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Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

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    Life Insurance Awareness Month: Coverage a must for breadwinner moms

    mother and son

    Once upon a time, I had a great fulltime job, with great pay, great benefits. One of those very important and necessary benefits being life insurance.

    Then along came 2008, the year of economic calamity for so many. I was one of those. I lost my job. I lost my pay. I lost my life insurance.

    Since then, I've secured a new job. As a freelancer. The job is great, the pay less so. The fact I have no life insurance the least great thing of all. As a contributor to the support of the household, if I were to die, my husband would be in a fix.

    Thing is, my husband and I are empty-nesters, and my income as a freelancer is erratic at best, so though my premature passing would impact my husband, it wouldn't be financially devastating. The stakes are much higher for women who contribute larger portions to the support their families — or serve as the sole support of their families — when they have no life insurance or are underinsured. In such cases, the loss of her life and subsequent loss of support for her loved ones could prove devastating to those she leaves behind.

    September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, making now the perfect time for uninsured and underinsured women — especially those who earn and contribute to the household income — to consider how to protect their families with life insurance. Though life insurance surely cannot replace Mom, it can help replace Mom's lost salary, help cover childcare expenses, pay off the mortgage on the family home and ensure college is still a possibility for her children.

    Royal Neighbors of America logoNavigating the ins and outs of life insurance coverage can be daunting. Royal Neighbors of America, one of the nation's largest women-led life insurance companies, suggests considering the following questions:

    • How much will it cost to pay off your debts — mortgage, credit cards, autos, other loans — if you were to die prematurely?
    • What are your ongoing expenses? Consider the loans above as well as child care, tuition, groceries, utilities.
    • Would your family be able to pay its bills without you?
    • Do you have enough to pay for funeral expenses?

    While the amount of coverage rule of thumb recommended by the insurance industry is 7 to 10 years of household income, Royal Neighbors of America provides a Life Insurance Calculator to help choose adequate coverage.

    Royal Neighbors of America provides life insurance with a difference as the organization's philanthropic efforts are dedicated to changing women's lives through programs such as its Nation of NeighborsSM Program and through the Royal Neighbors Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity.

    For more information on Royal Neighbors of America and its life insurance with a difference, visit the Royal Neighbors of America website.

    Disclosure: This post is part of a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign on behalf of Royal Neighbors of America. Though I was compensated for my participation, anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    #TailgateWithFoodSaver and enter to win a FoodSaver System

    Here's a giveaway you won't want to miss!

    FoodSaver® Brand systems are ideal for empty nests and grandparents, so follow the steps (see below the graphic for links you can copy and paste) and you may end up one of three winners of FoodSaver® V4865 Vacuum Sealer System plus an abundance of FoodSaver® Bags & Accessories.


    Details direct from FoodSaver® Brand:

    FoodSaver® Brand – the #1 vacuum sealing system – is offering three grand prize winners the brand new FoodSaver® V4865 Vacuum Sealer System plus an abundance of FoodSaver® Bags & Accessories to make this year’s tailgates the best ever. Entering is easy! All you need to do is:
    1. Follow FoodSaver® Brand Pinterest page
    2. Create a Pinterest board called “Tackle Tailgates with FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealers”
    3. Repin the contest overview image available on the “Tackle Tailgates with FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealers” board here:, with any additional tailgate-inspired images and recipes you like!

    Be sure to follow the specifics in the graphic above. The sweepstakes is open through September 30, 2013.

    Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated for posting. I do, though, hope to win one of the three FoodSaver Systems and hope Grandma's Briefs winners win the other two.


    'Camp' and 'Season of a Lifetime": Two uplifting, inspirational family films

    When it comes to television, my husband and I prefer down-and-dirty dramas. Think Breaking Bad, Justified, Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy. Family fare is rarely on the series agenda for us.

    When it comes to feature films, though, we enjoy and appreciate a far wider variety, everything from documentaries and dramas to comedies, musicals, family films. We recently had the opportunity courtesy Word Films to enjoy two powerful movies available on DVD that not only entertain but that uplift and inspire, as well.

    CampThe first is Camp, a film inspired by the true stories of folks who volunteer at Royal Family Kids Camp for abused and neglected children — not to be confused with the recent television series of the same name. In Camp, a jaded financial advisor named Ken (Michael Mattera) volunteers to help at a Christian-based summer camp for kids in the foster care system. He's paired with 10-year-old Eli (Miles Elliot), who recently lost his mother to a heroin overdose and who's not too thrilled at the prospect of spending time at camp. The two butt heads along the way to an understanding and acceptance of one another.

    While Camp, rated PG-13, will appeal to adults as well as older kids, I do want to point out that the first few minutes give an unflinching glimpse into the life of an abused youngster, the lead child character in the film. It's not graphic but does show the reality some kiddos face at the hands of horrendous parents, and I imagine it may be a bit too realistic for some kids. I suggest grandparents and parents watch it first (at least the first few minutes) in advance of viewing with kids.

    Overall, though, Camp is certainly worth sharing with teens. And the special features should be watched by all adults. I must admit I was inspired to consider volunteering at a camp myself after hearing the stories of those who have and how it changed not only the lives of the children they met but their own lives, too.

    Find more information on the movie and DVD/Blu-ray availability at

    Season of a LifetimeThe second DVD I received free for review from Word Films was Season of a Lifetime. It's a documentary on the incredible true story of Jeremy Williams, a high-school football coach who, when faced with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), chose to continue coaching his team for one last season. The tagline of the film is "Faith. Family. Football.," and Season of a Lifetime (not rated) powerfully shares all three.

    The challenges faced by the terminally ill Williams and his family are heart wrenching, but he faces them with such heart, strength and spirit that it's impossible not to cheer for him — and for his team. Season of a Lifetime had a slight Friday Night Lights feel (one of the more wholesome series my husband and I have watched and loved), and the interviews with Daniel "Rudy" Ruettiger, made famous in 1993's Rudy, and other fans, friends and family underscore the unflinching courage of Jeremy Williams and what a true hero he is.

    Find out more about Jeremy Williams and the film on the Season of a Lifetime website.

    Disclosure: I received the two movies free for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Wrinkle-free and needle-free: Dermaflage fills wrinkles, scars, pox marks

    My mom recently had surgery for skin cancer near her eye. Skin was removed from her under eye area and replaced with skin from near her ear. My mom was, naturally, quite distressed about any scars she may have after the surgery.

    Funny thing is — if there's anything even slightly humorous about skin cancer, which there's not, but you know what I mean — just before finding out my mom had skin cancer and would face facial scarring after surgery, I was offered the opportunity to review for free Dermaflage Topical Perfecting Filler. Little did I know how important this review would be.

    I said yes to the review thinking it might be a great product for some of my forehead wrinkles as well as a scar my oldest daughter has near her eye, a scar she's had since she was a toddler. A scar that was my fault — because I had a coffee table smack dab as tall as my daughter was when a toddler. My daughter fell on the corner of the table, resulting in a scar for life (and also resulting in us living with no coffee tables for, literally, decades).

    By the time I recruited my daughter to try out the product with me, we had learned of my mom's skin cancer. We knew that if it worked as promoted, the Dermaflage would be doing far more than hiding my wrinkles and filling in her scar — it would give my mom hope that she'd look good as new once her face healed and she was able to apply the Dermaflage.

    So my daughter and I set out to try out the Dermaflage. And, boy, were we impressed.

    First we tried it on my daughter. No, not because I was scared and made her go first. Really. I figured I should try it on someone else before attempting on myself, just to get the steps down, just to see how easy or difficult application may be.

    Turns out it was pretty darn easy. And effective.

    We followed the 3-step directions:

    Step 1: Apply primer and allow to dry 30 seconds.

    Step 2: Mix together a small amount of the two parts of the filler (clear and tinted), then apply with the provided tool (within 30 seconds, as it sets quickly).

    Step 3: Use the provided texturizing pad to smooth out the edges of the applied silicone.

    My daughter's scar went from this:


    To this:

    Honestly, if you didn't know anything had been applied, you'd never know she was scarred. And this was just my first time using the product. As the Dermaflage literature notes, the finished look gets even better with practice.

    Next up: my wrinkle between my eyes (which comes from all the hard thinking I do).

    We followed the steps above and went from this:


    To this:


    Not the greatest application but still impressive. I just need to practice to get it textured a tad better. And I must admit: I did try covering all my forehead wrinkles, but I didn't heed the advice in the literature to do only small areas at a time and did end up with a clumpy mess... that would be a really cool Halloween look, if I so chose to scare the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

    Dermaflage — Hollywood created, clinically tested and dermatologist tested — is a cross between makeup and plastic surgery, according to the literature. "From Hollywood special effects to the everyday cosmetic case," the pamphlet says, "Dermaflage simulates skin to fill and conceal imperfections instantly." It's also safe and recommended for scarring from Mohs surgery, which is exactly what my mom faced. So my daughter and I did a demonstration of the product for my mom, to let her see how easy it is to apply, how well it covers scars.

    My mom's face has not yet healed enough for her to be applying makeup, much less scar filler. But when the time comes, she's happy to know there's a simple, surgery-free and relatively inexpensive way to look like her same ol' pretty self again.

    Here's a video with more information on Dermaflage, more examples of its magic:

    An application of Dermaflage lasts about 36 hours and is easily removed by peeling it off in the same manner you peel off facial masks. A 2-3 month supply costs $50 and can be purchased in a variety of skin tones from the Dermaflage website.

    Disclosure: I was provided a free sample of the product for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Baked in the microwave: A tasty option from Healthy Choice

    When my husband and I returned home after a minor family emergency the other night, we were hungry but it was too late to cook, and we sure didn't feel like ordering take-out, either.

    Fortunately we had two Healthy Choice Baked Entrées in the freezer. I had received coupons for the free meals as part of Healthy Choice campaign I'm participating in with the Vibrant Nation Influencer Network, and because of them, my husband and I had a hot meal in less time than it would have taken for us to pick up fast food at a drive-through on our way home.

    The Healthy Choice Baked Entrées offer fresh, baked-from-the-oven taste straight from the microwave in the following 10 flavors (meal descriptions courtesy Healthy Choice):

    • Four Cheese Ziti Marinara: Freshly-made ziti pasta tossed with classic marinara and topped with a blend of fine Italian cheeses; Parmesan, Romano, Asiago and mozzarella.
    • Roasted Chicken and Potatoes: Savory slices of chicken breast with red skin potatoes, crisp carrots, and tender pearl onions in a light chicken and herb sauce.
    • Fettuccini Alfredo Bake: A classic combination of freshly-made fettuccini pasta and rich Parmesan Alfredo sauce with crisp broccoli and topped with seasoned bread crumbs.
    • Italian Sausage Pasta Bake: Freshly-made whole grain rotini pasta paired with juicy Italian sausage, tossed in a rich garlic marinara together with bubbling mozzarella cheese.
    • Lasagna with Meat Sauce: Three rich layers of freshly-made pasta, hearty meat sauce, and ricotta cheese topped with mozzarella for perfection.
    • Chicken & Rice Cheddar Bake: Whole grain brown & wild rice pilaf with crisp broccoli and sliced chicken breast in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
    • Chicken & Spinach Alfredo: Freshly-made whole grain penne pasta tossed with sliced chicken breast, spinach and tomatoes in a creamy Alfredo sauce.
    • Chicken Enchilada Bake: A full-flavored chicken enchilada over cilantro rice and topped with corn, black beans and a decadent queso sauce.
    • Ravioli Marinara Bake: Rich ricotta and spinach filled al dente ravioli tossed in a tomato basil sauce and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese.
    • Slow Roasted Turkey Bake: Slow roasted turkey breast accompanied by potatoes, butternut squash and crisp green beans topped with classical gravy and crispy onions.

    healthy choice

    When I purchased the Healthy Choice meals, I chose the Lasagna with Meat Sauce for my husband and the Chicken Enchilada Bake for myself. My husband — a lasagna lover like no other — said his was quite good, with al dente noodles, tasty meat sauce, and a reasonable amount of cheese. He offered me a bite, but I was busy partaking of my Chicken Enchilada Bake.

    Healthy Choice

    The flavorful Chicken Enchilada Bake hit the spot, but after seeing how much my husband enjoyed the Italian flavors, I wish I had chosen the Ravioli Marinara Bake instead of the Chicken Enchilada. No offense to the chicken dish, but I'm pretty sure I would have liked the ravioli better. I'll definitely get that one the next time. Or the ziti.

    Either way, there will be a next time, for the Healthy Choice Baked Entrées came in handy as a quick but wholesome and nutritious meal. Next time, though, I'll plan the meals for lunch  rather than dinner, as the portions are more suited to a lunch-time meal. Though I suppose if eaten with a veggie and possibly some rolls, they'd be perfectly fine at dinner time. We were just too darn hungry to go all out that late at night. And that late, the Healthy Choice Baked Entrées filled us up just fine.

    Visit the Healthy Choice website for more information on Healthy Choice Baked Entrées. 

    Disclosure: I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network Healthy Choice campaign. I have been provided coupons for free products and compensation for posting. Opinions and anecdotes are my own and were not influenced nor reviewed by Healthy Choice prior to posting.


    Giveaway: Key Ingredient Recipe Reader a high-tech, highly useful gadget

    Like most cooks, I save and pin and bookmark recipes all across the web. Then, when it comes time to cook, I pull out my laptop or iPhone (I don't have in iPad) and proceed to splatter and splash ingredients across my electronics while trying to concoct something yummy in the kitchen. Assuming that is, that I can actually see the recipe I'm trying to follow, especially at times I display it on my phone.

    Not the joy of cooking one might hope for.

    There is, though, a nifty gadget that makes reading recipes on a fancy gadget — collecting them on it, too — much more enjoyable. And readable. And use-able, er, useful.

    The gadget is the Key Ingredient Recipe Reader, a high-tech cookbook if ever there was one. The Recipe Reader is designed to be used in conjunction with the Key Ingredient website, which boasts more than a million recipes curated by an active community of cooks saving and sharing their favorite recipes. Users sign up on the Key Ingredient website, add their favorite recipes and create online collections of recipes from others, then access those favorites on the wi-fi connected Recipe Reader when they're ready to get cooking.

    The Key Ingredient Recipe Reader has a sealed-glass touch screen that provides easy access to those recipes. The reader resides in the kitchen, ready to display horizontally or vertically the complete recipe, right where and when you need it. The screen (and entire gadget) can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Also, the Recipe Reader includes three kitchen timers (that can be run simultaneously), a conversion calculator and an ingredient substitution tool. It's everything you'd want in a cookbook, all at your fingertips, all easily updated with new recipes any time you choose.

    In addition to the recipes available on the Key Ingredient website, more can be added any time from anywhere on the web, via the Cookmark plugin for browser toolbars, similar to the Pinterest "Pin It" button. I even added a few of my own recipes from my Recipe Box using the Cookmark feature. It works really well for curating recipes from any webpage, though I do wish the Cookmark plugin included the recipe photo when saving to the Key Ingredient site and the Recipe Reader instead of a generic "no photo" graphic.

    It's also easy to add recipes to collections from mobile devices, thanks to the free Key Ingredient app.

    The Recipe Reader is super simple to navigate, providing quick-touch access to recipes saved via Key Ingredient. Cooks of any age or tech ability could easily figure it out. One improvement I'd love to see though, is the ability to hit a "back" button to return to previous screens rather than having to return where you originally navigated from. I'm crossing my fingers such functionality will be included in an update.

    The Key Ingredient Recipe Reader retails for $149.95 and can be purchased on the Key Ingredient website. Also on the Key Ingredient website, find information about the Key Ingredient Community Cookbook Contest featuring more than $400 in gifts, prizes, and other materials for the first 200 communities to sign up to host such an event, plus a chance to win $2000 from Key Ingredient.


    Key Ingredient has generously offered to award one Key Ingredient Recipe Reader to a Grandma's Briefs reader (prize value $149.95). To enter, follow the entry options via Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open to US residents only, with entries accepted via Rafflecopter through midnight MST Sept. 4. The winner will be drawn randomly and contacted Sept. 5. Prize and shipping responsibility of the brand representatives, not Grandma's Briefs.

    Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

    Disclosure: I received a free Key Ingredient Recipe Reader for review, as well as the offer of one to be awarded by the brand in a giveaway. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.