Friday, October 30, 2009

Yummie Tummie Takes On The Clingy Dress

Two weeks ago my brother-in-law got married in a beautiful ceremony filled with family and friends. My husband was a groomsman and our daughters were the jr. attendants, leaving me with no required attire for the event. I did a little shopping and found a great dress on sale at JC Penney (another American Living dress, which seems to be a trend for me) and paired it with a cute pair of black shoes that a friend had given me.

My only dilemma was my abdomen. Despite working out, it still is a little too round and lumpy for my liking. I needed something to help smooth the lumps and hold everything in a little tighter. I briefly considered trying to tug my way into my Spanx, but I didn't want to be super-squeezed the entire night. Instead I quickly reached for my other favorite shapewear, my Yummie Tummie skinny tank.

For those who haven't heard of it, Yummie Tummie is a brand of sleek shapewear that is comfortable, practical, and great for layering. While most shapewear shapes from the bottom upwards, most of the Yummie Tummie line are tops that help hold in your midriff without blocking your ability to pee. (C'mon, remember how hard it was to roll down control hose to use the bathroom, and then try to get them back in place again?) Even better, the tops are designed to control the parts that need controlling without squishing your chest into some flattened uniboob.

I was worried that the lines of the tank would show through on this very clingy dress, and once I tried the entire ensemble on I did notice the faint outline of the tank straps on my shoulders. However, when I tried the dress on without the Yummie Tummie tank, I noticed my bra straps, and the skinny tank straps aren't much wider than bra straps. There were no other seam lines noticeable. (Note: Because the dress had a low v-neckline, I did secure one tiny safety pin to the middle of the tank and the dress to make sure it didn't peek out of the dress.)

I think the proof is in the pictures:

(The vertical seam lines are part of the dress)

And for those who don't know me, know that in those photos my mid-section is much smoother than it normally is! I received several compliments on how good I looked at the wedding that night.

Pros: Overall, the Yumme Tummie skinny tank provided a gentle hold without being constricting. The fabric is smooth and feels like a second skin. I also love that despite being a shapewear garment, it fits smoothly over my hips and doesn't roll up at the bottom when I move or bend. It's also machine washable and has held up well through each washing.

Cons: I can't think of too much I don't like about this tank. If you're looking for extreme control, this isn't it. Yummie Tummie does a good job at providing moderate smoothing and hold, but if you want to lose a few inches off your mid-section, consider a corset because this isn't going to do it. It also only comes in a few colors - white, black and charcoal - although for some of us, white and black is really all we need.

I do love the Yummie Tummie products I've tried thus far. I think next I'll have to try one of the long-sleeve tee options for layering under t-shirts for the cold winter days that are coming!

DISCOUNT: Until the end of the day tomorrow (10/31/09), save 20% off your entire purchase at Yummy Tummie with the code: YUMMIETREATS

Full disclosure: I am a Yummie Tummie brand ambassador, meaning I am given the chance to try out products from the Yummie Tummie collection for review. I was given this tank for free, with no further compensation given. All opinions expressed in this review are my own, and Yummie Tummie made no requests for anything other than an honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens

Note: My husband, the sci-fi geek, graciously offered to write this review, so enjoy his detailed review of Monsters vs. Aliens!

I have to confess, Monsters vs. Aliens wasn't what I expected. I avoided seeing the film in the theatres, and my girls weren't old enough to demand to be taken to see it. I certainly never intended to purchase the film. So, when a review copy was sent our way, I looked at my wife with questioning eyes, as if to say “What the heck do I do with this?” “We watch it,” she replied, and I grudgingly sat down, telling my daughters we were going to watch the movie, figuring that
even if I wasn't going to enjoy it, at least they could.

But then something unexpected happened – I found myself really enjoying the film. This wasn't an inane deconstruction or parody of 1940's and 1950's monster movies. This was a love letter written to them, disguised as a children's animated comedy. The story of Susan/Ginormica, Doctor Cockroach, the Missing Link, B.O.B. And Insectosaurus was one that I could identify with, and really found myself liking. By the time the movie was over, I was completely enthralled, while my oldest daughter gave me the “Can we go to bed now?” look. (The toddler? She loved it and asked to watch it again the next day.)

Official Synopsis
When Susan Murphy is unexpectedly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall and is instantly labeled a “Monster” named Ginormica. The military jumps into action, and she is captured and held in a secret government compound filled with other “monsters” like herself. This ragtag group consists of the brilliant but insect-headed Dr. Cockroach, P.H.D.; the macho half-Ape-half-fish The Missing Link; the gelatinous and indestructible B.O.B.; and the 350-foot grub called Insectosaurus. Their confinement time is cut short however, when a mysterious alien robot lands on Earth and the motley crew of Monsters is called into action to save the world from imminent destruction.

The Film
Monsters vs. Aliens is, as I said before, a love letter to the 1950's monster classics, disguised as a kids' film. The writing is surprisingly clever, with fun puns and wordplay abounding. The vocal cast is also one that strongly appeals to thinking adults, drawing upon such vocal talents as Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Reese Witherspoon, Rainn Wilson, Stephen Colbert, Kiefer Sutherland and Amy Pohler. While none of these actors are primarily known for their voice acting, they avoided the pitfall that many animation houses fall into when they use screen actors for animation, and those screen actors are unable to make the transition. Each and every voice actor does a great
job with their role, with many of the actors remaining more or less unrecognizable from their on-screen roles.

Is Monsters vs. Aliens brilliant? No, of course not. It is a children's movie, and I challenge any thinking adult not to realize that Susan will embrace her nature as a fifty foot tall woman before the film's end. (I told my wife, while we were watching it “How much do you want to bet that there will be a 'My name is Ginormica' moment before the film is over?” And I was right.) But it is surprisingly fun and energetic, with a lot of very solid performances. And it's much more intelligently written than I thought it would be.

Bonus Features
Monsters vs. Aliens/B.O.B.'s Big Break in Monster 3D:Ginormous Double Pack is loaded down with bonus features. First off, the entire second disc, B.O.B.'s Big Break, is, effectively, a bonus. It's only a thirteen minute long film, but it's a lot of fun as B.O.B. and the other monsters attempt to break out of their government facility. And hey, it's in 3-D. But there's a whole lot more, including a featurette “Mondern Monster Movie Making”, three different deleted scenes, a feature titled “The Tech of Monsters vs. Aliens”, Sneak Peeks at upcoming Dream Works features, a demo and trailer for the Monsters vs. Aliens game, DreamWorks Animation Jukebox, commentary with the filmmakers, a 3-D Paddleball game, and spotlights on each of the characters in the film.

The Good
Monsters vs. Aliens is cleverer than it gives itself credit for, has a good female empowerment message, and will very possibly be more enjoyable for the parents than the kids.

The Bad
Did I mention that it might be more enjoyable for the parents than for the kids? The film has many down moments, and the pacing starts off really slow. It takes a while for the monstrous mayhem to begin – and in a 93 minute movie, that's a bit unexpected.

The Ugly
3-D only on the B.O.B.'s Big Break short was a little disappointing considering what a big deal was made about the 3-D effects.

Final Thoughts
I expect a lot of people avoided Monsters vs. Aliens, expecting the film to be inane and aimed at the lowest common denominator of film-going audiences. I'm here to say that it isn't. It's a lot of fun, and well worth the time spent watching it. If you're going to pick it up, I would recommend the Monsters vs. Aliens/B.O.B.'s Big Break in Monster 3D: Ginormous Double Pack over the single disc with just the film. The difference in cost is slight, and the bonuses on the B.O.B.'s Big
Break DVD
are well worth the extra cost.

You can purchase the Monsters vs. Aliens/B.O.B.'s Big Break in Monster 3D: Ginormous Double Pack through by clicking on the link.

Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this DVD, but I received no further compensation for this review.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jeans That Will Fit, No Matter Your Size

While I'm sad to put away my capris now that cooler weather seems here to stay, I am happy to pull out my jeans and sweatshirts again.

If you know me well, you know that I live in jeans. I simply can't understand people who want to wear pants other than denim for everyday wear. I mean, you'd actually have to MATCH your pants to your tops! Denim goes with practically everything!

However, my love affair with my jeans is a torrid one. I've always struggled to find jeans that fit me well. If they fit in the hips, they're ginormous in the waist. If the waist fits, I'll pop a seam before my hips and thighs will fit. There's an entire 12" (ONE FOOT) difference between my hips and waist. You might say I'm extremely curvy. Most jeans are incredibly uncomfortable or leave an enormous gap at my center back.

But in the past year I have found two brands that I love. I'm usually in-between sizes - I can sometimes fit in the upper range of standard sizes, and sometimes I'm on the low end of plus sizes. Thankfully, my two favorite brands are one of each.

First, Lee jeans woo'd me earlier this year with the promise of capris that would fit my curves, without gapping at the waist. Later in the summer, Lee sent me a pair of their new Comfort Fit bootcut jeans to try out. I didn't get to give them a good try until a few weeks ago when the temperature took a sudden dip.

The best feature of these jeans is the comfort waistband, which has a touch of hidden elastic to help provide a better-fitting waist without feeling too tight. The waist isn't a super tight fit for me, but compared to the hundreds of jeans I've tried on, it's one of the closest by far! I don't need to wear a belt to prevent flashing my undies - the hidden elastic holds the waist close. Also, I love that there is ample room in the backside - no feeling like your jeans are trying to become a thong.

I also like the feel of these jeans. The denim is satisfyingly heavy without being stiff. These feel like jeans that will last for a long time. And after a few washes now, the dark color still looks just as good as new.

If I had to pick one thing I didn't like about these jeans, it would be that they are cut a little lower in the back than I'm used to. (Not super-low - it's just below the waist.) Not horrible, but if you're used to higher-waist jeans, it takes a little getting used to.

Lee Comfort Fit jeans come in petite, misses, and plus sizes. I've only tried their misses sizes, so I can't speak to their petites or plus sizes.

Now, if you're plus size and want even more control over the fit of your jeans, I highly recommend the Right Fit series by Lane Bryant. Before I knew about Lee, the Right Fit jeans by Lane Bryant were the only ones I wore. I actually stressed out about losing weight in the spring because I knew I'd no longer fit in my jeans and worried I'd never find anything that fit that well again.

The Right Fit series is designed based on your build. Got extreme curves like me? That's the blue line. Have a waist and hip measurement that's nearly equal? You'll find your best fit in the yellow label line. Red is for those in-between.

These jeans are genius. (Or would that be jean-ius?) It only makes sense to create different cuts of jeans for different body types. I have to do a little wiggling to get them on over my hips, but once they're on and zipped, the waist fits well, and there's still plenty of room in the hips.

Downsides? The Right Fit jeans are stretch jeans, and I find that over time they lose some of that stretch, leaving them looser than before. Not a bad thing if you buy them tight, but not so good if you wear the smallest size they make and they're now baggy on you. And of course, the other downside is they are only available in plus sizes.

I've tried on so many pairs of jeans in my 33 years that I practically feel like a denim expert. These are by far my best recommendations for jeans if you're a woman with curves, whether they be smaller or larger ones.

Full disclosure: I received a pair of the Lee Comfort Fit jeans and a pair of the Lane Bryant Right Fit straight leg jeans to review, although I have purchased other pairs of Right Fit jeans in the past. No further compensation was received for this review.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Taking Care of The Crust Problem

Each school day we pack lunch for Cordy, and it's always the same thing: PB&J, some kind of snack cracker, and organic fruit snacks. She never wants anything else. At the end of each day, she hands us her lunch bag, and we open the sandwich container to find the crusts of her PB&J still waiting for us. Half-eaten crusts gross me out. You'd think we could teach her to at least throw them away at school, right?

For years now I've known about Smucker's Uncrustables, yet I've never had the chance to try them. I have occasionally considered them, but I'd often forget when I walked through the frozen food cases, since frozen foods aren't where one would look for PB&J sandwiches. Then Mom Central contacted me, asking if I would like to try them, and oh hey, they now come in whole wheat, too! Knowing I could get a whole wheat option gave me even more reason to try them out.

I chose the peanut butter and grape jelly Uncrustables in the whole wheat version. Cordy seriously dislikes any change to her food, so I wanted to keep it as close to her usual sandwiches as possible. I'll admit to some skepticism about how they would taste, too. After all, thawing out a sandwich doesn't sound like it would turn out well.

The instructions said to leave it out for 30-60 minutes to thaw, and that it's good for up to 8 hours. I left one of the sandwiches out for a little over an hour, then called Cordy into the kitchen to try it.

At first, my five year old was puzzled. "What is it?" she asked. I explained it was just like her usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but without the crusts.

"It's a round sandwich!" she exclaimed with glee.

Despite her affection for the geometry of the sandwich, it still took a little prodding to get her to try a bite. Eventually she did, and quickly proclaimed "It's delicious!" I was thrilled to see there was no clean-up needed, thanks to no crusts. She ate every bite.

I should also add that I tried the sandwich switch on my toddler, too. However, she stopped after two bites and handed it back to me. (In all fairness, she's an extremely picky eater.) This gave me a chance to try a bite myself. I found the bread to be a little too soft in texture for me. The peanut butter and jelly tasted good - I was surprised it tasted so fresh.

Cordy, noticing I had only taken one bite, asked for the remainder of Mira's sandwich. Two minutes later she had devoured the second one. So the final tally in our house was:

No Thanks - 1
Take-it-or-Leave-it - 1
May I Have Another Please? - 1

Nutritionally, Uncrustables are better than the average kid food on the market. They're 210 calories each, which is actually slightly less calories than the sandwiches I make. The whole wheat version has 3 grams of fiber, too. I'm less thrilled they have 10 grams of sugar and are made with high fructose corn syrup, but I am pleased that there are no artificial colors, which is often a deal-breaker for me due to Cordy's sensitivities.

Overall, I'm glad we got to try Smucker's Uncrustables, and I now have another option for Cordy's school lunches. They would also be perfect to pack on car trips, as they aren't messy and leave no food scraps behind.

Disclosure: This review was written while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Smucker’s Uncrustables and I received a sample to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.