Category Archives: Experiences & Reviews

Hickory Farms: As Good as I Remembered

When our Hickory Farms Beef and Turkey Hickory Sampler arrived, I immediately opened it up to check it out. I was super excited because I had grown up up having Hickory Farms baskets and boxes at our house every Christmas. Often, we had more than one because they were such a popular gift. My parents would get them from co-workers, clients and family members and each one was always eaten up and enjoyed before Christmas break was over.

Then I grew up and moved away from home and being young and broke, we all abstained from buying each other anything pricier than a six pack for the holidays, let alone something as thoughtful and appealing as a Hickory Farms gift.

Well, let me just say, the minute I opened the box, my kids were begging to eat some summer sausage and crackers. I managed to stave them off by saying it would be nice to wait for their dad since I happen to know he also grew up eating Hickory Farms treats over the holidays and loved it as much as I did.

Finally, after much nagging and wheedling, we all sat down to watch a holiday special and out comes my husband with the Hickory Farms box, a cutting board, a knife and four little plates.

We ate, we loved and we finished a half a wheel of the smoked gouda and an entire beef summer sausage with fresh, crispy crackers and mustard in one sitting. We repeated this a few nights later with the remaining gouda and the turkey summer sausage and then, sadly, it was all gone.

But it reminded me of what great gifts Hickory Farms makes when you need to send something, especially for multiple people, or when you need to get a present for a boss, co worker or a special client. Everyone loves Hickory Farms and if you’re in your forties like me, chances are you ate plenty of it as a kid and you know what? It’s still as good now as it was then and there are also some great bargains available. The sampler we got was only $20 which, considering how much we enjoyed it, is a great deal!

The next time a gift giving occasion rolls around, I fully intend to consider Hickory Farms again (and I’ll probably get one for myself, too!)

Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel

I recently had an opportunity to try Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel and this is my review.

I’m not quite sure why but for the past 7-8 years, I’ve suffered from really bad tension headaches. They seem to originate from muscle tension in my shoulders that eventually works it’s way up my neck and head. The worst part is once this cycle starts, it can take weeks to break up the muscle tension, even if I manage to get rid of the headache, which is usually a temporary state anyway.

My typical way of dealing with all of this is taking hot showers, using ice packs, taking magnesium supplements (a natural muscle relaxer), eating lots and lots of ibuprofen and when it gets totally unbearable, paying a small fortune to my massage therapist.

When I recently went through one of those muscle tension/headache cycles, I  was primed and ready to give my Salonpas a try!

If you remember Ben-Gay, the smell is similar but because it’s a gel, the smell fades quickly, leaving behind a cool/hot sensation on your skin. I honestly don’t know how it works but I will say that it DOES WORK to loosen  up those ridiculously tight muscles in my shoulders and neck and in turn, the cranial muscles relax so the headaches fade away.

I still use ice packs on occasion and if I feel a headache coming on I might still take some ibuprofen but for that awful muscle tension in my neck and shoulders, the Salonpas is my go-to now before anything else.

The biggest upside to using Salonpas as soon as I feel tension starting is that it stops the weeks-long cycle before it even starts and thus, I have been feeling a lot better.

I give Salonpas two thumbs up!

Just an FYI… The packaging says Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel provides or temporary relief of minor aches and pains associated with:

– Sore muscles
– Simple backache
– Muscle strains
– Joint discomfort
– Stiff neck
– Arthritis
– Sprains
– Bruises

Children’s Claritin

We are an allergy family. Not terrible allergies, mind you, if you don’t count my eldest child’s deadly peanut allergy, but we all seem to suffer from mild to moderate nasal allergies to the usual things—seasonal allergies, the standard dust allergy and for my husband, a mild allergy to cat dander.

We all use various remedies for said allergies but my 6 year old son’s allergies and chronic sinus headaches have proven the most elusive to treat. His doctors seem very blasé about the whole thing and to be honest, I’ve resisted taking him to an allergist because I know what will come next…ALLERGY TESTING.

Blech! I’ve had it done and it did nothing to solve my allergies since the treatment is basically the same anyway…antihistamines, pseudoephedrine and sinus flushing.

But my little guy’s headaches break my heart. He was getting them just about every day in the spring and he was miserable. I’d been giving him Benadryl at night, as recommended by his pediatrician and it was working to a certain degree but then something weird started happening. Instead of being drowsy from the Benadryl, he started sleeping poorly. He’d be restless, yelling and thrashing around in his sleep all night long and then be a huge grouch the next day. Treatment FAIL!

Then, a few months ago, I had a chance to get some free samples of Children’s Claritin and I accepted the offer.

To be honest, I didn’t have any great expectations but we tried the Children’s Claritin, which hasn’t had any noticeable side effects so far, and as long as he gets it regularly, his headaches have disappeared along with his nightime coughs and as he calls it, the “gunky throat.” You have no idea how happy this makes both him and me.

The Children’s Claritin is working so much better for him and since it’s available without a prescription, it’s easy to get at any drugstore or supermarket. This makes me wonder why our pediatrician didn’t recommend Children’s Claritin instead of Benadryl.

For us, it’s been the best solution by far for my son’s allergies and headaches. I recommend the chewable grape-flavored tabs. My son likes those better than the liquid and kids can take them without water if necessary. Treatment WIN!


Forget Flowers…Send Cupcakes!

Cupcakes. They’re awesome, right?


And that’s why gourmet cupcake shops are popping up all over the place, even in a down economy.

I must confess, however, that we have several right here in my city and I’ve never been to any of them.

But last week when I was presented with an opportunity to order something, on the house, from Red Envelope, a retailer I happen to really like, can you guess what I selected?

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Book Review: Laughing at Wall Street

I recently received and read a review copy of Laughing at Wall Street by Chris Camillo. I was intrigued by the subtitle of the book, “How I Beat the Pros at Investing (by Reading Tabloids, Shopping at the Mall, and Connecting on Facebook) and How You Can, Too”

I’m a sucker for “rags to riches” and “ordinary Joe makes a million bucks” stories and found Laughing at Wall Street fascinating.

Basically, Camillo, who is not stockbroker, financial analyst, or hedge fund manager, shares his secrets for identifying trends in everyday life via Facebook, at the mall and by talking to people. Camillo also covers his methods for researching these trends and using the information to make investments in things before the big timers on Wall Street catch on.

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Sometimes You CAN Go Back and it’s TOTALLY AWESOME

So, I took my daughter with me to see Duran Duran a few nights ago. Though she’s eleven and had no idea who they are, she was still excited at the prospect of going to a concert for the first time.

We got dressed in hip, understated shades of black and gray while my husband and son were at Cub Scouts and headed across the bridge to Clearwater. While driving, I couldn’t help but think of how many other times, back in my youth, where I’d been with friends in a car on the way to a concert; blaring the music of the night, speeding, drinking and behaving like dogs let off a chain. We were very irresponsible *nods solemnly*

This, on the other hand, is soooo very tame, I thought, as we talked about school, cheerleading and the boy my daughter has a crush on. If there was ever any doubt before, I am most definitely a mom now.

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Speech Buddies

My son is 6 years old and while he is exceedingly bright (no, really, he is) he was a late talker (like Einstein) and when he did speak, it was hard to understand him because he had issues with numerous sounds. After three years of speech therapy in the public school system, his speech is much, much more clear but…it could be better.

He’s never received one-on-one speech therapy because with one therapist and a lot of kids who need help, doing speech therapy in a group is the only way to see all of them every week. Given those circumstances, his progress has been more than satisfactory. But given his age, I really want to see quicker progress. I don’t want him to be known as the kid who talks funny—children can be cruel even in first grade.

I was recently approached by the folks at Speech Buddies to see if I would be interested in trying out their product. Since Speech Buddies is a product that helps kids with speech disorders and I have a child with more than one speech impediment, I immediately said yes.

The Speech Buddy tools are plastic instruments that are placed in the mouth and enable children to pronounce the correct sound immediately by training proper tongue placement. Correct pronunciation with Speech Buddy leads to correct pronunciation without Speech Buddy. The kit comes with five instruments that help kids with the five most common problem sounds: R. L CH, SH, S

When the Speech Buddies kit arrived in a tidy metal case, I was excited to try it out. I waited for a day when we had time and quiet and after reading the instructions, I started working with my son using the S tool.

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