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Weekend Diversions: April 18

I’ve got four great diversions for you this weekend. We’ve got a game, a blog, a video and a fun way to design your own baby bedding. Let’s start with that last one first.

Carousel Designs has this fun tool which lets you design your very own baby bedding from the ground up. You get to choose the fabric for each part of the bedding ensemble which includes a bumper, crib skirt, sheet and comforter. Each piece has several options. For instance, the bumper can have a separate fabric for the front, back, trim and ties. I think I could spend hours designing cute bedding ensembles for our baby, due in July. I’ve already made two sets that I love – and the best part is, once you’ve designed that great set of bedding you can actually order it to buy. So whether you are window shopping or actually in the market, this is a really nifty little tool.

Ready for something else? Try this fun ball dropping game called BallDroppings (clever, huh?). When you open the page balls will literally start dropping into the screen. Drag your mouse to draw lines and catch them. Set up a sort of obstacle course for the balls to bounce through. Each time the balls hit a line you’ve drawn it makes a fun little sound that starts to become rather melodic and hypnotizing. So you may be getting brainwashed while you play but I’m guessing you’ll be so intrigued by the game play and diverted and whatnot that you probably won’t notice.

If you are a fan of Cake Wrecks and / or grammar then I am thinking The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks will be right up your alley. Basically it’s a collection of pictures taken of signs, products, etc. where quotation marks have been used unnecessarily and the results are typically hilarious. Example?

Alright, last thing for today is the youtube video from Britain’s Got Talent that seems to be taking the web by storm. Proof that you really shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover?


Giveaway: Eco Store USA for eco friendly cleaners, bath & body and baby care products

It is getting easier and easier to make green, eco-friendly choices in our lives. One of the biggest trends I’ve noticed has been in the world of cleaning products and bath & body care. Everyone is jumping on board. One example of a great eco-friendly company is Eco Store USA which sells everything from soaps, shampoos, dishwasher detergent (or plain dish soap!), laundry detergent, baby bath products and even pet shampoos! Let every member of your family, pets included, and your home benefit from a good green cleaning.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of trying out Eco Store USA‘s vanilla shampoo and conditioner as well as their dishwasher powder and dish soap. Each of these products works well, smells good and integrates themselves seamlessly into our cleaning routines. The best thing about them, though, is what’s not in them – nasty chemicals. Eco Store USA founders Melanie and Malcolm Rands have worked hard to create household cleaning products using plant-based ingredients that would biodegrade safely and quickly, eliminating the need to use toxic chemicals. What started as a product for true ‘Greenies’ and organic gardeners quickly caught on with the rest of the world.

Eco Store USA offers more than 100 products, each one meeting stringent environmental and sustainability standards. And by using super-concentrated formulas, they’ve made their products budget-friendly and long lasting. A little goes a long way.

Want to try some Eco Store USA products yourself? We’re giving away a $25 gift certificate to one lucky reader which can be used at the Eco Store USA website. Here’s how you can enter to win.

  1. Check out the Eco Store USA website and tell us which product you’d most like to try. This is mandatory, if not done all other entries are null and void.
  2. For an extra entry, you can follow us on Twitter. Post a comment here with your Twitter username.
  3. For a third entry you can tweet about this giveaway or post about it on your blog and leave a comment here with either the URL of your post or your twitter profile. “Win some green cleaning products from Eco Store USA @ http://www.mommasreview.com
  4. For a fourth subscribe to our RSS feed, leaving a link here to tell us you’ve done so. We’ll be posting more giveaways on Momma’s Review soon so subscribing will be a great way for you to stay informed about all the great things you can win in the days and weeks to come.
  5. For a final entry visit Speedy @ Eighty MPH Mom and enter her Magellan GPS giveaway. Make sure to come back and leave a comment saying you have entered.

This giveaway is open to US and international readers!

The contest will close at 12:00 p.m. EST on Friday May 1st.

April is Earth Month at Eco Store USA – All Orders of $25 or more qualify for FREE Shipping!

Movie Review: Yes Man!

Based off the comedic memoir of Danny Wallace, Yes Man tells the story of Carl, played by Jim Carrey, a man who decides to start saying “Yes” to everything in his life, in an attempt to cure his overall unhappiness with life. My husband and I are both big Jim Carrey fans and also absolutely love Zooey Deschenal who also stars in this film, so we were very excited for this movie and were not disappointed.

I’m going to start by saying that this is probably better suited as a date night movie, and not a family film. It’s rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity and while your older children might not have a problem watching this movie, I certainly wouldn’t want to watch it in the same room with them. You can check out the parental guide at IMDB.com for a more detailed account of the movie. This feature on IMDB allows parents to “describing the facts of relevant scenes in the title for each one of the different categories: Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.” If you haven’t heard of this before, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, back to my review. Unlike Bedtime Stories, which we also watched last week, I found Yes Man to be a perfect example of a character who is flawed but changes for the better by the end. I really thought the script was well thought out and that Carrey did an excellent job bringing his character full circle by the movie’s end. The concept of saying yes to everything or no to anything is really well fleshed out in the movie. They do a great job visualizing for you what your life would look like if you did either, and the good and bad aspects of both. All of the acting in this film was superb and aside from telling a really good moral story, it’s a typical Jim Carrey film in that it’s just hysterical. I enjoyed every minute of this movie, never feeling bored by it at all (which I’m prone to lately in my “old age”). I would definitely recommend it to anyone, especially Jim Carrey fans.

I’d give Yes Man 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Giveaway: Subscription to BRAND NEW Fresh Home Magazine

I love magazines and one of my new favorites is a brand new magazine called Fresh Home. Aimed at families and men and women of all ages, it provides do-it-yourself project ideas for home renovation (and shopping guides for those who lean more towards a buy-it-yourself mentality), all the best in tips and advice for decorating, home improvement and maintenance – and all with practicality and economic reality in mind. This magazine is for REAL people, not just professional decorators.

Just flipping through this gorgeous magazine had my creative juices flowing. Despite not owning my own home yet, I love to read about decorating and plan ahead for all those decisions I’ll need to make someday. I loved their articles on choosing your own flooring, counter tops, back splashes and more. The articles each guide you through the pros and cons of all your options, the price differences and some handy pictures that show you examples of each type.

Other fun articles in the premier issue include:

  • 14 Secrets for Creating Maximum Curb Appeal
  • Color Magic- how to paint like the pros, the psychology of color, how to load and purchase brushes, prep, buy eco-friendly paints
  • One Design= 3 Tables
  • Facelifts for Every Room under $500- give 7 rooms a low-cost, no-sweat makeover in one weekend!
  • How to have a mold and mildew-free home
  • 3 cool ways to make spice racks—using recyclable materials!
  • 15 best tips for outdoor gardening and ways to make cool new planters out of recyclable materials!

We’re giving away subscriptions to Fresh Home magazine to THREE (3) lucky winners! Here’s how you can enter to win:

  1. Answer the following question: What is your best home decorating tip? or What area of your home is most in need of a little TLC? This is mandatory, if not done all other entries are null and void.
  2. For an extra entry, you can follow us on Twitter. Post a comment here with your Twitter username.
  3. For a third entry you can tweet about this giveaway or post about it on your blog and leave a comment here with either the URL of your post or your twitter profile. “Do you love magazines? Win a subscription to Fresh Home Magazine @ http://www.mommasreview.com
  4. For a fourth subscribe to our RSS feed, leaving a link here to tell us you’ve done so. We’ll be posting more giveaways on Momma’s Review soon so subscribing will be a great way for you to stay informed about all the great things you can win in the days and weeks to come.
  5. Lastly, visit Speedy @ Eighty MPH Mom and enter into her Monsters vs Aliens video game giveaway. Make sure to come back and tell us you entered.

This giveaway is open to US and international readers!

The contest will close at 12:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday April 29th.

Book Review: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

Grade: B

Sometimes, not very often but sometimes, I can finish reading a book and still be unsure whether I liked it at all. I’d imagine the fact that I finished it at all means I liked it at least a little, since there are other books which I can simply walk away from and say, “No thank you.” Maybe the truth is simply that I did not love it. I certainly did not love The Reader by Bernhard Schlink but I am glad to have read it, I did find myself anxious to read ‘what happens next’ even if I never really fell in love with any of the characters or their story.

The Reader tells a few stories. It tells the story of a grown woman who has an affair with a fifteen year old boy, and the consequences of that affair for the boy as he grows up in his love life and beyond. It tells the story of a generation of young Germans trying to understand the Nazi past that most of their parents had had involvement in – how do you deal with knowing what your loved ones have done or lived through? How do you deal with what fellow humans like yourself are capable of? But this story also tells, and this was the most enjoyable part of the story for me, is the story of a woman who cannot read or write, and her shame in this and her inability to admit it to anyone, has a long laundry list of consequences. It effects every area of her life, always for the worst, and even when admitting to her illiteracy could potentially save her, the shame of being found out is just too great – the things she suffers for her secret are astounding. Never mind the small details of a life without written word, all the simple things which become difficult that nobody could understand or expect without knowing.

The first half of this story, the story of Hanna and Michael’s affair, I could not relate to, did not enjoy and mostly just suffered through. If I had not known what was coming next, I can assure you I would have walked away from this story very early on. But between the Nazi Germany connection and the story of Hanna’s illiteracy, I kept reading, knowing that those stories could be wonderful. And while I’m still not sure if they were wonderful, they were definitely worth reading. I tend to read much lighter stories, rarely venturing back into the world of ‘serious literature’ so in part, this may be simply a complaint with having forced myself to read a ‘grown up book.’ It was also translated from German, and it’s possible that in the original language, if I could read German, that it might have been a better story – translations never show the exact beauty of the written word as it’s originally intended – you are often just left with the basic bones of the story, which while interesting, I doubt it is the same at all. And of course the last possibility, is that I simply did not love it.

I would still encourage anyone interested in The Reader to try it. It was not a difficult read, despite those draw backs previously mentioned. I read it no more or less quickly than another book of it’s size and even for those who might feel squeamish about the first part of the story, Hanna and Michael’s story, I can say it could have been worse. Anyone who has had a physical relationship should be able to handle reading this, I’d think. But to those readers who are younger and have not experienced this, I’d advise they wait on reading this one as it is fairly detailed (without being down right smutty). Basically, I say this book is worth a shot and certainly capable of being an enjoyable read. I wouldn’t be surprised if many, many people love it in a way that I simply did not.

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. She spends her time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Snapily: Do More With Your Photos

I love creating photo gifts with my digital pictures but the idea has become so common, now everyone is doing it. Want a fresh new twist on this brilliant idea? Snapily.com uses a technology they call LivingPrints that lets you create holographic images using your digital pictures to create greeting cards, invitations, business cards, scrapbook pages and notebooks. Flip the card or notebook and watch the image change. Check out this video to see how it works:

I ordered a greeting card and notebook for my son’s birthday and loved the unique and personal touch that these products offer. You can design a card or notebook from scratch or use their custom layouts, change the fonts, and write your own personalized message. The greeting cards start at $3.99 for a single card but if you buy in bulk you can get them for as little as $2.99 each. A bit pricey, but you’d spend as much on greeting cards at Halmark and wouldn’t get this unique touch. They shipped promptly and in perfect condition and my son and I both loved it!

So when you want to go the extra mile for a birthday or event, or you want a business card that will really jump out at people – I’d definitely look into Snapily.

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. She spends her time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

Weekend Diversions: A Comical Edition

So, Friday is here and I have to confess that I found nothing new to divert your attentions with – nothing. To be fair, I’ve kind of had an off week – I didn’t devote very much time to just blog surfing – I haven’t been a good commenting buddy. It’s kind of no wonder – so the diversion pool is a bit light this week and tide us over until next week, which I’m hoping will be more diversional, I’ve decided to round up my top 3 comic strips – a perfect anecdote to weekend boredom. I loved reading the comics in the paper on Sunday mornings when we lived with Dan’s parents and had the newspaper delivered every day (we’re too poor for such luxuries) and there are a couple comics I read religiously here online. So I’ll show you mine and then you have to show me yours, kay?

I’m going to warn you – these are not the comic strips you might expect a girly little mom like me to adore – but I do promise they are good stuff:

Sluggy Freelance If your “type” leans towards the tall, dark and geeky – or if you are that tall, dark and geeky guy – then Sluggy Freelance is for you – this comic tells the story of two typically nerdy guys and the girls who love to hate them (but mostly just love them) – oh and their talking pet ferret and slightly evil talking pet rabbit – with some sci-fi action stories and some fun current event parodies thrown in. Sometimes this turns into guy humor, or you’ll have a few weeks of “action movie” type plot – but Pete, the mastermind behind Sluggy is a comic genius and this is probably my favorite comic strip. He posts (almost) daily with the occasional filler strips, but if you are new to Sluggy, I recommend starting at the beginning – because you might be lost if you try hopping in mid-strip. The best part about following my advice? This comic started in 1997 so if you do go back through the archives, you will have lots of divertive goodness, likely for weeks to come. It’s been my experience that you can catch up on all things sluggy in about two weeks. Here’s an example of one of my favorite Sluggy moments:


XKCDDid I mention I’m a geek lover? I’m a bit of a nerd myself and this comic might show my true nerd colors for sure. I’ll freely admit this might be over your head, you might not get it – sometimes I don’t get it either but man some of these strips are just genius, especially his romantic stuff, makes me all teary eyed – and usually I can find the comics funny even if I don’t get the smart people stuff – also XKCD started my love affair with hover captions – which means when you are reading these gems, you’ll want to hover over for added humor on each strip. Here’s an example of a good strip I think anyone can love:


Baby BluesI’m guessing you’ve heard of this one. I wish I could subscribe to this in my blog reader and get the new stuff, but copyright, blah blah blah… I love them anyway, but I’ll admit I don’t follow it religiously because of all that corporate hoopla. You can read the two weeks old and older comics here. I’m guessing you guys already know about the genius that is Baby Blues, but I couldn’t leave them out of my top 3 because, well, they are in my top 3.

What are your top 3 favorite comic strips?

About the Momma:

Jen is a Stay at Home Mom and Loving Wife. She spends her time online reading RSS feeds and posting in her blog. If you haven’t heard from her in awhile, she’s likely lost in a good book, sleeping or watching Grey’s Anatomy.

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