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Pics ‘n’ Props Makes it Easy to Snap Adorable First Birthday Photos

Posted on Sep 30, 2014 by No Comments

My son’s first birthday has long passed, but I still drag out the pictures every year for a trip down memory lane.

If you’re about to celebrate your child’s first birthday, I love this first birthday photo prop kit from Hallmark. It includes a wide assortment of word bubble photo props, a birthday hat, a high chair banner, and a “1” shirt sticker for the birthday boy. This is everything you need to guarantee super cute pictures of your baby’s special day!

After the occasion, the kit includes a themed album you can use for sharing up to 32 of your favorite 4×6 photos. I took nearly 100 pictures at my son’s first birthday party, so you should have no trouble filling this album up with your favorite birthday memories.

pix2The Boy’s First Birthday Kit sells for $24.95 on the Hallmark website. There is also a Girl’s First Birthday Kit that is similarly designed.

The Boy’s and Girl’s First Birthday Kits are part of Hallmark’s Pics ‘n’ Props line, which includes kits for several different occasions.

I have their First Day of School and Christmas kits, both of which I love. (They’re not currently available for sale online, but I’d highly recommend picking them up if you can snag one at your local Hallmark store.)

All of the Pics ‘n’ Props items are made from a fairly sturdy cardstock, so they hold up well as long as you’re not overly rough with them. I took Christmas pictures on four separate occasions last year and had no problems with my props getting damaged after being handled by a crowd of people.

Photo credit: Hallmark

Posh Coloring Books Make Coloring Fun for Grown-ups

Posted on Sep 29, 2014 by No Comments

Coloring isn’t just for kids any more. Grown-up coloring is quickly becoming an alternative to traditional crossword and Sudoku puzzles. It’s an established activity in countries such as the United Kingdom and France, where adult coloring books are now outselling cookbooks!

Regardless of your age, coloring is a therapeutic, almost meditative activity. It requires almost no brain power, yet is a creatively fulfilling way to unwind and relieve stress. I used to color alongside my son, but now it’s something I’ll do while watching TV to help me resist the temptation to snack mindlessly.

For adults interested in something more challenging than the typical child’s coloring book, Andrews McMeel has introduced a line of new Posh coloring books featuring intricate, high-quality line drawings designed to appeal to the more advanced tastes and coloring skills of adults.

poshThere are three titles available:

Each title is available in the original Posh format (7×9 inches) as well as the smaller Pocket Posh size (4×6 inches). The smaller size is the perfect option to slip inside your purse or briefcase for on-the-go fun.

If you’re a cardmaker or a scrapbooker, I also noticed that the finished pages from the smaller size can easily be incorporated into these paper crafting projects.

I would suggest using colored pencils or fine tipped pens to color in the designs in these titles. The drawings are too intricate to color with crayons, but the paper is not thick enough to allow you to color with markers without bleeding through the reverse side. I’ve been using a set of colored gel pens with glitter flecked ink, which adds a fun sparkle to the finished picture.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Andrews McMeel, Dana Hinders

Fairy Tale Success Inspires Young Entrepreneurs to Reach Their Goals

Posted on Sep 26, 2014 by No Comments

Fairy-Tale Success: A Guide to Entrepreneurial Magic by Adrienne Arieff and Beverly West aims to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through all the steps of starting a business.

Adrienne Arieff is a digital and marketing communications professional formerly with one of the top PR agencies in the United States. Beverly West is President of Our Kitchen Table Books and Media, working with publishers, literary agents and individuals to develop successful books for the commercial marketplace.

In Fairy Tale Success, they turn the traditional Cinderella story on its head by encouraging female readers to take control of their destinies and create their own happy ending.

Taking the fairy tale metaphor from start to finish, the chapters in Fairy Tale Success include:

  • Reveal Your Noble Roots: Embrace Your Value
  • Wish Out Loud: Write Your Business Plan
  • Make Practical Magic: Get Funding
  • Summon Your Fairy Godmothers: Networking
  • Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Harness Social Media
  • Make a Grand Entrance: Launch Your Brand
  • Keep Your Eye on the Crown: Stay Focused
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve, Don’t Panic: Deal with Obstacles
  • If the Glass Slipper Fits, Wear It: Enjoy Your Success

Most business books are fairly dry, but this title keeps the reader’s interest by incorporating success stories from female entrepreneurs such as Jessica Cervantes of PopsyCakes, Tavi Gevinson of The Style Rookie.com and Susan Gregg Koger of ModCloth.

The success stories are informative and inspirational, but it seemed to me like they were heavily skewed towards women with an interest in fashion and beauty. I would have liked to have heard from more women in engineering, software development or other traditionally male-dominated fields.

The book is written to appeal to teens or young adults, but you’ll find some general advice to use if you’re looking to start your own home based business. The section on writing a business plan gives much more relatable tips than the entrepreneurship course I took in college and I thought the section on dealing with obstacles like a cash flow shortage or bad press via social media had some very insightful advice.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Adams Media

Salonpas Offers a Safe, Effective Way to Deal with Everyday Aches and Pains

Posted on Sep 25, 2014 by No Comments

As we all know, moms don’t get sick days and your kiddos don’t slow down just because you’re a little sore! Salonpas pain relieving patches using menthol and methyl salicylate are a great option for relieving mild to moderate aches and pains associated with backache, sprains, strains, arthritis, or bruises.

The patches are easy to apply and stay on fairly well, although I haven’t really tested how well they hold up to water because I usually change mine right after a shower. The adhesive does not irritate sensitive skin or cause pain when it is removed. (I’ve had band-aids that hurt more to take off than one of these patches.)

Salonpas patches should only be applied to clean, dry skin that does not have any open cuts or scratches.

Salonpas advertises that the patches last for up to 12 hours. I’ve gone to sleep with one on and found it worked well throughout the night. I gave a few of my samples to my mother to try and she said it lasted throughout a full day of yard work.

The Salonpas patches have a minty scent. It’s not strong enough that anyone standing more than a foot or two away from you would smell it, however.

The patches are made from a thin, flexible material that disappears under your clothes, but the generic “flesh” color is visible on your skin. If you need something that is totally invisible, Salonpas also makes a pain relieving cream and spray.

Visit the Salonpas website to learn more or to purchase products. Salonpas items can also be found in most drug and discount stores throughout the US.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Salonpas

60 Years/60 Words Challenge Marks the Release of Guinness World Records 2015

Posted on Sep 24, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a way to encourage a reluctant reader, you can’t go wrong with Guinness World Records 2015. Guinness World Record books are some of the most popular titles at schools and children’s libraries across the United States, since they provide endless trivia tidbits for younger readers to discuss with their friends.

The 2015 edition celebrates the 60th anniversary of Guinness World Records. To mark the occasion, Guinness World Records is launching the 60 Years/60 Words Challenge. From now until December 1, kids ages 7-12 can enter  this national competition by selecting their favorite world record and telling about it in 60 words.

Their entries can be posters, videos, poems, or short essays, but need to be exactly 60 words. The competition winner will earn a $500 scholarship, a copy of the Guinness World Records 2015 book, his/her photo in the 2016 book, and a $500 grant for his/her school. Ten semifinalists will win a copy of the Guinness World Records 2015 book.

If your child wants to enter this contest, submissions are accepted online at www.60words.guinnessworldrecords.com. Entries will be judged on creativity, originality, and representation of the record.

“The competition is a fun way to celebrate 60 years of record-breaking achievements,” said Stuart Claxton, Marketing Director for Guinness World Records. “I am looking forward to seeing some of these kids break their own records in the future.”

My nine-year-old is still working on choosing a record to use for his contest entry, although he’s leaning towards something in the animal or video game sections. What type of records do your children enjoy learning about?

Photo credit: Guinness World Records 2015

The KNIFEdock Makes it Easy to Organize Your Kitchen Knives

Posted on Sep 23, 2014 by 1 Comment

Quality kitchen knives are a must for any cook and the KNIFEdock is a handy way to make sure your knives stay protected and neatly organized. Most knife blocks use pre-sized slots, but the KNIFEdock has flexible cork-like dividers. This means the system can accommodate almost any size of knife.

The knives rest vertically in the trays with the blades facing down, so you can easily see what you need. The KNIFEdock is made from bamboo, which is a renewable and eco-friendly material.

kdI love the KNIFEdock because it makes it a snap to organize different sizes of knives and prevents me from having to waste valuable counter space on storing my most-used kitchen knives. I was able to put nine knives in my KNIFEdock with no problems, although my knives do not have bulky handles and most of them are fairly small blades.

The KNIFEdock is not childproof, however. The knives are easy to remove from the dividers, so you need to be certain it’s located in a spot where curious little ones aren’t going to get to it. (If you need some kitchen babyproofing tips, Baby Center has a great article regarding common safety hazards.)

The KNIFEdock  retails for $29.99.  It can be purchased at Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Crate and Barrel, and Williams Sonoma.

For more information about the KNIFEdock or any of Base 4’s other unique home organizational products, visit www.ebase4.com.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: The Container Store

Belli Offers Natural Skin Care Options Perfect for Expecting Moms

Posted on Sep 22, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a natural facial cleanser that is safe to use when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash is an excellent option.

Pregnancy can wreck havoc on your skin, but many healthcare professionals recommend avoiding salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide while you’re expecting.

Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash features lactic acid to cleanse and gently exfoliate acne prone skin; lemon peel oil to act as a natural anti-bacterial and skin brightener; and antioxidant rich cucumber and green tea extract.

The cleanser can be used after Belli Fresh Start Pre-Treatment Scrub or followed with Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment.

I’m not currently pregnant or trying to conceive, but this cleanser is a great option regardless of the reason you’re trying to avoid salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. It smells wonderful and is especially invigorating in the morning.

It doesn’t dry out your skin, which is a common problem with many anti-acne face washes. It is clear to apply, so you won’t accidentally stain your clothes or towels like you would with a product containing benzoyl peroxide.

You can also use it as an intensive facial mask by leaving it on for five minutes, which means you’re essentially getting two products in one.

If you’d like to try Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash for yourself, now is a great time! From now until September 23, Belli is having a Birthday Bash promotion. Visit the Belli website to enjoy 30% savings sitewide on Belli Skincare products with promo code (BDAYBASH30).

Enter daily to win exciting sponsored product giveaways from prestige mom and baby brands. Participating brands include Healthy Mama, Pretty Pushers, Guava Family, Birds & Bees Teas, Angelcare, Swaddle Designs, and Sticky Bellies.

Each day a different prize and/or gift certificate will be featured from a variety of brands. On the final two days of the event (September 22nd and 23rd), there will be registration for a Grand Prize Package which features prizes from all of the Belli Birthday Bash event sponsors. One lucky winner will take home the Grand Prize package valued at over $1,200 in mom and baby products.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Belli Skin Care

KIND Healthy Snacks Celebrates National Literacy Month

Posted on Sep 22, 2014 by No Comments

Do you believe every child should be able to experience the joy of a good book? Do you love KIND Healthy Snacks? If so, I have a great National Literacy Month promotion to share with you.

In honor of National Literacy Month, KIND Healthy Snacks has teamed up with First Book, a nonprofit organization that helps get books in the hands of low income children. To date, First Book has donated more than 115 million books to over 100,000 schools and programs serving needy kids.

Statistics show that 42% of children in the United States live in low income households. Many of these children have no age appropriate books at home and attend schools or day care programs without the resources needed to stock a proper library.

For every $5 donation you make to First Book on September 22-28 via www.firstbook.org/kind, two new books will be donated through First Book.

As a “thank you” to the first 1,000 people who make a donation of at least $5, KIND will send a copy of its own limited edition “book” stuffed with delicious KIND Healthy Grains bars and a 25% discount code to purchase more on kindsnacks.com.

Since 2004, KIND has been committed to providing healthy yet tasty snack options the whole family can enjoy. Their current product lineup includes 22 bars and six healthy grains snackable clusters.

The Caramel Almond & Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bars are my personal favorites, but the KIND website has several different variety packs if you’re a newbie who wants to try a bunch of different flavors before you commit to just one.

Photo credit: KIND Healthy Snacks

Juice in the Box Offers a Convenient, Eco-Friendly Alternative to Disposable Juice Boxes

Posted on Sep 19, 2014 by No Comments

Do your kids love juice boxes? Do you hate how expensive and wasteful juice boxes are? If so, you need Juice in the Box!

Juice in the Box containers are recommended for children ages 3 and up. Each contain is made from BPA and phthalate free Tritan plastic that is nearly indestructible and easy to clean.

Juice in the Box containers are easy to open, but close securely so they won’t leak in your child’s lunch box. In addition to being better for the environment than disposable juice boxes, they are also less messy since your child can’t squeeze them in the middle and send juice flying across the room.

I also like that the Juice in the Box container is bigger than a traditional purchased juice box. Most juice boxes I’ve purchased for my son in the past are about 4 ½ ounces, which means he drinks them two at a time. The Juice in the Box container is 8 ounces, which is the perfect size for his school lunch.

If health is a concern, you can make your child’s drink more nutritious by watering down 100% juice for a drink that is sweet but not overly sugary. Most nutritionists suggest a 50/50 juice and water mixture, but you can make your juice with 1/3 water if your child balks at the taste of a more diluted drink.

Juice in the Box containers come in several different colors and are each sold separately. If your juice box valve gets lost or your child gnaws apart the straw, you can purchase a kit of replacement parts. Visit the Juice in the Box website for details.

Disclaimer: Product samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.

Photo credit: Juice in the Box