The Motherloot Blog: Product Reviews

Giveaway Results: $50 Walmart Gift Card

Wow, I can’t believe we had this many entries, but I just want to thank each of you for taking the time to leave a comment and let me know what you would like to see covered here. I pulled one of the hot topics out of the hat and covered a holiday gift guide for men (all gifts under $20) that was requested by you. I will continue working through this extensive list and I hope you will continue visiting our site!

I want to congratulate commenter #812, Pam B., on winning this gift card. She was chosen at random and had this idea for our site:

“What a blessing a $50 Walmart card would be for holiday shopping! I would love to read more information about organizing my coupons. I have been couponing and refunding for over 30 years, but no matter what I have tried, the paper overwhelms me! There are so many coupons to sort through and file. So far, the best way for me has been to file my coupons in a recipe box divided by tabs (example: Paper Products) then into mini categories (example: Toilet Tissue/Kleenex, Paper Towels/Napkins, Plates/Cups, Wrap/Bags). But I am looking for a better way. I need to save every penny I can, but sometimes I don’t even feel like bothering with my coupons anymore. They really do save me a lot of money, but there has to be a better, easier way!”

We look forward to answering these and many more questions this year. Thank you all for participating and check back each and every Tuesday for fun giveaways!

Sorry- this giveaway has ended!

Walmart wants our readers to have the best holiday season with the lowest prices so they are offering to our readers (in conjunction with my job as an Eleven Mom) the opportunity to win a $50 gift card that will be put towards your holiday shopping/grocery shopping this year.

Just think what you could do with $50 to put towards your holiday shopping? I can already picture myself loading up on goodies for all my cookie trays this year. Unfortunately, I can’t win, but you can!

Please leave a comment by Tuesday (11/18) at 8PM with one topic you would like to see covered on our site/blog. Only entries that follow the guidelines will be entered and I thank you for giving me some content to cover in the new year! Good luck to each of you and may your holiday season be truly blessed!

ElevenMoms Trip: Day Three

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On our third and final day with Walmart we got to sit in on the company’s Saturday morning meeting. They used to meet each and every Saturday to convene and talk about how the company was doing, but now meet for these meetings once a month.

None of that really interested us though. Let’s be honest and say that we were really there for the celebrities!

Does she look familiar? Yes, it really is the very own Miss Paula Deen. You might not recognize the guy, but he’s someone pretty powerful too. That is the CEO of Walmart, Lee Scott. Paula was there to promote a new cookbook that she is releasing for children called, “My First Cookbook.” She says this cookbook is geared to the younger child, even as young as the age of three, and offers basic cooking tips to get your children in the kitchen. Her plans are to have a cookbook for a little bit older children, then the tween/teen set, and end her series with a cookbook for college students. They reported that Walmart actually held 46% of the sales for her last cookbook so she was really appreciative towards the company for helping her do so well.

She also will be selling her own line of cookware at Walmart. She chose a speckled pattern that reminded her of the kitchen she grew up in and her start in the cooking world. The pans are made with a nonstick surface and she has mixing bowls and accessories that you can buy as well.

Does this guy look familiar to you at all? Oh yes, Harrison Ford also joined the Walmart morning meeting to promote the release of the DVD of the latest Indiana Jones movie. He did a Q&A with the audience and they picked a lot of little boys to ask him questions. All you saw were a sea of little boys with Indiana Jones hats. The questions were things like, “Did you bring your whip?” and from a very mature little boy, “Who was your favorite female co-star?” To which Harrison then replied, “May I ask how old you are.” The little boy grinned and said, “I would rather not say.” Harrison retorted, “You have a lot to learn kid.”

The producer of the movie, Frank Marshall, was also there and talked a little about how exciting it was to come together and work on another project again.

Harrison gave Lee his very own hat and they made sure to get out the staple gun so that it wouldn’t come off. Lee wore this hat the remainder of the day!

Here are a few other celebrities that you just might recognize!

My favorite coupon gals! Erin (Coupon Cravings), Denise (The Centsible Sawyer), Alyssa (Keeping the Kingdom First) & Tara (Deal Seeking Mom).

And here are my favorite frugal gals, which I was so thankful to finally meet in person after all of our email exchanges and reading them for so long. Here I am with Jenn (Frugal Upstate) & Lynnae (Being Frugal).

I was also so excited to have had a bit of a Camp Baby reunion. Collen (Classy Mommy) & Christine (From Dates to Diapers) joined me in our trip for Johnson’s and so we were so thankful to have been able to have another reunion. These girls are the absolute best and I count myself lucky to have such cool friends!

After the meeting, we were hustled downstairs to get some autographs. As a personal note, I have this weird thing where I want to burst into tears when I meet or see someone famous. It is like my mind cannot process it and I have to burst into emotion. I held it together by a hair when we came face to face with Paula. She was so kind and personable, signing autographs and posing for pictures. She never acted like she was rushed or had to move on to anything and just talked to us. Somewhere there is a picture of myself with her floating around among the moms- I just can’t wait to see it. I did get an autograph, which I also almost burst into tears about.

We were so busy with Paula that we missed our autograph opportunity with Harrison. I am sure some people might find that funny, but if you met her, you would know why we were all about Paula that day!

If you can believe it, Lee actually sent us off on our bus, shaking each of our hands and thanking us for our time. Pictured here is one of the top 50 people to know in the tweeting world, Katja from Skimbaco Lifestyle & one of our lovely moms who works with the company providing survey feedback. There have been some promises made that our group will be brought to Walmart again and that they will be using some of us for some compensated projects to help them further.  I was very touched that Lee sent us off and that both the President and the CMO made time to come and talk to us and thank us for our feedback.

Overall, I am just very thankful to have had this opportunity to meet these wonderful women and to have had a glimse into the Walmart corporation. A big thank you to our host, John, for making sure each of us was taken care while we were staying there and anyone on their crew that made this trip possible!

ElevenMoms Walmart Trip: Day Two

We began our second day at Walmart, for the ElevenMoms trip,  bright and early and headed over to the Kellogg’s company for breakfast. The company set out lots of their delicious cereals and a toaster with boxes of Eggo waffles so we could make our own waffles for the morning.

Here our host from Walmart, John, poses with a couple of the great selections that Kellogg offers!

We gathered our breakfast and went into their conference room to get the scoop on Kellogg’s new campaigns. Kellogg’s latest advertisements let the consumer know that they can have save money by eating a Kellogg’s breakfast because one bowl of cereal with milk only costs the consumer $.50 compared to a breakfast bought at a fast food chain.

They also shared with us that they spent a lot of time, money, and research into changing the formulas on their cereals so that they can offer the same exact cereals with 1/3 less sugar. To round out the discussion, they also had two of their own moms share ways that they save their families money, which was really nice to hear that we were not the only penny-pinchers in the room.

Next, we headed over to the Walmart headquarters for a discussion on the company’s programs for sustainability. One thing that they didn’t have to point out was that these containers for recycling were placed all over the building. We were told that the company is extremely diligent about making sure ALL of their employees recycle and will even receive memos if the protocol for recycling is not followed.

A couple of things that I noticed while on the tour that were not related to sustainability were my favorite Redbox vending machines where employees could check out movies. I wonder if their employees use the Monday free codes like me?

There was also a lactation room where moms could pump. They had a small refrigerator and a chair where moms could have some privacy while they pumped.

Here was a series of boards that were shown where employees could leave ideas for sustainability issues that they would like addressed within the company. Some of them were funny, but most were very series about issues that the company could improve on. Another board offered green tips that the employees could try.

We were told that each employee has to make one sustainability commitment that they will work on for the year. Our host, John, shared that his commitment was that he was doing the best that he could to not print anything on the computer. They have even met with life coaches that can help them turn their life goals into sustainable goals. I was really impressed by this.

We then headed to the conference room where we could talk with the person in charge of all of the sustainable goals for the company. He shared some of the improvements they had made. For example, they are offering their reusable shopping bags for only $.50 and hope to do away with plastics. Our suggestions were that they offer some type of credit to encourage their consumers to use their bags. I also suggested coming out with a design that made it more convenient to carry the bags. Target, for example, has bags that fold and zip into themselves so they make it easy to carry them. If they came out with a design concept that made it easier to fold these bags and use them, I would use their bags more often. I also suggested coming out with bags in holiday colors so that I could put my Christmas gifts in these. I love that Target’s bags are red and so I planned to use these for the holidays. He seemed very receptive to our ideas and gave us a DVD to take home to watch about their sustainability efforts. There next step will be that Lee Scott will be traveling to China to do a talk on sustainability there and Cameron Diaz, who is now a big supporter of the efforts of sustainability offered by the company, is actually accompanying Lee to share their green message.

I wish we would have had more time to learn about these efforts, but I am looking forward to watching their DVD and seeing what improvements the company has made.

Next, we headed over to the Innovations lab where we got to see a glimpse into some of the future projects of Walmart and their distributors. We learned that Coke is working with Walmart to come out with lines of t-shirts that are made from recycled plastic and a blend of cotton materials. Pictured above is a uniform that is used oversees that is made from recycled plastic bottles. I believe they said that there are nine bottles that have helped to create these uniforms.

IBM shared with us a virtual world that they had created where it would be quicker and easier to go to the doctor using computers, decreasing wait times for patients.

We also learned about a program that Walmart is working on that would decrease your wait time while waiting for your prescriptions. Instead of waiting for one cashier, one cashier would be manning four kiosks where you could sign and take care of plugging in your information to receive your prescription, similar to their self-check lanes at the store. While you are plugging in your information, it would notify the cashier which prescription to get in back so they could be grabbing that for you while you are inputting the remainder of your information. They are trying to improve wait times for their customers.

This is another feature that they have been working for the over-the-counter medication section of the store. They partnered up with Google and twelve of the top doctors to make this feature available in stores. His name is Rex and he can guide you on choosing an over-the-counter medication. You would input your symptoms, allergies, and age to pick medications that would work best for you. The medications are randomly generated each time, not influenced by ad-placement, and the customer can quickly find what they need. They even have a map to tell you exactly where the medication will be and show you different packaging styles visually so you will be able to grab the right thing.

Briefly, we were shown that they are also doing this for their grocery section as well. You can input your dietary needs and allergies, what type of food you are looking for, and get a listing of foods and where they are located.

These features will be made available online so you could plan your grocery list and print recipes from your home computer.

Next we headed over to Store #1, to see what their store looked like. This store is going through the process of the redesign, but it showcased what they were working towards. It is hard to describe, but when you walk in, the first thing I noticed was the absence of stuff pulled into the center of the aisles. It was just clean and open space so that the aisles were generous and easy to navigate. It was lit well by skylights that were built in to bring in natural life, decreasing the amount of lighting needed in the store. I also noticed that if you looked straight back, the milk was right there along the back wall, making it a little easier to run in and get what you need.

Another feature that is difficult to explain, but that made the aisles more generous and cause less traffic jams with carts were the way the endcaps have been created to set back into themselves instead of being wide and difficult to get around. They are basically missing the lower shelving so that the pallets can be slid underneath, again, creating more space in the aisles.

This is the signage in the stores with English and Spanish written below. There was signage down all of the lanes, making it easier to find what you need within the stores.

Walmart is also using their influence to decrease the packaging on the products that are within the store. Above, is an example of a carseat that is normally packaged in a giant box. To save room on shipping and use less resources, they worked with the distruber to come up with reusable zippered bags that would take less room in the store and be more environmentally-friendly.

The decreasing size in detergents was actually started by the efforts of Walmart. They were looking for ways to shrink the package sizes so they could get more to their stores. Their efforts helped the distributors to come out with concentrated formulas that would take up less space in shipping.

We ended the day with a dinner at Bonefish Grill. The food was incredible and we had a nice time visiting and chatting about blogging. Pictured in the lower picture is myself with my good buddy Colleen, from Classy Mommy.

 

ElevenMoms Walmart Trip: Day One

I have safely arrived in Arkansas for the ElevenMoms trip and day one went really great. I literally hopped off the plane, dropped my bags in my room, and headed out the door to head to the Campbell’s Soup Kitchen Lab for a Thanksgiving feast.

We were treated to a tutorial on how to prepare an inexpensive holiday dinner by Executive Chef Chris Lee, who is currently representing the Swanson’s brand. If you have not heard of Chef Lee before, he was named among the “Top Ten Best new Chefs of 2006″ by Food and Wine and “Best Chef 2005″ by Philadelphia Magazine.  He received rave reviews for the stellar cuisine at the Striped Bass, including a highly coveted and extremely allusive Four Bells review from the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Travel + Leisure included Striped Bass in its “Best New American Restaurants 2004″ issue and Gourmet Selected it as one of the country’s top restaurants in 2006. Basically, he’s pretty much awesome!

His tutorial provided easy tips for moms that would help make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier on a tired hostess. A few of the tips were:

- When cutting onions, ventilate your kitchen with a fan to help with the fumes and ALWAYS use a sharp knife. If you use a dull knife when cutting onions, it will cut more jaggedly and cause more fumes to be released into the kitchen.

- Don’t stuff the bird with stuffing, it just isn’t safe. In order to cook the stuffing and kill the bacteria, the internal temperature would need to be 165 degrees. When it is packed into the bird, it can be difficult to reach that temperature, but there are other great frugal alternatives. In lieu of the stuffing, why not try stuffing your bird with lots of vegetables and fresh herbs. The bonus to stuffing your bird with these is a more flavorful gravy. Chef Lee recommends stuffing your bird with onions, carrots (no peeling necessary), celery, and leeks. For herbs, he loves a mixture of herbs like sage & rosemary.

- Make sure to tie the bird up after stuffing it, but make sure you are tying with twine made especially for the kitchen. Other twines can cause a fire in your kitchen, which would not be a good way to start your holiday feast. He recommends instead of just tying the twine once, you loop the twine through three times after making your loop to tie and then pulling it tight.

- To get a lump-free gravy, start with flour and a little cold liquid. If you are using stock/broth, just start with mixing a little flour and cold liquid together to start your roux before putting it in the pan. That is the trick to get all of those flour lumps neatly blended!

- Swanson’s has come out with a new product- they are now selling stocks, which will definitely help with your Thanksgiving dinners and making rich and flavorful soups. For frugal chefs, the broth is the cheaper choice, but if you are looking to deepen the flavors in your cooking, the stock can be a great option. According to the team, there will not be much difference in price point on these products.

After our Thanksgiving tutorial, we were able to sit down and have a Thanksgiving feast! We enjoyed all the great things that Thanksgiving dinner has to offer- turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and my personal favorite…green bean casserole! The food was absolutely delicious!

We were then able to hear about Walmart’s new advertisement campaigns and share what direction we thought their holiday advertisements should go in. Since the economy slump is in the back of everyone’s minds, Walmart wanted to hear our suggestions for ad campaigns. We all shared our input on these and I suggested advertisments that were focused on family traditions rather than focused on buying items. I also requested that they do advertisements that focused on families doing charitable giving around the holidays. With the economy slump, few people are giving right now and it would be inspirational to see advertisements focusing on giving back to our communities.

Other feedback was offered. GeekMommy requested that Walmart not target just moms, but to broaden their target market. She has many single friends who don’t understand the mom-focused advertisements, and thought it would be good for Walmart to broaden the horizon a bit. JessicaKnows shared the great feedback she received from doing her fall fashion vlog and wanted Walmart to showcase the great fashion finds that you can get at their store, something that she felt few people knew about.

The entire Campbell’s team were incredibly gracious hostesses that made us feel like we were at home. Not only did they have holiday pictures of our families on the big screen throughout the meal, but they sent us home with two baskets- one filled with recipes for what to do with all those holiday leftovers with some ingredients included, but they also had another basket filled with everything we would need to make their delicious green bean casserole. Tucked inside were these sweet little aprons which I conned Alyssa, from Kingdom First Mom, into modeling for me. Isn’t she the cutest?

We finished our dinner with pumpkin pie- a great ending to a wonderful evening!

Be sure to visit ALL of the ElevenMoms sites for lots more on our trip:

  • Beingfrugal.net
  • Classy Mommy
  • Common Sense with Money
  • Coupon Cravings
  • From Dates to Diapers
  • Frugal Upstate
  • GeekMommy’s WebLife
  • Green Your Decor
  • Deal Seeking Mom
  • Keeping the Kingdom First
  • MomAdvice
  • Skimbaco – The Lifestyle
  • The “Cent”sible Sawyer
  • The Domestic Diva
  • Jessica Knows
  • Litewear Fun

    Halloween is quickly approaching and Walmart is offering a line of Litewear products to help keep trick-or-treaters (and their parents) safe during the season. The products contain motion-activated LED technology that literally lights up the night, but is still machine washable!

    The line has everything from Halloween tees, hats, socks, tote bags, and slippers with starting prices at $3 ranging up to $14, making it affordable for families to stay safe & toasty warm.

    My children are loving their litewear and are especially a fan of the lighted slippers. The children’s t-shirts have cute little sayings like, “Mommy’s Little Monster,” on them and the women’s shirts that were included were a little Hot Topic too-cool-for-school shirts that would be great for an edgier momma.

    Suggested Retail Price: $3-14