2016 Best Holiday Gift Ideas For Kids


Bloxels from Barnes and Noble $49.95

Kids who are tactile learnings find Bloxels to be an innovative way to create video games. You will love how creative your kids are creating characters, backgrounds, and storylines.


Hasbro Mashers Star Wars Hero Mashers 5 Figures Set

For Star Wars Fans, Hasbro Mashers let’s them create their own stories, or mix and match parts so they make a new hybrid character.


Hot Wheels Minecraft Ghast Attack Track Playset $29.99

For a screen free Minecraft loving kids, get another cart, and Minecraft character and they will love shooting either at the Ghast or up the 360 roller coaster track. One of the better made Hot Wheels toys, compared to others we’ve purchased in the past.


Kinetic Rock – Rock Crusher – Target Exclusive $19.99

Kinetic Sand introduces Kinetic Rock. Kids who love kinetic sand will love Rock Crusher as another tactile toy, and let’s them pretend they are immerse in their own construction site.


Qwixx – A Fast Family Dice Game $7.59

Gamewright is now one of our favorite toy company. We’ve played Qwixx numerous times, and it’s the hottest game at home. You won’t regret picking this game up, and if you’re traveling, this is the perfect game while dealing with the traveling delayed flight blues.


Meccano – MicroNoid – Red Socket $39.99

Assemble, then play. There are few different colors available in this Meccano Micronoid robot. Kids will have a blast building the robot and playing with their creation.


Craft-tastic String Art Kit $19.99

Screen Free ideas for your kids, let them monogram and create wall art. Let them shout their state love, band love, or friend love. You’ll love their creativity and the fact that the put down their phones to create art.


STMT DIY Hand Stamped Metal Jewelry $24.99

Share their love, their mantra, and their name as they create their own hand stamped jewelry. They can make gifts for the BFF, or their favorite family members.


Doodle Crate Hand-Carved Stamps $19.99

Share your love for paper and hand-carved stamps and enjoy the effort of their creations and personalization.


Doodle Crate Make Your Own Hand Carved Emoji Stamps

Emoji Love? Let your kids share the love by creating their own personalized and customized Emojis.


Shopkins Food Fair Playset – Cupcake Queen Café $17.99

The perfect addition to their Shopkins collection. The Cupcake Queen Cafe will light up your kids eyes, add a 12 pack of these collectibles, and you’ve got a holiday favorite!


LEGO® Disney Princess™ Arendelle Castle Celebration 41068 $47.99

Recreate their favorite short film with Lego Disney Princess Arendelle Castle Celebration. Anna and the adorable snow babies along with Olaf will allow for hours of memorable play.


LEGO® Frozen Disney Princess™ Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle 41062

Recreate their favorite movie with Lego Disney Princess Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle. Elsa, Anna, and Olaf have a lovely ice castle to act our their adventures. This Lego playset will allow for hours of memorable play.


Halloween Ideas

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I fell in love with this Monster Eye Cake by thecakeblog.com

These simple ideas will make your kids lunch Halloween Special! adesignerlife.net

Treat the kiddos with some Cinnamon Sugar Flour Tortilla Crisps! www.simplyrecipes.com

Who says that your crudite can’t have some Halloween Fun? www.tipjunkie.com

Either way, have a SAFE & Happy Halloween!

Mother’s Day Cold Brewed Coffee

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Cold Brewed Coffee

1 3/4 Cups of Coarsely Ground Coffee 4 1/2 oz

3 1/2 cups cold water


Place Coffee Grounds in a 2 Quart Pitcher, add Water and stir to combine.

Cover the pitcher with Plastic Wrap and let steep at room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

Line a fine-mesh strainer with a standard coffee filter and fit it over a medium bowl. Working in batches, slowly pour the coofee and grounds into the filter until all of the liquid has filter through the strainer. (Be patient, the coffee will stream slowly through the filter, don’t force the process); stop when you reach the grounds at the bottom. Discard the grounds and contents of the strainer.

Wash and dry the pitcher. Re-pour the strained coffee back into the pitcher. Re-cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, 2 hours. Keep up to 5 days.

Serve with milk, half-and-half, or water. Sweeten with simple syrup. Add ice.

Basic Cold Brewed Coffee via Chow.com

Hand Soap SOS? How to Refill your favorite Foaming Hand Soap Container


You take a trip to your bathroom, and that empty foaming hand soap container is staring at you. You know that the kids LOVE to pump foam out of the hand soap container. That’s probably why it empties so fast.

Try this no-fuss way of refilling your bottle with what you have at home.

1. Fill the empty foaming soap container with water.

2. Empty the soap container into a large bowl. Microwave the bowl on the beverage setting.

3. Use caution when removing the HOT Bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon of liquid hand soap, or liquid dish detergent, or even body wash. Mix Well.

4. Allow Foam Liquid to cool.

5. Use Funnel and pour the contents into the empty Foam Container. Pump the soap, if it doesn’t come out to your liking, you can adjust soap to water ratio by adding 1/2 TBS more of soap or 1/2 TBS more water.

Problem Solved! Also, it’s a great way to prolong your favorite scented hand soap, especially some of the luxury ones you have been using sparingly.

TIP: you can do this with your facial soap, if you want a foaming facial cleanser.

Art Speed Bumps? Dried out Crayola Markers? Perhaps you can Revive your Markers.



Don’t you hate it when the Crayola Markers have been accidentally dried out due to a loose cap? It is usually your kids favorite color, and you loathe to throw that marker out.

Try this resuscitating method:

1. Uncap the Marker. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers, grab hold of the flat part of the marker’s nib (the tip) and pull gently to remove it. Set the nib aside on a paper towel or napkin. Using a water-dropper or straw, drip water into the barrel of the marker. Replace the nib with plier and push it all the way in. Cap the marker, keep the marker on the side or nib tip down for 24-48 hours. If the tip is still dry, try the process again. If the marker doesn’t work, the marker might be done.

2. If you use ART markers like Prismacolor & Copics, you can refill the marker with alcohol instead of water from above. You can do a search, they have tutorials on these specialty and expensive markers.

Save some money and save some markers from a landfill if you can resuscitate these dried markers.




Roasted Tomato & Garlic w/ Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage Pasta

Roasted Tomato & Garlic w/ Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage Pasta


2  Cups of Grape Tomatoes

1 Full Head of Garlic Peeled

1 1/2TBS Olive Oil

4 Links of Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage approximately 1 1/2 Lb Sliced Bite Sized

3 TBS Sun Dried Tomato Cut in thin slivers

1 TBS Italian Seasoning

3 Cups Marinara Sauce

12 oz Spaghetti

Serves 4

Parmesan Reggiano Cheese

Fresh Basil

1. Heat Oven to 400 Degrees F In an oven baking dish place Grape Tomatoes & peeled garlic with a drizzle of Olive Oil. Cook in oven for 30 minutes

2. On a pan, sauté Chicken Sausage with Sun Dried Tomato in medium to high heat. Add Italian Seasoning. Cook Chicken Sausage to the internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Drain Sausage & Sun Dried Tomato. Remove from pan.

3. Once Roasted Tomato & Garlic is cooked, remove the Tomato & Garlic and Save the Olive Oil. Puree the Tomato & Garlic in a food processor and add to pan with marinara sauce. Stir until mixed well. Add Sausage & Sun Dried Tomato and cook for 10 minutes on Medium heat.

4. Boil water and cook pasta according to pasta direction.

5. Drain pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Put 1/2 cup of pasta water in the pasta sauce. Add the Reserved Tomato  & Garlic olive oil from the oven dish onto pasta to keep the pasta from sticking.

6. Assemble pasta in bowls and add the sauce with equal amount of sausage.

7. Add freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and Basil. Enjoy!

Sunscreen SOS! Natural Sunscreen PABA, Oxybenzone, Retinyl Palmitate, & Nano Particle Free Please

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The Spring weather beckons. I didn’t realize that the products I was purchasing for my children to protect them from the sun was actually toxic to them.

I’m sure most of you are all aware of Jessica Alba’s “The Honest Company”. In the same frame of mind, if we examined our environment, the products we use to clean the house, the products we used to clean them, it becomes quite complicated. How do we make our home’s safer? How do we help provide a happy and healthy childhood for our little ones?

So the next best thing is to educate yourself. Those sunscreen’s that tout that they are for babies need to be re-examined for they contain the very chemicals you would never knowingly place on your child’s skin. We forget that our skin is an organ, one that absorbs whatever we place on it, and that chemicals seep in and eventually gets into our bloodstream perhaps causing a different kind of health mayhem.

Elizabeth Tanzi MD wrote on Dr. Oz’s Blog regarding Navigating New Sunscreen Labels http://blog.doctoroz.com/oz-experts/navigating-new-sunscreen-labels via @droz

A savvy mother’s have already done some of the legworks in what chemicals to look out for, like Jo from @mygreennest & littlegreenmoments.com | http://www.littlegreenmoments.com/play/navigating-safe-sunscreen.html

Jo’s Cliff Notes on what to look out for:

Oxybenzone This chemical is avoided due to its link as a hormone disruptor, which highlights the ability to cause developmental & reproductive toxicity. Laboratory studies have linked this chemical to cancer  & that it creates free radicals when exposed to the sun. Our kids are not petri dishes for these chemical reactions.

Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A) This form of Vitamin A is an anti-aging agent preferably used at night, and not exposed to the sun. When this version of Vitamin A is exposed to the sun, instead of protecting the skin, it creates a chemical situation that may speed up the development of skin tumors & lesions. The government studies show links of Retinyl Palmitate exposed to the sun to development of skin tumors & lesions.

Spray Sunscreens Pose as a hazard due to inhalation risks. Spraying sunscreen may be easier to blanket our little one’s, but long term, this convenience may introduce product that is meant to lay on the skin inside our children via swallowing, nose breathing, etc. If you do purchase spray sunscreens, spray it into your hands so you can rub it on your child’s exposed skin.

Nano or Micro Particles The Active ingredients that we look for in our sunscreen ZINC OXIDE &/or TITANIUM DIOXIDE were shrunk down so that application of sunscreen would be subtler, instead of the tell-tale whitish protective layer on our skins. The danger of shrinking these active ingredients down is that these micro particles can cause a chemical reaction by generating free radicals which may cause cell damage due to its higher photo-reactivity as oppose to the other products that are currently out there, which are coarser particles and is stable.  Please check out Jo’s article, she has written an amazing list of safe sunscreen for you to familiarize with.

Some parent’s are concern that the sunscreen is PABA free, and other people look for the sunscreen to be Paraben free. Each parent has her individual opinion, it’s up to you to see if that is a deal breaker.

Katherine @safemama with her descriptive reviews of safe sunscreen via her personalized sunscreen cheat sheet http://safemama.com/cheatsheets/sunscreen/ She has a thorough list, that has products that she has tested on herself, her family, and her children. She also is budget minded, and will note the high cost of some of these Natural Sunscreen.

Claire Moshenberg @cmoshenb wrote a great piece ‘Navigating a Sunscreen Wonderland’ http://www.momsrising.org/blog/navigating-a-sunscreen-wonderland/ via MomsRising.org | Claire can be found at asoundthatquakes.tumblr.com

There is Marta @truthinaging who’s site reviews, explains, and sells products that help women navigate products by testing and reviewing products first hand. She writes a very detailed piece about OCTINOXATE and what chemicals we don’t want to slather on ourselves or our children. http://www.truthinaging.com/review/what-is-it-octinoxate-plus-other-sunscreen-ingredients-and-are-they-safe

You can even get wonderfully lost with Paula Begoun @PaulasChoice. An author, founder, and skin care & cosmetics creator who has reviewed popular and current skin care products, make-up, and lives and breathes this beauty industry. She has her own list of sunscreen which she reviews in her authoritative & knowledgeable manner. http://www.paulaschoice.com/beautypedia-skin-care-reviews/best-skin-care-products/skin-care/sunscreens-including-kids?sort=none&direction=asc&pageNumber=1&pageSize=25&rating=3

Paula also has a comprehensive site which allows you to locate major brands, pricing, and a detailed review of the product. I’m forever in her debt when I purchase a new item. I purchased her Beauty Bible ages ago, and that’s why I’m a true fan of her encyclopedia of knowledge.

Annie @MightyNest  wrote a great article also hitting on points other eco-minded mother’s have in mind. Check out her article http://mightynest.com/blog/3-reasons-to-rethink-your-sunscreen

To round out your research, many people embarking on this journey also use the EWG @EWG (Environmental Working Group) as a guide for safer sunscreen. http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/

Also, just to regroup all of the Usual Suspects, a few magazines also have products they rated for you to peruse:




My own research has me interested in learning more about these products:

All Terrain KidSport Oxybenzone-Free Natural Sunscreen, Disney Phineas & Ferb SPF 30

Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Face Stick SPF 50+

Babo Clear Zinc Sport Stick SPF 30

BabyHampton beach*bum Sunscreen SPF 30

Badger Baby All Natural & Certified Organic Sunscreen SPF 30

Badger Sunscreen All Season Face Stick Unscented SPF 35+

Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen Baby SPF 30+

BurnOut KIDS Physical Sunscreen SPF 30+

Burt’s Bees Baby Bee SPF 30

The Honest Company Sunscreen SPF 30

California Baby Sunscreen Lotion, Everyday/ Year Round, Water Resistant & Hypo-Allergenic SPF 30+

Clinique ‘City Block Sheer’ Oil-Free Daily Face Protector Broad Spectrum SPF 25 (for myself)


Dolphin Organics Naturals Fragrance Free Mineral  Sunscreen SPF 32

Kinesys Sunscreen Ointment with Pure Zinc Oxide SPF 30

Mustela Broad Spectrun Mineral Sun Stick SPF 50+

Nature’s Gate Aqua Block Sunscreen Lotion Very Water Resistant Fragrance Free SPF 50

Nature’s Gate Kid’s Block Sunblock Fragrance Free SPF 50

Nature’s Gate Sportblock Dry Finish Sunscreen Lotion with Cucmber Extract SPF 50

Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Spray

Sun Bum SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray

Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen SPF 50

Thinksport Kids Sunscreen SPF 50

Livestrong Sunscreen SPF 50

Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50

TruKid Sunny Days Daily Sunscreen, Sport & Face Stick Travel Set SPF 30+

Vanicream Sunscreen Sport SPF 35

These are the other one’s I’ll look into if those above do not work out.
CeraVe, EltaMD UV, La Roche-Posay Anthelios, & UV Natural Sunscreen

Which Sunscreen or Moisturizer with SPF do you use? Are you thinking of switching?