Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Gift Ideas -- Grow Your Own TickleMe Plants (Review and Giveaway)

Deluxe Family Greenhouse

My husband is the green thumb in our house. During the warmer summer months you will find him out in the yard planting new plants and tending to our veggie garden.  So, when I stumbled upon the TickleMe Plant while looking for fun and unique items to include in my holiday gift guide, I knew I had to request a sample for him to grow with Savannah.

Like me, my husband had never seen or heard about the TickleMe Plant prior to receiving in the mail to try out.  I showed him the website, along with this YouTube video, to give him the full effect of this fun and unique plant that both adults and children will enjoy growing and tending to:

Isn't the TickleMe Plant neat?  This plant is a great way to get children excited about gardening and growing a plant of their own.  If you have water and access and sunlight, then you can grow a TickleMe Plant, and watch it move when you tickle it.

Since receiving a sample a few weeks ago, my husband had Savannah help him add the soil, seeds and water to the 6-pot greenhouse I was sent to grow the TickleMe Plant in.  Each morning when Savannah gets up, she heads to the bay window to say hello to her pet plants.  They are starting to grow branches long enough for Savannah to tickle and watch move.  You should see the look of excitement on her face when she sees the plant come to life and move. Even I find it fun to watch.  And, it doesn't take long for the Mimosa pudica plants to start to grow.  Within a few days of planting, we began to see the plants sprout.  This is great as other times my husband tried planting with Savannah, she grew tired of waiting for the plants to grow.  With the TickleMe Plant greenhouse, all 6 pots grew TickleMe plants that are still alive today (with watering when needed), thanks in part to Savannah talking to them. :-)  Well, not really, but she thinks she made them grow by talking to them.

Why not surprise your children or that hard to shop for person this holiday season with the TickleMe plant


Item# MH TickleMe Plant Party Favors

Click here to order a TickleMe Plant set today --

You can choose from individual potted plants or the 6-pot greenhouse set I was sent to review.  Note, the plant doesn't come already grown.  You have to use the soil disc and package of seed, along with water and sunlight to grow your own TickleMe plant.

Check out these holiday specials available for a limited time:

FREE TickleMe Plant Seed Packet with every order TODAY. While supplies LAST!

FREE Shipping and FREE TickleMe Plant Book included with All Orders Over $75.00 TODAY!! Fun for ages 5-105!


Item #TFG6  Deluxe TickleMe Plant Family Greenhouse

One lucky reader will win a 6-pot TickleMe Plant Greenhouse, thanks to the vendor.  To enter please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Gift Ideas -- Kelly Clarkson's New Greatest Hits, Chapter 1 CD (Review)

Kelly Clarkson 'Greatest Hits' (Sony)

I have been a fan of Kelly Clarkson's since her early days on American Idol, and have even travelled as far as Nashville, TN to see her perform live.  With a handful of albums under her belt, it was only a matter of time before she released a greatest hits album.  And, on November 19th she did just that with Greatest Hits, Chapter 1.  The following tracks are included on this new release:

1. Since U Been Gone
2. My Life Would Suck Without You
3. Miss Independent
4. Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)
5. Behind These Hazel Eyes
6. Because Of You
7. Never Again
8. Already Gone
9. Mr. Know It All
10. Breakaway
11. Don't You Wanna Stay (with Kelly Clarkson)
12. Walk Away
13. Catch My Breat
14. People Like Us
15. Don't Rush
16. A Moment Like This
17. I'll Be Home For Christmas

I have bought my fair share of greatest hits albums in my day and have been disappointed time and again by the songs they choose to include on these CDs.  While many are chart toppers, others make you scratch your head and wonder how they made it on a greatest hits album.  But, this isn't the case with Kelly Clarkson's greatest hits album.  Instead, all the songs on the CD have been chart toppers and on-air favorites. 

I received a digital copy of this new album and have been listening to it for a few days now.  Any Kelly Clarkson fan would love to have this album, as it includes her pop and country hits.  I especially love her duets with other artists, as well as her new material.  She has come a long way from her early days on American Idol, and I can't wait to see what direction she takes next.  I will be one of many who will continue to purchase her albums, including additional greatest hits ones, as I know she will be around for a long time, making music all generations will enjoy listening to.

Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this CD from the vendor.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Gift Ideas -- Cooking Mama 2-Pack for Wii (Review)

Cooking Mama 2-Pack

I admit it, one of my guilty pleasures is playing video games.  How can I resist when I see my husband playing them as a way to unwind after a busy day.  While he enjoys the shoot 'em up games, I prefer either dance, kareoke or Cooking Mama games.  So, when I heard about Majesco Entertainment coming out with Cooking Mama 2 for Wii, I had to get my hands on a copy to review.  

I received this new release a couple of weeks ago, and have already beaten both games -- "Cooking Mama World Kitchen" and "Cooking Mama Cook Off."  You don't have to be a gamer to enjoy these cooking games. They are easy to learn how to play, and once you do, you will be hooked.  Yes, the graphics may be simple and the games easy to master, but this popular video game is more for entertainment than actual video gamer type games.  You can play by yourself, or challenge a friend to a cook off.  

Out of the two games that make up this new Cooking Mama 2 Wii release, I have to say my favorite was "Cooking Mama" Cook Off.  I enlisted my husband to help me review this game, and play along with me.  He usually doesn't give these types of games the time of day, but after having me beat him the first go-around, he wanted a rematch. :-)

Now, when we are looking for something fun to do for in-home date night, I always suggest a cook off Cooking Mama style.  So, if you are Cooking Mama fan and own the Wii console, you will want to pick up a copy of Cooking Mama 2 today?  Or, if you are like me and like entertaining video games without all the blood and gore, this game may just be what you are looking for. :-)

---BUY NOW---

You can buy Cooking Mama 2 and other Cooking Mama games (for all gaming consoles) at your favorite retailer, as well as through online sites.  This game is selling at Amazon right now for only $29.99.

About Cooking Mama 2 for Wii:

"Mama serves up twice the motion-based fun!
Use the Wii RemoteTM  as your universal utensil to chop, grind, slice and stir your way to kitchen supremacy in these best-selling Mama classics.

Cooking Mama Cook Off
  • Use 300 ingredients to create 55 recipes, from  hot dogs to pan fried crab
  • Challenge a friend to the ultimate multiplayer cook off 
Cooking Mama World Kitchen

  • Mama gets a 3D makeover along with 50 new recipes including ginger pork and fruit gelatin
  • Customize your kitchen and fix mistakes in silly new kitchen mini-games"

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this game from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.   
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Feature Friday -- VTech Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor (Review and Giveaway)

This past Monday, I shared my Spotlight on Mom interview with Stacy DeBroff, Founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting.  If you missed my interview with Stacy, click here to read it now --.  Today, I wanted to share my thoughts on the VTech Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor, which Mom Central Consulting so kindly sent me to review.  During the month of September, Stacy and her team worked with other mom bloggers to spread the word about Baby Safety Month, with a focus on the key elements of home safety.  As such, they let other mom bloggers review this baby monitor and offer a giveaway -- like I will be doing -- learn more about this giveaway below.

As you know, I have two small children, and still use a baby monitor to keep an eye on them when they are napping and sleeping at night time.  I can't tell you how many baby monitors we have bought, only to be disappointed with the overall quality and ease of use of them.  So, when I was sent this full color video and audio monitor from VTech, I was not expecting much and was keeping an open mind, as we recently had to throw out another video baby monitor which broke after a few months of use.  

It has been about two months since we began using the VTech Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor, and my husband and I absolutely love it.  Not only was it easy to use, which is great for sleep deprived parents like us to try out and set up, but the overall sound and picture qualities are amazing.  I have yet to have channels crossed with others, which was a big issue with previous monitors.  Instead of listening for my children to cry or fuss, I would constantly be hearing peoples' telephone conversations over the monitor.  And, even after changing channels and frequencies, I couldn't get rid of this.  

Just look at the features of this Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor from VTech:

Safe & Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor Product Shot
  • Six level sound indicator.
  • Vibrating Sound Alert - Enjoy some added peace by being silently alerted when there is sound in the baby's room.
  • Temperature Sensor - Parent Unit displays baby's room temperature. Be assured the conditions are ideal for restful sleep.
  • Talk-Back Intercom System - Remotely communicate with your baby from the parent unit to the baby unit. Soothe your baby from another room or even from outdoors.
  • Polyphonic Lullabies - Play 5 different lullabies on the camera.
  • Camera Battery Compartment - Add four AA batteries (not included) to the camera for up to 4.5 hours of video streaming.
  • Zoom the camera from the parent unit.
  • Night Viewing - 8 infrared LEDs automatically sense the lighting condition providing full video viewing in dark rooms.
  • Split screen capability - System supports up to four cameras to be viewed from one Parent Unit. Viewing modes include Single View and Quad View Split Screen
  • High Resolution 2.8" Color LCD - Easily view your baby (or babies) from the 320x240 full color display.
  • Full Motion Video - Up to 22 frames per second of full color, dynamic frame rate video provides excellent viewing of all the action in the baby's room.
  • Rechargeable battery with low battery alert in parent unit.
  • Wall Mount Bracket - Safely view your baby from a fixed location. Bracket includes a cord management system for storing excess power cord. Swivel, tilt and zoom the camera for the ideal view.
  • Adjustable camera angle.
  • Extended Range - Up to 1,000 feet of range allows you to feel safe and connected to your child while you go about your day.
  • Digital Transmission - This 2.4GHz Frequency Hopping Digital Spread Spectrum system digitally transmits both the audio and video signals. No annoying white noise sound. You only hear the sounds coming from your baby. All transmissions are encrypted for your privacy and security.
  • Expandable to 4 Cameras - For families with more than one child to monitor, this system can expand to four total cameras. Extra cameras (VM301) sold separately. Know what is happening in all of the important rooms in your home.

Safe & Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor Product Shot

Impressed?  We are, and can't stop recommending this baby monitor to family and friends who are expecting or looking to replace their current baby monitors.  The features that I love the most are the full color motion video, the ability to adjust the camera angle so that I can actually see my children in their cribs, as well as the split screen capability and extended range of up to 1,000 feet.

I also love how the parent unit has a low battery alert, as this was not included with the other monitors I had. I always hated hearing the low battery beep over my children in their rooms, and had always wished the parent unit would notify me when I needed to replace the batteries in the monitor.

In addition to the ease of use of this monitor, I love that it compact enough and doesn't take up a lot of table space in the nursey. When running, is is not loud, so I don't have to worry about it waking my daughters from their naps.

Overall, I am so glad I had the opportunity to review this baby monitor from VTech.  I have been a fan of this brand since we welcomed our first daughter in 2010. If you walk through my house, half of my daughters toys are from VTech.  We have come to love their exceptional quality and educational benefits of their products, and can now add the Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor to our ever growing list of VTech products we own.

Know someone who is expecting, or need a baby monitor that really works and will offer you peace of mind when you child sleeps, then why not consider checking out the VTech Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor today?  At only $129.94, you can't go wrong for all that you get.  This baby monitor far exceeded my expectations and is the best one I have seen and used since welcoming our daughters. And, when friends and family ask me about baby monitors, I don't hesitate to recommend this easy to use and oh so reliable baby monitor from VTech.

---BUY NOW---

Click here to order this baby monitor from VTech's website for only $129.94 -- In addition, you can purchase this baby monitor at other online retailers, as well as at local retailers.


One lucky reader will win a VTech Safe&Sound Full Color Video and Audio Monitor, thanks to the folks at Mom Central Consulting and VTech.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Movies Worth Picking Up From Echo Bridge Entertainment (Review)

I started reviewing holiday movies a few days before Halloween.  While others were watching Halloween favorites, I was starting to get into the holiday spirit by watching Christmas movies with the girls, and as a way to unwind after everyone was in bed.  I can't tell you how many holiday-themed movies I have seen since then, but ones I have recently watched during the Thanksgiving holiday were from Echo Bridge Entertainment.

The kind folks at Echo Bridge Entertainment sent the following Christmas-themed movies to review and share with my family:

On the Second Day of Christmas / Bonus MP3 Audio 
Buy now for only $5.99.

"Trish (Mary Stuart Masterson) and her six-year-old niece, Patsy, make their living by picking pockets. But when they try to take advantage of holiday shoppers with fat wallets, they run into a little snag—a department store security guard named Bert (Mark Ruffalo) catches them in the act. The store owner wants them arrested, but decides to wait until Christmas is over. To ensure they don't make a run for it, he entrusts their care to Bert. With jail on the horizon, Trish and Patsy are scared for their future. But as the holiday nears its end, it looks as though a budding romance might just save them after all."
Includes BONUS Music!
Get in the Christmas spirit with 10 holiday songs in digital format.
Angels We Have Heard on High
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
O' Come All Ye Faithful
O' Little Town of Bethlehem
Unto Us a Child Is Born
Away in a Manger
From Heaven High
Hail Blessed Virgin Mary
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
O' Holy Night

Miracle at Christmas: Ebbie's Story / Bonus MP3 Audio 
Buy now for only $5.99.

"Elizabeth "Ebbie" Scrooge (Susan Lucci) is the tyrannical owner of Dobson's department store. She takes her career very seriously and cares little about those around her, firing employees, denying charity and breaking tradition to turn a profit. When Ebbie is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, she realizes that she knows the price of everything…but the value of nothing. As she gets a glimpse at the bridges she's burned and the love she's lost, Ebbie hopes for a fresh start. Will she get another chance to live a more generous life?"

Includes BONUS Music!
Get in the Christmas spirit with 10 holiday songs in digital format.
Amazing Grace
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I Saw Three Ships
The Holly and the Ivy
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
We Three Kings
Feliz Navidad
Away in a Manger
O' Christmas Tree
Silent Night

A Very Mary Christmas
Buy now for only $6.99.

"Mary (Olesya Rulin) is a pregnant teen on the run from her unsupportive mother (Cybill Shepherd). Hitchhiking to Los Angeles to see her rock star father (Gene Simmons), Mary doesn't have anyone to help her except the eccentric characters she meets along the way—a polka-loving truck driver (Elliott Gould), a gun-toting pig lady (Cloris Leachman) and a caring showgirl named Darnella (Linda Gray). But when Mary finally makes it to LA, her dad isn't prepared for the news. With nowhere else to go, and the holidays right around the corner, Mary ends up back with Darnella and her friends—a new family that gives her all the support she could ever need."

A Christmas Tail / Family Holiday Favorites 
Buy now for only $6.99.

"Christmas magic might just land Tim Webster in the doghouse this holiday season.
It seems that anything is possible when ""The Professor"" arrives in town with his colorful band of rail-riding wayfarers. When he tells Tim about a legendary supernova with mysterious powers that is set to appear in the night sky, Tim knows just what he'll wish for—the dog he's always wanted. But after making the wish, Tim realizes something went wrong: he has a fur coat, a wagging tail, a wet nose and four paws!"

Includes BONUS Music CD!
1. Jingle Bells
2. If Every Day Were Christmas
3. Joy to the World
4. We Wish You a Merry Christmas
5. Deck the Halls
6. The Twelve Days of Christmas
7. The First Noël
8. Star Light, Star Bright
9. Rock and Roll Wishes
10. Finale: The Twelve Days of Christmas

Winslow the Christmas Bear / The Greatest Holiday Classics
Buy now for only $6.99.

"Winslow the Christmas Bear is a classic children's story that combines whimsy and fantasy with real-life animals to make Christmas come alive. One Christmas Eve, a little girl named Chrissy finds a magic storybook—a storybook that introduces her to a very special friend named Winslow. Winslow the bear isn't like the other bears. Instead of hibernating this winter like the rest of his kind, he decides to ask each of his animal friends what Christmas is all about."

Includes BONUS Music CD!

1. Swan Lake Suite For Orchestra, Op. 20
No. 1, Scene (Act II)
No. 2, Waltz (Act I)
No. 3, Dance of the Swans (Act II)
No. 4, Scene: Pas L'action (Act II)
No. 5, Dance Hongroise, Czardas (Act III)
Scene (Act IV)

2. The Nutcracker Ballet Suite, Op. 71a
Overture Miniature - Danses Caractéristiques
a. Danse De La Fée-Dragée
b. Dance Russe Trepak
c. Dance Arabe
d. Dance Chinoise
e. Dance Des Mirlitons
Valse Des Fleurs

3. Suite From Ballet: Sleeping Beauty, Op. 66
Introduction - The Lilac Cat
Puss In Boots & The White Cat

and Christmas is not Christmas without watching a few Andy Griffith favorites:

Andy Griffith Collection 

Buy now for only $9.99.

"Beloved star Andy Griffith has left an extraordinary legacy in the film and television industries. Celebrate his life and career with these four memorable movies:

When Cal (Gerald McRaney) and his niece, Fern (Alison Pill), move in with his father (Andy Griffith) in Bethlehem, Kentucky, they are lacking in Christmas spirit. But when they meet the school's lovely music teacher (Naomi Judd), both Cal and Fern have a change of heart.

A team of advertising agents (William Shatner, Robert Reed) tries to win over an industry mogul (Andy Griffith) on a motorcycle ride through Baja, but their trip into the desert quickly becomes deadly.

A dysfunctionally funny family from Arkansas rallies to support their uncle when he's charged with murder. Starring Andy Griffith, Billy Bob Thornton, Kelly Preston, Laura Dern, and Diane Ladd.

A hands-on prosecutor (Andy Griffith) investigates a fatal mugging on the streets of New York and links it to the work of an organized crime king (Robert Loggia)."

Can you believe that these movies only cost $5.99 or $6.99 each (minus the $9.99 Andy Griffith Collection?  Yes, you read that right -- only $5.99 or $6.99.  With an affordable price like this, you can't help but pick up these and other holiday movies from Echo Bridge Entertainment.  This is what I love most about them, as they offer family entertainment at a great price.  Even if you are on a budget, with their assortment of 8-10 film movie collections (which range in price from $6.99-$11.99, on average), in addition to the above holiday movies, you can enjoy a nice family night with the kids.

10-Film Holiday Collector's Set10-Movie Children's Holiday Collection

Even though my daughters are too young to understand the themes of these movies, they loved seeing the animals on the screen and listening to the holiday music, which is an added bonus feature to each of these DVDS.  I haven't seen any of these movies before, so it was a treat to watch, and know that I had some wonderful titles to add to our growing Christmas DVD collection, to enjoy for years to come.

So, if you are looking for some family-friendly holiday movies to share this upcoming season, why not pick up one or more of these or other Echo Bridge Entertainment movies today?  Like I said, for the price, you can't go wrong.  Two of these movies alone would be the equivalent of one movie ticket.  You will enjoy the savings and quality of each family film in the comfort of your own home, while enjoying pizza or a freshly cooked meal, and not break the bank. :-)

Disclosure: I was sent DVDs from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Gift Ideas -- Yummy Dough -- Play Dough You Can Eat (Review)

Smarty Parents Products

Now that Savannah is getting older, she is starting to do big kid stuff like playing with play dough.  But, because Arabella is still putting things in her mouth, and hovering around Savannah at the kitchen table when she is playing with play dough, I needed to find a product that was safe to eat, in case she got her hands on some.  This is when I stumbled across Yummy Dough!  Not only is this dough safe to eat raw, but it can also be baked and then eaten.  How can you eat play dough you ask?  Well, this isn't like any other play dough on the market.  Instead, Yummy Dough contains ingredients like wheat flour, egg powder and milk protein, along with other edible ingredients to make a play dough that you can mold, bake and eat.  And, all you had to do to make the yummy dough is add water.  It is that easy!

I couldn't wait to try out this Yummy Dough with the girls.  Because I knew that you could eat it raw, I was excited to let Arabella join her sister in creating edible art the other day.  Under my husband and my supervision, the girls had a blast with the cookie cutters, rolling pins and their hands in making some amazing creations.  And, when they were done having fun molding and sculpting things, I baked their creations in the oven for 12-15 minutes.  I think the best part about playing with the Yummy Dough was eating their creations.  My husband and I tried the baked yummy dough and could see why the girls kept reaching for another piece.  It tasted just like a baked cookie, except it was molded dough creations our daughters made.

Yummy Dough safe edible modelling dough

Yummy Dough would be great to have on hand for rainy days, or those unexpected snow days, to entertain the children with.  Or, if you want to buy a few and give as gifts, it would make for yummy and playful treat.

Click here to order Yummy Dough online for only $12.95 per bucket --

Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Gift Ideas -- WrapStar Mic from First Act Discovery (Review and Flash Giveaway)

Closed.  Congrats to Sandra J.

"First Act Discovery is excited to debut the award-winning WrapStar Microphone, the first mic you can bend and twist.  Available at retailers nationwide, the WrapStar Mic offers three feet of bendability so everyone can get wrapped up in the fun.  The Mic is offered in multiple colors, each with unique silly sound effects for endless creative possibilities.

"Kids love to sing and perform, and are inspired by extremely popular TV shows such as The Voice, The X Factor, and Glee. With the WrapStar Microphone, our goal is to provide kids with a new and unexpected way to put on a show," said Ilissa Schild, Product Manager for WrapStar. "The WrapStar Mic is an innovative toy, giving kids new levels of creative freedom to express themselves."
Kids are encouraged to shape the Mic into new and inventive shapes – a hat, an animal, a pair of glasses, a bracelet, an instrument!  The WrapStar Mic has a soft, moldable patent-pending design for the perfect amount of flexibility.  For its ability to foster creativity, movement, and self-expression, the WrapStar Mic has already been recognized by Dr. Toy as one of the Top 100 Toys of 2012 as well as one of the 10 Best Active Toys of the same year.
Twist it, bend it, shape it like you like, show 'em who you are with the WrapStar Mic! The WrapStar Mic is for kids 4+ and available for $19.99; requires one "AA" battery, not included."

For more information about WrapStar Mic, visit


My Thoughts:

I was sent a WrapStar mic to review and found this award-winning microphone to be a hit amongst parents and children.  I showed off the WrapStar mic to family and friends who joined us for dessert on Thanksgiving, and we ended up having a mini karaoke party in the living room.  You can't help but love to sing, after seeing popular sing off shows on television shows nowadays.  Now, mind you, many of the people who grabbed the WrapStar mic will not be landing a recording contract any time soon, they all had a blast adding silly sound effects, along with their voices.

Being able to twist, bend and mold the 3-foot long mic makes it even more fun.  Little ones had a blast wearing the mic as glasses, while adults were finally able to command the stage (well, at least the living room floor) by wrapping this mic around this wrists and fist pumping in the air, as they sang along to classics like "I Love Rock and Rock" and "We Will Rock You." :-)  Our oldest daughter loved hearing herself echo through the mic, as she made "meow meow" sounds and sang kid favorites like "Twinkle Twinkle" and "I Love You."

So, if you are looking for a fun way to add more life into your family gatherings this upcoming holiday season, or have the next top singer in your house, why not pick up the WrapStar?  Everyone who takes to the mic will have fun and come out of their shells.:-)


You can pick up the WrapStar microphone at Toys R Us, Kmart and Walmart for only $19.99 or less.


One lucky reader will a WrapStar mic thanks to the folks at First Act, Inc.  To win, be the first to email me and share your favorite karaoke song to sing.  The first one to send me an email will win. Good luck!


First Act Discovery makes imaginative musical products for kids ages 3 to 9. Designed to encourage music learning and inspire creativity, Discovery products make playing music fun! First Act Discovery is part of the First Act family of brands. With headquarters in Boston, First Act creates musical products for players of all ages.
Disclosure: I was sent a sample from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Stocking Stuffer Ideas from I See Me! (Review)

I have been a fan of I See Me! since we welcomed Savannah and I had a chance to review some of their amazing personalized books and gifts.  They are always adding new products to this already large personalized gift offering.  And, with the holidays only weeks away, they have done it again by adding personalized placemats and coloring books.  I was lucky enough to have them send me a sample of each, and have to say I was yet again impressed with the quality of their unique, personalized gifts, which make for great keepsakes.

My Very Own Fairy Tale Personalized Placemat

I had them create a personalized fairy placemat for Arabella, as Savannah already has a few of her own.  Even though Arabella is too young to read, the moment I showed her the placement and set her place at the the table with her, she knew it was hers.  And, now, every time I sit the girls at the table, she reaches for her fairy placemat from I See Me!

My Very Own Fairy Tale Coloring and Activity Book

Not wanting to leave Savannah out from receiving a gift from I See Me!, I had a personalized fairy coloring and activity book made especially for her with her name on the cover. And, like Arabella's fairy placement, this coloring book was filled with magical fairies for Savannah to color.  As she colored and flipped through each page of this coloring book, the pages spelled out her name.  How neat is that?!  What I loved best about it, besides how it has kept Savannah busy coloring each page, is that I can keep this coloring book and store it away until she gets older to show her what she did when she was little. 

So, if you love creating personalized gifts like story books, coloring books, placemats, etc., why not check out the product offering at I See Me! today?  You will not be disappointed with the items you select and have personalized.  And, those who receive them, will love seeing their names in print. :-)

Click here now to being browsing the I See Me! online store, and order soon so that you can have your items shipped and received before the holidays -

Disclosure: I was sent samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.
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Holiday Gift Ideas -- 3D Pop Up and Sound Books from AZ Books (Review)


One of the things I love best about being a mom is sharing my love of reading with my daughters.  The snuggling up together to read a good book is a bonus. :-)  And, with holiday shopping in full gear, I thought I would share some great interactive books that young children will enjoy having you read to them.  Over the summer, I stumbled across AZ Books and requested a catalog of their books for children.  In addition to the catalog, I was also sent a copy of their "About the Human Body" book, which my nephew fell in love with.  He was learning about he body in school, and this interactive book make learning about the different body parts so much easier, and enjoyable.

So, when I circled around to the publisher and requested a few titles for my holiday guide, I was excited to have them send me the following AZ Books titles to review:

Format: 4 7/8 x 4 7/8 in. (125 * 125 mm)
8 pages. Board book with 4 pop-ups and sound module.

"With their amusing movements and realistic sounds, the lively animals in this series will easily keep kids engaged. Books also include riddles to solve and fun information about adorable animals that live on the farm, in the forest, in the pond, and at the zoo."

Format: 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 in. (176 * 176 mm)
10 pages. Case bound board book with 3 pop-ups.

"Amusing animals hide throughout the pages of these pop-up books, coming alive with movements and sounds. The animals in each book tell a short story about themselves.
This series is sure to capture kids' attention."

Format: 6 7/8 x 6 7/8 in. (176 * 176 mm)
10 pages.Case bound board book with 3 pop-ups.

"Amusing animals hide throughout the pages of these pop-up books, coming alive with movements and sounds. The animals in each book tell a short story about themselves.
This series is sure to capture kids' attention."

Format: 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 in. (215 * 215 mm)
12 pages. Board book with sound module.

"Because kids like to imitate different sounds, they'll definitely enjoy these amazing books! The animal photos seem to jump off the page and kids will get an extra thrill from hearing the sounds each animal makes. "

Format: 11 6/8 x 6 3/8 in. (300 * 163 mm)
16 pages. Shaped board book with sound module.

"Kids who enjoy music will love these piano books. Little musicians can change the melody by adding sounds to it, such as the sounds of animals, vehicles, or different musical instruments."

Now, I have read and reviewed hundreds of books on my blog since I began in 2009, but I have to say that these books from AZ Books are really unique and fun to read to young children.  My daughters loved being able to push the buttons on the sound books and hear the different animals make noise.  They couldn't help giggle each time they heard a certain animal sound.  Then, they would try and mimic the sounds.  Now, whenever I ask them what sound a cow, dog, piggy, frog or duck, for instance, makes, they can moo, bark, oink, ribbit or say quack quack.  I smile each time they do this, as it is just so cute.  

When we are playing with the sound books from AZ Books, the girls love it when I pull out the 3D picture books, which also have sound built into the books.  Savannah can't' help but say "ooh, ahh" each time I flip the page and new scene pops up right in front of her eyes.  Her favorite of the pop up books from AZ Book that I was sent was "Who is the Puppy Looking For?" I think she will be a dog lover like my and husband and I. :-)  

I can't wait to pick up more books like see from AZ Books to surprise the girls with this Christmas.  The only difficult thing will be deciding which books to get, and not buying up the entire online store. :-)  If you love sharing books with your children, especially as gifts for the holiday, why not consider picking up sound or 3D books from AZ Books?  Once you see these fun, interactive books up close, I know you will fall in love with them like we have. :-)  And, be sure to head back here and let me know which ones you purchased and what you thought of them, so that I can check them out, too!

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

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Holiday Gift Ideas -- American Girl Dolls, Books and More (Review)

It wasn't until I had nieces and now daughters of my own that I learned about the popular American Girl dolls.

american girl dolls

My daughter, Savannah, became a fan of American Girl when she was given the McKenna doll and movie for her birthday last year.  Even though she is too young to understand and truly appreciate the stories of each of the dolls in the American Girl collection, she does noticed and understand how they each are different and special.  So, when I was contacted by the folks at American Girl to review some of their products for my holiday gift guide, I knew who I could reach out to help with this feature -- my daughters and nieces.  You should have seen how excited they were when I told them the news.  This came on the heels of the recent announcment of the new American Girl doll, Caroline.  I didn't tell the girls which items I would be receiving, as I wanted them to be excited.

Following the news of this review opportunity, I had my daughter, Savannah and neice Olivia asking me each day if the doll had arrived.  And, once they saw the box from American Girl, they went crazy dancing around the living room, hooting and hollering.  As I opened the box, they were right up against me, trying to catch a glimpse into the box, as I pulled out the samples to review.  When my niece saw the American Girl Caroline doll, she exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, she is so beautiful."  Savannah followed with "ohhh, ahhh."  They weren't expecting me to pull anything else out of the box, but when I took out the Bitty Twins Dolls and Book, Bound for Snow paperback book and the new Meet Caroline hardcover book, they were shocked and amazed. 

It was like Christmas came early at our house.  I asked them to sit on the couch, and that I would bring the dolls over to play with.  You should have seen how fast they moved, and how quietly they sat, with their hands in their laps.  If only they did this every time I asked them to. :-)

Caroline was a hit amongst the girls.  And, as they played together on the floor, I read the new book about Caroline to them, which my neice loved.  She told me that one thing she liked most about the American Girl collection is how each girls' story is unique, and how you can learn more about them through these books, as well as movies.  Back in July, I had a movie viewing party for my daughters, neices and their friends, and they all viewed the McKenna Shoots for the Stars movie. 

Each girl brought their favorite American Girl doll to the party, and we went around the room, having them share about their doll and what made them so special.  It was great hearing all the stories, and seeing how the girls loved learning about each of American Girls.  Even though I had bought American Girl dolls for my neice prior to the party, it wasn't until I saw how excited the girls were when showing off their dolls and talking about them like they were real people, that I realized why American Girl is so popular among girls of all ages.  Even adults are collecting their dolls, and adding them to their growing doll collections.  I remember as a child that the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were popular to collect.  But, now with today's generation, girls are asking for American Girl dolls.  And, once you see these beautifully handcrafted dolls up close, you will understand why.

Bitty Twins. Fun times two

I waited to share the Bitty Twins dolls with Savannah and Arabella, as Arabella was sleeping when the package arrived.  As soon as Arabella saw these dolls, her eyes lit up (as did her sister and niece's).  Then, Savannah took her hand and led her to the couch, where they waited for me to bring the dolls over.  I was amazed at how Arabella took to the doll.  She is only 1 yrs. old, but already has a large collection of dolls, including American Girl ones.  And, with each new doll, she cradles and cares for them, as if she was the mommy -- which just amazes me.  I guess it is a female instinct that we are born with to want to nurture and care for things like dolls and babies.  

Here are just a handful of photos I took of my daughters playing with their Bitty Twins dolls.  You will notice Savannah getting ready to take a nap with hers.  Usually Savannah doesn't let anyone touch her security blanket, but when she climbed up on the couch to nap, she made sure her doll was warm, and used her blanket to cover her up.  :-)

So, with the holiday shopping season in full motion, why not surprise that special girl in your life with the new Caroline doll or other dolls and products from American Girl?  If your daughters don't have an American Girl doll yet, this would be a great time to introduce them to this popular doll collection.  And, make sure you check out the books (available in paperback and hardcover), DVDs, clothes and accessories to go along with the dolls.  My niece loves getting matching pajamas she can wear with her American girl dolls.  It is so cute to see this, as you don't expect to find matching doll and child pajama sets like these, as well as other outfits.  Now little girls can not only enjoy playing with their American Girl dolls, but they can dress like them, too!  

Stay tuned next month when I will be sharing a fun giveaway thanks to the folks at American Girl.  Will it be a giveaway for a doll, movie, book, or magazine subscription?  You will have to keep an eye out, as I am not telling until then. :-)

"Follow Your Inner Star!"

---BUY NOW---

You can purchase American Girl dolls and accessories online through the American Girl website (, as well as at American Girl stores located nationwide.  Click here to use the online store locator to find an American Girl store near you ---

About American Girl

American Girl Brands, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT,, the world's leading toy company. Since American Girl's inception in 1986, the company has devoted its entire business to celebrating the potential of girls ages 3 to 12. American Girl encourages girls to dream, to grow, to aspire, to create, and to imagine through a wide range of engaging and insightful books, age-appropriate and educational products, and unforgettable experiences. In meeting its mission with a vigilant eye toward quality and service, American Girl has earned the loyal following of millions of girls and the praise and trust of parents and educators. To learn more about American Girl or to request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005 or visit 

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