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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Ace Archers (Foxboro, MA): Review and Giveaway!

 *I attended a hosted event at Ace Archers and they are graciously giving away a prize to a lucky Dollops reader. As always, all opinions are my own.

I was recently invited to try my hand at archery at Ace Archers. Truth be told even though I live in Foxboro, I had never heard of the archery range before. Therefore, I was excited to check it and to try something new. I have never done any type of shooting or archery in my life so I was definitely a beginner!

We started off the class with the instructors/owners telling us about the equipment, going over safety precautions, showing us stances, more safety, showing us how to shoot, and you guessed it - more safety! I had never really thought about the whole risk factor of shooting the arrows. Clearly, I need to watch more Hunger Games. The bows were also way bigger than I thought they would be.

Totally a natural
I started off shooting way over the target but by the end I was hitting it (somewhat) consistently. They even put balloons on the bullseyes. There was definitely an added thrill when you heard it pop!

Things to Know About Ace Archers:
  • They are located at 131 Morse Street, Foxboro, MA
  • Ace Archers is family run and owned with USA Archery Certified Instructors
  • Participants must be 8 years of age or older 
  • Open range time is $14/hour with equipment included ($12/hour if you bring your own)
  • No experience is necessary and all levels are welcome. Instructors happily help you with whatever you might need.
  • Reservations are not required for Open Shooting but are recommended.
  • They host archery classes, birthday parties, corporate events, bachelor(ette) parties, and more!
Want to test out your skills? One lucky reader will win a pass valid for 4-hours of range time during normal business hours. This can be broken up however you like - bring 4 friends with you for an hour session, attend yourself for 4 one hour sessions, bring a friend for 2 two hour sessions, etc, etc. Remember, archers must be 8 years of age or older. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 11, 2015

Can You Eat Healthy At McDonald's? #McDOpenDoorTour

Can you eat healthy at McDonald's? The answer is no, right? McDonald's food is full of fat, fake stuff, and just kind of gross, right? You might stop there on the fly on a road trip, when pressed for time, or when in need of a quick dinner with overtired kids. You might go there for the kids to enjoy the air conditioned indoor play place on a sweltering summer day (guilty on that one!). However, you wouldn't eat there if you actually wanted a decent, fresh meal, right? Isn't that the general public consensus?

I was recently invited to an open door tour of McDonald's to learn about the quality of the food they offer. Given my preconceived notions above, I was skeptical. I figured I would go, see the restaurant tour, here what they had to say, but leave feeling the same way that I did when I got there. In reality though, that wasn't the case. I was pretty blown away by what I heard there which surprised me. The most interesting part of the day for me was listening to John Cisna speak. Have you heard of him? Nope, I hadn't either.

Me and John - I'm lovin' it
John is a, small town, Iowa high school science teacher who conducted an experiment with his students where he ate ONLY McDonald's food for each and every meal for six months. Only after his experiment did corporate McDonald's find out about it. He must have packed on the pounds and became so unhealthy, right? Nope, he actually LOST almost 60 pounds and lowered his cholesterol. How is that possible? How could you possibly eat McDonald's multiple times a day for that long and actually become more healthy?

John's sophomore students were actually the ones who chose his meals each day. They used My Meal Builder on the McDonald's website to find out the full nutritional information of all of the products and to build John's menu each day. They used the parameters of a 2,000 calorie diet and 15 required nutrients based on the FDA's recommended daily allowances. They were able to find that there were 56 meal combos that John could eat off of McDonald's menu to keep him within the goal parameters. The only nutrient that they could not keep within the daily allowances was sodium. John said that he generally consumed about 166% of the recommended amount for sodium which he compensated for by increasing his water intake.

Ninety days into the experiment John had lost 37 pounds, 7 inches off his waist, and lowered his cholesterol from 249 to 170. These health improvements were the result of the McDonald's only food and doing 45 minutes of walking four to five days a week. Isn't that pretty crazy? I was totally surprised by the results but I suppose I shouldn't be. This is the perfect example of it's WHAT you eat and not WHERE you eat. There are healthy choices out there everywhere (yes, even at McDonald's!) but it's up to you to make the choice.

An average day for John consisted of eating:

2 Egg White Delight McMuffins
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

Premium Southwest Salad
Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait

An item off the value menu (including fries!)

One takeaway from my McDonald's tour is that you can customize your meals and orders at McDonald's to however best fits your needs. Switch the dressing, hold the sauce, remove a bun - whatever you need, McDonald's will actually do it for you. One of the reasons that John was able to lose weight and become more healthy, is because the food that McDonald's serves surprisingly (to me, at least) is actually not that bad for you. They use 100% fresh ground beef for their burgers. Produce is grown and shipped fresh (with most of it coming from U.S. suppliers). They use brands that you buy in the grocery store such as Dannon, McCain, and Tyson. Those "egg rings" in your Egg McMuffin? Those are USDA Fresh Grade A eggs that were cracked right on the griddle for you. I know this one for sure because I got to head behind the counter and crack a bunch of them myself! For the record, I did a horrible job and broke a shell in it so they had to throw away the whole batch. Clearly, I was not meant to work at McDonald's!

Not as easy as it looks

A peak at the produce in the cooler
So now after my tour of the McDonald's kitchen, seeing the food demonstrations, and listening to John speak, am I packing the kids up each day and heading to McDonald's? No. Am I way more aware of the changes that McDonald's has made to keep up with consumer's needs for healthy and fresh food? Definitely. Really you can blame fast food for obesity and poor health, but really it comes down to you and the choices that you make for yourself and your family. Educate yourself, make healthy choices, eat proper portion sizes, and enjoy a vanilla shake every once in a while (my favorite!)

*Disclosure: I was invited to attend a McDonald's Open-Door Tour and received compensation for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Daniel's First Red Sox Game!

Last year, my husband took both Isabelle and Henry to their first Red Sox games. Since then, Daniel has been asking when he could go. So this past Saturday was the big day. We surprised him with tickets to the game and the result was...less than amazing! According to my husband, Daniel pretty much complained the whole time which led them to only staying at the game for about an hour. The results are not really that shocking considering he's only 4 and a half and never been a sit still for long kind of kid. I did think the excitement of the game and the junky food would be enough to have him last more than an hour but what do I know? The following day, I gave him an empty ketchup bottle full of water and let him make mud in the yard and it was pretty much the best day of his life. Go figure.

When he got home from the game, the other kids and I acted really surprised and excited when he told us where he went so I think he caught on that it was kind of a big deal. So if you ask him now, he tells it like it was a great day which is hopefully how he'll remember it. My husband, on the other hand, will always know the truth!

Like the other kids, I asked Daniel to tell me about his big day. This is his retelling of the trip:

"Someone got a home run. I got a bagel. I got a Gatorade. I went with Dadda. I got ice cream. It was vanilla and chocolate with sprinkles. The grey team got three strikes."

Want to see what the other two thought of their games? You can read Isabelle's story HERE and Henry's story HERE.

Goooooooooooooo Red Sox!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Boston Ballet's Edge of Vision: Ticket Giveaway!

Last month I had the opportunity to attend my first ballet performance and now I'm passing along the opportunity to you!

Boston Ballet continues their spring Perception series with Edge of Vision, a triple bill program featuring three works commissioned by Boston Ballet: Jorma Elo’s highly anticipated world premiere, Bach Cello Suites; Helen Pickett’s Eventide, with new music, choreography, scenic designs and lighting; and Lila York’s rousing Celts which sets classical ballet, jigs, and speedy footwork to a mix of Irish music.  

Boston Ballet's Edge of Vision will run April 30 – May 10, 2015, at the Boston Opera House with tickets starting at $29. For more information, visit or call 617-695-6955.

One lucky Dollops winner will receive a complimentary pair of tickets to the Saturday, May 9, 2015, 1pm performance. Whether you are a ballet veteran or a first timer, you are sure to have a great time! Winner must be able to attend this specific performance so check your calendar before you enter. Winner will be notified by May 3rd and will have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. This is a quick giveaway so enter now!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Tickets were generously donate by the Boston Ballet and this post has been written in collaboration with them. As always, all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Celebrating Earth Day in the Garden!

For the past few years, we have had a garden. I use the term "we" loosely because I honestly don't do anything with it! My husband has the green thumb in our family and he spends lots of time each spring/summer making sure that the garden is a success. The kids LOVE to help him and it melts my heart a little bit each time I see them working together on it. The excitement that they have when the first vegetables start popping up is so awesome. Getting the kids to eat those vegetables is a whole other story though!

The little gardeners currently have some seeds going in our garden beds and some taking roots in empty Stonyfield yogurt containers that we can bring inside.

This year, we were lucky enough to receive some High Mowing Organic Seeds to use in our garden. These seeds are 100% certified organic and non-GMO. 

To learn more about the philosophy of High Mowing Organic seeds, you can click HERE. You can also keep up to date on what they're offering by following them on Facebook HERE.

We can't wait to see how our garden does this year!

*Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield and High Mowing Organic Seeds. As a YoGetter Ambassador,  at times I receive free product and/or compensation. As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nominate Your Favorite Teacher's Classroom For A Makover!

Teachers are a unique breed. They work day after day to shape the minds of our youth. It is HARD work and they often do it on very limited resources. That's one of the reasons that I'm happy to share with you a contest that could make your child's classroom (or any deserving classroom that you know!) a better place.
Velcro Industries and design expert Sabrina Soto have announced the launch of the inaugural “Classroom Makeover” contest and invite educators, parents, students and friends to nominate a teacher to receive a complete classroom update and makeover. In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8, 2015), the company and its brand ambassador, Sabrina Soto, will select a winning classroom entry then re-design and organize that classroom by integrating VELCRO® Brand products along with other design elements.

Nominations for Pre-K through grade 12 educational rooms are open to educators, students, parents or friends and must be received by April 30, 2015. All classrooms, resource rooms or formal learning areas are eligible for submissions. Entrants must submit two (2) photos of the room with a brief reason the educator and the classroom deserve to win. The winner will be selected and announced on May 5, 2015 – official National Teacher Appreciation Day. For additional rules or to enter, please click HERE.

This partnership and contest is just one way that Velcro Industries is helping with education initiatives around the world. For more information about their commitment to social and environmental work, please click HERE.

Nominations are being accepted now so go nominate a classroom and/or teacher that you think deserves to a classroom makeover!

*Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Velcro Industries in which I received complimentary products. As always, all opinions are my own.

Friday, April 3, 2015

UncommonGoods Review: Unique Gifts!

I was recently provided with the opportunity to try out a couple of items from UncommonGoods. Are you familiar with the company? UncommonGoods is a Brooklyn based, privately owned, company that strives to create hand crafted products in an environmentally responsible way. Half of what they sell is made by hand, one third of their collection is made of recycled/upcycled materials, and most products are made in the USA. Pretty cool, huh?

They have so many fun and different products that it was hard for me to pick which ones I wanted to check out. They have gifts for your home, kitchen, jewelry, accessories, men, women, and kids. So many options!  I decided to look through their Gifts For Mom section (which you can find HERE) and their Mother's Day selection (found HERE) to help guide me. Ultimately, I went with one fun item and one practical item.

First, I chose the Nesting Storage Containers because our Tupperware situation is out of control. Containers with no lids. Lids with no containers. Ugh, ugh, ugh. So I decided to take this opportunity to help get us organized. But before we even get to the containers, I just want to mention how fast and easy the shipping was. I'm very spoiled by Amazon Prime's two day shipping and sometimes when I order from another company it makes me feel like I'm waiting forever for the product to arrive. Not the case with UncommonGoods. My package arrived within just a couple of days! So back to the containers, here's a glimpse of their awesomeness:

 So colorful!
Not only do they all fit nicely inside each other, but they are also color coded so you know exactly which lids go with which bottoms. I'm hopeful that this will keep up organized for some time to come!

The other item I chose was the Upcycled Sari Clutch. In addition, to feeling like I always need another handbag, I loved the story behind this item. A group of artisans in a village outside of Rajastan, India cut assorted, old saris and stitch the pieces together to make these one of a kind bags. Really cool, right? I've been using it on nights out and getting lots of compliments! So unique and different.
My new clutch and I took in the ballet recently
So if you're looking for a unique gift for someone soon (Hint...Mother's Day is coming up!), go check out what UncommonGoods has to offer. I don't think you'll be disappointed!

*Disclosure: I received complimentary products in order to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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