Category Archives: Review

Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer

Congratulations to commenter number 4, Mel, who is the winner of the $25 REI gift card!!  Thanks everyone for playing along. Happy Holidays!

——

There are few places I’d rather be than in the woods on a quiet, muddy trail. Whether I’m hiking or taking a run, it’s the one place where I can clear my mind while feeding my body and soul. So if you are like me (or you’ve got a girl like me in your life) this post is for you. I thought I’d share some of my favorite trail gear with all of you lovely readers.  With the holiday season upon us, maybe you’ll be inspired with some gift ideas for the outdoorsy girl in your life.

HikerGifts

1. At the top we have the quick dry  Toaster Top and Liberty Pants from Stonewear Designs. Warning: these pieces of clothing are so awesome, functional and comfortable you will never want to take them off!  Stonewear Designs is a Colorado-based company comprised of a group of determined women who lead busy lives balancing time between family, friends, work, and play. They developed clothes that make women feel beautiful while performing under strenuous demands. They strive to fit and flatter every type of body with beautiful, durable clothing that will last for years. All Stonewear clothing is Made in the U.S.A.

2. Gypsum Mid Hiking Boots by KEEN.  The only brand of boots I wear on the trail! For years, KEEN has been keeping my feet happy and safe on the trail. ‘Nuff said.

3. SpeedCross 3 Trail Running shoes by Salomon.  I am in love with these awesome, lightweight but aggressive trail shoes that are perfect for muddy, mountainous terrain. I use these all the time and they are by far my faves!

4. I don’t own one of these battery-operated mobile power devices yet, but I really want to try one! They seem like a perfect gadget to have handy on a long hike or backpacking trip.  Especially if you are like me and snap photos on the trail with your iphone.

And since it’s the season to spread the love, I’m going to do another giveaway today. I’m going to give one lucky reader a $25 gift card to REI.  Oh yes I am!  All you have to do is…

1. Leave a comment telling me your favorite outdoor activity and whether or not you’d be happy to receive any of these gifts above.

2. For one extra entry, go like my facebook page.  Come back here and leave another comment telling me you did so (or tell me if you already are a fan.)

3. For one more entry, tweet about the giveaway, including a link to this post and make sure to mention me, @hikemama. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me you tweeted.

sample tweet: Gifts for the Girly Trailblazer and a $25 gift card giveaway to REI! http://wp.me/phD5i-2jB @hikemama

That’s it!  Good luck and happy trails. One lucky reader will be randomly chosen on Saturday, December 15.

psst–check out my other open giveaway here!

Gear Review and Giveaway: Stonewear Designs (apparel for active women)

Giveaway Closed.  Congratulations to commenter number 3 for winning the headband! 

I’m not a world-renowned athlete and I’ve never led an exhilarating expedition to worlds unknown.  My ab muscles are strong but are by no means toned enough to resemble a six-pack.  I’m training for a half-marathon–words that I never imagined would fall from my lips. I don’t look like a supermodel and my curves sometimes annoy me.  But I’m proud of my body and all that it has allowed me to accomplish.

I believe fiercely that adventure and outdoor exploration are for all.  I strive to stay active, push my limits, try new things and inspire others to do the same. Staying active and fit are high on my priority list. I use all of my resources to not only help my son with special needs thrive outdoors, but to show others that adventure and the natural world are within everyone’s grasp. I believe in the power of nature to sooth the soul and nourish the body and mind.  I believe that everyone can benefit from being active outdoors.  And I don’t think that you must have the perfect body to do so.

That’s why I was so delighted to become a member of the Stonewear Designs Grassroots Team.  Stonewear clothing is designed to fit every type of body.  They empower women of all shapes and sizes to be active while stylishly supported.  So today, I thought I would share with you about some of my favorite Stonewear outfits that I was provided to test and use in my daily activities.  And I’ll be honest….I pretty much live in my Stonewear clothing now. It makes me feel beautiful, strong and comfortable all day long.  Their clothing is of very high quality (so it will last without showing wear) and is specifically designed to be tough enough to keep up with an active lifestyle.  

Lyra Top + Rockin’ Capri:

The Lyra Top is made of a very breathable, moisture-wicking fabric that keeps you cool and dry while hiking, running, kayaking, climbing or just wrangling kids.  This is my go to top for all of my activities.  Not only does it keep me cool and dry down here in the hot and humid southeast, but the support is phenomenal.  The Lyra Top has a built-in bra that keeps the girls nicely in place.  I sometimes pair this top with Stonewear’s cross back sports bra to give myself the maximum amount of support possible because I really like to keep everything in place :)  But the top alone provides great support.  The fit is extremely flattering as well.  The fabric skims the body and flatters without being clingy  (which is great if you are like me and your midsection is a little soft and round!)  If you are an active woman who is a bit heavy on top, then the Lyra Top is definitely for you.

The Rockin’ Capris (also referred to by me as the most awesome pair of capris to ever grace my legs) are the best thing that has ever happened to me from a clothing standpoint.  These flattering, moisture-wicking capris feel great, look great and hold up to creek crossings, muddy hikes, kayaking trips and hot trail runs. They also have a side zip pocket that is large enough to store a smart phone or keys. I practically live in these capris (as well as the pant version.)  Wash after wash these babies still look like new.  The Rockin’ Capris are the most rugged and beautifully constructed capris/pants I’ve ever owned.  They are certainly worth every penny.  I cannot stress enough how awesome these are!!  I will never hike in anything else again….seriously….they are that good.

Keep a lookout for an upcoming review of my other faves–the Olympia Top, Rockin’ Pants, Double Cross Back Top and Meridian Capris….

Want to see what other real women have to say about Stonewear Designs?  Check out this fabulous post that shows women of all shapes and sizes sharing their favorite pieces of clothing!

***********************************

Now, who wants to win a little something from Stonewear Designs? Enter to win a headband, here’s how:

1. Visit the Stonewear Designs website and take a look around, then come back and leave a comment below telling me what piece of clothing you think would be great to try and why.

2. For an extra, additional entry, you can like Stonewear Designs on Facebook.  Then come back here and leave a separate comment telling me you did so.

3. For one more extra entry, you can like Hike.Blog.Love on Facebook (or tell me you already are a fan) and come back here and leave another comment.

That’s it!  Good luck, ladies (and men who would like to win some swag for their lady.)  The giveaway closes on Friday October 5th. The winner will recieve a headband in a random color.

Some of the Stonewear clothing shown in this post was provided to me free of charge as a member of the Grassroots Team.  Some clothing was purchased with my own money because I love the clothing so darn much.  All opinions expressed are strictly my own.

Gear Review: KEEN Alamosa WP Shoes for Kids

At our house, you will find this mama’s closet overflowing with KEEN shoes.  From sandals to hiking boots, I absolutely adore every pair of KEEN shoes I own.  In fact, my very favorite hiking boots are KEENs:

Ahem.  But this post isn’t about my love affair with KEEN.  It’s about the very first pair of KEENs to grace the feet of my Little Man, otherwise known as my little wild nature lover.  Who better to try these out than him!

When KEEN contacted us and asked if we’d like to try out a pair of kid-sized KEENs, I grew giddy with excitement.  It was perfect timing because a) school was about to begin and we were in need of some recess-ready shoes, b) I was recently just lusting after these shoes but unsure if we should purchase them, and c) Little Man was in dire need of some shoes that can keep up with his rough and tough lifestyle.  If you haven’t noticed, we kind of enjoy the outdoors a little bit around here.

But now I have a confession.  As much as I love my KEENs and as much as we spend time outdoors, I had never bought nice outdoor shoes for the kiddos.  I know that sounds weird, but I used to rationalize that since their feet were growing so rapidly, we should just buy some inexpensive and lower quality shoes until they were a bit older.

Well, I’m here to tell you that those days are over.  The difference between your average discount store tennis shoe and these kid-sized KEENs is night and day.  What was I thinking?! As soon as I pulled these babies out of the box, I saw stars in Little Man’s eyes and even in my own.  This boy was excited and I couldn’t get over how sturdy and rugged these shoes were.  It’s like someone took my boots and shot them with a shrink-ray.  In a word, they are awesome and I feel that they’re worth every penny, no matter your kid’s age.

Little Man has been wearing them to school and they handle the playground well.  He says they are comfy, and I quote “I love my new shoes!”  We took them for a spin out in the woods, just to make sure they could keep up.

They are good for climbing:

They are good for leaping:

And of course, they are good for running through the grass:

Little Man begs to wear his new shoes everywhere we go, which is great!  So let me sum up what we love about these shoes:

  • rugged and sturdy design
  • features a water-resistant leather upper and a waterproof, breathable lining, making these perfect for creek crossings and mud puddle fun
  • fit true to size
  • comfortable

What else can I say, we love these shoes!

KEEN kindly provided us a pair of the Alamosa WP shoes free of charge for us to review.  All opinions expressed, however, are entirely and completely my own.

LeapsterGS Explorer [Review]

When the wonderful folks at LeapFrog sent us a new LeapsterGS Explorer to play with and review, the whole family was ecstatic.

20120806-230434.jpg

Although I am not a fan of video games or screen time for my kids (hello, have you noticed we play outside a lot around here?!) I have always allowed them limited time to play educational video games. In fact, Big Brother watches 0 hours of TV a week (he greatly dislikes TV in any form) and Little Man is limited to just a small amount of screen time each afternoon. Right before we traveled to Hong Kong in 2011 to bring Big Brother home, however, a family member bought each boy a Leapster Explorer to aid in the global travel that awaited us. Ever since that time, the boys have enjoyed playing the educational games on their Leapster Explorers. I have found that they really come in handy when you have many therapy appointments and waiting rooms to visit each week!

The new LeapsterGS however, is a huge improvement over the original Leapster Explorers my sons came to love so much. Before I get into the details, here’s what the boys themselves had to say about their new LeapsterGS:

(for those who are new to the blog, Little Man is 4 years old and Big Brother is 5, but has developmental delays and has trouble expressing himself)

Look at these faces as they begin to play around with the built-in camera and video recorder!

20120806-230856.jpg

“Cheese, Mommy!”

20120806-230922.jpg

Little Man editing my photo in PhotoLab

20120806-231004.jpg

Big Brother passing the time waiting for therapy appointments, here he is tracing letters:

20120806-231227.jpg

Little Man playing his favorite games:

20120806-231322.jpg

20120806-231334.jpg

20120806-231344.jpg

I loved the earth science and nature-themed concepts in the Brave game:

If you have experience with the original Leapster Explorer, here are the improvements in the LeapsterGS:

  • thinner, sleeker design
  • larger screen and better graphics
  • built-in motion sensor, camera, video camera and microphone for interactive play
  • faster processor
  • 4x the internal memory

I have to say that these improvements are HUGE and the new LeapsterGS exceeded all of my expectations by a landslide.

Here are the things I loved:

  • extremely durable (our dear destucto-Big Brother put this to the test…ahem)
  • The Phineas and Ferb game was loved by Little Man and I love that it teaches physical science concepts (like building circuits, forces etc)
  • The Brave game was awesome in my opinion because it teaches lots of plant and animal facts while providing nature puzzles to solve.  The game was a bit hard for my boys, but they will be able to grow into it.
  • Escape of the Sillies was a favorite of both boys and allows them to design monsters using the camera and microphone and then use their math skills to play
  • Pet Pad was dearly loved by both boys and provided great letter recognition and writing activities
  • The camera and photolab was a big hit

The only thing I did not like is that the game will go through batteries very quickly.  You should note, however, that you can purchase a rechargeable battery pack set and we definitely will be doing this in the future. I think we went through three sets of batteries in two weeks!  All in all, I was extremely impressed with the new and improved LeapsterGS. At $69.99, I think this game is a very good deal and would recommend it for other children ages 4-9.

LeapFrog sent me a LeapsterGS Explorer and the above mentioned games free of charge, however, all opinions expressed in this review are completely and honestly my own.

Child Safety {Call Me Cuffs}

Two seconds.  

That’s how long I let go of his hand, and it was two seconds too long.  He was gone.  

Luckily, we were in a safe place, surrounded by those who knew us.  He was quickly located.

This was the first time Big Brother wandered off.  I never, ever, under any circumstances let go of Big Brother’s hand in public if he is not restrained in a stroller or cart.  Yes, he is almost 6 years old, but like many children with cognitive impairment and autism, wandering off is a daily reality*.  In the above scenario, I let go of his hand while I was trying to help another child, without even realizing it.  As soon as I became aware that I had let go of his hand, it was too late.  The worst part is that although he is somewhat verbal, he cannot communicate his name, point me out in a crowd or recite his address.

So when the creators of Call Me Cuffs contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their product, I excitedly said yes. I had been wanting to try some sort of safety wristband for a long time, but didn’t know what kind to buy.

The Call Me Cuffs are simple.  They are temporary ID wrist bands for children that you can customize with your phone number and allergy or medical needs. Let me emphasize that they are great for all children, especially those times when you will be in a large crowd.  I imagine they would also be a great item to have on hand for field trips, too.

All children, whether they have special needs or not, can be at risk of becoming separated from their parents in a crowd. The added layer of being unable to communicate, however, makes the Call Me Cuffs even more useful in my opinion.

So I tried the Call Me Cuffs on Big Brother. I let him choose the design in hopes that he too, would be excited about trying them out.

At first I was hesitant because I thought that Big Brother might not like wearing the bracelet as he has some major sensory issues.  I was also afraid that he may spend all day picking at it in an attempt to remove it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Big Brother loved wearing the wristband and didn’t once try to remove it all day.  In fact, Little Man wanted to wear one as well!  So they both have tried them out and love them.  Neither child tried to remove the wristband and they both thought they were pretty cool dudes while sporting their “jewelry.”

my number has been blacked out in the photo

What I loved about Call Me Cuffs:

I love that these wristbands come in a variety of colors and designs, that they are customizable and they can be purchased in a package of 12 or 28. I also was very impressed with the fact that they are not easily removed and also comfortable to wear.

I’m happy to report that I was pleased with all aspects of the Call Me Cuffs and have nothing negative to report!  I will be using these wristbands for Big Brother in the future as well, and I encourage you to check them out at their website:

https://www.callmecuffs.com/

There are many ways to help keep children safe in case of wandering off or accidental separation, and this is one easy, fun way to do it.

I received a complimentary 12 pack of Call Me Cuffs in order to review.  All opinions expressed in this blog post, however, are completely my own.

_______

*Some staggering statistics about wandering off in individuals with Autism:

“In a 2007 online poll through the National Autism Association, 92% of parents reported that their children with autism have a tendency to wander, but no formal estimates are available.”

“In 2012, the National Autism Association found that from 2009 to 2011, accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism subsequent to wandering, and that 23% of total wandering-related deaths occurred while the child was in the care of someone other than a parent.”

‘According to data released in April 2011 by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) through the Kennedy Krieger Institute:

  • Roughly half, or 49%, of children with a autism attempt to elope from a safe environment, a rate nearly four times higher than their unaffected siblings
  • More than one third of children with autism who wander/elope are never or rarely able to communicate their name, address, or phone number’

“WHY WOULD A CHILD OR ADULT WITH AUTISM WANDER OFF? 

Many reasons. Mainly, a person with autism will wander to either get to something or away from something. Like dementia, persons with autism gravitate towards items of interest. Other times, they may want to escape an environment if certain sounds or other sensory input becomes bothersome. Outdoor gatherings present an especially large problem because it is assumed that there are more eyes on the child or adult with autism. However, heavy distractions coupled with an over-stimulating setting can lead to a child or adult wandering off without notice. School settings are also an issue, especially those that have un-fenced or un-gated playgrounds. A new, unfamiliar, or unsecured environment, such as a relative’s home, may also trigger wandering, as well as episodes of distress, meltdowns, or times when a child or adult with autism has certain fears or anxiety.”

-http://www.awaare.org/

Barefoot Books: Review and Giveaway

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”
– Jacqueline Kennedy

Throughout life, there is very little that remains unchanged. Reading, however, has been one of the lovliest and most unwavering pleasures of my life. I can vividly recall stories read during childhood and reflect upon how they changed my view of the world. Even today, I feel like there is hardly a more divine way to pass the time than diving into a good book. I hope that I can pass on that same love of reading to my children. That means I am always on the hunt for books that will help ignite that spark in my two boys. So when I came across Barefoot Books the other day, I just knew I had to get my hands on some of their amazing books. It seems that their passion for weaving nature, the earth, different cultures and global communities into their stories aligns pretty well with my own motherly aspirations. The wonderful folks at Barefoot Books offered to send me some books to review and even offered a giveaway for my readers. Y’all, I am so excited!

A little bit about Barefoot Books:

20120720-032246.jpg
“Barefoot Books began with two mothers who wanted their children to have books that would feed the imagination, while instilling a respect for diversity and a love of the planet. Today, we are a world-wide community of writers, artists, storytellers, musicians, and others who are committed to providing timeless stories and captivating art that can help children become happy, engaged members of a global society.”

The Review:

The boys were thrilled to open the package from Barefoot Books when it arrived. We were sent two lovely books, Portside Pirates! and My Mama Earth.

Portside Pirates! was a major hit at our house.

20120720-025241.jpg

This colorful book also includes a CD so thay you can sing along with the melodic story. The boys went crazy over the very catchy pirate song and it’s been playing in my car stereo for days now. I’m even singing it in my sleep. But I digress. Not only is this a fun book with a great sing along CD, but the book also includes some history in the back about famous pirates and boats. It’s an all-around awesome book and my boys are really enjoying it.

My Mama Earth is another wonderful book that I enjoy reading to my boys at bedtime.

20120720-025804.jpg
I love that this book “emphasizes the essential role that nature plays in everyone’s life by equating it to the significance of a mother.” The illustrations are gorgeous and whimsical, and the story conveys the timeless theme of a loving mother-child relationship. It certainly makes for a wonderful addition to the bedtime routine. I have to say that I really enjoyed this one myself.

These two books are lovely, but most of all my children truly enjoy reading them. I cannot wait to add some more Barefoot Books to my collection, especially some that highlight other cultures from around the globe (they even have an adoption themed book, a garden book, a yoga book and a book about Moon Festival that I’ve got my eye on….heck, I guess I just need to order the whole catalog!) They have a large selection of titles for all ages, so I am sure there is something for everyone.

Barefoot Books also has a unique Ambassador program that allows individuals to earn income or fundraise for a child’s school by selling books. They also have a blog you can follow and free storytime podcasts for you and your family to enjoy. Check it all out right here.

The Giveaway:

Want to win a Barefoots Book of your choice? Well now is your chance!

Rules for entry:

1. Visit the Barefoot Books website and choose your favorite title.
2. Come back here and leave a comment telling me which book you picked. (Make sure your name and email address is included. Also, you must have a North American shipping address- no PO boxes.)
3. One lucky winner (randomly chosen) will receive their choice of one Barefoot Books title. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail.
4. Contest closes Thursday, July 26 at midnight.

For Additional Chances to Win – Please leave separate comments to let me know you have done any of the following:

Follow Barefoot Books @livebarefoot on Twitter
‘Like’ Barefoot Books on Facebook
‘Like’ Hike.Blog.Love on Facebook
Follow @Hikemama on Twitter

———-
I received two complimentary books from Barefoot Books to review, but as always, all opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own.

“Dandelion” Anti-bullying Project

According to a 2001 study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, about 30% of students (that’s 5.7 million children) in the US are affected by bullying, either as a bully, a victim  or both.

Children with special needs are much more likely to be bullied.  In fact, one study estimated that between 60-80% of kids with special needs are bullied.

[Statistics from the Interactive Autism Network, National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center and the Health Resources and Services Administration]

———

Bullying.  It’s a word and a topic that strikes fear into my heart as a mother to two young children who are about to begin kindergarten.  As a mom to a special needs son, that second statistic absolutely breaks my heart and scares me senseless.  I’ve often thought about how I will approach the topic with my two sons, and have even started having conversations with Little Man about why other kids might say mean things towards Big Brother.  But how exactly do you get that conversation started?  Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed at the thought.

So when I was contacted last week about a new anti-bullying project that is getting ready to be launched, I was ecstatic.  This sounded like something I wanted to be a part of.

It is my deepest pleasure to introduce to you ‘Dandelion,’ a new anti-bullying book project written by Galvin Scott Davis who is the award-winning director of the digital agency Protein One.  I had the honor of reading and sharing the book with my children.

“The story follows Benjamin Brewster as he navigates his way around ‘The School for the Misguided’ and its resident bullies. With no one to turn to, a patch of Dandelions appear beside Benjamin which allow him to conjure creations from his imagination and use them to fend off the antagonists.”

“With all my might, you’ll all take flight… If I could but wish for better things, you’d all disperse and grow your wings.”

In addition to this beautifully illustrated book, the story is being turned into a very interactive and detailed digital app where you can physically help Benjamin blow the dandelions from the screen.

This story was written when one of the author’s sons was bullied at school. In an attempt to help talk with his son and make him feel more comfortable at school, ‘Dandelion’ was born.  It is a story that encourages parents and children to not only talk about bullying, but that imagination can be used to help solve problems. In fact, the main message of the story is “Bullying is for people with no imagination….”  I absolutely love this unique approach. Little Benjamin Brewster uses his imagination to fend off the bullies and find courage within himself. I think we should all be encouraging our children to use their imaginations, especially when it comes to interacting in this great big world of ours.  Most of all, I love that this project gives families a fun, interactive way to get the conversation started even at a young age.

If you would like to catch a glimpse of the app in action, check this out:

———-

So here’s the deal. The author is pre-selling the book and other products such as activity packs and signed merchandise to raise funds to complete the project on Kickstarter.com.  You can view the project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/protein/dandelion-bullying-is-for-people-with-no-imaginati

There are 10 days left and they need your help to make this project become a reality.  You can make a pledge (not a donation) for as little as $5 towards this project and receive some awesome rewards in return (like your name in the credits, yo!)  I encourage you to not only check it out and make a pledge, but to help spread the word as well.  I wholeheartedly support this project and have already made a pledge.  The author has also graciously offered to give two lucky readers of mine a signed copy of the book, and that giveaway will be coming up in August.

So what do you think?  Will you help me spread the word?  Tweet it, Facebook it and share it with your friends. Take a few minutes to look it over and then leave me a comment. Let’s make this project become a reality!

Twitter – @dandelionapp

Facebook- www.facebook.com/dandelionapp

Kickstarter - http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/protein/dandelion-bullying-is-for-people-with-no-imaginati


Reviews and News Just for You! {The North Face Role Models Pledge, The Clymb and Duraflame Roasting Logs}

As we approach Independence Day, I wanted to leave you with some great stuff I think you should check out! The next week and a half is going to be a bit crazy for us as we spend time with extended family and embark upon some outdoor adventures. Blogging may have to take a backseat for a bit, but here are some awesome things to share before I go!

1.  The North Face Role Models Pledge

The North Face wants you–yes you! They are asking everyday adventurers to take the pledge to become  role models this summer. Go to their Facebook page to make a pledge that you will go on an outdoor adventure and take someone with you.  It’s easy to become a mentor, just a few clicks and you’ll be on your way.

Take this opportunity to ignite the spark that could lead to a lifetime of adventure. And remember, here at Hike. Blog. Love. we believe that adventure is for all, so no excuses! I pledged to get my kids hiking in a National  Park this summer (actually, let’s see how many National and State parks we can hit up!)
Go here to take the pledge today!

 

2. The Clymb

Do you hike, bike, travel, climb, camp or paddle? Do you like to save up to 70% off the price of your gear and apparel? Then this site is for you! The Clymb provides member pricing on the planet’s most sought-after outdoor brands. Just yesterday I joined and snagged some Lolë travel pants at a fantastic price. Want to join? It’s free!Click here to join now and check out the daily deals.

If you join through my invite above, I receive a small referral reward to use towards my next purchase. It is truly a site worth joining and I wanted to share it with you all as I am someone who has benefitted from being a member. Once you join, you can refer family and friends, too. There are many great deals that I hope you take advantage of!

 

3. Duraflame Campfire Roasting Logs

I was contacted by the kind folks at Duraflame a few weeks ago about trying out their new Campfire Roasting Logs. Here’s a bit of info about the logs:

duraflame® Campfire Roasting Logs
Great for backyard or the backwoods

“The first fire log specifically formulated for roasting and cooking, duraflame® Campfire Roasting Logs are ideal to use in the backyard and the backwoods. These logs stack and burn like wood for a robust fire that creates hot, glowing coals safe for roasting marshmallows, hot dogs or cooking other campfire foods.”

-Available in a 4-piece bundle (5 lb) for one campfire or a case of 6 bundles for 4-6 campfires
-Individually wrapped logs for clean handling and easy, no-hassle lighting
-Made from 100% renewable resources, including real wood charcoal
-Compact — easy to transport and store
-Ideal for backyard fire pits, campsite fires and beach fires
-Duraflame Campfire Roasting Logs are made with 100% renewable resources and burn 60% cleaner than firewood.

We decided to have a backyard s’mores party in order to give the logs a whirl.

20120703-105541.jpg

20120703-105550.jpg

What I liked: These logs are easy, safe, convenient and did the job! As you can see, the fire was easy to light and within the hour we had s’mores and banana boats in-hand.

What I didn’t like: I wouldn’t say that I necessarily disliked anything about these logs. I think they are a great option for backyard fire pits especially. I don’t think that I would purchase them for a backpacking or camping trip as collecting firewood and building the great big campfire is part of the fun for our family. I would, however, purchase these to use in the backyard or fireplace. They are super duper easy to use and give you more time to enjoy roasting!

To learn more about these convenient logs, visit the duraflame website.  You will also find some yummy recipes there as well.

I was provided a complimentary package of roasting logs to review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.  And please be careful to always use safety precautions to keep your little ones safe around the fire, and make sure to fully extinguish the fire once finished.  Also be aware of fire bans and fire hazards that may be in effect in your area.

 

Searching for…The You We Adore {a children’s adoption book review and giveaway}

For those who read my blog, you already know that I’m passionate about the great outdoors, special needs parenting and adoption. My motto is adventure for all, which was inspired by the adoption of Big Brother. If not for him, I’m not really sure that I would even feel inspired enough to keep up with the blog. It is my goal to weave together many stories on this blog that highlight and intertwine my three passions. Today I want to share with you all about an adoption-themed book for children. I know a lot of my readers are not necessarily touched by adoption, but I just had to share for those who are!

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would like a copy of Searching for…the You We Adore. Of course I can’t pass up an adoption related book, so I excitedly said yes! The author, Valerie Westfall, was kind enough to provide a copy for one of my readers as well.

20120626-131733.jpg

Searching for…The You We Adore by Valerie Westfall
Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey
www.TheYouWeAdore.com

When the book arrived, my Little Man excitedly ran to the door to take the package from the delivery man. He immediately opened the package and we sat down, along with Big Brother, to read the story.

What I loved most about the book is that it is a beautifully illustrated and simple story that focuses on the love that adoptive parents feel for their child, especially during the waiting phase. In this story, the love of the waiting parents–symbolized by a red ribbon–is sent out all across the world in search of their child. I adore the fact that this book includes diversity and is suitable for all those who have adopted, whether it be domestically or internationally. The overriding theme is that the parents’ love is strong enough to send them searching to the ends of the earth for their child. You see, both literally and figuratively, we have traveled to the ends of the earth for our children. I love how this sweet book captures that fierce love in such a beautiful, simple way. There is no talk of paperwork or processes, only of the love that unites a family. You and your children will love this book and it will make a great addition to your child’s library!

My kids gave it two thumbs up :)

20120626-140411.jpg

You can purchase a copy of the book by visiting the website I listed above (psst….you can also preview the book at the site, so go check it out!)

So how can you enter to win a copy of this delightful book? All you need to do is leave a comment on this post! You can also earn additional entries, too. Here’s how to do it:

1. You must leave a comment on this post telling me how you are touched by adoption or why you would like to win this book. Make sure your email address is present when leaving the comment (not visible on the blog) so that I can contact you!

2. For one additional, optional entry you can share this post on your blog. Make sure to leave an additional comment on this post telling me you did so, and please share the link!

3. For an additional, optional entry you can tweet about this giveaway and leave an additional comment on this post telling me you did so. The tweet can go something like this: I just entered to win a cool children’s adoption themed book from @hikemama Check it out! http://hikebloglove.com

4. For an additional, optional entry you can go “like” my fb page and leave an additional comment here telling me you did so. If you are already a liker, just leave an additional comment telling me so!

One lucky winner will be chosen at random at 8 am on Tuesday, July 3.

—–

I was provided a complementary copy of Searching for…the You We Adore. All opinions expressed, however, are my own.

Help a Mama Out!

You may recall that I did a review not too long ago regarding Stonewear Designs–a clothing company that designs hiking, fitness, yoga and travel clothing for women. I snagged some of their Meridian yoga capris on sale and then splurged on one of their Kaia halter tops. And can I just say that I am in love? Truly.

20120606-153136.jpg
Here I am in the backyard, doing yoga with the kids and sporting my new Stonewear finds….thanks Little Man for playing photographer!

The fit, the support, the look….it’s all perfect. I applied to be an ambassador for Stonewear Designs and would be honored to represent a company that I wholeheartedly love. Part of the application process is using social media to show support for the applicants. If you support me as a good choice as an ambassador, please give me a shout out through Stonewears’s twitter or fb pages:

Facebook

Twitter

Let them know that Lauren (Hiking Mama) sent you. And even if you don’t feel up to it, or I don’t get chosen, I will still continue to support this great clothing company and encourage you to check ‘em out. Their apparel does not disappoint. I’m just so glad that I have finally found great clothing to support my active lifestyle!