Archive for the Review Category

Sharing our #DisneySide with friends

I have always liked Disney. I mean even before kids. I actually owned Disney’s Cars movie (and a few others) before I had those two cuties. I also visited both Disney World and Disneyland, before kiddos. For a long time I have wanted to take S to Disney World. It is such a great experience that I wanted to share with him, but then came kids, and the idea to wait until they are old enough to remember it. Well, this year will be “the year.” I couldn’t be more excited. So you can imagine how excited I was to be selected to host not just a Disney Side @Home Celebration, but a Cars themed party too! What a great way to pre-celebrate our upcoming trip with local friends! I received free products in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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I had a great time checking out recipes and activities on www.DisneySideCelebration.com, and Pinterest. Feel free to check out my #DisneySide board here! I will continue adding to it because this party was so much fun, I hope to do another one in the future. DSC_0082

I decided these apple and grape cars looked the most like Lightning McQueen, and luckily my kids agreed. I had a hard time finding healthy Cars themed snack options even on Pinterest. I was intentionally avoiding the “spare tire” doughnuts because I didn’t want to sugar my kids up too much.  I think in the end we did well for a late morning play date, and had something for everyone.

 

Apple slices, red grapes, and toothpicks. If this was for an older age group I might have trimmed the toothpicks so that they fit perfectly, but … 1. That would be a lot of extra work and, 2. It would have made the toothpicks invisible to the 3-5 year old’s, and therefore dangerous.

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Francesco anyone? No? Well I tried.

 

Celery, grape tomatoes, and toothpicks. You’re welcome.

 

We also had a try from Chick-fil-a and those cute little Lightning buckets, became “chicken buckets.” The kids liked having a little to-go bucket to carry around with them. It work out better than plates.

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Carrot and bell pepper dip-sticks. Because I know you are dying to know the carrots were straight from our garden.

 

I also grabbed Cars and Princess pretzels (you can see them hiding in the back) that were available at Target for Valentines day. They fit perfectly with our theme.

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These “stop lights” were everyone’s favorite, and they were gone before the afternoon was over.  They were also the most time-consuming because of all.those.little.balls. I used a melon baller, on watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon. Then I used skewers. I made all the balls the night before and assembled the stop lights the morning of our party. Both of my kiddos, ages four and three, helped me assemble these. They both wanted to help, so I figured why not? So round-up the troops and get them to help you with your next party preparation, they might think it’s fun.

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No party is complete with out some sort of cake. My daughter especially loves cup cakes. “Cone cakes,” perfect for the “pit stop.” I’m completely corny, I know. I am also okay with this.

 

I used Duff’s tye dye cake mix, but instead of tye dye I made rainbows. They were really fun to eat. Top with rainbow sprinkles, and it was the perfect lure for the three year old boy in my life. He successfully licked the frosting, and sprinkles, off of 4 cupcakes before he was stopped.

 

Our guests had a chance to view the latest Disney Parks DVD, in between snacks, games, and Frozen sing-a-longs. Seriously I couldn’t have planned the Disney magic that happened all on its own. Four girls randomly singing Let it Go, and requesting to watch Frozen, in Spanish. You know, you got to change things up every now and then. Sorry Lightning, but you did take a slight backseat to Anna and Elsa.

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One part of this party that was exciting for me as a parent was watching the kids play games. In this preschool age group they are just learning about party games. What they are, and how they work, why they are fun, all that jazz. I had two games planned, and 2 craf-tivities. That was too much for the little cuties.

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With the addition of a partial Frozen viewing we played one game, colored, and did one craf-tivity. You can see our “Planting Maters” activity , and it’s tutorial here. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with it, and I love sharing it with you.

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Everyone had a great time with “pin the smile on Mickey.” They each took a few turns, some more than others. It was everyone first time playing this type of game. Well everyone under 30 anyway. How awesome is that! Mickey, in my opinion, is much better than a donkey.

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I really enjoyed that everyone was all dressed in their favorite Disney. The moments when I felt that I was too corny, I realized everyone else was too! It was a great time.  Our guests left with some swag too. Adults left with HP Photo Paper, Chore Charts for their kiddos, and Disney luggage tags. Kiddos got coloring pages, stickers, Cars pencils, and their living craft (plus whatever goodies they grabbed when no one was looking).

 

How do you show your #DisneySide? Have you been to a Disney themed party? What was your favorite part?

 

I received free products in the @ Home Celebration kit in order to host a Disney Side @Home Celebration thanks to Disney Parks and MomSelect. The opinions expressed here, as usual, are my own.

Grocery Outlet hits El Cajon

The Gemini Mama Grocery Outlet El Cajon

 

Did you know that Saturday The Grocery Outlet had their grand opening in El Cajon CA? Well the kids, daddy, and I packed up to go check it out. I had never been to, or even heard about Grocery Outlet so when I was invited to shop their store I was very intrigued. Their grand opening event turned out to be an exciting time.

 

Grocery Outlet now in El Cajon!

 

Before we made it into the store the kids were having a great time. They got to do crafts! An exciting note for all the parents close to the El Cajon CA store, they will have a kids craft table every month on the last Saturday. That is definitely one way to get the kids excited to go grocery shopping with you.

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The kids also met Lois Prices, and had their faces painted.

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So what did I think?

 

I was very impressed at how clean and neat the store was. I was easily able to find things that I was looking for. I was surprised to find that there was a refrigerator and freezer section, as well as produce, meat, and cheese. When I think bargain that is not what fills my mind. The prices were easy to locate, and clear. No questions or confusion.

 

I was also floored at how many organic items I found there! I can not say that they hunt down deals on organic products, but it sure seems like it. They also have them labeled differently so they are easy to spot.

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I really want you to take a good look at the items in this picture. Maybe take a minute to spot an item that you get every week. Then think about what you pay for it.

 

Got it? Good let’s move on.

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Their prices are amazing!

 

That is really the bottom line isn’t it? How much will you pay, or save at check out?

 

The Justin’s peanut butter for only $2.99 is a steal, and Aveeno baby sunblock at $8.99 for a two pack is crazy!

 

I was genuinely surprised by the prices I found while shopping there. I got much more than I expected, and I even splurged on some things that we would not normally buy, simply because at those prices I could.

 

What should you know?

 

  • All Grocery Outlet’s are owner operated, and they buy with cash. That mean’s you get the best possible prices, no built in fees from using credit lines.
  • Products on the shelves are from buy outs. That means that you might not find the same item there, tomorrow so get it today! It also means that same items could be sold at a different prices at a later time, from a different buy.
  • Buy outs are for various reasons. Some of those could be; overproduction, package or label change, too short an expiration for grocery stores (1 year or less).
  • Their price labels list the prices “Elsewhere,” ….. think Target or other national retailers, for comparison.

 

How can you make Grocery Outlet work for you?

 

Take you list and start there! They have a great selection of various items, but often change. If you start your shopping here you can take advantage of the great deals as they fit your shopping list.

Don’t marry yourself to a brand. It will be easy for you to shop from your list if you are general in what you are shopping for. Think “crackers” not “Wheat Thins.” Not to say that you will never find the brand you love, you will just be more successful if you are flexible.

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Now don’t be sad if you missed out on the grand opening celebration. All month long you can enter to win some grand prizes. My favorite, a year of groceries. Then on Saturday May 24th they will have the grand prize giveaway! Compete with coffee, and treats, wheel of bargains, and magic cart. At noon they will announce the grand prize winners.

 

Still curious? Feel free to view Grocery Outlet El Cajon’s website here or keep up to date with events and info on their Facebook page. 

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Take a peek at what I got.

 

Annie’s bunny crackers variety pack

Cascade Farms peanut butter bars

Seattles Best K-cups House blend

Tom’s of Maine mouthwash

EO Shower Gel

Tom’s of Maine deodorant

Tarkettle Road Zinfandel

2 bags of Vegan Carob Chips

Oneida Jumbo muffin pan

Lil Critters Gummy Vitamins

 

Now let’s have a little fun.

Take a guess at how much I spent at check out! Let’s see who can come the closest!

 

Disclosure I received a gift card to facilitate my review, no other compensation was received. As usual, all opinions expressed are my own.

Buttons Cloth Diaper Review

www.thegeminimama.com Buttons cloth diaper review

 

When you are first considering cloth diapering the available choices are overwhelming. There are several different basic styles and even more manufacturers to choose from. With this in mind I contacted Buttons cloth diapers to work together and bring this review to you today.

 

The Gemini Mama cloth diaper series

Buttons cloth diapers were created at home, by a husband and wife team, and are based in Northwest Washington. I received a one size diaper cover in apple. The diaper fits approximately any baby from 9-35 lbs. K2 is on the higher end of this and it fits him great!

www.TheGeminiMama.com Buttons diaper review

 

It’s hard to get this guy to sit still.

 

The cover is very durable. It is thicker than the other covers we have at home. Because it felt so thick I tried it as an overnight diaper for the first time using it. Both of my children were super soakers when it came to night time diapering. Even before I switched to cloth, disposable diapers weren’t enough. We have gone through several different night time diapering solutions for both of my children. This being said, using this diaper as an overnight for the first try, was a huge test.

 

Well, it passed! The cover is very thick and durable as I mentioned. Paired with one large day time insert and one large night time doubler it worked great as an overnight. The nighttime doubler has 6 layers of microfiber, and the daytime insert has 4 layers of microfiber and soft fleece on top, which wicks away moisture. This also is the easiest night time solution that we have used.

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My diaper arrived packaged beautifully. I completely understand why other mom’s get excited for their “fluff” to arrive. Look at that!

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The inserts were very easy to prep. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the washing instructions are the same as our routine already. We use mostly prefolds, so I expected these diapers to have a more challenging wash routine.

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If you have ever used a cloth diapers then you already know that most of the time snaps are better, and easier to use. If you have yet to diaper, just go with the snaps. I actually had all my hook and loop (velcro) diaper covers converted to snaps just before K2 arrived because they were more convenient.

 

With lot’s of snaps this cover will fit almost any baby, and they are easy to use.

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The daytime insert has a fleece liner which will wick away moisture and baby will feel dry.

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Double side gussets leave lots of room for leg movement with out a mess. K2 has no problems running, jumping, and playing in this diaper. Also, no leaking. None. Not one little bit. That is an important feature. Now that he is on the higher end of the weight scale I am finding that a few of our covers, aren’t covering it (haha).

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Another fancy thing worth mentioning, the inserts snap in place.

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They also snap together if you are doubling up.

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For a long time I suggested that parents considering cloth keep a few All-in-ones on hand for those times, although few and far between, that you sneak out of the house. AIO’s are easier for people who do not diaper on the regular to figure out. They also go on and off exactly like a disposable diaper.

 

Well snap this baby together and it is just as easy to put on and take off! How great is that?

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That means that you can wash your diapers and snap them together so that they are ready for you. On the changing table, or in the diaper bag. I would also imagine that care takers (such as day care) would be willing to work with these because they can be put together and ready to go.

 

You could also choose to put them together as you go. There aren’t rules to cloth diapering, which is great. That being said I will add that I have also used this cover with one of my “baby” sized prefolds, and it works just as well. The prefold is just slightly larger than the inserts, and fits into the cover great.

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My little mover and shaker was difficult to capture on camera, but here is a shot of the back, so you can see the great fit.

 

 

Highlights

  • thick cover
  • snap closures
  • inserts snap together and in place
  • diapers can be “ready to go”
  • super absorbent inserts
  • fun colors!
  • affordable

 

My Thoughts

 

Buttons diaper covers and inserts are very reasonably priced for the quality you are receiving. That makes them accessible to all parents considering cloth. With inserts that snap in place, and snap closures these diapers can be your whole diapering system. They are easy to use for parents, grandparents, and caregivers. Adding in that these diapers are extremely easy to clean and maintain they are a great choice for anyone considering cloth!

 

Check back tomorrow for a chance to win one of your own!

 

 

Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag Review + Giveaway 3/20-4/3 US and Canada

The Gemini Mama cloth diaper series

This next post in our series is relevant to both individuals who use, or plan to use cloth diapers, and basically EVERYONE else. Seriously, even if you do not have children in your life you could one of these.

The Gemini Mama Planet Wise Review

When you choose to cloth diaper there are a few things that you need to have beyond the diapers themselves.

 

A place to store the dirty diapers while you are home pretty much tops the list. The second non diaper item you need is a place to store dirty diapers when you are out and about.

 

Planet Wise is a well known name in the cloth diapering world. They are known for having great quality wet bags. Naturally I wanted to include them in our cloth diaper series, so I agreed to review a wet bag from them so together we could see what makes their products so great.

 

When I received this wet/dry bag to try out I didn’t realize so a thing was out there. The wet/dry bag idea is genius, and a whole lotta awesome!

At 12.5″ x 15.5″ in size it is large. Which makes it more versatile than a smaller bag might be.

 

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Truly the is great. One thing that has been frustrating for us cloth diapering on the go, is a wet bag that doesn’t fit more than one or two diapers. Those of you with newborns know how unrealistic that is for an outing of more than two hours. When they aren’t newborns anymore the diapers are bigger. You can see the problem with a bag that is too small. This size we have easily fit 3 dirty diapers into with room for more.

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So what makes this wet/dry, and stand out from other wet bags? There are two pockets! One “wet” pocket, which is waterproof (shown above). Then the second pocket is a dry pocket. It is slightly smaller and located on the side of the bag.

The Gemini Mama Planet wise review

I easily fit three diapers, (two prefolds, one all-in-one) a cover or two, one package of wipes, and a few dry cloth wipes into this dry pocket. Honestly I could fit more.

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As you can see it closes easily! What is great if you choose to partner this bag with your cloth diapering is that everything is all in one place. The last three years we have had clean diapers in the backpack, and a separate wet bag for dirty ones. I love the idea of keeping everything together, no hunting while baby is squirmy.

 

You know what else is great about this? Swim days! Where do you put your wet bathing suits that you aren’t going to ride home in? Hello wet/dry bag! You can fit a change of clothes in the dry pocket, and when you are all done swimming place your wet garments into the wet pocket. Easy peasy. Also since this bag is machine washable you can throw everything in the wash together when you get home.

 

I will be getting one of these for each child. They have lot’s of great prints so each can choose their own, and they can carry their own stuff to the pool while we’re are at it.

 

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The last important feature you should be aware of, the snap loop. When you are dealing with a dirty diaper you don’t want to struggle with anything. I love that this bag has a loop that can be snapped anywhere. On my bag, as you see in the above image, or onto a stroller handle.

 

In love with the Planet Wise Wet/Dry bag?

 

Planet Wise will be giving one winner their choice of one Wet/Dry bag!

 

If you would like to win a Wet/Dry bag please enter with the Giveaway Tool below! This giveaway is open to all US and Canada (void in Quebec) residents, ages 18 and older. Canadian residents must answer the skill question on the Giveaway Tools form in order to participate. The giveaway will run from March 20, 2014 through April 3, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST.  Entries will be verified.  Winner will be notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

 

Don’t want to wait?

 

You can shop Planet Wise today.

 

Good luck!

 

Gwen from The Gemini Mama received a wet/dry bag from Planet Wise to facilitate her review, no other compensation was received. The Gemini Mama, and all participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment.  This giveaway is in no way associated with social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Too Many Teddies Review and Giveaway 3/10-3/24 US and Canada

The Gemini Mama Too Many Teddies

 

I am really excited to share this book with you today.

 

Too Many Teddies

 

We were sent a copy of Too Many Teddies so that we could check it out, and I love it. I mean the kids love it. Actually we all do. My kids have asked me to read them this book at bedtime every night for the past week.

 

This is an entertaining story about Trixie and her love of teddies. Her teddies kind of take over her family’s lives a little. Just look at the cover photo, which is also happens to be a page in the book.

 

I love that this book is not only an engaging story for my children, but it gives them a good lesson too. They learn about giving, and how giving can feel good too. Side note, I think that we need to follow Trixie’s lead. We have lots of teddies too.

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The pages in this book are illustrated cover to cover. It is bright and cheerfully done. The artwork does a great job of portraying the story, and keeps readers engaged. We have read this book every night since it has come to our home, and my kids “read” it to themselves periodically throughout the day. Thanks to the beautiful illustrating they are not yet bored with this book.

 

The pages of this book do not contain too many words, and I could also see this as a book suitable for new readers.

 

From Amazon;

Too Many Teddies tells the story of Trixie, a little girl who has accumulated way too many stuffed toys. Even though Trixie loves all her teddies, she has to admit that things have gotten way out of hand, especially when she’s crowded out of her own bed. The solution that Trixie and her mother come up with certainly isn’t easy for a girl who is attached to her toys, but in the end, Trixie learns the value of giving and makes a whole bunch of new friends.

A fun-to-read story that incorporates themes of philanthropy and generosity and also promotes the value of a less-cluttered living space, Too Many Teddies will win your heart.

 

Want Too Many Teddies too?

 

You can purchase Too Many Teddies on Amazon today.

If you would like to win a copy of Too Many Teddies, please enter with the Giveaway Tool below! This giveaway is open to all US and Canada (void in Quebec) residents, ages 18 and older. Canadian residents must answer the skill question on the Giveaway Tools form in order to participate. The giveaway will run from March 10, 2014 through March 24, 2014 at 11:59 PM PST.  Entries will be verified.  Winner will be notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond and claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

Good luck!

 

 

Gwen from The Gemini Mama received a copy of this book to facilitate her review, no other compensation was received. YOU BLOG HERE, and all participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment.  This giveaway is in no way associated with social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Heather the Scared Tooth Fairy – Review

Heather the scared tooth fairy on The Gemini Mama

 

It has been a while since we have had a new children’s book over here. I was given the opportunity to review a copy of Heather the Scared Tooth Fairy, and decided to give it a whirl.

 

Heather, the Scared Tooth Fairy

This book is unique book because the illustrations are all hand drawn, and the book is written, illustrated, and published by a mother daughter team. How exciting!

 

You should know usually prior to agreeing to review a book, I look it up online and do a preliminary check. It gives me a better idea of what to expect, and if it would be a good fit for us. I did not do that with this book. I can’t say exactly why, I just didn’t. The description seemed perfect, and I just went with it.

 

From Amazon;

At tooth fairy school, Heather is too scared to meet her new flight teacher to go to school. Find out what silly and amazing things happen when Heather meets her new flight teacher for the first time.

 

I have to admit when it first arrived I was a little bit disappointed. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was totally judging the book by it’s cover. Bad mom move. Being that my kids love books and story time we read it despite my dismay. My kids were completely unphased with my lackluster for the book. They were immediately sucked into the story. The words “a hush fell over the crowd” would describe what happened perfectly.

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We went on a fun adventure with Heather. I enjoyed how the story rhymed, which made it fun to read. I also love that the story really flows with the imagination of a child, because I think that is why K1 was so into the book. I also thought that the illustrations in the story might inspire her artwork some.

 

I know my daughter really enjoyed this story. I read this book to her at bedtime and then the kids immediately went to sleep. When K1 (my 3 year old) woke up in the middle of the night she started telling me about the tooth fairy. How cute! I really thought much of the story was over her head, but after that I knew she was both paying attention, and enjoyed it.

 

The Verdict

After my initial judgement of the book I realized that I was wrong. I am glad that I did not check it out online before saying yes to review it, because we likely would have missed out on a fun read. This is a completely enjoyable story with cute hand drawn  illustrations. I also love the mother daughter team aspect.

 

Want this book? Great news! As of the date of this post, Heather, The Scared Tooth Fairy is available as a Kindle book for only 99 cents!

 

Just as a disclosure, I received this book in hopes that I would complete an honest review. All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may differ from yours.

Scarlet Loves Petbox

The Gemini Mama Petbox

 

“Hummmmm …. what to choose first?”

 

Poor Scarlet has had a rough year. It started with her attack, and her health has continued to be a bit of a roller coaster ride. Her most recent struggle has been with her skin. It has taken two long months but, we have determined that she has developed allergies. Don’t ask me what to, because we are still working on that.

 

With all that she has had going on she is definitely due for some spoiling. That is why when PetBox offered to send her a box for review we barked at the opportunity.

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While Scarlet was off to the vet to have her teeth cleaned we came home to this lovely blue box sitting on our door step. PS There are no shipping charges for your PetBox! I thought that would be perfect for Scarlet to come home to, except I didn’t take anesthesia into consideration.

 

With this being her first PetBox she didn’t notice it was in the house. Score, for keeping surprises a surprise!

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Mug shot.

 

Not really, she was too excited to sit still.

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I love the “surprise me” or “choose items” options. This box was a “surprise me” and it was great. The “choose items” option is perfect for us now that I know Scarlet has allergies. I can choose to avoid ingredients that effect her.

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What was inside?

 

High quality products that I feel great giving to my pet. Our surprise box has a few grooming items, a few treats, and even a cute pink and white bow tie. Yes pink, because she is a lady, and PetBox knows because they asked.

 

I met a few of the PetBox ladies at the San Diego get fit party S and I went to last month. My initial thought was that they were out of place with their display table there. After looking over their site, and viewing some of  the treat options they offer, PetBox totally belonged there. There are plenty of healthy treats to choose from for your pets. They are focused on making our pets more healthy, and happy which is great.

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In the end the Aussie ear was Scarlet’s first choice. Mommy’s first choice, the FURminator.

 

Our next PetBox will be filled with toys and grooming supplies! You get to select about 6 items to arrive in your box each month, and those are things that we need.

 

What I love about PetBox

  • More than just treats
  • Healthy pet options
  • Shipping is included (seriously last minute price increases kill me)
  • They feed a rescue animal with each box shipped (I love all the animals, not just mine)
  • You can choose your items, so there is never a box full of junk you don’t want, won’t use, and isn’t right for your pet
  • High quality products

 

Are ready to give PetBox a try?! Use this code:

GEMINIMAMA

and save 10%!!

 

Check back Tuesday 2/25 for a giveaway!

 

What would you get in your first PetBox?

*Disclosure, I received a PetBox in hope that I would complete a review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own and might be different than yours.

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