Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back to School with the Inspire Imagination Box Top Program at Costco

Box Tops for Education
This post is in partnership with General Mills and Box Tops for Education. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Did you know that there's a way to ensure that our schools are receiving much-needed funding while also benefiting your own family at the same time? It's the nation's largest school fundraising program, Box Tops for Education!

Box Tops steps

A General Mills program, Box Tops for Education began as an experiment on boxes of Cheerios in California with first year earnings of $1 million. Since then, it has grown to include hundreds of participating brands (along with General Mills, others include Ziploc, Kleenex, Lysol, Finish, and more) providing $840 million to more than 70,000 enrolled K-8 schools.

Pretty amazing, right? We make sure to clip each and every single Box Top that we can on our General Mills products (I have found that having a designated Box Tops baggie makes it so that my husband and kids know exactly where to put them) and I absolutely love knowing that such a simple act can have such positive results. We hand our baggie in to the PTO Box Top Coordinator at our school, she mails them in, the school gets a check. What could be better?!

Actually, we were excited to hear that right now there is another reason to be pumped up about Box Tops: the Inspire Imagination Box Top program!

Box Tops Inspire Imagination

I have no doubt that Box Tops are already helping inspire children all across the country, as what school couldn't use a little extra money? That funding may go to field trips, gym equipment, technology, books, art supplies, musical instruments, enrichment programs, game days... the list goes on and on!

Therefore, I love that the Inspire Imagination program is highlighting just that and giving Costco members the chance to win even more Box Tops for their school. It's so simple to enter (*see official rules below)! Here's how:
  • Take a photo of how Box Tops for Education inspires imagination in your child(ren). 
  • Share your photo on Twitter or Instagram using #InspireContest and be sure to follow @BTFE as this is how the winners will be notified.
  • Sit back and hope to be one of the 3,000 Costco members that each will win 100 Box Tops for their school!
Inspire Imagination Box Tops program

Easy peasy, right?

The combination of Box Tops and Costco is a perfect match, as not only do families such as mine shop at Costco every week to stock up on the products and brands that we trust and use regularly, but we score even more Box Tops with our purchases.

For instance, instead of picking up a single box of Kleenex at the store and being able to clip one single Box Top, we can buy a bulk pack at Costco and end up with 10 Box Tops instead!

Kleenex at Costco

With preparations for back to school underway, there's no doubt that I have been shopping at Costco even more than usual lately. There is nowhere else that has everything that I need for all of our lunch-packing supplies at such great prices!

Nature Valley crunchy bars

Along with picking up the food items that my daughters love in their school lunches (as well as to have for breakfast, dinner, snack, and pretty much anytime, as they are constantly eating), on my recent Costco visit I also stocked up on a few of the supplies that are necessary to keep our kitchen running.

Now I can rest easy knowing that I won't open the baggie drawer to find it empty or, even worse, prepare to run our dishwasher and have no detergent for it. Instead, we'll head into September ready to go... and with tons of extra Box Tops in our stash as well!

Box Tops products

If you aren't already collecting Box Tops for Education, now is the perfect time to start — particularly with the great selection of products at Costco! Whether you have children attending one of the participating locations or not, schools can never have too much money to improve their classrooms and programs and our kids can never be too inspired. All it takes is a pair of scissors to snip the Box Tops and make a difference!

To learn more about Box Tops visit BTFE.com and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Be sure to also visit CostcoBTFE.com for more information on the Inspire Imagination Box Top Program and enter your photo today!



*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years or older. Ends at 11:59 p.m. ET on 9/30/17. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, and prize descriptions visit www.costcobtfe.com. Void where prohibited by law. Use of “#InspireContest” when posting entry constitutes entrant’s agreement to Official Rules. Sponsor: General Mills.

Each box top is worth 10 cents to redeeming school when clipped from box tops products and sent to the redeeming school. Only BTFE registered schools can redeem box tops. Limit $20,000 per school per year for box tops redeemed through the clip program. See www.boxtopsforeducation.com for program details.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Villain Kids are Back in Descendants 2! {Available on DVD Today}

Descendants 2 logo
While I consider myself to be pretty in-the-know on all things kid-movie related, it wasn't until Little Sister B attended a slumber party more than a year ago that I was introduced to a completely new cast of characters. Mal? Uma? Gil? Who are these people?

Although it initially took a little deciphering to understand Little Sister B's stream of excited storytelling, it all began to fall into place when she got to the they're the kids of the bad guys part. Disney villains moved on with their lives and had children? Sure enough they had!

From that day forward, it was Descendants this and Descendants that as my young fan was officially obsessed. Everything from the plot to the soundtrack was brought up over and over again with glee – only to be enhanced 1000% when we heard the best news Little Sister B could have dreamed up: the villain kids were coming back in a highly anticipated sequel.

It was time to prepare for yet another music-driven smash in Descendants 2 (available on DVD today, August 15th)!

Descendants 2 box art

Overflowing with more action, more catchy music, unforgettable dance numbers, and new Villain Kids, Descendants 2 brings viewers into a deeper story line as the teenage sons and daughters of Disney's most infamous villains try to find their place in idyllic Auradon.

When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal (daughter of Maleficent), she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Hoping to retrieve Mal, Evie (daughter of The Evil Queen) brings along help and sneaks onto the Isle as well.

But Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben (Belle and Beast's son) to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs up her pirate gang including Captain Hook's son Harry and Gaston's son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.

The result is swashbuckling action and incredible song and dance numbers that Descendants fans are sure to love!

descendants-2

As well as the 90 minutes of mischief and music included in this fun film, the Descendants 2 DVD also includes fun bonus features to take the enjoyment even further:
  • Cast Secrets – Personal secrets are revealed by cast members Dove Cameron (Mal), Cameron Boyce (Carlos), Sofia Carson (Evie), Booboo Stewart (Jay) and China Anne McClain (Uma) during the filming of the movie.
  • Bloopers – The cast cracks up on set during some crazy takes.
  • Deleted Song and More – Includes an extended song ("The Space Between"), a deleted song ("If Only"), and two alternate endings.
  • Descendants: Wicked World – An ultimate collection of all the animated shorts from Season One.
If you have a young fan of Descendants in your life, you're going to want to bring home a copy of Descendants 2 on DVD today (available on Amazon as well as from retailers nationwide) to continue the singing, dancing, and villainous fun.

As a special bonus, inside the case you'll find a free necklace with five interchangeable villain icons so your little one can show off their Descendants love even further!

Descendants 2 necklace

To find out more about Descendants 2, listen to clips, play games, meet the cast, get party planning tips and recipes, see news, and much, much more, head over to the Disney website.

Other than the copy of of Descendants 2 that I was provided, I was not compensated or enticed to do this review in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about this product.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

BigBoxPlay Life Sized Cardboard Fort Play System - On Kickstarter Now!

BigBoxPlay logo
If there is an age that children reach when they stop being overly amazed and thrilled by cardboard boxes, my girls haven't gotten there yet. I, for one, don't see a box and feel the extreme desire to examine it, push it around, color it, climb inside and hide, and then attempt to come up with new ways to play with it. But maybe that's just me?

As for my kids, cardboard is fantastic. It's wonderful! It's the best thing ever! Forget whatever toy that came inside, they just want to play with the box.

Inevitably though, the excitement is always fairly short-lived. The flimsy cardboard rips or the bottom falls out or the girls realize that, in fact, they can put their creativity towards something that isn't just a box... that is, if they happen to put down their tech devices for a minute and actually use their creativity.

But... what if a cardboard box could be taken to the next level? What happens when a company that is frustrated with all the digital toys dominating the market decides to turn cardboard into something captivating, durable, dependable, and amazingly fun? The result is a life-sized cardboard fort (strong enough for your children to stand on!) that is big enough for kids to create their own endless adventures inside (and atop). It's BigBoxPlay!

BigBoxPlay outdoors

Developed by founder and chairman Pete Moffett, BigBoxPlay started as a special way to connect with his grandson by taking fort-building to the next level.

Unlike any other product on the market, this innovative play system takes children's iconic love for cardboard structures and building forts​ and offers a durable yet modular system that is anything but ordinary. With personalized play systems​ featuring different themes, activity kits, and Adventure Guides, ​BigBoxPlay has the ability to empower a child to build anything they can imagine​ time and time again!

Even better, this play and learning system not only sparks imagination and creativity, it is also designed to teach kids important skills such as communication, storytelling, collaboration, problem-solving, and empathy. Who wouldn't want their kids gaining those abilities all while building anything that they can imagine in the coolest fortress of fun around?

BigBoxPlay fort

BigBoxPlay systems come in two options, a 3 Box Set (great for smaller rooms) and a 5 Box Set. Both are extremely strong and feature child-friendly assembly, durable double-wall cardboard, quick set up and disassembly for easy storage, and are available in different themes such as castles, spaceships or cubes.

There's just no way that kids wouldn't have fun with these!

BigBoxPlay Kickstarter

Ready to find out more and exactly why your kids will love it? Well, you're in luck! Today, May 9th, marks the kickoff of their Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that will run for the next 31 days where supporters and fans can take advantage of exclusive pre-order pricing of $75-$135 with free shipping!

Once the Kickstarter campaign comes to an end, BigBoxPlay will be available nationwide at BigBoxPlay.com.

BigBoxPlay truly is playtime reimagined, so head over and check them out today!

This post is in partnership with BigBoxPlay but all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Stylish Durability and Quality On the Go: Machir Bags, Backpacks and Briefcases {Review}

Machir logo
Similar to selecting just the right pair of shoes to provide style as well as comfort, I've always felt that having a different backpack or bag depending on who I'm with, where I'm going, and what I'm doing is equally as important.

I'm talking about the optimal bag for the right occasion. One that will allow me to go hands-free, won't dig into my shoulder(s), provide versatile functionality, hold up to anything and everything, and more. Therefore, just being able to hike it up on my shoulder isn't enough. No matter if I'm in a store shopping, heading to a business meeting or trekking through the zoo, I want my belongings to be comfortably (and stylishly) held out of the way.

Picky? Yes. Yes, I am.

With all of my requirements, it goes without saying that finding a company that can provide my ideal bags can be extremely difficult. Am I destined to hem and haw at every photo after photo when the style, quality, size, and more just isn't striking my fancy?

And then I was introduced to Machir.

Machir bags

Born out of a desire for rugged, stylish, and durable backpacks, briefcases, and luggage-type bags, Machir bags and accessories feature premium quality fabrics, leather, and trims while keeping comfort in mind. These gorgeous bags were made for those with an active and adventurous spirit and provide comfort, quality, and functionality while not compromising style or price.

High quality construction, beautiful fabric choices, and immediate evidence that quality and care is put into all of their product lines? What more could you (or even someone as fussy as me) ask for?

Machir bags review

Deciding which of Machir's amazing bags from their stylish collections were my favorite was no easy feat. But when they arrived? Swoon.

Depending on where life is going to take us, my family was now prepared for work, travel, and life without ever needing to think about what bag would come along again.

First up, the Executive Slim Briefcase in Walnut.

Machir Executive Slim Briefcase

As I spend the majority of my days away from the business world, this incredible briefcase was my husband's choice and I couldn't have agreed more. No offense to anyone who carries a stereotypical briefcase, but I can't help but see that old fashioned rectangular design with those flip open clasps and just think that it screams boring and old.

Instead, Machir made the Executive Slim Briefcase the perfect size that it can easily carry a laptop and/or tablet, papers, and other office essentials without being too bulky. The modern design includes the two carry handles as well as a removable, adjustable leather shoulder strap for ease of use and I love the addition of the exterior and interior pockets (and removable padded laptop case) for full function and versatility.

Machir even lined this briefcase with a gorgeous plaid fabric that gives the whole thing an extra pop of youthful sophistication that appeals to men and women of all ages!

Machir Executive Slim Briefcase review

However, when he's heading out of town for a work trip and the Executive Slim Briefcase Executive doesn't provide quite enough space, the Flap-Over Backpack in Midnight steps in and provides my husband organization, room, and sleek styling instead.

Machir Flap-Over Backpack

There's something about business travelers lugging a bulky suitcase or toting along a ragged backpack that doesn't add up in my mind. Instead, the chic Executive Flap-Over Backpack incorporates all the features of a traditional backpack style, but taken to the next level of executive elegance.

The strong and durable nylon is accented with classic leather and silver hardware, while the contrasting lining is easy on the eyes. Along with the large interior compartment, this backpack includes padded compartments to hold a laptop and a tablet on the inside and four different zippered pockets for plenty of storage (and easy access) on the outside.

It really all comes together in such a professional, sophisticated way that is perfect for travel, a student, or simply in place of a briefcase. If you've never thought about carrying a backpack to work, this one just might change your mind!

Machir Executive Flap-Over Backpack review

Lest you think that Machir is all about business, let me introduce you to their Signature Small Duffle in Midnight.

Machir Signature Small Duffle

I have yet to come up with a daily activity that the Signature Small Duffle does not work for.

Heading to the gym? The large main compartment has plenty of room for your tennis shoes and a sweatshirt and the waterproof interior pocket is just the place for a wet swimsuit or sweaty clothes afterward. Packing for an overnight? The combination of the large and (many) small compartments ensures that you not only have space for everything, but that it can stay well organized as well.

Machir small duffle review

On our recent family vacation to Central America, Big Sister E confiscated this duffle as her own and adored the convenience of it as her carry-on (she altered between carrying it on one shoulder using the included padded shoulder strap and using both handles as backpack straps) as well as for keeping her belongings all contained in a new location.

As we have since returned from our trip, Big Sister E has yet to give Signature Small Duffle back, so I'm either going to have to sneak it from her room or order another one if I ever want to use it!

Machir duffle bag

However, I can't complain too much about losing access to Machir's great duffle, as I have been more than happy with my own versatile, high quality bag, the Signature Military Backpack in Avian Millennium Dusk.

Machir Signature Military Backpack

If you're thinking something along the lines of If you've seen one backpack, you've seen 'em all, then know that originally I was, too.

However, of the many, many backpacks that I've used in my lifetime, the Signature Military Backpack has out-performed them all. From the wide, comfortable straps to the extremely padded back panel to the huge interior compartments (with plenty of smaller pockets to stay organized and keep your tech gear protected), Machir has thought of everything.

It even has a built-in waterproof rain cover so that if you get caught in the elements, your belongings won't get soaked through!

Machir backpack rain cover

Not to mention that any other backpack that I have used started to show signs of wear and tear by having the bottom corners chip away or a zipper begin to fail... but no matter what I have put the Signature Military Backpack through, it has proven its quality, durability, and thoughtful function without problem.

I carried this backpack nearly daily throughout our vacation and no matter what it went though, it stayed comfortable on my back and shoulders and kept all of my essentials safe and within reach. I couldn't have asked for more and have continued to use it since we have been back and love it just as much!

Machir backpack review

Whether you are headed on a weekend trip, leaving for another day at the office, going camping, hitting the gym or more, Machir has the bag that will prove to be the epitome of comfort, convenience, and durability just for you.

While their collections do retail a bit higher than what you might pay in a big box store, their products truly are your soon-to-be favorite travel/daily companion. Every piece is long-lasting, high quality, easy to use, simple to adjust, and designed with luxury and versatility in mind. No matter where your next adventure is taking you, Machir will effortlessly come along for the journey!

To find out more about these and all of Machir's fantastic items, visit Machir.com and see their drool-worthy photos on Instagram. You'll also want to connect with this innovative company on Facebook and their blog so that you never miss a new product release, travel talk, fashion trends, and more.

Other than the bags that I was provided by Machir in order to facilitate my review, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This review is solely my honest opinion about these products.