Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aurora - Sea Sparkles

My daughter adores mermaids. So when I learned that Aurora had a new line, called Sea Sparkles, I knew that she would be head over heals for these mermaid dolls!

Aurora was created back in 1981and has grown to be the leading supplier of affordable, high quality gift products. We frequently see Aurora's fantastic products when we are out shopping. Their quality and design always catches my eye and my daughter's attention.

We have been fortunate enough to have several Aurora products that we have purchased, been given as gifts, and even received for reviews. So I already knew that I should expect a very high quality toy. When the box arrived my daughter was so anxious to open it up and find the mermaid that she had picked out online.

Morgana arrived in perfect condition and even better than we expected. The details on the doll are beautiful. From her shimmering fin to her sparkling jewel. She is the perfect size for my daughter to play with and cuddle. Her hair is beautiful and hasn't tangled! I know all you moms can appreciate that!

Here are some product details about this fabulous new line of dolls:

The Sea Sparkles collection now includes new 10", 18", 38" mermaids plus four 27" mermaids. (small, medium, large and extra large sizes; SRP: range from $8-$70).

Each mermaid has long yarn hair and her dress is accented with a shiny jewel.

The holiday-themed Merry Mermaids, "Joy" and "Noel," are beautifully dressed in holiday hats and rich, sparkly fabrics; makes a great seasonal gift.

Sea Sparkles items are suitable for all ages.

Aurora's Sea Sparkles can be purchased at retail or online at the official Aurora shop: (direct link:  Aurora is offering free Shipping on orders over $50; use promo code: YooHoo13.

I would highly recommend these beautiful dolls for any little girl. They open up a world of adventure and imagination. Morgana has already been introduce to my daughter's other friends and they are always taking swimming lessons, visiting grottos, and sometimes getting into trouble.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cascade Platinum

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Cascade. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Of all the chores in the world that I wish I could give away... I think washing dishes would be the one. It's not the most difficult of jobs, but every time I turn around the sink is full of dishes. I feel like it's the bottomless pit of chores. Add to it the fact that we are washing a bazillion bottles a day and you can start to understand my pain.

For most people, doing the dishes isn't too terrible because they can use their dishwasher. I stopped using my dishwasher about a year ago because I felt that it was more trouble then it's worth. We have hard water, so everything was coming out spotty. It's also an older machine, so things were coming out still dirty. It was no longer a matter of loading the machine. It was now a routine of prerinsing, loading the machine, spot checking, rewashing, putting dishes away. That's enough to make anyone question if the dishwasher was saving them any time.

So when I was given the opportunity to try Cascade Platinum I was excited to see if I would have any better luck and be able to cut out some of the steps I was taking. So I made some of my mother-in-law's famous pineapple stuffing and got a pretty crusty dish. I didn't do any prerinsing and I filled the dishwasher up with out daily dishes as well. I wanted to see how it did on the tough stuff and the every day stuff.

Overall I was very happy with the results. The casserole dish came out completely free of any gunk! Woohoo! My glasses came out with very little spotting from the hard water. And all of the plates and bowls were spotless. I didn't have to rewash anything! And I loved the lemon fresh scent and how easy and convenient the little packets are. 

I feel confident that I could use Cascade Platinum and not have to prewash, rewash, or inspect every dish at the end of the cycle.This is something I could get used to! And Gail Simmons, Top Chef judge and editor of Food+Wine Magazine, agrees. She has partnered with Cascade to discuss why presentation is just as important as preparation.

· From prep to plating: It’s more than just a great-tasting recipe, but also perfect presentation.
Sparkling dishes, shining flat ware and spot-free glasses truly let you put your best food forward
with culinary creations that pop!
· Gail recommends impressing with a Platinum Presentation: “The easiest recipes pop with
unexpected, gourmet presentations. Drizzle bright sauces on sparkling white plates or layer
desserts in crystal-clean glassware. Keep your presentation sparkling with Cascade Platinum,
which keeps dishes perfect for anytime entertaining and impromptu guests.”

And be sure to check out the Cascade Platinum Contest. The Cascade “My Platinum” contest is a four-week Instagram contest encouraging fans to upload photos related to the weekly contest themes. Show off how sparkly Cascade makes all your pots, pan and plates!

· Visit the contest landing page ( for information on how to
enter and submit images:
· Each week, two contestants will be selected to receive a brand new Whirlpool
dishwasher. Additionally, one lucky grand prize winner will receive a Platinum kitchen.

Check Cascade out on Facebook for all the latest news! And you can also check them out on Instagram at #MyPlatinum. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Thumbs Up Wine WineFinder Mobile App

I don't know about you, but I really enjoy a good glass of wine. With the craziness that comes with being a mom of two.... sitting down and relaxing with a glass doesn't happen all the often. So when it does I like to know that I am going to be having something I will like.

While I do enjoy wine, I don't know too much about it. Well, at least I didn't think I did. I was contacted by Thumbs Up Wine to give their mobile app, Thumbs Up WineFinder, a try. By simply downloading this nifty app to my phone I now have the power to know everything I need to know to find the perfect bottle of wine for my taste, the type of food I am preparing, and my price range. So I started to play with this app to get to know the features and how easy it is to use. I did a search for my favorite red wine... Rosemont Shiraz... and I was so pleased to see what the results brought up. Not only is this wine one that Thumbs Up Wine recommends, but I also learned that I am getting more for my money. This particular wine is priced at about $10 but is valued at about $30. More for your money! So while I didn't think I knew anything about wine this app helped confirm that I have good taste (while still being on a budget)!

Here is a short video that will give you a great overview of the app and how you can use it at your local major chain grocery store or warehouse.

My husband and I have found this app to be very helpful. We have used it while shopping to find something according to what we are making for dinner. We have also used in restaurants to decide on a glass of wine. And just the other night we whipped it out at a neighborhood happy hour and looked up some of the wines to see what flavors were in them, what they paired nicely with, and if they were a good value. Everyone loved it!

While there are lots of great features of the app, I have to say that my two favorite things about the app are how quick and easy it is to use and being able to pick a price range. When I am shopping for my husband and I, we tend to look for less expensive. So now we can quickly see if the wine is recommended and if it's a good value. But when I am shopping for a gift or something to bring to someones house I like to spend a little more. This app will be my go-to when shopping for wine!

Along with the app we got to try one of their recommended wines. We checked out a 2010 Bogle Vineyards Essential Red, Old Vine, Red Blend. After one glass I knew why they have recommended this wine... it was fabulous. So we looked it up on our app and learned that this bottle retails for about $11 but they valued it at $36! Wow, now that's a bargain for a great bottle of wine. We also learned that it pairs great with pasta and pizza... so we made a pizza and had another glass.

I would highly recommend you check out Thumbs Up WineFinder on iTunes today!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

This Momma's Doing it Herself!

Time to learn a little more about me. Here it is... I'm crafty. Ok, so it's not hue or exciting news. But when I was growing up my mom tried SO hard to teach my sister and I am kind of crafty things. She was an art major in college so we were always drawing, painting, bedazzling (yeah, do you remember that??)... and her biggest joy in life... sewing.

So back then I hated to sew. I thought it was a waste of time to make little clothes for stuffed bunnies. So I didn't pay too much attention and just preferred that she do it because it looked better that way. Sewing failure. 

Fast forward to my college days and after a few changes of my major I end up with a major in... art. Yep, some of my mom's talent and ambition had stuck with me. So I started drawing and painting and loved every minute of it. But sewing was not on my curriculum.

Now here I am with a little girl of my own and all I want to do is be able to make clothes for her and her dolls. So I called upon my mom to try again to teach me to sew. And this time... this time I got it! 

And I made my first dress!!

So my amazing husband bought me my own sewing machine... and it arrived today! So I am super excited to start trying new things. If anyone has any great blogs or websites for sewing tips or ideas please share them. And I will be sure to keep you up-to-date on my sewing adventures!

Monday, June 17, 2013


is now available on Blu-ray!

Film Synopsis:
When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Fame and fortune are his for the taking. That is until he meets three witches: Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting.  Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late.  Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity and even a bit of wizardry, Oscar transforms himself not only into a great wizard but into a better man as well.

 My Thoughts:
June has brought a bunch of weird weather to our area. Many nights have been filled with rain and thunderstorms. So on Friday night the whole family gathered around for a special movie night to watch OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL.

My daughter is a big fan of the Wizard of OZ and can tell you everything about that story. So when we explained to her that this story would help us learn about the wizard and how he came to OZ she was very excited. Throughout the film she would point out things that she recognized from the Wizard of OZ, like when the lion makes a momentary appearance and how both movies start out in Kansas and in black and white.

My entire family enjoyed watching this film together. My favorite character was Finley. I felt like he was goofy but had a heart of gold. Without him I don't know if OZ would have been able to become a better man. My daughter's favorite was Evanora because she wore a beautiful sparkly dress. She also tends to like villans, so this wasn't much of a surprise. My husband liked OZ the most. He felt that he was pretty magical even if it was all a sleight of hand.

The movie is full of magic and adventure. There is also love, friendship, and teamwork. From beginning to end we were excited by the unpredicatable events that take place. I really did think that OZ was up in the balloon. And it was really cool how they pulled together an explination of why OZ is behind the curtain and how he came up with that idea.

I would definitely recommend this movie for a great family movie night!

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Great Gifts for Dad from Staples

Father's Day is right around the corner... but there is still time to get dad the perfect gift! I don't know about you, but Father's Day shopping is quite the chore for me. Since my kids are still so small, the responsibiity of getting the perfect gift from them to their dad falls on me. And he is hard to shop for!

This year I wanted to get something that my husband and my kids could enjoy. Something he wants but would also be functional. I mean, how many "World's Best Dad" coffee mugs can a guy have? So I was excited when Staples reached out with some great ideas for dads.

Staples has the selection you are looking for to find just what you need. Does yoru dad like to play video games? Does he need a new T.V.? How about an E-Reader or an iPod? I can see your creative juices flowing as I throw out these awesome gift ideas.

For my husband, Staples had exactly what I needed.... a digital camera that could come with us on all our summer adventures. The Fuji XP55 digital camera has a 5x optical zoom, 2.7" LCD screen, and is waterproof up to 5 meters. That last feature was just the one I was looking for!

With this camera my husband can now capture even more moments and memories with our kids. From swimming in the pool to boating at the lake... to sunny days at the beach and adventures at Sesame Place... we won't miss a moment now that we have a camera that can go anywhere with us. And the size makes it easy to take on the go.

How else would we capture moments like this?
You can check out their entire line of cameras online.

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* provided me with a camera for this review. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Just Like My Papa - by Toni Buzzeo - Book Tour

Just Like My Papa
by Toni Buzzeo

Just Like My Papa, by Toni Buzzeo, is the perfect book to read this Father's Day. With beautiful illustrations done by Mike Wohnoutka, you and your child are taken to the African safari. There you will meet Kito, a lion cub who clearly idolizes his Papa, the king. This story is one that many father/child relationships can identify with. Kito wants to be right there by his Papa's side doing everything he does, even the things he's not quite ready for. It's a beautiful story with beautiful illustrations to take you away.

I really enjoyed reading this book with my daughter and husband. We all sat down together and my husband read it aloud. As the story went on my daughter cuddled up even closer to her daddy. I could tell by her reactions that she was understanding the tale and showing her love and adoration for her daddy while he read. This book will be treasured by my husband as he retells it to my daughter and looks forward to sharing it with my my son when he gets a little bigger. 

Toni Buzzeo is a fabulous author who knows about books! She very kindly shared with me her suggestions for some great summer reading for you and your children. To me, there is nothing better then cuddling up after a long day in the sun and sharing a story. I know I will be looking into some of these titles this summer!

And be sure to visit the next stop on Toni's book tour, One Book at a Time

From Toni:
Summer reading! When I was a kid, summer was all about reading, whether lying under a tree or snuggled next to Grandma, I devoured stacks and stacks of books each summer. And I was lucky enough to come from a devoted library-using family, so it was an absolutely free summer pastime.

To cultivate the reading habit in our little ones, all we have to do is give them plenty of opportunity to explore books and set aside time to share books with them in a relaxed setting, whether at the beach or on a porch swing with a glass of lemonade. Here are some titles to look for next time you go to the library or bookstore.

*Just Like My Papa by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Hyperion 2013)
My latest book will take you and your child to the African savanna where Papa Lion is busy protecting the pride and being king while little cub Kito is busy emulating his Papa. With gorgeous illustrations and a lyrical text, it makes a perfect read aloud—especially for Father’s Day.

You might also enjoy these companion picture book titles that feature fathers and/or big cats:

*Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (Houghton Mifflin, 2012)
*It’s a Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree, illustrated by Betsy Snyder (Blue Apple Books, 2013)
*Saturday is Dadurday by Robin Pulver, illustrated by R.W. Alley (Walker, 2013)
*Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (Candlewick, 2009)

*Stay Close to Mama by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Hyperion, 2012)
Little Twiga is very curious and eager to explore his wide savanna world. Mama, on the other hand, is eager to keep him close and safe. Following closely behind her baby, Mama witnesses several close calls in this beautifully illustrated book with a refrain that is fun for young listeners to chime in on.

You might also enjoy these companion picture book titles that feature mothers and/or life on the savanna:

*Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney (Viking, 2007)
*Water Hole Waiting by Jane Kurtz and Christopher Kurtz, illustrated by Lee Christiansen (Greenwillow, 2002)
*Chirchir is Singing by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Jude Daly (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011)
*Jubela by Cristina Kessler, illustrated by JoEllen McAllister Stammen (Simon & Schuster, 2001)

*One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small (Dial, 2012)
When Elliot, a proper young boy, and his gentle but distracted father go to the aquarium on Family Fun Day, Elliot brings home a penguin because he thought his father said that he could. With delightful graphic illustrations and plenty of humor, this book begs to be re-read.

You might also enjoy these companion picture book titles that feature misunderstandings, offbeat adventures, and/or interesting illustration styles:

*When Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum, 2007)
*The Kindhearted Crocodile by Lucia Panzieri , illustrated by AntonGionata Ferrari (Holiday House, 2013)
*Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (Knopf, 2012)
*Ish by Peter H. Reynolds (Candlewick, 2004)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cate and Levi - Shark and Guppy Slippers

Cate and Levi have done it again! Their creative masterminds have come up with another unique and adorable product for babies, toddlers, and kids of all ages (and yes, I do mean all ages moms and dads).

These adorable slippers will be available exclusively from Uncommon Goods. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cate and Levi - New Puppets!

My kids love Cate and Levi's puppets... and so do I. My daughter thinks they are super cute and could spend hours putting on a puppet show for us. I like them for a few more reasons besides the fact that they are super cute (which they are!).

Cate and Levi are a Canadian based company that uses all natural and reclaimed materials to create their gorgeous one of a kind items. Each item is literally one of a kind with no two items being exactly the same. So while being environmentally friendly they are also providing with a unique and special item to love.

Cate and Levi offers a great assortment of products from puppets to backpacks to blankets and more. And they recently expanded their line of puppets by adding some new adorable faces. My family was lucky enough to get the chance to check one of them out in person!

When I was asked to pick one of the new puppets for review I had to think about it for awhile. The duck, shark, horse, dragon, kangaroo and joey, and elephant all had something special about them. But ultimately I fell in love with the elephant!

The detail in this little guy is amazing. I am blown away by the quality and can tell that this puppet is built to last. When I can find a toy that encourages my daughter to use her imagination and be as creative as possible I am sold. Cate and Levi does just that... they provide a quality product at an affordable price. They are a small business making a big difference.

Our elephant has found a happy spot on our puppet stand. He comes out often to visit and can often be found sneaking up behind you when you're sitting on the couch. I love every minute of watching my daughter become her elephant friend. I love the stories and creativity that emerges with this adorable puppet.

Check out Cate and Levi to learn more and see all their cute puppets and other products!


I really enjoy giving and receiving personal gifts. And to me, there is nothing more personal then something with a photo on it. We all know the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. I find this to be incredibly true and treasure any item that has a picture of a loved one or favorite memory on it.

Now that I have kids, my house is filled with pictures. They are on the walls, my coffee mug, hanging on the Christmas tree, even on my jewelry box. Shutterfly makes it so easy to turn your memories into so many cool things.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to create something special on Shutterfly's website. From beginning to end it was an easy process. I began by logging in (I already had an account... but signing up is easy and free) and browsing their nice sized selection of gifts. I found so many cute things, like iPhone covers, puzzles, plates and more. But I spotted something that really stood out to me as special and very usable... a fleece photo blanket.

Then the fun part came in. I uploaded some photos from my computer and picked a layout for my blanket. I wanted to use a few pictures, so I played around with the number of photos I wanted and where I wanted them placed. Then I chose a background color. Shutterfly has it in a step-by-step process that just walks you through.

When I was done I just added it to my cart and placed my order. Then the hard part came... waiting for it to arrive so I could see my finished product in person! Luckily Shutterfly is fast and I received a notice that my blanket had shipped in just a couple of days. And before I knew it... it was here!

I love this blanket. The material is different then I expected... not so much fleecy but still soft and cuddly. It's big! So the kids are bigger then life sized. And the pictures are clear and crisp. We have had so many comments on this blanket about how lovely and special it is. My mother in law has been eying it, so now we have a great gift idea for her.

I was very pleased with the entire process of creating this blanket on Shutterfly. From the easy step-by-step creating stage to ordering and receiving the final product. The blanket is a high quality material that will last for many years and make our family smile every time we look at it. Thanks Shutterfly!

* I received a gift code to order an item from Shutterfly. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.