Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

Give the Gift of Reading {Scholastic Giveaway}

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

*CLOSED Congratulations Cindi!*

Phil and I both love to read. We wanted to pass that on to Tyler so we started reading to him when was a baby. It's been gratifying to watch Tyler's love affair with books develop. He was so happy to get his own library card! When we go to the library I recommend the books I read when I was his age.

He's almost finished with The Chronicles of Prydain series, he's started Judy Blume's Fudge books and some of the Encyclopedia Brown series. He's inherited his father's love of Sci Fi and Fantasy too. We think it's great that his bookshelves are so diverse.

I think reading opens so many doors. People who are well read are on their way to being well rounded. We see the benefit of Tyler's love of reading in his schoolwork and how much he likes to write stories. It feels good to see Tyler with a book. Loving to read is something he will always have.

When Scholastic asked if I wanted to host a giveaway so someone else could give the gift of reading I didn't hesitate. Books are one of my favorite new baby gifts. The sent me two books to review; Captain Sky Blue by Richard Egielski; and It's Christmas, David by David Shannon.

Both of these were really cute. It's Christmas, David is perfect as a bedtime story book for parents to read to young kids. The sentences are short and the pictures are colorful and fun. Captain Sky Blue is also a good bedtime book for younger kids but is also good for new readers.

Would you like copies of your own? Scholastic gave me a HUGE prize pack filled with the most popular children’s books in the marketplace to offer one lucky reader!

One winner will receive these titles: Captain Sky Blue, It's Christmas, David, Ook and Gluk as well as Tony Baloney, Odious Ogre and I Spy Christmas A Tree! The prize pack is valued at almost $90.

How do you win? You know I like to keep it easy. 

1. Is reading important in your home? What are your kids' favorite books? Do they love to read or is it a chore? Answer any (or all) of the questions in the comments and be entered to win (required).

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. Comments will close on Tuesday, December 14th at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and Twitter.

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free Twitter account.

6. If the notified winner has not responded within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen.

7. You do not have to follow or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry. Here is the URL to this post:

8. The contest is open to US entrants only. 
Thank you to Scholastic for supplying the review and giveaway items! Good luck!

Chili's Review: A Great Spokesperson I Am Not

Friday, September 3, 2010

Update 2/9/11 Welcome Googlers! I get so many people searching for a recipe that I've linked to a printable corn soup recipe at the bottom of the post. It's from one of the chef's at Disneyland. The soup isn't the same as Chili's but it's sooo good!

Writing reviews is not easy for me. At least, writing the type of reviews I want to write isn't. There's a balance that I need to have to write a review in 'my own way' but still please the client. I wish I was one of the people who write so well and subtly about something that the reader almost misses that they've just been "sold" on something. 

So, I try to make a personal connection for you. I figure that has to be better than me posting an upchucked press release. This review, for Chili's, has taken me FOR-ever! (see, no subtleties here!) I love to eat, I love to eat out and love good food. It should not be so hard to talk about food! But, apparently, for me it is. I've written and deleted at least three of these review posts so far.

I should probably start at the beginning. I got an email from Chili's asking if I wanted to participate in their new campaign and try the new freshly prepared items on their menu. We love the restaurant so it was a no brainer. I told the PR person he "had me at hamburger." Phil and I mange to go out twice; first for lunch and again a few weeks later for dinner. At lunch I ordered sweet corn soup and a skinny margarita. The soup was so good I ordered it again when we went to dinner. I figured I'd make the post about our date nights and how the sweet corn soup is now in my list of Best Soups I've Had This Year.

*Aside: I love soup. I have a thing for soup.

So, I start to write about how I've had five soups this year that have rocked my socks so much I think about them often, including the sweet corn. But the post started veering more toward where I was when I ate the soups and less and less about Chili's and their new menu items. I scrapped it and moved on to a new post about how much I love soup (see aside above).
Chili's Sweet Corn Soup

I wrote about fall and how it's my favorite season because of boots and sweaters and how awesome soup is on a cool night. I found a recipe for sweet corn soup that I was going to include along with photos of me making it at home but that didn't work out either.
Chili's Skinny Patron Margarita
Then, looking for a sweet corn recipe made me realize how most soups are so similar, but different at the same time. At it's most basic, soup is heavily seasoned water. You start out with one soup, and by changing one or two ingredients you can have an entirely different soup. It was interesting until I started to write about it. The post got really long and nerdy. I was going to make a soup flow chart graphic, but really, how would that help you? 

Chili's Shiner Bock Rib Combo
If I'm supposed to be sharing that the new salads are hand tossed, the hamburger meat isn't frozen and the margarita has fresh squeezed lime juice in an effort to entice you to eat at Chili's, rambling on and on about how good the sweet corn soup is probably wouldn't be very convincing. Plus, I hadn't even worked into the scrapped posts the ways you can connect with Chili's on Facebook, You Tube or Twitter or how you can get a free order of their Skillet Queso and Chips. 

So, back to the review drawing board I go. I guess I could apply the KISS method and straight up say, "we really enjoy the food at Chili's, especially their new freshly prepared items, and think you will too," but that doesn't seem nearly as personal as trying to come up with a great post about soup.

*This is an unpaid sponsored post. Chili's provided me with a gift card to sample their menu items. The opinions, as well as the complete inability to write reviews, are 100% my own.

*For those looking for a good corn chowder recipe, I posted one from the chef at Disneyland's Storytellers Cafe and included a link to a printable Google Doc.

Music Soothes: Living With the Decision Not to Have Another Baby

Monday, March 1, 2010

*Giveaway info at the bottom of the post. Read it carefully! 

I love music. I get it from my dad. He's a big music buff used to have the reel to reel or record player going all the time, mostly with Motown. I love how, in an instant, a song can hit you in the gut and take you somewhere, even if it's to a place you don't want to be. Sade's new CD, Soldier of Love, and the Babyfather single has been on repeat in my iTunes lately. The lyrics made me cry a few days ago, reminding me of a sacrifice we made that still hurts every now and then.

I’m stunned
In a daze
He had the whole street set ablaze
It’s only love they say
Makes you feel this way

Our decision not to have another baby was several years in the making. We didn't make it lightly (who does?) and it's one I'm still struggling with. Sometimes, like on our trip to Orlando, I'm fine with it. Smug even. Watching other parents struggle to fold up their strollers to get them on the shuttles, the giant diaper bags, dodging strollers in the parks or getting hit in the back of the heels by one all gave me a sense of relief that those days are behind me. Three cheers for having a kid who can wipe his own butt, tie his shoes, carry his own jacket and stand in lines until almost midnight so we can ride Space Mountain two times in a row.

But other times, knowing we're not going to have another takes the wind right out of my sails. All the babies at Blissdom, the pregnant moms in my feed reader, the man at the park embracing his pregnant wife from behind, both with their hands on her stomach. Woosh!

She liked his eyes she wanted more
The baby gonna have your smile for sure
He saw a lovely girl
Smelling sweet and soapy like fresh air
She saw him looking acted like she didn’t care

I know Tyler would be an awesome big brother. At the end of his daycare days, he was one of the oldest kids there. The woman running the program would tell  me stories of Tyler trying to cheer up the younger kids when they were crying and offering to help with snack time. When Bossy and I were walking Chicago after BlogHer, I told her about the time last summer when I watched Tyler sit on the curb outside our house. He had his elbows on his knees and his chin in his hands. He sat there for almost 10 minutes, scanning the street, hoping some other kid would walk by and they could play together. I cried telling Bossy that story. I told her I felt like I took something away from him and he had no say in it.

And Phil is such a great dad. I'm a typical Daddy's Little Girl. I have the type of relationship with my dad that often made my mom jealous. It was the blind adoration that did it. I feel the same way sometimes when Tyler will say, "I miss Dad" when I pick him up from school or the way he runs to greet Phil at the door when I can barely get a hello sometimes. I totally get where she was coming from. Even though there's no guarantee we'd have a girl, the thought of Phil and little girl together makes me all warm and gooshy on the inside. I know he'd love to have his own Daddy's Little Girl too.

Even to the angels it may sound like a lie
For you child
He was the troops and extra backup standing by
For you child
For you he’s the best he can be
For you child
For you he’s the best he can be
Oh child don’t you know
Your daddy love come with a lifetime guarantee

All of this has me so conflicted. Add the grief I get from my mom now and then and it's even harder. I'm not sure how much longer it will take for me to be at peace with the decision, or if I ever will. But, I can always listen to music. It really does soothe the soul.

What music is moving you lately?

The giveaway: I have another copy of Soldier of Love for you. I'm so glad Sade is back on the music scene. This is a great CD.

I'm hosting the giveaway on Twitter. DO NOT leave a comment here! Tweet this message or create your own but it has to have the hashtag for me to track.

RT to win a copy of Sade's CD Soldier of Love from @ADramaticMommy. #SadeCD

Winner chosen at random from all Tweets. You don't have to follow me, but I need to see the hashtag. Giveaway ends on Friday, March 5th at noon Pacific time. I'll announce the winner here and on Twitter. Good luck!

Thanks to Big Honcho Media for the review and giveaway copies. The affiliate link is to Amazon.

Blog Stats, Traffic and Followers: The Only Way to Measure Reach?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Are your blog stats holding you back?

A few weeks ago I submitted my blog to be considered for a product testing opportunity. I was really excited because the product is something I feel I need, I can see myself using for more than just its intended purpose and really feel would impact my life greatly.

The PR company sent a survey asking about my traffic, other stats and any accolades I have received. Basically, they wanted to know how popular I am. I submitted my answers and knew I probably won't have a shot at participating. I'm bummed because I know I can give a really thorough review based on the areas I see myself using this product. I've already got several post ideas as to how I would use it. Now I'm not so sure I'll get the chance.

The panel I'm participating in Saturday at Blissdom is about advertising. Working with the other panelists on the presentation got me thinking about blog stats and traffic and how those things are measured. In my mind, blog numbers don't always paint an accurate picture of a person's influence.

So many of us have smaller, personal blogs with low numbers comparatively. But, so many of us are on the PTA, lead girl scouts, are active in our childrens' classrooms, on their sports teams, we volunteer, we have busy social lives, etc. etc. And, if we're active within our social media circle, then there's even more of a chance something we talk about will also be talked about by other influencers. 

I hear so many times that PR and brands want to develop long lasting relationships with us, but the first questions I'm asked are almost always about my stats. It's frustrating and I feel like I'm caught in a vicious circle: my blog isn't big enough for some opportunities but the chance to talk about those opportunities could help my blog grow. I'm not sure what the formula needs to be to include other avenues of influence, but I hope someone figures that out soon.

I'm hoping some of the things I pick up at Blissdom will help me find a way to make the most of the opportunities that do come my way, and open the door to new ones. How have you overcome the stats challenge? What have you done to help you get noticed?

Photo from Google Images and

Carolina Pad: School Supplies for Grown Ups {+Giveaway}

Sunday, July 12, 2009

**Contest is closed and the winner has been notified. Thank you for entering!**

My brother would tell you that I'm way more nerd than cool (he'd say I'm not cool at all). I always enjoyed school and looked forward to the end of summer vacation. I loved all the back to school shopping, especially for school supplies. The supply list was gospel, not a guideline. I remember the year I asked my mom for a Trapper Keeper and she said no because it was more expensive than the other binders. I was so sad.

I've always been a sucker for notebooks and folders. If it has multiple tabs, folds out like an accordion, has a place for pens, metal rings that snap shut, pretty covers or an elastic band to keep it closed? I. Want. It. And if it all matches? Swoon. Opening the email from Carolina Pad was like my birthday and back to school rolled into one. Would I like a selection of things with tabs, accordions, cool covers, snappy rings and elastic bands to review? Hell yes I would!

I got two boxes of products. Everything is so cute and pretty I don't know which to use first. I'll definitely be taking some of the set with me to BlogHer to keep track of my itineraries, invitations and Excel spreadsheets (oh, hush, my anal tendencies should come as no surprise by now).

Would you like to have an accordioned snappy set of your very own? Great! Because I have one to give away. Carolina Pad is giving one winner their choice of either the Eye Candy

or Simply Chic design (a $150 value).

Did you know that the Carolina Pad company began in 1945 selling school supplies out of the back of a truck? And that they donate regularly to the Leukemia and Lymphoma society? And they have an entire product line made with environmentally friendly products? Me neither. But now that I do I like them even more now. They are having a design contest right now. All you creative types can submit a notebook cover for the Studio C line.

How do you win? Easy:

1. Visit Carolina Pad Leave and look at their collections. Come back here and leave comment on this post with your favorite style - ('enter me!' and 'I want to win!' aren't gonna cut it) required.

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. Comments will close on Sunday, July 19th at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and in a "Winners" post.

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free
Twitter account.

6. You do not have to follow or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry. Here is the URL to this post:

Thank you to Carolina Pad for the pretty supplies! Good luck!

Policies, Procedures and Disclosure

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

These policies are valid from September 2009 and I reserve the right to revise them at any time.

Advertising: I sell ads. Let's work together to create a package that meets your needs. I accept payment through PayPal and personal check. Please contact me for a rate card, availability and ad sizes. Ads subject to availability.

Sponsored content: If your pitch involves 'sharing information with my readers,' be prepared to receive a response with my rates. Let's work together to create a program for your client/brand. Whether it's one post or an entire campaign across platforms (video, Pinterest, Facebook,Twitter), I want to help create exposure for brands that fit my site. 

Guest posts: I do not accept unsolicited guest posts. 

Affiliates: I do use affiliate links on this site. I will disclose this at the end of the posts. 

Giveaways: Giveaways take time. Depending on the nature of your contest, there may be an additional fee involved if you'd like me to promote beyond the initial post, especially if there are time constraints involved.

Sponsors are responsible for shipping items to the winner(s) unless otherwise noted and/or previously arranged. I find that my readers value giveaways paired with a personal review. Read my review policies and 'holla only if you agree to them.

All giveaways are open to US residents only unless otherwise noted. Winners are responsible for providing accurate contact information within the time allotted (generally 48 hours unless otherwise specified) or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Reviews: I'm scaling back the amount of reviews I do. Basically, your item needs to knock my stilettos off. I like to offer reviews and/or giveaways of products that are of interest to me, my family and/or my readers. I'm very picky about what I will review on my blog. PR people are welcome to send a pitch describing the promotion/giveaway/product/website/what they had for lunch.

I ask that you please follow these rules for submission:

1. Please make sure you know my name and a little bit about me and my blog before you submit. I like people who do their homework. You can read more about me in the 'about me' section and take a gander through the archives or favorite posts.

2. "Brevity is the soul of lingerie" -Dorothy Parker
Please keep your initial contact brief and to the point. If I need more info, I'll get back to you with questions.

3. If you use my comments sections as free advertising you will be on my shit list.

4. This is my space.

5. Remember I'm a mom first!

6. But. I'm also a woman with likes and interests outside my child and my marriage.

7. I reserve the right not to do a review, which generally means I found the product, how shall I say it? Not something I'd spend my husband's hard earned money on.

8. If your pitch is child related, please take note: my almost 12 year old son is into the Detroit Red Wings, Star Wars, Legos, skateboarding, trick scooters and surfing. He's reading books like the Percy Jackson, Divergent, Hunger Games and Harry Potter series; and he has his own iPhone and laptop. He wishes he had an iPad.
He plays ice hockey. We have a Playstation 3. If what you're pitching doesn't fall into those areas of interest chances are I'll say, "no thank you" rather than waste your time.

9. I ask that the review and/or giveaway item have a value of $50 or more (exception would be a book, new music or something similar). I'm happy to offer a coupon code along with the review and ask that it be a minimum of 15%. (I may make exceptions to this depending on the product).

10. Please provide logos and/or press releases where applicable.

Submission of a product doesn't guarantee a review, and it doesn't guarantee a positive review. I am honest, sometimes to a fault, but I'm not mean. I can't review something I've not held, smelled, tasted, read, watched, played with or worn. That's not a review, it's a press release.

I don't return samples (half-eaten candy, anyone?) and getting the product to me in enough time to adequately review it, is on your dime. If you're asking for a review of a service or website, please give me enough of a trial period to adequately use it, especially if it's something for my son.

I can't review every product that comes my way. I also can't respond to every pitch I get. I will do my best to respond to your initial request in a timely manner, but do nudge me (gently) if it takes more than a few days for me to let you know I've received your pitch.

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. The views and opinions on this blog are my own. For questions about this blog, please contact Melanie at ADramaticMommy[at]

This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. The owner believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, the opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products is honest. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified.

To get your own policy, go to

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