The Lucci family is on the move! We've officially started settling into our new home in Hackettstown, NJ! Here's the video we sent family and friends announcing the next chapter in our lives together :) Enjoy!
Okay, so it's gonna be a year of fun with Crowdtap - the posts just keep on coming!
Near the end of 2014, I was selected to participate in a sample of Campbells products as part of my ongoing participation with Crowdtap, one of the best consumer product test sites I've ever been lucky enough to be a part of. They give us the opportunities to try lots of (yummy) FREE stuff - food, goods -- from toiletries to candies -- and even free TRIPS (got selected to go on a trip to Atlantic City from them last year) all in exchange for honest reviews -- you can't beat it! Check em out at www.crowdtap.com.
Now, onto the fun stuff. The Campbells giveaways were INSANELY awesome! I was SO excited when I got the box in the mail. Usually you have a certain amount of time to test out all the products they send and then you report on them, usually within a few weeks. Crowdtap gave us a few MONTHS to go through this stuff, which was awesome on their end, but I have to say that, just like my students, when I know I'm gonna have time to get a report done, it just gives me more time to procrastinate on it -- not gonna lie. That said, we DID manage to use MOST of the items in the sample, but not all.
Here is a shot of what was included in the sample:
Most of these goodies are gone, BUT, the awesome shaker we got from Campbells, along with the tote bag, wooden spoon, and cutting board, will be here to stay - yay!
So, when I got the products, I was already familiar with some of them, so I was HAPPY to see "faves" like Spagetti-Os and Chicken Noodle Soup. Hubby and I love Campbells Skillet Sauces so that was another nice bonus. We hadn't tried the Creamy Parmesean Chicken one, however, and we were VERY pleasantly surprised to see it included in the kit! We aren't huge fans of Latin/spicy cuisines, so we were admittedly nervous to test out the Poblano and Queso soup...that said, I DO love creamy sauces and soups, as does hubby, so that made the "challenge" a bit easier to swallow (pun intended :)
The light Alfredo sauce was another one that we were slightly nervous about. I LOVE Alfredo sauce, as does hubby, but we weren't sure about the LIGHT part. First off, how do you go "light" with a sauce as rich, creamy and decadent as ALFREDO. Light Italian sauce? gravy? For shame! My grandmother is rolling in her grave as I type this, BUT, we do love Campbell's products and it wouldn't hurt to try it! We could always ease up on the caloric intake if ya know what I mean!
How can you go wrong with Swanson Cream Starter? I gave this to my momma to make me and the hubs dinner with (she and my father come over regularly for dinner, so she was happy with the role reversal :)
As far as the Campbells Beer and Cheese soup goes, we LOVE the chunky soup series, so we figured this one would go down nice and easy (we were right!)
As far as product reviews go, as to not make this post 10000 words long, I'll keep them short and sweet, with a smattering of pics...
Loved the Tips and Ideas booklet, Crowdtap - thanks! The only thing that stunk about this little gift was that the coupons expired in November, which meant we missed out on a lot of the deals that were included in there :(
As I said previously we've used the shaker twice already for what it's supposed to be used for, BUT we found it works great as a CUP to drink out of, too! We use it more often for just drinking than for shaking up ingredients. The chopping board is great for mincing and dicing veggies and herbs for adding to saucepot, crock pot, and oven cooked dishes. The spoon sits in our utencil holder on the countertop with all the other large spoons we have. It's great!
This soup was DELISH! We often go out to eat, and when we do, we can't help but order the pretzels with the beer-infused cheese dip at some of our fave hangouts. This soup was reminicent of that flavor. I shared some with the hubby - he too, agreed, this one is a winner! The chunkiness of the soup makes it hearty and filling - two thumbs up for a cold winter's day!
Nope, I don't have kids, I just eat like one! As I said above, we are big fans of Spagetti-Os in this household, so to demonstrate our appreciation for this giveaway in particular, we made a pyramid of yumminess to pay homage to some of our favorite lunch canned goods. What was so awesome about the Spagetti-Os in particular was the automatic throw in the microwave component. While we both love the O's, what's great about these is that we don't have to worry about emptying the can into a container before work to microwave - we can just take this little package and go! The taste is not affected by the container - they're just as good as always! I hope the Spagetti-Os that come in this form will include a) larger sizes and b) meatballs or sliced franks in the future! I bet kids would love to have shapes in their favorite characters as well. Just another idea is all ;)
Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnn...the Latin infused Campbells product. As I said earlier, we were a bit worried about this one because neither of us are fans of "Poblano" (Queso - please double and triple that - we love Latin foods, just not SPICY Latin foods). The smell of the product when we opened the can was a bit strong for us - again, we're not fans of Latin stuff, BUT we didn't want to knock it before we tried it. Here are some pics and a video of our handiwork:
So you may be able to sense the hesitation from my husband's face in the above photo. I wanted to be honest with my review - I'm sure Crowdtap values that perspective when it comes to what the customers think, no? That said, we were NOT fans of this soup. We did try it, we just aren't a fan of the spice. I really don't like peppers and the scent alone reminded me of jalapeno which is just NOT my thing. Anyone who likes creamy soups will dig the texture, and the cheddar is a plus, but the overwhelming scent of poblano upon opening the can was enough to make us think twice about putting it to our lips. Thanks, but no thanks on this one :)
This was YUMMY! Five stars for the Creamy Chicken skillet sauce. We actually bought this flavor on Amazon afterwards so we could try to enhance it with other herbs. It's EASY to make and that's key for us, so even if it didn't taste like it came from a restaurant, you wouldn't hear either of us complaining. It's simple enough that he could make it (he's not the cook in the family) and I could add more to it to jazz it up if I felt like. If not, it was still good prepared just "as is".
As I said earlier, Mom made a recipe with the Swanson starter. It was delish. I got the recipe off of the Swanson Pinterest board "One-Pot Recipes":
We loved it! My parents and siblings are VERY picky. When I was living at home, NO ONE agreed on dinner, but THIS recipe hit the spot. There was only one review at the time we made this dish, which was 4 stars. My mom has a tendency to throw in her own extra ingredients, but I'm pretty sure I didn't see ANYTHING extra in there. Since the creamy starter has spices and ingredients to give the chicken more flavor, I believe she stuck with the "instructions" on this and it was terrific! Again, my parents don't try any daring foods and pretty much eat "American only" so, if anyone's looking for fancy recipes with heat and all that, you're not gonna find it in our kitchen. What I love about Campbell's is the classic American flavor styles... I realize that there is a market out there for other forms of sauce (Marsala, Ginger, Poblano, etc.) but that's not my family's thing. They'd prefer to stick with the classics :) Hubby and I are a bit more daring, so we will try the other flavors down the line!
Couldn't WAIT to try the Slow Kettle Style Roasted Chicken Noodle Soup. After a snowstorm one afternoon, I took that baby out for lunch. It FELT good to eat. It warmed me up, body and soul. That sounds cliche, corny, and a little too cute, but I'm being honest. I LOVE the Campbell's Classic Chicken Noodle soup from the can, and this more "mature" looking adult container for that Kettle Cooked Flavor Seal definitely did the trick. We'll be purchasing more of these babies because, again, we love to have foods to take to work with us to warm up in the microwave without having the hassle of putting canned goods in a microwavable container :)
Finally, the light Alfredo sauce. Not gonna lie, it wasn't our favorite. It wasn't one of those, oh no, this is horrendous, forget it, type reactions. It was just "eh" -- that's all. Nothing more, nothing less.
Overall, we couldn't be happier with this product test! We thoroughly enjoyed trying the different items that Campbells and Crowdtap put together for us and all the other lucky testers out there!
Thanks so much, Crowdtap!
Erica & Jay Lucci
I've posted multiple times over the course of 2014 about some interesting product tests and sample experiences I've had the pleasure of partaking in courtesy of the always wonderful Crowdtap team. To kickstart my sample share posts for 2015, we begin with Kleenex!
Who doesn't love Kleenex? They're a brand so well known, their tissues have become the alternative phrase FOR tissues (i.e. "Hand me a Kleenex!"). I knew if I was selected for the Kleenex sampling, that I would be getting quality products that my family would be happy to use without question. In fact, my husband wouldn't have even noticed the difference in tissue boxes had I not made him a part of my sample experience in an EXPLICIT way (taking pictures of him fake-blowing his nose). We have Kleenex brand toiletries in our bathroom right now, and those were purchased prior to the sample experience. Now that you have some background with our previous tissue use, on to the good part - the review!
So, before diving into our newest stash of tissues, (perfect timing seeing as I had a cold the later part of December!) we took some quick pics/action shots of sharing the Kleenex love...
Then a few action shots...
And the unveiling of the products in action videos:
As far as how great the product works, it's a no-brainer. There's a reason Kleenex has been around for decades! I already had a cold when I began using these tissues, so I can't speak to the anti-viral properties myself, BUT, hubby did NOT get the same cold I did while we were both using these tissues in the same household. This says a lot about the power of these tissues, seeing as we are BOTH teachers (he teaches high schoolers and I teach college students) - two uber-germy groups, I can assure you! Hubby safely made it through to the holiday break without a cold, and maintained his good health the entire two week period he had off. We both go back to school tomorrow, so only time will tell if the anti-viral tissues continue to work wonders... I will say that I realize a tissue cannot prevent my husband from getting sick, but as far as spreading germs goes, we're confident in Kleenex's promise that the tissues:
"Kill 99.9% of cold and flu viruses in the tissue within 15 minutes. Virucidal against Rhinoviruses Type 1A and 2; Influenza A and B; and Respiratory Syncytial Virus; in the tissue within 15 minutes."
All of that may be a lot of jargon and technical terminology to sound like a cool tissue that covers its bases with fighting germs, but that's because it IS a cool tissue that does all the things listed above. We don't need to know the science behind it to know that it works, but in case you're one of those non-believers, there are the "facts" from the card that Crowdtap included in the sample.
As far as the lotion tissues are concerned, I used those to soothe my nose during my cold. We used both boxes of tissues, as both were placed in the home throughout the "trial" period. I always have a box of Kleenex brand tissues in my house, and we usually purchase the lotion tissues, so this wasn't a new experience for us - we were just happy to have an extra box on hand! The lotion tissues worked well to quell the soreness beneath my nose upon every blow into my Kleenexes.
All in all, we were very pleased to have been selected to participate in this Crowdtap sponsored product sample and share!
I received a package of four rolls of Scott Naturals Tube-Free toilet paper as a sample from Crowdtap. As part of the sample challenge, I opted to complete the following review of the product. #sponsored
I was a bit hesitant trying Scott Naturals Tube-Free Toilet Paper to be honest. It wasn't because the roll was missing from the tube, that wasn't a problem, it was moreso because I was never really a fan of Scott products to begin with. The first time I ever tried Scott was at my boyfriend's apartment almost 4 years ago. I still lived with my parents at the time, and we only had the most plush of TPs available to us (my dad is obsessed with comfortable paper products - he's weird like that) so I'd never felt toilet paper so thin and scratchy on my bum (besides using public facilities where they tend to cheap out).
Despite my hesitation, I would never pass up the opportunity to test a product out that would be great for the environment -- I'm extremely conscious about the impact we have on the world around us (physically and metaphorically speaking). So, when the package arrived at our door step a couple of weeks ago, I was excited to see that these tube-free wonders had arrived.
I immediately replaced our current TP at the time - Target generic equivalent to Cottonelle, I believe it was. When I first went to put it on the toilet paper holder (we have one built into the wall), I was hopeful that it would fit. We can't buy the super plush or super full TP rolls because they won't fit on our holder sometimes. That said, the Scott Naturals TP fit nicely in place.
I have to say I was impressed by the quality of the TP. I was scared it would be like my previous Scott 1000 experiences. That boyfriend, who is now my husband, stopped using Scott 1000 after we became an official couple. Years later, testing the new and improved version of Scott Naturals products, I was definitely impressed. The ply was thicker, thus more absorbent; soft; the roll was squishy. These are things I look for in the quality of my toilet paper rolls. It's going on one of the most soft places of your body, so why wouldn't you want to make sure it's the BEST?!
That said, after a few uses of this new paper, I was pleased. Scott definitely stepped it up with the green thumb approach to toilet paper. I was pleased with not having to waste tons of extra squares of TP just to have enough for a thorough cleaning, too!
When the roll got down to the bottom, things got a bit funky. The TP roll kind of bumps along the wall insert, wobbly-like. This is because there is no longer a cardboard insert to keep the TP in that perfectly round shape. Did this bother me? Not one bit! You know what bothers me more? When I get to the bottom of the roll and I have to fight with it for that last sheet of paper. I was delighted this was no longer an issue with the tube-free roll! Yay! Progress, indeed!
Overall, I give this product three and a half out of five stars. I think it's great that Scott has toiletries that don't feel like sandpaper on my bum, that they are doing what they can to make an environmental impact on the world that we can all benefit from, and that the roll is big on quality, but not on price!
Thanks for reading, everyone!
Disclaimer: I received Zep cleaning products as part of a promotional campaign through the website Crowdtap.com.
So, thanks to my wonderful friends at Crowdtap, I was lucky enough to secure a spot in the Zep cleaning party sampling earlier this month.
The following images and videos have been taken of SOME of my experiences with the product.
I also gave three of the samples to my family members: brother; mother; sister-in-law.
Overall, the family was pleased with Zep's results. We were all surprised at how much was given to us within the sample bottle -- the samples were quite large (considering the dinky bottle you usually get to test things out with) -- so we were able to use the product for more than one go around the house which was excellent! My brother, mom, and SiL had the same reactions. SiL reported having to put in a little extra elbow grease to clean some of the more deep stains, but given the fact that she has a 1 and 3 year old constantly making messes around the house, she has multiple opportunities to clean on the spot jobs, whereas another product may work better on messy jobs that have sunk in a little more deeply.
I used Zep for my everyday messes, as needed (weekly/bi-monthy clean-ups)...
As you can see from the videos above (hope you can anyway) Zep did the job, cleaning each of the surfaces it promised to work on (bathroom, kitchen - oven, and upholstery) which was excellent. There were no adverse effects to my upholstery as a result of using Zep either, which is always a concern. Of course, it's probably dependent upon what type of upholstery you're using the product on and you should of course spot test in a small spot first to ensure that you won't ruin your furniture, but we had no bad news to report upon use of Zep cleaning products. We plan to purchase more Zep sprays in the future!
I'm writing this post today to share my love for the new and improved pain-fighting power of #FastAdvil. I'm writing this post for CrowdTap, as part of a "party pack" opportunity I received from their website.
I've always been a big fan of Advil for body aches and pains, fevers, tooth-aches, etc. The cool thing about #FastAdvil is the fact that it's film-coated for SUPER fast-acting pain relief. As someone who suffers from chronic headaches, I'm a regular user of OTC pain medicine for relief. Admittedly, I am a big fan of Excedrin, but sometimes I don't want the caffeine component to make me jittery.
Since the first time I tried #FastAdvil thanks to this CrowdTap party pack oppotunity, I can honestly say that I'm going to use Advil way more often than I had before -- the Excedrin has moved to the back of the medicine cabinet -- I'm all in for fast-acting pain relief!
While my in-laws were in town last week, my father-in-law mentioned after being in the car for a long car ride from New England to New Jersey, he had a bad headache. What better opportunity to share some of my party blister-packs than with family! I immediately shared #FastAdvil with him.
He physically looked better - literally - pain-free - within a half hour! We couldn't have been more pleased seeing as we spent the following two hours in a noisy restaurant having dinner!
The following day we went on a road trip to Pennsylvania. As usual, I got a terrible headache mid-day. Luckily, I had a blister pack of Advil with me in tow!
#FastAdvil, just what the doc ordered! ;)
In a word: fabulous!
I recently tried Vichy's Idealia product for the first time courtesy of Crowdtap and I could not be more pleased with the results. I was lucky enough to be asked to host a Vichy sampling "party" which meant that I had five other sachets to give out to family and friends.
I provided my mother, sister, aunt, sister-in-law and mother-in-law with a sample of Vichy.
My mother, sister, and I are all pretty pale (read: IRISH) with combination skin. My sister has a bit more oil issues than my mother and I do. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law have more of an olive skin tone than we three. Their skin falls into the combination category of oily and dry, especially depending upon the seasons!
I tried Idealia for 8 nights as requested per Crowdtap and Vichy's instructions. From day ONE I could feel a difference in my skin. It was smooth, sunk right into my face and pores without leaving any awful slimy feeling that can sometimes come from facial products (a major pet peeve of mine). My skin felt so SOFT afterwards! I LOVED touching it (even though we all know how much of a no-no that is!) I could feel it on my skin THE NEXT MORNING! It was such an incredibly good feeling to wake up without having that sort of dry feeling you get with other cremes. My face still felt quite moisturized even after a night of sleep - lovely!
My family members had similar results:
Mom: "I thought it was great. I've been on this planet a lot longer than you, honey, and I've had time to try them all. You know how much I love my Pond's Cream thanks to Grandma, but I have to say, this could be on my Christmas list -- I'll have to ask Daddy!"
Sister: "Well, considering the fact that I've tried tons of products from the dermatologist because of my acne issues, I have to say that although I was inititally worried I might get a bad reaction to the cream, it was pretty nice. It smelled really good. I wouldn't say I had insanely perfect skin afterwards, I mean, I will always have some acne, but I definitely liked how my skin felt when I used the Vichy stuff!"
Mother-in-Law: "This product is amazing! Light, airy, my skin felt so smooth and fresh after using this creme for the 8-day trial! It was nice that I didn't need to use a LOT of the product to have the same nourishing effects on my skin night after night. I'm definitely going to invest in some Idealia!"
Sister-in-Law: "I thought it was great. I'm going to be honest, I didn't have time to put it on EVERY night -- you know how it is with two babies -- sometimes I just forgot to use it, BUT, the nights that I did, I could definitely tell a difference in my skin. Thanks so much for letting me be one of your product testers! This was a great product to try out!"
Well, there you have it, all! A pleased Crowdtap Party indeed!
Til next time...
So, you can only imagine my excitement when I found out that I was selected to receive a free product sampling of my all-time favorite shaving creme on the market, Skintimate, with the added bonuses being: a) a FULL can - not just a sample can; b) 20% more free on top of the full sized sample; and c) the fact that the scent is new and absolutely fabulous!
Even though we're in "back to school" mode around here in NJ, the temps are still in the high 70s-80s, which means bare legs are in full force. I, for one, wore a dress my first day back to my university teaching setting, which meant I needed to be #SkintimateHappyLegs prepared!
I have to say, I knew that the quality of the product would be stellar -- I love Skintimate shave gel (and no, I'm not just saying that because of the product test -- I've been a consumer of Skintimate gel products for years), but the SCENT of this sample in particular was WONDERFUL! I've tried several of their scents before, and enjoyed them all, however, I felt that the Mandarin Burst shave gel in particular had just the right balance of scent in terms of femininity, sweet - but not overwhelmingly so, and refreshing - fruity, but not "Pine Sol floor clean" -- while the scent of a lemon can definitely awaken the senses, no one wants to smell like a freshly mopped floor. The scent can also be overwhelming. The fact that I liked the scent, and it wasn't too strong - just the right amount of potency - made it that much more appealing to use. Let's face it ladies, shaving on a daily basis, especially during the summer months, is totally a chore. It's irritating, but expected. I do it, but begrudingly. That said, I was pleased to be lathering up with the Mandarin Burst gel these past ten days.
I give this product two thumbs (legs? toes?) waaaay up!
It has been officially one month to the day that I have been a married woman. I couldn't be more happy, feel more privileged, or exude more pride about becoming Mrs. Erica Holan Lucci. Since I'm an academic, I'm planning to keep my maiden name as my middle name for publishing purposes, but as far as the state of NJ is concerned, I'm officially Mrs. Lucci. It's weird, since most people don't refer to me as such (at least not yet anyway).
Anyway, back to the subject matter of this post! This past Saturday, July 26th, we celebrated our wedded bliss with a "Post I Do BBQ" or a Barbadoo or whatever else you'd like to nickname it. Since our family members were the only ones in attendance at our actual wedding ceremony/reception, we wanted to enjoy some hang time with our friends on a separate date, thus this event.
I had all my fingers and toes crossed that the weather would hold out, because we were having the BBQ outdoors at my parents house. Though we bought a tent for everyone to sit under, the food tables were on the opposite side of the yard, which meant that they were vulnerable to rain showers that may have passed through. Unfortunately, rain showers DID INDEED pass through. Lucky for us, however, we did not have the rain stick around for long, and after a 15 minute sprinkle or so, the sun came out to play. Other than a bit more humidity in the air, the weather was overall cooperative, which we couldn't be more pleased about!
In keeping with the spirit of my actual wedding day, I wanted a shabby chic rustic vintage look, while still maintaining the laid back vibe of a barbecue. I think I made my vision work, but I'd love your take on it!
This could not have come together without help from inspirational Pinterest ideas, Amazon, Etsy, TheWEBstaurantstore, Bed Bath and Beyond, Party City, World Market, etc. All of these (and more I can't think of at the moment) led to this party becoming a reality. In addition, not that either of them read blogs, but I want to give a huge shout-out to my parents who helped us host/sponsored this party! My dad was the griller king, my mom made a variety of foods, we all food shopped together, and whatever I didn't prepare myself, they took care of. My amazing in-laws came to celebrate all the way from Worcester, MA, and stayed late at my parents house just to help clean up after the party ended! Hugs and kisses to Mom and Dad Holan and Mum and Dad Lucci!
My husband took all of the photographs I posted above, but unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to take any more once the food started rolling out because company came around the same time. That said, I still want to share with you the menu I created specifically for the day!
Main Course Eats
If I manage to find any more pictures that friends or family took of our special day, I'll be sure to share them here.
Hope you enjoyed this little peak into our post-nuptial celebration!
Til next time...
I cannot recommend the Bernards Inn enough. If you're a bride wondering where to host your event, and you're having a more intimate ceremony/reception like we did, then look no further! The Bernards Inn is PERFECTION.
We began planning this wedding shortly after my (now) husband proposed to me on January 1 of this year. Since I've been waiting my entire life to find "The One" and tie the knot, I didn't want to drag out our engagement. I decided June 28th would be the day to make it official. After considering alternate venues, debating elopement, and dealing with all the typical drama wedding preparation entails, we visited the Bernards Inn and fell in love.
I knew it was going to be "the" venue after reviewing the images of The Silver Vault online. I had a vision of how I wanted my wedding to be (I'd bought all sorts of vintage antiques and I created my own table decorations -- twine-wrapped bottles, etc. -- for that sort of shabby-chic look. Our initial wedding planner, Carrie, was kind and courteous and very friendly. She assisted us through all the initial hurdles of wedding preparation. My parents, my husband, and I were very impressed.
Carrie resigned from the staff about three weeks prior to my wedding. Jessica took over our wedding, and we were nervous about the switch up...after all, Carrie had been with us since day one! That said, it must have been FATE that Jessica picked up where Carrie left off... Jessica went through every single piece of decor I brought to the Inn (and I had a cargo van FULL of items), taking approximately 2 hours to suggest what would and would not work based on my wedding theme.
I was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to access the Silver Vault the day of our nuptials until close to the actual ceremony time. I found Jessica downstairs with the staff, ensuring every item was lovingly placed in the most perfect locations -- I couldn't have organized my things better myself! I was BEYOND relieved and pleased that Jessica "got" my vision, and helped me through every step leading up to the final moments before we wed.
The staff was BEYOND exceptional. The FOOD beyond exceptional. The service, the attention to detail, the preparation, the event itself, PHENOMENAL. My husband's aunt is a caterer and said in her 20 years on the job had never been to a better wedding (and that wasn't just because my husband is her nephew!).
A++++++ / 5 stars / top billing / the works!!!!
Thank you Jessica, and the Bernards Inn, for making my wedding vision a reality! We couldn't have done it without you all!!!!
BTW - We stayed in one of the largest rooms for the night of our wedding. It was GORGEOUS. Room 10! :D