Saturday, January 31, 2015

An Easy Brat Crock Tailgating Recipe with Johnsonville

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Johnsonville; all opinions expressed are my own.

I'm excited to be back in New England just in time to see the Pats play in the big game, but with freezing temperatures we won't be venturing out and instead will watch the game at home. To make up for it we're gathering a few supplies to make our in-home family tailgating party a success. If you're trying to figure out something easy to make just in time for the big game, I have a super simple recipe for you:


What You'll Need:
  • Large slow cooker
  • Johnsonville Brats (I also included Italian sausages)
  • 1 white or yellow onion sliced into rings
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3-4 12oz beers
  • 2 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes (I used the ones with jalapeƱos for extra kick!)

What to Do:
  • Combine the beer, onions tomatoes and butter in the slow cooker on high
  • Heat grill pan or skillet on medium high and sear brats on all sides until fully cooked (internal temperature reaches 160F)
  • Add the Johnsonville Brats to the slow cooker and heat through for two hours  
  • Reduce heat until low to keep brats ready to eat throughout the game

We enjoyed our brats on grilled, soft rolls with a side of salt and pepper chips - my favorite potato chip flavor. I admit I ate two - they were that good!  

How are you getting ready for the big game?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Winner: Sol Republic Tracks Air Headphones



More snow! That's the theme up here and Nia's LOVING it as you can see above. We were heading home in the slushy stuff this morning (4WD is my BFF), and I found out that our sitter wasn't able to make it so we ended up at our local movie theater to catch Paddington for only $1. It was SO good! I loved Paddington as a kid and while I was skeptial when I first heard the moving was coming out, I think it was well done in a Wes Anderson kind of way. Go see it!

Anyway, I'm excited to share the winner of the Sol Republic Tracks Air Wireless Bluetooth Headphones giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats Jess! I'll be in touch shortly so you can get your prize.

Don't forget I have another giveaway running now to win a gorgeous queen size comforter from Robin Wilson Home just in time for Valentine's Day. Enter here!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting Back to 100% with Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil Severe #ReliefIsHere

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of SheSpeaks/P&G. All opinions expressed are my own.



Every flu season it seems that we hear that it's worse than the one before - does it seem like to you? Up here in New Hampshire the flu seems to be running rampant and almost daily I hear about another family that's under attack. 

We've had our own bout of sickness in our household that started just before Christmas. It began with a cough and even spread to baby Grayson - his situation was made worse by teething. It's amazing how sickness can morph within a family! We had a couple weeks of the kids having high fevers off and on, doctor visits, prescriptions and the like. I have to admit I didn't get the flu shot prior to having kids, but this season we were well-prepared (Gray has a booster coming up). In the 5 years of getting our shots we haven't actually caught the flu, but with every little symptom we feel Mr. Lovebird and I get nervous - when the caregivers and providers go down, it really gets hard! 

Mr. Lovebird is an avid DayQuil and NyQuil user while I've taken NyQuil in the past only to wake up feeling groggy the rest of the day. We needed to restock our medicine cabinet this flu season so when the opportunity came to give Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil Severe Cold & Flu a try and it coincided with Mr. Lovebird not feeling well, I asked him to be my guinea pig!


My local Walmart was well stocked for flu season!
He was surprised to see "Severe" on the packaging so I explained how it had maximum symptom-fighting ingredients allowing him to take back his night (if only we could take back our nights from the kids coming into our bed!), and he happily took his dose and went to sleep. 



Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil comes in liquid and caplets and combats a pretty impressive list of symptoms:

NyQuil
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sinus congestion and pressure
  • Cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation
  • Cough to help you sleep
  • Minor aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Reduces swelling of nasal passages
  • Temporarily restores freer breathing through the nose
  • Promotes nasal and/or sinus drainage
DayQuil
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sinus congestion and pressure
  • Cough due to minor throat and bronchial irritation
  • Minor aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Reduces swelling of nasal passages
  • Temporarily restores freer breathing through the nose
  • Promotes nasal and/or sinus drainage
  • Helps loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to rid the bronchial passageways of bothersome mucus and make coughs more productive
In the morning I stared at him and asked, "So...?" He exclaimed, "I feel awesome! No medicine head and so much better."

I was impressed and even asked if he needed me to serve up a dose of DayQuil as well before he hit the road for his daily meetings. He was so confident in how NyQuil worked that he declined. Thankfully, his symptoms didn't worsen, but we're definitely still on flu alert here in New England (Nia's school recently sent home a warning). Knowing my husband wasn't left with medicine head makes me more apt to try it should I get symptoms as well. I'm just glad that I haven't succumbed to the flu this season, but I remember last year when I was pregnant the flu restriction at the hospital went all the way until Grayson was born. That's June 27! As a result Nia couldn't go on a tour with us (we had to wear masks), but was able to visit when he was born. 

Concerned about this year's flu season? You can purchase Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil at Walmart and pick up your other wellness needs like Puffs tissues, ingredients for chicken soup and a warm blanket.

Follow @Walmart on Twitter and Vicks Nyquil and DayQuil on Facebook to stay on top of the latest product news!

How's flu season treating your family this year? Stay healthy friends!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Giveaway: Valentine's Day Bedroom Refresh with Robin Wilson Home Quilts

Disclosure: I am a compensated brand ambassador for Robin Wilson Home; all opinions expressed are my own.



As those of us here in the Northeast dig ourselves out of a massive snowfall, I'm thinking ahead to a cozy Valentine's Day, and I'm thrilled to be partnering again this year with Robin Wilson Home for her newly launched line of quilts at Bed Bath & Beyond. It's the perfect way to add a romantic refresh to your bedroom this Valentine's Day! 

Ideally, I'd be one of those "sophisticated adults" swapping out my bedding seasonally, but with kids I find I'm constantly washing our bedding anyway (they somehow end up in our bed every night), and I don't have long to admire it.  However, with our recent bedroom update, I'm determined to change that and am looking forward to refreshing our bedding in time for Valentine's Day. 

Robin Wilson Home is dedicated to eco-friendly, hypoallergenic design - a feature I highlighted when I first featured her Bed Bath and Beyond product launch. With her new line of quilts, Robin Wilson Home's four patterns are hypoallergenic, yet beautiful options that will make a romantic bedroom refresh so easy this Valentine's Day. The hardest part is deciding which pattern to select! 

Take a look: 

Austin 



This classic quilt is handcrafted with a combination of traditional and modern design. Sophisticated hues of blues, mixed with charming floral patterns create a soothing palette. Inspired by the style of the hometown of the designer.  

Lorraine



This refined quilt is inspired by map and architecture design. Handcrafted on textured off-white cotton, with a stylish palette that evokes simplicity and details familiar to global travelers.  Pastel palette of lilac and sage, with a floral detail, and fabrics in grid and diamond patterns. 

Sophia



Inspiration for the Sophia quilt is travel to Italy – with rich color and a dynamic patched circular design. Handcrafted with thousands of quilted stitches on an off-white cotton, and embellished with a floral and layered detail. Rich reds, polished pinks with gold, greens and florals showcase a dynamic design with a modern touch. Solid double stitching with a scalloped border.  

Caroline



Inspiration for the Caroline quilt by Robin Wilson Home comes from the sunny days of a holiday vacation. The Caroline collection is handcrafted and features an oversize kaleidoscope pattern and pops of sea blue, fresh yellow and mint green on an off-white textured fabric. Elegant, with a modern touch and a tailored border to frame detailed patterns.

All Robin Wilson Home quilts feature:
  • 100% cotton
  • Solid double stitching 
  • Available in Twin (66" W x 86" L), Full /Queen (90" W x 90" L) and King (104" W x 90" L) 
  • Have matching pillow shams available (purchased separately)  
  • Imported
The matching shams feature:
  • 10% cotton
  • Measures 20" W x 26" L
  • Solid Double Stitching
  • Imported
While I'm trying to make up my mind between Sophia and Caroline, Robin Wilson Home has generously offered Harlem Lovebirds' readers a chance to win a grand prize of a queen size quilt in the print of your choice ($129.99 value) and a runner-up prize of 4 Robin Wilson Home standard pillows.

The giveaway begins today, January 28 and ends on Wednesday, February 11 with the winner announced on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Enter via Rafflecopter below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck!

To see the full line of Robin Wilson Home offerings be sure to visit Bed Bath and Beyond's website and follow Robin Wilson Home on Twitter, InstagramPinterest and Facebook for the latest product news.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Life With Gray: 7 Months


Ultimate snow day over here! It's Nia's first and in the excitement we almost forgot Grayson turned 7 months old today. He's excited to have his family all around him (although he's down for his morning nap at the time I'm writing this). We have huge fish bowl windows and earlier this morning he was content to stare at the swirling snow outside. Seeing the wonder in his huge, saucer eyes is adorable!

Here's this month's update: 
  • Baby's weight: Grayson is 16lbs 6oz (he was just over 15lbs at his 4 month visit); he's a lightweight just like his sister. The dr. wants him to bulk up but looking back at Nia's chart and considering his genes, I highly doubt he'll ever be a chunker!
  • Baby's height:  27" just as I thought
  • What size of clothing does baby wear? Still in 6 months, but lengthwise he's ready or 9 months, but just can't fill it out quite yet
    • Special outings baby had during the month:  Our return trip to NYC was exciting - Gray was a good sport on the bus (hooray for nursing!) and traipsing around the city
    • What are your thoughts on this past month?: I can't get over just how calm he is - reminds me so much of his dad! Teething is still rough, and he's not as good of a sleeper as he used to be, but I keep reminding myself that it's temporary. I'm also trying to find relief for his eczema. We're using Aquaphor and Aveeno for now, but I feel so bad for how broken out his chest his. Thankfully, it's not on his face. 
    He definitely lets me know when he's had enough bouncing!
    • What was baby's routine? He's still in bed between 8-9p.m. at the same time as his sister, but he's starting to cry harder in a more talking kind of way when we lay him down and walk away. He really sounds like his feelings are hurt! He gets up in the night and does this weird thing where he just tosses and turn with his eyes closed and teeth clenched. Sometimes it's gas and other times it seems like a kind of sleep walking. He doesn't really seem interested in nursing when he does this. Either Uka or I will hold him with white noise but it's extremely disruptive and goes on for an hour or two with getting up and back down. Sometimes I can just put him back down in his bed with a pat and that's that, other times I bring him to our bed and he just tosses and turns. Despite all this he's usually up for the day around 7, the time we're getting ready for Nia to go to school. He sleeps on the drive and goes to our Y's childcare while I work out. He usually sleeps then or afterwards right before I have lunch at home. I'll give him a solid to try and some rice crackers, but need to get on the ball with 3 meals a day - the dr. thinks he can handle it now especially with teeth. Some days we make it to story time after the Y and in the afternoon we play or he falls asleep again before we get his sister at 3. The rest of the day he's so happy to be in Nia's presence and will happily sit on his playmate or in his bouncer with her nearby. He gets a bath weekly and then we do storytime and devotionals together - he really does pay attention!
    • Any milestones baby reached during the month?: Sitting up for longer periods of time. He still gets wobbly with his large head and even face planted recently, hence the fat lip in his main picture this month. Also, his babbles are starting to sound like words - Uka swears he heard him call "Dada!"He's also tried banana, avocado and sweet potato. His favorite is definitely sweet potato as you can see here
    video
    • Reflect about the highlights of the month: His first month of swimming lessons is going well (she the quick clip above!). Granted he's only gone to one class due to me forgetting that Saturdays are nearly impossible for us to ever do anything extra. Oops! He'll be back on track starting this Saturday though. His first class went well - no tears at all despite going under water. Going to his first show, Disney on Ice. I wasn't sure how he'd react but he really got into it and started doing his bouncy dance. He stayed awake and watched with interest for the full two hours! Also taking the bus down to New York was a highlight. He gets so wide-eyed for new experiences and was a happy passenger! 
    • Did any big changes occur? Nope
    • What are baby's favorites - toy, food, person, etc... Still in love with Nia! While he's mostly quiet, when she comes around he smiles and squeals. Uka's been roughing him up too and he likes it. Lots of jiggles, tosses and tickles!
    • What I'm looking forward to? 
      • Starting cloth diapers - they are somewhere in a box still (along with my favorite saucepan that I just can't seem to find)but thankfully I have quite a few gifted disposables left that we're working our way through so I have some time to find them
      • Crawling - I don't dread it like I hear many other parents do. I think his mobility will help Gray play with Nia more - she really wants a playmate! I also think the reason he recently face planted was that he was trying to reach something. I'm sure he'll figure it out soon! 
      • Signing - he was doing milk but stopped. I can tell he understands though because when I sign to him 
      • I'm excited to head back down to NYC in a few weeks for another visit. It'll be Gray's 3rd flight! 
    Curious to see what big sister Nia was up to at 7 months? Click here

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    Giveaway & Review: Sol Republic Tracks Air Headphones = WOW!

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary pair of Sol Republic Tracks Air Headphones to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.


    I had a bit of a rant today over on my personal Facebook wall about some of the challenges I've faced trying to get childcare since moving to New Hampshire. I'm juggling a lot right now and in the midst of it all there are a few things that have made the process easier including my new Sol Republic Tracks Air Headphones.



    I was first impressed by how sleek the packaging was - I'm a sucker for it! I've seen what I thought were bulky headphones making a comeback on the streets of NYC, but after trying my Sol Republic Tracks Air Headphones, I'm pleased to share they're incredibly lightweight (Nia can even be seen wearing them here)

    Want to see them in action? Check out my review video: 

     

    Making a $199 investment on a pair of headphones is definitely something that's not taken lightly and to make it easier, Sol Republic has a 100-day money back guarantee. That's right! You have 100 days to decide if you're happy with them and if not, simply return them for a full refund.

    I'm a believer! Here's why:
    • Dual connectivity: I can stay connected to my MacBook Air AND Android smartphone at all times
    • 15 hours of battery life
    {Image provided by Sol Republic}
    • Carrying case: in my life with 2 kids, this helps reduce the chance they'll get damaged!
    • Superb sound: for wireless, Bluetooth headphones I'm very impressed by the clarity; callers can hear me just fine and my music streams in loud and clear
    Want a chance to score a pair of your own? I'm giving one lucky Harlem Lovebirds' reader a pair. Enter below via Rafflecopter. Giveaway ends on Thursday, January 29 with the winner announced on Friday, January 30.  

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
     
    Good luck!

    If you don't win you can purchase a pair here! Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter for the latest product news.

    Thursday, January 22, 2015

    Making Green Choices with Little Twig and Eco-Me

    Disclosure: I received products to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.

    Returning to New England is prompting me to make some small but significant changes in my family including "going green." I grew up in a very non-green household (there were 4 kids in my family and we ate on styrofoam plates regularly and did not recycle), but now with my own family I'm of the mindset that when we know better, we do better. 

    I'm very much aware of the sulfate-free, paraben-free movement, and I've been thinking about where I can make eco-friendly changes within my family. One of those includes being more conscious of which products we use. Long term I'd like to eliminate plastic toys and plastic food storage completely from our household, but for now when Little Twig and Eco-Me reached out to try their baby products and dish soap I was excited to start there. I'm all about the kaizen way!



    Little Twig Calming Lavender Baby Wash and Lotion are free of phthalates, sulfates, paragons, synthetic fragrances (a hidden source of endocrine disrupters I've learned), nut, soy and wheat. Bath time should be a safe space both physically and chemically, and during Gray's bath time it's been calming knowing I'm doing something good for him. 

    Additionally, the product smells so luxurious - I've even taken to using it for myself and have enjoyed the extra bonus of aromatherapy for me during his bath time. I call that a mommy bonus! Grayson suffers from eczema so after giving the lotion a try I found I preferred just the body wash for him and the regular post-bath ointment that his doctor recommends. 



    In the kitchen, although I've shared the honest snapshot of the chaos in our last place, I've been determined to make sure each night the dishes are washed up. 

    While it's definitely been proven that running the dishwasher is more efficient and eco-friendly than hand washing, I'm often left with quite a few items that are hand wash only. Since I love to cook homemade meals for my family these usually include grimy pots, pans and bowls. I was a bit nervous if Eco-Me's Natural Plant Extracts Dish Soap would be able to handle everything as my conventional dish soap does, but I'm pleased to report it's done the job!

    I'm nearing the end of my supply and am ready for more! Additionally, I'm thrilled that it's a "mompreneur" product created by two moms who were concerned about making sure they had non-toxic products for their family. 

    Besides the fact that it works, the smell is fantastic! I find myself even washing my hands with it when I return home just because of how pleasant it is. It's composed of all natural ingredients that re food-grade and derived from plants including vinegar. 

    Want to do start to make the switch for your family too? Here's where you can find the products:

    Little Twig Calming Lavender Baby Wash is available at www.littletwig.com in a 8.5oz bottle (MSRP $12.50) as well as 17oz (MSRP $17.50) and 34oz (MSRP $31.99); the Calming Lavender Baby Lotion is available in a 8.5oz bottle (MSRP $12.50) and in 2oz bottles packaged in travel sets). Visit here for store locations. 

    Eco-Me Natural Plant Extracts Dish Soap is available in Citrus Berry, Herbal Mint, Lemon Fresh and Fragrance-free; it's available in 16fl oz (MSRP $5.99) at www.eco-me.com and retailers nationwide.  

    Are you making green changes in your family or have you already? What was the transition like?

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