with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: reviews

Sleep in Snoreless Peace

by SweetMidlife


Hi! It’s Lynne!

I snore. It’s one of those things that you can deny about yourself because you don’t hear it, because you are asleep and dancing in a forest with unicorns at a party hosted by Lionel Richie, dancing all night long, until the friend whose couch you are on when you were supposed to be watching “So You Think You Can Dance?” says “Lynne, wake up! You’re snoring, dude!” Wait, did I say Lynne? This was supposed to be a hypothetical scenario. Oops. Anyhoo, fast-forward to my current life, where my husband will wake me up to tell me that the sound of chain-sawed logs coming out of my mouth has woken him up. It’s a thing. I wish it was dainty snoring. But no.

So this is why, when we had the chance to try out Snore Reliever and tell you about it on this here blog, I knew that I should do it, and I am sure glad that I did. They come in this cute little container, and with directions on how to use them.

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It’s basically a pack of nose-plugs, in different sizes for different noses, and after you wash them before the first use, you figure out which one feels the best for you, and you stick it in your nostrils until it comes to a natural stop. It looked like this for me.

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Cute, right? Now, I must tell you something about me. I hate feeling like I can’t breathe, so putting something in an airway out of which you breathe seemed sort of counter-intuitive to me, but since I knew that this is how it worked, I gave it a try, and I went off to bed. And it was working for awhile, until I woke up in the middle of the night, realizing that I had something plastic in my hand. It turns out that sometime during my sleeping, I took out the nose plugs because they felt weird. But I decided to soldier on, and back in it went, and after I stopped psyching myself out about it, I went back to sleep. When I woke up for real, the plug was still there, and the funniest thing was that it didn’t feel weird anymore. It was actually comfortable. So now, I just needed confirmation that this thing worked. So I said to my half-asleep husband, “Hey babe, did you hear me snoring last night?” And he rolled over and said “Actually, no.”, so his response, and also the fact that he was still asleep and hadn’t been awakened by my nose tunes meant that yes, it worked! Hooray!

If you snore, and want to find an inexpensive and very effective way to work on that, I highly suggest Snore Reliever. Once you get over the initial sensation of having something in your nose, the peace of mind of being able to sleep in a way that is peaceful for both you and the people around you is worth it, especially since, once you find the right size, it’s quite comfortable. You can get yours here on Amazon. Sweet dreams!

Disclosure: We received Snore Reliever for free for trying it out, but the opinions written here are our own, and are absolutely true and unbiased. 

 


A Killer Good Time at the Murder Mystery Company

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

Last Friday, I had fun, fun, fun Girls’ Night with my buddy, Dear Friend Elly. There was yummy food, funny entertainment, and I got to act really goofy, which is kinda my super power, and all of this went down thanks to the Murder Mystery Company. They offer both public and private presentations of their interactive murder mystery dinner shows all over the country. I love food. I am an actor. I like being entertained. There were so many wins here.

When you sign up for a show, you get a really informative email about the show that you will be seeing, as the particular shows and themes change every few months. The one we saw was called “Til Death Do Us Part”,about bad things going down at a wedding reception. The folks in charge suggest you dressing up along the theme of the show, so said you could even wear your wedding dress. I could maybe currently get my wedding dress up to my knee, so I wore my veil along with a regular dress, and decided that if anyone asked who I was, I would say that I was that wedding guest who tries to show up the bride by being a little spectacular. I thankfully didn’t have that at my actual wedding, but I have seen it done before. Yes.

So anyway, I drove the 40 minutes from my house in Annapolis, MD to see the Baltimore troupe at a Greek restaurant called Ikaros. There was street parking as well as free parking in the lot next door, and that is a big deal when you go places in the city. Elly was already waiting in line, so we were checked-in and pointed to the picture line, where you can pose for funny pics where you are strangling each other and stuff. If you get a Gold Circle ticket (kinda like the VIP level ticket), like we had, everyone in your party gets a copy as a souvenir. Otherwise, you can buy a copy. It actually turned out cute.

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Then we were shown to our table, where our seatmates were a couple on a date. They were sweet people, and it was fun to meet some new folks while still being able to talk to the people you came with. A guy in a mullet wig and a t-shirt with a picture of a tuxedo on it came over, and introduced himself as “Bob”, the best man. Ahh, the show had kinda begun. He told us a bit about what was going to be happening later, and went around the table and had everyone introduced themselves.  Now, I am a veteran of dinner theater as a performer, and I have been an audience member at those types of shows where the actors are also your waiters, but when it’s time for the show, they get on the stage and do the show, and don’t interact with the audience in character. Not so much at murder mystery dinners, where you are expected to be a “detective” by asking the “suspects” questions based on clues that you get, OR where you are asked to actually play one of the suspects along with the paid actors in the show. Which is what happened to Yours Truly when “Bob” got to me last and said, “Your name is actually ‘Dr. Candy'”, and he put a doctor’s coat on me, and said that I would be playing one of the suspects in the show. I won’t give away the plot of the show, but someone dies. And a bunch of people could have done it. Yes.

Now, here is what I found out about murder mysteries: I believe that your good time is based on how willing you are to play along. If you just want to see a show, you might want to do something else. But if you are willing to throw yourself into it and just abandon yourself to the silly, like most of the people there decided to do, it is a big old treat.

So during the really delicious Greek dinner (bring cash to tip the really gracious waitstaff, who weren’t in the show), I got to look at a notebook full of info about my character, and I got prompted as to what to say to the “detectives” when they questioned all of the chosen suspects, me included (again, I think that there were maybe 8 or 9 audience members given name roles, while the paid actors helped out when we got confused). Then the interrogations begin, as people walk around the room and try to get info from the suspects, and we take fake money for them as bribes. Or not. You could actually just stay in your seat and let other people walk around and do the work and just eat and drink and observe if you want, based on your level of wanting to jump in. Whatever works.

So, by the end of the night, people vote on who they think the murderer is. Now, whether or not who we picked actually makes sense was of no importance. It was just fun. And at the end of the night, they gave out awards to the audience members who gave the best performances, and this happened.

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I did explain later that I was actually a professional actor and such, so I felt like they could have given it to someone else, but they let me keep it. So YAY!!

If you are looking for an all-inclusive night of delicious food, fun entertainment, and the chance to exercise your inner “Cookie” from “Empire”, or whoever you wanna be, you should check out the Murder Mystery Company. This is the link to the Baltimore location, which is currently offering a 40% discount (don’t you love discounts?) , and this link takes you to the national site, where you can find a show in your area. It’s a fun night. You should do it.

We were given complimentary tickets to The Murder Mystery Theater Company show in order to review it, but the high opinions of it are completely real and my own. 

Have you ever been to a murder mystery night, either at a restaurant or at a party? Did you get all into it? 

 


Blaze Bands Reflective Wristbands: Comfy and Stylish and Safe

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!


When we first agreed that we would review Blaze Bands Reflective Wristbands, I had the perfect idea for how to try them out. See, I was planning on returning to running after taking a break to rest my right knee, which I injured a few years ago while training for a race. I figured that I would go out for a run, and try out these wristbands, which are bright and shiny and designed to keep you visible to vehicles and such while you are outside doing stuff.

Then I found out that I had arthritis in that knee. So there went the plan. And I sulked for a bit.

But then once I got over myself, I remembered (Duh) that there are so many things that you can do outside, like walk. Now, to do this, I have to go out early before my husband leaves for work so our toddler can still sleep, and this means being out by myself while the sun is still coming up. This can be a bit scary, because sometimes people out that early are just waking up and aren’t really on the lookout for runners and walkers and the like. So these wristbands came in handy. Handy. You wear them on your hands. See what I did there?

Anyway, I got up a few weeks ago, post-dawn, strapped on my shiny bands, and walked 3 miles, much of that on a street that doesn’t have sidewalks the whole way, and forces one to walk or run or bike in the bike lane. I have to say, that the Blaze Bands really gave me peace of mind that people could see me. They are fluorescent yellow, and they stand out so that oncoming cars can see you. They are also very light and comfortable, and not bulky like wearing a reflective jacket. I actually almost forgot that I was wearing them. People say that all of the time, but I am serious. Well, I remembered when I looked down at my wrists and saw shiny things. But really not until then.

I highly recommend the Blaze Bands for anyone who spends time outside and needs to be seen: walkers, bikers, joggers, dog-walkers, gardeners, even kids. Of course you need to use your own common sense and comfort when you decide to be out when it’s not as bright. But these are a great companion if you are! Buy them here.

Disclosure: We were provided a pair of Blaze Bands for free to try out and review, but this review is our honest opinion. 

 


Bookroo sends your kid a monthly literary gift

by SweetMidlife
This is gonna be fun!

This is gonna be fun!

Leslie here! As a writer, and a very early lover of books who with Lynne tortured our Granddaddy into reading “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” over and over, it’s important to me that the toddler I live with become a tiny bookworm as well. Story time is a big deal here and now we have an ingenious way to make sure that the shelf is never bare: a service called Bookroo, a kid’s book subscription service. (Disclosure: We signed up for the service and are receiving a discounted fee.)

I was excited about it from the beginning because I’m fan of subscription services, including a clothing service that sends new stuff to my house each month. Even though I pay for it, and know that it’s coming, it’s nice to get a wrapped thing in the mail. The Boy doesn’t have a calendar, doesn’t pay for anything and thinks everything is for him, so when the Bookroo box came to the house with his name on it, I pointed out the label even though he can’t read.

He can, however, open wrapping paper, and that was a whole other adventure (we like adventure – note the above tiny hand excitedly reaching for that delicious rippy stuff.

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Once we got all the paper off, we settled into our books for the month, “Hush Little Polar Bear,” by Jeff Mack, “Duck and Goose, 1-2-3” by Tad Hills and “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen.” Toddler is at the point where he likes the concept of turning the pages, but lacks the patience to sit there and hit every page, so these board books are perfect for him – colorful, tactile and easy to hold.
So far, Toddler kind of read through “Hush Hush Little Polar Bear” once and then moved onto “Duck and Goose” which I thought was adorable. He’s really big on counting right now – sometimes the numbers are even in order! – so being able to point to them on the page was huge. He also knows what a duck looks like, so that was exciting.
But our favorite was “The Pout-Pout Fish,” not only because it’s gorgeous and introduces a lot of colorful sea creatures, all of which Toddler wanted to touch and “Ooh” over, but because the story is so darned charming. The aforementioned fish believes that he’s destined to be pouty and sad, even though the other creatures try to get him to smile. Eventually, Pouty meets someone who turns his frown upside down. It’s a nice reminder that we can always find something to smile about.
I plan to keep the service, which starts at $17.95 a month but you can get a discount of $4 off your order by following this link!

Theatre for the Little Ones: “Blossom’s Rainbow” at Arts On The Horizon (and Ticket Giveaway!!)

by SweetMidlife

Happy Friday everybody! Snow is melting, and the sun is shining. This is a perfect time to get out of the house and explore now that things are thawing out. This is exactly what my toddler dude and I did yesterday when we ventured to the Athenaeum in Alexandria, Virginia to see “Blossom’s Rainbow”, a play aimed at kids age 2-5. It’s presented by Arts on the Horizon, a Northern Virginia theatre company that’s totally devoted to providing shows and classes for patrons ages 0-6 (and they are the first American theatre company to focus entirely on that age range). Before I talk about our really fun time at the show, I want to disclose a few things:

1. I used to be on the board of Arts on the Horizon, and have taught for them, too. And now, I take my kid to see their shows for the same reason I was involved before: I believe in what they do, and in the power of the arts to reach even the littlest of us.

2. I was given 2 tickets to the show so I could write about it, but my opinions are, well, mine. AND I AM GIVING AWAY 2 TICKETS AT THE END OF THIS POST FOR PEOPLE IN THE DC/MD/VA AREA.

3. We watched the majority of yesterday’s show from the outside porch of The Athenaeum through the giant glass windows that look directly in on the action because my drum-obsessed 2.5 year-old marched right in the front door as the play was beginning and right up into the performing area and started beating on one of the Japanese drums used in the show. Yeah, that happened. The really wonderful cast didn’t skip a beat, and I scooped my kid up and we watched the show from outside where I could trust that he wasn’t going to do that again. And it was still good from there.

“Blossom’s Rainbow” is about the journeys of a young cherry blossom, and it uses a beautiful painting by painter Britney Mongold as the inspiration for its action. It’s a celebration of Japanese culture, and the 2 actors (Tuyet Thi Pham and Jacob Yeh), accompanied by a drummer (Mark H. Rooney), use rhythm, dance and color to bring its story to life, and keep the audience engaged by inviting them to clap along. The show is funny and the kids who we saw it with were enthralled. Seriously enthralled. It’s gently energetic, if that makes sense: it flows and moves and pops without being chaotic. Creator/director Margo Greenlee has made a show that reaches its intended audience on different levels, which is important, because if you know anyone between the ages of 2-5, you know that their interests and comprehension changes so much in that seemingly short time span. The audience that we were in seemed to all be in that age range, and each of those kids seemed to find something in it that they held on to. For my son, it was the flag that Blossom adds colors to as she completes parts of her journey. And he also wanted to hold onto the drums, which is why we watched from outside. But the very smart producers have even thought of kids who want to touch stuff, because before the show, they have metal tins out for kids to drum on, getting them geared up for the show, and giving them a chance to get their beats on beforehand. We walked in as the show was starting, so we missed that part.

I highly recommend “Blossom’s Rainbow” as a great way to introduce your child to the theater, and to the idea of being part of an audience, which is a wonderful skill to have. It’s a beautiful show. And seriously, the large windows outside of the building really provided almost a balcony experience for my very active kid, who got to watch the show, but in a way that respected the performance. It runs Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from now until March 29, with $8 tickets and a 10:30 a.m. showtime. If you have a little one, this is perfect for your wallet, and also for afternoon nap times. You can also make a whole adventure day out of it, as the Athenaeum is located in Old Town Alexandria, where there are many restaurants and shops within walking distance. We parked in front of a toy store, so we went back there after we rode the free Old Town Trolley up and down King Street (one block over) and ate a yummy lunch.   It was a wonderful day all around, and “Blossom’s Rainbow” was at the center of it.

AND in celebration of March 20th being World Day of Theater for Children and Young People and the quest to take a young person to a show, we are giving away 2 free tickets to the March 20th performance of “Blossom’s Rainbow” at 10:30 am in Alexandria. FREE!! If you are in the DC/MD/VA area, you should enter. In our comments section below, tell me about your favorite live theater or music experience, either as a kid or as an adult by Sunday, 3/15 at 8pm.. That’s it! I will randomly pick a winner and announce it here and on our Facebook page on Monday morning, and have the winner contact me then.

Happy Theatre-going!


Lynne Reviews “Pop Goes Lullaby 4” by Jammy Jams, Kid Music That Won’t Make You Want To Punch Yourself

by SweetMidlife


Hi! Lynne here!

I have a 2 year-old, and thus spend a lot of time watching and listening to things aimed at my kid. Some of it is very good, while some of it makes me want to tell my son that my computer is broken so we don’t have to listen to one more horrible, horrible song that sounds like it was sung by elves on drugs. I don’t even know what that means, but it’s bad.

 

This is why I was excited when we got a chance to listen to kid music that promised to not make me sad.  Jammy Jams is a company that produces lullaby music that relaxes and prepares your little ones for bedtime but also entertains parents, because the songs are lullaby versions of popular songs that grown-ups know. And they have collections for all kinds of tastes, including soothing takes on hip-hop and rock. The CD I got to hear is “Pop Goes Lullaby 4”, the latest in Jammy Jams’ low-key tribute to current popular music. AND I LIKED IT. The songs are played on xylophones, marimbas, and other instruments that give them a breezy, happy tropical feel, so while your baby is being taken to La-La Land, you feel like you are being taken to Key West. And I could use a trip to Key West. This volume features lullaby versions of recent hits by Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, among others.  Having “Shake It Off” played while I was rocking my kid made me smile because I love that song, and also because he was being asked to shake off the awake-ness. See, it all works!

Now, this is where I admit that upon first glance, I only knew half of the songs covered on this album, and that is because at 43, I am not the average age of a mom of a toddler. This means that I am not as familiar with some current chart-toppers, but that is another cool thing that this CD did for me: it made me go back and listen to the original versions, and introduced me to some really great music that I didn’t know (I preferred the Pop Goes Lullaby versions to some of that, actually). So, if you are looking for good music that will really aid you in putting your kids to bed, but will also make you happy at the same time because it’s based on good music that you like too, check it out (you can listen to samples and buy the CD here, as well as on Amazon and iTunes. Seriously, you and your kids, but also you, will really enjoy it.


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