Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Scarlett's 3rd Birthday is Approaching!

Can you believe it? Scarlett will be turning 3 in less than 8 weeks.  Wow!

Since Scarlett is such an avid pizza lover, we decided to have her birthday party at a local restaurant where her and her friends can make their own pizza's.  The birthday girl and her guests will be able to decorate pizza's, get a tour of the kitchen, and watch their pizza cook in the brick oven.  They will be wearing chef hats and coats and will be mini chefs for the day! I know they also will be decorating pizza boxes and making their own sundaes too.

I'll be sending out birthday party invitations in the next few weeks as well as working on her goody bags for the party.  Each bag will contain a pizza cookie that I'm having custom made as well as a mini pizza box with a pizza crayon and a make your own pizza kit inside.  The cake will be chocolate but made to look like a pizza.  Since my tiny cutie loves pizza, she'll be thrilled! I'm sure she'll want lots of cheese and peppers on her pizza on her special day.

I can't wait for her party, I have many pizza themed decorations as well as a pizza hair bow and themed shirt for the party attire! She's going to look so cute and have so much fun.  I'll be sure to post plenty of pictures.

Why I Love Zulily

As I've mentioned previously, I enjoy online shopping.  There's something exciting about making a purchase for something you want or need and waiting for it to show up outside your door.  Online shopping is fantastic, you can skip the crowds and the lines and purchase anything from the comfort of your own home.  What could be better?

Zulily is the one website where I have a lot of trouble not making a purchase.  If you haven't been on Zulily before, let me inform you of how fabulous it is.  The website offers daily deals from top retailers and beyond that are anywhere from 40-80% off.  You can save some serious dough on home and garden items, clothing, toys and games, shoes, accessories, and so much more.  There's truly something for everyone and it can be downright dangerous for your wallet! It's hard for me to stay away and I sometimes can't!

I mostly shop on Zulily for Scarlett since they offer unique and interesting clothing options for babies, children, and adults that you can't find in a local store.  The prices are always so reasonable and Scarlett can look adorable for a fraction of the cost of what the outfit would be in a department store.  All of her summer sandals and some rompers and dresses came from Zulily and they fit her great.  

The toy options are also quite different from most toys that you'd see in your local chain retail shop. They do have name brand toy companies, but there are a lot of small Mom & Pop type companies that they give a chance to as well.  Zulily offers a lot of learning and educational toys which make moms everywhere happy.  I know I enjoy Scarlett learning through play and Zulily is big on this. There's always something fun and exciting that kids will love.  

Zulily has a wonderful return policy if you aren't satisfied with what you've bought.  Sometimes an item you buy doesn't work out and that's ok, they don't ask many questions for the return and want you to be satisfied.  

You're able to sign up for alerts that tell you when your favorite company or brand is featured again on Zulily, which allows you to never miss out on your beloved brands.  

Once you make a purchase you have free shipping for a limited period of time.  I like this option because shipping is sometimes pricey, when you have the advantage of free shipping on something you may have forgotten to buy it makes you feel important.  

There's nothing that I don't like about Zulily! I highly recommend the website and look forward to buying and saving lots of $$ on my next purchase! Go check them out today and you'll quickly become a fan.

*DISCLOSURE* I am not receiving compensation from this post.  I am simply sharing my love of Zulily with an audience.  All thoughts are strictly my own.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Make Precious Moments A Part of Your Holiday Season This Year #HolidayGiftGuide

As soon as the weather turns cooler, it seems like the first thing I want to do is bake.  There's nothing quite like freshly baked treats like chocolate cookies, banana cream pies, blueberry muffins, and brownies.  I'm lucky that Scarlett loves to help in the kitchen and has already assisted me with making pumpkin chocolate chip cookies recently! A kitchen is truly the heart of the home and where endless memories are made.  Go ahead and whip up a delicious dessert with your family today.

Precious Moments offers adorable porcelain ornaments and figurines for virtually any occasion you need including engagements, wedding, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and more.  Whether you want a figurine to represent a new baby in your home or even a nativity scene to put on your table for Christmas, they have it all.  Precious Moments has been bringing people joy for almost 40 years now and their products are famous.  There's certainly a special piece that will be perfect for you or a loved one that will warm their heart.  Keep Precious Moments in mind for holiday gifts this year and beyond.

For the holiday season, Precious Moments has a Snow Much Fun Collection which features adorable winter themed items like snowmen cookie jars, salt and pepper shakers, serving trays, table runners and more.  I always like to really take advantage of every major holiday and not only decorate my house for it, but use themed items for it as well.

It's been Fall for a few weeks now, but the temperatures are finally starting to drop.  The holiday festivities and the season of entertaining will be here before you know it.  When you have friends and family over, it's essential to serve them something delicious and satisfying.  You can't forget coffee and dessert either.  Entertaining is made easy with both the Snow Much Fun Snowman Mug Set and Snow Much Fun Snowman Cookie Jar. These essential winter pieces will be used for years to come!

Of course you can't think of the holidays without sweet treats.  My mind races to a table filled with cookies, cheesecakes, and Boston creme pies.  What could be better? Keep in mind that you'll need something to store the cookies in when they're not in your belly, don't you?

The Snow Much Fun Cookie Jar is ideal for holding luscious cookies such as snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, sugar, and even peanut butter.  I bake a ton of cookies during winter for Scarlett's school, my husband's office, and presents too.  There's nothing like reaching for a cookie whenever the mood strikes you.  You'll instantly fall in love with the smiling snowman with sweet Precious Moments eyes that holds your favorite holiday treats.  Just like with the mug, a friendly cardinal perches happily on the brim of his charming top hat-shaped lid.  

Someone you cherish is sure to adore this cookie jar that keeps their Christmas sweets and memories of your thoughtful treats close at hand.  This cookie jar makes the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves snowman or who treasures Christmas cookie traditions. Make sure to hand-wash this jar, don't put it in the dishwasher.

I'm lucky that I have a spacious kitchen to hold everything I need to keep it running.  The cookie jar fits nicely on the countertop without taking up too much room.  I instantly noticed the colors are bright and vivid and really bring the joy of the holiday season to my kitchen.  Don't tell Scarlett, but there's M&M cookies inside.  How long until you think she realizes? 

The inside of the jar is spacious and is able to hold a decent amount of cookies.  The lid fits perfectly and really looks wonderful in my kitchen.  I'm sure others will notice it when they come over and it will be a conversation piece.  Scarlett loves the snowman and smiled at him.

The mug set features a smiling snowman sculpted on the side of a charming black mug decorated with white polka dots.  A friendly red cardinal perches on the handle and completes the mug.  Not only is the snowman adorable, but it's a perfect mug to use to enjoy a warm cup of cocoa, tea, or coffee during the frigid months of the year.  Invite someone over to share a warm beverage and enjoyable conversation with you every winter.

The mug is carefully crafted with glazed ceramic and is hand painted.  It's microwave safe as well as dishwasher safe to use time and time again.  If you're thinking of using it in conjunction with a Christmas present, why put a small bag of premium chocolates inside as well as gift card? Tie it up with cellophane and a ribbon and it will be a beautiful gift for a friend, family member, boss, or even your child's teacher.

My husband and I enjoyed having mint hot chocolates in the mugs.  In my mind, it's never too early for the holiday season or mint hot chocolate! It's my signature holiday drink and I always make it.  The mug handle was easy to hold and was not hot at all.  These mugs will definitely be apart of my holiday collection going forward.

As you make your way into the holiday season, make sure it's filled with joy, memories, love, and endless snowmen.  

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Precious Moments for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  

    Wednesday, October 11, 2017

    The Ninja Coffee Bar is Just What Your Kitchen Needs

    Most people's mornings cannot begin without a cup of their favorite liquid caffeine to help them get through the day.  While some cups of coffee are better than others, wouldn't it be nice to have coffee house style coffee each and every day in your home? No this isn't a dream, it's reality.  It's time for you to delight your taste buds and treat yourself to only fantastic coffee from here on out.

    The Ninja Coffee Bar Brewing System offers a coffee house experience in the comfort of your own home.  Forget the standard cup of decaf or regular coffee, it's time to change your coffee experience for the better.  This brewing system is exactly what you need for amazing coffee drinks all the time. The multi-serve dial lets you choose the precise size you need to make your taste buds happy.

    With the special thermal flavor extraction technology that allows you to dial up the flavor richness level and choose a brew that fits you, you'll always be happy.  Whether you select classic, rich, over ice, or speciality brew, you can have the drink you want anytime of day.  If you have a family member who doesn't drink coffee, they'll be delighted to have a single cup of hot chocolate, iced/hot tea, or a caramel option without coffee.

    Choose from simple rich brewed coffee all the way to speciality drinks like pumpkin spice lattes or chocolate hazelnut coffee.  It's time to stop spending money on expensive coffee drinks daily when you can make anything you want at home.  If you're having a party, make a full carafe of a Colombian coffee blend that will pair well with biscotti's or pound cake for dessert.

    The Ninja Coffee Bar was very easy to set up and in moments it was ready to go.  It comes with a travel mug, beautiful glass carafe, frother, and permanent filter.  I love the beautiful black and brushed chrome display, as well as the easy to push buttons.  There's an included manual for being in the know about everything the machine does.

    My husband Jay is the big coffee drinker in our family, and I'm more interested in speciality drinks like caramel macchiatos.  The unique thing about this machine is that you can brew coffee in several different options including half carafe, full carafe, XL mug, regular mug, or a travel cup depending on your needs.  It's very convenient to have exactly the size you need if you're serving guests at a party, or just want some coffee on your morning commute to work.

    Before you make your first cup of coffee, you have to run the machine through 2 cycles to prepare it. After that, you're free to make the drink of your choice.  Jay made a standard cup of coffee using his favorite blend and brand.  He filled the water reservoir and placed a large mug underneath the spigot and chose the classic brew and the XL mug setting.  In a matter of seconds, the machine came alive and filled the mug with steaming hot liquid goodness.  In my opinion, the coffee bar machine was relatively quiet and did not make a lot of noise.  The coffee was rich, brown and smelled wonderful.  Jay really enjoyed the coffee and said it was fabulous yet bold.  He's a coffee connoisseur and always enjoys a good cup of joe.

    The unit came with a big recipe book filled with wonderful single cup hot and cold drinks that I can't wait to try.  There's a drink featured made with Oreo cookies that has my name written all over it, as well as a caramel one too.  Go ahead and make a single cup of blueberry iced coffee for your friend, while your mother has a Thai iced coffee.  The coffee options are endless and you can have a new drink everyday of the week.  The best part is that you don't have to make a whole pot if there are just a few people over, and everyone can have exactly what they want. 

    If you want to make an ordinary cup of regular coffee exciting, you can use the frother to add whipped cream or make the milk frothy for specialty drinks too.  Add a dash of cinnamon for some additional flavor to make your tummy smile.

    What I did notice about the unit was that it's very tall and doesn't fit flush underneath my cabinet.  I do wish that it wasn't as tall so it could fit directly underneath.

    The Ninja Coffee Bar is going to revolutionize my family's coffee experience for the better and I'm happy to go along for the ride!

    If you're looking to upgrade your coffee machine for good, the Ninja Coffee Bar is waiting for you.

    *DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Ninja for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    Halloween Has Arrived In Our House!

    Now that it's October, Halloween is just a few weeks away.  Scarlett's going to be a ballerina cat this year and she is very excited.  She's going trick-or-treating with her friend and I can't wait to take no less than 500 pictures of them.  This year she is more aware of Halloween and she yells out "Halloween!" whenever she sees someone's house decorated with pumpkins or anything related to the event.

    I've been wanting to do some Halloween crafts and activities with her, so I seized the free time I had when she was at school to go to Michael's.  I spent a while looking at all of the different craft kits and ended up choosing a kit which allowed you to put a face on a felt pumpkin.  I needed something simple for a toddler and this fit the bill.  Also, I picked up a Halloween cookie house to decorate that came with everything as well as Halloween stickers.  I had a fun afternoon planned for my tiny girl after nap time!

    Scarlett loved helping to decorate the cookie house, but I think she enjoyed eating it even more.  With icing and candy corn, what more could a toddler want? It's sugar heaven! We saved the rest of the house to decorate with my husband when he gets home.

    Afterwards, we decorated the felt pumpkins and each made one.  I taped them on the inside of the windows so you can see them from outside.  It looks cute.  This was an easy mess-free craft that any mom can enjoy.  Just peel the face stickers and place them where you want on the pumpkin.  There are many different eyes, nose, and mouth stickers to delight any child.

    We have some Halloween events coming up over the next few weeks that I know Scarlett will enjoy.  Her school is hosting one and we surely won't miss that one either.  Our house is all decorated for Halloween inside and out and we have a pumpkin on the porch too. 

    What are your children dressing up for Halloween this year? I can't wait for Scarlett to go trick-or-treating.  I hope she shares her candy with me!

    I hope everyone has a fun and exciting Halloween this year!

    Monday, October 9, 2017

    Triple Peanut Butter Cookie Pie Would Be Great to Make This Fall

    I firmly believe in indulging in delicious desserts on any day that ends in Y.  Whether I'm sinking my teeth into a luscious piece of chocolate cake or having an ice cream sundae, you can guarantee that my belly will be happy.

    Recently, I stumbled upon a dessert recipe that I knew I had to make. Who doesn't love the flavors of smooth and creamy peanut butter with chocolate candies and Reese's peanut butter cups? The combination is both sinful and rich.  If this is right up your alley, I have a wonderful treat for you to sink your teeth into.

    This Triple Peanut Butter Cookie Pie will not only make your tastebuds dance, but it'll put a big smile on your face too.  Dessert always tends to make me smile. 

    1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
    1 large egg
    1 cup light brown sugar, packed
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
    1 cup all purpose flour
    optional, pinch of salt to taste
    12 to 14 mini peanut butter cups
    about 2/3 cup peanut butter M &M's

    Candy perfection


    1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 9-inch pie dish with floured cooking spray; set aside.

    2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

    3. Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don't scramble it.  Add the e.g., brown sugar, peanut butter, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.

    4. Add the flour, optional salt, and stir until just combined; don't over mix.

    5. Turn batter out into prepared pie dish, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.

    6. Evenly insert the peanut butter cups into the batter, pushing them down so the top is almost flush with the surface of the dough.

    7. Evenly insert the chocolate candies into the batter, pushing them down to anchor. 

    8. Bake for about 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.  If your pie has risen in the center, it will deflate as it cools.  Allow pie to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.  Pie will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

    Dessert is served

    You'll be left with a luxurious and silky pie that you won't want to share with anyone.  The peanut butter flavor is perfect matched with the chocolate candies. What a classic combination, don't you think? 

    These layers of peanut butter and chocolate will make anyone happy

    You'll be requested to make this delicious pie time and time again, and your family will absolutely love it.  It's so easy to make that you'll be able to whip it up in no time. 

    Don't forget a tall glass of icy cold milk.

    *Recipe taken from Averie Cooks*

    Saturday, October 7, 2017

    Scarlett's Visit to The Pumpkin Patch

    The weather has been strange here in New England lately.  It feels like summer really never left as we've had temperatures in the 80s and high 70s.  This is not typical weather for this time of year!

    My husband Jay and Scarlett and I went to the pumpkin patch for the first time this season today.  I told him that this must be what Florida is like in fall! It was 78 degrees today and everyone was in shorts and flip flops!

    Scarlett has been on a pumpkin kick lately and has been hugging our neighbor's pumpkins and telling them that she loves them.  Since she's almost 3, she really has a grasp on Halloween this year.  She knows that pumpkins and candy represent Halloween.  My tiny cutie is going to be a ballerina cat this year and I can't wait to share pictures of her in her costume.

    We all had a great time at the patch and of course I brought my camera along because I can never miss a chance to shoot! Hope you enjoy the pictures.

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017

    Scarlett's Responsibility Chart

    For the most part, Scarlett is a very good child.  She is eager to please and really tries to do the right thing.  On the other hand, she is a typical toddler who has a lot of energy and has her own agenda for what she wants to do.

    Over the past few months Scarlett has become extremely independent.  She announces to us that she wants to do everything herself all the time.  Even the smallest tasks she tries to do herself like drying herself off after a bath or zipping up her pants.  Some things she can do by herself but other hard tasks, I have to help with.  It's hard for her to accept help and she gets very frustrated and upset.  It's wonderful to have an independent child, but it's a challenge to handle a strong-willed child too.  I have to pick and choose my battles!

    Over the summer, Amazon had a Prime Day sale with thousands of items on sale.  I found a special Melissa and Doug responsibility chart that I thought would be a good buy to help her with.  I feel that Scarlett is now ready to use the chart, especially since she's having trouble listening at both school and home. Scarlett is a high-energy child and if you open the classroom door she will run out.  She finds freedom exciting and will not seize any opportunity to attain it.  It's something we're working on and it's something I'm not a fan of.  She also has trouble sitting for circle time and is easily distracted.

    The chart comes with categories of responsibility and encouraging magnets that you put in each day of the week.  Some of the categories are too advanced at the moment for Scarlett, but I tried to pick the best ones that she needs the most help on.  For her age range and needs, I chose brushing teeth (she hates this), show respect (also using this as listening), clean up toys, and no whining.  We have a lot of whining and crying in our house and I'd love to eliminate the noise!

    I introduced the chart today and Scarlett seems to like it so far.  I did my best to explain what it's for and why we're using it.  She seemed to get it and loved all of the colorful magnets too.  It's hanging in our kitchen and she already was able to put a magnet on for brushing her teeth and following directions.  Hopefully tomorrow we'll have even more progress! 

    Since she's so young, I don't think she has the capacity to understand doing all of the tasks for an entire week before receiving a prize.  If she can do all of the above tasks in a single day, I will let her choose a small prize.  I plan on going to the dollar store and buying some little toys and crayons that she can select from.  Hopefully the incentive of picking out a new surprise everyday will keep her motivated.

    I may tweak how I use the chart slightly, but this is a rough idea of how I want to use it.  I like that it grows with your child as they age and the tasks change.  I also want to see if her school would be on board for using stickers as an incentive to help her listen too.  

    I'm thinking positively here and hope to see my little angel make a step in the right direction behavior wise.  Wish us luck!

    Sunday, October 1, 2017

    Easy Mounds Fudge Made in the Microwave

    Now that Fall and October have arrived, that means baking season is here! Throughout the cold months of the year I tend to bake seasonal treats like pumpkin and snickerdoodle cookies, banana bread, fudge, and other delectable treats. There's nothing like a satisfying treat to make your tummy happy.

    Many people don't realize that fudge isn't a complicated process to make.  You don't need candy thermometers or anything fancy to make it, and I bet you have all of the ingredients already in your kitchen pantry.  What I love about fudge is how versatile it is. You can do a plain fudge flavor like chocolate or peanut butter, or you can mix it up and make it your own in a creative way like with crushed pretzels.  However you choose to make it, I'm sure it'll be fabulous and tasty.

    Since I'm a big lover of coconut and chocolate together, I chose to make Mounds fudge.  To make this yummy treat, all you need is a 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk, a bag of chocolate chips, and a bag of flaked coconut. Oh, and don't forget a microwave too! :) 

    This is probably the easiest and fastest dessert to make.  You'll be amazed at how you can have it ready to go in just a few minutes!

    If you're a fan of Mounds candy bars, you'll go absolutely nuts for this out of this world fudge.  There's nothing like the sweet taste of chocolate mixed with coconut.  The flavor is truly unbeatable.

    The fudge makes a perfect holiday gift when put in a pretty holiday themed tin or even wrapped in a clear cello bag that's tied with a green or red ribbon.  Anyone with a sweet tooth would love to receive fudge any time of the year.

    You'll be left with delicious fudge that your friends and family will gobble up in no time.  I can guarantee you'll be asked to make it time and time again.

    Having Your Child Help in the Kitchen is Important

    Scarlett is finally at an age where she knows and understands what goes on in the kitchen. She knows that the oven and stove are hot and that she cannot touch them.  My tiny tot is well aware of all of the delicious foods that emerge from the kitchen and what exactly is inside the fridge and freezer.  Scarlett has no issue demanding certain foods from the kitchen all day and even opening the fridge to help herself!

    As a parent, there's nothing I enjoy more than making memories with my child.  As of a few months ago I started having Scarlett help in the kitchen when I cook or bake.  She's always been interested to watch me cook, but I knew she'd love the hands on activity just as much.  My biggest challenge with this is mess.  It's hard for me to accept that she will most likely make a mess and there will be something to clean up.  I like my kitchen to remain clean at all times, but I have to let go and just enjoy spending time with her.  It's easier said than done, but I've managed to make it happen. :) 

    Scarlett has helped me make pizza, cookies, and dog treats to name a few.  With the pizza, I put the sauce on the pizza crust and then had her completely cover the sauce in cheese.  She's a huge pizza lover so I believe it was extra exciting for her because she got to chow down on her beloved pizza once it was done.  For the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies we made, I pretty much let her help every step of the way from the pouring and mixing of the ingredients to even cracking eggs.  I may have had to step in from time to time to stir more than she had, but all in all she did a really good job. Scarlett may not realize it, but she's learning the beginnings of cooking with me. 

    It's always exciting to see how your children respond to new experiences especially if they love them.  Since I enjoy cooking and baking so much, I hope she grows up with that same culinary love.  I'd be very interested to show her how to make my favorite dishes and even try some new ones with her along the way.  

    There's nothing more fulfilling than spending time making memories with your children. They are only small for so long! Go ahead and whip up some peanut butter cookies with your little ones today. The cookies will be fabulous and so will those long-lasting memories. 

    Wednesday, September 27, 2017

    Tasty Breads From Middles Await You

    I try to eat healthy on a regular basis, but one thing that really prevents me from maintaining a fantastic diet is carbs and cheese.  I can avoid soda, fast foods, and fried foods, but cheese and carbs are a true weakness.  Who can say no to fabulous cheesy baked pasta or fresh out of the oven bread sticks or garlic bread? It's impossible to decline those tasty treats and I really have to work hard to do so.  Like they say though, everything is okay in moderation and it's perfectly acceptable to treat yourself from time to time!

    Middles are now available in the freezer section of grocery, club, supermarket and convenience stores nationwide.  Each box contains eight tasty bread bites in six different varieties including plain bread stuffed with either 5 cheese, mac and cheese or plain cream cheese.  If you're looking for stuffed bagels, why not try a French toast bagel stuffed with sweet cream cheese or an everything bagel stuffed with plain cream cheese? Lastly, a tasty pretzel bread stuffed with beer cheese completes the Middles menu.  

    Middles are inspired by the much-celebrated combination of bread and cheese, but the brand advances the concept by featuring the soft "middle" section of popular bakery staples like breads and bagels. 
    You can either bake them in the oven or pop them in the microwave to have a satisfying snack any time of day.  They are perfect for after-school snacks to satisfy children of any ages.  There's a flavor for anyone's palette.  Which one sounds best to you?

    We received three Middles to try and Scarlett and I were ready to dig right in.  I knew we'd both enjoy the plain bread stuffed with mac and cheese while my husband would be a fan of the everything bagel stuffed with cream cheese.  Since I'm a pretzel bread lover, I was eager to sample the pretzel bread filled with beer cheese.

    Time was on our side and I didn't feel the need to microwave the Middles.  I had the time to bake them and really wanted to have them crispy and perfectly cooked on the outside.  I feel that microwaving frozen food rather than baking it does change the taste.

    As they were baking, my kitchen smelled very cheesy and I kept checking the timer to see when they'd be done.  Once the cute little round bites were done, I knew it was time to dig in.  Scarlett was helping me with the taste test and she's always up for a sampling job!

    Since it was snack time, I paired her samples with some cucumbers on her plate to add a healthy side to the two breads.  She enjoyed the plain bread with the mac and cheese the best.  Since she's a pasta lover through and through, this doesn't surprise me at all.

    The bread was soft and fluffy on the inside but perfectly crispy on the outside.  When you bit into it, you were met with a cheesy goodness that had Macaroni noodles in it!  Who doesn't love the combination of bread and pasta? It's a classic one.  There was just enough cheese in the middle to satisfy your cheese craving, but it was definitely not an overwhelming amount. 

    I am not a fan of everything bagels or cream cheese, so I opted out of trying that sample.  Luckily, my husband's favorite bagel is everything and he was more than up for the taste-test.  I was told that the bread truly tasted like an everything bagel and he was impressed that the bread bite really had the flavor down.  

    The cream cheese was consistent through each bite and Jay really enjoyed it.  He said he'd definitely be having more of them in the future.

    Lastly, the pretzel bread bite was stuffed with beer cheese which I have never tasted before.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  Was it going to taste a lot like beer, or would it have no flavor of beer? Pretzel bread is what I choose a lot to have sandwiches or hamburgers on, so I was excited that it was included in the Middles lineup.  

    The bread was soft and chewy and gave way to a fabulous center of beer cheese heaven.  I was intrigued with beer cheese and thought it really added an element of flavor to the rustic pretzel bread.  It's safe to say that I was on board with this combo!

    I look forward to trying other Middles flavors in the future.  It would be interesting if they added another sweet flavor to their lineup in the future like chocolate and peanut butter stuffed? Even plain chocolate would work for me!

    If you're looking for a new and exciting addition to add to snack time, why not try Middles? I can guarantee that with one bite, you'll be hooked!

    *DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Middles for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2017

    Magic Sketch Will Offer Your Child Hours of Enjoyment

    Scarlett is almost 3 years old and her interests are really changing.  She's very into arts and crafts and will happily sit at the table doing play-doh or coloring in a coloring book.  I'm lucky her school does a lot of messy art projects that keep my home clean. I want Scarlett to be as creative as possible but without making too much of a mess. Don't all parents share this mindset?

    Magic Sketch is a fabulous and fun new way for your children to draw, play and learn.  The flexible tablet offers a LCD screen that's transparent and allows kids to trace with the provided stencils or from their own images.  

    The unit comes with a protector guard, 1 roller, 3 stamps, 20 learning stencils, 20 game stencils, and 20 art stencils.  You'll notice that the set also comes with different styluses which produce straight or wavy lines.  Any child will have hours of fun with this exciting toy.

    Clearing the screen is easy, just push the button to erase your work when you're ready to move onto the next masterpiece.  The best part about Magic Sketch is that it's entirely kid proof.  You can step on it, drop it, and even spill water on it and it will not break! If you're in need of a present for a lucky boy or girl this Christmas, they will absolutely love Magic Sketch.

    Scarlett was very interested to use the tablet as soon as she saw it.  She immediately got to work drawing a picture while I showed her how to use all of the included accessories.  The accessories are large and easy for little hands to hold.  The included pen writes flawlessly and easily on the liquid crystal screen.  Trust me, you'll want to use the tablet too.  I had just as much fun using it as she did, I guess you can say I'm a big kid at heart! 

    She had no issues when drawing and loved seeing her picture displayed in a variety of colors on the screen.  I also loved that she could be creative with no mess and no crayons to wipe off the floor or the wall either. 

    In my opinion, the included stampers didn't show up very clearly on the Magic Sketch.  The images would half show up but then when I pushed them down harder, it would be smudged.  I'm not sure if there's a better way to use the stampers that I'm not aware of.

    The 60 included pages are perfect for all ages.  Younger children will enjoy coloring pictures of animals, scenery, and even nature.  If you have a child learning the ABC's or numbers, this would be great practice for them with the included educational cards. 

    Older children will be interested in practicing multiplication and doing games such as word search puzzles and connect the dots.  I like that the tablet grows with your child and they can use it for many years.  

    Since there are 60 cards, I do wish there was some sort of storage case or a section on the back of the tablet for storing the cards.  I will probably store all of the cards in a zip-loc bag for safe keeping.

    The unit is very small and perfect for traveling with.  Your little one will love putting it in their suitcase or backpack to travel by car, plane, or train with.  Since it's so compact, it takes up virtually no room and will always be there for constant entertainment. If you want your child to take a break from using the iPad or an internet based tablet, this would be a wonderful alternative. 

    The battery lasts 7 years which allows years of use. With upcoming holiday travel on the horizon, this will surely be something they will want to take with them.  It's like having many toys in one! Also, there's no crayons, markers, or even colored pencils to lose. Another advantage is that there's no tablet to charge and no cords to bring. Just throw it in a bag and you're good to go!

    As a parent, I always look for items and toys that grow with my daughter.  Magic Sketch definitely fits that bill and I can confidently say this is an item that she will use for years and years.  If you're starting to do your holiday shopping for children, make sure to put Magic Sketch at the top of your list. 

    *DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Magic Sketch for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.

    Cars.com Is Your Go-To Car Resource

    This is a sponsored post.

    One would say that I am a late driver in life.  I got my license when I was 19, but since I lived in NYC for school, I never had the opportunity to really drive.  My parents were very nervous about me driving and never let me drive alone.  I always had to have a parent in the car with me at all times, and trust me no teenager wants that.  My husband basically taught me how to drive since I was so rusty!

    I never had a car until I was married, is that hard to believe? My husband and I bought a 2011 Hyundai Sonata in 2014 from a certified pre-owned dealership near us.  We still have the car and it's been wonderful for the last 3 1/2 years.  Jay's first car was a Hyundai and he had fond memories of it and really recommended it for a reliable car that was solidly made. 

    We decided together that a Hyundai Sonata made sense for us and would be a great car.  Once it came time for us to buy our car, we did our research on cars.com so we knew exactly what we were getting into.  The website is a fabulous outlet for researching and comparing cars, calculating loan payments, finding local car dealers/sellers and much more.

    Since buying a car is a major life purchase, it's always a good idea to ask as many questions as possible ahead of time.  Once you step foot into the dealership, you need to be prepared to make sure you get the best price and best car for your money. 

     I spoke to my parents before going to the dealership to make sure I fully understood everything that would be said, what we'd be signing, and to make sure we were getting a good deal. Since we were first time car buyers, it's good to be as comfortable with the process as possible.

    Tips to know ahead of time:

    Before you buy the car, make sure you take it for a test drive to make sure it's easy and comfortable to drive.

    Sometimes a new car may seem more exciting than a used one, but think about it from a practical standpoint.  A certified pre-owned car will save you a lot of money and you may find one you like even better!

    Be aware of your budget and what you can afford.  The list price of the car does not include monthly car payments, gas, and insurance.  It's important to be aware of what you can afford per month and to not spend more than you're able to.

    If you have children, make sure the car is big enough to comfortably fit car seats in the back.

    Buying a car is fun and exciting, but make sure you do your research ahead of time.  Don't be afraid to ask questions before you buy your vehicle.  Remember, this isn't an everyday purchase.

    Enjoy your new car!

    Friday, September 22, 2017

    My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream Is a Treat Everyone Will Love

    When it comes to ice cream, I frequently love to try new and interesting types on a regular basis. Who can resist a cool and creamy frozen treat that will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth? I've recently eaten wildflower lemon, kiwi strawberry and even hibiscus ice cream.  Although I love classic flavors, there's nothing quite like sampling something that will make you say wow!

    My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream is the ultimate treat that everyone will enjoy this fall.  If you're looking to take your taste buds out of their typical routine, it's time to experience the pop-able, portable, and satisfying low-calorie My/Mo Mochi ice cream.  The mouth-watering ice cream that's wrapped in a delectable rice dough is only 110 calories per piece and guilt-free.  Sink your teeth into such fabulous flavors like double chocolate, green tea, cookies & cream, ripe strawberry, sweet mango, vanilla bean, and mint chocolate chip.  There's truly a flavor for everyone's taste preferences.  Go ahead and stock your freezer with these yummy treats for a tasty snack any time of day. 

    Even though today is the first day of Fall, the temps are still in the 80s here in New England. The vibe outside is still summer-like, which is perfect for enjoying My/Mo Mochi ice cream! I've heard of these tasty sounding treats but have never had the opportunity to personally sample them until now

    With 6 pieces of My/Mo Mochi per box, there's more than enough to share with friends or family.  The flavors that showed up at my door were double chocolate, ripe strawberry, and green tea.  Scarlett has been asking for ice cream a lot lately and once she found out what was inside the box, she was very excited.  All I heard was "ICE CREAM!" followed by a huge smile.  How can you deny that tiny cutie? It's a daily struggle for me.

    I like that there are such a range of flavors to really satisfy anyone's taste buds.  Since I'm a chocoholic, I went right for the double chocolate My/Mo Mochi and wanted to taste-test it right away.  Each piece of My/Mo Mochi is round and looks like a tiny scoop of ice cream.  This is not just any ordinary ice cream though, it has a thick rice dough blanket around it.  When you bite into it, you're met with a chewy exterior followed by a smooth and creamy ice cream center.  The combination is really delicious and unlike anything I've previously tasted.  When you indulge in a My/Mo Mochi, make sure you let it sit out for a minute or two before eating it, because it's too frozen to eat instantly. 

    The double chocolate My/Mo Mochi was sweet and had a wonderful rich chocolatey taste that was unbeatable.  The rice dough coating really adds to the ice cream experience and takes it up a notch. 

    My husband Jay is a big fan of green tea hot tea as well as ice cream, so he reserved that flavor for himself.  I was told that the green tea flavor was very prevalent and instantly noticed.  He also enjoyed the rice dough coating and said the chewy texture was an interesting element to add to ice cream.

    Scarlett likes fruity flavored ice cream best and opted for the strawberry.  She's used to ice cream being in a cup or cone so she was intrigued by how ice cream could be made in a small ball like My/Mo Mochi was.  Her questions stopped once she started eating and I heard no words except "yum!" I think it's safe to say she's a fan!

    If you're looking for a mid-day snack or an after-dinner sweet treat, a piece of My/Mo Mochi would certainly make your tummy happy.  One is really enough to satisfy a sweet tooth and at 110 calories, you can leave the guilt at the door.  Go ahead and introduce your taste-buds to the fantastic My/Mo Mochi ice cream today.

    *DISCLOSURE* Thank you to My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream for providing product samples in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    Four Ways To Unleash Children's Creativity

    Children love their electronic devices.  Television, video games, cellphones and laptops keep them occupied for hours, in some cases acting as live-in babysitters while parents finish chores or just relax.

    But while all those devices have their advantages, they also can stifle creativity as children become absorbed in what’s happening inside those screens instead of exploring the real world and letting their imaginations soar.

    There are ways to turn that around, though, and get the creative juices flowing in those young minds, says Colleen Miller, a veteran teacher with 15 years of fulltime and substitute experience in both elementary and middle schools.

    “You can always just tell a child to put down the electronic device, but a much better strategy is to give them something else to do,” says Miller, who also is the mother of two teenage sons. “If you can provide an alternative the child can get excited about, then you’ll have a better chance of avoiding those battles over electronics.”

    One option for young children is toys that require a little artistic inspiration, she says, such as Legos, the popular plastic building bricks, or Magic Sketch, which allows children to doodle or draw on a liquid-crystal-display screen, then clear their work with a push of a button to start over.

    This is especially important with children just returning to school after the summer break because many of them may not have kept their brains as sharp as they should have during that time off, Miller says. Being creative helps children develop mentally, emotionally and socially, aiding them in becoming better students.  
    Miller says there are a number of ways parents can help inspire children to embrace their creative side, including:
    • Spend time in nature. Head to a park and spend a little time on a hiking trail, checking out the plants and the animals, then suggest the children write about the experience or draw something they saw along the way. They could even take along a drawing pad, a Magic Sketch or something similar and draw while they are there.
    • Use holidays as inspiration. Children love holidays, so suggest they draw a picture related to whatever holiday is coming up or create a homemade decoration. Either option can stimulate their creativity.
    • Be supportive, not critical. This is not the time to play art critic or literary reviewer, Miller says. Let this just be fun and give them freedom with their imagination. If they want to color grass orange or put polka dots on a dolphin, let them. Remind them that’s it’s OK to make a mistake. Plus, with a Lego creation, a Magic Sketch drawing or a construction-paper decoration, they can always just start over.
    • Let them choose their passion. Sometimes parents are too insistent that their children learn piano, take ballet lessons or become involved in an activity that the parent is sure will be fun, Miller says. “Giving children the opportunity to try many things is great,” she says, “but make sure you let them have the final say on what it is they are passionate about.” 

    Children don’t need to give up their electronic devices completely.  It’s important to put some limits so they also have time to devote to reading, climbing a tree in the backyard or drawing a picture. They need the opportunity to unleash their creative potential.