Treat Yourself to a Chic Diaper Bag from House of Botori

Posted on Aug 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re still searching for the perfect diaper bag, House of Botori has several different styles and prints to choose from. The fabric patterns the company uses are inspired by the rich cultural history of Nigeria and West Africa, providing the style-conscious mom a chic alternative to the typical functional yet boring diaper bag.

Amara HOB Tote Family.PT01I recently received the Amara Shoulder Bag in the Skipper Rum Raisin print featured in the photos accompanying this post. This is a bright, cheerful bag that is sure to keep any busy mom organized.

It features four exterior and seven interior pockets with a bold purple lining that makes it easy to spot what you need inside the bag. It includes an optional strap to attach the bag to your stroller, two dirty clothes sacks, a changing pad, a mini pacifier pouch, and an insulated bottle holder. There’s also a key fob so you don’t lose your keys and a zippered interior area for stashing cash, credit cards, or other mom essentials.

One of the things I like best about this bag is that it’s been designed to be easy to clean. There are four smart feet at the base, so your bag isn’t attracting germs when you set it down on the counter, and spills can be easily wiped off the fabric.

Once your child is potty trained, I can easily see reusing this bag to stash supplies for a trip to the beach, park, or library. The interior pockets make it easy to organize everything you need and the fabric choices don’t scream “diaper bag” at all.

In fact, when my sample bag arrived, a visiting friend watched me open the package and wanted to know where she could buy a similar purse!

Visit the House of Botori website to review the company’s full line of diaper bags, as well as their line of lunch bags, beach bags, and work totes. If you sign up for the company’s newsletter, you can get an instant 25% off your first purchase!

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

Product credit: House of Botori

Marvel Ocarinas Make Learning Music Fun

Posted on Aug 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a child who loves music and is interested in superheroes, a Marvel-themed ocarina from STL Ocarina makes the perfect gift.

STL Ocarina’s Marvel Superhero line includes five new 12-hole plastic tenor ocarinas in C major inspired by Thor, Wolverine, Captain America, Spider-Man, and Iron Man. Each of these instruments measures 6 ½ inches long and is capable of pitches from A4 to F6, including sharps and flats.

The ocarinas are manufactured by STL Ocarina, a company that was established in 2005 to help revive interest in the art of ocarina playing. The company produces ocarinas for all ages and skill levels, from colorful kids’ models to professional models made of Purple Clay, a rare natural mineral found only in the region of Yixing, China.

STL Ocarinas have been used in performances by major symphony orchestras including the New World Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

Marvel Plastic Ocarinas Circle Wide_low resOcarinas are an ancient instrument played by the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas of South and Central America. Ocarinas shaped like birds and animals dating from as early as 5,000 BC have been found in India.

The ocarina was popularized in the US during WWII, but was soon eclipsed by other wind instruments.  It experienced a resurgence among musically inclined young people with the release of The Legend of Zelda video game in the 1990s.

“Not every child will actually come and study music simply because of the cost of buying a violin and the cost of lessons,” said Laura Yeh, one of the performers and music educators associated with STL Ocarina. “So we thought that for those kids that don’t otherwise get a chance to be in touch with music, what can we offer them?  The ocarina seems to be the ideal instrument. It doesn’t cost a lot and the learning curve is very, very easy for kids.”

My nine-year-old has no formal music training beyond what is offered at the local public school, but he found the Iron Man ocarina we received to be tremendously fun to play. I wouldn’t say he understands how to play an actual song quite yet, but I think it’s something he could pick up with a few weeks of regular practice or some one-on-one help from an adult who is more musically inclined than I am.

To get an idea of how the Marvel Superhero ocarinas sound, visit YouTube to check out this video of a performer playing Yankee Doodle Dandee on the Captain America Ocarina.

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

Photo credit: STL Ocarina

Lower Your Cholesterol with Corazonas Oatmeal Squares

Posted on Jul 31, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re worried about high cholesterol, Corazonas Oatmeal Squares are a tasty way to promote a healthy heart.

Each oatmeal square has 5 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein with 15-16 grams of whole grain, depending upon the flavor you select. Corazonas Oatmeal Squares are naturally low in sodium and free of trans fats, making them a sensible choice for an on-the-go breakfast or a midday snack.

To help lower cholesterol, Corazonas Oatmeal Squares contain 0.8 grams of plant sterols in each serving. Plant sterols are proven to fight heart disease by working to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. This means that eating just one Corazonas Oatmeal Square gives you the same cholesterol lowering benefit as eating 30 apples, 36 bananas, or 61 tomatoes!

My husband, who is inherently suspicious of anything labeled as health food, liked the soft and chewy Chocolate Coconut Macaroon flavor in the samples we received so well that he’s requested I order a box just for him. If you love blueberries, I highly recommend the Blueberry Oatmeal Squares.

Other available flavors include:

  • Banana Walnut Oatmeal Squares
  • Chocolate Brownie Almond Oatmeal Squares
  • Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Squares
  • Chocolate Coconut Macaroon
  • Cranberry Flax Oatmeal Squares
  • Orange Cranberry Oatmeal Squares
  • Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares
  • White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Squares

Corazonas was founded in 2005 with the goal of giving people who suffer from high cholesterol tasty yet nutritious ways to manage their cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Visit the Corazonas website to learn more about the different flavors of Oatmeal Squares or the company’s other snack products.

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

Photo credit: Corazonas

ThinkThin’s New Lean Protein & Fiber Bar Are a Healthy, Yet Tasty On-the-Go Snack

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a tasty way to get more protein and fiber into your diet, thinkThin can help. Just in time for summer, thinkThin has introduced a new line of Lean Protein & Fiber bars.

Each bar has just 150 calories, but contains 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Additionally, all flavors are gluten-free and contain only 5 grams of sugar.

Available flavors include:

  • Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate
  • Honey Drizzle Peanut
  • Salted Caramel
  • Chunky Chocolate Peanut
  • Chocolate Almond Brownie

I absolutely adored the Salted Caramel sample I received and will be ordering another box soon. It tasted almost exactly like a dark chocolate covered caramel candy and didn’t leave the funky aftertaste in my mouth that some protein bars can have.

The Chunky Chocolate Peanut was also quite tasty. The only flavor I really disliked was the Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate, which fell short of the fresh baked cinnamon roll taste I was hoping for.

The thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber bars bars are small and don’t seem to melt or crush easily, so they’re perfect for slipping in your purse as an on-the-go snack. I took one to the pool with me yesterday so I wouldn’t be tempted to buy a Snickers bar for myself when my son wanted to visit the concession stand for a treat.

ThinkThin was founded by a former model and a busy single mother of two, Lizanne Falsetto. When creating the thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber bars, her goal was to create flavors that successfully balanced nutritional value and taste. ThinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber bars are available nationwide at grocery and specialty retailers. Visit for more information.


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

Photo credit: thinkThin

ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape Is Good for More Than Just Painting Your Walls

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 by No Comments

When we moved into our home, I was very excited to be able to paint and decorate. Unfortunately, in my eagerness to paint, I failed to realize that masking tape and painter’s tape are not the same thing.

When I removed the tape from my first freshly painted wall, I realized the paint had bled undernearth the masking tape and that the masking tape had gotten stuck to the wall in places.

If you’re planning any painting projects, ScotchBlue painter’s tape is definitely worth the investment. My husband and I both agree that it produces a cleaner line than other brands of painter’s tape. It also seems to be easier to remove, although I’d recommend visiting the ScotchBlue website for some painting tips if you’re a newbie to the home improvement game.

Even if you don’t plan on painting the walls anytime soon, there are plenty of other uses for painter’s tape in your home. Since it can be safely removed from most surfaces, painter’s tape is a handy addition to any mom’s toolkit.

For example:

  • Use it in place of a chip clip to tightly seal bags of potato chips, crackers, pretzels, or other snacks for your kids.
  • If your labelmaker is broken, use painter’s tape to make easily removable labels for school supplies and other household items.
  • Entertain kids by letting them design painter’s tape race tracks for toy cars or an indoor hopscotch grid.
  • If you have pets, use painter’s tape to pick up stray pet hair from your clothing or upholstered furniture.

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

Photo credit: ScotchBlue

Tree Top Fruit Full Smoothies Let You Put Away Your Blender

Posted on Jul 29, 2014 by No Comments

If your kids love smoothies and you hate dragging out the blender every time they want a treat, you’ll want to add Tree Top’s new Fruit Full Smoothies to your grocery shopping list.

Tree Top Fruit Full Smoothies come in two flavors: strawberry and mango. They are made with 100 percent real fruit and contain no high fructose corn syrup or added sugar. Each 8 oz serving contains 130 calories and provides 3 grams of fiber with 10 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.

Fruit Full Strawberry Fruit Smoothie0d650fc5-1b64-4591-9e1d-3e3c00d315bfThe smoothies are shelf stable until open, so they are easy to store in the pantry as a special treat for your kids. My son isn’t a big fan of breakfast foods and I am incredibly lazy in the morning, so I let him have a smoothie with a piece of fresh fruit or a slice of toast.

We’re not huge mango fans, so the strawberry flavor of the Tree Top smoothies was the biggest hit in my house. The product is made from a blend of pear, apple, and strawberry puree, however, so it doesn’t taste entirely like strawberries. Our son didn’t pick up on the difference, but my husband and I noticed the hint of pear in the strawberry smoothie right away.

The texture of the smoothie wasn’t quite what I expected. It’s definitely thicker than regular juice, but quite a bit thinner than a homemade fruit smoothie. My son likes his smoothies easily drinkable with a straw, so this didn’t seem to bother him. I would have preferred something a bit thicker, however.

Tree Top Fruit Full Smoothies can be found at select grocery stores in the western United States.

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

Photo credit: Tree Top

Show Your Support for Underprivileged Children With a Pretty New Bracelet

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 by No Comments

Jaclyn Stapp, children’s book author, anti-bullying spokesperson, philanthropist, and wife of Creed’s Grammy-award winning singer Scott Stapp, recently announced the formation of her  501(c)3 non-profit organization for children called CHARM (Children Are Magical).

The group’s mission is to promote awareness of children’s issues and provide underprivileged young people with education, mentoring, and community resources that will enable them to enjoy a bright future. CHARM’s I AM STRENGTH division provides support for adults who have been affected by abuse, personal tragedy, or discrimination.

“Children need safe environments, healthy guardians, and happy homes to thrive,” Ms. Stapp said. “The vision of ‘I AM STRENGTH’ will target these needs because parents, families, and children speak a universal language. With access to the proper resources and support, folks can better handle issues while developing a purpose for creating the healthy, positive home life that every child deserves.”

To support CHARM, you can purchase the stylish I AM STRENGTH bracelet featured in this post. The bracelet was created in partnership with Masonharlie, a fashion forward jewelry collection designed  by two young mothers. The bracelet features a delicate silver chain and a silver I AM STRENGTH charm that is studded with two point diamonds. It’s available for $250, with 20% of the proceeds benefiting CHARM.

In addition to the I AM STRENGTH bracelet, CHARM is also offering a super affordable rubber bracelet for $10 that comes in pink with the words “Children are magical” flanked by shooting star graphics. Both of these bracelets would make thoughtful gifts for any moms in your life.

Visit the CHARM website to make your purchase or to learn more about the services CHARM offers for children and families in need.

Photo credit: CHARM

Encourage Your Little Picasso With the First Impressions Complete Art Studio Set for Kids

Posted on Jul 28, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a little artist in the house, the First Impressions Complete Art Studio Set for Kids contains everything he or she will need to turn your refrigerator into a gallery full of masterpieces!

The set, which was a silver winner in the 2014 National Parenting Publications Awards,  includes:

  • 24 watercolors
  • 24 colored pencils
  • 15 oil pastels
  • 10 water based markers
  • 2 plastic trays for color mixing
  • 1 paint brush
  • 1 pencil sharpener
  • 1 eraser

Since this is a toy for children, the supplies are obviously not professional quality. However, I think they are above average for a child’s art set.

I was particularly impressed by the watercolors. There is a wide range of shades for a child to paint with and the paints themselves are richly pigmented. The addition of the oil pastels is also a nice touch, although it would have been nice if the set included a blending tool for working with these.

kids copyThe silver storage case is quite sturdy and attractive. The panels on each side are clear, but your child can decorate the case with paper or stickers if desired.

The plastic trays that hold the art supplies aren’t secured to the case, so you may want to tape or glue them in place before letting your child draw, paint, or color. Before I used double sided tape to keep the trays in place, they fell out every time my son opened the case.

For on-the-go fun, there is room to add about 20 sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper inside the case and still keep it closed securely. (Once the initial art supplies are all gone, the case itself could be reused as a handy storage container for drawing paper or your child’s finished works of art.)

You can purchase the First Impressions Complete Art Studio Set for Kids on the Jerry’s Ararama website. Jerry’s Artarama is a national retailer of art materials and craft supplies based in Raleigh, N.C., with 15 physical locations throughout the United States and an online store that offers as much as 75 percent off traditional retail on products from the industry’s leading art manufacturers. The site has a wide range of art supplies for children in its Intro to Art section.

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

Photo credit: Jerry’s Artarama

Origami Lucky Star Maker Encourages Your Child’s Creativity

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a crafty child who enjoys origami, the Alex Toys Lucky Star Maker is sure to provide hours of entertainment.

Origami lucky stars are tiny puffy stars that are traditionally used as symbol of good luck in Japanese culture. However, the Lucky Star Maker does not actually make these small stars for your child. It’s a device for shaping the finished star evenly.

Your child needs to fold the strip of paper into a pentagon shape before placing it in the Lucky Star Maker. There are several online video tutorials that explain how to do this or you can view my How to Make Origami Lucky Stars tutorial at About Origami.

Once folded, the paper pentagon shape is placed inside the Lucky Star Maker. Then, when your child pulls down on the star lever, the gadget pushes the sides of the pentagon into the distinctive puffy star shape. (If your child releases the lever quickly, he or she can send the finished star “shooting” across the room!)

downloadSince pushing in the sides of the paper to form an even origami star is the hardest part of the project, the Alex Toys Lucky Star Maker is a must-have for anyone who is planning to make a large quantity of stars.

Origami lucky stars are often used to fill glass jars or other see-through containers as party decorations, but shaping several hundred stars by hand can be a tiresome task for even the most dedicated paper folder.

The Alex Toys Lucky Star Maker comes with 60 strips of paper in an assortment of colors to help your child get started making origami stars. When the paper strips are gone, you can buy additional pre cut strips or use a paper trimmer to make your own refill packs. The strips are 1/2 inch wide and 14 inches long, but they could be cut from 12 inch squares of scrapbook paper if needed.

Photo credit: Amazon