Category Archives: Product Reviews

A Winter Break: Castaway Bay

We received an overnight stay and waterpark passes to Castaway Bay in exchange for sharing the post below with our readers. All opinions are 100% our own. Read all the way to the bottom to hear how you can enter to win your own #CastawayBayGetaway!

Pittsburgh, we’ve had enough of the snow and cold this year, haven’t we? I know spring is really right around the corner, but I am anxious for everything it brings with it. To help combat the season, we loaded the family up in the van and hit the road for a quick (three-hour) road trip to Sandusky, Ohio for an overnight stay at Castaway Bay. keep reading

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Run! Deal on FitBit Versa Smart Watch – only $89.99!

Act FAST! My favorite sports/smartwatch, the FitBit Versa, is only $89.99 on Amazon today. You can get the FitBit Versa watch in black or peach and YES it is available with Prime’s free shipping (though note that the scheduled delivery date is between January 15 – February 7.) Shipping time aside, this is a GREAT price, normally they are $200. keep reading

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Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!

Disclaimer: I was provided services/products from Hen in a Hurry as a partnership through US Family Guide. All opinions are 100% my own.

Yinz guys. I have been holding out on you. Two days before I ran my 10-Miler, the most amazing smelling box was delivered to my front door. It was a complete game changer for my dinner game – Hen in a Hurry. This meal subscription service was my first ever experience and it has opened my eyes to the possibilities when it comes to putting good, clean food on the dinner table in a hurry. I am so sorry I haven’t been around to share this with you sooner!!!

Hen in a Hurry: Dinner Game-Changer!

This box of amazingness arrived with dry ice surrounding four frozen meals and matching sides (that I got to pick out). I drooled over all of them and neglected to read the fine print – I could have kept some of them frozen until we were ready to enjoy! Into the fridge went all the packages to thaw to have for our dinners.

Why did this matter? The meals should be consumed between 3-5 days once thawed. That meant we actually had to cook two meals a night and then have leftovers. They were still good, but to get the true experience I shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to enjoy! 

Truth, I love to cook and experiment and make delicious, healthy foods for my family. But truth? I hate spending all evening in the kitchen making dinner. With Hen in a Hurry, I just had to put the thawed meals into a glass casserole dish and cook for 45 minutes. During that time, I was able to spend time with the kids (catching up on Caliou is a big deal around here, you know) and check on that ever-growing pile of school papers. Joking aside, this was truly a blessing for this mom of four.

But even better? I did not spend time cooking 5 different meals. Nope. I cooked one. And we all enjoyed the meals together. No one asked for a PB&J sandwich. No one cried. The only issue was that everyone wanted seconds and the Hen in a Hurry meals were made for a family of four. (So when I said we had to cook two meals at once, it actually turned into a blessing.)

Hen in a Hurry: What We Tasted

Our meal choices were spot on to things we liked. I’m noting which ones were gluten-free (gf) because they are the ones we’d repeat. I’ve been bad and have been eating gluten, meaning my tongue has been itchy for weeks and my stomach is a mess. Here’s what a tried and what we thought:

Fresh Garlic and Turkey Meatloaf with Loaded Cauliflower Mash (gf): This was our least favorite entree of the four but it was still amazing. Day two re-heated and with a tiny bit of ketchup (is that just a ‘Burgh thing?) and it was the perfect meatloaf. The Loaded Cauliflower Mash was the most filling side of the four we selected and tricked everyone into thinking they were eating mashed potatoes. Score.

Cheddar and Chicken Enchiladas and Fire Roasted Vegetables ( keep reading

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Sports Armband for the On-the-Go Parent


We received the product discussed below (the Newppon Sports Armband) for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are our own.

As Greg and I prepare to run the next big race (just about four weeks to go until the Myrtle Beach Mini), we are shaking out what nutrition, clothes, and gear will look like. Particularly the gear – we really need a good way to hold the phone to keep our pace in check. Off we went to find a good sports armband to fit the bill.

Sports Armband for the On-the-Go Parent

Greg has been trying out a sports armband that we found on Amazon. It fits his Samsung Galaxy S9 and has a cool way to hook his headphones into it (eliminating the loose cord). The only downside of it is that is has a bit of a cloudy look in the screen area which we couldn’t tell from the description online. The image below was taken in the dark to try to show the cloudy look, even with the brightness on his phone all the way up. 

This armband will also work for activities that make Greg an on-the-go dad…biking, trips to the pond, mowing the lawn, or pacing during soccer games. It has a space to hold a key and cash/credit cards if needed, too.

What is your go-to way to carry your phone when being active?

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I Tried Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening Trays – This is What Happened

This post is a collaboration with Smile Brilliant through US Family Guide. I received teeth whitening trays in exchange for my blog post review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Ever since I introduced coffee and nicotine into my life, my teeth lost the brilliant whiteness they had as a kid. For the past 17 years, I’ve given many different teeth whitening procedures a try – strips, pastes, trays, and LED lights. I’ve asked my dentist for life and gotten a second opinion, but no amazing results. When US Family Guide asked me to give Smile Brilliant teeth whitening trays a try, I figured it was worth another try.

Why Smile Brilliant?

The reason I decided to give these teeth whitening trays a try is because while I’ve been a non-smoker for nine years, I refuse to kick coffee to the curb and there are some tough to whiten spots on my teeth. They don’t have the pearly-whiteness they did as a kid. Here’s what they looked like on the day I said yes to the trays:

There’s some white, but just not enough that I feel like my smile shines like it should. When I looked at the pros and cons of Smile Brilliant’s solution, I admit that I was a bit skeptical. I’d tried trays with a dentist before, but I didn’t put the time and effort into them because the gel just turned my stomach – it would always drip. But I was reminded that custom-fitted whitening trays are the #1 dentist recommended teeth whitening method, so thought it was worth giving it a try.

Here’s what else Smile Brilliant had to say that help put me at ease:

  • They offer two types of systems – non-sensitive and sensitive – and then three levels of each – light, average, and heavy stains.
  • Teeth are like sponges, so they absorb anything you put in your mouth. (This could be good – in the case of teeth whitening gel – or bad – like coffee, berries, and smoking.)
  • Whitening trays that have been custom-fitted ensure every angle of your tooth is covered – this means if you don’t have perfectly straight teeth, you still get even coverage.
  • Sensitivity after teeth whitening is normal. The system includes a post-whitening fluoride treatment to help get rehydration going faster.
  • There is a 45-day money back guarantee with Smile Brilliant if your experience doesn’t work.

So, I decided to send in my before photo (above) and give it a try.

Step 1: Custom Fitting Right at Home

The first step in my teeth whitening process was to open a box that was sent to my front door and create my custom trays. This involved taking a mold of my teeth (top and bottom) and then mailing those molds back to Smile Brilliant.

Admittedly, I was super glad they gave me three sets of the Base and Catalyst paste because I took too much time taking photos for this post and let one of my molds dry before I got it in my mouth. (If you decide to give these a try, note that you can send in a picture of your molds and confirm they are good or purchase extra mold kits – though your set would also come with three – if there are any issues.)

The base and catalyst get mixed together…

…and then you put it in the blue tray and bite into it. This is a one at a time process because this material dries quick!

Once they’ve set, you let them dry and send them off to Smile Brilliant and wait for your custom-fitted whitening trays to return! It took less than 10 days for my package to get to them then back to me, but I let life get in the way and didn’t start trying the system until mid-June.

Step 2: Teeth Whitening Right at Home keep reading

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Dr Jacobs Naturals

This blog post about Dr Jacobs Naturals is a collaboration between ‘lil Burghers and US Family Guide. I received product in exchange for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

As a #fitmomintheremaking, I find myself leaning toward making healthy choices that extend beyond the family’s membership at the local YMCA and what is in our kitchen and pantry. We’ve been using Dr Jacobs Naturals Castile soaps in our house this summer and it’s time that I tell you about them so you can decide if these are for you, too!

Dr Jacobs Naturals

I first heard about Dr Jacobs Naturals Castile soaps through US Family Guide. What caught my attention was that they are “free from all the nasties: NON-GMO, Paraben Free, Sulfate Free, Gluten Free, Free of artificial dyes & coloring. PETA Cruelty-Free & Vegan”.

Trust me. These weren’t things I cared about back in the day when I was pregnant with Arianna and eating ramen on my kitchen floor. Back then, I didn’t have the money to spend on “the good stuff” (clearly) but I also didn’t have the resources to tell me that the soaps I was buying at a certain store’s semi-annual sale since I was a teenager might not have been the best choices. (Okay, before I get too judgemental of my “old self”, I’ll admit that I still shop that sale because I just can’t give it up 100%.) But now that I know better, I’m trying to make our family about 60/40 on the crunchy scale. I try.

Because I didn’t know what all of that meant, I went to the Dr Jacobs Naturals FAQ page and learned that:

Dr. Jacobs Naturals is 100% natural. Our product is free of synthetic fragrances and preservatives. Our soap is pure Castile and is gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin. As an all-natural soap, made from olive oil, Dr. Jacobs Naturals will leave skin smooth and silky by forming a protective barrier. This barrier will help skin hold in moisture. Olive oil soap is the perfect addition to a regular skin care routine. As well, for customers who care for the environment, our soap is environmentally friendly. We are completely biodegradable, free of harsh chemicals that pollute our groundwater. We also use recyclable containers and we do not use palm oil. Dr. Jacobs Naturals castile liquid soap does NOT have any artificial ingredients, colors, parabens, phthalate, propylene glycol, lauryl/laureth sulfates, and triclosan.

Source: drjacobsnaturals.com keep reading

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Nitro Circus: Coming to Pittsburgh June 21-22

My family and I received tickets to Nitro Circus in exchange for sharing this information and giveaway. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Something exciting is coming our to city next week (June 21 and 22 to be exact) – Nitro Circus and the all-new Next Level Tour! Our Bigs have no idea what they’re in for next week when we go – but because they are very familiar with Nitro Circus, I think they will be quite happy with this surprise.

Nitro Circus: Next Level Tour

If you’re not familiar with Nitro Circus, they are the world’s biggest action sports entertainment brand. They’re known for incredible stunts and pushing the limits. Co-founder Travis Pastrana has been quoted: “Be careful what you ask for, because Nitro Circus will give you the opportunity to do it.”

Basically, this traveling team of daredevils delivers live audiences boundary-breaking feats in FMX, BMX, skating, scooters, and much more.

The Next Level Tour is bringing their feats and stunts to stadiums across the United States this summer with a stop next week in Pittsburgh (Highmark Stadium) for two nights.  Austrailian audiences have already had a glimpse at the fun:

Nitro Circus’ moto athletes proved they are all in by sending huge, gravity-defying tricks that definitely took the sport to new heights. USA’s Gregg Duffy, the first person ever to land a double front flip on a motorbike, stomped two incredible front flip variations for the GIO Stadium fans. The Canberra crowd also went wild for hometown favorite Harry Bink after he landed an FMX double backflip. For this very dangerous trick, one attempted by only a handful of riders, Bink shot more than 60-feet into the air to get the clearance needed to complete the two full rotations around before touching down on the lander. keep reading

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Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest

My family and I were invited to visit Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest for a weekend in exchange for our honest opinions. All opinions are 100% our own. 

Ah, sweet summertime in Pittsburgh! For me, summers used to include camping in a tent at local campgrounds. Camping holds a special place in my heart (bugs and all) and I am so happy that my family is enjoying continuing the tradition. Truth be told, our stay at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ at Kozy Rest was more “glamping”, but it still got the ‘ol camping bug moving in us. 

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: Our Stay

Tucked about an hour north of Pittsburgh (straight up Route 8 through Butler) is an adorable and peaceful campground, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest. This campground is award-winning and family-centered and from the moment we drove on the property (in the middle of a storm), we could see why. Check-in started with a greeter, then a speedy key pick-up and an escort down to our cabin. Our guide showed us everything we’d need to know about the amenities of the cabin (like air conditioning) then left us to discover what we might like to do next from the list of activities.

With all those activities, I’ll tell you what we didn’t do – we didn’t check out the WiFi until I was cleaning up the last bits on Sunday morning. The WiFi works, but you’re not going to need it with all of those things to keep you busy – I promise. 

We didn’t arrive in time to check out the Friday night movie, so we decided to settle in and get a “early” bedtime so we could be up and ready to check out the Jump Zone and bikes. Initially, we thought that we’d put the kids in the bedroom (with a single bunk over a double bed and space on the floor for an air mattress), but when we realized how short the loft space was, opted for that to be Ari and Evan’s space.

That might have been our first mistake – they woke up in the 6 AM hour and had us all (and probably everyone else around) awake too. The sun was up, they were too! As you can see, a nap did happen on Saturday afternoon between activities, phew!

Throughout the weekend, we took full advantage of all the free activities listed on that brochure and we basically in “divide and conquer” mode – Greg with the Bigs at things like Gaga Ball (which was new to us, but not the Bigs), the Frog Pond, and bike riding. I took the Twins to dance with “the bears”, check out cartoons, ride the train and fire truck. It was quite the busy time, but we still fit in a swim and lots of time on the bikes.

This video is just the start of all the fun we had! Check out more photos here

Bottom line, we loved it and would really like to get back again this summer. While the cabins are fun and affordable considering all you get, we’d probably tent camp for “the real deal” experience (plus, the shower rooms have A/C!). Greg and I were “good exhausted” by the end of the trip. If there would be any downsides, six people in a “tiny house” is not always the most fun thing (Mama might have lost her mind a few times) and Ava didn’t drink enough water on Saturday and ended up dehydrated. Good reminders to fill those tanks!

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: The Details

Campers can camp from April to October and enjoy themed weekends (our’s was Kids’ Carnival – check out this video to see some of the fun the whole camp had!) or bump into Yogi Bear™ and Boo Boo™. Camp options include tents, RV’s, yurts, and full-service luxury cabins (like we enjoyed). Sites include electric service, fire rings, and picnic tables. Pets are welcomed on some sites, too!

Amenities at Kozy Rest include laundry, swimming pool, pavilions, church services, and free WiFi. Activities vary based on the themed weekends, but there is a gem mining sluice, bikes to rent (included), Gaga Ball, shuffleboard, a playground, a jump zone, and more. There really is something for everyone to enjoy!

While I loved the paper activities sheet, I also downloaded their app which would alert me 15-minutes before an event was to start. This was super convenient!

One thing we didn’t do was to have Yogi Bear and Boo Boo come for bedtime stories. Personally, I think that would have capped off the second night nicely, but 1) our kids go to bed a little earlier than this (extra) service is offered and 2) until this weekend, Isla had never really wanted anything to do with characters. Next time!

LOVE IT? If you’re ready to get a reservation on your calendar, head over to the Kozy Rest website (pittsburghjellystone.com) and see what option works best for your family.

Hopefully, you can see that camping is a great way to have family fun and make timeless memories. When you make a reservation at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest, all you have to do is make a quick road-trip knowing the rest is waiting for you. 

Connect with Kozy Rest on Facebook and YouTube to see more of the fun that’s in store!

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: A GIVEAWAY! keep reading

Posted in Camping, Giveaways, Pittsburgh Fun, Travel | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

How to Survive the Man Cold

This post is sponsored by Clorox®, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Recently, my husband came down with what I lovingly call the Man Cold and what he calls allergy season. No matter how careful I might have been to keep myself and the ‘lil Burghers away from the germs, I still needed to clean over and over just in case it was something we could catch. That’s when I learned about the NEW Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes with Ultra Strength Blue Fibers and got to cleaning everything in sight.

Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes with Ultra Strength Blue Fibers

Life had some messy moments when Greg was sick – and not just from his germs. I had to get a little lax on the rules for the kids while I tried to balance it all. That meant dogs playing outside in the mud longer (bringing in footprints to our tile floors), Twins brushing their teeth with The Bigs’ supervision (leaving toothpaste caked all over the sink), and Arianna handling some of the meal prep (leaving ketchup and ranch on the countertop).

Thankfully, I was able to sneak up to Walmart and find Clorox Disinfecting Wipes with Ultra Strength Blue Fibers to help handle the messes and kill the germs. They’re right in the cleaning aisle at Walmart with the other cleaning products, but I opted for these disinfecting wipes because they:

• Are strong – the Ultra Strength Blue Fibers allow you to use both sides of the wipe for the super messy moments and they get through caked on messes (like the Twins’ toothpaste).

• Clean and disinfect – they don’t just move the bacteria from the left side of the sink to the right, they kill the germs on contact.

• Dry clear – you can use them on multiple surfaces (including washing sneezes off mirrors or scrubbing fingerprints off the glass patio table) because they don’t leave streaks behind. The secret is in their clear-drying formula.

• Kills 99.9% of germs* – this includes the germs that cause the cold and flu!

So, how did they work?

While cleaning isn’t usually my top priority, it definitely was while Greg was down for the count. I used the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes with Ultra Strength Blue Fibers and was amazed at how fast they cut through the grime I’d let build up (oops). And every time he’d go use the bathroom, in I’d go after and wipe all the surfaces down! It smelled fresh, clean, and germ free!

I even decided to tackle our bathtub – and while that’s a sight for sore eyes on the good days, it looks pretty good now, too.

We’ll Keep Using Them

Now that Greg is feeling a little better, we’re going to keep using them.

Bonus? Now that we’re getting some warmer weather, we can have some good spring fun and get working on our yard and pond, maybe even have a bbq or two. There will be no need to worry about tracking in mud or smearing ketchup where mom thinks it shouldn’t be found – Mom will just grab a Clorox wipe and clean up after the messy moment.

If you’re ready to give them a try, you can buy New Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes with Ultra Strength Blue Fibers at Walmart.

*Use as directed.

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Timolino: Contemporary Lifestyle Drinkware

I was sent a Timolino Tazza mug in exchange for my honest opinions.

It’s a cool, rainy evening here and I’ve had my share of coffee and even tea to get me through the day. Usually as a mom of four I find my hot drinks a bit lukewarm. That’s not the case when I’m drinking from my Timolino Tazza mug as it is designed to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold! This tumbler comes from Timolino’s line of contemporary lifestyle drinkware and lived up to its reputation when I drank from it.

Timolino’s Tazza Mug

What stood out to me about the Tazza from Timolino’s line of tumblers is that they are lightweight, leakproof, and have an ergonomic design for easy carrying. When I first read that about them, I was a little skeptical…but then I accidentally filled my hands a little too full one morning and slipped my mug in my (white) tote bag and had no issues with leaked coffee. Boom!

Here’s what else Timolino shared with me about Tazza, the mug I tried out:

Tazza is available in four festive color ways: candy pink, red, wasabi, and stainless steel. Each color way is made of stainless steel, inside and out, ensuring your mug never absorbs any colors or flavors. Designed with a vacuum insulation, Tazza keeps your drink hot (or cold) for hours, allowing you to enjoy your beverage at your leisure.  Should you choose to brew on the go, a removable food-grade silicone strainer basket filters your drink, ensuring a smooth sip every time. Simply drop your tea leaves or fresh coffee grounds inside the basket and pour hot water overtop to begin steeping. Within seconds you’ll have a delicious, hot beverage waiting to be enjoyed. Once you’re finished, the cap disassembles and the strainer basket can be removed for quick and easy clean up.

I’m not a tea drinker, so I haven’t tried steeping tea in the strainer basket, but I think it would be a great place to drop some fruit in with your water, too!

To get the mug ready for my hot coffee, I followed the instructions to put hot water in the mug and let it get to a warm temperature. When the mug had warmed (about 5 minutes), dump the water and add coffee. Truth be told, I don’t have time for this (or the opposite, filling with ice water before adding a cold beverage), so I was a bit disappointed to think that I needed to follow this routine every time I wanted the perfect temperature drink. Turns out, it is worth the time but not 100% necessary. The days I just added my hot coffee straight to the mug then got in the car were still days that I was enjoying a hot coffee 30-40 minutes into my commute.

Pro Tip: These mugs would make any mom happy this mother’s day. You can get one just like mine on Amazon. Pair one up with mom’s favorite hot beverage like k-cups or tea bags…or a gift card to her favorite coffee shop.

Timolino: Contemporary Lifestyle Drinkware

Timolino offers a few other options of drinkware including:

The NEW Omni Collection – designed to do it all. From hot to cold, coffee to tea, flat water to sparkling soda, Timolino has the bottle to fit your everyday hydration need! Check out their Cruiseline Series ($19.99) for upcoming summer vacation! The entire Omni Collection includes an infuser basket which is perfect for brewing tea on the go! keep reading

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