Look Around and Have Fun

Monday, August 28, 2017

Trovina Natural Vegan Soaps

This post contains sponsored links. 

I was on Facebook recently and happened to come across a woman in a local group.  She has a family owned and operated soap business, which I love to see.  I love small businesses, and always get excited to see others working for themselves. 

I began looking into her soaps, checked out her website and Facebook page, and was surprised at all the variety of options she had.  A big factor for me to want to try these soaps from Trovina was that they are natural, and not the melt and pour soaps.  The soaps are made with vegan ingredients and essential oils.  

Their story from their website:


Trovina was founded to bring truly natural soap to anyone who wanted it. In the search for natural soap just for our own personal use, we found that even handmade soapers didn't list their ingredients or listed them vaguely like "blend of oils and fats" or "fragrances."

It would leave us thinking, "Well, what kind?" "Natural or synthetic?"

We are a family of 5 - mom, dad, and 3 boys. During the recession, a lay-off created the need to make a little extra money and to keep busy. Rebecca had earned a certificate in Family Herbalism from Dr. Christopher's School of Natural Healing and was looking for a good way to put that knowledge to use. We decided to learn how to make our own soap and make it really natural.


We list all our ingredients in a straight-forward way and never hide anything from you.

We also never use animal fat or animal products. Since we create our own formulas and understand the chemistry of soaping, we are in a unique position to make whatever you want in a personal-sized batch. We offer custom soaps starting at $20 (5 bar yeild). Contact us for more information - these things are best discussed via email or phone.

**SIDE NOTE: We do use Kansas honey in two of our soaps. The honey is from a farmer that we know - there is no cruelty to bees here. We have vegans that are OK with honey and others who are not. 

The choice is yours. **


I was so excited, as I was able to try out several different soaps. Each one has a unique scent.  Each one is absolutely amazing.  They all leave my skin feeling silly and moisturized.  The scents are with essential oils, and are the perfect balance of scent.  They aren't too strong, but leave a lingering scent on my skin.  They are also my substitute for shaving soap.  They lather up enough to go on my legs, armpits, or wherever and let the razor do it's work without razor burn.  When done, my skin is amazing feeling.  

I was also able to try the soap saver dish and the body scrubber.  

The soap dish is angled, and is perfect for keeping your soap from dissolving away.  It's going to happen with the normal soap dish.  The water collects, and eventually the soap sitting in the water vanishes before it's time.  This dish is at a slope, and has a pour spout.  The water drains away, and my soaps have lasted a lot longer than my other store bought bar soaps I have in my shower (because I don't want to share with my husband).  

The body scrubber is great for the last pieces of my soap!  I stick the soap inside, get the scrubber wet, and the soap comes through allowing me to not waste the last of my soap.  It gets my skin clean, but it's not harsh or rough on my skin.  It hangs up to dry between my showering.  

If you are looking for homemade soaps for yourself, or as a gift for this upcoming holiday season, you can find Trovina on Facebook or on their website at https://www.trovina.com/

I received this free to test and offer up my opinion.  All thoughts are my own.  

Happy Camper Designs Personalized Gifts

This post contains sponsored links. 

My kids have managed to get me into watching anime.  One that I have come to love, although it is rather gruesome, is Attack on Titan.  I've tried watching different shows.  Tokyo Ghoul and Madoka are a few.  I just haven't found any I like as much as Attack on Titan.  Due to this, I found it a fun way to add to my coffee cup collection by putting the Wing of Freedom on my cup through 
Happy Camper Designs

I was able to send her the picture I wanted, and she was able to put it on my cup.  

I love the two different colors I got as well.  I have the black cup, as well as a white cup to use.  Both look amazing with the picture I sent her.  

She was great at communicating with me.  She was quick to let me know that the black one had a visual defect, so she was sending me the white one as well. The only thing about the black is that the picture wraps around the cup when it shouldn't have, and I can actually feel the picture as it isn't quite flat.  

The white cup, which is the one that is the true cup I would have gotten, is perfect with the cropping and the picture feels as if it is an actual piece of the cup.  There are no seams or ridges anywhere.  I'm mentioning the defect on the black cup so you know that she is aware of the condition of her products and she won't send anything subpar.  She wants you to get a quality product.  I was very happy to find this out about her and how she worked with me on my personalized cup.  

These arrived at my house quickly and packaged very well with a styrofoam cup insert inside their boxes.  There were no issues at all, and I give her a perfect rating.  

The great part is the variety of products she can personalize for you.  There's not just coffee cups, but water bottles, key chains, drawstring bags, charm bracelets, stuffed animals, blanket sets, decals, ceramic tiles, and other items as well.  You can find her on Facebook or on Etsy at Happy Camper Designs.  

These were provided at no charge for my personal opinion.  All thoughts are my own. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finding the perfect family vehicle with Cars.com

Sponsored post

Finding the right car for your family can be both exciting and stressful.  You want something that you will fall in love with, but you also want a vehicle that is reliable.  As a mom of 10, I know how horrible it is to find yourself stranded with the family because of an unreliable vehicle.  A little extra research into our vehicle would have given us some insight into the problems to expect from that particular make, model, and year.

Researching my out the pros and cons of your vehicle is something I have learned (the hard way) is very important.  Once you have found the vehicle, or vehicles, you want to shop for, the next step is to search for the perfect one for you and your family.  There are so many places to shop for cars both online and in person.  Online is wonderful because you don't spend all your time and gas traveling to see a car and you come up empty handed.  However, you also don't get to touch and test drive cars you find online.  Nobody wants to buy sight unseen.  

Our family van recently died on us, as did my husband's work truck.  I found https://www.cars.com, and I've discovered the best of both worlds in car shopping.  I am able to search online for my family vehicle with new and used vehicles.  However, I can also search from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, up to 500 miles away, and even all listing they have.  I can search out the make and model of what I'm looking for.  

I can also go to those locations and look at, touch, and test drive the vehicle.  If I love it, I can go though the purchasing process for it.  It really makes it easy and time saving to shop through https://www.cars.com.  They also have experts give you new car reviews, as well as an area with reviews for specific cars you are looking into.  I'm loving the ability to save time in my search.  I'm hoping to find what we need and love.  

Have you used https://www.cars.com?
What was you experience?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Brick Fest Live LEGO Fan Experience

If you have kids, and are in the Kansas City area, this post is for you.  My kids LOVE LEGO toys, and this is something that I know they'd love to do. Now there's even a discount for all of you to use!

July 8-9 LEGO lovers rejoice! The Brick Fest Live LEGO Fan Experience is filled with hands-on attractions and activities built to inspire, educate, and entertain.


Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 9:00 AM - 
Sun, Jul 9, 2017, 6:00 PM EDT

KCI Expo Center
11730 NW Ambassador Dr
Kansas City, MO 64153

MY READERS SAVE! Save $3 off tickets with promo code USFGTHREE

Enjoy an amazing LEGO world where you can marvel at giant creations and even build some of your own.

The Brick Fest Live LEGO Fan Experience provides a venue for LEGO lovers of all sizes to celebrate, build new creations, and see some truly mind-blowing LEGO sculptures to help set the imagination free.

Attractions Include:

The Brick Show Experience: Meet popular YouTube LEGO show hosts from The Brick Show and be featured on in an upcoming video.

Brick Fest Derby: Build and race your custom built LEGO derby car down one of our 35-foot long timed tracks!

Collaborative Building Activities: Contribute to large-scale mystery floor mosaic.

Inspiration Stations: Add to existing LEGO cities and make them your own by building custom creations.

Video Game Arena: Have a favorite LEGO video game? Come challenge your family or make new friends in the Brick Fest Gaming Arena playing your favorite LEGO title head to head.

Mini Golf: A miniature golf course built to inspire! Take your game to the next level on the Brick-Links.

Brick Fest Theater Trivia & Entertainment: Participate in LEGO trivia all while taking a break from what will be an overwhelming amount of awesome!

Mosaics: Using a colorful variety of LEGO bricks, build a piece of art to proudly display for other attendees.

Shopping: Find new, vintage, rare, and custom LEGO sets and merchandise from one of the many merchants in attendance.

MY READERS SAVE! Save $3 off tickets with promo code USFGTHREE

More info - KCI Expo Center
11730 NW Ambassador Dr
Kansas City, MO 64153

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Corso's Cookies

This post contains sponsored links. 

Like most women, I tend to like a sweet Mother's Day gift from my spouse.  I love bouquets, and I love something a little sweet to eat.  The only think that could make this better, would be a sweet bouquet.  That is what I have today.  I was able to get a cookie bouquet from Corso's Cookies.  

This is a 9 cookie bouquet that was delivered right to my door.  They were wrapped so carefully, and they were in perfect condition.  

These are shortbread flower and butterfly cookies, so they are not too sweet, and they have a very mild flavor.  The icing is a hard glazed icing that is perfectly iced onto each cookie.  The cookies are also individually wrapped to keep them fresh.  Each cookie is about 1/4 pound, so they are easily able to be eaten a little at a time. 

This is such a pretty bouquet, and perfect for a cookie lovers Mother's Day surprise.  There are so many options on the site at www.CorsosCookies.com, and you can pick a cookie bouquet for everything from Mother's Day, Birthdays, Parties, Holidays, and more.  

You can also save 35% on your order with the gift code BIGFAMILY35 at checkout!!

I received this free of charge.  All thoughts are my own, and all 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Namaste Gluten Free Foods Review and Giveaway

This post contains sponsored links.

I have been trying out different Gluten Free foods lately.  I'm looking to start avoiding gluten as much as possible.  We don't have any specific food allergies in our family that causes us to avoid foods, thankfully, other than a mild legume allergy from my daughter.  However, I want to try to avoid certain foods when possible to help with my weight loss and health journey.  

When I was in contact with Namaste, I was able to pick out 3 of their different products.  I had a lot of fun going through their website looking at all the different foods they offer. I decided to try out their Hot & Spicy Coating Mix, Bread & Roll Mix, and Chocolate Cake Mix.  I had an actual plan for why I picked these, and not just because they looked good.  

First, I wanted to try foods that I would eat.  I wanted something that would be my normal foods that I'd feed my family.  I wanted their opinion on these foods too. 

Second, the coating could be easy to review on my first impression.  However, bread and cake aren't exactly something I've had good experiences with when going Gluten Free.  They are generally pretty dense, and are generally pretty grainy in texture.  I wanted to try a more challenging food and put it to the test.  

Hot & Spicy Coating Mix

The Hot & Spicy Coating Mix was very easy to use.  First off, I was very excited to see that it came supplied with the bags to shake the chicken in.  

I get excited over the silliest things sometimes. 

I had 3 1/2 pounds of chicken drumsticks, and that was what each packet called for.  I used 1 of the 2 coating packets for this.  I put the 9 drumsticks in a bowl and put a little milk on the to moisten them (as the recipe said), and then put each drumstick in the plastic bag (1 drumstick at a time), and shook it in the mix until coated.  Then put the drumsticks, one at a time, on a cookie sheet to bake.  

I baked them at 350° for 30 minutes, and they were perfectly done at over 160° internally.  

The mix coated the chicken very well.  It stuck on the skin, and baked perfectly.  

The taste, is pretty good.  I love spicy foods, so this was actually pretty mild for me.  It had just a little spice on the back of my tongue.  It also lacked salt, and is much better if the chicken is salted.  That's something to keep in mind.  It has a little tang to it.  Kind of like the sour in a sweet and sour flavor.  It's good, and I liked it.  The only thing I'd do is salt the chicken some before cooking, and then I'd love it to be a bit spicier. 

Bread & Roll Mix

This boxed bread mix was easy to make.  It called for a mixer, but sadly my kitchen aid is not exactly working.  My speed control switch died.  Since that isn't an option, I decided to pull out my bread machine.  Although I also could have done this by hand.  I put it on the dough cycle, so it would only mix and it cook.  I put the mix in, then the water, yeast packet (included), egg, egg whites, and the oil.  It sat for the 30 minutes to activate the yeast and then mixed it.  It came out as a batter, and I put it in a bread pan that I oiled only on the bottom.  

I let it rise in my warm oven for 20 minutes, and then the last 10 minutes on the counter as the oven got to temperature.  

Although it calls for 65-70 minutes, my oven doesn't actually cook correctly, so at 45 minutes it was done.  
I decided to put some butter on the top after it came out. 

After it cooled off I sliced it up.  Although it did stick to the bottom some when I removed it from the pan about 10 minutes after it came out of the oven, it stayed whole.  
After slicing it up, I shared with the family.  I want to add that every single time I've had Gluten Free bread, it's been unpalatable.  It was grainy, and just unpleasant.  

This Bread & Roll Mix is completely the opposite.  It was more of a soft and spongy texture.  It was not grainy at all.  The bread reminded me of English Muffin Bread, but had almost a sweet malty flavor.  I think that flavor was from the rice flour.  It was very good, and everyone except my 5 year old son liked it.  I was very impressed with this bread, and would absolutely eat this all the time.  

Chocolate Cake Mix

The cake was very easy to make.  We mixed it up according to the recipe with eggs, water, and oil.  I added it to my cake pans.  However, I did oil my pans and used a tablespoon of the dry cake powder mix to "flour" the pans.  This kept it Gluten Free, and also was not losing any of the cake mix.  The recipe was right on with my oven, and it cooked for 30 minutes.  I pulled the cake out when it was "just" done.  It was barely not sticking when I tested it. 

I let it cool completely out of the pans.  I put some cherry preserves between the layers, and then frosted it with a cream cheese frosting I made.  I chilled it for a couple hours, and then we tried it out. 

I really like this cake mix.  I'm really, really impressed.  I actually liked it best the next day, as it was still incredibly moist, but the flavors all had time to meld together.  It also seemed to be a bit dryer the day of, and moistened up by the next day.  There is absolutely no gritty texture at all.  That's what impressed me the most.  It is spongy, like a gluten cake, and very pleasing to eat.  

Everyone loved this in my house, and would be perfectly fine with this cake instead of our normal flour based cake.  

Now, a little more exciting news!!

I am hosting an amazing giveaway from Namaste!

Namaste will provide a wonderful Namaste reusable grocery tote bag full of one Pasta Meal, Baking Mix, Coating Mix, Soup Cup and information to give away to one Big Family Review reader!

If you can't wait, and want your Namaste foods now, you can find more information on purchasing their foods at http://www.namastefoods.com

To enter the contest, click the link below.  

All thoughts and experiences are my own.  I love to cook and try new foods at my house.  The joy is getting to express my thought to my amazing readers, and share that opportunity for you to try it yourself.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Milton's Gluten Free Chips and Crackers Review and Giveaway

This post contains sponsored links. 

I had the opportunity to try out Milton's Craft Bakers Gluten Free Chips and Crackers.  Our family is lucky enough to not really have any dietary restrictions.  However, we love to try different foods.  I am trying to feed my family healthy foods, and get them involved in a healthy lifestyle.  I knew that with these gluten free crackers and chips, the biggest hurdle would be from my husband.  He is not a fan of gluten free foods at all.  As he tried these snacks with us, and happily munched them saying they were really good, that's when I knew they were a win for people everywhere.

I would love to share my thoughts on the pack I was given, and invite you to participate in the giveaway for the same Milton's Chips and Crackers pack I was given.

Nacho Cheddar Chips

A mixture of corn, brown rice, chickpeas, and lentils.  These chips are very crunchy and satisfy what I call the crunchy craving.  It's when you want to eat something, but also want the crunch to go along with it.  

The Nacho Cheddar chips have a medium dusting of non GMO cheddar and ancho chilis.   The chips have a very mild spice to them.  The cheddar flavor is not overpowering like some other nacho cheese chips.  It gives a nice amount of flavor, but still allows you to taste the flavor of the actual chips.  I actually like this, because I am able to taste the corn and chickpeas in the chips.  Those 2 ingredients are what stood out most to me.  I love the taste of the chips, as it reminded me of hummus.  Although we are these alone as a snack, I bet they would be delicious with some red pepper hummus.  

Sea Salt Chips

These are really good.  They have more of a hummus flavor with a bit of salt added.  If you like the mild flavor of hummus, you will love these chips.  They are crunchy and salty, but not too salty.   They have a mild but distinct taste of chickpeas.  The corn takes second place.  Then the brown rice and lentils are in the background as a perfect backup.  These, I'm going to say, are perfect for dips or just snacking by themselves.  
My husband says these are his favorite. 

Himalayan Salt Chips

The first thing I noticed with these chips was the mixture of the Himalayan salt and the very light hint of cumin.  The natural salt flavor stands out first, and then the mild flavor of cumin bleeds through.  I love that these flavors are very mild, and that they allow the chip to be the main focus.  These are amazing with hummus and dip.  Especially a 7 layer dip.  I can't seem to stop snacking on them, and my kids are surrounding me for more.  I think it's a winner in our house. 

Green Chili Salsa Chips

The green chili salsa chips have a quick bite of chili.  It's not spicy, but the flavor is instantly there.  It almost seems like my brain is waiting for the spice.  As if the taste is telling me it should be spicy, but instead I have the amazing flavor of the green chilis instead.  I love this one a lot.  

Red Chili Salsa Chips

I love spice.  These chips have a good amount of heat to them.  The perfect amount for those who love to kick it up a notch.  They have a hot pepper taste and heat that are perfect to satisfy that spicy craving.  
I was sad that these were my least favorite, as I love spicy foods.  They had a flavor that took me a moment to pinpoint.  At first I thought it was the peppers, but after reading the ingredients I figured it out.  It was rosemary extract.  I'm not a fan of that taste.  However, if you like the flavor of rosemary, as well as spice, then this will be one that you'll love.  

Multi-Grain Crackers

It took me a few chips to figure out the familiar flavor that hit me when I tasted the multi-grain chips.  

First off, these started off with a "Mmmmmm!!!  These are good!!!" from me.  Each time I taste a new flavor I am completely sure that bag is my favorite.  

These chips are baked, are thick, and are so crunchy.  The normal multi-grain flavor with that familiar mild flax seed taste.  As I looked at the ingredients I saw potato flakes, and the familiarity of those potato chips in a can came to mind.  It didn't taste exactly like those, so don't panic.  However, it was the slight potato taste that triggered that thought.  These are amazing with a hot tuna dip, as well as spinach artichoke dip. 

Cheddar Cheese Crackers

One thing I love is that the flavors are baked right into these crackers.  These are crispy cracker that are perfect mixture of a mild cheddar and a little salt.  They have a slight familiar flavor of a childhood favorite of my little square cheese crackers I'd eat by the handful, only these are so much better.  They have a real cheese flavor.  They have a taste of different grains.  However, they are not grainy.  They don't have that (no offense) texture where you say "these must be gluten free".  No.  These are a perfect snack for anyone, anytime.  

Crispy Sea Salt Crackers

I'm always surprised at how crispy these crackers are.  The sea salt crackers are surprisingly flavorful.  The real sea salt flavor pops.  It's not super salty like most crackers.  This is a flavorful flavor.  For those who have used sea salt, you will understand when I say it's a taste of real salt.  It allows the flavor of the grains of brown rice, rice, oats, and corn, as well as the potato flavor to shine.  

Everything Crackers

In my opinion, these would be best with cheese and salami.  These crispy crackers have a variety of caraway, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, quinoa, garlic, onion, and other spices.   The caraway is what stands out to me the most, and what I think would actual pair well with cheese.  These would be my favorite as an appetizer cracker.  The taste is great, and would pair well with other foods on an hors d'oeurve platter.  

Now for the best part.  You can win an assorted pack of Milton's Craft Bakers Chips and Crackers by entering below.  If you can't wait, you can go to www.miltonscraftbakers.com and buy online or find the nearest retailer selling Milton's Craft Bakers products.

Enter Competition

All thoughts and opinions are my own.