Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Franke Luxury Kitchen System Makeover! Part 1 #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We bought our "new" 101-year-old house about 11 months ago and we've been slowly, but steadily remodeling and renovating the entire house.  I patiently anxiously awaited the day when it would be my beloved kitchen's turn for some remodel lovin':) 

That day finally arrived about a month ago and we were fortunate enough to partner with Franke to update our sink area.  Franke doesn't just offer sinks...they offer the entire luxury kitchen system.  They have hundreds of options to choose from and so many ways to mix and match your products.  They make it easy to transform your kitchen into that place you've been dreaming of:)

For me, my dream sink (is it silly to have a "dream sink"?) has always been an apron front model that would fit perfectly in a farmhouse style kitchen.  Being the amazing manufacturers they are, Franke has several apron front sinks to choose from.  We chose the Franke Farm House 33 inch Apron Front Single Bowl Fireclay Sink...phew!  It is every bit as awesome as it's name:) 

Before we get into the installation, let's take a look at some of the reasons I was ready for an upgrade:

The enamel sink was nice, but old.  It was super scratched up and had several chips and spots where it was corroding.

The faucet was super old school and the seal was wasting away and this yucky black goo was constantly oozing out and making a mess.

I'm not sure when this setup was installed, but it's obviously been awhile since the kitchen has been improved.

Enter Franke and one big delivery:

We were so pumped to receive this delivery!!  It was like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one:)

Then it was time to get busy.  As part of the remodel we are also updating the cabinets and counter tops and installing a dishwasher, on top of installing the entire Franke kitchen system, so there was (and still is) lots of work to be done.  Luckily, B is quite the handyman and seems to enjoy projects like this.

Here he is with his handy helper, D, getting the sink ready for installation:

And putting the sink in it's place:

Once the sink was in, it was time to drill the holes for the faucets.  Notice how the ugly pink tile is now gone?  We are in the process of sealing it with about 2.5 million coats of polyurethane, but it's looking great!  This picture is pre-seal:

Franke sent along a main faucet and a point-of-use faucet.  Our main faucet is the Pull Down Spray Faucet and the point-of-use is the Cold Water Only plus Filtration.  We got them in the Old World Bronze finish to match the linen sink.  We are antiquing our cabinets, so I'm sure it will all look fantastic together!

Here is the amazing Waste Disposer: 

This model is jam-resistant, energy-efficient and has impressive sound baffling.  It's so quiet that the first time I used it, I actually thought I had broken it.  The sound is super muffled, which we can all appreciate.

Our full kitchen system also came with a sink rack and a nifty cutting board:

Here is what the sink area looks like now that everything is in place:

Beautiful isn't it?!
We still have a ways to go.  Another couple of coats of polyurethane, the dishwasher installation (Hallelujah!) the cabinet drawers and doors (which are about halfway done) and a new backsplash.  It's a work in progress:)  But I'm certainly glad to be doing dishes and prepping meals in my gorgeous new sink!  Every time I walk into the kitchen, I am grinning from ear to ear:)

Once we finish the whole project (hopefully before Thanksgiving:) we will be posting an update with lots of pictures of the results.  We are excited to share how the total Franke Kitchen System is working for our family with y'all, so stay tuned!

Buy It:
Start planning your dream kitchen today at Franke Luxury USA

Get Social: I

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Julia E. Dean Pottery: Beautiful Handmade Couples Gifts and more! #Spon #HolidayGiftGuide

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review a set of Mr. & Mrs. mugs from Julia E. Dean:

Julia E. Dean has been creating quality, stylish and functional pottery since 1998.  Her work is absolutely stunning!  As soon as I saw these Beachcomber mugs, I fell in love:)

These mugs are gorgeous and would be the perfect gift for a couple.  Any holiday weddings out there?  The rustic sea shell design is so simple and just lovely!   Julia E. Dean also has a woodland-themed line with leaves and such stamped onto these pretty mugs.  I love the natural look and feel she imparts upon her handmade pieces of art! 

Check out the gorgeous blue interiors:

These mugs can be personalized for any couple.  Julia E. Dean also offers single mugs, bowls and more.  Her work is quite simply amazing!  If you want a gift that is sure to impress, you should really check out Julia E.Dean's work:)

ABCD Diaries gives Julia E. Dean an A+!

Buy It:
Check out Julia E. Dean on Etsy!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Ani-gram-it Board Game! #Spon #HolidayGiftGuide

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review Ani-gram-it, a board game about animal classification:

This board game is an award-winning game from Na2ure.
Na2ure is a company founded by an artist who believes children should have the opportunity to be inspired by science and nature. Ani-gram-it lets children use what they already know about animals and learn even more about them through play.

Here is the description of this game from the website:
"Ani-gram-it is like games you know, with a twist - a crossword style game except you make animals, not words, with body parts, not letters. The twist is that the 'animal' can be added to, to make new animals - each set of body parts simply become parts after the last players turn, like an anagram."

The first things we noticed when we opened the game were the beautiful photo tiles.  

We spent quite awhile just sorting through all of the amazing animal tiles and ohhing and ahhing over them:)

Each tile is double-sided with a close up picture of an animal feature on one side and a word on the other which allows for two different methods of play.  

The board is also double-sided, so depending on the level of the players, you can play this game several different ways.  

We enjoyed playing with the pictures better since we were just learning the game and our kiddos are a little younger.  This game is kind of like Scrabble, but players are building animals instead of words.  I love that this game encourages discussion and collaboration, as well as a healthy dose of zoology.  

The kiddos also thought is was fun to make up crazy animals and try to outdo each other with super silly combinations...not so much educational, but creative and entertaining nonetheless:)  

This game would make a wonderful gift for the nature-lover on your holiday gift giving list this year!

ABCD Diaries gives Ani-gram-it an A+!
Buy It:
To get your Ani-gram-it board game, visit Na2ure’s Website.
Get Social:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

GREAT Kids Snack Subscription October Week 4 #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review the GREAT Kids Snack Subscription:

This Snack Box monthly delivery service includes 30 individually-wrapped snacks that are kid-tested and nutritionist approved.  All snacks are in convenient on-the-go packages, which makes them great for school lunches or after-school snacks.

Great Kids provides new snacks to discover each month with free home delivery and your satisfaction is guaranteed!

Our box was overflowing with single-sized goodies:)  We decided to let each of our 2 kiddos choose one snack per day and each week (while the box lasts) and we'll be posting which snacks they discovered and if the snacks were a hit or miss.

The kiddos were super excited to continue their October snack adventure this week.

Day 13
Nature's Bakery Fig Bars in Fig and Blueberry flavors:

These are so soft and full of fruit flavor.  Definitely a winning snack!

Day 14
Bitsy's Brainfood Lemon Broccoli Cookies and Barney Butter Almond Butter-Honey Flax:

We finally ran into a Bitsy's Brainfood snack that we didn't really like, but the Almond Butter was a hit!

Day 15
Barney Butter Almond Butters in Cocoa Coconut and Raw Chia:

Both were big hits spread on apple slices.

We also found stickers, tattoos and lots of nutritional info at the bottom of our box:

Pretty good snack week this week!

Check back next week for a wrap up of our GREAT Kids Snack Box October adventure!

Buy It:

Sign up for your GREAT Kids Snack Subscription!

Tackle Grab Subscription Service #Spon #HolidayGiftGuide

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review Tackle Grab:

Tackle Grab is a monthly subscription service for people who love to fish.  Each month Tackle Grab sends you high-end baits that mesh with your Angler Profile.  You create a profile when you sign up so that the products they send can be tailored to your fishing habits.  We received a saltwater box since most of the fishing we do down here on the Texas coast is in salt or brackish water. 

Each Tackle Grab box includes a page that describes each lure and lists their prices.  They guarantee that each box will meet or exceed $15.  Boxes start at $13 per month for a 12 month subscription or $15 month-to-month.

We received 3 products in our Tackle Grab box.

First, a River2Sea Spike Jig, an $11.54 value.  

This bait is a bit larger...6 3/8 in and weighs 4 1/4 oz.  It's great when a fast drop is needed and saltwater gamefish are on the bottom.  We haven't been out deep enough to review this lure yet, but it sure is pretty!

The next item was a Chark Bait Metal Slider, value $3.99.  

This makes a good cast and retreive bait.   It's got enough weight to work as a jerk bait. 

Last was a full 8 count package of Gambler Flapp'n Shad soft baits, value $4.79.  

We always have several flat paddle tail baits in the tackle box.  These are a good length and a good weight.  They are great for fishing slow over the grass with a wide gap hook and no jig head is needed.  We always have great results with these!

Tackle Grab is a fun way to get to try a variety of tried-and-true products each month.
If you love any of the items you receive in your box, you can go to the Tackle Grab Store and purchase more. 
Tackle Grab would make a really awesome gift for the fisherperson on your gift list this holiday season!

ABCD Diaries gives Tackle Grab an A+!

Buy It:
Get your subscription to Tackle Grab! Only $13/month for a year subscription or $15 month-to-month.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Eat Cleaner Produce Wipes and Spray! #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review a couple of Eat Cleaner products:

Eat Cleaner makes wipes and sprays that you can use on your fresh produce.  These products not only clean your food better than plain water, but can actually extend the life of your fresh fruits an veggies.  All of the produce we used Eat Cleaner on lasted several days longer than our produce usually does, which saves us money.  Woohoo!

The Grab 'n Go Wipes are great for washing firm-fleshed fruits and veggies and can also be used on the utensils you use to prepare your foods.  They are alcohol and chlorine-free and come in a handy package that you can carry with you wherever you go.  They are great for removing pesticides, wax & surface contaminants.

The Fruit and Vegetable Wash can do everything that the wipes can do, plus it's great for your produce that is firm-fleshed.  You can use it on pretty much anything!

These products are easy to use and do a great job of keeping your fruits and veggies clean and fresh.

ABCD Diaries gives Eat Cleaner products an A+!

Buy It:
Check out Eat Cleaner for a retailer near you!

Blue Isle Yogurt Spreads! #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone**

We recently had the chance to review Blue Isle Yogurt Spreads:

"Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads ( are the new probiotic rich dips and spreads made of Greek yogurt.  Blue Isle is made from the healthy goodness of fresh rBST-free milk, including live cultures, probiotics, and calcium but with no added sugar. With only 60 calories and 6g of fat per 2 tbsp serving, Blue Isle is nearly 40% fewer calories and total fat than the leading cream cheese. Blue Isle is both natural and OU Kosher certified."

Blue Isle is available in 5 flavors: Original, Honey, Blueberry, French Onion and Spicy Vegetable.  We really enjoyed sampling all 5 of the Blue Isle flavors.  These make great substitutes for Greek yogurt, cream cheese or sour cream in cooking and baking.  The Original flavor was especially versatile as a plain, creamy substitute.  The Honey and Blueberry flavors were fantastic on bagels and toast.  The French Onion and Spicy Vegetable made delicious dips for both veggies and chips.

We all loved the delicious, creamy taste of these spreads and the fact that you can use them in place of not-so-healthy ingredients really makes them pretty awesome!  These disappeared very quickly around here so, needless to say, ABCD Diaries gives Blue Isle Yogurt Spreads an A+!

Buy It:
Available for purchase at The Fresh Market, New Seasons, H-E-B, Lucky’s, QFC, Fred Meyer, Jon’s Marketplace, Strack and Van Til, at natural food stores and better supermarkets nationwide. Suggested retail price is $3.29 for an 8 oz tub.

Blue Isle Social Media: 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"An Unseemly Wife" by E.B. Moore #BookReview #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone.  The synopsis was provided for this post.**

We recently had the chance to review "An Unseemly Wife" by E.B. Moore:

"With its superb prose and historical setting, AN UNSEEMLY WIFE (NAL Trade Paperback Original; October 7, 2014; $15.00) by E. B. Moore delivers a well-researched piece of historical fiction that will capture your attention with its exciting story of survival and based on a true story. 

AN UNSEEMLY WIFE begins with this haunting and beautiful dedication:
my mother,
who told me the Plain stories;
and when she lost her memory,
I retold them to her

The year is 1867 and Ruth Holtz, based on Moore’s own great grandmother’s story, has the ideal Amish life.  She has a loving husband, prosperous farm, several healthy and beautiful children, and the security of living in the Amish community.  But soon enough, her world begins to unravel when the English arrive and inspire her husband to seek a new life in Idaho.

As a dutiful wife, Ruth goes along when her husband breaks the rules of their Order.  But her willingness to comply disintegrates and she is forced to accept help from some unlikely allies, only to end in betrayal.  As Ruth strives for a better future she needs to make unimaginable sacrifices, risk her faith and family, and transform to a truly modern woman."

What we thought:
This!  What a story!  Ruth's story is heartbreaking and moving and is told in an amazingly gripping way.  From the first page to the last, I was enthralled.  This sad story is so completely believable and I'm sure this is the story of many pioneer families with dreams of relocating to the West.  The author's fantastic use of imagery really helps to pull you in and completely submerse you in the character's lives.  As heartbreaking as the story is, it's still a fantastic read!

ABCD Diaries gives An Unseemly Wife an A+!

Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters with Ryan's Restaurants! #Giveaway

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone.**

"The popular buffet restaurants Ryan’s, HomeTown Buffet, and Old Country Buffet  are celebrating two big anniversaries in October with the second anniversary of the restaurants’ popular Thursday Family Night and the 30th anniversary of the popular and enduring Ghostbusters franchise. In honor of the films’ milestones, Ghostbusters I and II are being released on Blu-ray™ as special anniversary editions that will also feature a $3-off dinner coupon good at any of the 324 family-style restaurants. All the restaurants are also featuring Ghostbusters-themed activities every Family Night in October."

To celebrate, we are giving away a Ghostbusters DVD to one lucky reader, courtesy of Ryan's , HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet!

Get Organized with At-a-Glance Calendars #ShopletReviews

ABCD Diaries was provided with the products in this post by as a member of the Shoplet Product Review Program. We were in no other way compensated. The opinions expressed in this post are ours and ours alone. 

We recently had the chance to review At-A-Glance Weekly/Monthly Planner and the monthly wall calendar:

I am a major planner and list maker, so these products were right up my alley:)  

The Weekly/Monthly Planner leaves ample space for lots of organized planning.  Lots of space means a cleaner to-do list and I sure can appreciate that! I love the tabs with the months on easy to flip from one month to another.

At just $25, this sleek, professional planner is a great value!

The wall calendar is great too.

It's slim design doesn't take up much space, but leaves plenty of room for important reminders and more.  The pages are perforated for easy removal.  Another fantastic At-a-Glance product and great value at just $14.71!

Buy It:

Holiday Books for Young Readers #HolidayGiftGuide #Spon

**Complimentary products received in exchange for out honest review.  All opinions are ours and ours alone.  All synopsis were provided for this post**

Here is a roundup of some of our favorite new books.  These deal with a variety of topics that kiddos have to deal with including grief and bullying and would make great gifts for young readers this holidays!

My Yellow Balloon Ages 4-9, Oct 2014, Minoan Moon Publishing, $18.99,
With illustrations by former DreamWorks “Shrek” artist, this already award-winning hardcover book follows a little boy who loses his best friend: a bright yellow balloon. It gives kids courage to experience loss (from a move or a new school to a lost pet or family member) and a language for understanding change. Just like Oh, The Places You’ll Go! is the book for graduation, My Yellow Balloon is for anyone in tough times.

This is the Greatest Place! Ages 5-9, Oct 2014, China Institute/ Tuttle Publishing, $12.95, 
Created by internationally renowned children’s book artists, this book teaches uses one of the world's most fascinating landmarks, Beijing’s Forbidden City, to show young readers how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. Features a gatefold spread and lift-flaps.

In the Forbidden City Ages 9+, Oct 2014, China Institute/ Tuttle Publishing, $19.95, 
Similar to David Macaulay’s Castle, highly detailed line drawings convey the grandeur of Beijing’s Forbidden City buildings, gardens, and courtyards. This large format impressive book is part of We All Live in the Forbidden City, a dynamic educational program by China Institute about the history, culture, architecture, and life of imperial China as seen through the lens of the Forbidden City. 

 The Principle Gang series Ages 4-11, The Dugi Group, $14.95 each,
Book 1: Don’t Judge a Lizard by His Scales (Aug 2014)
Book 2: Wizard Lizard Rides the Subway (Oct 2014)
There are No Bullies Allowed in The Principle Gang, a new 6-book series that teaches three important anti-bullying lessons: 1) Don’t be mean, 2) Tell your teacher, and 3) Be a friend. Questions at the end of each book encourage kids, parents and caregivers to engage in thought-provoking conversations about family, friendship, community and fairness. 

What we thought:
The kiddos really enjoy each of these books.  The books about the Forbidden City will be great resources for our unit study of China.  They are extremely detailed, but written in a kid-friendly format with lots of easy-to-read graphics.

If you are gifting books to young readers, you should definitely check these out!