Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Chuck E. Cheese Debuts a New Pizza Recipe

August 2, 2011

Let me be completely up-front in saying that before I became a parent I vowed to never take my child to Chuck E. Cheese, let alone (gasp!) host one of my child’s birthday parties there. Now that my son has celebrated two birthdays with unnecessarily extravagant parties and the third will occur while I am 8 months pregnant with child number two, my opinion has changed a bit. I totally get the appeal of the Chuck E. Cheese birthdays. I do. Will I host a birthday party there? Maybe not. Will I attend one? Heck yes. And enjoy the pizza!

You may or may not have heard that Chuck E. Cheese has upgraded its pizza recipe for the first time in 30 years. Our little East Sac family got the opportunity to try out the new recipe and review our local Chuck E. Cheese on Arden Way. Since the hype is about the pizza, we’ll start there. We ordered the barbecue chicken (minus the onions and bell peppers) and the cheese pizza. The kids (ages 2, 3, and 9) happily ate the cheese with not much comment or complaint. I think pizza is pizza when you’re a kid, isn’t it? The barbecue chicken was surprisingly good. The chicken was a bit sparse (my fellow ESM companion and I fought over the “good” slice) but tasty and the crust was actually the highlight! It was delicious on its own and had just the right thickness and crispness. I was really glad I opted to also get the “all you can eat” salad bar. That was my favorite part of the whole experience. Every item was fresh, stocked, and gobbled up by my 2-year-old. He ate more baby corn, kidney beans and beets than he did cheese pizza.

As far as the rest of our experience at Chuck E. Cheese goes… here are the points we felt were important to mention:

  • You do not want to go on a Sunday afternoon, if you can avoid it. The noise level… OH. MY. And small children screaming and running wild everywhere. Everywhere.
  • The toddler zone was great! Every game or “ride” was only one token and after using only 5 tokens our little ones thought they had experienced Disneyland.
  • We let the 9-year-old roam free and play games and felt comfortable because the whole place is pretty small so from our table in the middle we could see him almost everywhere.
  • That being said, DO NOT rely on the staff to verify your stamps on the way out. When you enter, you and your children are stamped with the same number. They are supposed to check the numbers on the way out to make sure you are leaving with just your child/children. This definitely was not happening.
  • Take it for what it is– a fun place to let your kids burn up some energy while you collect tickets and try to stash enough away to get some candy before you leave. Enjoy it.

If you want to visit Chuck E. Cheese with your family, the Arden location is at 1690 Arden Way, next to Party City and for more information click HERE or call 916.920.9181.

Before your visit, remember to click HERE for some coupons too.

We’ll see you there!

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Real Mom Review: Shutterfly’s Mother’s Day Cards

April 26, 2011

Last October we shared our favorite picks for holidays cards by Shutterfly, and now that Easter is over the VERY next thing on our list is Mother’s Day. You really can’t go wrong with photo gifts for the family, can you? We usually go with a Mother’s Day photo book for our moms and Mother’s Day cards for the rest of the family (aunts, grandma’s, cousins, etc.) but maybe I’ll be organized enough this year to get a Personalized Gift for mom. Here are my top three card picks at the moment…

Just a simple picture. Perfect.

You had me at "vintage".

Playful and sweet. We have a winner!

What is on your Mother’s Day wish list? Something fun from your favorite shop? A night out with the hubs? A day at home alone? Me too! All of the above. (Babes, are you reading? wink, wink) No matter what, I am going to cherish that burnt toast breakfast-in-bed and noodle necklace for the rest of my life. Here’s to mom’s. 🙂

East Sacramento Moms who have your own blog, click HERE for a chance to write a post sharing your Mother’s Day thoughts and a few of your favorite designs and Shutterfly will give you 50 *FREE* photo cards!

Enjoy 🙂

Real Mom Review: California State Railroad Museum

April 4, 2011

Photo by Frog Mom

We are all about sharing and community here at ESM, so when Laure Latham shared THIS awesome review about the California State Railroad Museum, we wanted to pass it along to you.

Although she is not local, Frog Mom is based out of San Francisco, Laure travels with her family and shares a ton of Real Mom Reviews of activities and attractions all throughout California.

Check out her Railroad Museum post HERE and the rest of her blog, Frog Mom, HERE.

Care to share your own blog or write a Real Mom Review? Send us an email at eastsacmom{at}gmail{dot}com.

We’ll see you there!

KCRA 3 on 58 + a GIVEAWAY

February 10, 2011

As I mentioned yesterday, in just a few short minutes I’ll be on KCRA’s morning show (which airs on channel 58) sharing hassle-saving and money-saving items with KCRA viewers. If you’ve stumbled across East Sacramento Mom as a result of the segment, welcome! You can learn a little bit about the contributors by clicking HERE.

So, not only did I get to share some cool items with you, you have the opportunity to WIN them! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below telling us what product you’d most like to win. If you missed the KCRA feature, you can click HERE to read about each of the products. Make sure to leave an email address so we can contact you if you win. The giveaway will run until midnight on Thursday, February 17th and winners will be announced on Friday, the 18th.

The contest is open to anyone with an U.S. address and please, only one entry per person.

Check back tomorrow for the Week End Wrap Up post, and if you’re doing anything fun this weekend and want to share, be sure to email us at eastsacmom{at}gmail{dot}com. If you need ideas, check out the East Sac Mom calendar page.

We’ll see you there!

East Sac Mom on KCRA

February 9, 2011

Big news! East Sac Mom “June” will be on KCRA 3 tomorrow morning! I’ll be doing a segment featuring money and hassle-saving items for the NBC morning show. The best part? Besides getting to put a face to my (pen) name, East Sacramento Mom readers will have the chance to WIN the items featured! Keep reading for a sneak peek at the items I’ll be reviewing, and check back tomorrow for details on how to win.

Baby B’Air Infant Flight Vest (babybair.com) – Safety harness for babies in airplanes, keeping them safely and securely anchored to their parents when lap-seated. Allows more parents to lap-seat, saving money, and makes lap-seating hassle-free. (I really could have used this when East Sac Toddler was an infant, sleeping ever so peacefully in the Snugli carrier he was NOT allowed to rest in during a flight in ’09.)

 

Ulubulu Baby Bib (ulubulu.com) – Non-toxic 100% silicone baby bib that makes meal times a breeze. Easily wipe clean and reuse; no need to bring multiple bibs everywhere or have mess soak through bib. Hands down, the Best. Bib. Ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sport-Brella (sklz.com) – No need to find a covered area or bring hosts of umbrellas. Sport-Brella gives you instant protection from the elements. Its umbrella action open mechanism allows it to be set up in just three seconds and fits the whole family. Don’t hate me when our family sets this up in the grass at the River Cats games all summer…

 

BabyBriefcase (babybriefcase.com) – Briefcase-shaped file organizer specially designed to store all of a baby’s documents and information in a way that can be easily kept track of and accessed by parents whether at home, at the doctor on during travel. Whose baby doesn’t need a briefcase? I mean, we want to prepare our children for the “real world”, right?

 

 

 

 

Drink N’ Plate (drinknplate.com)  – Durable reusable, dishwasher-safe combo plate and drink holder that is perfect for all your outdoor and indoor food and drink needs. Held with one hand, the Drink N’ Plate is a combination of plate and drink holder, allowing the entire meal to be carried conveniently and easily. No more buying vast quantities of disposable plates and cups. Perfect for this East Sac Mom, who is constantly chasing a toddler while simultaneously trying to inhale a day’s worth of nutrition in between bath time and bed time.

 

Snack-Trap (snacktrap.com) – Minimizes wasted snacks and clean up time with its patented, unique slitted lid that allow toddlers to see and retrieve food with ease themselves but automatically closes when the toddlers remove their hand. Before the Snack-Trap, you could collect an entire box of loose Cheerio’s from the back seat of my car. After, you might have enough to satisfy a cranky kid on the way home from Fairy Tale Town if you’re lucky.

Wish me luck tomorrow, and we’ll see you there!

Real Mom Review: Whole Foods Classic Thanksgiving

November 30, 2010

I’m pretty sure my food is just now settling from last Thursday. How was your Thanksgiving? Our was literally the least stressful meal we have ever enjoyed. How is that possible? Two words: Whole Foods.

Our family had the opportunity to try Whole Foods’ Classic Thanksgiving dinner over the holiday, courtesy of Whole Foods! Yes, I am the luckiest East Sac Mom ever. So here’s what we got to sample: the roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing and pumpkin pie. I’m not ashamed to say we heated up the stuffing and ate some a day early because it looked that good. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

The pre-roasted turkey went into the oven (in the tin Whole Foods conveniently provided) and two hours later was ready to eat. That alone will make me order the Classic Thanksgiving from Whole Foods next year. No prepping, no digging for giblets in the cavity, no touching raw meat. No chance of screwing up the seasoning. I did have to carve the bird (there’s only so much I could expect Whole Foods to do for me) and it sliced easily and the meat was so moist!

 

 

I didn’t think “plain old mashed potatoes” could stand up when compared to the amazing stuffing we had already devoured. I was wrong. I don’t know what is in them but they were so incredibly flavorful and we could have almost eaten them without gravy. Um, almost. We might have if the gravy hadn’t been delicious enough to eat on its own. It was a little on the salty side, but isn’t gravy supposed to be? Lets get to dessert… wait, are you thinking I skipped over the cranberry sauce? Nope. I ate it for dessert. I make no apologies. I may or may not have eaten more (a lot more) than my share. Everyone else was happy to forgo cranberry sauce for Whole Foods’ pumpkin pie. I did steal a bite… or two… and then some more for breakfast the next day. Very smooth, deliciously pumpkiny (that’s a word, right?) and spicy but not too spicy.

 

I saved the best for last. The Classic Thanksgiving serves 8-10 and is under $100. I don’t think they could have made the meal any more worth it. The food was delicious, the preparation was minimal, and the whole experience was incredibly easy. I picked up the Classic Thanksgiving and it was all in a neatly packaged box and included clear instructions how to prepare everything (because apparently they know me that well). Whole Foods just does everything well. Start to finish, from customer service to excellent food, I had nothing but a positive experience.

So, start considering taking this route for your Christmas meal! There are so many prepared foods options and you can tailor your menu to your own tastes. HERE are some menu ideas and click HERE if you want to order your own meal! Why wait for Christmas?  Whole Foods’ prepared foods are amazing on any night. So there you have it. It’s no secret I heart Whole Foods. You should too!

Whole Foods is located at 4315 Arden Way and for more information click HERE or call 916.488.2800.

Real Mom Review: Shutterfly’s Holiday Cards

October 30, 2010

You know one of the first things you’ll hear on Monday morning is something telling you how many shopping days there are left until Christmas. I don’t know about you, but I can’t even think about my shopping list until my Christmas cards are mailed out. It’s a good incentive to get that family picture taken though!

What, if anything, do you send out around the holidays? Are you a Christmas letter family? A traditional card sender? A photo card person? We favor the photo card, now that we have an ever-growing toddler who our families are constantly requesting pictures of. Last year I made our Christmas cards using some very basic photo editing software and uploading the image to Shutterfly. This year I’m going to let them do the work (and I have no doubt they will do a much cuter job than I did).

Here are a few of my favorite holiday photo cards:

The punchy colors in this one just scream holiday cheer to me.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not really a traditional “red and green” holiday person. The red/blue/white color combination in this card is fresh and bright, but still gives off a Christmas-y vibe.

Simple and modern. “Love& Family”. Isn’t that what the season is all about?

I’m thinking I might splurge this year and get some of Shutterfly’s Christmas gift tags too. They are adorable and it would be so much easier (not to mention time-saving) than making them myself. I know, I know, who does that? You’d think I have nothing but time on my hands. Thanks to Shutterfly, this year I really will! Now I guess I should get on that shopping list…

What would you buy?

October 19, 2010

Lets say a particular online store offered you $35 to spend at any of over 200 partner websites. The catch? You have to review the item you choose for the company. What would you spend your $35 on???

Would you use it toward a big family item, like a new drop leaf table for the dining room? Some new play food for the kids? Ballet flats for yourself (because there’s no more fighting the trend)?

CSN Stores is giving me the opportunity to try something out. What should I choose? Is there anything you’ve been wondering about and want to get a real-mom review of? Let me know!

Real Mom Review: McKinley Library SRP Wrap Up

August 30, 2010

East Sac Mom May hit up the McKinley Library’s Summer Reading Program Wrap Up (how could anyone resist *FREE* Burr’s ice cream?!) and here is what she thought…

The McKinley Park Summer Reading Program Wrap Up Party was awesome!  the event, which started at six, had activities including arts and crafts and the Bubble Lady. My son and I hung out at the Bubble Lady’s show upstairs in the library.  The show was interactive and every child was engaged the entire time.  The show entertained kids from as young as one and up to age ten.  The parents and grandparents seemed to enjoy the show also, at one point one of the grandfathers was brought up on stage and put inside a giant bubble.  By the end of the show everyone in the room was covered with a thin film of “bubble mixture”. After the show we headed down to the lawn for ice cream.  There were also arts and crafts activities and face painting (we didn’t make it over to the arts once my son got his hands on a cone of Cookies and Cream). One of my favorite things during the event was seeing the librarians.  After spending the summer attending storytimes hosted by the very talented librarians, it was almost like spotting a celebrity. I attended last year, and both events were great.  In fact, knowing that the wrap up party was coming motivated us to keep up on our summer reading program, so we could enjoy the wrap up party and celebrate the reading we had done.

 

The moral of the story? Support your local libraries! That, and send us your own Real Mom Review of a local event, activity or venue to share with other moms. Feel free to include pictures and don’t worry, we can spell-check for you. Not every review has to be positive either! I’m not saying be rude, but how about realistic for other moms who want to try the same thing? Questions? Reviews? Email us: eastsacmom{at}gmail{dot}com

We’ll see you there!

ESM on FOX + a GIVEAWAY

July 20, 2010

In case you missed it, or you know me and just want to watch it again and laugh, HERE is the East Sacramento Mom segment on FOX news from yesterday.

The FOX 40 crew was so much fun to work with and they made the whole experience easy. As I mentioned during the segment and last week’s Week End Wrap Up, you have the opportunity today to *WIN* some of these items! First, here are the descriptions of the kids’ travel and summer gear East Sac Mom got to test out, as well as our impressions of each one.

SillyBibs ($8.99)

Silly Bibs are 100% silicone bibs, a non-toxic alternative to the various plastic and vinyl bibs on the market. 11 different shaped styles, including Hippo, Elephant, Frog, Tiger, Cow, Shark and more, make SillyBibs the cutest and most fun bibs on the market. Each SillyBib has an adjustable neck and nifty crumb-catching pocket. Can be safely washed in the dishwasher or easily wiped clean. Rolls up for easy storage. 100% silicone lets parents rest assured their child is not being exposed to lead, BPA, phthalates, latex or PVC, as with other products on the market. For children 6 months and up.

These are our family’s favorite bibs now! SillyBibs are everything they say they are– easy to clean, adjustable for pretty much any neck size, and was effective even when my toddler was feeding himself yogurt! No kidding. I removed the bib and discovered that it had caught every last drop. Rinse and done. 

The Snack Trap ($4.99)

The Snack-Trap is a child feeding product (designed for toddlers/kids ages 1-5) that minimizes wasted snacks and saves associated clean up time while promoting the development of self-feeding skills among infants. Consists of an attractive, colorfully imprinted, tip-resistant, handled cup that allows toddlers to grasp and hold the cup themselves with a unique, patent-pending lid with slits that allow toddlers to see and retrieve food with ease themselves but automatically closes when the toddlers remove their hand. Available by calling 248-828-7460 or at retailers throughout North America.

We would have saved literally boxes of Cheerios and bags of dried fruit if we had been using these cups all along. Some of them even have suction cups on the bottom so you can attach them to a stroller or high chair tray, or to a table if you’re out at a restaurant. The Snack Trap will make you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Baby B’Air ($34.95)

Baby B’Air is the only safety solution for lap held children while traveling in an airplane. FAA-approved. The Baby B’Air is the perfect solution for all babies, securing them safely to their parent so that both baby and parent are comfortable and there is no potential for baby falling. The Baby B’Air is worn by the infant like a vest. Constructed of 100% cotton and comfortable to wear for baby, the Baby B’Air is used by simply connecting it to the seat belt of the adult. The baby can then he held, fed and even changed while both parent and child remain securely fastened in their seat. The baby is more comfortable than they would be in a baby seat, but is just as securely fastened and unable to fall or pull away.

Oh, how I wish I had known about the Baby B’Air when I was a new mother flying for the first time with my 3 month-old. I’m sure the look on my face when the flight attendant told me that my soundly sleeping infant would need to be removed from his Baby Bjorn was one of sheer horror. “But, he’s sleeping! You want me to risk waking up a sleeping newborn because I can’t have him attached to me on the plane???” If you plan on boarding an airplane with a child who is going to sit on your lap, save yourself the trouble and invest in the Baby B’Air. You’ll thank me.

The AquaJogger Junior ($25.95)

The AquaJogger Junior is a fantastic in-water device that allows kids who are not yet proficient swimmers play water games. The AquaJogger Junior is worn like a belt and comfortably suspends the child wearing it at shoulder level, allowing her/him to breathe normally and move freely while performing a wide variety of water activities. Contoured to fit a child’s body, and both fully adjustable and secure, the AquaJogger Junior is easy to use and comfortable. Includes a Splash Club Handbook featuring water games, swimming tips, and safety information. For ages 3 and up. The AquaJogger Junior can be purchased at retail stores nationwide.

Okay, at first I had to laugh. I had visions of swim classes for the elderly when I saw the AquaJogger Junior. Then I had a friend whose child is taking swim lessons tell me the swim instructor uses AquaJogger Juniors to help the kids learn to swim! It makes perfect sense. Young swimmers are more confident while wearing it and can focus more on learning the skills rather than fight to stay afloat. As soon as my little guy is old enough for swimming lessons we’ll be taking advantage of the AquaJogger Junior.

Treasure Chest Pets ($19.99)

Treasure Chest Pets are the first and only organizers that make putting things away fun and a great way for kids to keep their special things safe. Designed to look like cuddly stuffed animals, each TC Pet has a magnetic, detachable, pillowy stuffed animal head and stuffed animal bodies that contain external and internal compartments for organizing and storing children’s (and grownups!) treasures. Treasure Chest Pets are a great way for kids to keep their special things safe. Six different stuffed animal designs to choose from in 3 three different styles – Accessory Chest Dog and Accessory Chest Pig have a hidden drawer and two secret pockets on the outside, along with secret pockets in both ears. Treasure Chest Monkey and Treasure Chest Cow have one gigantic pocket inside that opens like a treasure chest. Media Chest Bear and Media Chest Horse have a secret pocket inside the head and 3 compartments in the body to store CDs, DVDs, speakers/cables, MP3 player and more.

While my son is a bit too young to appreciate the hidden storage pockets in the Treasure Chest Pet, he did enjoy pulling the head apart from the body and laying on it. I can see this as being helpful for travel. School-aged kids can keep their iPod, crayons, whatever, in the body and when they aren’t using those items they can rest their head on the pillow part and their feet on the body. Now that I think about it, I could probably use one for myself.

There you have it! Five Real Mom Reviews of some pretty neat travel and recreation kids gear. Questions? Leave a comment or email me at eastsacmom{at}gmail{dot}com.  Have your own review of any of these items? Do tell! Now then, on to the good stuff. As a reward for getting to the end of this post, you have the chance to win the following:

  • Baby B’Air – toddler size
  • AquaJogger Junior & Splash Club Handbook
  • Treasure Chest Pet – Accessory Chest Pig

To enter, just leave a comment below telling us WHICH item you’d like to win, along with your favorite East Sacramento summer activity.  The giveaway closes at 11:59PM on Thursday, July 22 and winners will be selected at random and announced on Friday, July 23. There will be THREE winners, one winner for each item. I have to also let you know that I was not compensated in any way by the makers of any of the products or by FOX 40. They did send me samples of the items to test out and review– I did, and that’s why I’m not giving away the SillyBibs or Snack Traps (unless you really want used stuff with my kid’s bite marks all over it…)

Thank you for your continued support of East Sacramento Mom, and for your comments and emails– we truly do love hearing from other East Sac Moms (and dads) in our community.