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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mama Em's Review of Dream Dinners of Carson City

I cannot even express how much I wish I had wandered into Dream Dinners sooner. I have been driving by the Carson City location for around five years now, and I always assumed it was one of those places where you pay to take a class on cooking a few key meals. I could not have been more wrong. Bonnie Betts is the owner of the Carson City franchise, and I had the pleasure of meeting her during a vendor event being put on in the shopping center where her store resides. About halfway through the event, I was starving, and I was told that Dream Dinners was selling sample plates, so I decided to check it out. Bonnie and her family run the store together, alongside some of the friendliest staff around. The store is clean and orderly, no crumb left behind! The sample plate I purchased was full of unbelievably tasty food. A little of each of their dinners of the month, from chicken pasta to pork ribs, to onion rings, and topped off with a warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie. My super picky kids attacked my plate and devoured nearly everything on it. I wound up having to go back for a second plate! Come to find out, Dream Dinners is an amazing spot where you can go over a menu that changes monthly, pick out the meals and portion sizes of your choice, and then put them together with easy to follow instructions to take home and cook at a later date. The best part is that everything is ready to put into the freezer when you leave the store, and can stay there for around 3-4 months if you don't get to it right away! I signed up for a three meal package deal that Bonnie was offering, and a few reschedulings later due to my own busy schedule, I finally got to go in and and make my dinners. I chose my three meals in advance, and when I got there for my appointment, Bonnie and her staff had everything ready and waiting for me. I put on an apron, and Bonnie and I got to work. There's a huge island in the center of the store, where several meal prep stations are set up. Each station has a recipe, and an easy-to-follow instruction sheet. All of the ingredients you need are there for you to use, including containers to take everything home in. I was able to prep my three meal choices in about 30 minutes. At checkout, there are side dishes and desserts that you can add on as well. Cooking my Dream Dinners was even easier than preparing them. You just take a meal out of the freezer in the morning, let it defrost in the fridge all day, then follow the instruction card to put everything together and cook it that evening. The best part of Dream Dinners is that you get to make gourmet meals for your family without having to buy all of the ingredients individually. The deal I got in on was $25 for three meals to feed 3-4 people, and there's no way I could've spent less than that on the ingredients alone. My family raved over the meatloaf and mashed potatoes, inhaled the parmesan chicken with almond green beans, and there were no leftovers of the chicken and spinach tortellini! The overall experience of Dream Dinners has got me hooked. I plan to make this happen at least once a month! Bravo to Bonnie and her staff for what they do! For more information about Dream Dinners of Carson City, click here: http://dreamdinners.com/main.php?page=store&id=139

Mama Em's review of Thirty One by Linda Davis

Gone are the days of wishing you had better organization skills, looking for the chapstick that just rolled under the car seat, and throwing everything into your black hole of a purse - once you find Thirty-One Gifts! Thirty-One is a home-party based company, where independent consultants sign up and then take to the streets to sell personalized items that truly make your life more efficent. The basic once-over of any Thirty-One website or catalog will lead you to believe that they sell embroidered bags. But it's SO much more than that. As a mom of two young kids, I struggle daily to keep the house clean and organized, be prepared for any and every possible scenario on the road, and to make part of my life portable so that I can have it with me at all times. Thirty-One has helped me to do all of that. I own several of their items now. My main two are carried with me every time I get into the car to leave home for more than an hour or two. My carry-all tote is a gorgeous seafoam green color, with hot pink stitched letters that say "Mama Em" on one side. This one technically has become the kid's bag. It has a nice flat bottom that fits perfectly between the kids' carseats in the back seat of my car, and there are compartments for their leapfrog tablets, coloring books and crayons, extra batteries, and game cartridges. The second bag is a drawstring pouch style, white with big black polka-dots. The kids refer to this one as "mom's black and white bag", and it's got the essentials in it. A bottle of water or two, some snacks, medicines just in case, band-aids, a small sewing kit... if we should need it, it's in there. I get so much use out of my Thirty-One bags, that I have a full wishlist of other pieces I'd like to get. And with all of the consultants signing on with this company on a daily basis, there are plenty of competitors for my business. So why do I choose to shop with Linda? Linda Davis is an amazing person. When you meet her, you feel like you're reconnecting with an old friend. She's got a warm, bubbly personality and she's always smiling and laughing. Linda is passionate about the products she's selling. She owns them, she uses them, and she's willing to give you the best deal possible. I can approach Linda with an idea of what I need, and she lights up at the chance to find me the perfect piece to solve my problem. I need something to take to Disneyland that's not too big but can still be carried easily and fit the basics in it - no problem. I need something to organize the smaller toys in the kids' room, all those little pieces that get lost easily - no problem. Linda is so easy to work with, and probably the least pushy sales person I have ever met. That's why I keep going back to her. If you get the chance to come by a local event where Linda has a vendor booth set up, make sure you stop by. She's always finding new ways to make her booth space more adorable, and keeps on top of all of the latest and greatest that Thirty-One has to offer. Being able to see the pieces in person makes it a lot easier to say yes to your favorites! For more information about Thirty-One Gifts and to contact the lovely Linda Davis, click here: https://www.mythirtyone.com/lindadavisnv/

Mama Em's review of Yogurt Beach in Gardnerville, NV

My six-year-old's teacher this year is using a program called "Class Dojo" to track my child's behavior on a weekly basis. The kids get points added or subtracted based on basic classroom behavior daily, and the points are calculated weekly. The first few weeks of school didn't go so well. Understandably so, since she and the rest of her classmates were still fresh off of summer vacation and adjusting to a new teacher and new surroundings. As a family, we decided that a little bribery was just what we needed to coax little Hope into staying in the "green" points area all week long. If she keeps her points circle full all week, she gets to pick a reward on the weekend. This past week, she jumped up and down and yelled "Let's go for ice cream!" when we reviewed her progress. I had been hearing about Yogurt Beach's new location in Gardnerville, so we decided to switch things up a little and go for some fro-yo instead. From the outside, the building looks average and the dark tinted windows make you second guess whether the place is open - which I'll admit, nearly caused a meltdown before we even got out of the car. Luckily, we were still within business hours, and the employees greated us with hearty welcomes when we walked through the door. The entire place is decked out like a tiki bar - surfboard tabletops, grass skirts around the islands, and pictures of palm trees and other standard beach-isms decorate the walls to match. The topping bar caught the eye of my kids and they both let out a "ooooh" under their breath. A friendly employee came over to ask if we'd been in the store before, and when we all shook our heads, she took us on a tour of the shop and explained how things work. Another employee behind the counter offered up smaller portion sized cups for the kids. We were offered samples of the yogurt before we made our decisions, and then we were on our own. Hope chose a cake batter yogurt and then piled on gummy bears, cherries, and m & m candies. My three-year-old, Raylan, picked strawberry banana yogurt and topped it with cherries, m & m candies, and pineapple slices. The hubby went for the cake batter as well, hid his toppings from me (lol)and then stumbled upon the bar that the kids had luckily missed, where you can top it all off with gooey caramel or hot fudge. He was grinning wider than the kids were. I opted for a half cake batter, half salted caramel yogurt combo, then tossed in some waffle cone pieces, raspberry filled chocolate candies, and some mini chocolate chips. It was divine. Of course, knowing I would be writing a review, I insisted that I taste everyone else's concoctions as well. All of the yogurt flavors were amazing. My favorite was the salted caramel. It was absolutely perfect. The pricing for everything is based on weight. It comes down to about 44 cents per ounce, and with the four of us going overboard on everything, the total came to about $13 - which is not bad. The atmosphere of the store was great, the employees were super friendly and helpful, and the experience was top-notch. We will definitely be back. I'll forever be a fan of Baskin Robbins, don't get me wrong. But when it comes to a fun family outing that ends with a sweet treat, take shopping small in mind and hit up this local family owned franchise. You won't be disappointed! For more info about Yogurt Beach's Gardnerville Nevada location, click here: http://yogurtbeach.com/grnv/location/