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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Neutrogena UltraSheer® Liquid Daily Sunblock SPF 70

Having experienced more than my fair share of fun in the sun in my teens and 20s, I'm always on the lookout for a stellar sunscreen, particularly for my face (anything to stave off Mr. Wrinkles!). That's why I was thrilled when the makers of Neutrogena UltraSheer® Liquid Daily Sunblock contacted me about trying their product.

I received my sunblock in an SPF of 70 a few days ago and started using it right away. My highest priorities when it comes to a facial sunscreen or sunblock are that it is effective, light weight, and sheer enough to avoid the tell tale "cakey" white hair line. Although it is too soon to determine the effectiveness of this particular product, I have been pleased with the fact that it is incredibly light weight and leaves no chalky residue. That being said, the texture is definitely that of a sunblock, not a sunscreen...more matte and less slip. For me, this is a good thing. Given that I spend many hours each day outside with my little ones, I like the sense that I am providing a barrier between my face and the sun's glorious but harmful rays. I am looking forward to continuing to test my Neutrogena UltraSheer® Liquid Daily Sunblock over the next few weeks to see where it ranks on the effectiveness factor!

Friday, July 30, 2010

FREE Shipping Friday!

Please join us for Ellia C. Naturals' FREE Shipping Friday!

Enjoy FREE shipping on all Ellia C. Naturals products now through midnight tonight. Use shipping code FRIDAY at checkout.

Offer valid on Ellia C. Naturals products only for shipping within the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Alaska.

Friday Food For Thought

A child's life
is like a piece of paper
on which every person
leaves a mark.

~ Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Total Pillow Review & Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.

As a physical therapist who specialized in sports and orthopedic injuries (currently on hiatus to be with the littles!), I know and can appreciate the importance of a quality pillow for proper positioning. Whether in transit or relaxing at home, the ability to maintain good alignment of your body, the spine in particular, is incredibly important for minimizing major and minor aches and pains.

The Total Pillow is a positioning device with a large degree of versatility. Say goodbye to foam, down, and fiber-filled pillows that bottom out and lose their shape over time. The Total Pillow is filled with microbeads (similar to an updated stress relief ball) and can be manipulated into numerous configurations easily without losing its shape. It's covered with a stretchy, almost neoprene-type fabric (though thinner than traditional neoprene) and has a softer fleece on the front. The Total Pillow can be used as a seat cushion, neck support, lumbar support, head rest, and regular pillow. It can also be used for positioning of the arms and/or legs to provide for optimal spinal alignment.

I gave it a test run in my office chair during a marathon site update the other evening and thought it provided very good lumbar support. It was a little on the bulky side when folded over compared to what I usually recommend for a lumbar roll (small pillow placed against the chair in the small of the back to support the lower spine), but I found that it was still comfortable when placed in a chair with good bones (wouldn't recommend this for use with a flexible back chair). I then passed it off to my husband for the ultimate test...a night's sleep. Bless his heart, my husband is the consummate pillow fluffer! He will tear up a pillow trying to find "his spot" for sleeping. All of the fluffing and folding in an attempt to find a position of comfort typically ruins the pillows I buy him in a matter of months. In most cases, I can see some degree of breakdown after just a couple of nights! I am happy to report that there was none of that with The Total Pillow. It held up beautifully to his testing and my sweetie thought it was actually very that's saying something!

The primary drawbacks for me are that it requires spot cleaning and is recommended for adults only. With 4 little ones and a house full of activity, I am always in search of wash and go products. Also, because it is filled with microbeads, it can be dangerous for children should they ingest the beads somehow (for example, following a puncture of the pillow). However, this is clearly marked on the packaging and, by design, it is not really a pillow I would recommend for little ones anyway.

To Purchase: Total Pillow can be purchased for $19.99, plus S&H. Right now, they are having a special promotion during which you can get a second pillow free, plus some extra compresses and compress covers.

Win Your Own: Enter to win your very own Total Pillow by doing any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each entry and include your email if not visible in your profile, so I can contact you if you win. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Mandatory Entry:
Stop by Total Pillow and let me know what you find most appealing about this pillow...easy as pie!

Extra Entries:

1. Become a follower of Bullfrogs & Butterflies Baby Blog or let me know that you already are (and thank you!) -
2. Become a fan of Ellia C. Naturals on Facebook
3. Follow me on Twitter
4. Tweet about this giveaway and link back to @ElliaCNaturals - 1 extra entry per day
5. Add our button to your blog (please provide your link)

The winner will be selected by on August 12th. Good luck :)

(Disclosure: I received The Total Pillow, free of charge from Total Pillow, for the purposes of this review. The opinions expressed in this review are honest and based on my own experiences and those of my family.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sweets from Sweet Harper

The other day I was surprised with not one, but two Sa-weet blogger awards from the always gracious Tracy over at Sweet Harper (blushing)! Not only is she the uber talented artisan behind some of The Bean's most coveted hair candy, but she is a tried and true genuine sweetheart as well. The rules are the same for each, so I decided to tackle them together...

Rules are as follows: (1) Thank whomever gave you the award (2) Tell 10 things about yourself that your readers might not know about you and (3) pay it forward by nominating some awesome bloggers you've recently discovered.

So...a huge Thank You to my super sweet comrade, Tracy!

1. I would love to share my own delectable sweet green tea with mint (my favorite drink this summer) with my deprived friend, Tracy, who has never had the pleasure of tasting it!
2. I'm not incredibly fond of sweets for the sake of sweetness, but give me a great salty/sweet combo and you've got me at "Hello"!
3. I do most of the grilling in our household :)
4. In my pre-baby days I wore a size 4 and was a workout fanatic...a bit of a far cry from that now (ah, the shame of it).
5. I have 4 incredibly talented and funny wee ones and wouldn't trade them for my pre-baby body or anything else in the world!
6. I love a good belly laugh and prefer to put my energy into smiling rather than frowning (uses waaaay too many muscles to frown!).
7. There will always be those who try to tear you down in order to feel better about themselves...I decided long ago to leave their fate to someone else.
8. Family is the most important thing to me next to my own relationship with God. Try to mess with either and you may draw back a nub.
9. I have fallen into the black hole of Twitter waaaaaay too many times!
10. I have not known what it's like to be free from diapers for the past 6 years!

Time to Pay It Forward...totally impossible to list all of my faves, so here is just a taste :)

Amanda @ Cutie Pa Tutus
Kim @ Yummy Suds
Lindsay @ Living With Lindsay
Kristie @ Bella's Bowtique
Heather @ Heather Bullard

To my recipients: There is absolutely
no pressure to participate (the choice is totally up to you). However, please know that I think each of you is fabulicious and my romps through the blogoshere rock because of you!

Koala Kraze

Photo and craft instructions by

Looking for the perfect way to memorialize your summer trip to the beach? Why not give these cuddly koalas a try...I mean really, can you say Ca-ute?! Here's the How To:

1. Experiment with different combinations to come up with animal shapes before gluing everything into place. We chose small scallop and clam shells for the koalas, and long razor clams decorated with ring-top cowries for the tree.

2. Use small cushions of polymer clay, which is pliable and slightly sticky, to test out various arrangements. For assembly, a tacky, quick-drying glue works best. Build heads and bodies separately. Before joining larger parts, use a brush to glue on small parts (such as beads for eyes) and clay to support creatures while glue dries.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sweet on Sorbet!

Photo and recipe compliments of

This summer we were blessed to receive the gift of an ice cream maker from my sweet mama. Always a sure fire hit, the kids have been chomping at the bit to get a chance to make one of their favorite sweet treats. The oldest loves chocolate, the second is vanilla to the core, and the baby makes yummy tummy noises at whatever goodies she's offered. But bless his heart, my sweet #3 is currently battling a host of food allergies, including milk, casein, eggs, peanuts/tree nuts, and more!

It's always challenging to keep a balance between not depriving the other kids of foods they can have and not making Micah feel left out because of all of things he can't have. So, it was important to me to find a yummy recipe that he could enjoy with the ice cream maker as well...bring on the yummy tummy noises!

Author Tamasin Day-Lewis adds whole raspberries to this sorbet at the last moment of churning to create a chunky texture.

1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 lb. fresh raspberries (about 5 cups)
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve. Reduce heat to low and simmer, without stirring, to make a syrup, for 5 minutes.

2. Pour the syrup into a medium bowl, stir in vanilla extract, and transfer to the freezer to let chill for 15 minutes.

3. Purée 1 lb. of the raspberries (about 4 cups) with the syrup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape the purée through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard the seeds. Stir lemon juice into the raspberry purée and pour it into a 2-quart ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions until almost set but still a little slushy, about 25 minutes.

4. Add remaining raspberries (about 1 cup) and continue freezing in the ice cream maker for about 5 minutes. Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container and freeze until completely set, about 1 hour.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Food For Thought

We tend to forget
that happiness doesn't come
as a result of getting something
we don't have,
but rather of recognizing and appreciating
what we do have.

~ Frederick Keonig

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revving Up for a Cosmetics Roller Coaster Ride

Those who have been visiting with me for a while may remember the (still ongoing) saga with the CPSIA legislation (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) that is threatening to undermine small businesses in the spectrum of child-centered toys, clothing, accessories, and related products, including Bullfrogs & Butterflies Baby Boutique, llc.

With the introduction of The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, it appears I will be embarking on another roller coaster ride in the world of small business, this time with Ellia C. Naturals. A recent series of posts on The Indie Business Blog have outlined the high points in a clear, concise manner and Donna Maria did a wonderful job of clarifying this issue in her most recent post. Please take the time to stop by, educate yourself, and see what you can do to help ensure the preservation of the handmade bath and body goodies that you have come to know and love from your favorite artisans.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Hose Tag

Let the games begin!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Use of Essential Oils to Fight Antibiotic Resistant Super Bugs

Artisans in the realm of handmade skin care have long known and utilized the healing properties of certain essential oils topically to help customers with relatively non-invasive skin conditions. However, this spring the Society for General Microbiology in England released a study suggesting they may be capable of even more.

According to the study, certain essential oils, such as thyme and cinnamon, may also be effective at fighting hospital-based antibiotic-resistant infections such as MRSA (meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and other forms of staph (Staphylococcus). The study confirms what alternative medical practitioners have contended for years...that some essential oils have antimicrobial properties. Essential oils have been used therapeutically in many countries for hundreds of years, though very little is known even today about how they exert their antimicrobial effects in humans. It is important to note that these oils generally require dilution in some medium, such as a carrier oil, or diffusion into the air for sanitization purposes, as direct application is not generally tolerated or advised.

Here is a list of some of the more commonly used essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Please remember that you should always consult your health care provider about the use of herbs and essential oils prior to use, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or administering to children.

Angelica - (Angelica archangelica or A. officinalis) Anti-infectious and strengthens the immune system but is photosensitising so do not used on areas of the skin that will be exposed to sunlight.
Bay - (Laurus nobilis) Stimulating and spicy in fragrance, bay oil is strong against drug-resistant contageons.
Bergamot - (Citrus bergamia) An antiseptic essential oil that not only helps destroy infectious microbes, but also helps strengthen the immune system. Photosensitising.
Black Pepper - (Piper nigrum) A warming essential oil that acts against respiratory congestion, viruses and bacteria.
Cinnamon - (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) An antiseptic essential oil that will irritate skin if applied topically.
Cypress - (Cupressus sempervirens) A familiar fragrance for men's cologne and aftershaves, this essential oil has an antiseptic effect.
Eucalyptus - (Eucalyptus globulus, E. radiata, E. citriodora) Helps clear respiratory congestion and kills bacteria as well as other germs.
Garlic - (Allium sativum) Usually seen in extract form in capsules rather than pure essential oil - highly antiseptic, antibacterial and detoxifying.
- (Pelargonium graveolens) Antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial as well as mixing well with other essential oils.
Ginger - (Zingiber officinale) Seems to increase natural immune defenses at the cellular level and is strong against herpes, colds, and other viruses.
Juniper - (Juniperus communis) A disinfectant essential oil traditionally used to ward off infectious diseases.
Lavender - (Lavendula officinalis, L. angustifolia) The universal oil, lavender is soothing, anti-inflammatory and anti-infectious.
Myrrh - (Commiphora myrrha) An antiseptic essential oil that is also antifungal, antibacterial and good against respiratory infections.
Peppermint - (Mentha piperita) Diffused in the air to ease lung congestion and respiratory infections and when combined with Lavender, it is particular strong against colds and flu.
Pine - (Pinus sylvestris) A disinfectant and antiseptic essential oil that is useful against pneumonia and other lung ailments. Can irritate the skin if applied directly.
Ravensara - (Ravensara aromatica; Cinnamomum camphora) Strong against all viruses, even herpes and other viral infections.
Rosemary- (Rosmarinus officinalis) A very strong antiseptic, rosemary is also useful for respiratory ailments making it a logical choice for influenza outbreaks.
Tea Tree - (Melaleuca alternifolia) Better against fungi and bacteria, tea tree is still effective against viral infections and seems to also increase the speed with which the immune system responds to threats of infections.
Thyme - (Thymus vulgaris) Strong antiseptic and in warding off infections, thyme essential oil can be used as an inhalation to fight the flu.

** The information contained in this site regarding the use of herbs and essential oils is not intended to be a substitute for individuals seeking the advice of a qualified health care provider. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness. As always, consult your health care provider before using herbal remedies and essential oils personally or on a loved one.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our New Tenant

Photo by

Though not an actual snap of our new little friend , I passed by a similar looking fellow this afternoon while taking an extra bag of trash out to the curb (sorry folks, but no way was I getting close enough to take my own pic!) . It appears as though a not so little black snake has taken up residence in a cozy little corner on the side of our garage. While my mind tells me that he is harmless to humans and actually quite useful in gardens for vermin control, my eyes, heart, and fight or flight response tell me that he is definitely not welcome on this particular property!

Little known fact for my readers: I have a very strong, somewhat irrational fear of snakes!
My own fears aside, I have 4 little wee ones to think about too. We've had a wonderfully sunny summer thus far and spend most days outdoors. I realize that he is "more afraid of us than we are of him" and that the noise of 4 little ones alone will likely scare him off when we're outside, but I can't help being nervous that one of them will come waltzing across the lawn or around the corner of the house and suffer a mini heart attack upon seeing him!

As an added point of contention, my sister and her 2 young children are coming into town tomorrow for a lengthy visit and we've made plans for lots of cousin-play...much of which is designed to take advantage of the outdoors and this gorgeous weather we've been having.

My husband popped home from work today with a couple of colleagues after I told him about "the sighting" to see if they could find the little guy, but no luck. They were, however, able to locate his apparent living quarters. After they left, I sat down with the boys and talked about the snake, reassured them that he is harmless to humans, and reiterated prior discussions about not investigating ground holes of unknown origin around the yard (we also currently have an underground wasp infestation problem near a partial fence on the property!). They seemed to understand and didn't appear to be bothered by the news at all (of course, I did give an Academy Award-winning performance filled with bravery and courage!). Let's hope he decides rather quickly that this home, with all of its noise and activity, is not the right fit for him!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Food For Thought

Success is not the key to Happiness.
Happiness is the key to success.
If you love what you're doing,
You will be successful.

~ Herman Cain

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Goodies from CSN Stores!

As I was sitting at my vanity this morning, scurrying through my list of emails before the little ones awoke, I received a sweet, sweet surprise...the opportunity to review a fabulous product from CSN Stores! I've had the pleasure of offering some of their incredible products to you in the past through CSN Stores sponsored giveaways, and now I have the privilege of reviewing a wonderful item myself and sharing my experiences with you. More details to follow, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Get Ready for Back to School with My Coupons

It's the middle of July and summer is in full swing. We've been soaking up the sun and having a blast doing all of our favorite outdoor summer activities. However, while doing my weekly grocery and errand run last weekend, I noticed that all of my favorite retailers already have their shelves stocked to the max with Back to School supplies! My eldest starts First Grade this year and I shudder to think what I may spend once the supply list arrives from his new elementary school.

Always up for a sweet deal, I'll be conducting my usual share of online research to find some fabulous coupon codes to help me out. Fortunately for me (and you!), I was recently introduced to My Coupons, a website with coupons listed for over 6,000 merchants. A staggering number, I know, and the best part is that they are adding retailers daily! This user friendly site allows you to search for coupons by store and category and offers both online and printable coupon formats. Another interesting feature is that My Coupons allows anyone to submit a coupon, providing for even more great deals. From general baby products and diapers to school supplies and clothing, there is a wide range of savings to be had.

I was thrilled to see all of the savings available in the Back to School category, but will also plan to load up on deals from the Children's Products, Books and Magazines, and Photography Accessories categories. For those of you who are more visual in nature, here's a handy video tutorial:

A great resource for parents and teachers alike, My Coupons is a great resource for Back to School savings (even for my home schooling friends!) and more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

History In The Making

We're baa-aack *smile* and what a wonderful time we had! This year we decided to load up the kids and take a road trip to The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. It was unbelievably hot and humid (sunny, sticky, and over 100 degrees every day we were there), but the kids were troopers to the end. Armed with our water bottles, spray mister, sunscreen, and super fabulous Bumbleride Indie Twin (my absolute, hands-down favorite double stroller!), we hit the ground running to check out all of the history that D.C. has to offer...including the 19 buildings of the Smithsonian (no, we did not make it to all of them)!

I seriously wish I had taken my pedometer to see just how many miles our little tootsies logged in all, but alas, I did not. What I can say is it was a lot! The boys are huge animal fans...dinos, mammals, aquatic name 'em, they love 'em. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time exploring in the Museum of Natural History and the nearby Baltimore Aquarium. It was amazing to see all of the kids, including little Ellia, soaking up all of the history around them, while at the same time, making some family history of our own in the form of memories to last a lifetime.

During our vacation, we also hit the Air & Space Museum (very cool!), Ford Theater (complete with loads of interesting conspiracy theory), The White House, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, Korean War Memorial, WWII Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, George Washington Monument, and Arlington Cemetery. We also managed to squeeze in a wonderful backyard barbecue with one of my husband's college friends and his family in nearby Baltimore.

We had such an incredible time that even Lebron James' announcement that he is leaving our Cavaliers to move to the Heat couldn't sour the trip *wink* (though the kids will miss getting to see him play in person). We saw amazing things, learned about the past of our country and our world, and gained a renewed appreciation for all that God has created. It was truly a trip to remember!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Have a safe and Happy 4th!

Just a reminder that we will be taking a well deserved vacation this week. Will be back to work revived and refreshed on 7/13/10!

Friday, July 2, 2010

To My Husband

18 1/2 years ago, I met a man who changed my life forever. 10 years ago today, I married him. Thank you, Bubby, for everything we've shared...the laughter and tears, the good times and challenges, the loss of a baby and births of 4 very special wee ones, the growing older and definitely wiser...we've packed a lot into a relatively short period of time. Can't wait to see what the rest of this lifetime holds for us!
I love you.

Watermelon Mint Popsicles

* Photo and recipe from Eating Out Loud

Ok, pretty obvious I'm on a watermelon kick lately. For those who are wondering, yes, I guess it is a bit of an addiction...but what a yummy and harmless addiction it is!

During the hot, sticky months of summer, few things are as refreshing as a romp through the sprinkler followed by a nice, cool, popsicle treat. But who needs all the artificial coloring and high fructose corn syrup? As with our fruit juices, the pops in this household must be made from ingredients I can first of all pronounce and second of all feel good about. That's why we tend to take a "make our own" approach whenever possible. Granted, the following recipe contains a fair amount of sugar, but at least I can control the type of sugar included in these yummy nummy treats (I made them using raw turbinado sugar instead of refined white sugar).

Watermelon-Mint Ice Pops
4 cups cubed watermelon
1/3 cup sugar (I used raw turbinado sugar)
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
juice of 1 lime

Begin by removing the watermelon rind and slicing your watermelon into small cubes. It’s easiest if you use a seedless watermelon but if you buy one with seeds you’ll need to seed the watermelon before you puree it. Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree. A stick blender makes quick work of the job *wink*. Pour the mix into your molds and freeze...easy peasy! (Note: I deviated a little from the original recipe - above - by warming the watermelon puree and turbinado sugar slightly to allow the sugar to melt fully. I then followed by pulsing in the juice of 1 lime and mint leaves with my stick blender).

When you remove them from the freezer, run the molds under warm water for a few seconds. This will loosen the pops so they will slip out easily. Make a super cute dessert display at your next backyard barbecue by popping the "sticks" into a carved melon bowl or over sized melon wedge *smile*.

Friday Food For Thought

Children will not remember you
for the material things you provided
but for the feeling
that you cherished them.

~ Richard L. Evans

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Woot, Woot...A New Gifts To Grow Code!

Get in now on another FREE Gifts To Grow Code from Pampers.
Use code: FACEBOOKJUL2010 to add 10 points to your stash!

Mmmm, Mmmm, Melon!

Photo: Andre Baranowski

Looking for the perfect cocktail to compliment your backyard barbeque this 4th of July? Check out this perfectly scrumptious Watermelon Margarita from Saveur Magazine!


Watermelon gives the Silver Coin Margarita, from Austin's Fonda San Miguel, its refreshing kick. We recommend using Herradura Silver Tequila.

1 medium-size seedless watermelon
1 750-ml bottle of silver tequila

4 oz. of the watermelon-infused tequila
2 oz. frozen limeade
2 cubes of the infused watermelon
1 1⁄2 oz. Cointreau
Watermelon wedges

1. For the infused tequila, cut a watermelon into 1" cubes (rind removed) until you have roughly 2 lbs. of fruit. Transfer to a glass jar, pour in tequila, seal jar, and let steep for 2 days.

2. To make drinks, combine the watermelon-infused tequila, 2 cups crushed ice, frozen limeade, infused watermelon, and Cointreau in a blender. Purée until slushy. Garnish with watermelon wedges.

This article was first published in Saveur in Issue #112


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