Christine Park

Monday, September 20, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Just Between Friends Consignment Sale

TV News Mom is drowning in maternity clothes, baby gear, and tiny but adorable outfits that I can't bear to part with. After two kids, and no more planned, all that STUFF is piling up in my closets (and at my mom's house across town). The other day, my aesthetician (thanks Jen!) told me about Just Between Friends! "The Nation's Largest Children's and Maternity Consignment Sales Event Franchise." The website describes it like this:
These are not retail stores but rather savings extravaganzas--shopping events that happen usually twice a year per location. At these events, consignors bring their new and gently-used children's and maternity merchandise to sell. Shoppers can then browse and purchase these items at great savings, usually far below retail prices.

Fresno's fall event is coming October 1st through the 3rd. If you're a shopper, there are toys, baby gear, furniture, clothes, shoes, everything you need for your little ones. The merchandise is inspected for quality. Some stuff still has the price tags on! My aesthetician swears she spent just $100 at the recent Visalia event and her 6-month old's wardrobe is set until he's two!!! If you're a consignor, follow this link for instructions on how to sell your goods. For readers not in the Central Valley, there are JBF events all over the state and the country. As for me... I'm looking forward to cleaning out my closets... and making some money! See you there!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PRODUCT TEST: Neuro Drinks

Sleep in a bottle. Passion in a bottle. Happiness in a bottle. IF ONLY!!!
Neuro drinks make a lot of promises and TV News Mom HAD to check them out.

So here's what I found in my unscientific tests:

Neuro Sleep
Active Ingredients: Magnesium Glycinate, L-Theanine, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, and Melatonin

Taste: Mild, non-carbonated orange flavor. Like the Hi-C orange drink at McDonald's, watered down because you put too much ice in.

Effect: My eyes were so heavy by the time I hit the pillow for my afternoon nap, I don't remember even closing them and falling asleep. This, however, could be attributed to the fact that I got only about 5 hours of sleep the night before. I normally nap about 2 hours... but after drinking this, I slept for 3 hours straight, and woke up VERY groggy.

Neuro Trim
Active Ingredients: LuraLean, L-Carnatine, Caffeine, Gymnema Sylvestre, Resveratol, and Grean tea extract

Taste: Hint of citrus, also non-carbonated. Pretty unoffensive.

Effect: Drank this before a dinner out with the family at our favorite sushi joint. I honestly felt like it was working. I had no appetite. I probably could have sat through dinner without eating. That is, until they placed a delectable looking sushi roll right in front of me. So I took a bite. And strangely, with every bite, the hungrier I got. I ended up killing that roll. Moral of this story, don't eat if you want this to work.

Neuro Sonic

Active Ingredients: Taurine, Glucuronclactone, Acetyl-L Carnitine, L-Phenylalanine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Inositol, Eluetherococcus senticocus, and reservatrol

Taste: My least favorite. Carbonated but sickeningly sweet. Reminded me a little of Red Bull.

Effect: Drank this before reporting for work one morning at 3:30am. Felt a little sick to my stomach and jittery, but my mind did not become intensely focused. I just know I had to get up and pee every 30 minutes.

Neuro Bliss
Active Ingredients: Acetyl-L Carnitine, L-Phenylanaline, S-Hydroxytryptophan, L-Theanine, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Rhodiola rosea, and Gingko biloba

Taste: One of my favorites! Lightly carbonated, a little like grapefuit juice, but without the bitter aftertaste.

Effect: Downed a bottle of Neuro Bliss on a Friday after a VERY long week at work. And lo and behold, I was downright gleeful for about three hours. Even the idiot tailgater behind me couldn't ruin my sunny disposition.

Neuro Gasm
Active Ingredients: Arginine AKG, L-Citrulline, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, L-Norvaline, L-Phenylalanine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Inositol, L-Lysine

Taste: My other favorite. It's strawberry soda. Didn't know strawberry soda was an aphrodisiac. Ordering Fanta from now on.

Effect: BEST SEX EVER!!! Made you look! Put me in a frisky mood. But ever since I turned 33 1/2, I am always in the mood. Don't know whether this works or not. But I would not recommend drinking 14.5 ounces of ANY liquid (unless it's liquid courage) before doing the deed.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Best Booster Seats


Fit matters when it comes to booster seats. That's the conclusion in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's recently released tests.

A good fit means the booster seat raises your child up so that the seatbelt lap belt is flat and tight across the upper thighs, not the stomach. And the shoulder belt is snug across the mid-shoulder, not digging into the neck or slipping off the shoulder. Parents: check the fit for each kid. Don't rely on the booster seat to provide the right fit. There are no federal standards on how boosters position seatbelts.

I checked my own daughter, who is 4 years old, in her booster seat. In California a child who is between 4 and 6 and 40 and 60 pounds must be secured in a booster in the back seat. Well, turns out hers is not a good fit. The seatbelt, as you can see in the picture below, is digging into her neck, which the IIHS says is an obvious red flag. This can injure a child in a crash.


The IIHS test results are below. Testers used a dummy to simulate a 6 year old in crash tests. For the first time top-rated boosters outnumber ones the Institute doesn't recommend. And what they found is one size does not fit all, when it comes to both cars and kids. Some boosters fit well in some cars, but not SUV's, and vice versa. What's also interesting is even within the same manufacturer, some performed well and others didn't. So again, the most important thing it to check the fit of each booster seat in each individual vehicle and for each individual child. That way, your precious cargo has the best possible protection.

Best Bets

Britax Frontier 85 (combination highback)
Chicco Keyfit Strada (dual highback)
Clek Oobr (dual highback)
Cosco Juvenile Pronto (dual highback)
Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (dual highback)
Evenflo Big Kid Amp (backless)
Evenflo Maestro (combination highback)
Graco TurboBooster Crawford (dual highback)
Harmony Baby Armor (dual highback)
Harmony Dreamtime (dual backless)
Harmony Dreamtime (dual highback)
Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe (backless)
Harmony Youth Booster Seat (backless)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (dual highback)
Recaro ProBOOSTER (highback)
Recaro ProSPORT (combination highback)
Recaro Vivo (highback)
Recaro Young Sport (combination highback)
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (dual highback)
The First Years Pathway B570 (highback)

Good Bets

Britax Parkway SG (dual highback)
Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual backless)
Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual highback)
Evenflo Symphony 65 (3-in-1 highback)
Graco TurboBooster Sachi (dual highback)
Graco TurboBooster Wander (dual highback)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (dual highback)


Eddie Bauer Deluxe (combination highback)
Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1 (highback)
Evenflo Express (combination highback)
Evenflo Generations 65 (combination highback)
Evenflo Sightseer (highback)
Harmony Baby Armor (dual backless)
Safety 1st All-in-One (3-in-1 highback)
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite (3-in-1 highback)

Monday, September 6, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Coinstar... Keep the Change!

Who doesn't have a bowl of loose change sitting in their home or car? Weighing down your wallet... cluttering your clutch... pennies all over your purse!

I used to diligently try to use my change when paying for things with cash at the register. But then I started getting dirty looks from the people in line behind me and exasperated sales clerks rolling their eyes.

So hubby proposed putting a little container in the kitchen... where he and I could deposit all of our change. Cute. Like from the movie Up when Carl and his wife save up for their dream home. Or like my daughter pointed out, like Tiana saves up for her restaurant in the movie Princess and the Frog. I agreed, thinking, it would take months to build up, maybe five dollars. Then we would take it to a Coinstar to get some cold hard cash, for a fee, of course (9.8 cents per dollar counted.)

Never underestimate the power of pocket change! After just a few weeks, I took the quart-sized jar to the Coinstar kiosk at my local supermarket and watched, amazed, as the amount went up to $49!!! Even better, Coinstar waives the fee if you cash in for a gift card with one of their partners, including Amazon, Old Navy, Lowe's, and Starbucks! Even better, when you cash in $40 or more at Coinstar they'll throw in a bonus $10 iTunes gift card. LOVE IT!!!
So I walked away feeling richer, smarter, and inspired. Usually only online shopping does that for me. LOL.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Plastic Bag Vote

A Santa Monica assemblywoman's push to ban plastic shopping bags in California failed last night in the State Senate. So, for now, plastic bags are still legal in the Golden State. (Though some cities like San Francisco, Malibu, and Palo Alto passed ordinances banning them)

You don't have to agree or disagree with the regulation to try to do your part to help the environment. Using reusable bags will help keep the tons of plastic, even paper, bags from reaching landfills. Trust me, I am ALL about convenience and ease of use. But really, what advantages do plastic/paper bags hold over reusable ones? Some retailers even pay YOU to use a reusable bag. CVS gives you $1 in Extra Bucks Rewards every fourth time you use your own bag, but you have to buy a 99-cent bag tag first. It all adds up, so check the register and if you don't see your discount, ask! If it makes no difference to you, then join me in going green. IT FEELS REALLY GOOD. My biggest obstacle was simply remembering my reusable bags. Simple solution: I keep 'em in the trunk of my car.

Consumer Reports tested eight bags sold by national chains and regional stores, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and Trader Joe's. Most cost $1 or less. Many of them are made from recycled material, which is cool. The above Whole Foods bag held the most, with the largest capacity. All stood up to strength testing as well as multiple hand washings. But the Walmart bag had issues with leaking. The bottom line: any of the $1 bags tested are good alternatives to the usual paper or plastic bags.

Eyelashes for Your Car?

Coming soon to a car near you... eyelashes. As a way to individualize and feminize your car, I guess. Why not? Guys have the option of Carstache or Truck Nutz... as a way to display their masculinity... and sense of humor.

The makers of Carlashes say their product can "dress up your headlights with a touch of fashion and a twinkle of crystal!" The crystal "eyeliner" is $19.99 while the adhesive "lashes" are $24.99.

"Eye-popping" or "eyebrow raising" results? I, for one, know a few ladies who wouldn't "bat an eye" before putting these on their rides. OK. Enough with the ridiculous puns. But are they waterproof?