Review: TAZO chai vanilla caramel latte

I am a coffee girl through and through. I drink about 1 to 3+ cups a day black. That means no cream and sugar for the fast food workers who always ask if I want cream and sugar after I order a black coffee… but I digress.

I was hesitant to try the TAZO Chai vanilla caramel latte concentrate mix because I don’t like beverages that are too sweet tasting, too milky tasting or too calorie-dense. However, by using your own milk, you have some control over the amount of calories and the final taste of the beverage.


All you need to make this tasty drink is TAZO chai vanilla caramel latte concentrate mix, found at your local Wegmans (or other grocery store if you’re so unfortunate as to not have a Wegmans) in the tea aisle, and a type of milk to mix with the concentrate. The package recommends 2% milk but I never drink that. In fact, I hardly drink milk at all these days. What I happened to have on hand was unsweetened Silk AlmondCoconut Blend milk. At 35 calories per 8 ounces, I save about 100 calories compared to the 2% milk they suggest on the box. And the tasty sweet and spicy is still there with the lower calorie milk.


This couldn’t be easier to make. Literally a 4-year-old could do it. I had just a small mug to fill, so I used a half cup of the Tazo chai concentrate and a half cup of the coconut almond milk. You could make more or less, but just make sure you have equal parts milk product and chai concentrate. The concentrate comes out looking really dark, but don’t worry. It will lighten when you add the milk. (In case you are curious, I took a swig of it without the milk and it really wasn’t bad to just drink straight.)


Mix the two liquids and then pour that mixture into your mug. I microwaved mine for a minute because I didn’t want it to be super hot, just warmed up. If you like yours hot, microwave longer or heat on the stove if you’re into dirtying more dishes…

That’s it! Enjoy. If you follow the steps above using those ingredients, you’ll only set yourself back about 105 calories – that’s less than a skinny peppermint mocha at Starbuck’s, although less caffeine. But it’s still got some to get you going but not so much to make you jittery.

I don’t think I’ll stop drinking coffee but this is a tasty drink I could see having once in a while as a treat. If we ever end up getting snow (It’s Dec. 12 in Rochester, New York, and still no sign of the white, fluffy stuff!) this would be a great replacement for hot cocoa after sledding. It’s probably around the same amount of calories, but it has that little bit of caffeine that hot cocoa lacks. It could help you resist that post-sledding nap.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s other than a little bit of calcium and vitamin a, it really doesn’t have a lot of stuff (good or bad) in it. The ingredients list is fairly wholesome: water, black tea, black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, natural flavors, cane sugar, honey, natural flavors, ginger juice, vanilla extract, citric acid. While it’s not as good as a tea bag straight from the box, I can bet you’ll find a lot more crazy chemicals in your average pouch of hot cocoa.

What’s your hot beverage of choice? Have you tried chai? If not, get a coupon and give it a try. Then let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: I received free product in making this review. However, the opinions shared here are my own.


The Six Stages of Tech Failure & Loss


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Despite being a fairly tech-savvy person, I seem to have bad luck with computers and technology. I read an article that said about 80 percent of hard drives make it to or past four years before dying. Well, I’m guess I’m just really good at picking bad computers because the hard drive in my last computer crashed after about three years and the MacBook I got for Christmas in 2013 seems to have just crashed – of course just a few months from the end of the warranty. The frustration level is up to HERE.

I know technology is nothing to stress over. No use crying over broken tech, right? It’s a just a material object and there are so many things in life that are more important. However, ever since I was a youngster IMing all my BFFs to say ~*~*LYLAS*~*~ and putting up away messages with super cool song lyrics, I freak out when technology doesn’t go my way. I’ve noticed every time technology fails me or I can’t seem to figure something out with my tech, I go through a series of emotions that you might call the Six Stages of Tech Grief.

1. Denial. My computer froze. I’ll give it a second. (3 minutes later) I’ll  give it another minute. Oh, I must’ve had one too many tabs open. Let me just force turn it off and turn it back on. Yea, that will definitely do it. It’s not very old and everyone says Macs are so reliable so there’s no way it could be totally broken.

2. Unrelenting research. Crap. It won’t turn back on. Using my phone, iPad, or even resorting to my husband’s old laptop from college which we’ve saved just for situations like this, I Google the heck out of whatever issue my technology is facing. Luckily, I almost always learn that the problems I am facing with tech, others have faced and overcome. This too shall pass! I can fix this. Hallelujah!

3. Begging & Despair  (or, seeking assistance). I researched and was not able to solve. For a second I feel like THE WORLD IS ENDING NOW. All hope is lost. Rather than give up, I turn to begging. I start asking any tech-savvy friends or family members about my tech problem and possibly even taking it to a shop for help (in my most recent case, the Apple store). PLEASE OH PLEASE just help me save my files, Dad/Friend/Cousin/Genius/Anyone who knows anything! (You would think that after having one hard drive crash on me I would learn to be better about backing up my information. Second time’s a charm?)

4. Anger. When the “Genius” can’t immediately fix it either, and I realize I am going to have to pay money to possibly not even resolve the issue on a computer that is only about three months out of warranty, this causes anger. Serious anger. I want to cry and break things at the same time as if that would somehow fix faulty technology. Note: Breaking things never helps the actual problem (even if it makes you feel better.) Hey, technology grief is almost never logical. SO MANY BAD FEELS RIGHT NOW.

5. Complaining on social media, texting and/or voicing frustration to anyone who will listen. Posting on Facebook is a must. Texting my best friends and airing my grievances also has to be done. I need that reassurance that I am not a lunatic for being so angry about my technology not working! When you’re facing a tech crisis: A good friend will tell you everything is going to be OK; a best friend will join you in cursing the name of the company that made your computer and, in effect, caused you this technology pain!

6. Acceptance. After many deep breaths, and plenty of complaining to others, you start to get over it. It’s just technology, no one’s out to get you, and your hard drive crash does not mean God hates you. Maybe God’s trying to teach you a lesson, but God doesn’t hate you. Right…? Right. It just means it’s technology. As one of my J-school profs used to always say, technology will always fail you when you need it most. That’s just life in today’s society, a modern take on Murphy’s Law.

All exaggerating aside, I know there must be others out there who have gone through similar stages of technology grief and loss. Comment below and tell me what steps I’m missing!

2015 Super Bowl Ad Favorites

It’s all over, the Patriots won, I rocked my office Super Bowl Squares and tweeted my heart out about the ads. Did you miss them? You can watch all the national ads here.

This year, we had a lot less humor than we usually have. Many ads were inspiring, caring, loving. Positivity seemed to be the name of the game. In my last post, I shared how the McDonald’s McLovin promotion helped to spread positivity and that’s something that is so greatly needed in our world. I’m glad that some of this year’s Super Bowl ads did just that.

Dads were another theme this year. I’m fortunate enough to have an awesome father who has always been there for me, so I could really relate to these ads and in fact they made me feel quite emotional

Here’s a rundown of my five favorite 2015 Super Bowl Ads:

5. Toyota – My Bold Dad

Being in my twenties, I’ve realized how much my parents in general have done for me. Moms get a lot of deserved recognition but we don’t always recognize everything our dad does for us. It didn’t completely relate to the brand/product, but it was a memorable ad that was entertaining and I enjoyed watching it.

4. Budweiser – Lost Dog

Animals saving animals? That’s almost always going to be a guaranteed win. My husband and I have been thinking about getting a dog soon so this ad was especially touching for us.

3. Always – Like a Girl

This ad was not new but I still love it just like I did the first time I saw it. A girl can do anything, including be a fast runner, a smart student, an innovative scientist, or anything else in the world. Society has put the “like a girl” label on things as a way to say you are bad at something which is just sad. Females of all generations need to stand up for each other and prove that we are strong in whatever facet of life we prefer. Ads like this that bring attention to the issue of gender inequality can help spark conversation and perhaps bring about change. Any ad that does that is very important in my book.

2. Coca Cola – Make It Happy

As I mentioned in my last post, I feel like I see so much negativity these days, especially on social media. And we’ve all heard the tragic stories about youth who are bullied online. I think Coke’s idea to spread happiness is perfect and right on brand. If you haven’t done so yet, check out It not only shows the real-time “sentiment” based on how people on Twitter are talking, but it allows you to share a happy post when you see a negative post on Twitter, Facebook or elsewhere. Definitely worth keeping an eye on that site.

1. Dove Men+Care 

See number one, pretty much. My eyes welled up as I watched that one. I was quickly brought back to life when they showed the product, but for a few seconds, they really had me.

What ad or ads were your favorite this year?

McDonald’s Spreads the McLovin’ – Literally

McDonald’s is sort of a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t want to like it and I don’t want to go there because I know it’s not healthy, but every now and then on a super stressful day or when I have no time, I’ll stop and treat myself. According to recent news, I’m not the only millennial wishing to avoid the food chain, and they have started efforts to improve their brand image among millennials. For example, recently I caught their SnapChat ad and have heard their catchy, folks-y songs on the radio.

They’re great marketing pieces and they got my attention, but they didn’t grab my heartstrings. What did was a promotion they are currently running that allows select customers to “pay” for their McDonald’s order with hugs, “I love yous” to mom and dancing.

In fact, they’ll be airing an ad during the Super Bowl talking about this promotion, which I think is quite smart. In today’s world, we often go through the motions and forget the things that really matter. We don’t tell our moms or siblings or significant others that we love them as often as we should. And our worry of looking silly might cause us to dance less frequently, if ever, and forget about the importance of smiling, having fun and enjoying life.

Working in social media and reading comments people make to news stories in social media these days, I see there is a lot of negativity in our world. But little acts of kindness can add up. I think what McDonald’s is doing is smart and helpful to our world. Even if that call to your mom is tied to you getting a free hashbrown, maybe it will help you to step back and think about your actions. Think about how you can appreciate others you care about or even how you can comfort those in the world who might be suffering.

A little positivity – whether the objective is to sell burgers or just to be nice – can go a long way in our world!

Relax – or treat a friend – with Dr. Teal’s this Holiday Season


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The holidays often add stress into our lives, so this is a perfect time of year to treat yourself to a bag of Dr. Teal’s as a holiday gift to yourself or even get a bag for a friend! For me, nothing is more relaxing or more sleep-inducing than a hot bath right before bed. It allows me to become calm, reflect upon the ddr tealsay I’ve had, and sooth achy muscles.

Dr. Teal’s lavendar salts are a wonderful treat and they take the relaxation of a bath to the next level. They are especially soothing at this time of year when it’s cold. I learned that epsom salts have many uses in addition to soothing muscles, which is what I primarily use it for. Some other examples:

  • The salts detoxify you helping your skin feel rejuvinated.
  • Create a homemade hair volumizer “by combining equal parts Epsom Salt and conditioner. Apply and leave in for 20 minutes before rinsing. Repeat the treatment weekly.” (I’m going to have to try this, although my hair is already pretty thick!)
  • Facial exfoliation (add to cleanser once a week)
  • Sunburn relief (It will be a while before I can try this one in living in Western New York, but interesting nonetheless!)
  • Relieves dry lips
  • Helps remedy bee stings and splinters

Check out the amazing uses for epsom salts for more information.

Right now, Dr. Teal’s is hosting an Instagram promotion through which a weekly winner will receive a relax pack. Check out the details here: 

If you’re on Instagram, this is a great opportunity to see if you can win a great product while also joining the conversation of many who have been talking about Dr. Teal’s on Instagram.

What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind after a hard day (or week) – or even during the holiday season?  

Full disclosure: I received a bag of Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salts  for free as part of a mission with You can join, too, and have a chance to receive missions with free samples to try!

Clump & Seal Litter Gets Two Thumbs Up!



I am a proud mama of two kitties whom I love to death. (No seriously, I always try to ElmyraHuggingBuster&Babshug them and they just want to run away. My husband calls me Elmyra from Tiny Toons…)But one thing I do not love is the litter box they cats need in our relatively small apartment (at least small compared to a house), and litter box changing is my chore. A few months ago we got a covered litter box and that helps a little bit with the smell and the dust, but it’s still so dusty inside the box. We had been using Arm & Hammer Double Duty and it kept the smell at an acceptable level even if it is a bit dusty.

After receiving a coupon for a free box of Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal litter, I don’t want to ever use the Double Duty kind again! Clump & Seal is awesome. It’s so much less dust and less mess. It smells better for longer and the cats don’t seem to shoot it out of the box quite as much (don’t get me wrong, they do a little bit. But it’s much better with this litter).

For me, the only drawback of this litter is that they don’t (yet) carry it at my local grocery story, Wegmans, which is where I buy my litter 99 percent of the time. As soon as they start carrying it there, I will give it five full stars! I was able to find it at Petco and Target, both of which are just a short drive away. It seems a shame to make a drive just for kitty litter, but it really is a lot better than our old litter!

I know tons of cat lovers out there who are probably sick of the dusty litter, too. If you are, check out the NEW ARM & HAMMER (TM) CLUMP & SEAL (TM) Cat Litter. (Click the link for a coupon!)

Try it and tell me if you like it, or share what your litter of choice is. And don’t forget to tell you about your furbabies, too! Here are my kitties, Gabby (looking up) and Bonnie (the hipster, looking cool by looking away from the camera). ImageFull disclosure: I received this box of litter for free as part of a mission with You can join, too, and have a chance to receive missions with free samples to try!

A healthy dinner is just a zip away

Lately I have been trying to eat healthier and one way to do this is by steaming more veggies (rather than pan frying them on the stove all the time). I have also thought about steaming meat or seafood but did not know how to go about this.

This picture is blurry because I couldn't wait to go eat this fish I made with Old Bay in a Ziploc Zip'n Steam bag!

This picture is blurry because I couldn’t wait to go eat this fish I made with Old Bay in a Ziploc Zip’n Steam bag!

When I was shopping for Ziploc baggies today and saw the Ziploc Zip’n Steam bags, I had to try them. On the bag, it shares that they are great for cooking seafood, and I happened to have an uncooked tilapia filet at home for dinner, so I thought I would give it a shot.

I can’t lie, I was nervous to cook food in my microwave. Don’t get me wrong. I love using the microwave. But I am very picky when it comes to fish. I don’t like fishy fish. It is especially odd since half of my family lives near the Virginia coast and lives off seafood, but I am not a fan of eating something I can taste came straight from the ocean.

Fish is pretty easy to cook anyway, but these bags just made it even easier, and the fish was so good! Moist, flaky, perfectly cooked. I can’t wait to try chicken in the bag.

Here is how I made the fish:

  1. Remove fish from packaging (I used tilapia from Wegmans). Rinse and then dry with a paper towel.
  2. Put a little garlic powder and a teaspoon or so of Old Bay seasoning (best stuff ever for seafood) and rub it all over one side of the fish. Flip and repeat.
  3. Put the fish in the bag and seal tight, making sure any air is out.
  4. Stick in the microwave. I cooked my filet (about 6 ounces) for about 4 minutes and 30 seconds and at the same time, also cooked a small baked potato at the same time. While the fish is cooking, the bag will expand. This is normal.
  5. Take a look to see if it’s done. I am always nervous that my fish won’t be done and prefer it overcooked rather than undercooked, so I ran mine for another 30 seconds just to be sure. By then it was so flaky it was falling apart.

Voila! I did still eat this with my signature “tartar” sauce (ketchup and mayo – it’s definitely a childhood comfort food for me but hey, it’s only about 60 calories). For sides, I put a tablespoon of sour cream on my potato and I also had some fresh baby spinach (with a splash of apple cider vinegar, another child comfort food as I would only eat green veggies like spinach with vinegar as a kid) that I had steamed on the stove.

All together, this meal was about 350 calories and took me less than 10 minutes to cook with very little clean up. Just throw away the plastic steam bag!

Has anyone else had any luck with using the Ziploc Zip’n Steam bags or any other steaming relate products?

Apps like Snapchat illustrate change in communication for youth


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When I first started college back in 2006, one of the most exciting aspects for me was getting my own college .edu email address. Having that meant I could join older friends on Facebook, and I could not wait to be able to have a Facebook account.

Things have changed quite a bit in the last seven years since then. Now it’s not college students who are excited to join Facebook, it’s middle schoolers and those under 13. And Facebook is beginning to lose even that age group.

Because of this, it makes perfect sense for Facebook to begin buying mobile app services like Instagram. Most recently, Facebook attempted to purchase Snapchat for $3 million but did not succeed as Snapchat explores other offers it has received. On the flip side, it also makes sense for Snapchat to refuse the offer, seeking ways to stay as “hip” as possible with youngins. Who would have thought Facebook would ever be considered a social network for “old” people?

Apps like Snapchat show a significant change in the way our youth are communicating. They have learned that parents, family and other adults are on social networks like Facebook, leaving little room for a “private” conversation with a friend. For marketers, this is an interesting trend to consider. If a person leans more toward messaging apps like this and less toward social networks like Facebook, this could mean a shift for marketers is on the horizon. This also continues to prove the idea that today’s consumers are much more interested in short communications (think 6 second Vine vids) and have less interest in the more complicated, lengthy communications. 

Personally, I have started using Snapchat to communicate with a few very close friends from college. We send each other goofy pictures but no truly meaningful conversation takes place there, at least for us. However, the future may show us more implications and uses for this app than we could have imagined. 

Do you use Snapchat? If so, in what ways? What uses could Snapchat have for marketers?

Authenticity matters in TV show sponsorships

Product placement and sponsorships definitely have their value in marketing, but there is a certain point at which the mentions become, well, annoying.

Unfortunately, it looks like tonight’s episode of Master Chef is a prime example. I have been watching this show with my husband since the second season and am by no means a food expert. However, I enjoy watching the show to learn a little more about cooking and to see what “average” people can do with food. It’s inspiring!

Or at least it was, until Walmart all but took over the show.

Sponsorships can be very useful from a marketing standpoint. They help people learn about a product or company, and they help a company spread its message. However, there is a tasteful way to do this, and having the “contestants” of a “reality TV show” say such obviously scripted lines is not the way. It feels fake and it is frustrating to watch as a viewer (although it does provide a good talking point among fans on Twitter). Maybe this might be just what Walmart wanted. Perhaps they were thinking of this old adage when making their decision: Any “press” (in this case, social media press) is good “press”. 

I disagree. I shop at Walmart from time to time, and I doubt I will cease shopping there all together any time soon. However, sponsorships like this, that repeatedly and relentlessly try to “trick” me into thinking these nearly professional amateur chefs — and the master chefs themselves — actually say the things they say in real life is just absurd.

Master Chef and Walmart, I am not stupid. I know what real people sound like and what real recommendations sound like. A marketing tactic like sponsorship or product placement should not come off so obviously as a paid ad. In an age of speedy discussion and social networking discussion, being authentic has never been more important!

Do you have any other examples of absurd product placements in a TV show or movie? If you’re a marketer, how do you keep product placements/mentions or sponsorships “real”?

Technology increasingly impacts the classroom


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Education has always been important to me; it is essentially what has allowed me to be where I am today. Throughout my own educational career, technology has changed almost every aspect of our lives, including the way we learn.

I remember the first time I heard about the “World Wide Web” back in elementary school. I think I was in third grade. I can’t remember the rest of the sentence she said, but I very distinctly remember my computer teacher saying “World Wide Web.” It sounded so funny to me, and I didn’t like it because I didn’t like spiders. I couldn’t comprehend what this meant. Was there a web out there somewhere? Little did I know this short phrase would change our lives so dramatically! But I digress.

Today at all educational levels, technology makes it easier to explain and take in new information. Rather than list facts myself, here is a wonderful graphic that cites some of the statistics surrounding technology and education.

If you’re a teacher, how do you use technology in the classroom? If you’re a student, how does your teacher use it? Or how do you wish your teacher used it?

 What do we Know Infographic


Infographic courtesy of