Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Preparing to Conquer the Muddy Mountain Known as Mudderella {#Mudderella2015}

Mudderella logo
I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Mudderella. I received complimentary admission to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

While I have already admired many of my friends for their intelligence, generosity, kindness and more (let's not forget their incredibly good taste in having me in their lives), many of them have also added a level of fitness to their lives that I cannot help but envy.

Get up and workout at 5:30 in the morning before heading off to a full day of work? Participate in weekly boot camps that consist of nonstop push-you-until-you-drop exercises? Where do these ladies find the time, energy and motivation that I don't have?

Fortunately for my health, however, I'm now going to have no choice but to get out of bed and stand up from the couch much more often. Because if I want any remote possibility of a chance of keeping up with these friends of mine, I'm going to have to get myself in gear with some major training in time to participate (and not pass out) in the one and only Mudderella in less than two months!

mudderella mud run

The first and only full-day athletic event series designed for women, by women, Mudderella challenges all-around strength, balance, endurance and agility in a team environment. We all know that working out and getting fit can often be a solitary experience, but what if there was a way to be strong, have fun and enjoy the day with your girlfriends all at once?

That's Mudderella! The actual event is a 5- to 7-mile muddy obstacle course, but the experience is so much more than that! From start to finish, groups of friends (no duo is too small! No gang is too big!) complete and conquer the course together.

Yes, there is a finish line, but Mudderella isn't a competition or a race, it's an attitude. A feeling of empowerment and laughter and overcoming a challenge with other amazing women by your side helping and cheering you on!

I dare you to watch this video and not want to immediately sign up to participate!


Am I excited? Absolutely, 100%.

But am I also a bit scared due to the fact that I have fitness buffs as friends while I myself get winded after two minutes of playing tag with my kids? Definitely. I know that Mudderella is all about teamwork, but that doesn't mean that I want my three teammates to have to literally carry me through the majority of the course!

Thank goodness Mudderella also offers a training program that is designed to help users get ready to take on their challenging course. The program is broken up into six different workouts that are clearly explained and have a short video to demonstrate the moves. Simply start at your own level and work your way towards better and better fitness!

Mudderella training program

I have until May 30th to be able to not only complete "the basics" but get myself physically prepared for Mudderella, so you can bet that I've been dusting off my tennis shoes and getting to work!

Even though my inner lazy voice still wants to stay put, what better inspiration than knowing that I'm soon going to be surrounding myself with a group of my closest friends while conquering a muddy obstacle course?

workout routine

Are you feeling like you would like to spend a day overcoming personal challenges, giving your fitness goals a boost, and filling your soul with feelings of empowerment and support?

There is no incorrect definition of "success" at Mudderella, as ALL women are welcome to participate to discover just how possible it is to Own Your Strong.

own your strong

Right now Mudderella has nine U.S. and two Canadian events planned for 2015 (but may be adding more!), so be sure to check out their schedule to find the one nearest you:
  • Englishtown, NJ – May 9, 2015
  • Richmond, IL – May 30, 2015
  • Vallejo, CA – June 27, 2015
  • Kitchener, ON Canada – July 11, 2015
  • Clarksburg, MD – July 25, 2015
  • Snowmass Village, CO – August 22, 2015
  • Slippery Rock, PA – September 12, 2015
  • Blackcomb Mountain, Whistler, BC Canada – September 26, 2015
  • Thompson, CT – October 3, 2015
My friends and I are hitting the road to attend Mudderella in Chicago on May 30th, so if you are in the Midwest and want to come join us, please register and become a part of our team!

If not, make sure to visit Mudderella.com to find out more and sign up in your area — remember that even if you aren't feeling all that physically fit at the moment (me!) that the Mudderella Training Program can help you get there!

Feel your own motivation build by visiting Mudderella.com and connecting with this incredible event on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and through the #Mudderella2015 hashtag.

Mudderella, here we come!

Mudderella strong

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wondrous Ink Personalized Children's Books {Review & Giveaway}

Wondrous Ink logo
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Around here, we like books.

I typically have a pile checked out from the library waiting for me, while both Big Sister E and Little Sister B have shelves in their rooms (and in our living room) piled high with books that get taken down and re-shelved daily. It is far from uncommon for me to go look for either one of them only to discover them sprawled out on their beds or the floor, engrossed in the stories that they see in the pictures or found in the words.

From baby board books with only pictures to large, intricate books covered with words, they both love to be a part of the magical world that books can provide. So what could possibly make a book better for children that are already fascinated with them?

How about customized books that not only star those children but bring them on a tale to find out what makes them unique and special? That's exactly what is found in the beautifully illustrated, exquisitely written, personalized books from Wondrous Ink!

Wondrous Ink book

Currently offering one title, Wondrous World, a gift from Wondrous Ink ends up more than a book, it is an exquisite, truly personal keepsake from start to finish.

From the colorful, delightful illustrations to the enchanted, simple story, there is just no way to not get caught up in the magic on each page. While I have come across no shortage of children's books that make me cringe or wonder why they were ever published, Wondrous World is instead inspiring and heartwarming.

In fact, the uplifting storyline is not only interesting and engaging, but tells the starring child why they themselves are wondrous and unique in the world. Is there a better message than that to promote to our children?

There really was no question that we were pretty entranced... from the moment that our Wondrous Ink books arrived in their bright, custom packaging!

Wondrous Ink packaging

Wondrous Ink has designed Wondrous World for ages 2–8, but I can only imagine how amazed new parents would be to receive this book for their little addition as well!

Wondrous Ink story

Just look how incredible this book is before you even have it opened!

Wondrous Ink review

My girls were understandably thrilled to see their names right on the cover... and the excitement only increased as we delved into the story.

Page after page, we followed along as the girl in the story went on a quest through an enchanted forest to find out what makes her special. As she encountered animals and creatures of all kinds that had a problem to be solved, each letter of my daughters' names floated into the sky and became a part of the story as well.

Wondrous Ink book pages

The result is definitely adorable and something that a child of just about any age would treasure and love!

Wondrous Ink book review

Plus, when the end of Wondrous World is reached, not only can the lucky recipient be excited about having discovered what makes him or her special, but every book includes a special key that unlocks a bonus Wondrous World of learning fun.

Simply set up the child's world (all that is required is a name, email address and password) and they can then read a bonus story that continues where the book left off and a short quiz that tests how close the young reader was paying attention. There are also plans to add more books, puzzles and games over time to the online Wondrous Worlds, so the entertainment can be extended even further!

Wondrous World online

Retailing for $29.99 and available for shipping anywhere in the world, the quality and uniqueness of Wondrous Ink books really speak for themselves. Each one is printed, bound and delivered within 14-21 days (depending on your location) and is sure to amaze and delight!

Find out much more about Wondrous World (and make a free preview with any name you choose!) by visiting WondrousInk.com. You can also stay up to date on all things Wondrous by connecting with them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

And, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon see the child in their life marvel at their own personalized book as well, because...

One lucky person will win their own beautiful personalized
Wondrous World book from Wondrous Ink!

Wondrous Ink giveaway


A big thank you to Wondrous Ink for providing two books for me to review as well as one for a 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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Winners!

The lucky winner of a variety of General Mills cereals and an exclusive Skylanders game set is...


The lucky winner of a $25 Walmart gift card from Febreze is...


The lucky winner of a Royal Silk Scarf and World Water Day Umbrella from World Vision is...


A big thank you to everyone who entered these fun giveaways! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Unique and Creative Storytelling Movie Experience for Kids: Moulin Roty's Cinema Box {Review & Giveaway}

Magicforest logo
It is no wonder to me that, after spending the majority of their day following various rules, regulations, guidelines and instructions, my kids relish in being able to to relax into the world of open-ended play when they arrive home.

Don't get me wrong, I love their school and I know that they are stretching their imaginations and using their creativity while there, but when it comes to being home, I'm happy to let them take control (within reason) a bit more... particularly when their choices don't involve a screen or a power cord.

Which is why when I an introduced to items that are unique and clever; extremely well made in terms of safety and quality; and can take a "regular" concept and turn it into something filled with limitless, engaging possibilities, I am understandably intrigued.

What child wouldn't be amazed and fascinated by the versatile ingenuity of Moulin Roty's Cinema Box from Magicforest?

Moulin roty cinema box

Celebrating more than 10 years in the U.S., Magicforest is an American toy importer known for providing the very best in children's toys and games. Along with the other extraordinary European brands that they provide for specialty toy and gift shops across the country, Magicforest is proud to be the exclusive distributor of Moulin Roty, a highly regarded French toy company that has spent the past 40 years making young dreams come true.

Offering a whimsical line containing everything from soft baby toys to detailed dolls to expertly crafted wooden toys, Moulin Roty is no stranger to inspiring and delighting children of all ages.

With the arrival of their innovative Cinema Box, I had no doubt that we would soon have Moulin Roty fans in our household as well!

Moulin Roty Cinema Box

Completely simple yet unlike anything that I have ever seen, Moulin Roty's Cinema Box contains everything that a child needs to create and run their own miniature movie house. Who hasn't wanted to be in charge of inviting guests, advertising the show, and running the movie projector for their own cinema?

Moulin Roty Cinema Box review

Complete with one projector (a mini View-Master mounted on a flashlight), five image disks each with eight story pictures, 16 cinema tickets, 20 'Now Showing' signs, and a stylish box that turns into the cinema screen, all that this kit requires is a little imagination to put on a show!

Moulin Roty Cinema Box projector

The only aspect that took us a few minutes to figure out was having the ability to focus the projector (done by twisting/unscrewing the end), but once the girls and I had that completed, there was nothing to stop the show from going on.

Simply select one of the five discs (images portray five different tales: brave knight, stop thief, superhero, cowboy, and pirates), design a marquee on the 'Now Showing' pad...

Moulin Roty Cinema Box now showing

...pass out tickets to all of your favorite dolls, stuffed animals and kittens...

Moulin Roty Cinema Box show

...and start the show!

Moulin Roty Cinema Box toy

I love the way that the projector is so simple to use, as my kids haven't had a problem changing out the discs or turning them from scene to scene, and that the beautiful illustrations show up easily on the backdrop screen provided on the inside of the box.

Hearing the narration that they come up with each time has provided plenty of laughs and I adore how the Cinema Box seamlessly combines storytelling with movie-going with make believe. All that I need to do is pop some popcorn and sit back to let this kit work well for one child, two or more!

Magicforest Moulin Roty Cinema Box review
Magicforest Moulin Roty Cinema Box

For the child in your life that loves pretend play, Moulin Roty's Cinema Box would be a unique and special gift that can provide a new experience each time. As a big bonus, all of the pieces pack up so nicely and the box ties closed so there is never any worry of items getting lost or this kit not being able to travel well. It's always a great time or place for the theater!

Find out more about the Cinema Box and place your order (it retails for $40) by visiting ShopTantrum.com. You can also see more information on this as well as on many more amazing Moulin Roty toys by visiting Magicforest.com and connecting with them on Facebook and Twitter.

And, thanks to their generosity, one person will soon be able to provide a miniature movie experience in their household as well, because...

One lucky person will win Moulin Roty's Cinema Box from Magicforest!

cinema box giveaway


A big thank you to Magicforest for providing a Cinema Box 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 24, 2015

Now Available: KIDZ BOP 28 {Review}

KIDZ BOP logo
A few weeks ago my girls and I gave three other young friends a ride home and, let me tell you, a minivan filled with five kids is infinitely louder and more chaotic than with just two.

However, as soon as I turned on the radio and the sounds of Uptown Funk filled the air, our three guests immediately stopped all conversation and started to sing along. While I was laughing at the sheer impressiveness that they were able to dance and sing simultaneously (and keep up with the beat), my kids appeared shocked into silence by the synchronization and the realization that the two of them really weren't all that familiar with the song.

The reason why? Because although Uptown Funk has easily been taking over the airways, my children don't really get into songs until they've had the chance to listen to them over and over and over (and over) when they receive a new CD from KIDZ BOP!

Fast forward to today and they can now recite all of the popular hits right along with the best of them thanks to the debut of KIDZ BOP 28!

Kidz Bop 28

After spending the last 10+ years delivering safe and entertaining music for kids, KIDZ BOP CDs are known for being a compilation of "today's biggest hits sung by kids for kids."

By taking the popular songs of the year, removing the suggestive lyrics and having them performed by kids (the current members are Ashlynn, Grant, Matt, and Bredia), it's no wonder that parents as well as children can appreciate these CDs — which is why millions and millions of them have been sold to date!

Kidz Bop kids

With today's release of the 28th KIDZ BOP album, the group has yet again taken this season's hottest songs and made them kid-friendly and fun. My entire family has been moving and grooving to this disc ever since it's arrival and I don't think that any of us could pinpoint just one favorite from this lineup:
  1. Uptown Funk
  2. Blank Space
  3. Lips Are Movin
  4. Jealous
  5. Blame
  6. Love Me Harder
  7. Steal My Girl
  8. The Heart Wants What It Wants
  9. Heroes (We Could Be)
  10. I'm Not The Only One
  11. Ghost
  12. Waves
  13. I Lived
  14. Thinking Out Loud
I'm pretty sure that Big Sister E has said, "I love this song, it's my favorite!" to at least half of these titles, Little Sister B has made up a dance to many of them, and how was I not familiar with Ella Henderson's Ghost before now? It's so catchy!

But, there's more! Along with recording KIDZ BOP 28, this talented group of kids is returning to the stage for their all-new "Make Some Noise" Tour!

Kidz Bop tour

From Tucson, AZ to Bethel, NY, the KIDZ BOP singers will be hitting city after city in 2015 and giving fans across the country a chance to see them live. If these CDs are as big of a hit in your house as they are in ours, head over to KidsBop.com/tour to see if/when they'll be near you!

Whether you're having a rockin' party or just want something that the whole family can enjoy in the car, KIDZ BOP 28 and the entire line of KIDZ BOP CDs are sure to be a hit. More details and purchase information can be found in the KIDZ BOP Shop (this CD sells as a BOGO for $14.98) as well as on Amazon (where it retails for $11.88).

You can also connect with KIDZ BOP on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so that you don't miss the latest and greatest, new releases, upcoming events and more.

Other than the copy of KIDZ BOP 28 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 of this product.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Guilt-free Indulgence with Krispy Kreme and Cinnabon K-cup Coffees {Sale!}

Cross Country Cafe logo
We all have our strengths and our weaknesses when it comes to avoiding sweets and eating healthy. But no matter if you can't say no to anything chocolate (me!), crave salty snacks 24/7, or simply find yourself returning to the vending machine for one more candy bar throughout the day, we're all left with the same feeling of guilt.

What's the deal, taste buds? Why do you have to go for the things that make my brain (and waistline) so unhappy?

Fortunately, there is a happy solution that not only satisfies my sweet tooth but my morning coffee addiction in the form of the rich and delicious Krispy Kreme Smooth and Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll light roast coffees from Cross Country Cafe.

donut flavored coffee

No, your eyes are not deceiving you.

If you didn't know that you can have the delicious taste of Krispy Kreme's famous coffee or the freshly baked cinnamon rolls at Cinnabon made right in the comfort of your own kitchen, you've been missing out.

I'm telling you, the aroma alone from these K-cups is enough to start anyone's day off right and if you are assuming that they might taste sickly sweet and flavored, that's not the case. They're delicious!

krispy kreme cinnabon k-cups

What is it about donut shops that they seem to also know how to brew the best coffee?

Krispy Kreme is definitely not new to the world of coffee (a fact known by the masses of mega fans that they have from coast to coast), but their partnership with Keurig to debut their coffee in K-cup form has made coffee-lovers everywhere rejoice!

krispy kreme k-cup coffee

Currently available in regular and decaf, Krispy Kreme Smooth is an aptly-named light roast coffee that delights your senses from the first sip.

The aroma is strong and divine, the color is rich and deep, and the flavor is delightfully smooth. I always add a bit of cream to my coffee and found that the addition made this cup even more velvety and creamy than it began. I absolutely love it!

At the same time, I've been thrilled that Cinnabon partnered with the experts at Green Mountain Coffee to produce Cinnabon Classic Cinnamon Roll Keurig K-cup coffee since its introduction. The collision of tastes in every cup goes perfectly with the ease and convenience of single serve coffee!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll k-cup coffee

I love the way that the cinnamon/sugar/vanilla flavor is smooth and tasty but not overpowering enough that it is too sweet to be enjoyable. This light roast coffee has just the right amount of Cinnabon cinnamon, brown sugar and frosting swirled throughout that the result is pretty much irresistible!

If you're a fan of Krispy Kreme coffee or the deliciousness of Cinnabon, you'll love that these coffees are available in K-cups for everyday or special occasions. But you know that you don't spend more than you have to, right? Instead it always makes more sense to head over to Cross Country Cafe!

As well as their low prices ensuring that you'll always get a great deal, they're currently having a sale on these exact Krispy Kreme and Cinnabon K-cup coffees!

k-cup coffee sale

Valid through March 31, 2015 or while supplies last, just enter the coupon code 15offkkcinn313 and you'll receive an extra 15% off. That makes your coffee taste even better, now doesn't it?

As a Cross Country Cafe Ambassador, I have been provided with products in exchange for my continued work with their company and affiliate links are included in the above post. 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 19, 2015

Fun, Laughter and Deliciousness at Our #DisneySide @Home Celebration {Mickey Mouse Monkey Bread Recipe}

I have said it before and I'll say it again, but there is something inherently magical about Disney.

It doesn't matter if you are an ├╝ber-fan or simply find it difficult to name your child's favorite character without realizing that the car or toy or princess or superhero is connected back to that same mouse, Disney holds a special spot in our lives and our culture.

And, as much as I have always been awed and amazed at the wonder, care and imagination that goes into everything and anything Disney, it has increased infinitely now that I can see it through the eyes of my children. The way that they giggle over photos of our visits to the parks, the way that their eyes light up when they have a chance to meet their favorite characters, the way that they can't wait to see the little bonus clip at the end of the credits of Disney movies...

What can I say? The way that they love Disney touches my heart in its own magical way! Therefore, if we're called upon to...

Disney Side party

...there is never any doubt that we are thrilled to join in and host our own Disney Side @Home Celebration!

If you're somehow unfamiliar with Disney's theme phrase "Disney Side," they define it as that fun-loving adventurous spirit that comes out to play when you're feeling the Disney magic! Whether you show your Disney Side through fashion, food, or your favorite characters, or frequent visits to Disney Parks, it's time to let it shine. Gather your fellow Disney fans, grab your Mickey ears and prepare to sprinkle some pixie dust on those who cross your path as you let your Disney Side take over!

No matter where you search for #DisneySide (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more) or how many times you visit DisneySide.com, you're sure to love seeing all of the fantastic ways that people near and far are showing off their Disney spirit!

As for us, it didn't matter that we didn't have a specific event in mind to celebrate, we were still more than ready to include some Disney love into an afternoon of fun... and then a box of goodies arrived that took our excitement an entirely new level. You just never know what might be inside a box from Disney and this one was just about overflowing with entertainment!

DisneySide Party Supplies

Food, decorations, invitations, toys, games, activities... what more could we need? It was time to invite some friends over and have some Disney fun!

Disney Party invitations

Although we weren't planning on serving a full spread of food at our party, I still wanted to have snacks for the kids (and their parents) to munch on. Besides, what sort of fun would a Disney Side @Home Celebration be without a sweet treat or two in the shape of the main mouse himself?

Which is why it was time to pull together a few simple ingredients, a little creativity, and a shaped pan to come up with an adorable plate oozing with the delicious flavor and aroma of Mickey Mouse Monkey Bread.

mickey mouse monkey bread

It may not have turned out a mirror image of Mickey, but you can tell it's him if you use your imagination, right?

Here, does this help?

Mickey Mouse monkey bread recipe.jpg

The kids could tell, that's what mattered!

Plus, our Mickey Mouse Monkey Bread not only represented Mickey in its full form, but, as Little Sister B pointed out, looked like mouse ears when pulled apart, too!

mickey mouse bread

So much fun and full of sticky goodness from the first bite to the last! Plus, this Monkey Bread couldn't have been much easier to make. I opted to try a recipe posted from The Pioneer Woman and, as I suspected, it barely took any work before this was in the oven.

Mickey Mouse Monkey Bread

Ingredients

3 cans regular (non-flaky) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 cup sugar
2-3 tsp cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
½ cup brown sugar

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray Mickey Mouse shaped pan with cooking spray.

Open cans of biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters. Set aside.

Combine sugar with cinnamon in a 1 gallon zip bag and shake to mix evenly.

Drop all of the biscuit quarters into the cinnamon-sugar mix, seal closed and shake until all pieces are coated with cinnamon-sugar. Spread evenly in prepared pan.

Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring for a few minutes until the two are thoroughly mixed. Pour mixture over biscuit pieces in pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is a deep dark brown on top. Cool for 15-30 minutes before turning over onto plate to serve.

monkey bread

Mmmmm!

While the Mickey Mouse Monkey Bread was a hit in its own right (obviously!), the kids also had a blast playing all sorts of games and activities throughout the afternoon.

The Disney Trivia cards (did you know that Mickey Mouse was originally voiced by Walt Disney himself? Or that Disneyland Resort is the #1 most-Instagrammed place in the U.S.?) included questions that puzzled even a few adults, Pin The Smile On Mickey brought a whole lot of laughter to the participants...

pin the smile on mickey

...while the Disney Word Searches and Disney Bingo were a blast to return to time and again.

Disney games

We lucked out with a tiny bit of warm weather (you never know what the temperatures will be in the Midwest in early spring!) and the kids were also able to play indoors as well as out.

Between the fun that Disney provided (there are a ton of downloads available for anyone to print off!), the addition of our many princess costumes, Disney tattoos, and the ability to burn a little energy jumping on our trampoline, the afternoon was a complete success!

DisneySide party

As usual, if we had had more time, there were a whole slew of Disney crafts, Disney movies, Disney make-believe and more that we would have enjoyed as well... the options are endless and I have no doubt that we'll be including them into future parties. The love for Disney is universal!

Plus, if we ever manage to get through our own list of ideas, there is no shortage of recipes, activities, themes and more to inspire just about anyone at DisneySideCelebrations.com. There is absolutely something for everyone!

As much fun as our simple (but still completely enjoyable) Disney Side @Home Celebration was, it did have the unfortunate side effect of making us yearn for a bit of the real thing — particularly when a few of the kids stopped to work on their My Family Tree of Life Poster.

family tree

If you've been to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, then the amazing tree in the center of this poster will look familiar to you.

This is one place that my kids haven't been to see (actually Big Sister E was there when she was a toddler, so she only remembers the tree from photographs) but, what they don't know is that they are going to be seeing this exact tree in person in just a few weeks... shhh! Can't wait to surprise them!!

family tree of life

In the meantime, as one added bonus to our celebration, our kittens have been in love with the box and packaging from our original Disney Side box.

They play in it, they sleep in it, they run and jump into it, they pull out strands of paper and chase them around the house... there's no explanation other than that they must love Disney just as much as we do!

cats in box

So, we've clearly got Disney on the brain around here. How do you show your Disney Side?

Other than the hostess gift pack I received from Disney Parks and Mom Select in order to facilitate and inspire our party, I was not compensated or enticed to do this post in any way. This post is solely my honest opinion about our #DisneySide!