Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We Are Now On YouTube!

     We have come to YouTube! Right now we do not have many followers as we have just started the account. I look forward to this addition to the blog. We will be posting video reviews and random vlogging! Our YouTube channel will also participate in our giveaways, so make sure that you follow our channel! There will be a giveaway and review coming in the near future!

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Green Tree Coffee & Tea

Green Tree Coffee & Tea

     First off hello! It sure has been a long time since we have seen each other! I have been insanely busy with work, and getting healthy. I had a procedure almost a year ago now that caused some complications with my health and it has taken time to heal. In that time I took a bit of a hiatus to concentrate on my health. Now that I am on the mend and doing better its time to come back and I have missed the blog and all of you! On the bright side with the time I have had off I have thought of new companies to review, blog giveaways and more! There are exciting things in the future for Sparkling Reviews!

Let's get to the fun part! In my time away I have found a love for loose leaf teas. From surgery I have built up a lot of intolerances to foods and drinks so I have turned my attention to more natural options. For my drinks I have been drinking an insane amount of tea. Loose leaf tea is kind of hard to find near my town where I live.  Luckily in order to meet my ex-husband for my daughters weekends with him, I found this little gem! 

Green Tree Coffee and Tea in Lincolnville, Maine. It has a delightful rustic charm, right down to gas lanterns outside their front door. When you walk in, its as though you are transported to a country cabin. Its warm and inviting! The staff is knowledgeable about the contents of the store and are super friendly. They are like talking to a friend you haven't seen in years. 

They have a large selection of loose leaf teas and coffee. They also have local goods such as granola, honey, and chocolates. Lets not forget the amazing biscotti that is made by a local lady just for Green Leaf! You can't get it anywhere else, and it will be the best thing you have ever tasted! When I go in I have to grab at least 3 bags! Its one of my favorite treats. 

All of the coffee and teas are self serve. You grab a little white bag and start "window shopping" the teas. Each tea is in a labeled container with a little silver scoop in each. You can grab as much or as little as you'd like. Then you weigh the bag and place the weight on the bag for them to check you out when your finished. I also find it useful that on each tag it will also tell you what that tea is good for... relaxation, colds ect. 

Upon making the tea you can tell that the teas a fresh. I must admit I have never tried their coffee before, mainly because I can't get passed the tea. As I said I am a major tea drinker. I start my day with tea and I finish it with tea. Their selection makes it easy to try different teas each time. There is a huge option for different blends and types of teas. They even have a kind called fortune cookie... it takes like a liquid fortune cookie! 

Beyond teas and coffee they also have a great selection of tea pots, coffee presses, tumblers ect. There is something for everyone and a great place to get a unique gift!

Luckily if you aren't from Maine, or not planning a vacation anytime soon you can still order from Green Tree off of their website. If you are able to make into the store, make sure to hit their coffee bar! They have specialty coffee and tea drink options including a Au Cafe Lait, which is extremely authentic. It reminds me of the same Au Cafe Lait that I had at a tiny cafe when I visited France. It is hard to find a place that makes an authentic Au Cafe Lait, and once you try one its like you are transported to a little cafe in the south of France.

^^^Click Here^^^

*Disclaimer* ***These photos were taken from Google, they do not belong to me in anyway shape or form. No compensation or product was supplied for this review, I just really love this company and think more people should know about it!****

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Laundry Alternative Review and #Giveaway

     I have received many emails from you guys over the last 6 months or so, requesting a review on alternatives for doing laundry in an apartment or confined space. Well I read your emails, took your suggestions and found the perfect company for all your apartment laundry needs! The Laundry Alternative!
     I got in touch with the owner of The Laundry Alternative, Corey, and I basically explained that I was looking for practical, affordable alternatives to doing apartment laundry. He had just the solution!
    The Laundry Alternative sent me 3 different products to try out and review. The Nina Soft Spin Dryer, The Mini Wash Automatic Washer and the Eco-Egg washer

The Eco-Egg Washer
The Eco-Egg washer is crazy cute! It has a stylish egg design as you can see, as well as a very neat disinfect function. Unfortunately being the klutz that I am, I accidentally dropped my camera in the Mini-Wash attempting to take pictures of it functioning. So for the Eco-Egg I have to rely on stock photos, I am so sorry for that. 

I absolutely love the design of the Eco Egg and its also very small, which if you have limited space might be the best option for you. For my family of 3 I found it just a touch too small for everyday laundry, it would be perfect though if you were single. It's also amazing for cloth diapering! With the disinfect option, you couldn't get a better accessory for your nursery. 

The Eco Egg holds a capacity of 2.2lbs of laundry, which is great for small items, like delicates, baby clothes or cloth diapering. It does a load of laundry in roughly 10 to 15 mins and comes in at only 13lbs. Making this very easy to transport if needed or to store. It also comes with everything you could possibly need in attachments to hook it up to just about any faucet. It even comes with a mesh bag for delicates! A win win! 

Overall: If you are looking for something to clean your smalls with, or maybe to keep baby clothes separate, or for cloth diapering, this is a perfect washer for you!

The MiniWash in Pink

This has become my personal favorite! Its an automatic washer just like the Eco-Egg but has double... yes thats right! DOUBLE! the capacity. 
 I have used the MiniWash solely for our laundry for the last week and a half. It washes so quietly and does a load of laundry in 15 mins or under. Neither washer has a spin cycle but thats what the Nina Soft Spin Dryer is for, but I will touch on that in a minute. 

At 15lbs this little washer packs a huge punch. It can easily clean a couple outfits in one load, which is amazing. It washes them extremely well, removing dirt, stains and odors. I did use a low sudsing homemade laundry detergent, which I will include the recipe below. Where this wash doesn't have a rinse cycle, using a low sudsing or he washer laundry soap seems to have worked best for us, it cuts down on excess suds and leaves a minimal residue on your clothes. 

Overall: This MiniWash has been a life saver. By doing one load a day, I have easily avoided going to the laundry mat. I have washed jeans, small blankets, sheets and Moo Moo Bear (My Daughters favorite stuffed animal). It has easily saved me $40.00 in laundry in the time I have been using it. The MiniWash will be easily pay for it self in a month or two of sole use. I would recommend this washer to anyone that needs an affordable laundry option. It has replaced going to the Laundry mat and has saved me money! Who doesn't want extra money?!?

The Nina Soft Spin Dryer

Is this what dreams are made of? I am pretty sure that I have died and gone to heaven! Using the Nina Soft Spin in conjunction with the other two washers has completely solved me apartment laundry issues. You don't need a vent, its 200X more efficient than other conventional dryers and its completely affordable! 

The first time I used the Nina Soft Spin Dryer I must admit I had my reservations. I had done a lot of research on the washers and the Nina Soft Spin dryer and had heard of its amazing drying capabilities but I wasn't prepared for its actual performance. 

    I did a normal load of laundry in the Mini Wash and proceeded to place the soaking... and I mean soaking wet clothes in the Nina Soft Spin Dryer, I placed the pink clothing protector (which is included) on top of the laundry and closed the cover. In about a minute I noticed that no water was coming out of the machine anymore so I opened it up and was amazed! I took out the laundry and it was almost dry!!! It was barely damp to the touch. I used hangers and hung the laundry on my shower curtain rod and within 30-60 mins, I had completely dry laundry that was ready to be folded and put away! 

Overall: The Nina Soft Spin dryer is 15lbs which is super easy to move, you can place a bowl in front of the dryer to collect the water, but we placed it in the tub because it was just easier for us, after we had a few run overs with our bowl. Now that I have the Nina Soft Spin Dryer, I don't think that I could live without it. It is an amazing dryer, its compact and when you pair it with one of the other washer alternatives offered by The Laundry Alternative ... you'll be saying goodbye to the laundry mat and hello to savings!

Buy It By Clicking Below!!

#Win It!!!
The Laundry-Alternative wanted you you have a chance to try their amazing products! They have generously offered one lucky winner all three products that I reviewed! A $334.98 Value! Enter below for your chance to win!

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Friday, January 30, 2015

#Free Julep Valentine's Maven Box

Julep has an unbelievably adorable Maven box available for the month of February! And whats even better? You can get it for FREE! That's right for free. All you need to pay is 2.99 shipping and you will get the 3 above nail polishes, and a very cute lip gloss! A 58.00 value free. Just use the promo code BEMINE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I Am Having Weight Loss Surgery

     I have had a few requests since telling a few of you that I am having weight loss surgery, if I would mind posting and reviewing items that will be making my journey easier. I personally think this is a great idea. So I am going to be posting the whole process from before to after, diets, recipes, and of course protein choices. Anyone that has looked into the program knows that protein is very crucial to the healing process and to your diet in general. But choosing the right protein can be tricky at best! And you need a whole lot of it both before and after surgery.
     My journey in the weight loss program began with seeing my Primary care doctor who suggested it to me in order to remove some stress from my heart. I am currently at 234.0 lbs which is the heaviest I have been. I have tried countless diets as well as working out, but the weight just isn't coming off. Not to mention I am having stomach and heart issues. This isn't a decision that I came to lightly. I researched for about a year and have gone back and forth on it many times, finally I came to the realization that what I am doing just isn't working. I want to be healthier, I want to be happier and I want to be around for a long LONG time. 
     I got a referral from my Primary doctor into the weight loss program at Eastern Maine Medical Center, who are an accredited hospital in the weight loss program, and in all of the surgeries they have done, they have only ever lost 2 people, which is a huge relief especially with all the horror stories out there. 
     My first meeting consisted of a very informational orientation class and a support group meeting, where you get to speak with and ask questions. The experts of the support group are all people that have had the surgery done and with both negative and positive experiences the story was all the same... none of the people regretted having the surgery.
    My second appointment was an hour with a physical therapist basically explaining what the exercise expectations were before and after surgery and how you can do certain things at home to help along your progress.
    My third appointment was a 2 hour class with a nutritionist. There were 5 people in the class, and we went over many things. We covered the different surgeries offered, the complication possibilities from each surgery, what you could expect for diet restrictions etc. We also covered diets, which are extremely important and strict in both before the surgery and after. We talked about protein expectations and vitamins. And over all how we can prep ourselves now for an easier recovery and surgery.
     I have my next appointment with the nutritionist on Friday and I will update you all on that appointment once I have it. 

     I have had many people ask me why I would choose the EASY way out. This isn't the easy way at all. I will still need to diet and work out. This is to give me a helpful tool, a tool that is going to help me succeed where I have failed in the past. Anyone that tells you this is the easy way, has never been through the program and has never researched anything to do with surgery. This is not an easy option, deciding to take this step isn't easy, before and after the surgery isn't going to be easy. Its challenging! I have made the decision to make a change for the better. It is MY decision, no one else, and not everyone is the same. My experience isn't going to be yours or anyone else's. But I want to be able to help you where I can if possible.

     In the coming months you will get to go through my meetings with me, the diets, the surgery, and the recovery with me. I will be posting reviews on different products I am using in the process to help me succeed, and maybe they can help you to. Most of the products I am going to be using can be used by both surgery patients and just people that want to be healthier and make better decisions concerning their diet.

    I hope that you all enjoy this journey with me... if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave me it in the comments below. Please be positive... this is a negativity and judge free zone :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Juneberry Bags Review

      Let me start by saying that this review is way... WAY overdue. Apparently I completely space shot everything the original day that I wrote this review and when I went to publish the post, it saved to my drafts because there was an HTML error. I immensely apologize to the owner of Juneberry Bags - Natalie because this is inexcusable.

     When I first came along Juneberry Bags, Natalie was having a Kickstarter campaign. The minute I watched her presentation video... I was hooked. I absolutely love the concept. Its a purse, a messenger bag and a backpack all in one bag. How is this even humanely possible right? In concept this is the perfect bag! But to sweeten the pot a bit, you can even change the canvas... yes thats right CANVAS!!! cover. WHAAAT?!? It truly is something completely unique.

     Natalie sent be a complete set, including 3 covers. Each purse starter set comes with a nice heavy duty canvas base bag, the base bag is a deep brown and has three inside pockets. Two slip pockets and a pocket with a zipper. It also comes with handle attachments for a regular over the shoulder purse, backpack drawstrings, and a long adjustable messenger bag strap. The three covers I received were Red Foliage, Stems and Lace , and Classic chocolate sketch.

     All of these prints are amazing, and go with every outfit you can possibly imagine. These aren't the only designs though. Juneberry bags now come in 10 different designs! The possibilities are seriously endless.

     I have now used my Juneberry Bag for approximately a year! I have used this as my sole purse, I absolutely love it, and I am constantly getting compliments on it. I occasionally change the cover, but the awesome part is, I don't have to transfer anything over to a new bag. I just casually unzip the base bag and slip on a new cover, zip it into pace and I am ready to go. 

    I also really love the multiple options on how to carry the purse. I keep the extra handles in a pocket inside the purse, that way when I am out and about and feel the need to change the style to a hands free option I can. This has come in very handy at fairs, and being out with my 4 year old. When I am attempting to carry way too much, or when my 4 year old is requiring more than one hand, I can easily switch to either the backpack or messenger bag. I seriously feel that I have found the perfect purse / backpack / messenger bag and luck just has it that its all ONE bag. A Juneberry bag. 

     I would recommend this to anyone that carries any type of bag. I have suggested this bag to family, friends and co-workers. And if I feel confident enough to suggest this bag to my own mom, then you know it has to be amazing! I honestly believe that everyone needs a Juneberry bag! And they are very affordable. For 39.99 you get the base bag and a sleeve cover of your choice! How awesome is that?!? For less than a tank of gas you can get an original purse from Juneberry and have 10 options of design. I always suggest getting more than one cover, because you'll want to change it often when you do. Additional covers are only 16.99 when you buy the base bag or 18.99 alone. When is the last time you could buy three bags for $40? 

Disclaimer: This item was supplied in exchange for an honest review. All pictures were supplied from the Juneberry Bags website.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Healthy Surprise Review and #Giveaway

     A lot of you may be wondering what Healthy Surprise is. Healthy Surprise is a monthly subscription box that features healthy and delicious snack options. For the classic box, which features 15+ delicious snacks the monthly subscription cost is $49. While you are paying a little bit more for this box than most subscription boxes, you will not be disappointed! This box includes a lot for the price.

      I received the Classic box to review, which arrived at my house only 3 days after ordering it! So shipping time is amazing, especially if you are in need of a last minute and original gift. Upon opening the box I was very impressed! There was a thank you/ gift message right on the top and underneath all of my goodies were wrapped in tissue paper. It was like getting a beautiful gift. You could tell that the lovely people at Healthy Surprise took extra care when packaging the snacks. They were neatly stacked and organized vs just being thrown in the box. 

We received 17 total snacks, some where full size, while others were a single serving size. There were bars, chips, kale chips, dried plantains (which were out absolute favorite), two popsicles, which my 4 year old gobbled right up! (you need to freeze these!) , some pumpkin seeds, and much much more. All of the snacks were delicious and FRESH! I didn't get to taste the popsicles as my kiddo called dibs on them, but she loved them so I am assuming that they were amazing! (She's very picky!)

Overall Impression:
I LOVED Healthy Surprise! It takes all the guess work out of trying to make the proper snack choices, gives you an opportunity to taste a great selection of goodies, and is an affordable price. Not to mention this would make the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person in your life. And with all those "Get Healthy" New Years resolutions this year, why not start off on the right foot? 
I personally would purchase this for myself in the future, as well as for family. I highly recommend Healthy Surprise!

They are also offering a 30% off promo when use the code SMARTSTART

To Win! Enter Below!
One lucky winner will be chosen to receive a 
Classic Healthy Surprise Box! 
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Imagination Designs