Category: Books-DVDs

The Disney Princess Hairstyles Book Is a Beautiful Guide to Braids, Updos, and More

Posted on Dec 15, 2014 by No Comments

The Disney Princes Hairstyles: 40 Amazing Princess Hairstyles with Step by Step Images is a beautiful soft cover how-to book that covers hairstyles inspired by the princesses in Disney movies. There’s Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Merida, Mulan, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Tiana.

Though there are styles for almost all hair lengths and hair types, shoulder-length and longer hair will work best for the styles in the book.

There are braids, updos, curls, and waves. Not good at braiding? No problem. There’s a “braid school” at the beginning that walks you through how to do several types of braids—traditional, French, Dutch, rope, traditional fishtail, and French fishtail. Master these (it’s easy thanks to the diagrams!) and you’ll be able to handle any of the styles in the 115-page book.

The photography is gorgeous and the final shots are clearly inspired by the movies they’re associated with for an extra touch of magic. The step-by-step sections contain written instructions and easy-to-follow images, so all of the styles are easy to recreate.

This book was sent to me for the purpose of a review. The retail price is $14.95. There’s a similar title, Disney Frozen Hairstyles, that covers Elsa and Anna’s styles.

Overall, I think this is a fantastic book and my daughter was thrilled to try out some new styles. She has her favorite princesses, of course, but she was so overwhelmed by the number of styles, I think she forgot about her favorites and wanted to try them all at once.

For a Disney Princesses fan with longer hair she loves to have styled, this is a must-have.

Photo credit: Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc.

Disney Frozen Hairstyles Inspired by Anna and Elsa Shows You How to Create 28 Gorgeous Looks

Posted on Dec 12, 2014 by No Comments

If your daughter’s a Frozen fan with long hair, this Disney Frozen Hairstyles Inspired by Anna and Elsa book will blow her mind. Inside, there are 28 hairstyles inspired by Anna and Elsa, each one just as beautiful as the last.

The book is divided into sections: Twists and Braids, Updos and Buns, and Waves and Ponytails, with a Braid School at the beginning to help you learn how to do the basic component of several of the styles before you dive in and get started.

Some of the styles can be done on shoulder-length hair, but not many. The longer the hair, the better, because there will be enough length there to complete all the twists, curls, braids, and buns the styles entail.

Braid School teaches you how to do traditional, French, Dutch, rope, traditional fishtail, and French fishtail braids. Each hairstyle has written instructions and step-by-step images that walk you through recreating them as if you’ve always been a hairstyling pro.

Of course, some of the styles may take practice because they’re quite elaborate, but the guides break them down into simple, manageable looks that are much easier to recreate than you’d think by looking at the finished styles.

I’m not even close to being a hairstyling expert, but I enjoy playing around with my daughter’s hair when she’ll let me, and I’m confident I could do any of the styles in this book thanks to the clear instructions and images.

One of the things that shocked me most as I flipped through was just how simple it is to create the looks that appear to have hours of work put into them. As long as your daughter will stay still long enough, you should be able to pick up the book and master any of the looks.

This book was sent to me for the purpose of a review. Its retail price is $12.95 and there are 72 pages.

Photo credit: Jane Wesman Public Relations, Inc.

HP Scheduled Delivery Apps Are an Easy Way to Keep Kids Entertained

Posted on Dec 11, 2014 by No Comments

If you happen to have an HP printer that supports scheduled delivery apps, this is an excellent way to keep your little ones entertained without having to spend hours searching for suitable free printables on your own.

HP’s scheduled delivery apps offer a variety of printables, including coloring sheets, word searches, craft projects, comics, and homework practice. CCrayolaDailyColoringPages_output_1Some examples of the different kid-friendly free printable apps HP has include:

For adults, there are also meal planners, crossword puzzles, word searches, organizational tips, and various news digests.

Scheduling delivery for the apps is easy and can be done directly from your printer by following the simple menu commands.

You can even set up delivery for a certain time, such as planning a free coloring sheet to be printed right after your daughter gets home from school or scheduling a news digest to be printed so you can read it with your morning coffee.

If you decide you want to cancel delivery, you can do so directly from the ePrintCenter. If you’re going on vacation, you can even arrange to pause printing for the number of days you’ll be gone.

Visit the HP ePrintCenter website to browse through all of the different apps for HP printers.

If you don’t have an HP printer, but are looking for an upgrade, I have the HP ENVY 5530 All-in-One Printer and I love it. It prints beautiful photos, works with the HP Instant Ink service, and supports all of the HP scheduled delivery apps.

Photo credit: HP

Learn How to Stretch Your Grocery Budget

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 by No Comments

If you hate going grocery shopping because it never seems like you have enough cash to make tasty yet nutritious meals for your family, you need Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day.

Brown was inspired to create this impressive recipe collection when she was earning a master’s in food studies at New York University. The more she learned about nutrition, the more she became concerned about the struggles of people trying to eat well on a limited income.

Her recipe collection uses a $4 per person daily guideline because this is the average amount a food stamp recipient receives for his or her meals.

Each recipe in Good and Cheap features a total cost as well as a cost per serving. Obviously, prices for ingredients will vary depending on your location and any specific brand preferences you have. But, if you shop the sales and buy store brands whenever possible, I think her cost estimates are fairly accurate.

She also gives many suggestions for substitutions, encouraging you to make due with what you have instead of spending more money on extra ingredients.

I love the beautiful photographs and the range of recipes in this cookbook. Usually, cookbooks designed for the sole purpose of showcasing cheap food tend to be bland and uninspiring. Good and Cheap motivates you to get in the kitchen and start cooking.

Some of my favorite kid-friendly recipes in Good and Cheap include:

  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Granola Bars
  • Cornmeal Crusted Veggies
  • Rainbow Rice
  • Coconut Chocolate Cookies
  • Fast Melon Sorbet

I also really like the pages where she demonstrates how to use a pantry staple several different ways. For example, she gives a list of eight ways to jazz up plain popcorn — including Parmesan and oregano, brown sugar and orange zest, and chili powder and lime.

Visit LeanneBrown.com to download a free PDF copy of Good and Cheap or to purchase a print copy for $20.

Photo credit: Leanne Brown

“You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero Is the Reminder Most of Us Need

Posted on Nov 28, 2014 by No Comments

If you’re feeling rundown, like a failure in any area of your life, like you can’t do anything right, or you spend your free time dreaming of the things you’d like to do but “can’t” for some reason, Jen Sincero has a message for you: you’re fantastic, and you can conquer those dreams.

Failures aren’t the end of the world, but quitting is. This book helps you see how your brain may be working against you and how to change it. It offers up tips for your career, your relationships, your money situation, and more.

The language is very direct, but the tone is conversational. It feels like you’re getting an extended pep talk from a friend who really knows how to get inside your head—and also has a lot of life experience to pull from.

Sincero is a success coach who got rid of her home in California to travel the world, something she’d always dreamed of.

While that may not be your personal dream, especially if you have young children and don’t like the idea of homeschooling on the go, everybody needs a little boost every now and then, and this is one way to get it—no baring your soul to another human being (unless you just want to), no expensive counseling fees, an no nonsense.

I finished the book fired up and ready to get started designing and living the life I want. Based on other reviews I’ve read, it seems to have had that effect on at least a couple hundred people.

If you feel like you need a mindset reset, I recommend picking this one up. If you think you’ll feel a little silly carrying around a bright yellow book with a title like this (I did, then I got over it because I was enjoying it too much), you can always get the Kindle version for a little less.

Photo credit: Amazon

A Unique Way to Teach Kids About History

Posted on Nov 28, 2014 by No Comments

If your kids are fascinated by the ways in which the world has changed over the last 100 years, Grandma, Aren’t You Glad the World’s Finally in Color Today! is sure to be  a hit. Author Lori Stewart has created a unique “Then and Now” picture book that takes kids on a rhyming journey through time.

Stewart’s charming story features an unnamed grandma telling her grandchildren about when her mother (their great-grandmother) was born.

She went to school in one-room schoolhouse, listened to President Roosevelt’s fireside chats on the radio, couldn’t wait to play the first version of Monopoly, lived through the Great Depression, and rolled up her sleeves to help design airplanes for the war effort.

The title of the story comes from the fact that all of the old family photos in the album they are looking at are printed in black and white–something that is hard to comprehend for kids who are used to cell phones that take color photos and record video!

My personal favorite part of the book is the timeline of historical events that runs across the top of each page. Here’s a small sampling of some of the interesting tidbits young readers can learn:

  • 1921: The Band-Aid is invented by Earle Dickinson
  • 1927: First talking movie is The Jazz Singer. The Golden Age of Jazz continues from 1920 to 1933.
  • 1928: Sliced bread is invented in Davenport, Iowa by Otto Rohwedder.
  • 1944: Ballpoint pens go on sale.
  • 1958: Lego bricks are inventoried in their present form.
  • 1969: Sesame Street first airs.
  • 1991: The first web page is launched on the World Wide Web.

Visit Lori Stewart’s website to learn more about Grandma, Aren’t You Glad the World’s Finally in Color Today! or to find out where to purchase a copy for your children.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher. 

Photo credit: Lori Stewart

The Whatever After Series by Sarah Mlynowski Is Cute, Fun, and Based on Fairy Tales

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

Looking for a new spin on fairy tales for your kids to enjoy? If you decide to read these to your kids, you’ll probably find yourself really enjoying them, too.

The Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski is only six books long at the moment (the sixth, Cold as Ice, is available for pre-order), but I hope it continues for a while!

My daughter and I are on the third one in the series. In each story, 10-year-old Abby and her little brother, Jonah, are taken into a fairy tale through a magic mirror in their basement.

They usually try not to influence the stories, but it never works and they find themselves trying to fix everything so the stories get back on track and play out the way they know they’re supposed to. In some cases, you get the original ending; in others, not so much.

These are fun, quick chapter book reads that aren’t easy to put down. The first time I picked one up, I read it out loud until my throat hurt, took a break, then read some more. Every night I read part of one to my daughter, she begs me to continue. One chapter can easily turn into two or three, if not four.

Book one is all about Snow White. Book two is Cinderella’s story with an interesting twist. Book three is all about The Little Mermaid. Based on the titles (since I haven’t read them yet), it looks like four is Sleeping Beauty, five is Rapunzel, and six is inspired by Frozen.

These books are appropriate for boys or girls. If you plan to read them out loud, ages six and up would probably enjoy them. If you’re getting them for your son or daughter to read on their own, I would wait until age seven or eight, and think kids through age 12 may enjoy them.

Photo credit: Amazon

Teaching Little Ones About Feelings

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by No Comments

Learning how to identify feelings is an important social skill for any child, but some kids need a little more guidance than others in this area. If your child is struggling to label different feelings, In My Heart: A Book of Feelings is a cute way to work on developing this skill.

Written by Jo Witek and illustrated by Christine Roussey, In My Heart: A Book of Feelings follows an unnamed little girl who is dressed like a superhero. As the story progresses, she explains how different situations make her heart feel.

For example:

Sometimes my heart feels like a big yellow star, shiny and bright.
I smile from ear to ear and twirl around so fast,
I feel as if I could take off into the sky.
This is when my heart is happy.

The simple text is easy for kids to understand, but whimsical enough to inspire their imaginations. The colorful die cut hearts on each page add an interesting visual element to the book and the drawings have a quirky yet charming vibe that moms will enjoy just as much as their little ones do.

You can purchase In My Heart: A Book of Feelings on Amazon for about $12. The book is recommended for children ages 2 to 4.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

Sparkup Helps Preschoolers Develop a Love of Books

Posted on Nov 18, 2014 by No Comments

If you have preschoolers who love to listen to a good story, Sparkup Magical Book Reader is sure to be a hit.

This clever device clips directly on to any picture book. It contains a tiny camera that records your voice and a picture of each page as you read the story to your child. Then, whenever your child clips the Sparkup to the book, the device automatically reads the story. It follows your child’s pace, even if he or she skips a few pages!

I think the Sparkup book reader would be fabulous for any child who has family members who live far away or travel frequently.

For example, my little nephew adores his Daddy. Daddy’s a truck driver who is away from home for several weeks per month, so with the Sparkup book reader he can record stories for bedtime that my nephew can listen to whenever he wants.

spark 02I also like that you can use the Sparkup with whatever picture book you want.

My son loved the Leapfrog TAG Reading System when he was younger, but the limited selection of books was frustrating and the books that were available were quite expensive.

With the Sparkup, you can use favorite stories from your child’s current library, which will save you money in the long run.

The Sparkup can store up to 250 minutes of audio, which is roughly 50 recorded picture books. If needed, you can use the included cable to transfer files to your computer to make room for new additions to your child’s library.

If you don’t want to record books in your own voice, there are also several professionally recorded narrations that you can download for use with the Sparkup. (See the PDF version of the user guide to learn more.)

The Sparkup book reader is recommended for kids ages 3 and up. Regular retail price is $79.99, but it’s on sale for a limited time for $59.99.  As an added bonus, orders placed before December 15 will get two free large paperback classics with preloaded Sparkup audiobooks ($20 value)

  • Shrek! by William Steig, read by Emmy Award winner Stanley Tucci
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arien Mosel, read by academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden

Disclaimer: Samples were provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of preparing this review.
Photo credit: Sparkup