Monday, May 31, 2010

Square One Organics Review

When Zoelle was a baby I prided myself in making all my own homemade baby food. I still have wonderful memories of Chris and I working together to make baby food late at night in the kitchen after Z went to bed. I managed to never once give her any store bought baby food. The reason being that I wanted to know exactly what I was feeding her and know that it was healthy for her. Thus, I only made homemade food.

When Meridian was born, I thought I would do the same. I started her out eating only homemade baby food, but then I won on another blog a box full of baby food from Square One Organics. With a toddler at home, I found that taking the time to make homemade baby food was a bit more difficult, so the food couldn't have come at a better time. Knowing that it was organic and healthy for her made me feel safe feeding it to her.

We got every food offered in our prize pack except spinach. Meridian loves food and ate each of them with no problems except the quinoa. However, we typically as a family do not eat quinoa so it just may not be a texture she is familiar or comfortable with. Overall, I was very impressed with the quality and taste of each food and if given the chance, I'd definitely buy them.

One interesting fact about Square One Organics for all American Idol fans is that Lee DeWyze recorded a CD for Square One that promotes having children eat fruits and vegetables. Lee also sings a song in which he is Farmer Brown. Kind of fun for kids and parents to know a great role model in the American Idol.


Feel free to keep up to date with all that is going on with Square One Organics through their facebook, twitter, or blog.

Buy It!

If you have a little one who is entering into the solid eating stage, or if you are wanting to try and sneak some fresh, organic food into your toddler's food, buy some Square One Organics. Make sure you use coupon code: SQ1LAUNCH for $5 off your order. If you are hoping to buy local, check out your local retailers.

*I was not given free product or compensated in any way for this post.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Maggie's Pure Land Soap Nuts Review & Giveaway

When I first heard of washing my clothes with soap nuts, I was a little confused as to how it was possible. I was also definitely skeptical as to if it really worked. Thus I reached out to Maggie's Pure Land to see if their soap nuts would really work.

However, first I need to back up and explain exactly what soap nuts are as I am sure many of you are like me and are wondering. Soap Nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree (Sapindus
mukorrosi), similar to the lychee. Still confused? A picture might help explain what they at least look like.
They basically work just like a detergent but are 100% natural and safe for sensitive skin. Remember, I have extremely sensitive skin plus I am desperately trying to be more green and natural with my family, so soap nuts were a perfect match!
I found that they were super simple to use as all you have to do is drop a few soap nuts into the provided cotton bag, and you are good to go. One thing you should know now is that you will not see any bubbles in your laundry. This is a good thing! It took my mind a long time to come to terms with the thought of my clothes getting clean without bubbles, but I have since realized that the bubbles don't mean anything and my clothes still come clean without them! This makes soap nuts perfect for HE washing machines!
So there has to be a catch right? The only thing I noticed was that I did still have to treat some stains before hand as the soap nuts alone wouldn't get them out. No big deal though for me as I am really enjoying using a natural laundry detergent. Oh and if you are like me and would prefer to have a liquid laundry detergent, they have recently started selling that too and I didn't notice any difference in cleaning between that and the soap nuts.
Buy It!
If you are struggling with rashes, eczema, psorisis, or sensitive skin, I would highly suggest you to give Maggie's a try! Or maybe you are just like me and wanting to live a more natural lifestyle, go on over to Maggie's and buy, buy, buy! If you do decide to buy some, use the code: SUMMERPLEASE for 30% off on all products. Expired June 1st 
Win It!
Maggie's Pure Land has generously offered to give one my readers their choice between a 5-load sample of raw nuts (with cotton bag) or an 8-load liquid soap sample.
Mandatory Entry:
Visit Maggie's Pure Land, look around and come back here and tell me something that you learned and also which one you would want if you won (the raw nuts or liquid). Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:
1. Follow me on google friend connect and leave a comment telling me you are. (1 entry)
2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)
3. Tweet about this contest making sure you include @jewelsntreasure along with a link to this contest somewhere in your Tweet (1 tweet/entry per day)
4. Become a fan/like of Jewels & Treasures on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)

That's It!

Winner will be chosen at random from Winner has 24 hours from being contacted to respond, or else a new winner will be chosen.

Contest ends Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST!

*Congrats to #9-Angie! Hope they work just as well for you as your homemade laundry soap does.

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer or pr company representing the company. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sisters

Isn't she just darling? For the record, I'm guessing boy and 8lbs. 10 oz. 21 inches

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Random Thoughts

I've been quietly missing this last week. In part because I blogged so much last week, I felt like I needed a break. I was feeling burnt out and pressured to post. I never want to feel or post because I have to but rather because I want to. So I just didn't. It has been super nice and relaxing for me to take a break, but I have missed voicing my thoughts, ideas, and opinions here. Also, it just so happened that my computer broke again (time for a new computer anyone?). This time it is just the monitor, but a new monitor costs a couple hundred dollars, so we will probably just get the new computer instead.

Speaking of things breaking, my hubby's truck broke down late last week once again (I think it's the 3rd time in the last few months). Not good and after this fix, I am hoping it is in perfect shape (as this is getting extremely expensive) and we are thinking of selling it and going down to just one vehicle. Does anyone have just one car/truck and do fine? I'm a bit worried about feeling isolated at home. But we love to walk and I can definitely walk where we need to go as well.

In the meantime, let's just pray nothing else breaks ok?

Just took a peak at Zoelle on our video monitor. She looks just precious while sleeping. I sure do love that girl, but man has she been a challenge lately. When I tell people that Zoelle changed when Meridian was born, most don't believe me. But, I'm not kidding. She is night and day different from before Mer to after. I miss her old happy self and I'm honestly out of ideas to get her "back". It's leaving me very drained by the end of the day. Add that to Meridian getting molars so now I have a fussy/crabby baby who normally is rarely crabby. Chris also does the bulk of his work in the summer months so I'm left alone for long hours without his wisdom and guidance. Pray for strength in parenting for me, would you please?

On the lines of being a parent, we celebrated my beautiful sister with a baby shower last night. It truly was an awesome and unique shower. The whole theme was to be eco-friendly and organic and I think we managed to pull everything together with that theme.

I have so many more random thoughts I could write on from adoption to a special little boy "K" who is struggling with cancer and needs our prayers, but right now...I'm shot, so I'm off to relax and go to bed!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Birthday!


Sweet Meridian you are one. How could that possibly be? It seems like just yesterday that I was posting on our adoption blog that you were here.

 You came so incredibly fast. I didn't even realize at the time that I was in labor. With you, I finally got my water birth that I had wanted so badly. One look into your blue eyes and I fell completely in love with you.

There are so many things about you that I never want to forget. Your sweet personality, your love of Ah-well (Zoelle), your little fiesty side that is starting to show, how you have just started loving to snuggle, and your strawberry brunette hair.

I'm cherishing it all baby because this time is going so much faster than the last. I'm praying that everyday you grown into the little girl and one day woman of God that He has designed you to be. Keep your sweet personality Mer Mer. Happy 1st Birthday Meridian Piper. I love you!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


You are 3 today. I can hardly believe it. Sometimes I stare at you and wonder where the years have gone? It's bittersweet little Z to see you as 3. Earlier tonight you were helping me make your birthday supper of homemade mac n' cheese and you said to me, "I'm three now mom, I can do it." Yes, sweetheart, you are three now and you can do anything.

I know this past year for you has not been an easy one. For exactly two years, you had all the attention in the world. Your daddy, mommy, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, and everyone loved only you. But the day after you turned two, they fell in love with Meridian and I think that hurt your little heart very much. What you don't know baby is that it hurt mine too. I hurt for you. Everyday since that day has been a struggle for you. For two years you were all spirit, but also so sweet and sensitive. You changed completely the day your sister was born. For that I am sorry. I love your sister to pieces, but almost everday I wish I could go back to the old Zoelle and mommy (all while keeping your sister). The one who didn't fight with mom and didn't cry everyday. From time to time, I get glimpses of the "old" you and I cherish those moments. But I also don't hate the new moments we have had. I'm just learning a new "normal" with you.

I so want to give you the world. Yet I know that you have to make your decisions. You will decide the road you will walk. I know you will choose wisely just as you are today (on days that are hard). Remember that I will always be here for you. I'm proud of you Zoelle and I love you more than you will ever know. Happy 3rd Birthday!

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's A Celebration!

There was a party going on Saturday night, a celebration of two little girls who stole our hearts.

There were cupcakes, ice cream

and rainbow cake, which was oh-so amazing and moist!

 Yummy too!

At the center of it all were two little girls

who made us family!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's Party Time!

While our girls won't celebrate their actual birthdays until next week, we are celebrating today with a party. Balloons, ice cream, skittles, lots of people (about 30) and this:

Of course, ours may not look that pretty and perfect when it's all said and done. But it was still a blast to make and is actually healthy for you, not bad. Recipe and pictures of the party to come.

Wish you could all be here! We'll have fun and eat lots without you! :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible Car Seat Review

Recently I posted about the importance of extended rear-facing. Zoelle is almost three years old and approximately 30 lbs. However, her current car seat only allows her to stay rear-facing until 35 lbs. Based off of the research I have done, I want to keep her rear-facing as long as possible. However, it is difficult to find a car seat that will allow rear-facing beyond 35 lbs. Actually I should say it was difficult until I happened upon Safety 1st.

I received the Safety 1st Complete Air Convertible Car Seat and was thrilled to learn that it allows me to rear-face my girls from 5-40 lbs. and then I can switch them to forward facing from 22-50 lbs. This car seat will last us forever! What a perfect investment!

As an extended rear-facing promoter, I can't tell you how excited I am that a company like Safety 1st has taken it to the next level and promoted extended rear-facing with this seat!

I also love that it has the air protect side impact technology. When 1 in 3 child fatalities are caused by side impact collisions, I can once again say that I am proud that Safety 1st has taken the car seat industry to a new level with keeping my children's safety ultimately in mind.

In addition to the air protect and extended rear-facing, I loved that it was light (making it easy to switch from vehicle to vehicle). I loved that getting my daughter in and out was simple (as a mom of two, this is a must).

At first, I was a little confused about how to install it rear-facing. However, I then found video of how to install it, which was extremely helpful so I knew I was doing it correctly. My confusion with installing the seat rear-facing was in that I felt it reclined too much in order for the line to be level with the ground. To get it to be installed correctly, I did have to push our front passenger seat up quite a bit for the car seat to fit. It's not typically a big deal as most of the time I drive by myself, but it is something to keep in mind when purchasing this seat. Zoelle didn't seem to mind at all though and I think really enjoyed being so reclined. The recline gave her a little more leg room, which was really nice to have and may encourage others to use this seat rear facing as I know the leg room issue always seems to scare people away from extended rear-facing. To me, safety comes first (no pun intended), so it is worth it.

*Update* It has been brought to my attention by a car seat technician that this seat is actually just fine sitting in a more upright position. The line to level it with is referring to infants who cannot hold their head upright, therefore, unable to sit in a more upright angle. We will be moving ours in a more upright position.

I did install it forward facing too just so you could all get an idea of what that looked like. I love it this way! When she is ready to move forward facing this will be perfect. It is narrow and yet still extremely safe.

Thank you Safety 1st for creating a wonderful car seat that will allow me to protect my children in the car, the best way I can!

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer or pr company representing the company. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Only One More Week

I only have one more week of these precious girls being two and eleven months old before they become three and one. It makes me smile and cry all at the same time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Importance Of Extended Rear-Facing

With Meridian's birthday being just a little over a week away, we are quickly approaching the one year and twenty pound cut off for when to turn her carseat around to forward-facing. We won't though. We didn't with Zoelle either. In fact, Zoelle at almost 3 years old and 30 lbs. is still happily rear-facing.  Being one year and 20 lbs. is not an accomplishment, it is just another milestone.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you should leave your toddler rear-facing until age two. However, as you will note above, Zoelle is almost three and still rear-facing. We don't extend rear- face only because the American Academy of Pediatrics tells us to. Instead, we do so because children riding rear-facing, are five times safer than those riding forward-facing. 5 times! That is alot!  Overall, children under the age of 2 are 75% less likely to die or experience a serious injury when they ride in a rear-facing car seat. Since motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of death in children, it's enough for me to keep my daughters rear-facing until the restrictions on their car seats no longer allow me to.

Rear-facing seats are more likely to support the back, neck, head and pelvis because the force of a crash is distributed evenly over the entire body. Forward-facing children are more likely to be injured because the force of the crash is concentrated on seat belt contact points, and younger children’s heads are disproportionately large for their small, weak necks.

One of the biggest questions I get about extended rear-facing is what about their legs being cramped. For us, our daughters have never complained about cramped legs. In fact, statistically speaking, it is much safer to have broken legs than to have a spine injury, or worse yet a broken neck in an accident.

Around here, it seems that no one extends rear-faces. Most think I am crazy to do so. However, keeping my children the safest they could possibly be may be crazy to others, but is worth it to me. In fact, I am not the only crazy one. Many other countries, including Sweden and Canada are strong proponents to extended rear-facing and I am longing for the day when the United States follows suit to protect children. The best way to start is right in my own home by educating others about the benefits of extended rear-facing.

If you are looking for more information, I highly suggest you to read this post on A wonderful overview video to watch that explains it better that I can (as a picture, or in this case, a video is worth a thousand words) can be seen here:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just Like A Mom

Recently, our Zoelle has been doing everything around the house "just like a mom". She goes to bed "just like a mom", she goes potty "just like a mom", she crosses her legs "just like a mom" (see picture), and her absolute favorite thing to do "just like a mom", is to eat without a bib.

It's caused me to really re-think my actions as a mom. They affect her. She looks up to me. Wants to be me. That is scary and humbling all at once. She loves me and wants to be like me, and I so want to be a mom that can live up to her expectations. A God honoring, loving wife and mom, whom she wants to be "just like a mom".

So on this Mother's Day, my goal is to be "just like a mom" and show her love, respect, courage, strength, compassion, and so many other things that my mom showed me, so that one day I could teach her to be "just like a mom".

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sodastream Review & Giveaway

My husband and I aren't big pop drinkers in our home. In fact, unless we go out to eat (which is rare), we just don't ever drink it. We typically only drink water as a whole family, but when given the recent chance to review the Sodastream, it just looked like too much fun not to try.

We received a HUGE box filled with the Fountain Jet Home Soda Maker, 1 60 liter Carbonator, 2 Carbonating Bottles, 9 Sodamix Flavors, and MyWater Flavor Essence Variety 3-Pack. The minute we received it my husband became like a little boy in the candy store. He couldn't wait to try it! I told him he had to wait though as I had other reviews to do first (sorry babe).

There are so many good things I could say about the Sodastream that it would be way too much to write in one post. I will try and highlight a few of the things I loved the most about it. The first thing would be that it is easy. It literally was a breeze to set up and complete. All it takes is 3 simple steps. Fill it up with cold water, next you carbonate your water, and lastly you either add the flavor you want, or just drink sparkling water. It's that easy! No mess, no clean up, and another positive is that you don't have to plug it in, or use batteries. It also saves you money in that each bottle of flavor makes the equivalent of 33 cans of soda. I also like that it is good for the environment in that is uses tap water and reuses the bottles.

The only down side to the Sodastream is that they use Splenda® as a sweetner in the flavors. I personally do not like to use artificial sweetners for my family. However, I have heard through "the grape vine" that SodaStream will be making flavors using other sweetners in the future. When they do, I plan on being a regular customer!

Overall, the convenience is great!

Buy It!

You can buy the Sodastream starting at $89.95. Not a bad price for the amount of soda it makes!

Win It!

The generous people at Sodastream have offered one of my readers the chance to win their very own Fountain Jet Soda Lover’s Start-up kit (approx. $100 retail value.) It includes the winner’s choice of black/silver, white or red/silver Fountain Jet, CO2 to make over 100 liters of soda, 2 reusable carbonating bottles, a sample pack of flavors, and 3 full sized flavors of the winner’s choice.

Mandatory Entry:

Visit Sodastream, check out the flavors available and come back and comment with the 3 flavors you would want. Please do me the favor of making sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment if it is not visible on your profile. (1 entry)

Extra Entries:

1. Follow me on google friend connect and leave a comment telling me you are. (1 entry)
2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)
3. Follow Sodastream on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you are along with your Twitter ID. (1 entry)
4. Tweet about this contest making sure you include @jewelsntreasure and @sodastreamusa along with a link to this contest somewhere in your Tweet (1 tweet/entry per day)
5. Become a fan/like of Jewels & Treasures on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)
6. Become a fan/like of Sodastream on facebook and leave me a comment telling me you are along with your first name and last initial. (1 entry)

That's It!

Winner will be chosen at random from Winner has 24 hours from being contacted to respond, or else a new winner will be chosen.

Note: Shipping only within continental US. Sorry. :(

Contest ends Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. CST!

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer or pr company representing the company. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Mmm, mmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmm, that tastes good! I recently made this yummy pie to share at my mom's group and made an extra for my hubby to enjoy. He told me later it had to be "right up there as his favorite pie". Here is the recipe so you can all enjoy too.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons cold water

*Note, I did not use the crust recipe as I am allergic to almonds. I do think it would be good though.


1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb, thawed
1-1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries


3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons sugar

In a food processor, combine the all-purpose flour, pastry flour, almonds and salt; cover and pulse until blended. Add butter; cover pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While processing, gradually add water until dough forms a ball.

Roll out pastry to fit a 9-in. pie plate. Transfer pastry to pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond edge of plate; flute edges. In a large bowl, combine the egg, sugar, flour and cinnamon; stir in rhubarb and strawberries. Transfer to prepared crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until filling is bubbly. Remove pie from oven and place on wire rack; keep warm. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites and extract on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Spread over hot filling, sealing edges to crust. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour; refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving.

I found it super easy to make and was so, so good. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: 1 piece equals 255 calories, 8 g fat, 41 mg cholesterol, 219 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Doin' A Little Shoppin'

For a new computer that is. Mine is ancient in "electronic years" so to speak. We got it *I think* our second year of marriage, so it is six years old. I love it, but it is super slow and locks up way too often (like it just did as I was trying to write that last sentence). It has become highly frustrating. I told Chris, my computer time would probably be cut in half with the use of a new computer. So, we saved some money and I have started shopping!

At first, I was looking at getting this beauty:

It's the HP Touchsmart All-in-One computer/TV. Since we just have a little TV, I thought it would be great. However, we have since decided that we would like to turn our office back into a bedroom, and we thought that a laptop might suit my needs better. I can take it with me wherever I go, and do some blogging in bed at night while Chris reads.

Ideally, I'd love to get this one:

It's the HP Touchsmart Laptop. Can you tell I have a slight obsession with the Touchsmart? I love it, but there is no way that we can afford that right now.

Since I am pretty much completely technologically illiterate I thought I would ask my blog readers and friends their thoughts on the best laptop for the money. We were hoping to spend somewhere around $500. The only requirement I have is that it has enough room to store our pictures on it (lots and lots of them) and enough room to handle Adobe Photoshop (since one day I plan on buying that too).

So help me out! Which computer is the best?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag Review

In an effort to "go green" this year, I decided to take the leap and use reusable shopping bags while shopping. I actually have only held off doing so in the past because I didn't want to look yuppie and I felt a bit embarrassed to pull out a brown sack that to me seemed so ugly. What no one told me was, your reusable shopping bag doesn't have to be ugly. In fact, they can be quite cute!

Baggu comes in every trendy, cute color you can think of and also various sizes. I received the Papaya Baggu in the size that says it will carry 2-3 plastic grocery bags worth. However, when I received it in the mail, I was doubtful. Here is what I saw:

It is so tiny folded (5" x 5") that I thought there was no way it would fit enough groceries to fill 2-3 plastic grocery bags! Nevertheless, I quickly grabbed it on my way out the door to Target to get a few things. Now at Target, I loaded up on mainly candy (I teach piano lessons and the candy was a gift for my students) but because I am a good blogger, I didn't want you all to see the junk that I got, so I went to my shelves at home and loaded up the Baggu with actual groceries. Here is a picture after opening it up

and filling it up with the food pictured:

And I still had plenty of room to spare! It holds 50 lbs., it's machine washable, it's 100% Ripstop Nylon, and the price is wonderful. I can finally start getting rid of all my plastic bags and start buying more Baggu. I just can't decide if I want 3 or 5 more? And in what colors?

What color would you get if you bought a Baggu bag?

*The featured product(s) in this post were provided to me free of charge by the manufacturer or pr company representing the company. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.