Monday, April 30, 2012

A Mother's Day Gift That Shows You Really Care

Mother's Day is coming up fast, and my inbox is being flooded with emails about what moms really want for Mother's Day with tips for finding that perfect gift. I don't think the talented people who wrote these gift guides have ever met my family, however.

A sentimental gift? Nope, that won't do for my mom. She generally doesn't like a lot of stuff, feeling it's just one more thing to clutter up her house. As for me, I like some sentimental gifts, but I'm also in the process of purging a lot of useless junk from my house, so... not so much at the moment.

A spa day? Yes for me, no way for my mom. She has never liked anything girly, preferring a simple shower to get the dirt off of her after a day of working hard in the garden than anything involving smelly lotions or people touching her.

It's taken me years to figure out my own mother. When I was younger I tried everything to get her to have that big WOW moment with a gift, but I never managed more than a "oh, how nice, thank you," that was in many ways sincere, but clearly indicated it was nothing she really wanted.

As a mother myself, I now understand what I can do to really show how much I care for my mom. Mother's Day now is usually about providing a service for her in some way. She's amazingly talented - she could teach you how to grow the perfect garden, clean your house, shoot a gun, balance your checkbook, cook a fantastic meal, and gather honey from hives without getting stung by a bee. But even though I used to think there was nothing I could ever do that my mom didn't already do better, I've found her one weak spot.

I'm my mother's technical support.

It sounds funny, I know, and probably not very sentimental. But helping my mom build a laptop with everything she needs, or configuring her wireless network so she can take that laptop anywhere in her house, or walking her though the steps to set up her Netflix account? Those offers of help mean a lot to her and make her life easier.

She's done so much to teach me throughout my life, and now I finally have a skill I can teach back to her so she can enjoy all of the advances in technology that she wants to embrace but doesn't fully understand.

So this Mother's Day, I'm setting up an iTunes account for her and teaching her how to use it so she can download her own apps on the iPhone I gave her recently. (It was my old iPhone - she didn't want to spend a lot on her own iPhone.) She's genuinely thrilled about this upcoming event, and can't wait to learn how to get her own apps. My mom doesn't need a lot, but this simple task for me - which is something she would struggle with - shows her just how much I care about her.

As for me? I'm slowly becoming more like my mom each year. Instead of objects, I want someone to do something for me that I can't do myself or provide a service for something I don't like to do. A massage would be nice to help with all of the stress I store in my back. Or a Maid Service gift certificate to unburden me from my least favorite chore, leaving me time to devote to things I enjoy. Or a Time Lord to take me back in time to give me more hours in the day.

Honestly, house cleaning is my ultimate weak area. Not only is my house a wreck, but I hate cleaning more than just about any other chore and I'm sure I'm not alone. Yes, I'm sure there are some people who truly take pleasure from a job well-done in making their house spotless, but many of us don't count ourselves in that group.

This year, not only am I getting what I want for Mother's Day, but you can get the same special treatment!  I'm giving away a $100 gift certificate to Molly Maid so one reader can also relax in a clean home, spending more time on the things she really cares about than scrubbing the toilet.

Giveaway Rules
Win a $100 gift certificate toward a cleaning from Molly Maid!

Please note that Molly Maid does not offer service in the following locations: Louisiana, Wyoming, Vermont, West Virginia, Maine, Montana, and Alabama. Also Molly Maid does not have coverage in the following Metro areas: Madison, WI, Green Bay, WI, Buffalo, NY, and Syracuse, NY. If you live in any of these locations, you can still enter to win, but will not be able to have a home in those areas serviced. Home cleaning estimates will vary. Winner may use gift certificate toward total cost.

This giveaway will end May 7 at 11:59PM PT, so enter now! A winner will be selected randomly from the comments on May 8 and contacted via email.

Enter up to four times by doing each of the following:

  • One Entry - Tweet about the Molly Maid contest (you can even use the handy-dandy Tweet below, if you like) and leave a comment here with either the Tweet or the URL to the Tweet. Please be sure to tag your Tweet with #MollyMaid4Mom.
  • One Entry - Post about this contest on Facebook, and leave a comment here saying what you posted. Please tag the post with the #MollyMaid4Mom hashtag.
  • One Entry - Write a blog post about the contest and -- you guessed it -- leave a comment here with the URL to the blog post.
  • One Entry - Just leave a comment on this blog post!

Sample Tweet: I just entered to win $100 toward a cleaning from Molly Maid! You can too! #MollyMaid4Mom

Good luck, and may we all get exactly what we want on Mother's Day!

Full disclosure: Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

ZeroWater Means 100% Pure Water and Zero Chemicals

When I was a kid, I hated drinking plain water. Our small town's tap water always tasted of chlorine with a slightly metallic aftertaste. My mom would push me to drink water instead of sugary drinks, but drinking our water felt like a punishment rather than a healthy choice.

It wasn't until the rise of filtered and bottled water that I found myself willing to drink plain water and even like it. As an adult, when I bought our first refrigerator, I made sure to pick one that featured a filter for our water dispenser. Convincing our kids to drink water, however, has proven to be almost as hard as it was for me. My oldest is sensitive to the slightest change in tastes, and she often says water tastes "icky" to her.

Even with filtered water, I often worry about just how filtered it really is. Does the filter really remove all chemicals, minerals, and other trace particulates? It may taste better, but is it really pure?

I recently was invited by Mom Central to try out the new ZeroWater 10-cup filter-pitcher. This pitcher is like many in that it has a filter reservoir built in to the pitcher to filter the water before it reaches your cup. But that's about where the similarities with other filter-pitchers ends.

ZeroWater's patented 5-stage water filter system is the only system certified to meet the Food & Drug Administration's standards for Purified Bottled Water. That means you can count on crisp, great tasting water every time. And if you're not sure if it's really removing all dissolved solids in your water, ZeroWater includes a laboratory-grade TDS (total dissolves solids) tester to prove just how well it works.

The pitcher is sleek in design and fits well in my side-by-side fridge. Not only can you pour a glass of water from the top of the pitcher, but there's a handy push-button spout at the bottom of the handle if you don't feel like pulling it out of the fridge. (Or have kids who have trouble lifting a full pitcher.)

Back to the lab-grade TDS tester for a minute: this thing is so much fun, and a little scary. I of course wanted to see just what kind of difference was made between water from our tap and the ZeroWater pitcher. Could it really remove all dissolved solids?

First, I tested water straight from the kitchen faucet:

283 ppm (parts per million)

Then I tried water from my built-in fridge filter. (Note: the filter needs to be replaced, so I'm not too surprised that there wasn't much of a difference.)

200 ppm - not much better!

Finally, I poured a glass of water from the ZeroWater pitcher and tested it:

Yep, it says zero. I checked it twice!

OK, I'll admit I was surprised. I was not expecting it to read zero after the other two were so high. As for the taste? Perfect. It tasted like...nothing, just as water should taste. Cool, refreshing, and no hint of aftertaste. Even my older daughter is willing to occasionally drink water now. It's a work in progress with her, folks.

(By the way, you'll find yourself using that water tester everywhere. I've even tested water at restaurants with it. I have yet to find anything under 100ppm.)

My only complaint? The pitcher takes longer than other filter-pitchers to filter the water. If its empty, I fill the reservoir, then wait about 3-5 minutes, then fill it again, place the top on and place it in the fridge. The reservoir and filter take up a lot of space in the pitcher, so I often need to refill it frequently because I like to drink a lot of water.

Overall, I really like the ZeroWater pitcher. The design is great, the water tastes fantastic, and I have peace of mind knowing that this is the purest water I can provide to my family. The included tester is both fun and informative.

You can find the ZeroWater pitcher at Amazon and several other national retailers, including Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Home Depot, Meijer and Fry's. You can also save 30% off a 10-cup ZeroWater pitcher at the ZeroWater site with the special coupon code MC30.

ZeroWater also has a Facebook page where you can find out more information about their products.


Want to try ZeroWater for yourself? I've got a ZeroWater 10-cup filter pitcher to give to TWO lucky readers!

To enter, visit the ZeroWater site and enter your zipcode to get your free TDS reading for your area. Once you get your reading from the free TDS lookup tool, come back here and leave a comment telling me what the results were. Be sure to include your email address so I have a way to contact you if you're selected as a winner. One entry per person.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will be open until Monday, April 9 at 11:59pm EDT. After that time, two winners will be randomly selected and contacted by email. Winners have 48 hours to respond or alternate winners will be selected.

Good luck!

Full disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of ZeroWater and received a water pitcher to facilitate my review, two pitchers to giveaway, and extra filters to thank me for taking the time to participate.