Friday, November 30, 2012

Giveaway: Goblin Kids $25 Gift Card, for Their Online Toy Store

I am always interested in finding new resources for unique, high quality toys.  I especially like beautifully crafted wooden toys and was recently very pleased by a new online find, Goblin Kids.  This online toy store specializes in European, wooden, and educational toys.  They sent us a Little Drummer set by Hape to give us an idea of the products they carry.  While this brand is new to me, I found they carry several I am familiar with, like my all time favorite Haba, their play food is the absolute best.
Product Details: The colorful and fun little drum is a great way to enhance and promote dexterity and hand/eye coordination. Made of wood coated with water based paints. Hape Toys is one of the world's largest producers of toys made from sustainable materials. Their toys are creatively designed and eco-friendly.  Dimensions: drum D 6.25 x H 3.25 in
This toys is perfectly proportioned for my little guy.  My husband thought I was a little nuts to request a noise maker like this, but the beats our 16 month old makes are not annoying at all.  That is, if you don't mind a little drumming.  They are actually quite pleasant and musical sounding as opposed to banging noises.  With a little prompting, he's really learning how to use the drum correctly and already understands where you need to hit to make drumming sound.
I am glad he's having so much fun with it, but like most parents, knowing that it's made out of quality materials and eco-friendly is also quite important.  You can immediately tell upon opening that the Little Drummer is high quality.  It's just beautiful.  The finishes are perfect and the wood very smooth.  This is one toy that will hold up to many jam sessions!
Connect with Goblin Kids

Goblin Kids wants to give one of my readers the opportunity to try out their high quality selection of   wooden, educational and European toys.  They've provided a $25 gift card so you can pick out the perfect toy for your little one.  Please note this giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only.  Use Rafflecopter below to enter, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: A complimentary review toy was provided.  The experiences and opinions related within are both personal and unbiased.  Goblin Kids is responsible for fullfilling the giveaway.  Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Crafty Soiree #118

Hi Craftsters!  Now that turkey day is over, for those of us in the US, it's most crazy busy happiest time of the year!  With Thanksgiving be so early I feel like this is going to be one looonnnggg holiday season.  Christmas specials are already on television and it's not even December yet!  I found the following projects to help us make it through this busy season.  Enjoy! 
To keep us organized how about adding The Menu Planner to Rule them All to your fridge from The Thinking Closet?  Yep, it's seriously fabulous.
Start whipping up some of these cute Holly Hearts from Queen B Creative Me.  Wouldn't they look great on a package?
Then make the coolest front door decoration on the block, with the Burlap Cane Candy Wreath Tutorial from Life On Lakeshore Drive.
By now you're probably hungry.  I know I am!  A little of the Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Mostly Food and Crafts sounds divine, doesn't it.  It also looks like a great dish share with friends and family at holiday events, and it's always good to test a recipe before serving to others.  No one will know if you indulge :)
And even though Thanksgiving is over, I couldn't resist sharing this Peanut Butter Fudge Pie Cookies from Hoopla Palooza with you.  Aren't they sweet, just like itty bitty pieces of pumpkin pie!  My daughter would say the look like fairy food.   They are too cute to only make once a year!

Thanks for coming by friends!  I can't wait to see what you've been baking, making, and sewing.  You are all wonderful crafty folks!
Party Guidelines
1.  Link up to four of your creative projects (No Etsy stores or other linky parties pretty please).  
2.  Add your link to the specific posts not the main URL.
3.  Add a "Crafty Soiree" button to your blog or posts.
4.  Please comment on the post linked up in front of you.  All partygoers love meeting new friends... don't just stop there...if you see something that catches your fancy-- stop by and say hi!
5.  Your hostesses would love it if you'd follow us. You can find Malia here.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meijer Mounted Photo Review

I'm a part of the Buzz Agent program and the latest product I signed up to try was the a 5X7 Mounted Photo from Meijer Photo.  You got a sneak peek of it in, when I used it as part of this project.  That was one use for it, but it comes mounted with a built in stand, ready to display.
I wanted to share some pictures of it today, as it's a quick and inexpensive way to make a custom gift for the holidays.  With tax it's less than $10 and can be made in about in hour.  We ordered ours and then picked it up on our way out of Meijers after grocery shopping.

Above is a view of the mounted photo from the side.  It's got a silver metal tone finish, giving it an elegant look that will blend in nicely with any other frames you might already have displayed. 

The back is a little less finished, while I appreciate the four options for attaching the stand, I think the exposed Styrofoam cheapens the overall look.  I like the concept of the mounted photo and convenience, but the execution leaves a little bit to be desired. 
The real drawback to this treatment for your picture is that Meijer Photo is just not a top notch photo development service.  I've tried it numerous time for both prints and other photo products and have yet to be happy with the prints.  The size of the photo image is not an issue.  I have a SRL and always take pictures on the highest setting.  I'd say the prints are okay, but really high quality prints just do not seem to be possible with their service. 

Employees have told me that home monitor displays can make a difference and that pictures uploaded online do not always turn out as well as in store uploads.  But I'm not buying that.  For one, I couldn't find a way to create this product via their online service so it this was done entirely at their store.  Plus, I've used many different photo services and this is has repeatedly been the lowest quality overall. 

The bottom line is, no matter how nice the mounting job is, if the photo isn't printed nicely it just won't be spectacular.  They won't mount photos other than those developed through Meijers.  Another negative is that they put the finished product in a regular photo envelope, with the corners exposed.  As you can see from the top photo the corners of mine have already been slightly damaged.

That being said, the very reasonable price point and quick turn around time do make it a feasible last minute gift idea.  It's also lightweight, another plus.  I could see this as a cheap way to make something quick like a team photo for a coach, class picture for a teacher, or a picture for an older relative in a nursing home where you don't want to leave out anything too high quality.  It would also be perfectly fine for a work cubicle.

This product is only recommended with reservation.  I will add that a couple of my neighbors came over to see the mounted photo and both thought it was perfectly fine.  They found the price most attractive as you'd be hard pressed to get a 5X7 photo and frame it for less.  They noted the grainy photo quality but weren't bothered with it.  Perhaps your amount of happiness or lack thereof with this product will depend on your level of photo snobbery.  Mine is apparently quite high.


Disclosure: A complimentary product was provided via the Buzz Agent program.  The experience and opinions related within are personal and unbiased.  Blog posting was not a required part for participation.  No other compensation was received.

Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups on Disney Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital

Each year we like to add a new Christmas movie to our collection, one that will become a part of our holiday traditions.  A movie we can all really look forward to getting out each year to get us into the holiday spirit and that the whole family can enjoy.  We knew that Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups was just the one as soon as we watched it together for the first time.  If possible, it was an ever bigger hit than Santa Paws was when it came out a couple of years ago.

The North Pole has a new litter of playful pups! However, when the frisky foursome—Hope, Jingle, Charity and Noble—practically destroy Santa’s Workshop with their mischievous gamboling, they realize the best way to prove that they’re responsible enough to become Santa’s Helpers is to show how well they can spread the Christmas spirit all by themselves. With help from a magic crystal, they start granting everyone’s wishes. But their good intentions backfire when one unhappy boy asks that Christmas go away forever! With his wish impetuously fulfilled, and the joyous spirit quickly disappearing from the planet, Mrs. Claus and the pups have to find a way to reverse the spell—or risk losing Christmas forever!
I usually don't like saying that something is cute, but really there isn't anything much cuter that four furry puppies that can talk and who each have their own personality.  Like all little puppies they are quite a handful to raise and have a way of getting into trouble.  It's great fun to watch them as they work together and try to fix things after accidentally granting a wish for Christmas to go away.  The holiday magic is quickly disappearing as people stop believing, putting Santa and the holiday production in the North Pole at risk of literally running out of power.  All is not lost as Mrs. Claus assisted by some help direct from the Santa's workshop come to the rescue.  The magical spell is broken as one special little girl's Christmas carol is broadcast all over the town, reminding everyone, including her older brother what the season is about.
This is a sweet tale with magical touches and the fun musical numbers we've come to expect from Disney movies, that it Disney special.  The song and dance number with Mrs. Claus in the town's jail is especially memorable, and yes you just read that it takes place in jail.  But it all works, I promise!  It's so catchy we found ourselves singing it to ourselves long after the movie ended.   But the high note of the movie is "Silent Night".  See a preview of it below.
Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups is sweet kid friendly holiday movie, with just enough action for young viewers to make it truly exciting.  By the end all the loose ends are tied up like a bow giving everyone a  happy ending.  Your children will love it and you'll love the heartwarming message.

Santa Paws 2: The Santa Pups is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download. View exciting trailers, games, video clips and more at  I recommend getting the movie and then making it a really special family event with the activities below.  It would be a really fun way to welcome in the holidays and spend some quality time together!
download Santa Paws 2 Holiday Activities!
Here are some paw-sitively fabulous Santa Paws 2 activities to do after watching the movie, that will continue the holiday spirit!  Click to get directions for how to make a puppy Christmas ornament and candy cane dog biscuits which will have pooches on their best behavior to get on your and santa's nice list!
download Santa Paws 2 Recipes and Activities!
And the fun doesn't stop there!  You can also whip up a batch of scrumptious reindeer sugar cookies and while they're in the oven keep kids busy with a holiday puppy puzzler page. Then indulge in some holiday crafting by making Charity's festive mistletoe barrette!


Disclosure: A complimentary review copy was provided.  The experiences and opinons related within are both personal and unbiased.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2012 Gift Guide: FRAAS Tech Gloves Review

So many of us have touch screen gadgets, from phones to ereaders, but it can be a hassle to use them during the winter since removal of outerwear like gloves and mittens is usually required to use them.  That's why I was so intrigued by the touch screen compatible gloves from FRAAS.  Being able to keep my fingers warm while still being able to use my cell phone?  I'm all over that!
I received a pair of style 060579 in camel to review.  Right away, I noticed the ruffle detail that give them a stylish look.  They fit perfectly and the ruffle also adds extra length so that the wrist portion is longer than other pairs of gloves I own.  I liked this feature because then it's less likely that part of my wrist will be exposed to cold air as I wear them out and about carrying things and picking up my toddler.  I think these will stay nicely tucked into my coat sleeves better. 
What makes these really special is the tech finger tips that you don't even see because they blend in with the glove so well, they are almost invisible.  I have no idea how or why these gloves work with my cell phone.  I just know they do, pretty neat!  I can dial, text, and do everything I normally do on my touch screen with these on.  As you can see from my picture, not even having a very dirty phone will affect them from working.  Just excuse that, I really should've wiped that off better before I took my pictures! 
I'd say the only drawback to these gloves is that the knit material is not especially thick.  On the really, really, icy cold windy days we get in the Midwest, I'll need to wear something with more insulation.  But then it's pretty unlikely I'll be outside long enough to make any phone calls so I think their handiness most of the time outweighs that.  I prefer lightweight knit gloves most of the time anyway.  This pair of gloves has a suggested retail of $30.  FRAAS gloves and their other collections can be found on their website,, and these retailers.

Disclosure: A complimentary review pair was provided.  The experiences and opinions related within are both personal and unbiased.

2012 Gift Guide: Chuggington DVD, Icy Escapades

With it getting dark so early and with the weather so cold, there is nothing we like more than snuggling together on the couch to watch a DVD together.  At this time of year we especially like seasonal titles and one new favorite we recently got to check out is the new Chuggington DVD, Ice Escapades.

Here's a little description about it:

Everyone’s favorite trainees come home for the holidays with a “flurry” of warm and wonderful episodes from the award-winning TV series.  In this traintastic new collection of cold-weather adventures, the crew takes to the tracks as snow and ice cover Chuggington.  With help from their fellow Chuggers, the trainees learn how to make brr-ave rescue missions, dig their way out of snow drifts and even take to the skies when the wintery winds lift Hodge from the rails!  Young viewers will share in all the winter-focused fun, while they learn important lessons about teamwork and problem-solving in the DVD’s six seasonal stories, which include “Chilly Chuggers,” “Snowstruck Wilson,” “Wilson’s Icy Escapade,” “Heave-Ho Harrison,” “Hodge Sails Away” and “Rolling Reporter Wilson.”

We've been fans of Chuggington ever since it made its US debut a couple of years ago on the Disney's Channel's Disney Junior.  The show is about three trainee engines and their adventures as they work to gain experience and knowledge on the rails.  We like it's catchy theme song and the story lines that focus on learning life lessons and social skills.  The train theme is of high interest to my daughter and it's nice to have several wintery episodes all together in one collection.  I also like that it's great for viewing any time of the year but especially during the winter, meaning that you will want to watch it longer than just during the holiday season.  Meaning that if your train fan unwraps it on the 25th, you'll still get months of watching it!

The new Chuggington DVD Icy Escapades is available now, with a suggested retail of $14.98 and runs for approximately 62 minutes and makes a great stocking stuffer!


Disclosure: A complimentary review copy was provided.  The experiences and opinions related within are both personal and unbiased.

Monday, November 26, 2012

DVD Giveaway: Win 5 Festive Titles from NCicle Entertainment

I have a wonderful collection of DVDs from NCircle Entertainment to giveaway today! This is a great set, featuring every one's preschool favorites like Cat in the Hat, Dino Dan, WordFriends, The Wiggles, and more!  Your little one will love singing, dancing, and learning with this collection of holiday hits.  This is going to be a quick one, so that the winner can get their DVDs in time to enjoy for the holidays.

Included are 2 BRAND NEW seasonal titles starring The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! which airs on PBS Dino Dan, airing on Nick Jr.
"The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot About Christmas” – premiering this fall on PBS, this new DVD was specially-produced to ring in the 2012 holiday season, and features the voice of Martin Short as the Cat.
"Dino Dan 'Twas a Dinosaur" - follow the adventures of paleontologist-in-training Dan Henderson as he learns what might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, tracks down a Euplocephalus, and gives the poem "The Night Before Christmas" a new spin!

Rounding out the giveaway collection are three more popular titles from NCircle's holiday catalog.
"Happy Holidays WordFriends" - fun and festive DVD from the multiple Emmy Award-winning PBS Kids series, WordWorld, featuring three episodes - The Christmas Star, A Christmas Present for Dog, and Duck’s Family Reunion – plus a bonus music video, Dancing Dog.
"It's Always Christmas With You" - the most recent holiday DVD from The Wiggles is a real treat for the entire family, filled with 14 original new tunes and seasonal favorites. The DVD features special celebrity guests (including ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone) in performances filmed around the globe.
Puppy Party” - available in fetching holiday packaging, this adorable live-action DVD from Animal Atlas features Milo, the adorable Labrador Puppy, who’s invited over 25 puppy pals to a party! Filled with facts and antics, and an ideal treat for animal lovers young and old.

Like I said before, this is going to be a quick giveaway, just one week so that we can get the winner their seasonal DVD collection quickly!  So please hurry and enter by December 3rd and tell you friends to come by and try too!  Use Rafflecopter below to enter & good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Complimentary DVDs were provided for both review and for the giveaway by NCircle Entertainment.  The experiences and opinions related within are both personal and unbiased.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

2012 Gift Guide Stocking Stuffer Idea: Carmex Lip Conditioner

My friends at Carmex sent me over their new Carmex Lip Conditioner and I like it so much I had to suggest it as the perfect stocking stuffer. Here's a little about it:

Carmex Lip Conditioner is an entirely original product.  It's neither a lip balm nor a lotion - it's a lip conditioner, and it's like lotions for your lips.  Packed with 13 moisturizing ingredients, new Carmex Lip Conditioner will leave your lips silky smooth and kissable, never sticky.  And because of it's matte finish, Lip Conditioner makes a perfect base for lipstick.  Whether you wear it alone for a natural look, or go bold by layering it underneath your favorite lip color, you can always count on your lips being protected.  It is Carmex, after all!

First of all, I absolutely love the scent.  It smells just like a creamsicle, so yummy.  I know I say this each time a new Carmex scent comes out, but this is my favorite scent ever.  It feels light on the lips, absorbs quickly, and I seriously, really did notice a big difference in the way my lips felt after just a few applications.  I really like how you can layer it and give your lips a little extra protection all season long.

I think a tube or two would be a great addtion to a stocking this season, cause friends don't let friends have chapped, dry, or flaky lips ☺


Disclosure: The makers of Carmex, contacted me and provided me with complimentary samples of this product.  The experiences and opinions related within are all my own and unbiased by this relationship.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

2012 Gift Guide: MAM Feed & Soothe Set for Baby

Do you have someone who's having a baby on your gift list this year?  As someone who can still remember the baby phase, I recommend MAM's Feed & Soothe Set.  It's a handy little set to have on hand, whether the parents to be are planning to breast feed or not.  Don't let your friend or family member be caught during those first few weeks with not enough bottles and no pacifiers!  I speak from experience, and know what that's like from my first time around when my now six year old was born.
MAM's Feed & Soothe Set is available exclusively at Walmat and has everything a new parent will need, all the essentials in one box:
  • 2 sizes of Anti-Colic Bottles (two 5.oz and two 8oz.) for a total of 4 bottles 
  • 2 MAM Pacifiers
  • Suggested retail price, $19.50 - priced right for giving!
There is an adorable bunny motif on the bottles, which is perfect for both boys and girls.  The pacifiers are also gendar neutral, while still sweetly decorated for baby. 
We used MAM bottles with LB when he was a baby.  The MAM Anti-Colic Bottles's unique ventilation system helps reduce gas and colic symptoms, and the symmetrical nipple on MAM Pacifiers are designed with your baby's jaw and tooth development in mind.  Pacifiers also have generous air holes and a curved shield that fits comfortably against baby skin. 
I think this is a great gift set to give either to a family you know or to put under the giving tree at your church or other holiday charity outlet.  As we no longer have a bottle fed baby at home, we donated ours to a organization supporting young mothers trying to keep their babies and they were greatly appreciated.  

Here is a special coupon code I wanted to share with you all: From December 3 – December 7, use coupon code MAMHOLIDAY to buy one set of MAM Personalized Pacifiers and receive one of equal or lesser value for free. One coupon per customer; redeemable exclusively at Offer expires December 7, 2012, 11:59 PM EST.  Please note the dates this offer is good for, as it has not started yet!  This is just a heads up so you can be ready.
Learn more about MAM
Share your experience with MAM products with the hashtag #MamBaby

Disclosure: Complimentary MAM products were provided in exchange for including this in my 2012 Gift Guide.  However, we have and do use MAM products in our home and have been very happy with them.  The experiences and opinions related within are both personal and unbiased.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Crafty Soiree #117

Hi Friends!  I'm so glad you came by today!  I know what a busy time this is for many of us in the states, with Thanksgiving being tomorrow.  My features this week are quick and easy gifts to make, with the exception of the first one.  I felt bad not including any Thanksgiving projects, because it seems that its one holiday that can get lost in the hussle leading up to Christmas.  The stores certainly think it's already December!  Thanksgiving is such a lovely holiday because there are no gifts to be bought, just good food and time with family, appreciating what's really important.  
Since there isn't much time to do any big involved crafts before tomorrow, I found a quick one, just download the free printable and you're on your way!  Thanks to Becky at the Paisley Palooza for this Give Thanks Banner!

Now on to some gifts to make!  I thought these all looked like things we can whip up in larger numbers without a lot of expense.  Have fun crafting!
These Chalkboard Blocks from A Farm Wife's Journal look festive with their red bows and Joy message, but as Cherilyn points out it's easy to change out the ribbon and message to match any time of year.   Now that's one great gift, a cute decoration you don't have to store because it can be used year round!
These festive Candy Cane Candles from Desire Empire are nice because you don't even have to dig around for a glass container.  The candy canes are glued right onto the candle.   Here's the best part, the candy canes are actually mini candy canes so you can make several with one package!
Noreen from Crafty Journal used two inch tiles, stickers, mini clothes pins, and everyone's favorite - Mod Podge, to make these very cute little Recipe/Photo Holders.  I was thinking this would be a great way to use any leftover stickers you might have, you know the ones I'm talking about.  The one or two you always seem to have left after using most of them from the sheet.
Christine at The DIY Dreamer has turned felt into these sweet Felt Xmas Ornaments and on her post you can see several different color combinations.  These blue and white ones are my favorite, lovely for a snow theme!
Party Guidelines
1.  Link up to four of your creative projects (No Etsy stores or other linky parties pretty please).  
2.  Add your link to the specific posts not the main URL.
3.  Add a "Crafty Soiree" button to your blog or posts.
4.  Please comment on the post linked up in front of you.  All partygoers love meeting new friends... don't just stop there...if you see something that catches your fancy-- stop by and say hi!
5.  Your hostesses would love it if you'd follow us. You can find Malia here.

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