Monday, August 10, 2009

Portrait of the Artists Eating Healthy Snacks

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Lance Snacks.

If we had to select only one snack choice our family could all agree upon it would definitely be Lance Sandwich Crackers. At any given time you'd be surprised where you might find a package of these yummy treats! In Jessie's lunch box, in Joan's desk, in my tackle box, in our camper, in Jessie's locker, and in my painting supplies stashed behind my booth at art shows. When we were asked to review some of Lance's new products we chomped at the opportunity.

Our family are huge Lance snack fans and have been for many years. Packages of cheese or peanut butter flavored crackers can not only be found in the previous mentioned locations but also in our camper, my tackle box, our tool box, Jessie's school locker, her bicycle saddle bag, our vans' glove boxes, and even in my art supply cart! When the hunger pangs strike you can bet the first thing we're searching the cupboard for is a pack of Lance crackers.

When our box of goodies arrived I was actually out-of-town but the girls just couldn't wait. They evidently had a great time munching on Lance's newest whole grain flavors and calorie sensitive sizes of long-time favorites! Both products contain zero grams of trans fat and no preservatives which will be popular with health conscience parents packing school lunches this fall.

Joan loves the 100 Calorie packets. She's been sharing them with co-workers and it's been a huge hit at her office! All three varieties are some of Lance's most popular flavors: ToastChee Peanut Butter, Toasty Peanut Butter, and NipChee Cheddar Cheese (my personal favorite). The bite-sized sandwich crackers keep the stomach growls away in those long hours between lunch and dinner.

Jessie is definitely the pickiest eater in the house. In the past she's limited her choices to Captain's Wafers, Peanut Butter on Nekot, or Honey Peanut Butter on Captain's Wafers. Of course we've sometimes wondered that our child might've been switched at birth given her disdain of anything cheese flavored, something she didn't inherit from her dad and mom! And the old wheat crackers? No chance she'd be biting into any those even if Lance coated them in chocolate.

Now that Lance has replaced its wheat crackers with whole grain Jessie's culinary horizon has broadened! Not only has she scarfed down a whole slew of the peanut butter crackers but she's even tried the Cheddar Cheese...and likes them! She's not quite gotten brave enough to try the Sharp Cheddar Cheese on Whole Grain Crackers but that at least left me my personal favorite to enjoy.

So as you are considering the options for packing school lunches this fall or even that end-of-the-summer picnic or trip to the beach, we highly recommend Lance's newest sandwich cracker flavors: Real Peanut Butter, Real Cheddar Cheese, and Real Sharp Cheddar Cheese on Whole Grain Crackers. And if you are looking for a calorie conscience snack reach for Lance's newest product: 100 Calorie Pouches of their most popular flavors.

Check out the rest of the BlogHer Reviews.

Learn more at Lance's official site.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I apologize for the weird sound delay once again. Me and Ben wanted to make this huge announcement via our HP Media gear but evidently I am still inept at this computer recording & uploading stuff. If anyone has suggestions then please let us know! We record then upload to YouTube and then this momentary delay occurs. Any ideas will be appreciated!

In the mean time, those at the BlogHer Conference 2009 will definitely miss out on the guys who could be the best entertainment available! Although my man Ben is a huge flirt, he's a gentleman at heart. Just between you and me he's definitely the best dancer. Also he's the only one I know who can actually get away with one of those "banana hammocks." Me? I prefer something a bit more clown pants?

Grand Prize Winner of the Capri Sun Sunrise Contest

Goes to Jan McDonough of Queen Creek, Arizona! Jan was chosen randomly from well over 300 entries, including some who had up to 3 entries each via a comment, a Tweet, or blogging about the sweepstakes. While Jan gets the $250 gift card (which I'd like to note would buy a bunch of Capri Sun Juice boxes in all kinds of flavors just to keep cool in that "dry" desert heat) our family still has some business to follow up. Because there were so many last minute entries we're still pouring over some of your morning experiences so that we can award a couple of secondary prizes.

Some of these great stories include sending your child to school on a weekend, forgetting to wear underpants, rescuing a pet from skunk spray before the bus arrived, brushing teeth with a product other than toothpaste, and a whole slew of wonderful tips to get your day started in a more orderly and tranquil fashion. I will be getting in touch with those winning a second prize in a few days and will update here once again to share the highlights of what you had to say!

We thank Capri Sun and BlogHer for allowing us to participate. We also thank each of you for sharing with us! Come back soon since more contests are in the works!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fun in the Sun with Capri Sun!

Note that this is a compensated review from BlogHer and Capri Sun

Like most modern families weekday mornings around here are usually utter chaos, sort of like an unscripted ballet. Depending on mood, weather, amount of sleep or lack of it each of us dance around the rest of the family not knowing whether to bend, point, or plia’. Add to this frenzied choreography one nurse arriving to get Ben ready for school right about the time the ladies are headed off for the day and we now have a morning production of Running of the Swans from the Lake.

It’s not uncommon for Jessie and Joan to grab something quick like cereal from the cupboard needing something to wash it down with. The key word here is healthy. Healthy is sometimes not a consideration with soda or tea being the convenient choices. The trade-off between convenience and nutrition is honestly not a factor when the first moments of the day are already spinning out of control.

When I was offered the opportunity to review a new product from Capri Sun I jumped on it! We’ve been huge fans of this wonderful product since Jessie was in kindergarten. Most of her lunches and snacks throughout the years included one or more Capri Sun juice packets. Not only did she enjoy the taste but mom and dad could be assured our daughter was getting nutritional value as she quenched her thirst.

We also discovered that these wonderful packets fit very well inside a cooler, backpack, or tote bag. Jessie and I have carried Capri Sun into the woods as our source for hydration on backpacking trips. On hot summer days at the beach you certainly can find a cooler full iced down juice packets that the entire family enjoys. And you'll often find a few of these juice bags in the ice chest behind my booth at art festivals. Hey, Capri Sun is not just for kids!

Making Every Day Better

Capri Sun has now introduced a new breakfast drink called Sunrise. These newest blends contain 100% of the daily value of antioxidant Vitamin C and a great source for calcium. Think of combining the nutrition of low fat milk with orange juice! What an awesome concept!

It just so happened that our trial boxes of juice arrived right before Spring Break which we spent with my sister-in-law’s family at…you guessed it…the beach! Along with 12-year-old Jessie, her cousins Graham (11) and Chandler (9) got to participate in our review. Let’s just say that the experiment was a great success for Capri Sun.

The overwhelming favorite was Tropical Morning, a tropical punch blend of flavors. But the other two blends were still quite satisfying. Berry Tangerine Morning combines the flavor of the tangy orange fruit with strawberry. Yours truly joined the taste test. Honestly I couldn’t tell the difference between Orange Wake Up and a popular brand of 100 percent orange juice!

The Contest

Now the good part for you! Capri Sun is offering a $250 Visa gift card to one of my lucky readers! All you have to do is tell us about the wildest funniest morning adventure getting your kids from the bed to their planned destination OR share YOUR morning routine tips that help get your kids ready for their day! To enter, leave me a comment below this post - or you may leave a link to your post on your own blog. Just be sure to let me know via the comment section below. The contest will begin on April 29 and end on July 9, 2009. Make sure that the e-mail address you leave is correct!

Official Rules:

  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.
  • You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.
  • This giveaway is open to US residents, over the age of 18.
  • Winner will be selected via random draw and notified by e-mail.
  • Once I contact the winner you will have 48 hours to get back to me; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
You can read more reviews here and find more information about this new product here! Good luck and enjoy some refreshing Capri Sun Sunrise!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Exceptional Shopping Experience!

Like most of you our family is feeling the squeeze of these tough economic times. That squeeze became the size of an eye in a needle recently due to a string of unfortunate events that occurred as my work schedule wound down for the year. You see, I’m a full-time professional artist. I travel to art festivals to display my work about 2 dozen weekends of the year. The rest of the time I’m a stay-at-home-dad caring for our gorgeous preteen daughter, Jessie, and our beautiful exceptional (special needs) son, Ben. My lovely wife Joan is the big breadwinner of the household.

Like I said a string of bad luck had left us scratching our heads wondering how we were going to make ends meet these next few months, much less how we were going to include Christmas for loved ones in our budget. At least part of our answer came in the form of an e-mail early last week. As Al Michael’s once asked watching the US hockey team win a gold medal, “Do you believe in miracles?” Why yes we do!

Our family received a $300 gift certificate from BlogHer and JCPenney. All we have to do is tell you folks about our shopping experience. And before you read about it let me share some good news for you: BlogHer and JCPenney are giving away a $300 gift card each week for the next five weeks! That's right. You and your family could end up having a wonderful shopping date at JCPenney as well!

Given that JCPenney is one of our usual destinations during the holidays we felt like we hit the lottery! Seriously! Since we also received a very generous coupon (available to all JCPenney shoppers) to use during VIP Customer hours, choosing to shop this past Sunday afternoon was a no-brainer. We loaded the kids in the van and headed for our local JCPenney’s located at the Haywood Mall in Greenville, South Carolina.

JCPenney is one of five anchor stores at the Haywood Mall. As I mentioned it was already one of our favorite places to shop for a variety of reasons. It is one of only two anchor stores that has covered handicapped parking, which is a huge factor for us. Generally we find good discounts on great prices every time we shop there. And during the holidays, JCPenney always has a wonderful collection of unique and, more importantly, affordable gift ideas for those loved ones that are difficult to shop for. We would not be disappointed on this trip.

We had three goals to accomplish. First I desperately needed clothes! Because of the physical nature of my job (you just wouldn’t believe how quickly an artist can turn an article of clothing into a cleaning rag) I was down to one pair of jeans. Because winter is my off-season, I’m constantly painting to build inventory. Inevitably acrylic paint shows up on just about every shirt in the closet.

Secondly we wanted to fill out some of the Christmas wishes on the kid’s lists. Toys and electronics are not a forte of JCPenney these days but we were hoping to at least find a few things to slide under the tree for Ben and Jessie. And finally we were hoping to find a gift each for a niece and nephew we will be seeing on Christmas day. So do you think we could accomplish our goals for $300? Joan, the family bookkeeper and number cruncher by profession didn’t think it was possible. While I was hopeful Jessie was positive. Ben? He wanted to sleep on it.

We made a grand tour of the entire store to begin with, stopping to admire Holiday D├ęcor possibilities. Despite the horrid cold Ben was suffering from, we got our warmest response from him as he took in the lights, ornaments, and decorations. Although tempting, we had more specific purchases to seek out.

The wide aisles available to maneuver about the store are another great reason to shop at JCPenney. That includes pushing a wheelchair between displays in each of the departments we visited. We cannot say the same for their competitors; many times we’ve shopped at one of the other anchor stores and knocked clothing from a display. We typically get the evil eye. On Sunday the place was packed with shoppers, no doubt seeking the same great pricing on merchandise that we were finding. We had absolutely no problems getting around with a wheelchair.

Eventually we made our rounds and selected our merchandise. Despite Joan’s worry that we were very much over our $300 for the moment we had at least achieved each of our three goals. My dear wife really wanted to put some of the merchandise back. But with the moral support of Jessie (and the prospect of getting a digital camcorder under The Tree which was found in that very cool section of the store with unique gift ideas) I wanted to see how close we would get toward our gift card. I’ll be honest. I thought we’d gone over between $50 to $75. Joan was convinced it was $100 or more. Jessie thought something miraculous was happening. Ben? He was still sleeping on it.

We piled our loot onto the checkout counter, every so often having to pull something from the arms of my wife who feared one of those moments of digging through her pocket book for spare change. Meanwhile our checkout associate, Sameea, was enjoying the participation in this odd version of The Price is Right. Jessie yanked the final pair of jeans from behind Joan’s back just as Sameea scanned our coupon. Joan closed her eyes. Sameea rang up the total. Ben continued to snore. Jessie looked at the cash register screen and smiled. $297.49! I think we have us a miracle.

After we got home we went over our receipt to find the source of the true savings for a typical customer. The total retail price of everything we purchased before taxes was $537.94. The items included only one JCPenney brand item. All of the rest were name brands like Levi, Lee, St. Johns Bay, Arizona, and American Eagle. Our coupon netted us a total of $32.80 in savings but the meat and potatoes so to speak was JCPenney’s sales prices. If you subtract our pretax total (adding back the coupon amount) from the retail price that figure came out to a whopping $224.29 in savings! That represents a discount of 42 percent off the retail total! Add back the coupon discount and that percentage rises to 48 percent – nearly half off of everything we purchased!

This is what Joan had to say: “We had a great day at JCPenney! When we first arrived I was worried because of the size of the crowd in the store. Because of our son’s condition, it's the little things make a big difference to me, things like the size of displays and maneuverability in the aisles. I get so frustrated trying to shop with Ben in his wheelchair. I can't make informed decisions about buying when I can’t move around to inspect the merchandise. Well as usual I was very impressed with JCPenney. Not only was I able to maneuver Ben's chair to most any place I needed to go, the displays were all very neat and orderly. There were sales associates in every area that were knowledgeable about their products and were constantly straightening the merchandise. I was in shopping heaven. I also had an opportunity to have my entire family shopping at one time and there was no unnecessary added stress. To make everything even better there was a fabulous sale! The children’s clothing was adorable and available at great prices! They had styles for everyone, some hip, some cute, some very basic. And they always have a selection of sports team attire, for children up to adults. These always make great gift ideas. What I love the very best about JCPenny is their specialty gift ideas. They have great games, gadgets and electronics all at really good prices. These are items you don't see anywhere else. When I walk through their store I will always see an item that would make a great gift for a loved one, and today was no different. JCPenney is definitely a destination I recommend for your holiday shopping!”

While it is no Miracle on 34th Street or The Miracle on Ice, we certainly appreciate JCPenney and BlogHer playing the role of Santa for us so early in this holiday season. We can’t promise that you’ll find a miracle inside your JCPenney store but we can guarantee you’ll find great quality at a great price. Happy Holiday shopping from A Work of Art!

Ben channels my opinion in regards to shoe shopping for women. Note the wide aisles available for us to wheel him about!

One of those very cool kiosks that offer unique Monopoly games. This is the kind of thing that always draws us back into JCPenney.

We ran into a dear friend who was there for the great sale! Dawn had also grabbed the discount coupon via our local paper that morning. Not surprisingly her family are fans of JCPenney.

The lovely Sameea was our associate at checkout. We knew it had been a long day for her but I am certain she was just as cordial to us as she was to the first customers of the day. I'll be honest in saying that once we explained what we were doing it really made no difference whatsoever to the employees of our local store...meaning they treated each and every customer with courtesy and respect. That is a quality we aren't used to in the staff of most department stores.

Jessie is proud of our little miracle!