Friday, May 29, 2015

Consumer Critique: When Calls the Heart - Trials of the Heart

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I had a chance to review another installment in the When Calls the Heart series - Trials of the Heart.

Elizabeth Thatcher (Krakow) is an independent, strong-willed teacher who has foregone the life of the big city and found a job, a home – and romance with a handsome Mountie named Jack – in the small frontier town of Coal Valley. But when she learns that her mother has taken ill, she returns to Hamilton, her hometown, with Jack as her escort. Once in the comparably opulent Hamilton, Elizabeth and Jack are confounded by Jack's ne'er-do-well brother and Elizabeth's former suitor, Charles Kensington. But it is Elizabeth's father, William, who drives a wedge between them when he suggests to Jack that Charles would be a better match for his well-bred daughter.  

The movie offers a look at relationships and what's really important. It has the same tone as other seasons, and is a good family movie, especially for older kids, teens, and adults.

Consumer Critique: Motivate Your Child

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently had the chance to review Motivate Your Child, a new book from Biblical Parenting. This book is geared towards Christian parents looking to encourage their children towards doing what they need to do, without constantly being told to do it.

I liked the book. It was clear and concise. It's a pretty short book, but it's well-written and packs a lot of information into pages that don't take long to read. As a busy parent myself, I appreciated that the book didn't have a lot of extra fluff, just meat. Many of the techniques are ones I'm already using with my kids, but I did get some good info that I can use as they grow into later developmental stages and I need different parenting tools. I also really appreciated that it came from a Christian perspective, to include parenting based on Christian values.

Smart Safety: Infant SOS Under Development

It's a tragedy that happens multiple times every year: An average of 38 children die each year after being left in hot cars. Five recent Rice University graduates have designed a new car seat accessory that can not only protect infants accidentally left in hot cars but can also notify caregivers and emergency personnel.

Audrey Clayton, Rachel Wang, Jason Fang, Ralph LaFrance and Ge You, who graduated from Rice May 16, spent the past year working at Rice's Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen to develop Infant SOS, a car seat accessory to protect infants left in potentially lethal hot cars. The device is fitted into standard car seats and can issue auditory, visual and text alerts when it senses that the infant is in danger. It also features a passive cooling system designed to keep an infant's core temperature below a critical point (heat stroke begins at 104 degrees Fahrenheit) until emergency responders arrive.
Clayton said it’s no surprise that most of the tragic incidents involving children left in cars occur in the summer months.

The alert system is the accessory's primary means of protection and includes sensors to detect if the car is moving, if the child is still in the seat and if the temperature in the vehicle begins to rise. If the device detects that the car is parked with the child still in its seat, the device's alert responses will be activated after 30 seconds, beginning with visual and auditory alerts. The visual alert is a flashing row of red LED lights that lines the car seat and the audio alert is an alarm. After five minutes, if the infant has not been removed from the seat, text alerts are sent out. The device can be programmed to send texting alerts to up to 10 people, including emergency responders.

In case of delayed responses, the cooling system can act as an emergency backup to extend the infant’s chance of survival. A heat-triggered material acts as a main heat absorber to keep the infant's core temperature at a safe level for as long as possible.

The project was funded by Dr. Susan Baldwin '82 through her company, Mamoru Enterprises LLC. She proposed the senior design project after learning that the child of one of her patients had nearly died in an overheated car.

A past Design Kitchen team originally developed the project in fall 2013, but the current team has worked to include the cooling system and improve the alert component. Another team will work to streamline the device's alert system during the 2015-2016 academic year. The students' ultimate goal is to make the removable accessory easy to use and accessible to a large market. The students expect the device to cost approximately $150.

Healthy Habits: Summer Eye Health

The summer sun can be pretty intense, especially mid-day during the spring and summer months. Sitting by the pool or near any body of water can further intensify the sun’s rays.

While basking in the sun may make you feel happy and relaxed, it may also make you squint, especially if you’re not wearing UV protective sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses is a “beauty must.”  A wide-brim summer hat is also a good idea to keep the sun from shining directly into your eyes.

If your eyes are tired, you can also try the Bausch + Lomb THERPEARL® Eye Mask. It can quickly help your tired eyes look and feel refreshed.

About Bausch + Lomb
Bausch + Lomb, a Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. company, is a leading global eye health organization that is solely focused on protecting, enhancing, and restoring people’s eyesight. Our core businesses include ophthalmic pharmaceuticals, contact lenses, lens care products, ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments. We develop, manufacture and market one of the most comprehensive product portfolios in our industry with products available in more than 100 countries.

Website Spotlight: Nightswapping

So you've decided to sleep on your mother in law's sofa, in her house in the South of Spain to save on your travel budget? You should know there are better ways of travelling on a shoestring.This summer, 70% of internet users will be using the sharing economy to find a place to stay and the new trend for 2015 is to swap nights.Forget impersonal hotel rooms and costly rentals. This summer it's time to share and experience free authentic stays at the locals'.

With the sunny days and balmy weather finally making a comeback, the same old question keeps coming up each Friday at lunch break: 'Do you have any plans for the weekend?'
Sure we would love to be like John from accounting, with his weekends abroad planned months in advance. Sadly though we are not John and we do not have anything planned for the weekend... yet. 

NightSwapping knows this situation well and is now here to help the less organized travellers with a new service called WEEKEND SWAP.

Consumer Critique: Trying Not to Try

Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

We've all been stressed before important events or choked when the pressure was on. It seems that sometimes, the harder we try, the harder we crash.

In Trying Not To Try, Edward Slingerland explores an early Chinese philosophy concept called wu-wei - an effortless way of being. Similar to the Star Wars Force or the idea of flow in our daily lives, wu-wei is a way of just being. It combines spontaneity with contentment, and with the stories of fantasy creatures, musicians, and more, this Eastern thought blends with current science to show us how we can do more by trying less.

It's a fun book to read. While I don't agree with all of the philosophy behind it, there is a lot of truth in this book, and I think every reader will be able to take away something to improve his or her own life.

Healthy Habits: Bestowed's Gluten-Free Product Guide

Health crazes and diet trends may come and go, but every so often there are advances in the nutrition and medical field that are true game changers. For decades, individuals diagnosed with celiac disease were simply characterized with extreme gastrointestinal problems, but with further research, this multisystemic autoimmune disorder is now known to be caused by permanent intolerance to gluten, predominantly found in genetically-susceptible individuals. With the increasing diagnosis of celiac disease in America, the demand for gluten-free products has skyrocketed. The food industry has strongly met those demands by putting out numerous gluten-free products, in some cases over-saturating the market and causing confusion amongst consumers. To help consumers cut through the clutter, Bestowed recently released their 2015 Gluten-Free Product Guide. Bestowed only features products that meet strict quality standards which are enforced by their team of health & nutrition experts. The guide is a curated list of those products that meet their standards with the added benefit of being 100% gluten-free.
While doctors estimate just 1 percent of the population have celiac disease, marketers estimate that about 30 percent of consumers want gluten-free foods. Why? Surprisingly, even if you don't have a full-fledged gluten intolerance, you still may be slightly sensitive to it, causing symptoms ranging from bloating and discomfort to rashes. Some people staying away from gluten may also just feel a placebo effect, feeling better and losing weight from consuming fewer processed and fast foods, and reaching for healthier options like fruits, vegetables and certain whole grains. 
Bestowed’s Gluten-Free Product Guide is a good resource for anyone looking for high-quality gluten-free products, available in most grocery stores. These products are both low in fat and high in fiber and flavor.
For more information about Bestowed’s recommended gluten-free products, please visit
About Bestowed
Widely recognized as the leading product discovery platform for health-conscious consumers, Bestowed is a subscription-based discovery service that delivers nutritionist recommended products direct to consumers. Founded in 2012 by Heather Bauer, a nationally recognized nutrition expert, author and entrepreneur, Bestowed was created to make it easy for consumers to find the best better-for-you products on the market. For more information about Bestowed, please visit the company’s website at

Giveaway: Miniscule - Valley of the Lost Ants

Enjoy a BIG adventure this spring with the TINIEST of creatures in Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants! Good things come in small packages! That’s certainly the case with the adorable, animated feature Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants.  

This epic adventure has the added twist of almost no dialogue – think Wall-E meets A Bug's Life! These animated stars communicate solely via a synchronized soundtrack featuring music and sound effects to tell the tale of their journey. With the lone voice of Richard Dreyfuss as the narrator, Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants is the buzz worthy spring feature you won’t want to miss.

After a couple leaves their picnic in a hurry, a gang of hungry ants moves in to steal what could be their most coveted treasure: a tin box filled with sugar cubes.  But before they can get away with the loot, a newly-born ladybug strays from its own family and gets trapped inside the box!  The ladybug is soon spirited away by the ants as they try to transport their prize across the woods toward their colony. Together, the insects embark on an epic journey to protect their sugar.

I thought this story was cute. But I also really liked the emphasis on sound and music to tell the story. I teach music at a school, and my girls are very interested in music, so it was fun to not only watch, but also talk with my girls afterwards about the importance of music and how stories can be told almost without words at all!

I have a chance to give away a DVD of Miniscule. To enter, leave a comment with what you're most interested in about this movie. Deadline is June 5th.

Visit kaboom! Entertainment Facebook and Twitter to learn more about fun kids' entertainment options.

Caring Causes: Pillow Talk - Conversations About Cancer

In 2014, the American Cancer Society estimated 1.6 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer, the equivalent to someone receiving a diagnosis every 30 seconds. 1 in 10 households are affected by a cancer diagnosis, affecting not only the patient, but also family and friends.

Talking about a cancer diagnosis can be stressful, awkward or even frightening, especially when children are involved. Many parents coping with a diagnosis will avoid the topic altogether. 

On behalf of CancerCare, a national non-profit organization, and Bayer HealthCare I was able to learn about Pillow Talk: Conversations about Cancer, a free, at-home pillow decorating kit that brings together patients, caregivers, friends and families who collaborate to transform a blank pillow into a creative expression that showcases their special, personal relationships. 

Through, 25,000 Pillow Talk Care Packages will be available for FREE to anyone touched by cancer. Kits will include tips and fact sheets to help initiate those difficult-to-start conversations. The use of art therapy can be a good way to start the conversation in a creative environment where people can express thoughts and feelings they might not otherwise be able to communicate. 


Ahuva Morris is an oncology social worker who provides supportive counseling and resources to patients, caregivers, loved ones and people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. She is part of the CancerCare for Kids program and has provided outreach to New York City hospitals by giving presentations about CancerCare services, specifically for children. Ahuva is also a member of the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

Founded in 1944, CancerCare® is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include counseling and support groups over the phone, online and in-person, educational workshops, publications and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts. To learn more, visit

About Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.:
Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals business of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Bayer HealthCare is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, and combines the activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Medical Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions.  As a specialty pharmaceutical company, Bayer HealthCare provides products for General Medicine, Hematology, Neurology, Oncology and Women’s Healthcare.  The company's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.

Sweepstakes: Essentia Water 88 Days of Giveaways

Essentia® Water, the leading alkaline water brand in the United States , is launching its MORE Summer: 88 Days of Giveaways promotion on June 1, 2015. The contest runs through August 27 and one lucky grand prizewinner selected at random takes home a paddle board and paddle ($1,200 value) from Riviera Paddlesurf, the leading brand of stand up paddle (SUP) specific products.  Daily winners also selected at random receive gifts like Jet Flow hydration packs and Essentia branded beach chairs, t-shirts, sling bags, grocery totes, and more.
Participants can enter online at or on Instagram by posting an image that represents what they want to do more of this summer. Instagram entrants must follow Essentia (@EssentiaWater) and posts must include #MoreSummer. A list of daily winners for the week prior will be announced on Essentia’s Facebook and Instagram pages every Tuesday starting June 9.
The MORE Summer: 88 Days of Giveaways promotion is inspired by a groundbreaking clinical study that compares the rehydration effect of the industry-leading bottled water with Essentia. The first-of-its kind double blind study shows Essentia is 88 percent more hydrating than the other brand. The study will be published in a peer review journal later this summer. Also launching in early June are a host of marketing initiatives that support the claim.
Contest details including rule and regulations can be found at

About Essentia
Headquartered in Bothell , Wash. , Essentia Water, LLC launched its hydrating alkaline water in 1998. The first functional bottled water offered in the United States , Essentia is the no. 1 selling bottled water in the natural channel and a leading alkaline water brand. Essentia is hydration perfected™, created using a proprietary ionization process that results in water with an alkaline 9.5 pH. Essentia is now listed in the 2015 Physician Desk Reference – a first for a bottled water brand. To learn more about Essentia, please visit
To learn more about Essentia, please visit Or connect with Essentia on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.