Friday, November 29, 2013

holiday gift guide: gifts for young girls

we are having a great time sharing our great holiday picks for this season. if you haven't seen our gift list for arts and crafts, you can see it here. these toys are not only fun for us to explore but fun for our kiddos as well. these are our favorite gift ideas for little girls. they also bring out the little girl in all of us. 

gifts for girls:

my little pony equestria girls twilight sparkle doll and pony set

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my little pony has been a favorite of girls everywhere. with the new introduction of the movie "the equestria girls," hasbro expanded the my little pony collection into something even greater. the equestria girls dolls add a whole new dimension to imaginative play with my little ponies. watch the movie with your little ones today and watch how excited they get about these new dolls.

my little pony camelio earbuds

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so cute, right? my daughter loves music. she requests an ipod every time i ask her to clean her room or do any sort of chore. music makes her day brighter. so do these head phones. if you are going to listen to music, it might as well be adorable.

rainbow loom

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this really could go for boys, girls, young, pre-teen, any age. the new rubber brand bracelet craze had hit and these looms are hot items, along with the rubber bands that go with them. while i don't love the rubber bands i find all over my house, i do love how occupied the kids are when they are working on their creations. plus, it is great to see how excited the kids are to make something for someone else. 

disney doc mcstuffins doctor's bag

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this is listed under gifts for girls but both boys and girls love the toy fixing of doc mcstuffins. she makes all toys for both girls and boys better and happier. both boys and girls will love this doctor's kit to work on toys of their own...or to pretend they are doctors taking care of each other. 

sofia the first talking magical amulet

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i love the introduction of sophia the first into the disney junior line up. little girls everywhere have fallen in love with her. this amulet lets girls everywhere dress up like the princess they adore. 

my little pony walkie talkie

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who says boys are the only ones who get walkie talkies? these adorable walkie talkies are so fun for little girls. i love watching my little ones hiding around the yard and searching for one another on walkie talkies. who knows that is going on in their minds but listening to their back and forth chatter, they are smiling and laughing through it all. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

holiday gift giving guide: arts and crafts for kids

this christmas we are starting our first "third boob holiday gift giving guide." our kids have asked for a long laundry list of items this year. between the seven of them, you can imagine the dreams are huge. some gifts they will receive. other gifts, like my daughter's wish for "$2000,00,000" will probably not make the cut. there are several items we *love* to purchase for our kids. we love when they use their creativity and spend their hours occupied with fun crafts. we love to see their creative juices flowing! these arts and crafts gift ideas are some of our favorites for this holiday season. 

arts and crafts:

Moose Toys Blingles Bling Studio

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my daughter loves bling. let's be honest. i don't know of many 6-10 year old girls who aren't excited about shiny, pretty things. this craft allows girls to create their own designs for sparkly accessories and then stick them onto whatever they desire. it's a craft/girl match made in heaven. my girl will be thrilled!

photo credit: rose art
we love rose art. we love their products. we love how affordable they are. we love that their products are quality products at less expensive prices than some competitors for our kids. we love that they are constantly coming up with fun, creative new activities for kids. this "magic fun dough" is just that. there are adorable pet transfers that you can put onto your dough and then use the creations to play in your pet shop. once the kids have finished playing, they can squish up their dough and the transfer will disappear...ready to be used again the next time. it non-stop creativity fun. 

photo credit: rose art
my kids are over the moon about this product. they love coloring with markers. with this machine, they get to air brush paint with markers. it is so exciting for them. the motorized air pump uses rose art markers and turns them into a personal air brush studio complete with stencils. this is definitely not something my toddler will be doing unattended but it is great for my older three. they love doing crafts that feel "grown-up" and this machine is just the art idea to meet the needs of my 6, 8, and 10 year olds. done. note: this does require batteries and does not include craft paper. good quality craft paper is recommended.

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my kids love stickers. i find them everywhere. honestly, i have a love hate relationship with them after picking them off of every surface in my house. still, my kids can't get enough. i love the amount of time these stickers take in their creation. the kids can spend hours coloring in each and every little sticker surface and then placing their new creations on various surfaces. let's just hope they don't put them on the coffee table!

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play dough is a creative staple in both of our homes. no matter the age, the kids have a wonderful time using their imagination to make fabulous creations. our toy testers loved the variety of play dough color in the pack and us mamas loved the easy clean up and time spent creating. 

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hallmark has taken the world by storm with their recordable books. we have had the grandparents record books for the kids to hear their voice reading a story, even if they can't be there in person. sadly, they lost their paternal grandma to cancer a few years ago, but now they get to hear her voice whenever she is missed thanks to these amazing books. i love this item in particular with the added option of a canvas cover to be painted and illustrated. this is a treasure to treasure for years to come for sure. 

what did we miss? any arts and crafts you are excited to give this year?

Friday, November 22, 2013

fun finds: pre-stuffed advent calendars for kids and grown-ups

i love the tradition of advent calendars. i have quite the obsession with them, actually. some are more labor intensive than others, trying to find small items to fit inside the little slots or bags....but they also now make so many different varieties to chose from without all the brain damage that comes from figuring what to fill it with. the variety of countdown calendars available range from stickers to diy that anyone can achieve to calendars pre-stuffed with items that go far beyond the realm of chocolates and cater not only to the children in your life but to the chic women and manly men in your life as well. here are some of my favorites this year--enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

diy: christmas book advent calendar

i have a serious addiction to advent calendars. christmas is my very favorite holiday and my birthday is christmas eve, so it is a happy season for me. more than that, christmas is a time where everyone is happy and focused on all the good things in life. people seem nicer in general and appreciative of life and loving the people in it. 

this year, i decided to take 24 kids christmas-related books and create an advent calendar to remember. any time i can use to create special memories with the two little men in my life, i will take it! with this advent calendar, i anticipate lots of cuddling on the couch with the littles reading the christmas classics daily. sounds heavenly to me! 

join me in starting this tradition for your family as well!

all you need is:

•24 christmas/winter kids books (i took some classics that i had as a child and also included some i found at target with my kiddos favorite childhood characters (think dora, big bird and even mater). 

•wrapping paper (i used brown, kraft paper)


•glue stick

•large circle hole punch (you can find one at your local craft store)

•vinyl number stickers (you can find them in the scrapbook section of your local craft store).


•simply, wrap each book up. 

•then, cut a circle (using the hold punch) of another color of paper. 

•using the glue stick, attach each circle to the wrapped package.

•once dry, attached numbered, vinyl stickers to each book from 1-24.

that is it! 

this would be a fun tradition this would be to start with your own children or grandchildren, don't you think?


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the magic of christmas and the charlotte symphony

i love the holiday season. no, really, i love it. i pretty much envision myself as the mommy version of "elf." my house is already decorated for christmas. my ipod is constantly on a christmas music rotation. my mind is buzzing with christmas activities. i'm ready to spread some christmas magic. 

i use any and every excuse during this season to do something special. every night is a family night or a chance to drink hot chocolate together. all of a sudden, my kids don't mind spending time together as long as we are all cuddled together watching a christmas movie. for one month, every night is special. every night is a chance to create a new memory.

i'm adding something new to the december activities this year. the charlotte symphony invited me and some of my blogging friends to take a girl's night out to see them perform "the magic of christmas" conducted by Albert-George Schram if you know me at all, you know that i have a special place in my heart for music. this is the marriage of two of my favorite things, music and christmas. i couldn't be more excited. 

this isn't your average symphony performance either. there will be the Caroline Calouche & Co flying aerialists performing while the music is being played and a portion of the concert is a sing along. you heard that right. aerialists are performing during "silent night" and "angels we have heard on high" and there is a sing along. the "elf" in me is already chanting, "the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." oh, don't you worry. i've got some lungs. i'll be spreading lots of cheer that night. 

if you live in the charlotte area, the symphony is performing "the magic of christmas" from thursday, december 5th through sunday, december 8th. you can get tickets by visiting their website at if the charlotte area is not your home, look up your local symphony performances during the holidays. join me in adding some musical magic to your christmas season. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

mmmmm: trader joe's bruschetta pasta

i am borderline addicted to trader joe's. there are just so many wonderful things to try! this dish is a family favorite, a huge hit with guests and makes for delicious left-overs. it is also ridiculously easy to make--ready in less than 15 minutes! try it and let me know if it becomes a favorite in your house as well. 


1 box/bag of pasta (you pick). note: tonight i made it with gluten free rice pasta and it was delish!

1 container of the trader joe's fresh bruschetta sauce (you can find it in the refrigerated section near the cheeses and hummus). note: i sometimes make this dish with 2 containers, but it's pretty saucy.

1 container of small mozzarella balls, quartered (you can use two if you are a cheese fan).

1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut. 

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

salt + pepper to taste


boil water and add some salt to flavor the pasta. then add the pasta and cook as directed.

open mozzarella containers up, drain, quarter and set aside. cut up the basil, and set aside. open bruschetta container (you can choose to heat it up a little, if you wish.

as soon as you drain the pasta, add all the ingredients and serve immediately. the heat of the pasta will heat the sauce and cheese. add salt and pepper to taste. if you decide to cool the pasta before adding ingredients, this dish is excellent cold.
note: i have made this dish with chicken before and it is fantastic.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

three things you need in order to be a successful parent...because crazy actually does happen. truth.

Tracking Pixelthis is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of asurion. all opinions are all my own. 

when you become a parent there are some "must-haves" in order to be successful. in my opinion, the first of these is a giant semi truck load of patience. if you want to stay sane and navigate (at least semi-successfully) through all the new territory having a baby and subsequent years bring, patience is a must. the second "must-have" is a sense of humor. life tends to throw you curve balls when children come into the picture.....and the only way i have found to get through it is with a big smile on my face, while i shake my head remembering how life has changed in crazy, amazing, wonderful, insane, challenging, fabulous ways. the third, and most important "must-have" for me, is a cell phone protection plan. truth. i can't even begin to tell you how many phones i have lost to the causality of parenthood so far: one awesome razor flip phone met its match when my newborn literally slobbered on it to death. another phone must have fallen out of my diaper bag on one of my frequent trips to target and was never to be seen again. countless others found a watery grave in a toilet, ocean or swimming pool......and an almost equal amount stopped working after being dropped too many times (i haven't yet met a case that i can't destroy in some way). once, I even had my cell phone stolen off the top of my stroller when we were visiting the zoo. 

i have learned my lesson about backing up my phone to preserve the ridiculous amount of photos and videos taken of my littles, but having a protection plan on my phone has been my saving grace in instances where i haven't done so. truly. think about all that you would lose if your phone was gone or drowned right this minute.....okay, now stop panicking, start backing up your data and get a protection plan on your phone!

this afternoon, while soaking up a sunny san diego november day by the pool, carma reared it's ugly head and provided me with a current case study. while bending over to help my youngest who was sitting on the steps of the pool, my oldest casually asked why my phone was on the bottom of the pool. really? yep. my phone had somehow slipped out of the pocket of my shorts and had found it's eternal resting place at the bottom of my parents pool. good times. the bonus is that i have a well-used protection plan in place with asurion, which includes the coverage of water-logged phones. they even cover stolen and lost phones, like in the case of my target shopping fiasco and zoo awesome is that?! with the love of expensive smart phones out there, i know way too many friends that have had theirs stolen or lost. cell phone theft is on the rise and smart phones, in particular, are 35% more likely to be lost or stolen. let's face it; practically our entire lives are on our phones and they are often a life-line of sorts for mama everywhere, working full-time outside of the house or as a full-time stay-at-home mama. 

so, ladies....learn from my mistakes and plan for the phone disasters....they happen to the best of us. 

for more information, visit 

this is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of asurion. all opinions are my own.

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