Confession 43: Shameless Ploy For Free Stuff

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned a product on her blog and was contacted by the inventor of the product and given a free product as a thank-you for the mention. The product was a “Miracle Blanket”, a special swaddling blanket designed to keep snug even the most elusive of infant escape artists so that they (and their parents) can get a decent night’s rest. We used a “Miracle Blanket” with both of our boys, having heard of it from another mother I struck up a conversation with at The Cheesecake Factory one night. It was truly a miracle for us, especially with Garrett. It was the only way we could get him to sleep. I’m wishing they made a similar product for toddlers, but I believe that might be a straight jacket. Anyway, my husband and I are so impressed with the “Miracle Blanket” we’ve decided it will from now on be our baby gift for first time parents. (I’m absolutely serious about this.)

Therefore, I’ve since decided in this time of recession that I’m not above lending my blog space in a shameless ploy to obtain free products. That said, here are a list of several of my faves.

1. “Ghirardelli” chocolate chips. Everyone knows that Ghirardelli chocolate is some of the best in the world, yet their chocolate chips are out of this world!! They are made with 60% cacao, delectably bittersweet, and twice the size of the average chocolate chip. They are flatter than the average chocolate chip as well. That, combined with the size, means a smooth chocolate infusion is in order when baked. I use them all the time. In fact, when I made chocolate chip cookies with them, it was like there was a layer of chocolate sandwiched between the dough. Yum!

2. “Mudd” shoes. Cute and comfortable and reasonably priced. Need I say more? One of the signatures of a “Mudd” shoe is its rounded toe, which means more room for your feet to spread out. They are the only heels I will wear. I’m on my feet a lot throughout the day and I will wear my “Mudd” heels several days in a row. That’s saying something! They are cushioned inside and hold up remarkably well. And, they are cute and flirtsy, yet classy at the same time. They’re truly great shoes. I know, I have four pair.

3. “Burt’s Bees” lip balm. My lips get chapped all the time. It doesn’t help that I pick at them and pull off all the dead skin. I’ve used Chapstick ever since I can remember, but was given a Burt’s Bees lip balm stick as a gift several years ago and have never gone back. This stuff is amazing! I put it on chapped lips at night and wake up to give my husband a soft smooth kiss on the cheek. The peppermint is my favorite, although the new pomengranate has a very nice scent. But, I miss the tingly sensation of the peppermint. The plus with “Burt’s Bees” is that it is an all-natural product and doesn’t feel greasy at all. It also lasts forever, so even though you’re paying a bit more than you would for a tube of Chapstick, it lasts twice as long.

4. “Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers”. I literally never leave home without one of these. They’re in my purse, in our kitchen, in our living room, and in my desk at school. In general, I love office supplies, but these are at the top for me. They come in a wide variety of colors, both bold and pastel, don’t smear, smudge or (generally) bleed through papers. As a high school English teacher, I go through a ton of these throughout the course of the school year. They’re perfect for grading papers and, I hope, add a little spunk to my comments. I also use them to make grocery lists, write checks, sign receipts, and send notes. “Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers” are definitely worth the investment.

5. “Everyday With Rachel Ray” This magazine, for lack of a better expression, is the bomb-diggoty!! I read this baby from cover to cover every month. It is chock-full of original, low-maintenance recipes designed specifically for people who want good food and quality time. Most of the recipes stem from ingredients common to many kitchen pantries, and the editors are great at taking a few ingredients and using them throughout several different recipes. Everyday With Rachel Ray has helped me become less afraid in the kitchen. I used to hate cooking and typically stuck with the same four or five meals. Not so anymore! My hubby still does a lot of the cooking (and, he reads the magazine too!) but I’m pitching in much more than I used too, and loving every minute of it. Everyday With Rachel Ray also has some fun style and travel sections, as well as great kitchen tips. Plus, the editors are very in-tune with their customer base and reader feedback is put to use in every issue. This magazine is truly for any cook, or non-cook as the case might be. At $20.00 a year, you can’t beat it for the amount of use it will get.

6. “Nick and Jake’s” famous Sunday brunch. If you are ever in the Kansas City, Missouri area on a Sunday afternoon you must, must stop by “Nick and Jake’s” and try their Sunday brunch. It is the best breakfast I have ever eaten!! My husband and I stopped back in last weekend for the first time since we’d moved almost two years ago. It was just as wonderful as I’d remembered! First, they have French toast sticks. Where else are you going to find homemade French toast sticks?! They melt in your mouth they’re so good. I should know, I ate about six of them!! They also have these rich and creamy cheesy-jalapeno grits. I do not like grits, generally speaking, but I could eat a plate full of these. They also have a fabulous Greek salad with feta cheese and kalamati olives. I typically start with a plateful of that and the cheesy grits then head for the French toast sticks and homemade mac and cheese. If, at the end of all that, you’re still hungry, they have two tables of homemade dessert, including fresh cinnamon rolls and bread pudding. You might fall into a carb induced coma at the end of the meal, but it’s so worth it!! “Nick and Jake’s”–give it a go. You won’t regret the trip!

Okay, that’s enough pandering for one day. I need to get back to teaching, which is what I’m actually paid to do. Give these products a try and let me know what you think.

Blessings and Peace,