Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Recently Hosted a "The Happy's Playdate" MommyParty...And, Boy Did the Kids Have a Blast! (Review) #TheHappys!

Disclosure:  I received free products in order to host the Cepia, LLC sponsored MommyParty. The opinions expressed here are my own.



The Happy's are incredibly cute interactive plush pets that can play, learn tricks, make silly sounds, even chase the ball! Kids will love playing with their remarkably real puppy or kitten and parents will love having a pet in the house without the fuss or mess. Choose from Bentley the Golden Retriever, Mittens the White Cat and more!


This week the kids in CT and MA are on April vacation, which means me and my mom friends, including those from back home in MA have been looking for ways to keep the kids entertained, without burning out ourselves.  Usually during school vacations, we take turns having the neighborhood kids over for movie screenings, pizza parties, or just outdoor play.  After being chosen as a MommyParty host for the newly released "The Happy's" toys thanks to the folks at MomSelect, I knew just what I was going to do for my play date with the kids. :-) 

I was sent the following to help me through a fun The Happy's party for the kids, thanks to the kind folks at MomSelect and Cepia LLC (makers of The Happy's and the ever popular Zhu Zhu Pets):


  • Four (4) The Happy’s pets, featuring an interactive Happy Treat
  • One (1) The Happy’s Chase and Play Ball
  • 12 AAA Rayovac batteries
  • Werther’s Original Caramel Popcorn
  • Valuable information to share with attendees
  • Social Media Tools
  • AND MORE!
While the kids could have been content just by playing with the new The Happy's pets, I kicked off our afternoon of fun with an Easter egg hunt in our back yard.  Because I was sent 4 of The Happy's to demo and share with the kids, I also wanted to give two lucky kids a chance to bring these cute, cuddly friends home with them.  So, I made a point to hide two gold coins in the plastic eggs, and the two kids that found these coins would be able to choose which of toys they wanted to bring home.

Once the egg hunt was over and I had my two gold coin winners, the party moved indoors, where I had finger sandwiches, chips and refreshments for the kids and moms to enjoy.  You can't play and really have fun on an empty stomach. :-)  So, I knew I had to fuel up the kids before I pulled out The Happy's to introduce to them.


Have you seen or heard about The Happy's?  I hadn't until I saw a commercial on television about them one day, and then was asked to host an in-house party.  My girls saw the commercial above and said they just had to have the cute puppy and kitten they saw. So, they were all smiles when they saw me taking their furry forever friends out of the box, along with 3 bags of Werther’s Original Caramel Popcorn and arts and crafts supplies to make doggie ear with plastic headbands. :-)



Chance The Happy's Pet with Treat


They scamper, they pounce and they sit up and beg! The Happy’s are the only line of interactive puppy and kitty special feature plush pets that play, can be trained to perform tricks and make 25+ silly sounds.

I can't lie, I think the Werther’s Original Caramel Popcorn was a hit with the moms, as we all kept walking over to the snack table for another handful, while we watched the kids play and laugh with The Happy's pets.  

And, when they weren't chasing the pets around the house, or having them fetch the interactive treat that which each one or play with The Happy’s Chase and Play Ball (one of a handful interactive toys available for purchase to use along with The Happy's collection), the kids were having a blast making their floppy puppy ears headbands, so that they could run around the house barking and panting like a dog. :-)



Not only did the kids have a blast with the afternoon which was jam packed with activities, all the moms said they kept asking for these cute toys for their birthdays.  Some were even hoping that the Easter bunny would bring one or two this Sunday, and leave in their baskets. :-)

If you are still looking for a great last minute gift idea for your child's Easter basket, why not consider picking up one of The Happy's to surprise them with?  They will fall in love with these cute interactive toys, which will provide hours of fun for both kids and adults.  And, being able to collect all The Happy's and purchasing the additional accessories, makes this interactive toy even more fun to play with.



To learn more about The Happy's, including finding a store near you who carries this new interactive toy, you will want to check out the official The Happy's website today -- http://www.the-happys.com/.  I picked up the addition pets at Target and Walmart for only $19.99 each, and an additional Chase and Play Ball for just $9.99.

I can't wait to hear what you and your kids think of this new toy from the makers of the popular Zhu Zhu Pets, Cepia LLC, and which pet wins over your child's heart. :-)




Disclosure:  I received free products in order to host the Cepia, LLC sponsored MommyParty. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Don't Give Up Bread Just Because of a Gluten Allergy...Instead Reach for Canyon Gluten Free Bakehouse Breads (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.




Do you find yourself eating the same thing for breakfast each morning?  Usually, I will go through a face where I will either eat cold or hot cereal for a certain length of time and then will switch things up.  Well, recently my go-to breakfast has consisted of hot tea (or strong coffee on those early AM when the girls have gotten me up a few times in the night and I need a kick in the pants to get going for the day), along with fresh cut up fruit and toast with either peanut butter or almond butter on it.

Cinnamon Raisin

Mmm, I am getting hungry just thinking about it.  When I reach for bread to toast for my AM meal, I am loving the Cinnamon Raisin and 7-Grain breads from Canyon Bakehouse, which I was recently sent to review.

Cinnamon Raisin
The Cinnamon Raisin Bread is the perfect breakfast companion! With healthy whole grains, fresh raisins, and sweet agave syrup, it smells delicious and tastes even better! Try it fresh or toasted, and topped with your favorite spread.


These breads are not only delicious eaten right out of the bag, or toasted, like I have been enjoying, but they are also gluten-free.  Because we are still trying to rule out food allergies with Bella, as she started vomiting again for no apparent reason, I try to make a point to eat Gluten-Free foods, as these seem to be tolerated better by her.  And, she is usually my breakfast buddy, always asking for a bite. :-)


7-Grain
The 7-Grain is loaded with healthy whole grains and touched with a hint of sweetness. Great for sandwiches, buttered or dunked in your favorite soup. This is a versatile, all around favorite choice!

I also used the 7-Grain bread to make BLT's and grilled cheese sandwiches for the family. The girls loved helping again in the kitchen and making cold cut sandwiches with their toppings of choice.

7-Grain

In addition to the Cinnamon Raisin and 7-Grain breads I was recently sent to review from Canyon Bakehouse, my family also had the opportunity to try and loved the Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia bread and their Gluten-Free hamburger rolls.



When it came time to use the hamburger rolls, I had the girls roll up their sleeves and help me make homemade burgers to put on the Canyon Bakehouse Hamburger Buns.


Finally, a delicious gluten free hamburger bun that will hold up to the rigors of a fully loaded burger or your favorite deli sandwich! And it's healthy too, made with 100% Whole Grains, there are 4 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein per bun.

They had a blast squishing the meat and ingredients between their fingers and then helping to make patties.  I have found that with my two picky eaters, that if they help out in the kitchen preparing meals, they are more likely to want to sample the final product.  And, they couldn't stop eating these tasty burgers we made.

Hamburger Buns

I have always been a bread lover -- come on, I am Italian. :-)  So, to me, any type of bread is like a comfort food to me. But, I have to make a point to watch the types of breads I eat, as they wind up resting around my waistline after eating.  Find this happening to you, too? Don't put a hot loaf of bread in front of me, as I will have to fight you for it! :-)

Out of the four Gluten-free breads fro Canyon Bakehouse I was sent to review, I have to say that my favorite was the Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia bread

Our focaccia is made in the finest Mediterranean tradition. Made with the finest ingredients, including extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy it with your favorite dipping sauce, or expand its possibilities to a delicious sandwich or pizza crust.

I ended up warming it up in the oven at 325 degrees for 5 minutes and then served it alongside homemade dipping oil.  

Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia

Unlike other Gluten-free breads I have tried in the past, the Rosemary & Thyme Focaccia and the other breads from Canyon Bakehouse were out of this world amazing.  They actually tasted liked bread...so, unless you knew that it was Gluten-free, you would never have known the difference.

When it comes to buying bread for my family, for now on, I will be looking for and grabbing breads from Canyon Bakehouse.  I already have their Mountain White to use to make PB&J sandwiches and Deli Rye Style to make pastrami sandwiches with, on my shopping list to pick up this weekend and try out. 

Mountain WhiteDeli Rye Style

Planning to try these breads out yourself?  Then, make sure you visit the Canyon Bakehouse website before you head to the market and print out the money saving coupon available. :-)

Click Here for a Coupon

Can't seem to find Canyon Bakehouse products at a retailer near you?  Click here to use the online store locator to find a store near you who carries this brand -- https://canyonglutenfree.com.  You can also order products directly from the Canyon Bakehouse and have them shipped right to your door. :-)


Don't forget to follow Canyon Bakehouse on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on news, special offers, giveaways and more...




Disclosure:  I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ringling Bros.and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS - Coming to XL Center in Hartford, CT May 8 - 11 #Giveaway @RinglingBros

Disclosure:  In exchange for promoting this show and hosting a giveaway, my family was provided with complimentary tickets to the show.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.


Coming to the XL Center in Hartford, CT...


"Behold the living legends! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® brings the unbelievable to Children Of All Ages in an all-new show - - Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS. Experience unimaginable family fun, as amazing performers from around the globe perform awe-inspiring feats of daring, spectacles of strength and thrills of wonder to summon the mythical and mysterious creatures of the past: a Unicorn, a Pegasus and a Woolly Mammoth! Join us for an unforgettable family night of legendary proportions! Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS!



Don't miss the All Access Pre-Show! Starts one-hour prior to showtime available to all ticket-holders. See animals up close, visit with performers, get autographs, try on costumes, and enjoy the circus fun. *There will be no All Access Pre-Show for the Friday, March 9 10:30am performance.

Go behind the scenes at the Animal Open House. Open to all ticket-holders, one and 1/2 hours prior to showtime. Learn about circus animals, see how they live, eat, and play."


--GET YOUR TICKETS NOW--
Show Dates/Time:
Thursday, May 8, 20147:00 PM
Friday, May 9, 201410:30 AM
Friday, May 9, 20147:00 PM
Saturday, May 10, 201411:00 AM
Saturday, May 10, 20143:00 PM
Saturday, May 10, 20147:00 PM
Sunday, May 11, 20141:00 PM
Sunday, May 11, 20145:00 PM

Depending on seat location, ticket prices range from $31 to $103 dollars, with the option of purchasing the VIP Ringmaster Zone tickets, which are $103 each and include the following...


RINGMASTER ZONE
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is rolling out the red carpet, pulling back the curtain and extending a special invitation to you and your family to join us in a once in a lifetime family experience that will grant you exclusive access to a behind-the-scenes look at The Greatest Show On Earth! Don't miss out on this rare opportunity to be treated like a circus star, gain acess to behind the scenes, meet performers and get autographs from the most revered circus stars in The Greatest Show On Earth! Plus, get a special family photo on the Ringling Red Carpet with a circus star to commemorate this unforgettable experience! This special opportunity starts one hour before show time and lasts approximately 35 min. Please arrive early for the ultimate experience!
--SAVE $5.00 OFF EACH TICKET (SELECT SHOWS ONLY)--



Planning on attending the show on Friday, May 9th at 7PM, Saturday, May 10th at 7PM or Sunday, May 11th at 5PM?  If so, make sure you use coupon code "MOM" at checkout when purchasing through the XL Center website to save $5.00 off each ticket purchased.  Act fast as this special savings is only valid until May 7th.

Click here to purchase your tickets securely online now. Note: Ages two and older must have a ticket. 
Don't worry about having to find a parking spot the day of the show...

Attention all fans: Global Spectrum, operators of the XL Center, and the Hartford Parking Authority have come together to offer all Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey presents Legends ticket purchases the opportunity to purchase discounted parking in advance.  Parking at the Church St. or Mat Garages is only $6 and can be purchased in advance HERE .


--GIVEAWAY--


Thanks to the kind folks at the XL Center as well as the show's promoter, Feld Entertainment, one lucky reader will win a family four (4) pack of tickets to the Thursday, May 8th opening night show at 7PM.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

Disclosure:  In exchange for promoting this show and hosting a giveaway, my family was provided with complimentary tickets to the show.  However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Discussion Guide Review and Movie Prize Pack #Giveaway #Spiderman

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.



The Amazing Spider-Man 2

 Have you seen the previews for the new Spiderman movie?  The Amazing Spiderman 2 comes to theaters this May!


Usually when I share reviews of movies on my blog, I like to include themes or lessons that viewers can learn while watching such movies.  I also talk about how I sit down with the girls after a movie and talk to them about these things, like friendship, teamwork, perseverance, never giving up on your dreams, being kind to others, etc.  While movies are made for entertainment, most of them will include great talking points that families can use to bond with and get their children talking after viewing.  This open conversation lets children of any age know that they can come to you and talk about their concerns, fears, questions, etc?  Open dialog is key to making sure children feel safe and comfortable as they get old, and find themselves needing to talk.

While my girls are still too young to really have open ended conversations after movies, they still enjoy sitting down with me and talking about what they just watched.  This also lets me see that they are understanding what they are watching and can give their personal opinions on things.  I like how the other day we were watching an animated movie and Savannah told me afterwards that one character was bullying the good guy and how they should as it hurt the other one's feelings and isn't right.  I couldn't believe I was hearing this from a 3 yr. old.  She was getting what she saw on the television and knew that it was wrong.  She followed up by telling me that she would never treat a person like that, as she is nice. :-)

I am finding more and more movies, both releasing in theaters as well as on DVD and Blu-ray have family discussion guides you can view online and print out.  They are usually 5-10 pages and com with questions you can ask your children based on what they see in the movie. Kids can share thoughts, just like my daughter Savannah did, and even hear what you the parent thinks. :-)

And, one movie my family is looking forward to seeing and which also has a discussion guide to go with is Spider-Man 2, which arrives in theaters on May 2nd.  The kind folks at Propeller, LLC sent along a 5 page .pdf discussion guide, which I printed out and shared with my 6 yr. old nephew and 8 yr. old niece.  They are fans of the previous Spider-Man movies, and are counting down the days until the new release hits theaters.  

About The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Electronic Family Discussion Guide--

spiderman

"The discussion guide for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great resource for families to discuss a range of important themes that include the relationship between personal choices and destiny, living a life that counts, sacrificing yourself in service to others, and the nature of power. This guide will help parents start (or continue) conversations with their children that will inspire them to think outside themselves and challenge them to live lives that matter. The conversations that will result from using this guide will reveal that even the most explosive summer blockbuster can leave lasting, positive impacts on its young viewers."

My Thoughts on the Family Discussion Guide --

After viewing the following movie trailer, I read through the discussion guide with them.  

"We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead."


Having used discussion guides in the past with my family, I was able to see how this one compares with others.  I have to say that I liked how this one was set up.  Each section began with a popular Bible verse, followed by a short description of a scene from the upcoming movie.  Then, there are 3-4 questions that you can pose to your children, that will make them think about how they would handle certain situations in their own life.  

Even though we haven't seen this movie, it was fun to run through the different sections in this faith-based discussion guide. It got the kids even more excited to see the movie.  And, once we see it, I will be sitting down with the kids to go through this guide.  I am curious to see if their responses will change after seeing the movie, and having time to think about the different scenarios and questions I asked of them.


Official website for the moviewww.theamazingspiderman.com/   



--GIVEAWAY--


Thanks to the kind folks at Propeller, LLC, one lucky reader will win a fun Spider-Man 2 prize pack, which will include a t-shirt, paper mask and phone case, in addition to the special electronic (.pdf) The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Family Discussion Guide.  To enter this great giveaway, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway 



"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification."

Check Out the Transforming Hulk, New from Uncle Milton - Arriving in Stores This Month (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

 

When you hear Uncle Milton toys, what comes to your mind?   While Uncle Milton is known for their "Ant Farms," they offer so much more, including some great new spring additions to their already popular toy line. 

I was recently sent their Transforming Hulk to review, and include in my Easter Gift Guide Round Up.

Hulk Marvel Science Transforming Hulk Playset
Even though my husband really wanted a boy when we found out I was pregnant, he now says that having two girls is the best.  :-)  And, he gets the best of both worlds as our daughters have different interests.  While our youngest, Arabella, is more dainty and loves playing dress up and caring for her dolls, Savannah can't get enough of Disney Cars and Planes, Thomas & Friends, and so many other boy-directed characters.  It wasn't until we attended our first Day out with Thomas and my husband saw an almost equal amount of girls and boys in attendance that he realized shows and characters nowadays are geared towards both boys and girls. So, when he is not letting Bella give him a check up or style his hair, he loves getting down on the ground to race cars or put together a train set with Savannah.

While my girls are not big Marvel fans, Savannah does know of Hulk as it is my husband's favorite character and he sports a Hulk watch and has a poster of this popular Marvel character in his office.  Guys...they never grow up. :-)  I wish you could have saw my husband when I showed him the new Transforming Hulk from Uncle Milton.  He let out a shriek like you would expect from a girl (shh, don't tell him I said that), and couldn't wait to get the box open and try it out.

"Kids will get a rush as they watch the incredible Transforming Hulk break free from an underwater vault, and grow 4X his original size! Simply add water to the tank and watch Hulk's transformation begin! Transforming Hulk will return to his original size when water is removed from the tank. Transforming Hulk expands every time he is immersed in water. The Transforming Hulk includes a 4-color educational sheet on Marvel’s Hulk and real world science."
Ages 6 and up. SRP: $14.99 

The girls saw his excitment and ran over to see if they were missing out on anything.  As my husband described how you add water to the container and the Hulk figure will grow and burst out of the underwater vault and grow 4x his original size, the girls' eyes lit up.  They, too, were now eager to watch this transforming Hulk.

Even though my husband told the girls it would take a few days for Hulk to grow, they were expecting to see a change as soon as the water was added.  As they sat and waited and saw no change, they got bored and walked away.  It wasn't until the next day that they passed by the shelf my husband left it on in the living room and saw Hulk growing right before their eyes.  They thought it was so cool, as did my husband when the girls dragged him over to see it upon his arriving home from work that night.  

 
Within 48 hours of adding water to the refillable container, Hulk was fully grown and had broken out of the plastic underwater vault.  Like little kids, my girls wanted to touch the Hulk and see what he felt like now that he had grown in size.  My husband wanted to keep the transforming Hulk in pristine condition, as to display on his shelf in his office, so he said this was a toy to look at and not touch.  But, he did tell the girls to watch what happened after he drained the water.  When they awoke the next day, they were amazed to see the Hulk figure back to its original size -- like magic!

If you have a fan of Marvel and the Hulk, young or old, this is definitely one toy you will want to pick up and surprise them with.  My husband said he went into work and couldn't stop talking to his friends about this new transforming Hulk from Uncle Milton, and got the other guys so excited, they can't wait to pick one up to keep on their desks at work. :-)

Disclosure:  I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.