Movie Review: HOP

HOP Movie

On Saturday morning, BabyGirl and I headed to the movie theater to see HOP, a live-action/CGI-animation movie. Yes, Jewish girls heading to see what is basically a movie about Easter. But really, who doesn’t like a cute animated bunny with a British accent? And a funny as all get out chicken? Who speaks Spanglish.

The movie stars E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of Mr. Bunny (voiced by Hugh Laurie), who on the eve of having to take over the family business – making all the Easter candy in the world – leaves, suitably, Easter Island, for Hollywood to pursue his dream of becoming a drummer. Upon arrival, he encounters Fred, played by James Marsden. E.B. feins injury and convinces Fred to let him stay with him. Fred is himself disenchanted with his father’s expectations for him and so the two new friends embark on a series of hilarious yet heartwarming adventures.

The movie hops along (pun intended!) quite nicely. It has good music to help keep the pace moving. Music that will appeal to children but also keep the adults from snoozing. In addition, Fred’s father (played by Gary Cole) has some hilarious lines that most parents will appreciate.

The show stealer, to me, was Carlos (voiced by Hank Azaria). Carlos is a chick who is the second in command at the easter candy factory. When E.B. runs away, Carlos uses it as his chance to take over. So he stages a coup. Between the voice, the snarky lines and the silliness of the whole situation the parents were laughing as much as the kids.

There is one scene in the movie where E.B. plays drums to the song Dynamite. Leave it to the Jewish kid to wonder why the Easter Bunny is playing a Hanukkah Song. At least she knew the song. Most kids didn’t.

Being that the movie is about Easter, we probably would not have seen it without this opportunity. I’m glad we did because the story line about the struggle to live your dreams but also please  your parents is a universal theme. I doubt kids will pick up on it, but from a parents perspective it gives you pause to see that within each of us is something great. The movie is not heavy nor a game changer. It’s fun, light-hearted, has great music and is 90-minutes of family time.

Go see the movie!

This post is linked to Mingle Monday on Add A Pinch!

We attended the screening as guests of Universal and Klout, and as guests we were provided with access to the movie free of charge and prior to it opening to the public. We were first in line too so we got prime seats. YAY!

Sara

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Image used with permission. (c) FRS Healthy Energy

CycleGuy’s home for the Christmas weekend. This has been a very busy week for him at work.  Actually, busy doesn’t even explain! As many of you know, CycleGuy works in San Francisco for a beverage company. This week they signed a major NFL quarterback to be one of their spokespeople.

What was going to be a relaxing weekend turned into a quick turnaround, but it’s all going to be fun. As part of this huge deal going on with CycleGuy’s company they’ll be running ads during the BCS games. So this weekend turned into an impromptu gameday party. CycleGuy needed to invite a few people over to watch games — all in the name of work!

I couldn’t have people over and not have something for them to nosh on. But with big dinners in the plans, the traditional big gameday snacks were going to be too much. Also, I would be preparing food to take to Mama-San’s and I didn’t want to make a huge effort for an impromptu football-watching party.

I was going to Michaels to get some things to decorate cookies, so I’ll stop at Walmart next door and grab a pizza and some salad or fruit or veggies and dip.  I’ll see what catches my eye.

Oooh, something different in the pizza aisle! I love those rising crust pizzas. I discovered them a few years ago and renewed my love of pizza.  I like non-traditional pizzas — BBQ Chicken, Artichoke & Spinach. Unfortunately, frozen pizzas are usually the traditional pepperoni, sausage, supreme varieties. But this?  Buffalo Chicken? Now that sounds like something I could dig. And it would save me a zillion hours of making wings!

Everyone loved the pizza! I whipped up a ranch dressing dip to help cool down the spiciness. It was just the right amount of spicy and the coolness of the ranch was perfect. I happened to have everything in the house to make the ranch dip, but it would be great if they included a packet or two with the pizza.

I really wish there were more ‘non-traditional’ flavors of these rising crust pizzas. I really like them and they’re more economical than delivery. But, I think a lot of people would like the non-red-sauce kinds of pizza.

I did a Whrrl story about my little party, check it out. But beware, you’ll wish you had smell-a-webz!

More check-ins at Walmart Supercenter #4232
Powered by Whrrl

Disclosure: I was compensated for my time by Collective Bias. All images and opinions are my own. This is also my pizza, so go get your own!

Sara

Review: When Bad Things Happen To Good People

For the past month I’ve been slogging away reading When Bad Things Happen To Good People by Rabbi Harold Kushner. Why, during this joyous time of Hanukkah, Christmas and the upcoming New Year would I read such a book? One that seems to focus on how to uplift someone who is feeling low. A book that the average person wouldn’t run out to get. A book that deals with bad things happening. Who wants to read a book like that unless they’re feeling the suckitude of life and want someone to tell them that it’s going to be OK?

Well, I didn’t really want to read this book. It’s more that I felt compelled to read it. I felt that if I was going to meet Rabbi Harold Kushner, then I probably should at least read his zillion-selling international best seller.  Not that he’d probably care, but I’d feel better.  I mean, after all, I am one of those ‘good people’.  And why, you ask, would I be meeting Rabbi Kushner? He was here for a program with my synagogue.

Back in October, I wrote about how sometimes we speak before you think. And when I say we, I mean me. But it makes me feel better, because I’m sure you’ve never done that. But, well, I did. And to none other than my Rabbi, who happens to be friends with Rabbi Kushner. Incase you don’t remember, yah, I told him that I received a copy of this book a few years ago and once out of sight from the giver I threw it in the trash. Classy, huh?

But having read it now, I can say that I don’t think I’d have gotten out of it what I needed if I had read it back then.  There are still many parts of the book I don’t get. Basically, most of the parts about the biblical character JOB. In talking to my Rabbi, he assured me that I got what I needed and we’ll discuss the rest in due time.

Here’s the thing, the book was not what I had imagined it to be. If you’re not familiar with the bible (and when I say bible I really mean Old Testament and its commentaries) most of the book will be worthless to you. Rabbi Kushner discusses the fact that JOB had this series of unfortunate events and what his response was as well as the response of his friends and those G-D sent to comfort him.

The book goes on to talk about the often stated human view that G-D has everything planned. That these so-called bad things are as much an act of G-D as are the good things in our lives. Rabbi Kushner disagrees with that premise. Kushner believes that G-D is good but can not change the laws of nature, suspend reality, make magic, or force humans into doing only good. It is not G-D that does good or bad through people. Rather, it is because we were given free will that we can choose to do things that may cause a negative impact on others. For as much as G-D does not create the good things people do, HE does not create or control the bad things.

G-D can’t stop the person from drinking, getting in their car and driving. Nor can G-D make you drive slower, missing the intersection when the drunk driver runs the red light. It’s not G-D that causes the accident. Its not G-D punishing you for doing something wrong by having this person crash into you.

I tell you, I get it. But at the same time I’m not solidly grasping it. I think of that phrase ‘G-D will never give you more than you are capable of handling’ and I wince. What? How does G-D know what I can and can not do? If G-D did, then it would be really nice to know this in advance.

Toward the end, Rabbi Kushner states what should be put in bold and underlined. It’s not a matter of ‘Why me?’, but rather ‘Now what?’

When tragedy struck my family about 3-and-a-half years ago I tried to figure out why. Why me. Why my daughter. Why my family. I tried to come to grips with maybe G-D knew something I didn’t. I’ve been searching. I’ve been trying to explain the unexplainable. Other than the fact that some asshat made a choice, a bad choice from my perspective and that of the court, how do I explain what happened? Question after question.

And now I know.  Ok, I don’t really know, but I’m starting to understand why I responded like I did.  The ‘Why me?’ set in but the ‘Now what?’ took over. I did everything I could to make the law kick in and take over and bring judgement upon the perpetrator. On earth, G-D does not judge. We do. Judges do. People do. This ‘bad thing’ didn’t happen to my family because WE had done something wrong. Some jerk decided that he was making a choice. G-D did not make him do it. G-D is not evil! G-D doesn’t reign down bad or terrible or evil or horrible any more than HE can make you win the lottery, make you pregnant or not pregnant, save you from fire or prevent suffering.

If you’ve gotten to this point in your life and have never had anything bad happen, that’s great. Most of us haven’t. At some time we’ve all faced difficulties, challenges, events we view as bad. It’s not a matter of ‘Why me?’ or ‘Why not me?’. The final decision is, instead, ‘What am I going to do now?’ We’re all capable of overcoming bad things, and some people do it more easily, gracefully and effortlessly than others.

Few people know the tragedy that befell my family. I’ve only told about 10 people. All of whom, if I could capture their reaction on film, are horrified. Most of whom look at me and wonder how I’m still doing what I do. I’ll tell you, it’s not easy some days. But what was easy was I knew part of the answer to the ‘Now what?’ question.

Rabbi Kushner doesn’t discuss the guilt part in depth. He brushes up against it. It’s basically something we all just need to come to terms with like all other aspects of the ‘bad thing’. Sometimes we’re impacted by this bad thing not directly but rather because it happens to our child, our spouse, our sibling, our friend in the car. Yet, we’re riddled with guilt over what happened to someone we care about. It’s part of the fall-out, I think. It’s part of the fact that we’re connected to other people. Often we even say ‘If only it was me and not them.’ As with other aspects of dealing with tragedy, Kushner believes the recovery is in how we respond. And I’d have to agree.

Some people seem to snap back, others are never the same. Why is that? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is a very interesting and deep book. I also know it’s not for everyone. It’s definitely not one of those ‘Girls Book of the Month Club’ books. While I highly recommend it, I think you have to be in the right mindset to fully get what Rabbi Kushner is talking about. Just as I wasn’t ready to read this book before, only you will know if you’re ready to digest what Rabbi Kushner has to say.

I’d also like to add, this isn’t a Jewish book. There are references to the Old Testament and a few other Jewish scholars and scholarly works. However, it’s written by a Rabbi for anyone who is wondering ‘Why Me?’

Sara

Review & Giveaway: Align Probiotic [CLOSED]

Align® is a daily dietary supplement that helps restore your natural digestive balance with ongoing probiotic protection.*† Align is an easy-to-swallow capsule that contains Bifantis®, a unique patented probiotic, that you take just once a day, each day, to help bring peace to your digestive system.*

WhenI was at BlogHer I spoke with one of the doctors who worked with P&G on this product. He explained to e how this type of non-refrigerated probiotic works to give your body beneficial bacteria that are can help restore the delicate balance of your digestive system when they get upset due to diet, changes in schedule, travel, and stress, among other things. Occasional digestive upsets can result from changes in this delicate balance. Taking Align once a day, each day, helps restore this natural balance with unique Bifantis bacteria to help give you ongoing probiotic protection against occasional digestive upsets that can interrupt your life.*

All the parties, get togethers and events focused on eating are surely going to upset your digestive system. By taking Align, you can begin the process of restoring your natural balance, while building and maintaining a strong, healthy digestive system.* Continuing to use Align will help your body build and maintain a natural defense against occasional digestive upsets that can interfere with your plans.* Taking Align daily promotes a healthy digestive balance.  Psst… Many days I just don’t feel like eating yogurt or it’s not convenient.  Align does not require refrigeration so it’s perfect for those who travel.

  • Builds & maintains a healthy digestive system
  • Restores your natural digestive balance
  • Protects against occasional digestive upsets

Already the number one gastroenterologist recommended probiotic supplement,** Align has added to its honors with this Gold Edison Award™ for being one of the best new products of 2010.

GIVEAWAY

The fab people at Align® are offering 4 of my readers a 4 week supply of (28 Capsules) Align probiotic supplement (a $30 Value).

To enter, leave a comment telling me why you think a probiotic would help you or someone in your family.

Giveaway will end Wednesday, December 22nd at Midnight MST and is open to anyone in the U.S. One entry person (no duplicate email accounts, please). Winner will be drawn via Random.org and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new one will be drawn.

No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited by law.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
† When used daily as directed
** Among gastroenterologists who recommended a brand of probiotic in a Wolters Kluwer 2010 survey

DISCLOSURE: I WAS COMPENSATED FOR THIS POST BUT ALL OPINIONS ARE HONEST, TRUE AND MY OWN. LYING IS FOR LOSERS!
Sara

My Love of Homeopathy + Everyday Aches & Pains = Giveaway For You [CLOSED]

Come to my house and you’ll find tiny tubes of homeopathic pellets in nearly every medicine cabinet and bathroom drawer. Boiron is a household name in these parts because I have embraced my inner granola girl.  See, I don’t like traditional medicine all that much. I try to stay away from it because years ago I had to take regular medication and I hated how it made me feel. It fixes one thing and screws up something else.

I actually see a homeopath instead of an allopathic doctor. So when I was asked to give Boiron’s Arnicare Arnica Gel for Pain Relief a try, I checked with my homeopath first and then said to send it my way. Perfect timing for me because I can’t use the traditional OTC topical pain reliever since it interferes with my other remedy.

Arnicare Arnica Gel is a topical pain relief gel for everyday pain relief.

  • Muscle Aches & Stiffness
  • Swelling from injuries (got kids who play soccer or do cheer or gymnastics?)
  • Discoloration from Bruising (got kids? do you run into things?)

Here are some of the things I really like about this product

  • Paraben Free
  • Quickly Absorbed
  • Residue Free
  • Menthol Free
  • Non-Greasy
  • Can be used on children

I want to share this great product with you. It is available at most national retailers and natural food stores and runs about $7.00 for a 2.6oz tube.

GIVEAWAY

One reader will get a 2.6oz tube of Boiron’s Arnicare Arnica Gel for Pain Relief to help get your 2011 off to a pain-free start. To enter, leave a comment pretending you’re Aunt Bertha and tell me all your aches and pains that need Arnicare Arnica Gel.

Giveaway will end Wednesday, December 22nd at Midnight MST and is open to anyone in the U.S. One entry person (no duplicate email accounts, please). Winner will be drawn via Random.org and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new one will be drawn.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post but all opinions are honest, true and my own. Lying is for losers!
Sara

Mrs. Prindable’s Apples: An Apple A Day …..

Actual Mrs. Prindable's Apple Received

I was in college when I was first introduced to Mrs. Prindable’s luscious caramel and chocolate apples. These things are as big as your head! OK, not really, but they are ample to say the least.

My mom bought me my first Mrs. Prindable’s apple. It was a regular caramel apple with chocolate. I still remember it because it was so fancy and it was such a splurge. Not much has changed in these last 20-plus years. Even the prices of these beauties are still about the same. And they’re still certified kosher!

Mine arrived in a box with ice to keep it cool. That was great because it was still in the 80s here when it arrived. And it was left out front for a few hours too. I opened the shipping box to find a gorgeous purple box wrapped in bubble wrap for added protection.

Inside was a beautiful, extra large fancy caramel and 3-chocolate apple. It weight about 3 pounds! I put it in the refrigerator for a few days until CycleGuy came home for the weekend so we could all share. I’m giving like that! And, also, I knew that if I opened the package and started nibbling that I’d end up eating the whole thing. Even though it’s a large apple, I saw the serving size and knew that eating the entire tasty delight would not be prudent.

Oh, but when I did, heaven! The apple was crisp and tart to balance the sweet of the creamy and chewy caramel and all three chocolates that enrobed the apple. I followed the directions and took the apple out of the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature about 30-minutes. Definitely sound advice. Otherwise it would be too cold and the caramel would be too hard to truly enjoy.

Years ago I would watch QVC and buy the petite Mrs. Prindable’s gift sets when they were on the special value. Everyone loved them! Really, how can you go wrong with a tasty apple and quality caramel, chocolate and other delicious toppings? And they always reminded me of my mom.

One of the things I love about Mrs. Prindable’s is that they are Kosher. I have friends that keep kosher and it’s always a challenge to find them a gift to send for the holiday that will make a gathering extra special and less stress.  Who wouldn’t want to get a jumbo apple with a dreidel? My favorite, though is the petite apple 4-pack for either Hanukkah or Christmas.

The petite apples are just so adorable. You get to try different flavor combination, and for under $30 there are several gift sets from which to choose. Really, you can’t go wrong ordering these for friends and family as a gift or as a desert for your family.

Besides the fact that I’m not a great photographer, I don’t have any pictures of the apple cut up. Why? Because if I moved away from my apple to take pictures someone, who shall remain nameless, would take my apple. All because that person is trying to keep the doctor away.  I’m not sure this is what was intended, but I’m pretty sure that my doctor wouldn’t turn one down if I were to show up with one!

If you want to give a quality gift to a colleague, or a hostess gift or to send to friends and family, you can’t go wrong with Mrs. Prindable’s.  They are the original! I’ve tasted others and I’ll stick with Mrs. Prindable’s, thank you.  You should too!

Now you’re wanting one, right? And you’re asking yourself “How do you order?”

The Mrs. Prindable’s website is easy to navigate and will make you drool so get a tissue before you go there. Also, they’re giving away an Apple a Day on their Facebook. You can read all about how you can enter to win a Mrs. Prindable’s apple.

Disclosure: My friend Kim loves me so much she sent me a Mrs. Prindable’s apple.  Actually, Kim owns Mom Impact and they work with Mrs. Prindable’s and the Mrs. Prindable’s fairies sent me one because I’m a member of Mom Impact and it is all kinds of awesome!

Sara

Waiting For Superman

On Tuesday, BabyGirl and I attended a special screening of the documentary Waiting For Superman. WOW! What an amazing film. I’ve been following the buzz about it for several months and watched the trailer back in May some time. I’d heard the buzz from Sundance. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

The other day I wrote about two teachers that made a difference in my life. When I wrote that post I didn’t know I’d be seeing this film. I wrote it because I’d heard about Waiting for Superman and wanted to put my perspective on what good teachers can do.

The documentary by Davis Guggenheim, the Academy Award®-winning director of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, is a first hand glimpse into the public education system in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children. Guggenheim profiles five beautiful children and the educational dreams they and their families have for the future. He also talks to change-makers in the educational system. People who are so passionate about good education that they left ‘the system’ to make radical changes in the charter school segment of the public schools.

I cried. Not only for all the kids who get the short end of the stick year after year, but also because one person truly can make a difference. People like Geoffrey Canada, Bill Strickland, and Michelle Rhee. People who are strange in their belief that kids deserve quality teachers.

I was angry, mad and frustrated. Not only because I know how ridiculous the school district/central office setup is but at the power the teachers unions wield in keeping our kids down. I’m not a fan of unions and I’m not here to debate their value and place. But when a collective bargaining group has so much power that horrible teachers can’t be terminated EVER, there’s a problem. The dollar costs of their ineptitude are staggering but the long-term impact on our children, our economy, our justice system and our education system are unacceptable!

I was overjoyed. And I felt their sadness. I had a lump in my throat at the end of the film. I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say, it was very moving and I felt very invested in what was going to happen to these kids.

So why would I want to see this movie if I am a homeschooler? Why would I speak out and support public education? Because I was a product of it. Because I’ve sat through classes with teachers who shouldn’t be teaching pet training, much less kids! And because I pay taxes and I deserve to know the truth and speak up for the reform I think should happen.

I just so happen to live in a state with an abysmal educational record. That’s not saying much given the craptastic state of most public schools in the US. I also have a choice. I can choose to homeschool. CycleGuy and I made the decision for me to homeschool BabyGirl. Like those who choose private school, homeschooling can be a huge financial sacrifice. But I guarantee you, I can do more with $9,000 (the average expenditure per child in public school) than any school district. Most of us could. Yet year after year, we give carte blanche to total strangers to teach our youth. And daily we secretly pray that they don’t screw these kids up.

If public education was a business, it would be bankrupt. Well, actually it is. Maybe not financial, but on nearly every other front it is. But it’s like most things when human capital is the key factor. Customer service is non-existent in the public school system. And we’ve accepted the kick in the teeth year after year.

We’ve accepted, as the norm, that kids won’t graduate from high school, that reading significantly below grade level is OK, that math knowledge is optional if it’s too hard. We stopped asking questions of the educational leadership long ago. And we’ve looked the other way and made and/or accepted excuses of poor teachers.

Maybe this film with be a wake up call. Education is not only for the privileged. Education is important not only for the individua but also for our country. We can’t continue to fall behind.

What can you do?

1. Go see the film – Waiting For Superman is in limited release so check their site for a theater near you.

2. Buy your movie ticket online and get at $15 Gift Code to give to a classroom of your choice on Donors Choose.

3. Don’t settle – your kids may be getting a good education but these are still YOUR tax dollars. Speak up and demand better. Take Action!

Disclosure: BabyGirl and I were provided admission to the screening courtesy of Savvy Source. We were also each given a $15 Gift Card to donate to the project of our choosing at Donors Choose. The views and opinions contained herein are mine and I was not required to blog or state any position or opinion in exchange for attending the screening. I’m writing about it because every child is worth it!

Sara

Mastermind Game Review & Giveaway [CLOSED]

Have you ever told your kids to find a book and read? Or play a quiet game? Have you wanted to play board games with guests but wanted something a little more sophisticated? Even though I only have one child, quiet is something I often long for. Even if I’m going to play the game, I don’t always want the buzzing or zapping or whirring of an electronic game. Or the active nature of the Wii.

Sometimes, I want to sit down and have my mind be still. Tune out all the sounds and electronics and do something interactive with BabyGirl. My brother and I played board games when we were kids and while they often devolved into a screaming match of “you cheated” and “no I didn’t”, it was the brain games that were always the most fun. The games where it was truly me against my much smarter (please DO NOT tell him I am saying that or my life will never be the same) brother.

Today, though, it seems kids still crave the mental gymnastics of brain teasers, mental math games and games of strategy (or, strategery if you’re being silly in my house!). That’s why I’ve really enjoyed the Mastermind game I got at the SITS Girls’ Bloggy Boot Camp in San Francisco. I can still engage with BabyGirl and I don’t have to look at TV or listing to electronic sounds.

And she gets to try and outsmart Mamma! Now, we all know that’s a ton of fun!!

With its colorful pegs and very simple directions, kids of all ages can play Mastermind. It does have small parts, so keep it away from the little ones though. BabyGirl picks the 4 pegs she wants as the secret code and places them in the order she wants in the compartment. Then, it’s up to me or any willing sucker (uh, player) to try and break the code.

Except for the occasional misplaced marker, it’s a game with lots of laughter and bantering. Sometimes, I even hear the occasional taunt when BabyGirl plays with her daddy. They’re both pretty competitive!

Each game takes about 10 – 15 minutes, just about the right amount of time to avoid becoming bored. Because just when you start to think the kids will get bored, the stakes are raised and someone is about to break the code.

We have all three versions of the Mastermind games – Deluxe, Standard and Travel. We actually do travel with the game just incase we’re stuck in an airport or have too much down time. It’s also great on a plane because it’s compact and everything has it’s own compartment so the pieces don’t get loose. We love taking ours to restaurants to pass the time waiting for our food.

Mastermind is a classic game that harkens back to the pre-electronic game days. No batteries needed. Just the desire to make your opponent work hard to break your code or be the best codebreakers! Taking turns, thinking, figuring out patterns – all the things needed to keep the brain in tiptop shape!

Most anyone can play, especially older family members who may not know how to use electronic games. And while there is plenty excitement, it’s a relatively quite game that the kids can play when mom or dad need quiet time or if using the travel game out at a restaurant, in an airport or on a plane or train. The travel version is terrific for camping or at hotels when the kids start in with the “I’m bored!”.

Does your household need one? Do you think this is the key to a peaceful meal at a restaurant? Then you’re in luck!

Mastermind is giving one reader their choice of the Standard or Travel version of the game. Whether at home or on the go, you and your family will love this game!

How to Enter: Leave a comment telling me if you grew up playing Mastermind. Easy as that! Of course, if you don’t follow me on Twitter you can always do that. You can also subscribe to my blog via email or in a reader to get me delivered to you daily. I’m on Facebook too!

Details, Details: One entry per person. Multiple entries will be deleted. Please provide a valid email so you can be contacted should you win. This giveaway will end at 11:59pm on Monday October 4th.

Sara

CardMobili – Organize and Manage Loyalty Cards

I don’t know about you, but my keychain looks like I’m the super of a large complex. Only, instead of keys it’s all those little plastic loyalty and membership cards. And that doesn’t include the stack of them in my purse for all those places that don’t even have the keychain cards. Funny thing is, I have 22 loyalty cards on my keychain but only 2 keys.

In addition to all the loyalty cards for the various stores, I have several membership cards too. You know, library, rental car, airline frequent flyer card, hotel cards. You name a place and I probably have a card. Bet you do too! They may be tiny pieces of plastic but they hold our access to great deals! But sometimes I don’t want to look like Schneider from One Day At A Time (yes, I’m dating myself!). I want to grab that cute purse and be stylish. Not with loyalty-card-a-palooza keychain, though!

And, do you think I can get CycleGuy to remember all these cards? No way! He has enough to carry his debit card and ID, much less grocery cards and who knows what all else.

Enter CardMobili, an online website and smartphone app to help organize and manage all those loyalty and membership cards. I have an iPhone so I downloaded the CardMobili app directly from iTunes on my phone. It took about 3 minutes.

I actually set up my account online because for me it’s easier to type. And for CardMobili you will need to wait for a confirmation email before your account is activated. The email is almost instantaneous.

I found it easier to add all my cards from the their website. I had quite a few and I’m a better typer on the computer than I am on my phone. It was pretty quick. Although, I would like to have an alphabetical listing of the cards rather than having to type in the store name and hope it matches or scroll through all of the cards. It would be much faster to just click on ‘S’ and find Safeway rather than typing it in the search box or scrolling through, page by page. I’d also like for it to know which cards I use most and have those at the top. Maybe as more people use it they’ll add that feature.

I added the personal iPhone PIN feature to my app.  It was easy to set up and requires a 4 digit numeral and will ask for you to confirm it on set-up. Now, when I launch the app I enter my PIN and I’m in. It adds a few seconds, but for my peace of mind it’s worth it.

You’re supposed to be able to scan the barcode that is loaded into the app. So off I went to test this out. My library card wouldn’t scan but that could have been my issue in not setting it up correctly or their system not being able to read this type of barcode. I was able to scan at CVS which was pretty cool. Now I may actually use the loyalty cards I’ve got stashed away!

I know you’ll like the convenience of this app, so head over to CardMobili and set up an account.  If you want to do it from your phone, check out the free CardMobili app on iTunes.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Cardmobili is free to sign up and use.
  • The mobile app is available for iPhone, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and other JAVA phones.
  • Anyone can add loyalty, shopper, library or membership cards to their account
  • User can share cards with family & friends
  • At the store, just show your card’s barcode/number (my not always work)
  • Users can tell Facebook friends about cards they are adding to their account & share offers they know about.
  • There is a 4-digit optional PIN feature on the iPhone & JAVA app
DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post written by me as part of a Team Inexpensively tour, but all opinions are 100% mine.
Sara

Morton’s The Steakhouse: Dinner for 2 Under $40!

A few weeks ago I was craving steak. Not just any steak. Fancy, steakhouse steak. But, as you probably know, those places tend to a bit of a budget buster for your average night out. Morton’s The Steakhouse to the rescue! Really, you say? Absolutely! Would you believe that I had dinner at Morton’s for under $40. And I was full and took home leftover? Seriously!

Every Monday through Friday from 5:00 – 6:30pm and 9:00-11:00pm you can take advantage of Power Hour in The Bar. This is an excellent opportunity to have a nice meal at Mortons for a budget friendly price.

What’s on the menu you ask? Is there anything worthwhile? Yes! There are many tasty ‘Bites‘ and you’ll want to have them all!!

Each of the following are $5, when you order at the bar during Power Hour.

Mini Prime Cheeseburger Trio – Morton’s USDA Prime beef, topped with cheddar cheese, tomato slices, iceberg lettuce and onion, and served on silver dollar rolls

Four Petite Filet Mignon Sandwiches – Morton’s signature filet mignon sandwiches with mustard mayonnaise sauce, served on seeded ciabatta dinner rolls

Chicken Goujonettes – Crispy fried chicken strips served with mustard mayonnaise

Jumbo Lump Crab, Spinach & Artichoke Dip – served with toasted bread croutons

Blue Cheese French Fries

Iceberg Wedge Bites – a smaller version of the full salad served in the dining room

Three Mini Crab Cakes

Fresh Oysters on the Half Shell – $1.50 per piece

Colossal Shrimp – $2.50 per piece

There are also drink special for beer ($4), wine and cosmos ($7). I did not order any alcoholic drinks because I was there with my best BabyGirl.

We ordered Tomato-Basil soup (not pictured, because BabyGirl started in on it before I could get the camera out), Mini Cheeseburgers, Filet Mignon Sandwiches, Blue Cheese Fries and the Iceberg Wedge Bites. It was all washed down with a very tasty lemonade ($3).

I realize this is probably not a place you’d take your 7-year old. But, BabyGirl and I were having a little celebration. And she’s a great dining companion because she enjoys good food and is always up for something new.

BabyGirl loves soup! She will eat soup every day all year ’round if she could. So, when the server mentioned soup BabyGirl was all over it. It was a Tomato-Basil soup that looked creamy but was not cream-based. It came in a very large bowl, similar to what is served in the dining room. It was smooth and creamy and the perfect temperature to begin eating without worry of burning your lips off. This is always my biggest concern with BabyGirl having soup at a restaurant. The soup tasted like fresh tomatoes and the basil was fragrant but not overpowering. I was able to convince her to let me have a few spoonsful, but she was not really wanting to share. Her words to describe the soup: “Absolutely delicious!”

[Pretend there is a photo of the Tomato-Basil soup here]

I started with the Iceberg Wedge Bites. This is a substantial salad. Wedges of iceberg lettuce (I know, not all that nutritious), chopped tomatoes, bacon bits, and blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles. It was a bit much with the crumbles, according to BabyGirl. This is basically a smaller version of the salad they serve in the dining room. It was crispy and full of flavor. I picked off the bacon bits because I didn’t want to eat them but I wanted you to see how the salad was served. I think it is a big enough salad to share and still feel full if you’re having one of the other Bites.

BabyGirl wanted the Mini Cheeseburgers. They were the perfect size for her, although 3 was too much. She ate one – and she took off the lettuce and tomato. These alone would be a filling meal. The roll was crispy on the outside and soft inside. They toast the buns, like a nice restaurant should. And the burger …. just as you would expect from Morton’s. Juicy, tasty, lean and melt in your mouth. We ordered the burgers medium and that’s exactly how they came out.

I chose the Filet Mignon Sandwiches. The bread is grilled, and although I’m not supposed to eat wheat (without getting too personal, let’s just say it doesn’t like me), I took one for the team and had a complete sandwich. The filet mignon steak is tender and juicy, again, just as you would expect from a steak at Morton’s. Each steak has a 1oz piece on it. It sounds tiny but I assure you that it is sufficient. Combined, you have 4oz of steak which is a good portion size.

We also ordered the Blue Cheese Fries. BabyGirl did not want the blue cheese on hers, so we ordered it 1/2 and 1/2, which you’ll see in the picture. For fries, they were pretty basic. The blue cheese was just too much, especially since we had the salad and that had blue cheese dressing and crumbles. Really, though, who doesn’t love hot and fresh fries.

All said, we had a very substantial meal and still took home fries, 2 mini cheeseburgers and 1 filet mignon sandwich. With our 2 lemonades (they put BabyGirl’s in a to go cup for us), soup, salad, mini cheeseburgers, filet mignon sandwiches, fries and a 15% tip, we were out the door for $36. [Don’t get on me about the tip. Normally, I tip a minimum of 20%, but our server was slow and not attentive at all. So I went with the 15%] Maybe not ultra budget, but for a nice meal with quality ingredients I’d say this is a great frugal dining experience. We also had enough for lunch the following day.

If you’re looking for a nice place, that is quiet and can be frugal for a ‘dinner and a movie’ date night or meet-up with friends I’d definitely recommend Morton’s The Steakhouse Power Hour. Find a location near you!

Disclosure: I paid for this meal. This is my opinion. I was not provided anything free in exchange for my review or opinion.

Sara