Thursday, June 28, 2012

MOMables Menu Subscription Service


What's that I hear?...A chorus of angels singing from heaven?  Halleluia and THANK GOD for MOMables Menus!

A little background on me...I HATE figuring out what to make for meals!  I find that I am constantly at a loss for meal ideas and always find myself making the same things over and over...chicken legs, spaghetti w/ meat sauce, and tacos.  Not to mention the small fortune we spend weekly on Pizza and Sushi delivery!

Little more background...My oldest is 4 and will be starting school in the fall and I REALLY want to do bento lunches for her 'cause they just seem like such a fun way to brighten her day and to give her a positive/healthy relationship with food.

A little background on MOMables direct from "Chief Mom" Laura Fuentes...
   How many times have we, as parents, stared inside the refrigerator looking for something to feed the kids for lunch or something to put inside their school lunchbox?  Like you, I’ve often stood there staring at all the “prepared” foods hoping for something to talk to me and say: “take me, I’m nutritious, your kids will love me and I won’t come back at the end of the day half eaten in a messy lunch box.”  MOMables™ is dedicated to parents’ need and desire to provide our children with healthy, fresh, convenient, delicious, kid-friendly food. You know, the kind of food our grandparents used to prepare before the days of preservatives, hormones, and unidentifiable food.
As a busy working mom of picky eaters, I’ve had to get creative in order to feed my kids wholesome food at school.  I’ve volunteered at their school cafeteria and I’ve seen kids bring packaged lunches, prepared foods, and sugar-filled treats their parents threw into their lunch boxes and called it a meal.  I understand first hand that we live in a time where MOMs often struggle to keep up with demanding jobs, activity filled schedules, and managing a household; as well as a time where convenient, processed food has grown in popularity.
Growing tired of my kids asking for processed packaged items claiming to be nutritious, I set out to make food that looked like what their friends were eating yet it was made fresh in my kitchen.  I began to share simple quick recipes with other parents at my kids’ school, wrote about them on my blog and began contributing kid-tested recipes to other MOM-targeted online websites.  I recognized that busy parents, like myself, could use a simple method to create their kid’s lunch and feel good about what they are eating… and the idea of MOMables™ was born.
MOMables™ is focused on feeding children uncomplicated yet good food. The kid-tested recipes are easy to follow even for stiletto wearing MOMmies who might need a road-map around the kitchen and dads (like my husband) who could live on cereal and pizza.  You’ll see that in the time it takes to find something in that open fridge, you’ll be able to make your child a nutritious lunch.  In fact, whether you have one child or half a soccer team, each lunch takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, uses fresh ingredients, and most can be done ahead of time to alleviate some of the morning rush.  Get ready to enjoy your cup of coffee in the morning because my goal is to save you time and money on wasted food! 

I decided to try this service out on my 4 & 2.5 yr olds prior the start of school so I can gauge what types of foods they really like and what they can't stand (loves most fruits & veggies / DESPISE Avocado).

I also found it helpful for ideas to make for my 4 yr. old's snacks and lunches for her very first camp this summer.  She is super excited to try the Make your Own Mini Pizzas.  I love that she is excited to eat healthy food and that she is becoming more involved in the meal planning.  She even came up with her own treat ideas. 

I can not even begin to express how much MOMables Menus have helped me!  

The menus are a subscription services are $18 for 3 months, $33 for 6 months, and $60 for a full year, and I think that they are worth every penny.  As a subscriber, you receive a meal plan for 5 lunches for your week (recipe is for the main focus of lunch and you fill out the lunch w/ your own fruits/veggies/snacks).  You also get a weekly breakdown sheet and a shopping list specific to the week's menu.  My favourite feature of the Menu plan is the pictures.  I must confess that sometimes I shut off the thinking part of my brain and just buy the fruits and veggies pictured in the sample meal.  

Just for some icing on the cake (mmm...cake...oh wait...where was I?), the MOMables website also has Recipes (including some Gluten & Dairy Free ones!), Sample Menus, and even a Store where you can buy some great lunch box essentials!  Also, as a great service just for visiting, they'll give you access to a FREE week of MOMables!!  So why are you still reading this?!  Head on over and check them out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Munchkin for Two [SinbadEV Guest Post]


Munchkin is a card game that simultaneously celebrates and lampoons fantasy role playing games. It is best played with three or more players but, on a lazy weekday evenings (until my kids get old enough to read), I really only have my loving wife to play with.

It's not every day that she asks to play a board game with me but, when she does lately, it's been Munchkin that she wants to play. It is competitive and when you have only two players it gets vicious as the only really effective strategy is to stab the other players in the back and try to bluff your opponent into thinking you are only trying to help. Maybe this kind of thing doesn't fit in your idyllic marriage but, in ours, it is a great way to release some pent up stress without causing injury.

The game is one of those where you have to understand the rules and understand the cards that are in your hand and the cards that have been played and the cards that are likely to be drawn and how those all interact with each other. It can be complicated if you let it, but there's enough dumb luck involved that you can win if you just read each card as it comes up. My wife has historically avoided these types of games but has recently come around. It's not hard to figure out, it's just that there is more to figure out.

One thing I think that made it click for her was an episode of Tabletop we watched together featuring the game. Even if you have a "gamer brain", many board games just don't make sense until you've played them with someone who knows the game... Tabletop is great because it simulates this experience without requiring you to go out and find a group of experienced players.

I'm not going to detail the game for you myself so I'd highly recommend you check out the show if you are interested.
The basic idea is that you are a character exploring a dungeon, killing monsters and finding loot to improve your character, all while trying to get to level 10 before the other players... the conceit being that you are doing all the fun stuff from a role playing game without all of that pesky "role playing".

I have three versions of Munchkin and two expansions.

Unfortunately Munchkin Chthulu doesn't actually work with two players due to one of the core mechanics requiring three players to work. So I'll skip talking about that one.

Munchkin works quite well with two players but when started adding expansion cards we found that the size of the deck was resulting in too many cases of nobody getting anything useful. When you have a large game of five people you go through cards a lot faster and the games tend to be longer so this balances out, but with two players we were having too many cases of just not getting any useful cards while the other players plows on to victory unhindered.

The first thing I did to fix this was separate the Treasure and Door in two and pick one of each to play with each game at random. I'll spare you the details but the idea was to get about the same number of each race, class and other type of card in each deck such that you could play a full game with any two. We also upped the starting hand to four cards from each deck to make it more likely for both players to start the game with something useful.

The game plays quite well with two players, their are certain cases where you might want to help your opponent defeat a monster in exchange for treasure and some cases where you'll want to make monsters stronger so your opponent can't defeat them. There are also cases where you might do both of those things.

The level of co-operation has to be a little higher in a two player game otherwise it stalls out but, generally speaking, it plays very smoothly.

Munchkin Zombies has been the one we've been playing the most recently... though I suspect this might be because my wife keeps beating me at it.

While the original Munchkin follows a "Swords and Sorcery Fantasy" theme Munchkin Zombies is, as you'd expect, about zombies. In fact, instead of playing as a hero, you play as a zombie and you are fighting survivors. The zombie genre is a lot more approachable than the Fantasy Role Playing stuff for my wife. It's more mainstream, I suppose, and the humour is a lot more approachable. For example, in Munchkin the Vorpal Blade is +10 against anything starting with J and there is a monster called a Gazebo which you must face alone, which is hilarious if you are the right kind of person; While in Munchkin Zombies the mailbox is a helmet that gives you automatic victory over the Mailman.

For a number of reasons this game plays faster than the original game and my wife and I have found we prefer it for two player games.

You can blend multiple sets together but that tends to complicate things to an extent that my wife is no longer enjoying herself. Fortunately though, if you have gotten bored of the set you have you can get expansions to add some more variety to your games. There is also a variant called "Epic Munchkin" that you can download instructions for from the World of Munchkin site that makes games last longer... which you might want to try if you find that your games are too short. Because there are fewer people to stop you from killing monsters and going up levels it helps to extend the game to level 20 and give you longer to catch up if your opponent get's a string of luck.

On a side note: if you ARE looking for a game to play with your pre-literate children Zombie Dice (from the same company that makes Munchkin) is an excellent choice (it also available for iOS).

If you are not into Fantasy Role Playing or Zombies there are many other kinds of Munchkin games like Vampires and Super Heroes.

(The games I review in this post are games I own and I paid for them myself and all opinions expressed are my own etc... I only say this because benjiesluv often reviews sponsored products and I wanted to make sure that you knew I am making this post for no other reason than that I think the games are cool and that you should check them out.)