Monday, April 30, 2012

Quickie Coupon Giveaway***Closed***

******CLOSED****** Winner is Michelle T. from Texas!!!! Congratulations!!!

Quickie Coupon Giveaway opens today!! This is a quick giveaway ending on May 3, 2012 at 11:59pm for over $50 worth of coupons INCLUDING a coupon for one free 12fl oz. can of Starbucks Refreshers beverage of your choice. All coupons in this giveaway end this month. Enter for your chance to win using the Rafflecopter form below!

There will be one winner chosen on May 4, 2012 and emailed. Winner must respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen. All coupons were clipped from the local Sunday paper or magazines. I was not compensated in any way to use or giveaway any of these coupons.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Coupon Savings Giveaway ***CLOSED***

******CLOSED****** Winners chosen and emailed!!! :) Winners are Erica C. from MD and Kim S. from MO!! Thank You for entering!

Still Love Coupons?? Me too! I’ve decided to give my blog readers another great coupon giveaway while I'm working on an upcoming blog series special! Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter! Good Luck!!

2 PRIZE Winners!
(all in coupon form – earliest expiration date is May 27, 2012 and there are only a 2 of these, most expire later on this year):

1 free bag of Riceworks Gourmet Crisps for each prize winner
Various coupons for household products, personal products, food, pet care - and many other catergories - for each winner!

Total ARV of all coupons for each winner will = over $100 in savings!!!!

Who couldn’t use savings like this??

Ends May 15, 2012 at 11:59pm
There will be (2) two random winners chosen using Rafflecopter. Winners will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or new winners will be chosen.
Winners will be posted here and on Nicolie-Olie’s Meanderings Facebook Page.

Disclaimer: All coupons were clipped and gathered by me from magazines and newspapers OR I received them as a ‘win’ from a sweepstakes. I have not been compensated in any way to do this giveaway or to use these specific coupons.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catching Up

Alright, after a short hiatus I am back! I have 2 new giveaways to put up over the next few days and a couple of blog posts coming your way soon!

FYI - My daughter decided to NOT participate in the Beauty Pageant :( She was scared of being on stage by herself... Oh well, beauty pageants aren't for everyone.

I am trying to gather together a series of blog posts with an 'ultimate' giveaway. I don't want to spoil the surprise BUT hopefully within the next 2 months or so 1 lucky winner and a friend will be Traveling!! :)

Keep on coming back for the updates!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beauty Pageants!!!

The other day I received a letter in the mail from NAM - National American Miss. For those of you that don't know what that is, it's a Pageant system. My daughter has never participated in one before but when this letter came in she expressed an interest in participating. It's an open call to come and find out more about the National American Miss Michigan Pageant held here in Michigan. We will be going to the open call this Wednesday and if she decides that it sounds like fun, we will be participating! I'm not going to lie - I am super excited about it! I had wanted to put her in pagaents when she was little, but had no idea how to do that and I was leary of all the 'glitz' involved. Now that she is older I'm not so worried about it.

This letter and her interest sparked my curiosity about pageants. I did some searching and found a 'natural' pageant that is being held down in Grand Rapids MI on April 14th. It's called Rock the Stage and it's being put on by Michigan Royal Miss Pageants. It sounds like super fun and it will be small compared to the other one we are going to the meeting for so, I entered her in it!! I think it will be perfect for her first ever pageant!!

I have started doing some homework on how to best prepare her for it. I am totally obessed with watching Toddlers and Tiara's on Netflix - lol!!!

So far I have set up a Photographer - who does some awesome work!!! You can check it out here. I have found a 'coach' to help her with how to do the beauty section and to choreograph a piece for her rockstar piece and because it's not a glitz pageant, I will be doing her make-up and I have a friend doing her hair for me. We also have been looking at dresses and rockstar outfits! I will be doing her nails and we will go to a salon to get her eyebrows done and, I'm thinking we should do a facial too.....

Any of you Pageant Moms or Pageant Judges out there have any advice? I know it's late in the game to start pageants, she will be 13 in July, but I have no doubt she will do well! Everyone has told me since she was little I should enter her in pageants or some type of modeling work, so beauty is not an issue lol!

I would love to hear any tips or tricks on how to prepare for pageants that you might have! If she likes them I will enter her in more! It opens up so many new opportunities for her!

*Disclaimer* The crown in the picture above is NOT the one that Sam would receive if she places - I found it online and reposted it here to make the post 'shine'! lol

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fun Hand and Foot Card Game Directions With Pictures!!

Looking for a fun card game to play? I've got just the one for you to try. It's called Hand and Foot. Some of you may have heard of the board game, canasta rules spin-off or online version - this may be similar but we have perfected it - lol! This game can be played with 2 or more players - we usually play with 4. Now I have to warn you, it seems difficult at first but once you play a game or two it's super easy and super fun!

What You'll Need for 4 Players:

Paper and Pen - to keep score
4 Decks of regular playing cards, jokers included!

Optional Needs for 4 Players:
Healthy snacks to munch on as you’re playing - nothing sticky; you don't want your cards sticking together!
Music playing in the background for ambience

Set Up:

Have the 4 players sit down at the table 2 on one side 2 on the other :: Now the person crisscrossed from you at the table will be your card Partner - so make sure you choose your spots at the table carefully!

Divide your score keeping paper in half and pick your team names. We always use the shirts we are using, like if I am wearing a t-shirt that says shark bait and my partner is wearing a buffalo chicken t-shirt we would name our team 'Chicken Bait' or 'Buffalo Sharks' or some other variation. Put the team names at the top of their perspective columns.

On the left hand side of your paper put a 1 with a circle around it and the number 60. This indicates that you are on round 1 and the point value needed to go down for round 1. After each round you will change this to read as whatever round you are on ie; round 2 would have a 2 circled with the number 90 next to it.

Shuffle your 4 decks - including the jokers - all together really well. Once they are all shuffled each person needs to deal 2 stacks of 11 cards in front of themselves and put all the rest of the cards in the middle of the table in a big stack.

Then take the 2 stacks of 11 and give them to the person on your left. Those will become their hand and foot. Of the 2 stacks you receive, one stack is going to be for your hand and one for your foot. Without looking at the cards in each stack pick one and set the other one off to your left. The one you choose will be your hand and you will start with that stack.

Pick one person to be first and put thier first initial next to your circled 1 and number 60. This helps you keep track of who went first and who goes first next round. Once you pick that initial person to go first the next 'first person' will be to their left. (clockwise)

Now you’re ready to start the game!

First let’s go over the objective and points then we will get into the game play.


Be the team with the most points after 6 rounds of play.

A round begins with the dealing of the cards and ends when one person plays all his cards (hand and foot). Each round gets more difficult as you progress. In order for you to lay out in the first round you have to have at least 60 points worth of cards i.e.; 3 Aces or 2 Aces and a wild

Round Lay Down Points:

Round 1 = 60 points
Round 2 = 90 points
Round 3 = 120 points
Round 4 = 150 points
Round 5 = 180 points
Round 6 = 210 points


2 cards are wild (they become whatever you need them to be EXCEPT 3's) = 20 points each
4 - 9 cards = 5 points each
10 - K cards = 10 points each
Aces = 20 points each
Jokers are wild (they become whatever you need them to be EXCEPT 3's) = 50 points each
Black Sets = 300 points
Red Sets = 500 points
Black 3's = 0 points (they are worth nothing, they do not take away points or add)
Red 3's = 300 negative points (you don't want to have one of these at the end of a round!)

Red Sets:

To make a Red Set, you must have at least 7 of the same number i.e.; 7 Aces (color and suit do not matter). Once you have at least 7, close up that line-up and place a RED Ace on the top. You or your partner can always add more Aces to the pile under the red one.

Black Sets:

To make a Black Set, you must have at least 7 of the same number using the wild 2's and/or the joker cards. You must have more 'naturals' than wilds in your set though i.e.; max number of wilds to make a set would be 3 with 4 same numbered cards. Once a set has been made and closed with a card on the top you can only put cards that match the set in that pile.

Partners may play on each other’s boards to complete sets.

Partners may NOT have the same card numbers on their board as their partner has on theirs i.e.; if partner A has Queens laid down partner B cannot lay Queens down on their own board, any Queens partner B has, has to go to partner A.

Game Play:

The first player picks up 2 cards from the middle of the deck and puts them in their hand. Then they must decide what to keep and what to discard. You discard 1 card at a time. You must always have a discard unless you are 'going out' - winning a round. In that case you may play your last card onto yours or your partners’ board. After you discard the play then moves on to the person to your left.

In the first round you must have at least 60 points to lay down on your board. This can be accomplished simply - like with 3 Aces - or it could be something like 4 nines, 4 sixes and 4 twos, or any combination of point cards that equal 60. Strategy Hint: You don't want to lay too many different things down before your partner does especially if they haven't gotten down yet. It makes it harder for them and takes longer to save up enough points. Remember they can't lay down the same numbers as you. After your down you have to wait till your next turn to play on your partners’ board.

After the Discard pile has 5 or more cards in it you may start to take cards from the discard pile. You have to take the top 5 cards and you have to be able to use the very top card from the pile. For example say the person before you discards a 6 and you want it, you pick up the 6 AND the next 4 cards from the pile. You have to play the 6 on your or your partners’ board before the end of your turn. The extra 4 cards you took can be played on either board or kept in your hand, and then you discard 1 as usual. *You may not pick up the pile if a 3 is on the top of the discard pile! 3's cannot be made into sets or placed on your boards!! Do not collect them! Discard red 3's as soon as possible, they are negative points!!

During game play you are working towards getting all your cards down on either your board or your partners. Once you play your whole hand you can then pick up your foot. If you discard the last card in your hand you cannot play from your foot until your next turn, if you play your last hand card on your or your partners’ boards you may start playing from your foot right away. Your turn does not end till you discard or play the last card you have from your foot.

Doing it this way will allow you to 'set' the other team. You could get through your hand and foot pretty quickly and go out leaving the other team with them not having been able to play from their foot. This is great for you because any cards left from their hand and foot are negative points for them.

*You may not want to go out if your partner still has a lot of cards still. I would not recommend going out if your partner has not either started their board or played from their foot still. Also you must ask permission to go out from your partner. You never know if they might have a red 3 or two in their hand still. This does not mean table talk!! Your partner should not know what you have in your hand and vice versa. You cannot ask if they are saving Aces for example because you want to lay them down on your board. They can only respond with answers like 'yes you can go out' or 'not yet'.

As you are playing you need to keep track of your board. Once you hit 7 cards of the same you must pull it into a set. A Black set has some combination of jokers and face cards. If you have this type put the cards in a pile with a black card of your number on top. You may still add as many more cards of that number as you can get, just put them under the top card. For example if I had 5 Aces and 2 wilds, I would pull them into a stack with a black Ace on top and every Ace me, or my partner, got would go in that pile but under the top card. At this point you can no longer put wilds in that set. There is a maximum of 3 wilds for each black set on your boards.

Try not to ever discard a wild!! If you have to discard something discard a play card that plays on your partners’ board! As the rounds get harder you will find that when your partner goes down before you, you have to save those play cards for his board but still save others to make the point mark so you can go down!

All rounds are played in the same manner; the only thing that changes is the point value to get down on your board.

At the end of each round you first add up any sets you and your partner have and put that number on the score board - so if you end the round with 3 black sets and 1 red set you would have a total of 1400 points). Then you take any remaining cards you and your partner have and subtract that from the cards on your boards. After that you take all the cards left remaining on your and your partners boards and add them together (including all the cards in your sets! Those are points as sets and as regular card points! For example the 3 black sets from above were Aces, 4's and 7's - each with 1 wild and only 7 cards - you would have 240 points there). Put the card total under your set total and add the 2 numbers together. That is your score for that round!

Reshuffle and deal again to begin the next round. At the end of all 6 rounds whichever team has the most points is the winner!

Like I said, it seems pretty complicated but once you start playing it is a blast! Gameplay gets much easier after you play a time or two!

I would LOVE to know what you think of this game! Did you try it? Did you love it? Did you find the directions above confusing? Have you played this game with different rules? If so what was the difference? What were some of the team names you came up with and how did you come up with them?

***Disclaimer*** These are NOT the official Hand and Foot rules. This post is directions for how me and my friends play! It is just for fun.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Aerosoles Review

"Slip into a pair of Aerosoles and watch what happens. There is more spring in your step, more color in your life, simply stated more comfort. With more than 20 years of experience creating shoes we are passionate about our product and our core values remain the same…comfort, style, quality and value." - Aerosoles

Wow! When I contacted Aerosoles about doing a Blog review on their shoes, I wasn't quite expecting how much more I'd fall in love with their company and products! From the beginning email to looking into the company for background info, I was pleasantly surprised with how easily everything flowed. Their website is easy to navigate and understand, and there is a ton of interesting info on how shoes become 'Aerosoles'. I was impressed to say the least.

For my review I chose the Bentwood in Black Patent, these normally retail for $69. I wanted to try a trendy dress shoe that would be versatile enough for day and evening wear AND be comfortable! I don't know about you but I have the hardest time finding a comfortable pair of dressy shoes! Usually there isn't enough arch or my toes get squeezed so tightly that by the end of the day my feet hurt so badly I have to take an Ibprofin!

Once I received them - which was super quick!! - I had to try them on with everything! I tried them on with jeans, dress pants and a skirt. I LOVE the way they looked with all of it! The whole time my soon to be 13 year old was begging to try them on too, so we held a little fashion show with them!

After the first day admiring all the sweet detail work and new shoe smell - lol! I decided to 'break them in' by wearing them around the house while doing housework. Ten minutes into tidying up and vacuuming I realized that I had forgotten I was wearing them! There was no need to even break them in!

Now it was time for the ultimate test... wear them out to a function. Even though the test run with them went better than expected, I was nervous. So me and the family took a trip to the mall. We were there, walking around the stores, for a good 3 hours or so. By the time we left the only thing that hurt was my pocketbook! After that, I HAD to go out dancing!! Would they hold up to shaking my groove thing? Yep, they did! They passed all the tests I gave them!!

Navigating through the Aerosoles website I found some really cool information here
all about what makes Aerosoles so great! Here are some highlights from that page that I thought were interesting.

The soles are flexible enough to twist and fold with the natural movement of your foot. "As you step, the front of your foot bends, so we create shoes that bend with you and offer ultimate flexibility in the toe. By stitching the upper – not gluing it – to a soft flexible insole we eliminate stiff, hard boards that other companies use. Then, we add a flexible rubber sole" (for better slip resistance!) "with our unique diamond pattern. You will feel the difference in every step." I LOVE this feature! Usually when I walk, especially with new shoes, my toe gets 'pinched'. With these I didn't have a problem at all!

There are cushy comfort beds of foam and cotton inside! "Cushioned insoles; comfort foam footbeds, and our sumptuous padded insoles soothe and pamper your feet." It was heaven wearing these shoes! They had a super soft inside that made me feel almost like I was wearing slippers.

Aerosoles employs a technology, unique to their company, in which their custom shoe design "distributes your body weight toward your heel, and away from the ball of your foot. The result, superior comfort in both high heels and wedges so you look and feel great."

Aerosoles design team is committed to innovation in footwear and that is obvious by the look and wearability of these shoes! Their mission is to be the #1 product-driven footwear company in the world and they have more than 20 years experience creating comfortable, decently priced, wearable shoes. Not only can you purchase their shoes online but also in over 100 Aerosoles stores and outlets all across the world - with more opening this year! To find a store near you check here.

The shoes that I chose were from Aerosoles new Spring Line-up. I had so much trouble deciding what I wanted to try; there are so many different fun styles and colors to choose from! Next pair of Aerosoles I want is a pair of their sneakers - I started working out more recently to get into shape for the summer and I really need a comfortable pair for the gym!

You can check out Aerosoles on Facebook
They regularly have awesome deals posted for their Facebook fans! Let them know that Nicolie-Olie's Meanderings sent you!

Or check them out on Twitter!

Want a Catalog that you can browse through at your leisure? Click here
to have one sent to you.

Aerosoles also has an exclusive member option on their webpage. When you sign up you get bonus rewards like earning a $10 certificate when your purchases total $150 or more, they offer a birthday bonus of 15% off your next purchase during your birth month, you get pre-sale previews - preview and purchase new collections before they’re available to the public!, and there are online benefits like receiving special online offers for future footwear purchases. You also get to 'hear it first' - find out about limited-time offers before they’re promoted in-store or online. And if all that isn't enough you also will get invites to special in-store events!

So in conclusion, here are all the reasons why I LOVE my new shoes, and why you should try out a pair yourself!!!!

*They are ultra comfortable! After a night out, my feet are usually killing me! With these on, I was able to dance, walk around and have fun all night as my feet didn’t hurt at all. If fact I forgot I was wearing high heels!
*Great with jeans, dress pants, skirts/dresses.
*Both for office and night life wear.
*I received a ton of compliments on them.
*My daughter wants to steal them!
*The design on these is exquisite.
*I love how soft the inside felt against my skin.
*My feet did not get sweaty.
*The little peek a boo in the toe is so sweet.
*Even the wrapping and box they came in were pretty.
*I have a wide foot and usually have trouble finding the right size, but I used the sizing guide on the website (super easy!)and these fit perfectly.
*I didn’t even have to ‘break them in’!

Now that you read through this review and visited Aerosoles various media outlets I provided, I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Have you ever bought Aerosoles? What style did you purchase? Do you love them?
Do you love the new Spring Line-up? Which pair is your favorite?
Are there any shoes you have on your wish list for this year?
Has your opinion changed of this company because of this review?
Had you heard of Aerosoles before reading this review?

Leave some comment Luv below!

P.S. For all my fellow OLS'ers out there - I couldn't find any current sweeps running for them right now. Hopefully soon though!

***Disclaimer*** I was given the choice of a pair of shoes from the new Aerosoles spring line-up to review for this blog. All opinions are my own. I was not told what to write here. All company information within is interpreted by me (except when quoted) from the various Aerosoles websites and written here to give you, my readers, some background information on the Aerosoles company.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Der Struwwelpeter - The German Fairy Tale Book

If you have never heard of this book you are not alone. Outside of my family, everyone I have talked to about this book had no idea what it was. Let me start out by telling you that I am of direct German descent. My mother was born in Germany, her mother (my grandmother - we call her omi) was born and raised in Germany and all of her family is still living there. Needless to say I had a lot of German influence while growing up! Der Struwwelpeter is one of the fairy tale books that were read and ingrained into my memories as a young child. The 'tales' in the book aren't very long but their shocking and harsh endings are unforgettable.

Here is a little background on the author...

This book was written by Heinrich Hoffman (1809-1894) in 1845 as a Christmas present. Hoffman was a German psychiatrist who reportedly was upset he couldn't find a good book about teaching manners to children so he made his own for his then 3 year old son.

His friends persuaded him to publish the book anonymously as Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder mit 15 schön kolorierten Tafeln für Kinder von 3–6 Jahren (Funny Stories and Whimsical Pictures with 15 Beautifully Coloured Panels for Children Aged 3 to 6), but it wasn't until the third edition in 1858 that the book was published with the title Der Struwwelpeter and it became a household name.

Below is a short synopsis of each tale:

1. "Struwwelpeter" is about a boy who does not groom himself properly and is consequently unpopular.

2. "Die Geschichte vom bösen Friederich" - (The Story of Bad Frederick)is about a violent, mean-spirited boy who terrorizes animals and people. As the tale progresses he is bitten by a dog, becomes bedridden and the dog gets to eat the boy's dinner.

3. "Die gar traurige Geschichte mit dem Feuerzeug" - (The Dreadful Story of the Matches) is about a girl who plays with matches and burns to death.

4. "Die Geschichte von den schwarzen Buben" - (The Story of the Black Boys)is about three boys teasing another boy about the color of his skin. Nikolas (that is, Saint Nicholas) catches the three boys and to teach them a lesson, he dips them in black ink, to make them even darker-skinned than the boy they'd teased.

5. "Die Geschichte von dem wilden Jäger" - (The Story of the Wild Huntsman) is about a hunter getting his musket and eyeglasses stolen by the rabbit he is hunting and begins to be hunted by the rabbit. In the chaos, the rabbit's child is burned by hot coffee and the hunter falls into a well, presumably to his death.

6. "Die Geschichte vom Daumenlutscher" - (The Story of the Thumb-Sucker) begins with a mother warning her son not to suck his thumbs or a man will come and cut them off. The boy does not heed the warning and after the mom leaves the house he begins to suck his thumb when suddenly a man appears and cuts off his thumbs with giant scissors.

7. "Die Geschichte vom Suppen-Kaspar" - (The Story of the Soup-Kaspar) is about a healthy, strong boy who proclaims that he will no longer eat his soup and over the course of five days of refusing to eat his soup, he wastes away to nothing and dies.

8. "Die Geschichte vom Zappel-Philipp" - (The Story of the Fidgety Philip) is about a boy who won't sit still at the dinner table and accidentally knocks all of the food onto the floor, to his parents' great displeasure.

9. "Die Geschichte von Hans Guck-in-die-Luft" - (The Story of Johnny Head-in-Air) is about a boy who doesn't ever watch where he's walking. One day he walks into a river and his writing-book drifts away.

10. "Die Geschichte vom fliegenden Robert" - (The Story of the Flying Robert) is about a boy who goes outside during a storm. The wind catches his umbrella and sends him to places unknown, and presumably to his doom.

Variations on the tales in this book have been made into a musicals, plays and even small films throughout the years!

Here is a link to a page that has translated the whole book into english and it even has all the artwork with it!

Here is a link to Amazon if you have to have this book for your very own!!

What is your opinion of the tales? Would you read them to your child in this day and age? Which one did you find the most horrific? The most fascinating?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Win Some Coupon Green! *CLOSED*

Love coupons?? Me too! I’ve decided to give my blog readers a great new giveaway with coupons! Please use the Rafflecopter form below to enter! Good Luck!!


PRIZE (all in coupon form – earliest expiration date is March 31, 2012 and there are only a couple of these, most expire later on this year):

1 free package of any Idahoan Flavored Mashed Potatoes
1 free any flavor 16oz can of Monster Energy
5 free your choice of either a Snickers Bar or bag of M&M’s
66 various coupons for a wide range of products (food, household, personal, pets)
2 money off clothing store coupons

Total ARV of all coupons = $151.07 !!!!

Who couldn’t use savings like this??

Ends March 11, 2012 at 12:59pm
There will be (1) one random winner chosen using Rafflecopter. Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or new winner will be chosen.
Winner will be posted here and on Nicolie-Olie’s Meanderings Facebook Page.

Disclaimer: All coupons were clipped and gathered by me from magazines and newspapers OR I received them as a ‘win’ from a sweepstakes. I have not been compensated in any way to do this giveaway or to use these specific coupons.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to Read a Pet Food Label

How many of you look at your dog food labels? When you do, do you understand what it says? I recieved this handy dandy guide to helping you read your dog food labels from the great folks at Hills Pet Nutrition and thought I'd share it with you!

How to Read a Pet Food Label

As pet owners, what is the one thing we all have in common that we do every day which impacts the health of our pets? We feed them! It’s very important that we feed them a pet food that is going to help keep them healthy and live a long, happy life. Since dogs and cats have a condensed lifespan compared to humans, nutrient deficiencies and excesses in their food can have a greater impact on their health. Feeding them a food that has high quality, balanced nutrition may help the long term health of these pets.

Choosing the right food is based on what?

When it comes to determining which pet food is right for your pet, it’s as simple as 1-2-3.
1. Life stage – How old is your pet? Is he a puppy or a kitten? An adult? A mature adult?
2. Lifestyle – Does your pet live indoors, outdoors, both? Is he your running partner, or on your lap while you read a book?
3. Health status – Is your pet healthy, or needing special nutrition?

Life stage: Why choose a pet food for the age of my pet? Good question. Let’s answer that with a question: Is it healthy to feed a teenage boy (ravenous all the time!) the same foods you would feed your grandpa? No of course not. First of all, their metabolism is completely different, as are their nutritional needs. The same goes for pets. That’s why the philosophy of providing your pet with a food that is appropriate for his age is critical.

Here are Hill’s life stage guidelines:
Growth life stage – high nutritional demands for growth and development
o Puppies and kittens age 0 to 1 year Maintenance (Adult) life stage – nutrition that maintains good health
o 1 to 7 years for small & medium breed dogs
o 1 to 5 years for large breed dogs
o 1 to 6 years for cats Mature adult life stage – nutrition that supports healthy aging
o 7+ years for small & medium breed dogs
o 6+ years for large breed dogs
o 6 – 11 years for cats Senior
o 11+.years for cats

Lifestyle: Pets have different energy needs based on their environment and activity. Makes sense, huh? For active dogs, a food that provides calories to sustain their energy is needed. For doggies who curl up on the sofa (& help keep us warm!), their nutritional demands are not as high. We need to help our pets avoid unwanted pounds that they can gain if they’re not burning extra calories.

Health status: This one is a little tougher on us as pet owners, but realistically, our pet doesn’t mind as much. For pets who have a special need like a low calorie food for weight control, or for those pets who have a more serious situation such as kidney issues and need a therapeutic food, the third consideration is health status. Pets who are pregnant or nursing have special nutritional needs, too. Your veterinarian can help you answer the question about your pet’s health status.

Once you answer these questions, your choice is focused on meeting your pet’s nutritional needs. What is the key tool you should use to help you make this decision? The pet food label is the tool you should use. Now, the trick is deciphering the label to find the right information you need to make an educated decision.

How do I decipher information on the label?

While the label may seem a bit daunting to the naked eye, honing in on key pieces of information on the label will make the task of understanding what you’re choosing much less challenging, and you’ll feel much more confident in your choice.

Let’s take a closer look.

There are a lot of nice photos on the bag, marketing claims, bursts, and lots of small print. What does it all mean? This article is going to tell you about the most important information to you that you will find on the label. This information resides in the AAFCO Statement.

AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. A basic goal of AAFCO is to provide a mechanism for developing and implementing uniform laws, regulations, standards and enforcement policies for regulating the manufacture, distribution and sale of animal feeds; resulting in safe, effective, and useful feeds.

AAFCO Statement
The AAFCO Statement provides the two most critical key points of information on a pet food label.
1. What life stage is the food nutritionally balanced for?
2. Which method (formulation or feeding test) was used to determine the life stage for which the food is nutritionally appropriate?

Both of these key points are found in the AAFCO Statement located close to the ingredient panel. Some manufacturers place this on the side of the bag while others place it on the back. Consumers need to locate this information. It's typically like reading the “fine-print.” This information is aside from the marketing claims made on labels, yet it is the information that answers these two critical questions.

Let's break it down using these two examples:

Label A

Label B

Label A Brand X cat food was formulated based on a nutritional guideline; basically like following a recipe. The “Formulation Method”:

 Does not require feeding the product to an animal
 Actual feeding or digestibility trials are not required
 Results can be determined more quickly

Brand X Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages. Animal feeding tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures substantiate that Brand Y Dog Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs.

 There is no guarantee of pet acceptance or nutrient bioavailability when utilizing this method
 Is less expensive to develop the food

The food has been “formulated” in a computer based on AAFCO guidelines, and then it ultimately gets “test fed” on your pet.

Label B Brand Y dog food was test fed using the “Feeding Trial Method.” This method is the gold standard for determining nutritional adequacy for a specific life stage. It is the preferred method. The “Feeding Trial Method”:

 Requires the manufacturer to perform an AAFCO protocol feeding trial as the sole source of nutrition, including required veterinary exams & biological data collection
 Feeding trials are the BEST way to document how pets will perform when fed a specific food using AAFCO Standards

BEST OPTION: Pet food labels with the AAFCO Statement saying the food has been test fed is the optimal choice.

Let’s look at these two examples again.

Label A

Label B

Label A Brand X Cat Food provides nutrition to meet the needs for all life stages. What does that mean? Start your kitten eating this food and continue feeding this food to your cat forever. But, just as we discussed earlier, a human’s nutritional needs change as we go through life, so it does for cats and dogs. When a pet food is for all life stages it must provide nutrition for the most demanding: GROWTH (kittens & puppies). Do cats and dogs need all that extra nutrition as adults and seniors? No, they don’t.

Label B When a food states it provides complete and balanced nutrition for a specific life stage: growth, maintenance (adult), and reproduction (pregnant or nursing), the nutrients in the food are optimal for that life stage.
It can be hard to tell what the life stage a food is for by simply looking at the front of the bag. Some labels have images of adult pets that would lead consumers to believe it’s for the adult life stage. However, looking at the AAFCO Statement, the food very well could be for all life stages meaning it is a growth food. Consumers should always check the AAFCO Statement to assure they’re feeding their pet the best food for their special pet.

Pet food labels can be confusing, but understanding what information you need from the label demystifies the challenge. To choose the right food for your pet, choose the one that is nutritionally appropriate for his life stage, lifestyle, or health condition. Then be sure you look at the AAFCO Statement to assure the food had been test fed.
Brand X Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all life stages.

*Disclaimer* I was not compensated in any way to post this information. I received this information through email dialogue and thought it was awesome enough to pass along to you, my readers!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Burgers from Stem Cells?

As I was looking through the headlines at CNN I found this interesting news blurb:

One stem cell burger: $330,000

If you're concerned about the ethics of livestock production but don't want to become a vegetarian, consider this: It may be possible to grow meat in a petri dish.

Dr. Mark Post, professor of vascular physiology at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands, is working on creating meat from bovine stem cells. And he's planning to unveil a burger created this way in October, he said Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Croplands and pastures occupy about 35% of the planet's ice-free land surface, according to a 2007 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

"Meat consumption is going to double in the next 40 years or so, so we need to come up with alternatives to solve the land issue," Post said.

Post's financial backer, whose identity Post would not disclose, is providing 250,000 euros (about $330,000) toward the development of this hamburger. And the financier has the right to choose who will be the lucky person to taste this futuristic burger, Post said.

The scientists say their creations are not quite at the level of hamburger, though – samples from cultures are currently about 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) long and weigh only half a gram. That's too small to cook. Post hasn't tasted it yet himself.

To get the samples bigger and more burger-looking, scientists may grow them on a spherical surface. Eventually they'd like to be able to create big slabs of meat, Post said.

The color is pinkish-yellowish, and Post and colleagues would like to make it look more appetizing in a natural way. Meat in typical hamburgers gets its color partly from blood. One way to make the stem-cell meat more authentic-looking is to use caffeine to coerce the cells to produce more myoglobin, a type of protein that carries iron and oxygen.

Apart from the "meat," scientists need to grow fat separately, for the juiciness and taste of the final product.

Right now the process doesn't involve harming animals – researchers are using leftover materials from slaughterhouses. But in the future, the process could use animals that would be killed so that all of their stem cells could be harvested, he said.

You could get about 1 million times as many burgers from a single cow using these stem cell methods as you would from traditional processes, Post said.

But obviously Post's process is expensive and requires a lot of effort.

So how long will it take until the process of making stem cell burgers becomes more efficient than regular burgers?

With the resources Post and colleagues have right now, it's never going to happen, he says. With unlimited resources, it would still take 10 to 20 years.

What do you think??

Do you think this is the food wave of the future? How much would you be willing to pay for this 'meat'? Vegetarians - Is this something that would be suitable for you to eat? Animal rights activists - Do you feel this is an awesome alternative to how we get our meat now? If this proves successful should we entertain the idea of using the same process for other types of meats?

Tell me thoughts on this subject in a comment below.

Coffee Luv

Who loves coffee??? I most certainly do! I drink coffee all day, every day and I'm not exaggerating! I am not the average coffee drinker though, I like to spice it up a bit - flavors add to the all-around goodness of a cup of Joe!

Things I have added to my coffee include

*Hot Cocoa
*Pet Milk
*Powdered Milk
*Milk (I usually stick with skim but if I am feeling like I need a sweet treat I will use whole milk)
*Chocolate Milk
*Flavored Creams from all brands (both cream and powder)
*Tiny Marshmallows
*A Cinnamon Stick
*Whipped Cream
*Soy Milk
*Some of that iced coffee stuff from the gas station
*Chocolate Shavings
*Caramel topping (the kind you get for ice cream)
*A mix of two or more of the items from this list
*Chocolate Syrup

The 'extra fixens' usually depend on the flavor of the coffee itself. For instance in my pumpkin flavored coffee I will use a spoonful of regular sugar and some skim milk but in my Cappuccino flavored coffee I like to have some hot cocoa powder with a little bit of skim milk! I'm no stranger to cold coffee as well. My favorite is coffee blended with ice, with a little Mocha flavoring!!

Coffee is my staple drink. First thing I do in the morning is get a cup of coffee. If I am going to be in the car for more than 20 minutes or so, I always stop for a coffee to drink on the way. Unlike many other people, I don't have a problem with it keeping me up at night either. I can drink it right up until bedtime and have no trouble getting into la-la land peacefully!

I don't usually stick with any one coffee brand either. I like to try new companies, different roast settings and different base flavors. I have to admit that I own a Keurig so I use all the little coffee k cups BUT I bought the reusable coffee filter to be able to have ground coffee through my Keurig as well.

I am always on the lookout for a new way to flavor my coffee so tell me, How do you spruce up your coffee? Do you have to stop drinking at any certain times to keep from being up most of the night? Have any great coffee related stories? Are you loyal to any specific brands of coffee?

*Now I know that too much of anything is bad for you - coffee should be drank in moderation and a healthier option like drinking the recommended 8 glasses of H2O per day should be at least considered. I am not recommending that anyone drink coffee as their main staple for the day. This posting is more for ideas to spruce up coffee rather than a debate on how healthy it is or isn't for you.*