Archive for the ‘BlogHer Reviews’ Category

Yo Ho Ho And A Pirate Treasure Map Cake

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Ok, for real, officially, this is the LAST YEAR of the Epic Birthday Party for Evan. I think 5 years of big fancy at-home parties is enough. He’s at an age now where he’d probably rather go somewhere fun like the bowling alley anyway. Plus this year I had to make an all-or-nothing decision on inviting school friends. I went with ALL (13 kids) and have gotten three RSVPs so far. Fingers crossed the five kids who didn’t RSVP and still show up don’t bring a dozen siblings. Fingers also crossed it’s warm enough for the dig-for-treasure station to be outside so all that sand doesn’t end up on my living room floor. In preparation for the party, I had a very deep discussion with Evan regarding cakes.

Me: Evan, what kind of cake do you want for your birthday?
Evan: A pirate cake!
Me: Right, OK, I figured that. But what KIND of pirate cake?
Evan: A BIG pirate cake!

Our trusty local grocery store didn’t have a pirate cake in their book so I begrudgingly decided to make one. My previous attempts at fancy cakes have not gone well and 10 minutes on Pinterest made it clear most pirate cakes are FAR, FAR outside my ability. Luckily there are easier pirate cake ideas than a 3 masted tall ship complete with fondant pirates.

Like a pirate treasure map cake!

pirate treasure map cake

  This weekend the kids and I picked up some candy and frosting and made a “practice” cake. Although, is there really such a thing as a practice cake? It’s cake. It’s ALWAYS time for cake. But I’m glad I did it because I learned a few valuable things:
1. The correct order for frosting is white frosting, “sand”, blue frosting. The sand is actually graham cracker crumbs and it was impossible to keep it off the “water”.
2. Candy is bigger than it looks. It’s hard to draw delicate lines with big chunky candy. For the next cake I might do more in frosting.
3. Sticking stuff on the cake is harder than it looks. My pirate kept falling over until I put some frosting on his feet. I’m glad I didn’t try to add the palm trees I had imagined.
4. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, stupid! It’s a cake for a birthday party – as long as it involves frosting the kids are going to be THRILLED.

pirate cake_-3  

Materials: Cake (from a box!), graham cracker crumbs, icing, gold sprinkles, frosting (I whipped one container with blue food coloring in my mixer), yellow M&Ms, root beer barrels, Twizzler bites, and Captain Hook and Tick Tock Croc stolen from the toy box. The root beer barrels crack me up because I think “But why is the rum gone?!” every time.

pirate treasure map cake

pirate treasure map cake

I added the pirate flag and sword from my extensive collection of pirate stuff I’ve purchased for the party next weekend.

pirate treasure map cake

Both kids’ mouths might be stained blue for the next month, but it’s worth it for my little pirates!

pirate treasure map cake

 

From the world of Peter Pan, check out the all-new Tinkerbell movie, Disney’s The Pirate Fairy. Available on Blu-ray and Digital HD on April 1. And you can learn more about the Disney Fairies on their Facebook page.

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Never Boring {$100 Giveaway!}

Thursday, March 20th, 2014
Before I had kids I was bored a lot. I don’t think I realized I was bored – I probably thought I enjoyed taking long naps and sleeping until noon and spending all my money on shoes. But it turns out I don’t actually enjoy any of those things all that much.

Well, I mean, obviously I still like naps. Everyone likes naps (except the children who actually should be taking them).

fun kids

fun kids-4

The first year after I got married we lived in Virginia Beach. Despite being young and thin (siiiiiigh) and living directly on the beach, I HATED it. It felt like there was nothing to do. All the guys E worked with either had kids or were trying to have kids (as a 23 year old with no children I was sort of an anomaly in the MilSpouse community). I remember going to a lot of street fairs or walking down to the cheesy beach shops or driving past the aquarium and thinking “If I had kids, this would be way more fun.”

Here in Connecticut I hear a lot of the younger, single guys complain about nothing to do. But since I have kids, I STRONGLY disagree. We have memberships to the aquarium, the seaport, the children’s museum and the science center. We walk to parades, or the library or the cheesy little carnivals downtown. My kids have favorite restaurants and favorite stores and favorite playgrounds. They go to school and take lessons and have a way more active social life than I’ve had since I was in high school.

I LOVE it.

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fun kids-11

I’m not someone who is ultra-motivated by nature. If I was still only responsible for myself (and my husband, I guess, although he’s not quite as helpless as children), I would spend a lot more time sleeping and feeling lonely. Kids don’t let you do that. They keep you up, they’re ALWAYS talking, they demand you go outside and see the world. You can’t avoid talking to anyone at the grocery store or wear ear buds all the time or even avoid smiling. I am nicer, friendlier and happier now that I have kids, and it has definitely made me a better person.

Last week after swim class, I took the kids to Panera for an early dinner and “special treat” for both being brave and learning new skills (Caroline can retrieve things from the bottom pool step, Evan learned how to do a sitting dive). I herded them into line where they both placed their orders with no help from me, then stormed the dessert counter to choose their cupcakes. The teenage girl behind the counter said “They’re so cute. I bet having kids is never boring.”

I smiled and said “No, I am never, ever bored.”

fun kids-12

fun kids-13

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To celebrate the hilarious and heartfelt comedy Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, being released Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD March 25, BlogHer will be awarding to one of my readers a $100 Visa gift card.

To enter, just leave a comment telling me: How have your kids changed you for the better?

You can pre-order your copy of Delivery Man today or check out the Facebook page for more information on the film, which chronicles the story of a man who unexpectedly discovers he has 533 children. (And I thought just having a THIRD baby was a big deal!)

 

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 3/20/14 – 4/19/14. Be sure to visit the Delivery Man page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

 

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A Moroccan Infusion in a Connecticut Winter {Giveaway!}

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

I know it’s not actually that stupid groundhog’s fault – an overgrown hamster can’t actually change weather patterns – but right now I’m dreaming of a groundhog skin hat to keep my head warm. I don’t actually HATE snow days. Staying home and building snowmen and watching movies isn’t the worst. My kids LIKE the snow and never seem to get cold and sending them out back to throw snow on each other always means we get an early and easy bedtime. But I am a wimp and have a strong dislike of being cold so I like the coming back inside part the best. It’s marginally warmer inside, most of the time. Unfortunately my house is ancient and has steam radiators, so running them full blast also means sapping every ounce of moisture out of the air. When we had the carpet down I couldn’t walk across a room without flinching any time I touched something. I’ve shocked myself with my iPod headphones a dozen times in the last couple weeks (I’m not even sure how that happens). And the poor ginger’s hair stands on end all day. It’s adorable, but they keep shouting “Mommy, you zapped me!”

static

This is his hair on a good day

The dry winter air is especially rough on my poor expanding baby belly. I’ve just reached the point where “popped” is the appropriate word to describe my stomach, rather than “Man, she really needs to lay off the burritos and do a few sit ups” (although those are also good ideas, considering how weak my stomach muscles are). Pregnancy always makes my skin super dry and I scramble to find something that helps. So when BlogHer offered to send me the new Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion skin care products I said “OMG SO ITCHY!” And then I said “Uh, I mean yes” because telling the people you work for about your dry, itchy skin is kind of gross.

suave professionals moroccan infusion

Moroccan argan oil is one of those ingredients popping up all over beauty blogs and commercials and known to be rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Suave took the same ingredients from more expensive brands and put them in their Professionals® line so women everywhere have access to premium products infused with authentic Moroccan argan oil. They sent me both the Body Lotion and the Dry Body Oil Spray and while I like them both the spray is my absolute new favorite product. It’s hard to dump oil out of a non-spray container onto your skin without making a huge mess and getting way too much, so the spray bottle is genius. It only takes a couple of squirts and the oil absorbs really quickly (I wouldn’t say INSTANTLY, but by the time I grab my clothes I can put them on without any stickiness). Once you rub it in it’s isn’t oily at all, just soft and moisturized (and not itchy!). My skin feels amazing all day and I smell like a million bucks.

Find more information about the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products at www.Facebook.com/SuaveBeauty and get tips for radiant skin, style advice from celebrity stylist Brad Goreski and enter the “Radiant Wishes” sweepstakes for a chance to win Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion products, a spa day or a trip to Los Angeles.

Giveaway! For a chance to win a $1000 gift card, let me know which of the Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care products you would most like to try.

 

Sweepstakes Rules:  No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 2/11/2014-2/28/2014. Be sure to visit the Suave Professionals® brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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N-Love with my N-Tune Headphones

Friday, October 4th, 2013

It’s not super often that I get something in the mail that my husband wants even more than I do. Shockingly, I never have to fight him for newborn bonnets, Sephora samples or jeggings. But as soon as I opened my Monster N-Tune Headphones, I knew I might never see them again. Luckily (or really, not at all luckily) E works all the time so I have plenty of hours at home alone with the children where I can enjoy them. And boy, do I enjoy them. Monster N-Tune Headphones-3
Did I mention they’re noise-cancelling yet? Because that is a very, very important part of why they are so useful when I am at home alone with the children. I have an addiction to NPR podcasts, which is the only reason my house ever gets clean, the laundry ever gets put away and the lawn ever gets mowed, so headphones are crucial to the survival of my family. Life or death, people. Or at least clean underwear vs. dirty underwear.

Here are E’s top 3 favorite things about the headphones:
1. The in-line microphone. When he does have a free afternoon, E likes to play *cough*superdorky*cough* computer games online with his brother. They use their computer mics to chat and catch up while they play, so headphones with a mic built in are perfect. His brother reports the sound quality on the other end is excellent and doesn’t pick up the TV or the screaming kids in the background.
2. The sound quality. He’s the kind of person who appreciates music (hashtag marching band nerd) so he was impressed with how great things sounded through the N-Tune headphones. Although he might just have been listening to explosions on his game. Either way, they sounded GREAT.
3. Noise canceling. Because, kids.

Monster N-Tune Headphones-2

Here are my top 3 favorite things about the headphones:
1. Amazing durability. You can practically twist them in half and they’re totally fine, which means when I absent-mindedly leave them on the dining room table the kids can’t destroy them.
2. Their over-ear design, for 2 reasons. First, because they’re bigger than ear buds they are WAY harder to lose. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left a dinky little pair of headphones in the pocket of a sweatshirt I’ve thrown in the wash. Second, because they’re way, way more comfortable than those torture devices a certain iCompany includes with their products. No seriously, whoever invented those things hate people and ears. I wore my N-Tune headphones for 2 hours before I even noticed them.
3. Noise canceling. Because, kids.

Monster N-Tune Headphones

I told you I was addicted to NPR podcasts

With less than 100 days left to do your Christmas shopping (ahhhh!) these would make a fantastic gift for your spouse, parent or anyone who commutes anywhere ever, especially on public transit. They basically scream “I’m not listening to you!!” What subway rider doesn’t need that?
To enter to win a pair of Monster N-Tune Headphones (valued at $150) for yourself (or someone you really like slash love!) head over to Walmart.com, check out the colors, and leave a comment here letting me know which one is your favorite! I really love the green. The comments on this post will be aggregated with the comments on the posts from the other bloggers participating in this review, and 25 pairs will be given away. This giveaway will close on Nov 1. 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post.
For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

BlogHer will pool entries from participating blogs and select a sweepstakes winner at random and will contact the winner with details about fulfilling the prize.

The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/2/13 – 11/1/13

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Picture Your Dreams, Make Them Come True

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I am officially 2 months into this crazy photography business idea and I am busier and happier than I’ve been in years. Convincing people to pay you to do what you love is old, cliched advice…but it’s repeated so often because it’s true. Never do I think “Oh no, I have a photo session today.” I always, always think “Yes! New people! New location! New light! I am so lucky!”

ginger snaps pictures collage

It’s been a long road to discover what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until I showed up to my first day of Biology 111 in college I was convinced I was going to be a marine biologist. Then I wanted to be a journalist, a tv anchor, a Pilates instructor, a human resources manager, a house flipper, a real estate agent, a thrift shop owner, and some sort of unnamed, unspecific job that involved being semi-famous and doing glamorous stuff all day. I was somewhat successful at a few of those, incredibly unsuccessful at others and never got past the just-dreaming-about-it stage of most. But once the idea to start Ginger Snaps Pictures took over a tiny piece of my brain, I couldn’t let it go.

Am I still terrified on almost a daily basis? Totally. What if the day gets crazy and I flake out on an appointment? What if I drop my camera and it breaks in the middle of a session? What if my client hates every single picture? What if my computer and my back up and my back up back up all fail? What if I’m charging too much? What if I’m charging too little? What if I am the worst photographer ever and everyone is just too nice to tell me?

Believing in myself might be my biggest challenge. It’s hard not to compare myself constantly to other businesses. There is always going to be someone better than I am. Always. My goals are just to work hard, constantly improve and make my clients happy. It’s really not that different from parenting – except the clients are a lot LESS demanding and easier to please! It’s super cheesy to say that because I believe in myself I’m making my dreams come true, but it’s the truth.

Working hard to make your dreams come true no matter what stands in your way is also the lesson in Monsters University.
collage 1 Monsters University-3

Monsters University-5

Monsters University-7

Monsters University-8

This is the face I make every time someone wants to hire me.

We’re big Monsters fans in our house – we own the first one and I took the kids to see the second in the theater this summer. We watch a lot of happily-ever-after-type movies, so learning that hard work, determination and doing your best are worthy endeavors too is something I’d like to emphasize. Of course the message is cleverly hidden in an adorable, hilarious movie that my 2 year old, 4 year old and myself all liked equally. Plus I hope the kids can see that lesson in real life as my business grows. Fingers crossed!

You can pre-order your copy of Monsters University here! And to celebrate the release, Disney is going to give one of my readers their very own Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack PLUS a $50 Visa gift card. To enter, leave a comment telling me about a time you believed in yourself to achieve your dream.   

 

Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry””; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/3/13 – 11/3/13.
Be sure to visit the Monsters University Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

 

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