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RedEnvelope Give-a-way Winner!!

The Random.org random number generator has spoken!

Screen shot 2011-11-23 at 9.29.44 AM

Congratulations to Courtney B, who plans to give her mom a personalized gift for Christmas. Courtney, if you’re reading, I have emailed you the one-time use gift code. If you have any trouble with it, please let me know.

BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.

Provide Commerce, the parent company to such brands as ProFlowers, Personal Creations, Red Envelope and Shari’s Berries, is offering ALL OF YOU an exclusive Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal at Personal Creations, right in time for Christmas. Here’s a link to a video that details the Buy 1 Get 1 (BOGO) deal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6Hd7vZ_TSg Please note: This is a limited time offer.

Alright kids. Now that I’ve written the most commercial post posted in all my four years of blogging, I have to go take a shower. A hot, hot, hot shower. To wash away the shame.

Just kidding. We all know the holidays are all about commercialism. Am I right? I’m just getting into the holiday spirit!

RedEnvelope + Give-a-way!

*This give-a-way is CLOSED.  See who won here!

Today I want to talk about RedEnvelope. Not the red envelope you get in the mail when you forget to pay your electric bill too many times in a row. No, no, that is a bad red envelope. I want to talk about a good RedEnvelope. A RedEnvelope that represents fun, personalized gifts for friends and family. And why would I talk about this? Because, you guys. They sent me two products to review and offered to give one of my readers (that’s YOU) a one-time use $100 gift code to use on any of their fabulous products. Winning!

(Is anyone saying that anymore? Duh – winning! Are we over that? Moving on…)

our family room

Our family room, last month. Hence the Halloween centerpiece on the coffee table. Notice anything different? Hopefully you notice LOTS of things different, since the last time I posted a family room decor update it looked like this. Yikes. And remember when it looked like this? It’s come a very long way, and is finally FINALLY done. As in, there isn’t anything else I would add, I love it, it is exactly the cozy, weird, hobbled together reading nook I always dreamed it would be. (What does my family room have to do with your chance to win a $100 gift code? JUST WAIT.)

our family room 2

The first product RedEnvelope sent me was a personalized pillow that ties my whole sofa together. I didn’t get to choose the graphic, but I did get to choose the text (though the character and line restrictions were super strict) and I was really happy with how it came out. The pillow cover is made of a rough canvas material. Not necessarily cozy for snuggling up with, but I have a feeling it will last a long time. The screen printed graphic looks great. The font, though small, is pretty crisp considering how nubby the canvas is.

screenprint closeup

I wanted the pillow to read, “Snyder Family. Lots of love, lots of pet hair,” but the restrictions prevented me, as the graphic is designed to include family member names, not sentences. I managed to get away with what you see above and I dig it.

RedEnvelope asked that I rate the product out of five stars, one being “I hate this” and five being “this is the best product EVER.” I give this pillow three out of five stars. As much as I love the pillow, and I really do, it loses a star for its price and another for the quality of the pillow insert. While the pillow cover looks nice, the insert is awful. If you lay your head on it, it completely flattens out. It feels cheap. Like something you’d buy for five dollars at Pick n’ Save. Which is why I was a little horrified to find out that the retail on this pillow is $59.95.

Theo loves our personalized pillow

Theo doesn’t care, as long as he still gets his belly rubbed.

If I received this personalized pillow as a gift, I’d be delighted. It’s adorable, and as I said earlier, it really pulls my sofa together. But if I paid $59.95 for it, I would be really upset when it arrived in the mail and I realized how poor the quality of the insert is. Especially if I intended to give it as a gift.

Now, if I only paid twenty-five bucks for it, I’d be thrilled. At twenty-five bucks it would be a five-star product. But for sixty dollars I expect a softer pillow cover and a much, much fuller, thicker, more pillowy pillow insert. And yet, I love it’s look and I would absolutely buy it if I had a gift code to spend.

air plant

This air plant and glass globe also came from RedEnvelope. It’s a nifty item that would look great in a garden or, as shown above, in a window. We’d like to hang it but it didn’t come with anything to hang it from and we’re not sure what to use. String won’t be sturdy enough. Twine would look tacky. A chain would be too harsh for the delicate glass. Maybe fishing line? This is another item that would make a cool gift, but again, I balked at the $29.95 price tag. An air plant is five bucks at the Garden Center, you can get pebbles for free at the beach or nearest stream bed, and the glass globe comes from CB2 (they didn’t take the CB2 sticker off the bottom before they sent it to me) where you can order it for $3.95. Now, if it also came with something pretty to hang the globe by, and something else to put in the globe for some added pizzazz (a miniature skull or a frolicking ceramic animal, anyone?) I might not have suffered the same sticker shock. But it doesn’t, so this also gets three out of five stars for being overpriced.

Overall, I’m enjoying these items and I’m especially jazzed to offer one lucky reader a $100 gift code. The holidays are coming and this is a great chance to pick up Christmas gifts for your wife, Chanukah gifts for your husband, a present for your sister, your father, the cute kid you babysit, whomever. They have something for everyone – personalized ornaments, gorgeous jewelry, fun novelty gifts. I adore this personalized pie plate, and they even sell a personalizable beer holster. You can’t tell me there isn’t a man in your life who wouldn’t love his own beer holster.

To win, check out the website at RedEnvelope.com, then come back here and leave a comment telling me who you’d like to surprise this holiday season with a personalized gift. For additional entries, tweet a link to this post, link to this post on Facebook, “Like” RedEnvelope on Facebook, whatever you want. Just be sure you come back here to leave a comment and tell me what you did. Each comment serves as one entry and you can enter as many times as you want. Contest ends Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. PST. The winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday, November 23. The day before Thanksgiving! So you’ll have something to be thankful for. (Just kidding. You already have lots to be thankful for, I know that.)

Ok, kids. Comment away!

P.S. I was not compensated for this post, though I did receive the two items pictured above at no cost. My thoughts and opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Clean+Green

Mike and I have five animals.

I’m just going to let you wrap your head around that for a minute.

There’s Meph, our five-and-a-half-foot ball python, who is by far the cleanest and easiest of our crew. Then there’s Toby, the loudest, most demanding tom cat you’ve ever met in your life. Amelia is quiet and shy until she gets to know you. In her spare time she enjoys eating computer cords and pissing on throw rugs, which means we can’t have any, anywhere, ever. Rugs, not cords. Cords we just hide. Valentine is a doll and even when she’s ill, will beg at the door to be let out before she will ever do her business indoors. Unless of course we’ve just vacuumed – then she’ll pee somewhere really obvious, apparently in order to prove her hatred of the dreaded machine. (As if the hysterical running in circles with her tail between her legs doesn’t get the point across.) This means that whenever I want to vacuum (which I do, every day) I have to walk her first, crate her during the ordeal, then walk her again immediately after. Lastly, but not leastly, there is our beloved Theo. A dachshund who, if he spoke English, I’m sure would have a lot to say. But he does not speak English, he speaks Dog Urine. And speak it he does, whenever his humans do anything that even slightly irritates him.

“Hey Mike? Is it true that Theo hasn’t peed in the house since last Sunday?”
“That is true.”
“That’s great! I guess we’ve been behaving according to his will?”
“He has trained us well.”

As a result of our multiple mess-making mammalian friends, we have been around the block and back with every pet odor and stain remover on the market. While some products work well enough – masking the odor and mostly removing the stain – I’ve never been particularly happy with anything we’ve tried.

So when Quincy and Meagan at SeaYu Enterprises asked me to review their eco-friendly pet stain and odor remover, I thought, Why not? I’ve been dealing with cat piss and dog butt-smear for years, tried dozens of products, and never been satisfied. Maybe this product will be different.

And Oh Dear Readers, it is. It really really is.

The Stain:

the stain

The Culprit:

the culprit

(I should know better than to vacuum without walking, crating, and walking her.)
(Please excuse the giant box photo right. These photos were taken a week after we moved.)

Now, here’s where things get cah-razy. The instructions on the bottle say to spray the stain, no need to soak it, and walk away.

Walk. Away. As in, you’re done. If it’s a wet stain, you first press a clean rag to it to sop up as much of the animal moisture as possible, but then you spray it, and walk. away.

I read that and laughed. Like really? Really? Come on now. If I’m not scrubbing and sweating and miserable, how is that stain going to go away? But I shrugged away my misgivings, sprayed, and walked away. Just as Theo decided to wipe his ass nearby.*

the cleanup

Here’s the thing, you guys. If there is one chore I loathe and despise, it’s scrubbing animal waste out of my carpeting. Especially because it seems like no matter how many times I reapply, blot, reapply, blot, douse, scrub, scrub, scrub, and cry over a stain, the smell Never Goes Away. But with this stuff? You just spray it, walk away and I swear, I have mashed my nose right into a pee stain treated with Clean+Green, taken a deep inhale, and you know what it smells like? Fresh air. Not even musty old carpet. Just clean air, the kind you’d breathe standing on the top of a beautiful mountain near a waterfall in early summer. And that’s the truth.

A number of new, mysterious stains have cropped up on our carpeting over the last week and you know what I’m most looking forward to this weekend? Spraying them with Clean+Green and then stretching out on the sofa with a good book while they vanish, never to be heard from again. Then I’m going to go out and get some really fabulous throw rugs because Amelia’s little habits are nothing to me now that I have Clean+Green in my arsenal.

If you’d like to know more about how this miracle product works and what makes it eco-friendly, Gabe Cross at Green Cross wrote an excellent, informative article on the product on his blog. I also recommend the Clean+Green website for information and ordering.

P.S. I was not paid for this article, but I did receive one complimentary bottle of Clean+Green – Carpet & Upholstery for dogs and one complimentary bottle of Clean+Green – Furniture Refresher for dogs. Then I went out and purchased four more bottles because OMG you guys this is by far the best pet stain and odor remover I’ve ever used ever. For reals.

*In regards to the dogs wiping their butts on the carpet – Yes. I do express their anal glands on a regular basis. And they wipe their butts on the carpet anyway. Thanks for asking.