Saturday, March 30, 2013


The lucky winner of a CVS P&G Beauty Prize Pack is...

The lucky winner of a Musselman's Replacement Resolution Prize Pack is...

The lucky winner of Twister Rave Skip-It and Twister Rave Ringz is...

The lucky winner of a Maxi-Cosi Mico car seat is...

The lucky winner of their choice of Puppet Monster is...

The lucky winner of a $25 Walmart eGift card from TruMoo Chocolate Milk is...

Thank you to everyone who entered these fun giveaways! Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Manhattan Toy Imagine I Can Series {Review & Giveaway}

Manhattan Toy logo
If there's one thing that my girls love to do, it is arts & crafts projects. Even just a glimpse of some paints or glitter glue will start the Oooh, can we... and I know! We can... as their minds start to whirl.

But, after a while, I have a hard time coming up with anything more creative for them other than a stack of paper, glue and markers... which usually just ends up a sticky pile that gets thrown away due to the lack of interest in really doing anything with it.

What they (and I) typically need is to be pointed in a general direction. Once we're provided with ideas for something unique and fun to do, it's not long before we're inspired to come up with something original and imaginative.

Even better, when everything we need is all together in one creative, affordable kit from Manhattan Toy, we know that we're in for a really great time.

Manhattan Toy Imagine I Can series

On a mission to inspire imaginative play so kids and moms smile, Manhattan Toy was founded in 1979 and has been introducing delightful new toys ever since. Most recently, the launch of the brand new Imagine I Can series of 28 appealing arts & crafts, do-it-yourself, role-play, puppet kits and more are already proving that Manhattan Toy knows how to encourage entertainment and creativity.

With topics including knitting, pet rocks, castles, caterpillars and fairies in prices ranging from $5 to $20, the hardest decision is narrowing down the Imagine I Can options to just one favorite. Painting, coloring, constructing, building — how to decide?

Manhattan Toy Imagine I Can

Fortunately, we were able to see three of these innovative kits in person to get an idea of how much fun they all could provide.

As I looked over the Create-A-Puppet Alligator, Create & Color Puppy and the Sew Sweet kits, I was immediately impressed that Manhattan Toy had included every piece and tool needed all in one convenient package. Whether pulling one of these out to keep a child occupied during traveling or at home on a rainy day, it was all here ready and waiting.

With the girls and I headed on a spring break vacation, I knew that these kits would be the perfect thing to pack to keep them busy during the flight or while passing some downtime on the trip. Sure enough, when I pulled them out, their eyes widened with interest.

Imagine I Can Create and Color Puppy

I don't think that the Imagine I Can Create & Color Puppy kit could have been any more intuitive and easy to complete. All I had to do was hand over the sturdy cardboard pieces for Little Sister B to color (Big Sister E ended up joining in as well) and punch out and then assembling them into the dog was as simple as matching one number to its partner in the provided slots.

What started out as two sets of blank pieces...

cardboard puppy design

...soon turned into a colorful, creative, artistic (maybe if you squint really hard?) dog...

cardboard dog kit

...that both girls were thrilled over.

kids art kit
Manhattan Toy even includes a cute background scene to color and cut out right from the inside of the box! (Unfortunately someone here went a little overboard with the scissors and cut it into pieces, but I thought it was great that it was there in the first place.

At the same time, the Imagine I Can Create-A-Puppet Alligator provided Big Sister E with an easy way to practice following directions as she folded and assembled each of the pieces using the provided double-sided tape strips.

cardboard alligator design

By completing each step on the instruction sheet...

Manhattan Toy directions

...she soon turned a piled of colorful pieces and tape into an adorable, friendly alligator pal!

Manhattan Toy alligator

We found that the small double-sided tape wasn't quite enough to hold the alligator's spikes in place along the top of his mouth, but a little extra tape solved that problem with ease. Once that was set, Al the Alligator was ready for play!

Imagine I Can Alligator
I love that Manhattan Toy even added in the small handles on the inside of the alligator to make it even easier to open and close his mouth.

Both the Create & Color Puppy and Create-A-Puppet Alligator kits are designed for ages 3+ so I had no doubt that my kids would be able to complete them without any struggles (which ended up being the case).

However, my initial concerns about the Imagine I Can Sew Sweet kit and it's 8+ age recommendation were dashed not long after Big Sister E and I looked over the tremendous amount of supplies that were all fit into the adorable storage tin.

Imagine I Can Sew Sweet

Including simple patterns, needles, thread, pre-cut felt shapes, a variety of beads, and more, it wasn't hard to begin turning the individual pieces into adorable first sewing projects. Just match up the correct pieces of felt and carefully sew them together, adding stuffing or beads for embellishment!

Big Sister E and I ended up sharing the work, as she tried her best to handle a needle and thread for the first time...

Manhattan Toy sewing kit

...but was still extremely pleased and proud of two days' worth of work coming together in the form of one cute, soft puppy.

Manhattan Toy Sew Sweet review

We're already making plans for when we can sew together butterflies, flowers, an owl and more! I appreciate the way that Manhattan Toy designed this kit with various levels, making it possible to increase or decrease the difficulty on each individual project.

By the time we had completed all three of these kits, we found ourselves big fans of Imagine I Can and the way that each of these innovative packages can provide fun, learning, development, creativity and more all in a compact, portable container. Heck, the Sew Sweet tin is so darn cute that it could be used as a lunchbox!

cute lunchboxAppealing to boys and girls and easily labeled for ages 3+, 6+
and 8+ years old, the full collection of Imagine I Can Make It Myself Kits, Games and Role Play Kits will stay on our list of possible birthday gifts and items to reach for in the future that are guaranteed to provide family fun (or make amazing travel entertainment)!

Find out more about the Imagine I Can line as well as all of Manhattan Toy's unique and amazing products by visiting and connecting with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Plus, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be able to provide some creativity and laughter for the child in their life, because...

One lucky person will win their choice of one of the 28 Imagine I Can kits from Manhattan Toy!

A big thank you to Manhattan Toy for providing three Imagine I Can kits for me to review as well as the kit of choice for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Versatile, Lightweight, All-In-One: Bōken Every Day Diaper Bag {Review & Giveaway}

Boken logo
While I wouldn't have believed it at the time, it seems that suddenly my children are past the baby and toddler years. How did that happen? Where did their chubby little cheeks and wobbly first steps go?

Along with reminiscing about the memories and days gone by, there are times that I look back on the past 6+ years and focus on the products. There were some that were, and still are, good choices. Products that made life easier, brought comfort or joy, or were, quite simply, items that I would recommend.

At the same time that I look back at items that I adored, that there were some items that I regret, knowing that I shouldn't have spent the money or taken up the space. Among those: the excess diaper bags.

What was I thinking buying a diaper bag that screamed Diaper Bag! when that easily meant that I would no longer carry it the second I didn't have an infant? Instead, it makes much more sense to select one bag that is unique, high quality, stylish and extremely versatile. That way it can be used pre-baby, throughout childhood, and then beyond, never once giving a woman's appearance the look of being centered on baby, baby, baby.

Combine those features with a bag that is unisex, extremely lightweight and can be adapted to nearly any situation and you've got yourself the Every Day Diaper Bag from Bōken.

boken bag

A combination tote, backpack and cross-body messenger bag all in one, the Every Day Diaper Bag was inspired by a travel backpack and has the ability to fit your needs and your style, as well as keeping up with your hectic schedule.

No matter if you're focused on form, function, ease of cleaning or simply a modern, uncomplicated look, Bōken has managed to put all of that (plus more) into one simple bag.

boken diaper bag

As I pulled the Every Day Diaper Bag out of the box, I found that, even though I was expecting it to be small, I was still pretty amazed at just how compact it was.

travel diaper bag

Wait. There is a full-sized diaper bag in this tiny little pouch?

Sure enough, there is.

boken diaper bag review

Weighing in at a whopping 13 ounces, this utilitarian, uncluttered, lightweight diaper bag is made from water-resistant material and includes pockets galore. Inside, outside, everywhere you look!

Starting with the top zipper — which I love, as then I don't worry that items will fall out if the bag is tipped — the Every Day Bag is extremely large and roomy on the inside. There you'll find a reinforced bottom, a large mesh pocket and a zippered smaller pocket to help keep your items organized.

boken diaper bag inside

Back on the outside, there are two zippered, easy access pockets on the front for personal items, as well as two end pockets (one zippered, one mesh) for baby bottles, water bottles or sippy cups.

Boken bag pockets

But the fact that Bōken made this bag extremely lightweight, easy to clean, great for storage and included a full size changing pad are far from all the reasons that it is impressive.

Thanks to the Velcro pocket on the back...

versatile bag only takes a minute to transform this bag from tote... to backpack... to cross-body bag. Did I mention the versatility?

boken bag review

Considering that the Every Day Diaper Bag is so much more than simply a diaper bag, I set out to use it in a variety of different situations and have found that it excelled in each one. It has easily carried our library books, been a gym bag, held wet snow gear, gone shopping, and much more.

After all of that, I knew that it would be perfect as a travel bag when the girls and I hopped on a plane for our spring break trip. What better way for kids to carry all of their necessities than with a bag that weighs nearly nothing, is strong and durable, and can be wiped clean of their messes?

Whether filled with snacks and activities for the plane, packed up for a day out sightseeing, or simply filled with sunscreen and towels to head to the pool, Bōken's bag has truly come in handy for just about every situation!

Boken Every Day Diaper Bag

Whatever the world (or your baby) throws at you, the Every Day Diaper Bag from Bōken can handle it — while still looking modern, simple and functional. Moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers, this bag works for anyone and everyone!

Currently available directly from Bōken (as well as in select boutiques in the near future), the Every Day Diaper Bag retails for $68 and has the ability to replace the majority of bags currently hanging in your closet!

Find out much more about this and other innovative Bōken products at Bō and by connecting with this smart company on Facebook. Plus, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be able to utilize this adaptable, multifaceted bag as well, because...

One lucky person will win an Every Day Diaper Bag from Bōken!

boken diaper bag giveaway

A big thank you to Bōken for providing an Every Day Diaper Bag for me to review as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Find Balance in Your Life with The Quickie Chick and Balance Bar {Review & Giveaway}

Balance Bar logo
While there are many days that I would like nothing more than to bury myself under the covers and hibernate until spring has truly arrived (when will the snow finally stop??), I know that isn't possible.

However, at the same time, doesn't it sometimes feel as though as soon as Daylight Savings Time passes and we gain that extra hour of sunlight, that we all somehow think that means that we need to be even more productive and squish even more errands, events and chores into our already jam-packed days?

Fortunately, before the stress takes over, it is possible to make that extra daylight really count with actionable and easy tips for balance from lifestyle expert, Laurel House, known as The Quickie Chick, and Balance Bar.

The Quickie Chick

Founded in 1992 by a group of sports enthusiasts, scientists and people with a passion for life, Balance Bar was one of the originators of energy bars and the nutrition bar category.

good nutrition
As they have long crafted their products with the perfect balance of great taste, quality nutrition and lasting energy, it is easy to see why their 40-30-30 nutrition principle (40% of calories come from carbohydrates, 30% from quality protein and 30% from dietary fat) provides balanced energy... as opposed to a sugar rush and subsequent crash.

Add to that the many different flavors, styles and formats of energy bars that Balance Bar offers and there is no reason that nutrition can't be easy and delicious for everyone. These convenient bars can be eaten at home, work or on-the-go, so no matter if your day has you attending meetings, running errands, picking up the kids, squeezing in a workout or more, you can stay balanced and ready to keep up with it all.

So, with the official start of spring already past, it is the perfect time to check out Laurel's advice:

1. Eat well.

You don't want that extra sunlight to cause your entire day to be in a daze. Counteract the fact that the average person loses 40 minutes of sleep the first night of daylight savings time by eating energizing foods that will help keep your mind sharp and your mood lifted. A few to try and why:
  • Rye Bread – Filled with iron and lots of nutrients, rye bread helps to deliver fresh oxygen to brain cells, keeping you alert and energized.
  • Avocado – The monounsaturated fat in this healthy food helps to keep healthy oxygen flowing.
  • Onions – Sulfur found in onions can increase blood flow and circulation, both essential for energy.
  • Apple with a smear of peanut butter –This energizing combo of fiber-rich carbohydrates and protein takes longer to digest than eating carbs alone, therefore maintaining elevated energy longer.
Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bar
  • Original Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bar – This nutrition bar (as with all Balance Bars) also has energizing benefits, providing a balance of calories between carbs, protein and fat for long-lasting energy.
2. Be Selfish.

Your life called and asked for its balance back. Don't feel bad about leaving the office when it's still light. That doesn't mean you're leaving early. Take advantage of the extra hour of daylight by taking care of yourself.

Use it as a transition time to decompress, shed the work stress and enter into the second phase of your day. Finally take that yoga class that you’ve always wanted to try, take a walk to find the best view of the sunset, or stop on your way home at the flower garden that you always pass and smell the roses.

3. Be Selfless.

After work, go to your local animal shelter and take a couple of dogs for a walk. Or volunteer somewhere in your area. You'll offer help to those who need it, and brighten your evening, too.

4. Focus on your relationship.

Cut off the work energy, drop the residual stress of the day, and reset the stage for romance. It doesn't take much time or energy to put some effort into your relationship, but it's often those little things that make the biggest long-term difference. Here are a few ways to fill that extra hour with love:
  • Take a walk together before dinner.
  • Reservations are easy. Make dinner instead, even if you don't know how. In fact, even better if you don't know how. You are trying. You are taking time. You are putting some effort in.
  • Bought bouquets are nice. But just a simple flower is sweeter, especially if you were driving or walking down the street, spotted one, and it made you spontaneously think of a loved one.
  • Stop at a card shop and buy a dozen little cards. Then, once a week, hide a simple "I love you" note in a closed laptop, a coat pocket, a travel bag – somewhere you know it will be spotted.
5. Focus on your friendships.

A Walk and Talk Happy Hour! Stop debating between working out or having girl time. Do both! Instead of meeting up at the bar, spending too much on mixed drinks and straining your voice as you scream to speak, take advantage of the extra daylight and make plans to meet up for a walk and talk!

It's one of the best ways to catch up, gossip, dig deep into issues that you need advice on, and simultaneously get in a workout! A few ways to do it:
  • Meet up on a certain corner at a specific time and take off from there.
  • Pick a house – yours or theirs, as the meeting spot, then walk from the house.
  • Choose a favorite hiking trail, beach walk or scenic local spot and start from there.
S'mores balance bar
  • If you live close to each other, decide to leave your houses at the exact same time and meet somewhere in the middle, then walk a new route together.
  • Make the hour even happier by bringing along a S'mores Balance Bar. It will sustain you through your walk and you’ll feel like you're eating dessert first (without the calorie-dense guilt).
What great tips! As well as being impressed by all of Laurel's knowledge on how to keep life from getting out of hand, I was able to try out a selection of many of her favorite Balance Bars.

Balance Bar review

Yum, yum and yum! I love that each of these bars include a great deal of fiber and protein, while keeping the calories fairly low. Instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack to satisfy my chocolate cravings, I'm definitely grabbing a Dark Chocolate Crunch, S'mores or Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch Balance Bar instead!

Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch Balance Bar

At the same time, my sweet tooth has been loving the Yogurt Honey Peanut and Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Balance Bars as well, as they both contain just the right amount of tangy, salty goodness to make my belly happy!

Honey Yogurt Peanut Balance Bar

Whether you are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of life or you simply know that it is better for your body to eat healthy snacks throughout the day to stay fueled (and not starving!), Balance Bars are a delicious way to keep you on track... while giving your taste buds a treat at the same time.

Why not combine the great taste of sweets with healthy nutrition, energy and convenience and stay energized and ready to take on the world?

To find out more about the HUGE variety of Balance Bars and the endless number of flavors available, visit them at and on Facebook and Twitter. As well as keeping an eye out for these bars at your local grocery store and health food store, you can also find them at as well as on Amazon.

Plus, thanks to the generosity of Balance Bar, one person will be able to have a large dose of healthy nutrition this spring as well, because...

One lucky person will win 25 bars* from Balance Bar!

*Winner will receive (5) S'mores Balance Bars, (5) Dark Chocolate Crunch Balance Bars, (5) Chocolate Mint Cookie Crunch Balance Bars, (5) Yogurt Honey Peanut Balance Bars, and (5) Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Balance Bars.

A big thank you to Balance Bar for providing a prize pack for me to review as well as for one lucky giveaway winner. The opinions shared are my own and honest and if you really need to see more, click here to see how I roll.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Piggy Paint Kid-Friendly Nail Polish {Review, Giveaway & Coupon Code}

Piggy Paint logoWhen it comes to all things girly, my daughters' likes and dislikes cover the full spectrum... and seem to vary day by day.

Whereas one day Big Sister E only wants to play with trucks and can't be forced into a dress, the following morning she'll come downstairs in a complete fairy princess outfit and act as if nothing has changed. Ah, to be a kid again!

However, one aspect of girldom that she and Little Sister B have always been completely enamored with is fingernail polish. They've spent years noticing as soon as my toenails or fingernails changed color and would brush their fingers over the paint with their eyes wide. And although I felt guilty each time, the idea of putting the harsh chemicals onto their fingers (which would then end up in their mouth) was something that I just couldn't get past.

Fortunately for them, as well as little girls everywhere, there is a safe, colorful, fun option to use instead with Piggy Paint.

Piggy Paint

Sharing my dislike for the horrible fumes and nasty chemicals found in most commercial nail polishes, the founder of Piggy Paint, Melanie Hurley, decided to do something about it. After seeing a glob of her daughter's solvent-based polish eat through a foam plate, she set out to successfully invent a natural nail polish that is safe for girls of all ages.

After hearing about Piggy Paint's non-toxic, eco-friendly, hypoallergenic, non-flammable, odorless formula and how it is gentle enough for sensitive hands and noses, yet dries to a durable, removable finish, I already knew that I would love it. But then I took one look at the huge selection of bright colors (with great names like Forever Fancy and Ice Cream Dream) and there was no doubt that my girls would be thrilled.

Sure enough, when the Color Me Happy gift set arrived, we were all extremely excited even before we had opened the stylishly cute gift box.

gift box

I laughed as Little Sister B's eyes lit up as she unwrapped the bright pink tissue paper from each individual bottle of nail polish and oohed and ahhed over every single color.

surprise gift

From the bright, green shimmer of Dragon Tears to the vibrant, pumpkin orange of Mac-n-Cheese Please, every color was vivid, shiny and luminous. How in the world would we ever decide which one to use first?

Piggy Paint review

As both girls adore having their fingernails and toenails painted, it didn't take much convincing to get them to sit still to paint on their colors of choice.

Big Sister E unsurprisingly immediately chose Tea Party for Two, as blue is her favorite color...

blue fingernail polish

...but then decided that each hand and foot needed to have its own unique shade.

Little Sister B, on the other hand, went straight for her favorite color (pink) but decided that she wanted alternating fingers with Pocketful of Posies and Jazz It Up.

pink fingernail polish

Taking Piggy Paint's advice, we used a hair dryer to help cure and set the polish (as it is water-based and takes a little longer than normal) to ensure maximum dryness and chip resistance. While typically the girls aren't fans of the noise of the hair dryer, they were each happy to endure it in hopes that it would help their mani/pedis last a little longer.

The end result on each of them was extremely cute on their little hands and feet and, even better, when I have since noticed either one of them with their fingers in their food or mouths, there isn't any need to worry about them being coated in harmful chemicals.

kids fingernail polish

I did notice that the consistency of Piggy Paint polish is less thick than traditional polish and I did find that it wore off of my girls' nails quicker than a traditional formula would, but considering that it is as "natural as mud," I find the tradeoff very well worth it. I've also painted my toenails using Piggy Paint and had it last for weeks with barely a chip, so it seems that quite a bit depends on the "use" of the nails.

In all, Piggy Paint is a fantastic way for little ones to be able to have their nails painted with natural ingredients, as it is free of formaldehyde, toluene, phthalates, BPA, ethyl acetate and acetone... and made in the USA!

Not to mention that there is such a wide variety of colors (with new ones continually being added) that, no matter the age or taste, there are sure to be plenty of options to please. From pastels to beachy brights, bold neons to glitter, Piggy Paint's colors will suit any young girl's whimsical mood.  

Piggy Paint fun

Retailing for $8.99 for a single bottle, $24.99 for a gift set of three (or two polishes and a bottle of remover), $57.99 for this fun Color Me Happy set, and more, Piggy Paint would make a great gift just in time to get those little piggies ready for sandal weather. They also offer Spirit Paint in school colors, Puppy Paint for your furry friend, accessories to jazz up your nails and more.

Head over to to browse the full selection and keep an eye out for this innovative product at select Walmart stores and on as well.

But, wait! Why shop without a discount? From now until April 30th, 2013, use the promo code PiggyFun when shopping at and you'll receive an extra 15% off of your order! And, thanks to the generosity of Piggy Paint, one person is soon going to bring home a great gift for the fancy girl in their life, because...

One lucky person will win the Toe-Tally Fancy 3-polish gift set from Piggy Paint (ARV $24.99)!

Piggy Paint giveaway

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Piggy Paint. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.