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Help Your Kids Create an Imaginary World

Posted on Sep 2, 2014 by No Comments

In The Imaginary World of…, Keri Smith prompts readers to create a world that is filled with the things they love—the books, movies, music, colors, people, eras, weather, smells, sounds, shapes, and creatures that inspire, motivate, and fascinate them.

Together, these items become the building blocks for an  personalized imaginary world, complete with its own landscape, place names, currency, residents, foods, and history.

The  Imaginary World of… is the perfect gift for the creative child who is getting too old for traditional coloring books. It encourages drawing and coloring as well as writing. Guided prompts on each page encourage kids to:

  • Create a dictionary with made up words and their definitions
  • Invent a new holiday that the residents of the imaginary world celebrate
  • Design a poster inviting people to visit their imaginary world
  • Draw pictures of some of the residents of the world
  • Write a fictional story about how their imaginary world was created
  • Write a visitor’s guide for people new to the imaginary world they’ve designed

The Imaginary World of… reminds me of  The Boys’ Doodle Book: Amazing Pictures to Complete and Create by Andrew Pinder.

Both books use prompts to encourage kids to explore their creative side, although prompts in The Imaginary World of… are intended to be strung together so that each activity forms a smaller piece of the complete imaginary world.

If you have more than one child or are looking for a fun family activity, I think it would be interesting to create an imaginary world together.

My husband, my son, and I have been discussing the different prompts in The Imaginary World of… over dinner so that we’re gradually creating a unique family world. It’s interesting to see how my son will combine suggestions from Mom and Dad to make something totally unique.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Princess Cupcake Jones Calms First Day of School Jitters

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

If you have a daughter who is worried about starting school, Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go to School may help calm her fears.

In this cute children’s book, Princess Cupcake Jones is a sassy and spunky little girl who is afraid to start kindergarten. To avoid school, she tries to pout and whine. When that doesn’t work, she fakes being sick.

Then, after her mother tells her she’ll need to go to the doctor for some yucky medicine and a shot, she says she can’t go because her favorite tutu is dirty. Of course, Cupcake’s mom already washed the tutu last night!

When her last ditch attempt to hide under the bed fails, Cupcake has no choice but to go off to school.

Once she gets to school, Cupcake realizes it’s not scary at all. Her new teacher is nice, the classroom is full of fun books and toys, and a little girl named Violet wants to be her friend. Cupcake is happy to be there and eager to see what the rest of the year will hold.

Written by Ylleya Fields and illustrated by Michael LaDuca, Princess Cupcake Jones Won’t Go to School is the second book of the Princes Cupcake Jones series. Smart Mom Picks reviewed Princess Cupcake Jones and the Missing Tutu shortly after it was first published.

Both books are adorable and highly recommended for young girls. My favorite part of this series is how the word “LOVE” is cleverly hidden in each illustration to provide a way to keep kids actively engaged in the story.

Visit the Princess Cupcake Jones website to learn more about the books in this series, download free printable activity sheets, or purchase titles  for your child.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Princess Cupcake Jones

A Bilingual Picture Book to Encourage Your Child to Stay Active

Posted on Sep 1, 2014 by No Comments

Studies have shown that the early years are when children are best equipped to learn a second language, so it’s never too soon to start introducing your child to basic Spanish vocabulary.

Keeping Fit from A to Z covers words relating to sports, exercise, movement, and games. Reading this book with your child is a fun way to broaden his or her Spanish vocabulary while discovering new forms of physical activity that your family can enjoy together.

The book is intended for children ages 3 and up. It includes over 150 full color photographs illustrating the different featured activities, such as aerobics, baseball, cross country skiing, diving, exploring, fishing, and gymnastics.

The text for each activity is written in both English and Spanish, which makes this book perfect for teaching little ones how to be bilingual. (However, since there is no pronunciation guide, you will need to be able to comfortably read basic Spanish in order to help your child make the most of this book.)

After the ABCs of keeping fit are covered, the book includes a section with instructions for 10 games can play to stay active — such as Simon Says, Capture the Flag, Musical Chairs, and Crack the Whip.

There is also a list of tips for parents that discusses the minimum physical activity requirements for children and how exercise benefits a child’s physical and emotional development.

Edited by Stephanie Maze of Moonstone Press, Keeping Fit from A to Z is the followup to Healthy Foods from A to Z, a bilingual picture book that follows a similar format. Together, these books can help your child set the foundation for building a healthy mind and body.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

The Lifter Hamper Reduces Back Strain From Doing Laundry

Posted on Aug 29, 2014 by No Comments

If you suffer from back pain, doing laundry can be a real hassle. The Lifter Hamper is a uniquely designed bungee spring loaded laundry hamper that aims to make this tiresome household chore easier by eliminating the need to constantly bend to retrieve dirty clothes from the hamper.

The Lifter Hamper was designed by Marvin Phillip, a father and former NFL player who began searching for an easier way to do laundry after suffering from a career ending back injury on the field.

The design of the Lifter Hamper may seem odd at first, but it does work as promised. The spring loaded hamper automatically lifts up when you pull out the clothes, which eliminates the need to constantly bend and stoop. The wheels on the bottom make it easy to transport from room to room, as long as you’re not trying to go up and down a flight of stairs.

The Lifter Hamper holds a huge amount of laundry, which I can see being handy if you have a large family or you’re washing work uniforms and/or workout clothes in addition to your regular everyday laundry. We have a very basic washer and dryer set, but a full hamper is three good sized loads of laundry.

My main complaint with the Lifter Hamper is that the hamper itself is rather unattractive. Because of the spring loaded design, the dirty clothes always rest at the top of the hamper and nobody in my house remembers to use the flap to cover them.

The appearance of the hamper wouldn’t bother me if it was in a closet, but since we’re short on space the hamper is in the hallway where we walk by it several times per day. I would love it if there was some sort of way to include the spring loaded hamper mechanism inside a more attractive looking container.

Have you tried the Lifter Hamper? If so, what do you think?

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

Photo credit: Lifter Hamper

BWC Offers Intelligent, Responsible, and Compassionate Beauty Care

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 by No Comments

BWC (Beauty Without Cruelty) cosmetics are an excellent choice if you’re an animal lover looking for natural, eco-friendly makeup.

This unique cosmetics company was founded in 1963 by the trustees of BWC Charitable Trust, an animal welfare organization based in England. They were the first company to provide cosmetics for women that used natural ingredients with no animal testing.

All BWC cosmetics are both SLS and paraben free with no synthetic or engineered fragrances. The brand does not do any animal testing and has obtained CCIC/Leaping Bunny and Vegan Certifications. Complete ingredient disclosures are available for all products.

lipstickRecently, I received several BWC products to sample. My favorite was the Natural Infusion lipstick.

I think that lipstick is the best place to start if you’re looking for natural cosmetics. Since small amounts of lipstick come off when you lick your lips, take a drink, or eat a meal, it makes sense to pick a product that is free of any potentially harmful ingredients.

There are 30 different BWC Natural Infusion lipsticks to choose from. (Click here for a color chart if you’re having trouble figuring out what shade is best from their product photos.)

The color I sampled was Ripe Cherry. This warm matte red was a bit brighter than I had been expecting, but overall I was very pleased with the product.

The lipstick has a rich, vibrant color that seems to be very long lasting. It’s made with jojoba seed oil and I like how it leaves my lips feeling soft and smooth instead of slightly sticky.

It doesn’t have that waxy taste that some lipsticks do, which is a major plus. I didn’t feel like it dried my lips out at all, although sometimes I wear this color with a moisturizing clear gloss for a little added shine.

You can buy Natural Infusion lipsticks and other BWC cosmetics at any natural foods retailer or online through select websites like Drugstore.com and Vitasprings.

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

Photo credit: BWC, Dana Hinders

The Wet Brush Makes Detangling Hair Pain-Free

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 by No Comments

If you or your daughter have long hair, you’re probably well aware that detangling after a shower can be a torturous process. Tugging through knots is painful, but it can also lead to hair breakage and damage that can be difficult to repair.

The Wet Brush features thin, super strong Intelliflex bristles with SofTips that massage the scalp. The bristles bounce back to their original form after every brush stroke, eliminating the breakage and pain associated with brushing out tangles from long hair. The handle is ergonomically designed so it’s easy to grip while you’re getting ready in the morning.

My initial impression was that The Wet Brush would be too flimsy to stand up to my thick hair. The brush itself feels much lighter than other hairbrushes I’ve used in the past. However, The Wet Brush glided smoothly through my wet hair and made detangling totally effortless. I didn’t even need to use a separate detangling spray to get the knots out!

Combing through wet hair is The Wet Brush’s strength, but this hairbrush also works on dry hair, extensions, and wigs. It’s rapidly become my go-to brush for all my hair styling needs.

Visit The Wet Brush website to learn more or to purchase a brush. The brushes come in several different colors and patterns. You can buy a full sized Classic brush or a smaller purse-sized Squirt version.

The Wet Brush can also be found at Target stores nationwide.

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

Photo credit: The Wet Brush

Crafty Ideas Using Rubber Bands

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 by No Comments

Rubber Band Mania contains over 40 different projects crafty kids can make using the humble rubber band. Author Amanda Formaro is a Midwest mother of four and the creator of the Crafts by Amanda blog.

Sections in this new craft book for kids include:

  • Stuff to Wear (rubber band jewelry)
  • Stuff for Home (things for your child’s room like a pencil can and memo board)
  • Stuff that Goes (toys like slingshots, bow and arrows, catapults, etc.)
  • Stuff to Create (crafts that involve rubber bands, such as tie dying)
  • Stuff to Play (rubber band musical instruments)
  • Stuff to Try (rubber band science experiments)

The book uses two different smiley face icons to designate between the easiest and the hardiest crafts, which is helpful if you are working with a very young child or a child who tends to have a rather short attention span.

As the mother of a nine-year-old boy, this book gets bonus points from me for including projects that would appeal to little crafters of both genders. I expected it to be a girly book based on the cover design, but I think my son would enjoy making everything except for the jewelry.

The only thing I didn’t like about Rubber Band Mania is that several different sizes of rubber bands are required for the different projects. Some of the projects use the super tiny bands you use to make Rainbow Loom bracelets, while others require larger office supply type rubber bands. There are even a few that require wide bands that you might not have lying around the house if you’re not an avid crafter yourself.

If you’re buying this book for a child, make sure to give a whole bunch of rubber bands in different size and colors with your gift. There’s nothing worse than a kid who wants to create, but can’t find the right materials!

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Goodshop Makes It Easy to Do Good with Your Online Shopping

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by No Comments

If you’ll be shopping online for back to school, make Goodshop your first stop. Goodshop and the new Goodshop iOS app works with more than 5,000 retailers to donate a percentage of purchases made at those online stores to your chosen charitable cause. More than $11 million has been donated so far, supporting over 110,000 nonprofits and schools.

Goodshop is an easy, free way to help others from the comfort of your own home.

Click here to search for a school or cause to support. Goodshop is open to supporting any registered non-profit or school. This includes charities, hospitals, clinics, volunteer services, political organizations, fraternal organizations, professional associations, religious organizations, and governmental agencies.

If your cause is not listed, they have an application you can fill out to request to have it added.

Here are some great back to school coupons that can earn donations through Goodshop:

  • 1800Contacts – All customers save 20% off orders over $175 + free shipping! On authorized brands. Expires: 08-31-2014. 4% donation.
  • AllPosters.com – 25% off everything! Expires: 08-31-2014. 8.5% donation.
  • Carter’s – 20% off $40+. Expires 8-31-2014. 1.5% donation.
  • Container Store – Organized Teacher Discount Program: sign-up to receive your first discount! Expires: 02-14-2018. 3.5% donation.
  • Discount School Supply – 10% on stock items. Expires: 09-16-2014. 2.5% donation.
  • eMeals – 20% off dinner and meal plans. Expires: 09-30-2014. 15% donation.
  • HP – Additional $15 off $75+. Expires: 08-31-2014. 2% donation.
  • Lillian Vernon – Back-to-School Savings! Save an extra 25% off $49+ orders. Expires: 08-31-2014. 5% donation.
  • L.L. Bean – 25% off Deluxe Backpack Collection. Expires: 08-25-2014. 2% donation.
  • PBTeen – 20% off desks, seating, and lamps. Expires 9-23-2014. 0.5% donation.
  • Poppin – Get $5 off all orders of $65 or more from Poppin.com! Expires: 08-31-2014. 7.5% donation.
  • Scholastic Teacher Express – 10% off orders over $20. Expires: 09-30-2016. 4% donation.
  • Sears – $5 off $50+ Sears items. Expires: 01-31-2015. 2% donation.

If you’ve tried Goodshop, what do you think of this service?

Photo credit: Goodshop

Rainbow Light Multivitamins Are a Convenient Way to Enjoy the Benefits of Probiotics

Posted on Aug 22, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re looking for a multivitamin with the added benefit of probiotics, Rainbow Light’s food-based multivitamins are one economical option to consider. Recently, I purchased their Women’s One Multivitamin to replace my separate multivitamin and probiotic supplements.

The Women’s One Multivitamin from Rainbow Light is gluten-free, sugar-free, lactose-free, dairy-free, wheat free, and yeast-free to be safe for people with a variety of allergies. It contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

The Women’s One Multivitamin from Rainbow Light has:

  • 200 mg of calcium support strong bones and teeth
  • 800 IU of vitamin D3, 100 mg of magnesium, and 100 mcg of vitamin K to promote bone, breast and immune health
  • 5,000 IU of vitamin A, 120 mg of vitamin C, and 30 IU of vitamin E to promote skin, eye and immune health while boosting your metabolism
  • A potent vitamin B complex for energy and brain health
  • 125 mg of a special women’s nourishing blend that combines superfood organic spirulina with concentrated herbal extract of dong quai and red clover to promote energy and hormone balance
  • Concentrated beet, kale, and spinach juices for a natural energy boost
  • Plant-source enzymes and 25 million probiotics to enhance digestion without causing stomach upset

If you’re on a tight budget, you’ll be pleased to hear that Rainbow Light Multivitamins are very affordable. I purchased mine online from Amazon and they were half the combined cost of the vitamin and probiotic we had been taking previously.

The only thing I don’t like about these vitamins is the size. If you have trouble swallowing pills, they are quite large. Rainbow Light does make a gummy prenatal vitamin and a chewable children’s vitamin, so these products might be an option to consider if you have trouble with larger pills.

Photo credit: Amazon