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.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Make Safety Fun with Wipeout Dry Erase Protective Gear {Review}

Wipeout Dry Erase Gear logo
This post is part of a sponsored campaign for Wipeout Dry Erase Productive Gear. I received compensation for my participation, but my review and opinions are my own.

It's no secret that the words 'safety' and 'fun' aren't exactly synonymous. However, for parents everywhere there have never been any viable alternatives when it comes to the benefits of, for instance, removing cords from window coverings, keeping cleaning supplies out of reach, covering outlets, having their child wear a seat belt in the car and a helmet on their bike, etc.

Or so I thought.

Recently I was introduced to an extremely unique and individualized way to let kids customize safety helmets and pads with their own designs, making them actually want to wear each piece again and again. Genius!

That's the creativity and innovation behind Wipeout Dry Erase Protective Gear!

Wipeout helmet and pads

Made by Triple Eight — a trusted company known for safety as a leading producer of action sports protective gear since 1995 — Wipeout was created to protect children on their bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, sleds, and snowboards with a creative twist.

Instead of yet another standard helmet or set of pads, Wipeout products are designed for endless customization with their included dry erase markers and stencils. Why wear a plain helmet or one that looks just like those of everyone else when kids can easily draw, wipe the designs off, create new ones, and repeat over and over again?

Imagination has no limits and that can now be applied in the world of safety gear!

Wipeout Safety Gear review

Right out of the box Little Sister B was thrilled to see the the neon pink colors and the dry erase markers and could barely contain her excitement as I removed the packaging.

Wipeout helmet review

The Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet package includes the helmet itself, five dry erase markers in assorted neon colors, and eight stencil designs, so kids are able to start being creative immediately.

What could be better than decorating your helmet completely to your own liking? Maybe one day cover it in peace signs and flowers and the next day switch to rockets and skull-and-crossbones!

Needless to say, Little Sister B and Big Sister E got right to work on putting their own designs on our Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet and have returned to erase, draw, erase, stencil, erase, and draw some more just about every day since!

Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet

What kid would rather wear a plain helmet when they could rock something cool and awesome like this instead?

Wipeout safety helmet review

At the same time, Triple Eight didn't just create Wipeout for the fun factor, as this sturdy and stylish helmet is made of ABS hard-shell construction with an EPS liner for durability. It is certified for safety protection for all sorts of activities (e.g. biking, skateboarding, rollerskating, scooters, etc.) for kids ages 3 to 14.

As Little Sister B loves her Dry Erase Helmet, I am just as happy sending her off on her bike or scooter and knowing that she is completely safe while showing off her hip style!

Wipeout dry erase helmet review

As much as my little fashionista enjoys her Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet, she has been over-the-top crazy about the Wipeout Dry Erase Protective 3-Pack we also received. This set of kneepads, wrist guards, elbow pads, and two markers has been worn inside, outside, in the car... she would have worn it all day at school if I had let her (and, considering she is a bit accident-prone, that wouldn't be all that bad of an idea).

Although these three sets of pads don't provide nearly as large of a canvas in which to showcase her designs, Little Sister B has still had a great time adding smaller artwork onto just about every possible dry erase surface provided.

Wipeout Dry Erase Protective 3-Pack review

Wipeout makes safety fun! I can't think of a better way to make kids want to wear their helmets and safety pads than by appealing to their creative, imaginative side and providing a way for complete uniqueness. From biking to skateboarding to rollerblading (there is even a winter version of the Dry Erase Helmet that includes ear flaps and a goggle clip for sledding and snow sports!), this gear can't be beat.

Plus, to further encourage kids' creativity or simply give their artistic side a boost, Wipeout has developed a series of step-by-step photo and video tutorials as well as design printouts to inspire kids to get the most out of their Wipeout products. Talk about cool!

Wipeout-Drawing-Tutorial-Bunny

The Wipeout Dry Erase Helmet retails for $29.99 and is available in three sizes for ages 3+, 5+, and 8+ in black, teal, neon pink, neon yellow-green, and more. The Wipeout Dry Erase Protective 3-Pack also comes in a variety of great color options and retails for $24.99. Keep an eye out for them at your leading retailer as well as on Amazon.

Whether you are looking for a useful birthday or holiday gift or simply want to encourage your child to love their safety gear so much that they never take it off, be sure to head over to iWipeout.com (and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram) to find out much more about this incredible line of unique products.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Disney's Moana is Available Now on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand!

Moana logo
Although I have always supported Little Sister B's love for anything and everything princess-related, I would be lying if I didn't say that there has been a tiny voice in the back of my mind that wished that the underlying message wasn't a little more modern for young girls.

While more recent years have brought changes to the typical damsel in distress who must be saved by her strapping love interest theme, when a film can instead feature a heroine on a journey of self-discovery who is empowered to find her own identity, I take notice. She's independent, progressive, ready for a challenge, cares about the environment, and not afraid to stand up for what she believes?

No wonder I was ready to welcome Moana into our lives with open arms!

Moana

The sweeping story of a spirited teenager who sets sail on a daring adventure to save her people, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Moana has received rave reviews from the moment it hit the big screen.

According to directors Ron Clements and John Musker, the story of Moana was inspired by the great explorers who masterfully navigated the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. "Voyaging is a real source of pride for many Pacific Islanders, a part of their identity," says Clements. Many experts believe that about 3,000 years ago, those deep-sea exploratory voyages halted for about a millennium before resuming.

This rebirth of exploration sparked the filmmakers' imaginations, and the heroine at the heart of the story. "The idea of a teenage girl who dreamed of becoming a navigator—considering the abilities of her ancestors—was so appealing," explains Musker. Moana's quest to become a wayfinder also serves as a journey of self-discovery, empowering her to find her own identity, a beautiful and powerful message for audiences of all ages and genders.

Families near and far can now continue the fun-filled adventure with brave and tenacious Moana and larger-than-life demigod Maui, as Moana is available today, March 7th, on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand!

MoanaBlurayCombo

Inspired by her grandmother, Moana is on a mission to restore the Heart of Te Fiti, a magical stone stolen years ago by Maui... but why not also enjoy hours of extensive and entertaining bonus offerings while watching her do so?

Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D bonus features include:
  • Theatrical Short Film: Inner Workings – With an introduction by the filmmakers, this story tells the internal struggle between a man's pragmatic, logical side and his free-spirited, adventurous half. Created by a small team at Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, the short explores the importance of finding balance in daily life.
  • Maui Mini-Movie: Gone Fishing – When Maui decides it's time to take charge of the ocean and catch his next meal, Moana must show him the error of his ways... with a little help from her friends!
Maui Mini-Movie Gone Fishing
  • Voice of the Islands – An in-depth look at how Pacific Island people and cultures inspired the filmmakers to create the story of Moana.
  • Meet the stars of Moana – a dynamic Q&A featuring Dwayne Johnson, newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho, and famed animation directors Ron and John.
  • Meet the musical team behind Moana – a fascinating Q&A featuring Opetaia Foa‘i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Island Fashion – Find out how costume designer Neysa Bové took on the unique challenge of creating costumes using materials and techniques native to the islands of Oceania.
  • They Know the Way: Making the Music of Moana – Musicians Opetaia Foa‘I, Marc Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda take viewers on a personal journey through their involvement in the movie and how it changed their lives.
  • Fishing for Easter Eggs – Dive deep into the ocean and fish for the Easter Eggs hidden by the animators at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Moana Easter Eggs
  • The Elements of... – This series of four mini-docs explores the technical achievements behind some of the ground-breaking effects used in the film.
    • Mini Maui – Meet "Mini Maui," Maui's tattoo sidekick. Animated by legendary hand-drawn animator Eric Goldberg, we explore how the 2D world collides with CG animation to bring the demigod’s tattoos to life.
    • Water – In the movie, the ocean is a character. This piece explores how the water is given a personality, along with the technical feats of creating a believable ocean landscape farther than the eye can see.
    • Lava – Te Kā is a creature made of lava, smoke and fire. This piece dives into the challenges of making an animated creature of massive scale brought to fiery life by character, technical, and effects animators.
    • Hair – One of the greatest technical achievements of the film was the animation of the beautiful, curly hair on Moana and Maui. Take a look at the hair-raising detail that goes into animating each strand, adding performance to the movie that has never been seen before.
  • Deleted Song: Warrior Face – With introduction by songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • Deleted Scenes – Ron and John introduce the following deleted scenes: Race the Wind/Ties that Bind; Discussing Moana’s Future; Under the Sea; Grandmother’s Warning/Legend of Maui; Education of Moana; Father, Daughter, Boat; and Canoe Race.
  • Music Video: How Far I’ll Go – Performed by Alessia Cara.
  • How Far I’ll Go Around the World – Multi-language reel of the song How Far I’ll Go.
  • Audio Commentary – With directors Ron and John.
Whether you enjoyed Moana in theaters and have been playing the soundtrack over and over ever since (my hand is raised!) or have simply been waiting for this movie to be available to watch at home whenever you please, now is the time to add this film to your collection. It is available today on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand and can also be found on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA).

With a feature running time of approximately 90 minutes, keep an eye out for Moana in stores near you, from Disney or on Amazon. You can also keep up with all things Moana by connecting with the film on Facebook and Disney Animation on Twitter and Instagram.

Want to celebrate the release of Moana even more? Check out these fun (free!) crafts and activities!

Download Moana Island Crafts

Other than a copy of Moana that I was provided 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 this product.