Friday, December 2, 2016

Book Nook: Paper Holiday

Paper Holiday is the sixth book in the PaperMade series. It's really quite easy to use - each page has a distinct design that's pre-cut, scored, and beautifully illustrated. All that you have to do is punch out the ornaments and fold them up into 3D shapes that come with paper hooks to hang anywhere - a tree, a mantle, in an office or cubicle, or a dorm room or bedroom.
I love the unique way these are designed. No glue, tape, or tools are needed. My daughters had no problem getting them to look nice (they're seven and nine). They're a great craft project for the whole family to do! The paper is solid enough that with care, you can use the ornaments over and over, or simply recycle when you're done using them!

Not into holiday crafts? Check out their other titles, like Paper Ninja (I know I'm going to put that on my daughter's Christmas list right now).

Consumer Critique: Baby Hero

Baby Hero is a company that is changing the lives of families in developing countries. I had a chance to review these 100% organic baby clothes, and they're cute! The design is nice and it definitely appears well-made. When you purchase, you support the company's donations of neonatal survival kits. That's a really big deal for new mothers from a country without a great deal of access to high-quality medical or health supplies.

The kit itself is available for purchase, and the clothes are a good value for organic, chemical-free clothing. To date, they've given over 4,000 kits away!

Book Nook: Cara's Kindness

Olympic gold medalist, Dancing with the Stars champion, and New York Times Bestselling picture book author Kristi Yamaguchi recently released her newest picture book, Cara’s Kindness. I had a chance to review this book, which would make a great gift for any child, especially one interested in ice skating.

Cara the Cat is trying to find the perfect song for her new ice routine, but then she stops to help a friend in need. All she wants in return is that the favor continues to get passed to others, and that's exactly what happened.

This year is also the 20th anniversary of Kristi's Always Dream Foundation. Some of the profits from this book will benefit early childhood literacy programs through this great charity.

Book Nook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Acupressure with Aromatherapy Treatments

I recently had a chance to review The Essential Step-By-Step Guide to Acupressure with Aromatherapy Treatments: Relief for 64 Common Health Conditions. This book provides a comprehensive look at acupressure and aromatherapy and how they can be used for a wide variety of conditions. The points are all easily explained, with pictures and with specific explanations on how to find the precise points on the body (since every body's body is slightly different). Then, many different conditions are listed, each one with the primary and secondary points that will help relieve the conditions, along with appropriate aromatherapy treatments.

While I don't believe that every single condition can be treated using alternative medicines like acupressure or aromatherapy, I do think that they can help with many different health conditions. They also can work in conjunction with traditional treatments (just be sure to let your health practitioners know about any alternative therapies you are also using).

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Amazing Apps: Simpliday

The importance of having your schedule, meetings and to-do’s in one place to reach all your organizational goals for the holidays and New Year can make or break the season!
If this topic interests you there is Simpliday, which can help organize one’s life and take away stress of getting things done. This newly launched iPhone app is an all-in-one calendar that simplifies planning for those with busy schedules, which become incredibly hectic around the holiday season…to allow them to do everything on their holiday list this year!
Simpliday app allows users to:
  • Manage all of their phone’s calendars and meetings in one app
  • Lists reminders side-by-side with their calendar
  • Assigns reminders with notes to others who may be attending the same family events, parties, etc.
  • Looks aesthetically appealing and beautiful, and not dull and boring to keep the holidays festive
Simpliday helps ease the stresses and helps balance busy schedules for anyone who is looking to simplify their busy calendars, nonstop emails, and to-dos. The app is currently free for iOS download here.

Caring Causes: Cricket Media

Since their founding in 1973, Cricket Media - the most award-winning magazine publisher in children's media - has opened incredible windows of creativity and discovery for kids of all ages.  Each month, across 11 publications, their ad-free, child-centric magazines deliver stories with substance, beautiful illustrations and fantastic flights of fancy in highly visual format guaranteed to spark curiosity, inspire creativity and lead to a lifetime love of reading.

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Check out Cricket's "Bug" magazines: BABYBUG, LADYBUG, SPIDER and CRICKET (for more Cricket publications on a variety of topics including science and history, visit, unique, high-value gifts that keep on giving throughout the year.  And, this year, in the spirit of the holiday season, Cricket is undertaking a "Double the Giving" campaign that'll allow generous gift-givers to share the love of reading and learning with kids they love, as well as with a child in need (Read more below; we hope you'll share with your audience, as well).

A gift of a Cricket Media publication is a "digital detox", supporting growing minds and helping to raise creative, curious and confident kids -- no batteries (or screens) required!  And we hope you'll join us this holiday season in offering your audience one of the best, most unplugged and inspirational gifts that once can give: a subscription to a Cricket Media magazine.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Contest: TurfMutt Be a Backyard Superhero

Thanks to an amazing rescue dog named Lucky, a.k.a. TurfMutt, a lucky teacher will win a trip to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual conference, an elementary school will win a $10,000 grant, and thousands of children in grades K-5 will learn science and how to take care of the environment.
Lucky is the real-life rescue dog behind the cartoonized superhero, TurfMutt. Through classroom materials developed with Scholastic, TurfMutt teaches students and teachers how to “save the planet, one yard at a time.” 
To win the “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest, students in grades K-5 submit essays on how they are helping TurfMutt and his band of superheroes, the Outdoor Powers, combat the environmental villains (Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff and Heat Freak). Entries are due January 23, 2017, and contest entry deadlines and rules are available at
“We are thrilled to create the new TurfMutt Teacher Award where we will send one teacher to the NSTA annual conference next year. Highlighting teaching success and investing in professional development leads to better learning for students,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and Lucky’s rescuer. “The $10,000 grant gives the winning school enough money to do a significant project – like install an outdoor classroom, a teaching garden, or another environmental education project of their choosing.”
Selecting winning schools based on the strength of the student entries, the TurfMutt program has awarded $35,000 to schools nationwide since 2010. This year, a teacher at the winning student’s school will also be awarded a trip to the 2017 NSTA conference.
The TurfMutt environmental education and stewardship program has touched more than 62 million children, educators and families, since 2009 and was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s (OPEI) Research and Education Foundation.
TurfMutt program materials are free and aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards for grades K-5. In 2017 TurfMutt will once again appear on the Lucky Dog show, and TurfMutt’s personal, home habitat will also be featured in the 2017 Wildlife Habitat Council calendar.
TurfMutt is an education resource at the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
About OPEI
The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program, OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces. For more information, visit

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Consumer Critique: Poppin' Peas

Sensible Portions has created another veggie-based option for snacking. I had a chance to try out Poppin' Peas, a non-GMO, gluten free snack that provides a good source of fiber. It comes in two flavors, sea salt and sour cream & onion (which I loved). With only five ingredients you know exactly what you're getting - no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and 50% less fat than the leading potato chip. Right now it can be purchased at Hy-Vee and Woodman's Markets. Sensible Portions products can be purhcased at a variety of retailers across the US for healthier but still tasty snacking!

Consumer Critique: Dream Big, Little Princess

I recently had a chance to review Disney's Dream Big, Little Princess from Put Me in the Story. I love being able to personalize books for gifts for my children and other special children in my life. For little kids especially, seeing their name in the books really helps make them come alive and it's fun and easy to do. The books do cost a little more, but if it's a book they'll treasure for a long time then it's worth it to me!

In Disney's Dream Big, Little Princess, the book looks at several prominent Disney princesses and encourages the young reader to check off a passport as they read about the adventures each princess has. The unique positive qualities of princesses like Ariel, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Belle, and more are celebrated, as well as traits that mirror those qualities in the young reader.

The site runs specials often, so be sure to check those out to save on your purchase!

Music Minute: Jackie Evancho - Someday at Christmas

I absolutely love Christmas and Christmas music. I do try to keep it to its own season between Thanksgiving and Epiphany, but during that time I really enjoy it. My husband doesn't like hearing the same songs over and over, though, so I'm always on the lookout for new music to listen to during December. That's why I was happy to review Jackie Evancho's new album Someday at Christmas (Portrait Records).

I love the collaborations this artist made. She works with opera stars Il Volo, Placido Domingo, and Vittorio Grigolo (beautiful male voices to complement her female singing), and also collaborates with Youtube star Peter Hollens to add some pop-influenced tracks. With familiar favorites like "Do You Hear What I Hear" (one of my favorite Christmas songs) and ones that were new to me, it made a great album to listen to - and my husband didn't even mind listening to it before Thanksgiving to review!

Buy Someday at Christmas here:
Sony Music Masterworks comprises Masterworks, Sony Classical, OKeh, Portrait, Masterworks Broadway and Flying Buddha imprints. For email updates and information please visit