3 Ways to Maintain Hardwood Floors Without Wasting an Entire Day

When we moved into our house, we both really wanted hardwood floors. The entire house is mostly covered in carpet, which is an allergic-to-everything couple’s nightmare. I made Brian promise we would replace the carpet with wood IMMEDIATELY (I mean, we had blue carpet with yellow walls in our front room. It was a 90’s disaster that had never been fixed). But after painting ALL THE ROOMS, the blue carpet? Not so bad. We’d still love hardwood (and so would our allergen-filled sinuses), but the cost of hardwood makes me cry a little bit inside…so we’ll wait it out.

But we do have one lovely room with beautiful hardwood floors. And I like to keep it clean. Well, I like Brian to keep it clean, but I digress. This is our dining room. Game room. Wine room. All the things room. It’s the brightest, happiest room in the house.

3 Ways to Clean and Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

Sweep that shit regularly

The internet recommends a soft-bristled broom, but let’s be honest for a minute here and admit that we’re using the same cheap-ish, plastic-bristled broom for everything, amiright? If you spend 5-10 minutes sweeping a room on a regularish basis (anywhere from daily to weekly, and you’re golden), your floors will stay relatively clean. If you have your boyfriend spend 5-10 minutes sweeping a room on a regularish basis, your floors will stay relatively clean AND you won’t have lifted a finger. BOOM.

Clean your hardwood floors

This may be my favorite room in the house. Seriously.

Get a fancy mop with a solution and ergonomic design specifically made for hardwood

When I picked up the Bona Hardwood Floor Spray Mop from my P.O. Box (Thanks Bona people!), Brian asked, what’s in the box? Is it for me? And I excitedly announced, “YES!” because we all know cleaning isn’t my forte in this relationship.

Happy birthday, Brian!

Happy birthday, Brian! (Of course, I would take a picture featuring the Spanish side of the box. Not changing it. You’re welcome.)

But, for the sake of that same relationship, I took it upon myself to put the mop together. Okay, so it may have taken me 20+ minutes to assemble said mop. And it may have been really easy to do, according to the video that I had to watch four times to get it right. And I may have then had trouble getting it to spray (because I still hadn’t put it together properly)…but once I had it all set up, it was a piece of freakin’ cake.

Bona Mop

I only had a few minor snafus in trying to get the green part into the blue part. I didn’t consider sending it back because I thought it was broken or anything…

So, since it was assembled and all, I figured, what the hell? and started mopping our dining room floor. Holy shit, you guys. I have no problem mopping the floor if it’s always going to be this easy. The removable, washable pad dealie is attached with Velcro to the bottom of the mop, and the spray solution is activated at the handle, so there’s no bucket, no super wet floors, no bending down, no wet icky mop to store upside down…It’s fucking magical.  After I was done mopping (like 5 minutes later, tops), I removed the pad, and hung it over the back of a chair to dry (because the back of the pad wasn’t wet AT ALL).

Polish the floors with a reliable wood polish

You want a spit shine on your dining room floor? Cool. Find a polish that is going to enhance the wood and not destroy it. Then find someone to do it for you. Like your loving boyfriend who wants to keep the floor looking amazing. Even when you’re probably going to spill queso and wine on it a few hours later. I’m just saying. Not that I’ve done that or anything…

Why yes, that is the bottle of wine I spilled...

Why yes, that is the bottle of wine I spilled…

In case you weren’t already aware, my cleaning style is really one harbored out of necessity rather than enjoyment. We tend to rush around and clean before people come over. So when I took the Bona cleaning personality quiz, it nailed me completely. Social butterfly who stays busy and focuses on life before cleaning. Spot on, Bona. Spot on.

If you go take the personality quiz, you’ll get the chance to win a vacay away from your clean or messy home. You could win a trip to Hawaii and free house cleaning for a year. (Hey Bona, PICK ME!).

What’s your cleaning personality? What tips do you have for hardwood floor cleaning? How lazy are you when it comes to cleaning? What problems have you found when putting things together?

I was not paid to say nice things about Bona, but I was given a free mop to facilitate this post. As always, my opinions are my own and completely honest. There’s no sense in lying to you guys. Oh, also, any Amazon links are affiliate links that may help me earn a few pennies to keep this site operating. Thanks for being awesome.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things My Boyfriend Noticed About My Hair and Things He May Have Missed…

Brian rarely notices things I do to my hair. When he does, it’s kind of a big deal. A few weeks ago, I mentioned trying out Living Proof PhD (Perfect hair Day) so that you could get the DL on the life-altering promises that this stuff made. (Wait, you mean I really won’t have to wash my hair as often? And it’s going to be cleaner? And more awesome?) After using this for well over a month, I can safely say that yes, it really did mean less hair washing without looking gross (Note: Previously, I could go about 2 days without washing my hair before it started looking SERIOUSLY oily and gross. That’s me. Not everyone. Just clarifying).

Living Proof

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Living Proof. I received product samples to facilitate my review and to thank me for my participation.

So I’ve been washing my hair every 3 days or so (I actually went 4 days at one point…don’t you judge me) since starting this Living Proof regimen, and I haven’t been disappointed.

Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Review

I really enjoyed the results of styling my hair after using PhD. (And I can’t take a picture without making a funny face)

In my infinite wisdom, I styled my hair for Halloween…

Disclaimer: Normal people don't do their hair like this. But it's Halloween week, y'all.

Disclaimer: Normal people don’t do their hair like this. But it’s Halloween week, y’all.

And THANKFULLY, it wasn’t completely destroyed after the mass amounts of hairspray and teasing.

Living proof review

The day after the Halloween party. Unwashed hair. Boom.

And even after washing my hair and styling it, it’s definitely not destroyed.

As I’ve been testing this product out, Brian really has noticed several things about my hair, and I, of course, responded as best as I could:

  •  “Your hair is softer. Did you do something to it?”
    • “I didn’t wash it?”
  • “Your hair smells nice.”
    • “It’s not my favorite smell, but I feel a lot better knowing that it’s just me being weird.” (Disclaimer – I hate orangy/citrusy smells for some odd reason, even though I love orange and citrus)
  • “You’ve been taking a lot of bubble baths lately.”
    • “That’s because I don’t have to shower as often. This pleases me greatly. But I should probably still be clean and wash self.”

Of course, there are things he didn’t notice, and probably wouldn’t have, which bums me out because it’s pretty awesome.

  • My hair is literally squeaky clean. When I’m washing my hair, I don’t know if I’m losing it, but I definitely hear/feel the squeaks. Because this stuff is really getting to the root of the problem. Pun intended.
  • My hair doesn’t look like a disgusting greasy mess, even though you haven’t washed it in days. Well done.
Living Proof

The products I received from Living Proof to review.

In the grand scheme of things, this slightly pricier shampoo/conditioner set seems pretty worth it for the convenience and quality factor. I was legit skeptical at first, but I’m totally a believer. I’m not as big a fan of the styling treatment (I think it’s because I needed to wash my hair slightly more often when I used that, whereas the shampoo and conditioner alone gave me a longer run time), but after watching the following video, I’m willing to give it another go for some beachy waves (is it bad that I’m ALREADY thinking about our next Florida trip?).

So you’re interested in trying this sweet stuff out? Through November 8th, you can get free shipping and a free travel size PhD 5-in-1 Styling Treatment with the purchase of $20 or more using the following Living Proof coupon code.
○ Promotional Code: NOV2014

What do you do for the perfect hair day? What is your idea of a great hair day? How do you combat bad hair days? Have you ever teased the ever-loving-everything out of your hair?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Under Pressure

I’ve always been afraid of pressure cookers. Okay, I’ve been afraid of pressure cookers since I discovered their existence when Brian and I first moved into our apartment two years ago. He had one and tried to get me to use it. I laughed it off…in fear.

A few months later around St. Patrick’s Day, I used his mom’s, under the supervision of his mom and uncle to make a bacon roast thing (basically, bacon in hunk form). I made Brian deal with the pressure release.

About a month ago, we got this fancy pants Cuisinart electric pressure cooker. I was pretty excited about it, because it seemed much less scary than a traditional pressure cooker…but not as excited as Brian. Which is weird since he doesn’t cook anything besides frozen dinners, frozen pizza, cans of soup and grill food.

Except that the pressure cooker can create all his favorite things in half the time. So he went into this venture ready to tackle a new device. Me? I was planning on throwing stuff in the pot and hoping it turned out.

So we each gave it a go.

While I was sick a few weeks back, Brian prepared a tasty meal as I watched on with amusement…and my camera.

image

He made a pork roast with parsnips, tri-colored carrots, potatoes and onions, which he seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

image

As he was cooking, he showed me how to operate the machine (you know, since he had read up on it and read through the directions and such.)  It was surprisingly easier than I expected.
1. Select mode from low pressure, high pressure, brown, saute, simmer, and keep warm.
2. Add food. And water.
3. Close and seal lid (unless you’re browning – then you can keep it open)
4. Set the timer and press start.
5. Release pressure/steam (Brian did the quick release by turning the pressure knob dealie, and I did the slow release by not doing anything.)
6. Remove lid.

That’s seriously all.

So his pork (which he cooked on high pressure for 20 minutes) turned out pretty well, though I suspect we added too much water (we used a cup of water & opened it up to find a little more than 4 cups of liquid). The flavors were nice and it cooked wicked fast. To be honest, we probably over cooked it too, out of fear of under cooking. The browning feature was awesome as we browned it right in the pot without needing another pan.

So when it was my turn to try it out, I was ready. But not really at all. We still haven’t moved into the new house, but I thought I’d cook there one night with the pressure cooker.

I stopped at Trader Joe’s to pick up the ingredients for pot roast and made sure I wouldn’t have to cut anything. I literally threw it all in the cooker (after browning the pot roast) and went on with my day. I cooked at low pressure for 30 minutes, and I think I over cooked this one. I guess I can’t fault Brian, huh? I also used less water and still ended up with about 3 cups of liquid, so there’s that.

image

Is it as easy to get right as I hoped it would be? Not really…BUT this is a girl who failed on slow cooker usage waaaay more (to the point of inedible). So, we’ll keep trying until we perect it, and once we have this system DOWN, I’ll be back with an update. Because the cook timing of this contraption is exactly what we need for home-cooked meals in our busy commuter schedules. Plus it’s WAY less scary than the other kind of pressure cooker.

Have you used a pressure cooker? Would you? Do you love roasts as much as my Irish boyfriend?

This is not a sponsored post. I was supplied with a Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker in order to review it and give my honest opinion, but I was not financially compensated.

I did use affiliate links in this post, so if you make a purchase, I might get a bitty commission.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Gettin’ Geeky With It Throughout the ‘Verse

I am a sucker for all things geeky, nerdy, and surprisy.

I flippin’ LOVE surprises. Which is why subscription boxes appeal to me. So when I found Loot Crate, I was all, “OMG! Geeky! Nerdy! Surprisy!” Yes. With that many exclamation points. And yes, I kind of hate exclamation points.

But I love Captain Mal.

Especially this version of Captain Mal

Especially this version of Captain Mal

And so when I found out the September Loot Crate was full of top secret Firefly exclusives and all things galactic, I was all in with all the chips.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Loot Crate Review

As a grown-up collector (we’ve gone over this: “hoarder” isn’t a very nice-sounding word, but “collector” totally is), I love toys and games and things. The Loot Crate is full of toys and games and things for grown ups who play like kids. So it’s kind of perfect for me.

September Galactic Loot Crate

Here’s what the September box included:

Captain Mal Funko Mystery Mini – A mini Mal just for me. Can I keep him?

Firefly currency – Can I just say how pretty Firefly money is? I love the money in my Firefly game, and I love this too.

Firefly money

Star Trek Tribble – Isn’t my cute little Tribble buddy precious? I just want to snuggle it.

Han Solo Poster – Trapped forever in carbonite ON MY WALL.

Star Wars magnet – I love magnets. Especially now that I’ve got a house with a fridge coming soon.

Pop Rocks candy – They’re going to sugar me up, too?

Funko Alien figure – If I told you I’ve never seen Alien, would you take away my geek card? (This is going in Brian’s stocking. Hopefully, he opts not to read this post. I’m going to count on the fact that he’s super busy with all the things that are work and house and not Chrissy’s little ole blog.)

Loot Crate button – I love buttons. I don’t know why… coughcollectorcough

Halo Escalation #1 Halo Comic Book Digital Redemption Voucher – Fancy code for more things! (Okay, I’m not a HALO person, but my I’m pretty sure this is something that would fall into the godsons would enjoy this camp.)

All in all, I would say that Loot Crate could very well be worth $19.37 (including S/H) depending on the month and your geeky preferences. In this box, there were some serious wins for me (Cap’t Mal and the Tribble) and a couple meh’s (Alien and Halo), but I’ve got some Christmas presents out of those, so it worked out well for me.

The October box (FEAR) sounds tempting what with an issue of The Walking Dead comic book, a mystery t-shirt and the promise of FEAR (we all know how much I love Halloween…).  So it looks like I may be adding another monthly subscription to my life, though I think I’d keep it at a per month subscription in order to make sure it’s a theme that interests me.  A lot of the past crates look awesome (Villains, Dragons, Heroes), but there are a couple that wouldn’t have interested me at all (Adventure, Transformer).

While this is not a sponsored post, I did receive a complimentary Loot Crate for honest review purposes. I was not compensated for my thoughts, and I really did want all the galactic things…and I really did get multi-exclamation excited about geeky, nerdy, surprisy goodness.  

What do you think, Blog Friends? Is this box up your alley? Would you be as excited for play money as I was? Which of these items would be highest on your yes-please list?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Say Hello to my New Best Friend

Full disclosure: no one is paying me to say nice things. I received the product free from Keurig to review.

Keurig Recall UPDATE 12/23/14: If you have a Keurig K10, please note that specific model has a recall due to overheating and potential burn injury – If you have a K10 machine, call Keurig Green Mountain Inc. of Waterbury, Vermont, at 1-844-255-7886.  

One of the most exciting things happened when I was at BlogHer last month. I was given the opportunity to join some wonderful reps from Keurig and several bloggers for a special preview of the new Keurig 2.0 with a delicious breakfast. After breakfast, I, along with the other guests, discovered that I would be receiving my very own Keurig 2.0 K550 to review and share with you lovely people.

The other day, my replacement Keurig arrived, and now I’m totally ready to show you what it’s all about.

Keurig 2.0 Review Keurig 2.0 Review

The new Keurig has a lot of fantastic features, the most important of which is the ability to brew 4 cups of coffee. I received the Keurig 2.0 550 which comes with the machine, a filter and filter cartridge, a coffee carafe and samples of coffee to use with the machine. Obviously, as soon as it was set up, I knew I needed to try it out.

In the simplest form: I really love it. It puts my old Keurig to shame with its sleek design and touch screen. The modes and functions are all more advanced than my Platinum Brewer. The fact that I can have a stronger cup or a full pot to share (or not share) makes me immeasurably happy. Amazing small kitchen appliances make my day. The new Keurig 2.0 is no different.

Keurig 2.0 in actionI do have a few concerns, like what to do with the 50 billion old K-cups I have sitting around my kitchen, since I can’t use them in the new Keurig. (My solution is to obviously keep both machines – and potentially put one on my desk at work.) There’s also a funny noise that I’ve noticed when it’s operating, so it’s a bit louder than my old machine.

Look! I made it easy for you. With bullet points!

Reasons to upgrade to a new Keurig 2.0

  • The brewer can make a single cup and a carafe with the push of a button
  • Quality control with the new Keurig 2.0 Brewing Technology that only brews Keurig-approved K-cups
  • Brews a stronger cup and saves your preferred coffee strength preferences
  • 80 oz water reservoir
  • Customizable brewers with changeable water reservoir illumination colors, night light colors (exclusive to the K550), and coming-soon skins for the Keurig 2.0
  • Hot water on demand (exclusive to the K550). This model brews up to 6 oz of hot water at a time (I use this to make tea and LOVE it)
  • Fancier space-age design with touch screen functions

Reasons you may want to hang on to your original Keurig

  • Because of the quality-control feature, your vast collection of old Keurig-approved and knock-off K-cups will not work in the Keurig 2.0 (of course I tried – wasted one of my favorite Brew Over Ice K-cups too!)

Can't use old K-cups in new Keurig 2.0All in all? This Keurig is fantastic. So if you’re in the market for an upgrade (or you’re not and you think this newbie is the bee’s knees), go forth and invest in one top notch piece of kitchen machinery.

What do you think? Are you as excited about the Keurig 2.0 as I am? Will you be upgrading to the new Keurig?

UPDATE (09/03/14): If you decide that the Keurig 2.0 is for you, the lovely people over at Keurig Customer Support are available to help you swap out your stockpiled old K-cups with new ones that will work in your new brewer!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Product Review & Giveaway: Hank Player Campus Store T-Shirts and More

Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon…

What’s up guys! I’m back with another sweet ass product review and GIVEAWAY for you to check out. I got in contact with the fine people at Hank Player USA after checking out their awesome sauce t-shirts. They sent me a surprise t-shirt, which was fun because seriously, guys…who doesn’t LOVE surprises?!

Hank Player Logo

I received the softest, most comfortable tee I’ve ever worn in my entire life. No joke. AND it’s super stretchy. And it’s ridiculously cute. Would I have bought this design on my own accord? Probably not. Would I wear the shit out of it anyways? Hell yes. In fact, it was the perfect tee to wear for wheelie sneaks practice. My mom totally loved it too, and she’s one tough cookie to crack. Sometimes.

Cute tee from Hank Player

I made Brian take the picture from the top because it makes me look skinnier.

So let me tell you about Hank Player.

Everything is made in the US of A. They support numerous charities, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign. The shirts have been featured on The Big Bang Theory for all you nerds out there. They are the officially licensed retailer of NASA, Smokey Bear (Only YOU can prevent forest fires) and Woodsy Owl (Give a Hoot; Don’t Pollute!) merchandise so you can rock out in some fabulous retro gear.

Of course, they have stuff for everyone in the family, so get something for your squishy nephew or your favorite tiny human, while you’re shopping for yourself, your pals and anyone else who loves a cool tee-shirt. Seriously guys. This site rocks.

If I had gotten to choose which tee I got, I would have picked this one:

Surrender Dorothy Hank Player

In addition to t-shirts, you can find hats, bags and more to indulge your inner accessory lover. So go check them out!

And it wouldn’t be a solid review without a sweet ass giveaway to boot! One lucky winner will receive TWO surprise t-shirts from Hank Player in the size of your choice. Lots of ways to enter, so you can earn MANY entries to this bangin’ giveaway.

 

Good luck guys! If you had to choose a tee, which one is your favorite?!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Tastefully Simple Recipe Ideas – Dips and Desserts!

Good morning, Blog Friends!

Tastefully Simple Products

I spent a brief period selling Tastefully Simple products (and was terrible at it, mostly because I only wanted the discount and didn’t really focus on the selling part), so I’m quite familiar with them. And they rock.

The perks of Tastefully Simple

  • Tastefully Simple products are great for people who love good food and don’t have a lot of time to spend cooking. All of the products can be easily made using 1-2 ingredients within an hour.
  • The possibilities are endless. I’ve included some of the recipes that I created with TS products on my own, but the website also offers a HUGE recipe bank of ideas.
  • They offer standard and seasonal products, so the product list is always changing, but they always offer fan favorites.
  • The products will ship to your door quickly and easily by purchasing items through their online shop.

Here are 3 recipes of my own creation that I absolutely LOVE:

Light Spinach and Bacon Dip

Bacon Bacon

  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2 Tbs Tastefully Simple Bacon Bacon™
  • 1 Tbs Tastefully Simple Spinach & Herb Dip Mix

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with raw veggies, pretzels, or reduced guilt potato chips (I like Trader Joe’s the best). Brian and I may or may not have consumed an entire bag of chips and the whole damn dip during one weekend Dr. Who marathon…

Absolutely Almond Pound Cake™ French Toast with Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup

Absolutely Almond Pound Cake

This is NOT a light recipe. But it’s certainly a delicious one.

Pound Cake recipe:

  • 1 box Tastefully Simple Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix™
  • 3/4 cup butter (I use whipped butter)
  • 1 cup water

Mix ingredients, pour into a greased loaf pan, and bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

French toast  and syrup recipe:

  • 4 slices of Tastefully Simple Absolutely Almond Pound Cake™
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs Tastefully Simple Rhubarb Strawberry Fruit Spread

Combine egg and milk-stir well. Coat each slice of pound cake lightly in the egg mixture. Heat a greased pan to medium heat, and place the coated slices in the pan. Cook each side until golden brown. Combine maple syrup and fruit spread, stirring well. (Optional: warm syrup in the microwave). Serve.

Key Lime Coconut Yogurt Fruit Dip

Tastefully Simple Key Lime Cheese Ball

  • 1 box Tastefully Simple Key Lime Cheese Ball Mix
  • 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs Tropical Coconut Balsamic de Modena (or any coconut flavored white balsamic vinegar)
  • Tropical fruit (I used mango, papaya, and pineapple) cut in cubes

Combine the first 3 ingredients (discard the graham cracker crumbs from the cheese ball mix or save for another recipe). Serve chilled with tropical fruit.

 

What do you think? Have you ever used Tastefully Simple products? Did you create any of your own recipes? Tell me in the comments below.

*I was not compensated for the nice things that I have said about Tastefully Simple, nor was I contacted by anyone affiliated with the company to write this post. I just enjoy the products and decided to share them with you.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The Crimson Thread or How Rumpelstiltskin Became the Good Guy

Project Fairy Tale

As a part of Project Fairytale, hosted by The Cheap Reader, I’m supposed to do some book reviews of Rumpelstiltskin re-tellings. I picked up this young adult novel for my Nook. The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn. In a premature excitement, I may or may not have collected several of the tales from this “Once Upon a Time” series. Not to be confused by the ABC TV show of the same name.

The Crimson Thread

Maybe I got a little ahead of myself, because I was not inspired to read the rest of the books in the series. It’s not that it was a bad novel. It just wasn’t delicious enough to warrant another serving.

The Crimson Thread takes us back to 1880, where an Irish princess is introduced to us by some royal fairies or something. It wasn’t very clear. But apparently she always thought she was a princess, and it turns out that she was, but it never really did anything for her. It was a side plot that didn’t add, rather detracted from the tale.

Back to the Irish princess, Bridget, who upon coming to America changes her name to Bertie Miller (Bertrille Miller, from Wales, like the fire red hair and Irish accent wouldn’t give her away…) She is helped by Ray Stalls, who turns out to be Rudy Stilchen from Germany or something-it’s never really clarified. He used gold packing material and this stunning thread to embroider dresses and help her get the young millionaire’s son. Of course, he does it because he loves her and not because he ACTUALLY wants her first born child.

********************************SPOILER ALERT*********************************

Eventually the millionaire’s son turns out to be a douche, leaves her stranded and broke…then Ray shows up somehow and “kidnaps” her little sister while she passes out from starvation. But he was only trying to help. They fall in love and live happily ever after, running a clothing business with their business partner with the last name Rumpole. Get it? Rumpole Stilchen. Ugh.

******************************** END SPOILER **********************************

So it had an okay plot, but with so many holes and weird transitions, I found myself mostly annoyed. I get that it was written for young adults. The language was too trite. While Weyn has an excellent vocabulary, or uses a whole lot of shift+F7, the conversational tone of the book was far too formal, and I didn’t find myself relating to the characters at all.

Additionally, it seemed that the historical fiction aspect of this novel was way the F off. It’s like she just threw a bunch of ideas out there and didn’t really think about the details fitting in. Katie at Words for Worms recently spoke about accuracy in the research before publishing, and it really feels like Ms. Weyn left that part out. It didn’t feel real.

So I’m off to attempt another re-telling and hopefully the next gets me a little more hyped, because so far, I’m a little disappointed. But it only makes me want to write more fairy tales.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Product Review: PAIRSinPEARS

Yes, it is Monday, and for today’s Memory to Make You Laugh, you can head over to my WordPress blog to read about back pain. But here at Quirky Chrissy, I’ve got an exciting post lined up.

As many of you may remember, I was invited to attend a really spectacular event in Chicago, last month: The Chicago Toy & Game Fair.

At this event, I was invited to meet with game inventors, visit booths, and learn about new and popular games. I was also given a variety of free products to try out, and write about for you, my loyal readers!

One of the games that  I was very excited to play was Pairs in Pears, by the creators of Bananagrams.

If you haven’t heard of Bananagrams, shame on you! It’s the perfect game for word ninjas or word ninjas in training. I first played it when I was student teaching. We used it in the resource room on Fridays. The students loved the break from homework or silent reading, and I loved playing with words. It worked out really well. But this review is about Pairs in Pears, so I will leave Bananagrams for another day.

PAIRSinPEARS® (Suggested Retail Price: $14.95- Ages 3+)

PAIRSinPEARS or PAIRS in PEARS

What an excellent game. Much like its counterpart, Bananagrams, PAIRSinPEARS is a word ninja game. With several play options, this game is absolutely perfect for a variety of ages. The letter tiles are larger than those found in Bananagrams, which makes it easier for younger (and older) eyes.

As some of you may know, I spent the last two summers teaching reading comprehension, a position that I am incredible proud of and humbled by. I worked for a truly amazing company that not only worked with students who were sometimes considered “unteachable,” but we were able to teach them to read, spell, and write. My 5-year-old niece, The Princess, and my 7-year-old godson, Little A (or A, for short), both have some difficulty with the process of reading/writing. Now, they’re relatively young, but with my knowledge of literacy, I know that it’s important to boost their reading skills younger rather than waiting. PAIRSinPEARS is the perfect game to help Auntie Chrissy.

Kids don’t want to feel like learning is a chore. Especially when they’re hanging out with their favorite aunt. A loves games. Loves them. Like me, he developed the love early on, and it was evident that most of the grown ups in his life were not down with playing games. As I once spent many a Life games playing with my dog, I feel that it’s my duty to play with A and teach him about the joys of gaming. So a few weeks ago, I brought PAIRSinPEARS out to play with him.

The beauty of Pairs in Pears is the versatility. There are 8 different formal activities documented in the game rules, and 2 different competitive games (with varying degrees of difficulty for varying ages/reading levels).

A and I played the basic competitive version with my cousin, Rachel (A’s mom). I would be lying if I said we played fair…We definitely let A win, because with him it’s a learning game, and we want him to know he’s doing well (and we want him to have fun…and winning is definitely fun). The basic play for this game involves dividing up the letters equally among players, and racing to see who can build cross words faster. Here were A’s favorite words to use. Cute right?

PAIRSinPEARS Toy Joy

A required a little help, and it took him a while to get the basic idea of the game, but once he was in a groove, he was all over the place. he loved rhyming words because it was easier for him to find the same letters, so we let him play that way for a while…Then we upped the ante, by telling him that all of the letters had to be different. In addition to building his spelling skills, we were working on his vocabulary, too! By the end of the day, A was begging to come back and play more games with us.

PAIRS in PEARS Review

Definitely related to me…

A few days later, I had The Princess over. We were talking about school (she’s in Kindergarten) and she told me it was really hard for her. She said that she could read the letters, but had trouble spelling the words. Of course, I broke out Pairs in Pears to play-after I told her my secret: “Auntie Chrissy is really really good with words. She knows how to teach spelling and reading, so that you can be the smartest girl ever. Do you want me to help you?”

Her eyes got really big and wide before she said yes. (What can I say? I’ve got a magical way with the kiddos.) So we started playing some of the basic skill building activities that are discussed in the PAIRSinPEARS instruction booklet. We played Letter Hunt (in which I tell her what to look for, she finds it and uses it for whatever purpose. She found her name and spelled that. She found the vowels. She found a few other short words that she knew.) It was fun for her. And she was showing me what she knew.

Then we played Sound it Out, where I showed her letters and she sounded them out, telling me words that started with the same letter. She loved that game too. After a little while, she did get tired of letters…I could tell because she looked at me and said, “Auntie Chrissy…I think we should let my brother play with the letters.” He’s 2. You see where this is going. But it’s understandable. Her brain was working super hard! I used to have a student who would like at me with an adorable little lisp and say, “Yoooouuuuu make me so tiiiiiiiwed. Yoooouuuuu make my bwain huwt.”

All in all, PAIRSinPEARS is an AWESOME game. Both The Princess and Little A will be returning to our place to play the fun word game that they just learned. Their parents are thrilled, because it’s helping them learn, and they just think they’re playing games! I’m not sure that I would recommend this for a 3-year-old, but my 5 and 7 y/o niece and nephew think it’s a great game. As an educator, an auntie, and a gamer, I think so too.

You can buy a copy of PAIRSinPEARS for yourself at Barnes & Noble or Target (in stores and online!) With a low price of $14.95, this would make an awesome stocking stuffer for any kid or kid at heart!

**The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. The fine people at Bananagrams DID give me a free copy of PAIRSinPEARS to sample and review. They DID NOT compensate me for my opinion in any way, shape, or form.

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