Monday, August 20, 2012

The Best Breastfeeding Aid Ever? My Brest Friend!

I told my family that I was pregnant when I was about 10 weeks along; it was the night before my birthday and we were celebrating with dinner at my parents’ house. Once the initial excitement and basic information was done with, my mom and one of my younger sisters immediately began rattling off all of the different products I would need to acquire over the next 30 weeks before my son was born. The first product they suggested? A Brest Friend.

“I’m sorry, a what?” I asked. I got an exasperated sigh in response as my mom and Emma exchanged looks.

“A Brest Friend, Lenore! To help you breastfeed! It goes around your waist! Bethenny has one, she swears by it.”

“Wait, Bethenny? Who??? Do you mean a Boppy?”

Another sigh. “Nooooooo. A Brest Friend. Way better than a Boppy. And you know, Bethenny. The housewife? Bethenny Ever After?” My mom and sisters talk about the Bravo housewives like they are close personal friends, on a first name basis, especially Bethenny, their all-time favorite.

“Oh, that Bethenny.Of course.”

So, I learned that day that I would need to get a Brest Friend before I gave birth or I would never hear the end of it. I really didn’tk now the difference between it and a Boppy (the other popular nursing pillow), other than it actually straps around your waist while you use it. Luckily, we visited a huge annual consignment sale a few weeks after that first Brest Friend introduction, where we found one for an insanely great price. Barely used, in perfect condition, I purchased my Brest Friend for only $15. My mom was so excited she brought it home with her so she “could wash it and make sure it was good as new.” The next day, I got this photo from her on my cell phone:

Apparently, my dad likes the Brest Friend as much as the rest of the family.

Anyway, cue 30 weeks later, when I gave birth to my amazing son. He breastfed like a champ immediately after birth, but we had some issues with latching once we got to our hospital room, and since I hadn’t brought the Brest Friend with me to the hospital (something that will never happen in later births), I also had to struggle with arranging piles of pillows just so in order to support my little guy better while he ate.

Once we got home, I continued to stress out about breastfeeding issues, but giving up was not even an option in my mind; I would figure it out. And when I started using the Brest Friend pillow, half of my problems were solved. I got so much support from the Brest Friend that I was able to focus entirely on Hayden’s latch instead of worrying about positioning as well.

Here are the features of the Brest Friend that I adore most:

- The firm surface supports baby well and has a raised spot on both sides for under his/her head

- It straps around your body, providing back support and ease of movement (obviously it is not recommended to stand or walk around while feeding your baby strictly using the pillow) and allowing you to get up and walk while holding baby when you are finished without worrying about the pillow dropping and getting in the way

- The cover is easily removable so that you can wash it when, inevitably, your baby spits up all over it (or you leak on it). It is a bit difficult to put the cover back on the first time, but once you figure it out it is simple

- The strap is adjustable around your waist, making it fit snugly both immediately after baby is born and if/when your waist size changes

Needless to say, I love this thing. I still use it occasionally when feeding Hayden, even though we’ve worked out a way to do it without, but I seriously don’t know what I’d have done without it when we first got home from the hospital. I even brought it with us when we went to visit my parents at their house so that I wouldn’t have to work out the pillow system again!

Have you used a breastfeeding pillow like the Brest Friend? Did you find it helpful? Which one did you like best, and would you purchase it again?

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. I was not compensated by the company that makes the Brest Friend in any way for this post and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Taste of the Nation Orlando 2012

I am SO excited to be going to Taste of the Nation Orlando again this year at the Orlando World Center Marriott! I had the opportunity to go as a blogger last year (you can read my recap on my old blog here), and so I am thrilled that I am lucky enough to go again this year, plus I'm bringing along the hubby this time!

Taste of the Nation is an incredible charity event that is held across the country every year. 100% of the proceeds go to No Kid Hungry, Share our Strength’s nationwide effort that was established to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. 
This year, the Taste of the Nation Orlando event will take place at the Orlando World Center Marriott on August 25th, 2012. It begins at 6:45pm and the event will last until 10pm. VIP admission is $150 a ticket, and includes a bounty of food, drinks, and entertainment.

Taste of the Nation includes representatives from numerous high end local eateries, including Cress Restaurant, Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine, Fulton's Crab House, K Restaurant & Wine Bar, Sushi Pop, and many more. You can view a full list of participating restaurants here, if you'd like to know more.

Cakes from the 2011 Empress Sissi Bakery table
Just like last year, there will be a key raffle for an instant wine cellar. This raffle is so cool, you guys. You buy a key (or as many keys as you want!), and at the end of the night everyone who purchased keys lines up to try them in a door to an area chock full of various wine selections. Seriously an instant wine cellar. Only one of the keys sold actually works, and the person that is able to enter the door wins the whole darn thing.
There will also be a silent auction like last year, but they are also adding a live auction this year! The live auction will feature amazing items, including a trip to the San Francisco Wine Country, and an amazing trip for two to France! The silent auction will include tons of local items, including Blue Man Group tickets, a 4 Rivers gift basket, plus stays at hotels across the area. You can see a full list of both auction's items at the Taste of the Nation website.

In addition to the amazing food and auctions, there will also be plenty of entertainment and drinks to go around! Interested in going?

K Restaurant's 2011 display

Tomorrow, for one day only, there is a discount available for tickets purchased on the Taste of the Nation website. Use code ONEDAY to receive $25 off of each ticket purchased! You can purchase your tickets here: TICKET PURCHASE

Want to read more about Taste of the Nation Orlando? Check out their website, or read my recap of last year's event!

This is an awesome event, and it really couldn't benefit a better charity, so I hope to see many of you there! Are you planning to go? Let me know in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Joe's Crab Shack and a Giveaway!!

This giveaway has already ended...please scroll down for the results!

So I’m a total dork and as a result I have to announce…Todayis my biiiiiirthday!!! Yep, that’s right! And I’m 29today, which means I really need to live it up this year, or something. Also,it means that, since it’s my birthday, I’ve got a gift for one of you, myreaders! Well okay, I would’ve had this giveaway either way, but since it is mybirthday we’ll say it is for that reason!

Yesterday I got a really fun opportunity to visit the Joe’sCrab Shack on International Drive with some fellow bloggers to meet theirculinary director, George Atsangbe, and learn about (and sample!) some of theirpopular summer dishes.
The whole group!

You guys. While I’ve been known to visit chain restaurantsoccasionally, I normally don’t wax poetic about the dishes they offer; they aremore a “this is right here, let’s just stop and eat” type of thing. Joe’s isofficially different from other chains for me after yesterday. I’d eaten atother locations a few times before, but it had been quite a while and I’d neverbeen to this particular Joe’s, so I was pleasantly surprised by my experience.

Chef George Atsangbe, talking about popular dishes
Once everything was set up and we got started, Chef Georgeshared quite a bit about the philosophy behind Joe’s Crab Shack’s menuselections, including the fact that they serve only wild-caught and sustainablecrab and include locally grown produce in their menu. Additionally, Chef Georgetold us about their current “Home Grown Summer” menu (before we got to try afew of the items ourselves) and demonstrated just how to crack crab legs to getthe most meat for the least effort!

While we chatted about the various seafood items on Joe’smenu, food began arriving at our table. We started with the peel and eat shrimpthat are featured on the Home Grown Summer menu. Served both cold and hot andcovered in Old Bay seasoning, it was really hard to hold back on how manyshrimp I ate! I’m normally not a peel and eat shrimp kind of girl, but with theadded seasoning, the flavor was totally worth the effort!

We next learned about the nutritional benefits of so many ofthe Joe’s menu options. Did you know that a 1 ¼ lb lobster has only 90calories??? Seriously! Plus, it is full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, soit is totally good for you. Just don’t indulge in the drawn butter too much andyou are good as gold! Plus, the Alaskan snow crab and the grilled fish andshrimp found on the menu are all low in fat and calories but full of awesomeseafood flavor. Knowing all of this, I felt a lot better when the steampots starting arriving at the table!

Chef George, showing off a steampot
Here’s one of the things that I learned yesterday aboutJoe’s Crab Shack. They have so many options for different seasonings on yourshellfish that really, that drawn butter isn’t necessary. Think of all the fatand calories you can save while indulging in amazing shellfish-y goodness! On pastvisits to Joe’s, I had ordered the basic items with little seasoning, thinking“I don’t need that, I just want to taste the crab.” But here’s the thing. Thoseseasonings and spices? They just enhance that shellfish flavor instead ofmasking it, making the entire dish just oh so delicious.

I’m rambling now, I know, I know. Soooo let me just sharesome of my favorites from the tasting yesterday, and then I’ll get on to mygiveaway! We sampled five different steampots of the nine that are offered,including the Joe’s Classic, the Ragin’ Cajun, the Bean Town Bake, the SamuelAdams, and the Santolla. While they were all delicious (and if you are lookingfor that basic flavor to dip in butter, I highly suggest the Classic), two ofthem were at the top of my list. The Samuel Adams steampot from the Home GrownSummer menu was oh my god amazing. I am not a beer drinker, so I really didn’tthink I’d be much of a fan, but I couldn’t stop reaching into that pot andgrabbing some more snow crab and lobster claws! My second favorite steampot wasthe Santolla, a new addition to the Joe’s Crab Shack menu. This pot was full oftender clams and New Zealand green lipped mussels (a new one for me, thesemussels are huge, plump and briny) as well as Antarctic King crab and shrimp,all covered in Old Bay seasoning and a spicy garlic wine sauce.
Santolla Steampot

Ragin' Cajun

I’ll be honest, being from Massachusetts I was a bitdisappointed that the Beantown Bake wasn’t my favorite, but it ranks way upthere anyway just for the sheer fact that it has two whole lobsters in it (incase you hadn’t figured it out by now, we ate a ton of food yesterday morning)!! This steampot is definitely bigenough to share, in my opinion.

Brian from Central Florida Top 5
posing with the Mason jar cocktails
As we all moaned and groaned, clutching our full bellies,Chef George refused to let up! Out came samples of their three signaturecocktails (all served in Mason jars that you get to take home! How cool!Pinterest ideas galore!) and their new three berry cobbler that was served witha giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Holy wow. We found room for more.

Three Berry Cobbler
I’ve got to say, the food at Joe’s was surprisinglydelicious, but I was also impressed with their service and atmosphere. If youvisit the International Drive location, I’d strongly encourage you to go atlunch time. The restaurant is much less trafficked at that time, giving theservers extra time to spend entertaining and catering to their guests. At onepoint, we witnessed a birthday patron “flying” around the room, and then got tosee most of the servers joined by some visiting soldiers in a dance! Such a fun, family-oriented atmosphere,each Joe’s Crab Shack location also features an outdoor playground for the kidsand encourages them to get involved with their food choices.

Okay! Now for the giveaway! I had such a great timeyesterday that I want to share that experience with one of you, and you don’thave to be in Orlando to enter! Joe’s Crab Shack has locations in 30 statesacross the US, so odds are there is one near you. I’m giving away a $25 giftcard that can be used at any of these locations, and here’s how to enter:

Mandatory entry: If you’ve been to Joe’s Crab Shack before,what is your favorite menu item? If you’ve never been, check out their menuhere and tell me what item you’d most like to try!

Additional entries (leave a comment for each one):

1) Follow me on Twitter at @orlndofoodie

2) Follow Joe’s Crab Shack on Twitter at@Joes_Crab_Shack

3) Subscribe to this blog via email

4) Tweet about this giveaway: “I just entered towin a gift card to @Joes_Crab_Shack from @Orlndofoodie! To enter, go here: #EatAtJoes”

5) Share this giveaway on Facebook (share button at top of post)

That’s a total of six possible entries! You have untilmidnight on Wednesday, August 8th, to enter, at which point I willuse to choose a winner! Once the winner has been notified, he or shewill have 48 hours to respond (please make sure your email is included withyour entries!) before I will choose a new winner.

Disclosure: I receiveda free tasting of several of the menu items at Joe’s Crab Shack. I also wasprovided with the $25 gift card that I am giving away to my readers. However,any opinions expressed are purely my own and have not been approved by Joe’s CrabShack prior to posting.

I totally forgot to post the winner last week! The winner of the Joe's Crab Shack gift card (who was actually contacted last week) is....

Comment number 21, Rosario Michelle!! Congratulations, enjoy it!