I was too excited about trying it to not give it a shot.

My experiences: The very first time I used the cup, I was a few days away from surfing the crimson wave and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing ahead of time. I opted to stand and used the tub ledge (about 1-1.5 feet tall) to prop my leg up and I struggled. (Experience taught me later that my leg wasn't high enough for my muscles to relax.) I tried the different options offered in the USER GUIDE for inserting, but nothing successful. I revisited the cup again a day later and this time I used the toilet instead of the tub and BOOM! No issues. I was so excited to have figured it out that I didn't even think about what came next. Figuring out how to remove it WITHOUT "making a mess." And this is why I was practicing beforehand!

diva cup info

When the time came for me to REALLY have to use the cup, I felt confident and ready to make the switch. I was still a little “eek” about having to get so personal with myself, but as long as you are near a sink with some soap and a hand towel you are going to be just fine. ALWAYS remove over the toilet or even in the tub, because it's better to be safe than sorry.  I was honestly SO surprised at how easy it was to put in, and it wasn't as gross as I thought it would be. To get it situated, ALWAYS twist and "lock it" in place to prevent leaks. The trick is, to insert it as fully as possible before it expands. Once it's in place, I did not feel it WHATSOEVER, and after a short while I completely forgot I was even on my period. Removal was just as easy. For the first few times, you may want to try to remove it in the tub so that you don’t have to worry about any "whoopsies.” And remember, slow and steady wins the race here.

The one thing I want to point out, which seems obvious but never occurred to me until I learned the hard way, is that even though it is stated that you can go for 12 hours without having to empty it, you need to remember that your flow isn't the same each day. For example, I know that on day 2 and 3 I am going to have to empty a few more times than day 1, 4, or 5. (Those days I can usually go about 7-10 hours.)BUT, this was not an issue for me. It really is no different from when you have to change your tampon or pad after it gets “full.” The difference here is that you don’t have to worry about not having one of those on hand. You also don’t have to worry about any discomforts from the alternatives. Because let’s face it, tampon strings don’t always stay dry, and pads don’t always do the best job of keeping everything off of you.  There have been several times where I have either completely forgotten or not had access to a bathroom to empty and rinse, and I noticed a slightly unpleasant smell that lingered even after washing with soap. But don't panic because it’s NOT permanent, but nonetheless it is there until you are able to leave the cup out to air dry for a short while. I noticed it would go away after sitting out for a day or two, even if I couldn't leave it out immediately. It is for this reason that I would recommend having an extra cup just in case. ;)

The only time that I really had an issue with using the DivaCup was when we were out and about and I had to use a public restroom. I hadn’t thought of what I would do in a “stall” situation. I ended up just emptying and reusing, but now I know to carry a bottle of water with me when we go out so that I can use that to rinse. (Don't forget to grab a few paper napkins!) Being in the confined space didn't bother me since I had previously taken the time to practice and learn my cup. 

Now, I do have to admit that I have used ONE tampon since I converted to the cup. (During my second period.)  Honestly, just one and no pads. It was crazy how different it felt after using a cup and it did not last for too long. It was SO uncomfortable and I could literally feel it the whole time. I took it out a few minutes after I used the restroom, because nobody likes a wet string in their lap, and I have yet to use anything else since. And I don't intend on changing that anytime soon either. What I wish I could change is the fact that so many people don’t even know a product like this exist. 

So far: I have used this cup for 4 periods and I have no intention of stopping. Here are some reasons why I love it: -I don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money every month on something that is a natural part of my life. I buy one cup and that is all I need! (Since The DivaCup is a personal hygienic product, a general guideline is to replace it once a year, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide when it is necessary to replace the cup.) -The DivaCup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and needs only to be cleaned 2-3 times a day with warm water and the DivaWash or a mild, unscented, oil-free soap. -I only have to wash it 2-3 times a day with warm water and Diva W -I don’t have to worry making last minute trips to the store OR not having "one" in my purse when out and about -I love being environmentally friendly -No odors and minimum leaks -It's the best thing to ever happen to my period. diva cup funny

We loved it so much we are giving YOU a chance to win your own! Enter through the Gleam app here!

DivaCup Giveaway

Learn more about DivaCup in this video and be sure to visit their website DIVACUP.COM for more info! Find a retailer near you HERE!

Stay up to date by visiting their Facebook page and following them on Twitter Learn more about the 2 sizes using their sizing guidelines !

*Kindly note that I was not compensated for this review

Babywearing Review: Pink Nova Cherry Chapstick Kiss

John

pink-nova-cherry-chapstick-kiss-woven-wrap-babywearing-review I have always heard great things about linen wraps, but never knew what to expect since I didn't have much experience with linen in general. This wrap, like all of the rest, has its ups and downs, but overall I loved it for our humid Atlanta heat. My most favorite part of this wrap is the endless amount of fun I had exploring new and different ways to finish my favorite carries. Why? Because it's virtually impossible to not want show off the "wrong side" of this wrap. The coolest part is that it is made of pink and purple threads (not white!). The kisses give the wrap a bit of a textured feel, even when semi-fresh out of the box. From infancy through toddlerhood, this wrap is a solid choice for anyone looking for something that is going to love them in return for the love it is shown. (aka: you are going to be in for some breaking in). IMG_4291

PN kiss main reviewThis wrap is too gorgeous and fun for words. The kisses on this wrap will lift your mood, no matter how low or frustrated you may be. There was never a moment I didn't feel both classy and sassy when I was wrapped in Cherry Chapstick Kiss. Since this wrap came to us still new and stiff, it took a little more time and patience to get everything in the right place while wrapping. I would have LOVED to try it again after it was more broken in. I imagine it would become softer and less stiff, without losing it's solidarity. I typically go for a multilayer pass carry because, well let's face it... toddlerhood. With Cherry Chapstick Kiss, I knew that they stood no chance no matter WHAT carry I chose, or how many layers I wrapped around them. From a RUCK (no passes) to the DOUBLE HAMMOCK (3 passes), once your baby is in, they aren't going anywhere!

pink-nova-cherry-chapstick-kiss-woven-wrap-babywearing-reviewWhile feeling out and loving on this wrap, I was SO motivated to explore more finishes, and carries, that would allow me to show off the elegance and intricacy of the "wrong" and "right" side. I am SUCH a sucker for these kinds of wraps, and the endless possibilities make this wrap worth investing in. I started really experimenting with my slip knots with this wrap, and loved how solid it knotted, but how easy it was to adjust. (That was my sign that after being broken in, she would become less cumbersome.) But, with the leg work comes the maintenance. Keep in mind that while linen is easy to care for, it can be slightly time consuming because it wrinkles easily. BUT, what mom isn't looking for an excuse to pop on Netflix for a bit, pour a glass of wine, and iron love on their wrap? Exactly. (Check out Tandem Trouble's review for more indepth info about linen, the wraps fibers, and care. She definitely says it best!)

pink-nova-cherry-chapstick-kiss-woven-wrap-babywearing-reviewThis wrap is nice and wide, making it a flexible choice if you have to wear littles of different ages. For me, the bigger the wrapee, the more work I had to put in. (Which makes sense, because the bigger the babe the wider it was for me to wrap around them.) But again, this wrap was so fresh. I am sure that with more love, wearing, and ironing the passes will become easier to work with. Like I said, she's only going to give you back what you put in.  Our most favorite feature of this wrap is how cool the blend is. When we went for our first tandem walk around the neighborhood in it, I didn't take the umbrella, and it was pretty warm and sunny. I expected, based off the thickness of the wrap/weave of the kisses, that we would not be out very long thanks to the high temperatures and slight humidity. (In case you have never been here, Atlanta is STICKY!) This wrap left us cool and ready for more. It just goes to show you that you can't judge a book by it's cover because there have been thin wraps you expect to be cool that have left me literally sweaty.

Overall, my twin budget wouldn't allow me to add this wrap to my stash now, but if you are looking for something that you are going to grow with AND into, and you don't mind putting in a little extra time to love and care for it, this IS the wrap for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the way it made me feel, even in my mommy ponytail and 3 day old (leftover) mascara. The girls LOVED the print, which made getting them up and set a breeze. (You can see how excited the girls were to open her in the video below!) I look forward to snuggling in more wraps from the new up-and-coming PinkNova wrap company!

Don't just take my word for it.... 

Guest Post- Bugglet Baby Guest Post- Tandem Troubleguest post banner- jaz pn kiss