Mega Bloks Dora’s Garden Gazebo | Review & Giveaway

mega bloks dora

Dora the Explorer granted my greatest wish last weekend :) All I wanted was for my two girls to get along and avoid boredom. Not always easy. The weather was uncooperative for outside play, so I pulled out a Mega Bloks toy for them to play with. Dora's Garden Gazebo entertained them all afternoon in one form or another (only a few shouts of "Mine!" were heard), and I was one happy mommy. Mega Bloks, probably best known for their colorful, chunky building "bloks," has a vast line of toys, including several Dora the Explorer-themed sets. Dora's Garden Gazebo, with 19 pieces and for ages 3 and up, is one of many that can be mix and matched for hours of play (others include Dora's Bathtime, Dora's Family Nursery, etc.). I loved that both my girls could play with this set, even though there is a significant age gap. Abby, at nearly 2, was on the young side, obviously, but she dove right in and it was enjoyable for me to see the wheels in her mind turning as she tried to figure out … [Read more...]

Simple Garden | Review & Giveaway (3 Winners!)

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In honor of Earth Day and the promotion of living a more sustainable, green lifestyle, I am excited to introduce you to a literal simple container gardening method, appropriately called Simple Garden. Recently featured on The Today Show, it's perfect for so many things, not the least of which is starting your own vegetable and herb garden, which is exactly what I did! Since we moved to Texas, I lament very much that I didn't take better advantage of the box garden I had in the beautiful backyard of our home in California. Here, we have a little tiny grass area, maybe 12 x 12 feet, which is okay for the kids to play in, but there's really no room for growing a garden. I searched online for a solution, and I came upon Simple Garden from Fertile Earth. Simple Garden Starter Kit There are a few things, I think, that keep people from starting their own garden. One, of course, is space, and the other is know-how. It can be overwhelming to figure out what to plant and when, where to … [Read more...]

celebrate earth day with disney junior!


Disney Junior has a great way to help you get your youngest ones learning about Earth Day! "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" and "Handy Manny" will both be airing special themed episodes tomorrow and it will be a great way to get your kids thinking about and asking about environmental issues. Just for you, here's a sneak peek of our family's favorite, "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," where the gang help sea creatures save their homes from Captain Hook's ill-mannered ways: Be sure to tune in to Disney Junior tomorrow morning starting at 8:30 am ET/PT to catch these fun and educational episodes! … [Read more...]

Freschetta By The Slice | Review & Giveaway

This post brought to you by FRESCHETTA®. All opinions are 100% mine. Most of the time it's only my little toddler and I having lunch together. No reason to make it a big production, we usually do simple things like finger foods or sandwiches. But sometimes...well, sometimes it's nice to have grown-up food (ha-ha). Unfortunately, that requires said big production. However, there's a new way to enjoy the "big production" of pizza without going overboard, thanks to FRESCHETTA® By the Slice line of microwavable pizzas. This afternoon my daughter and I gave the Six Cheese Medley variety a try (there are three others: BBQ Chicken, Vegetable Medly, and Chicken, Spinach & Mushroom). It was easy to unwrap and the directions were fairly simple, though slightly unique, so make sure you follow them instead of just sticking it in the microwave and pressing "Start." In just a few minutes the kitchen was smelling like a pizzeria and I was anxious to give this new pizza a try - and it is, by … [Read more...]

Lalaloopsy | Review & Giveaway

Lalaloopsy Jewel Sparkles

I have one of the girliest girls for a daughter. When faced with a selection of Lalaloopsy Dolls, she immediately went for Jewel Sparkles ~ the princess of the bunch. I tried to talk her into Tippy Tumblelina (the resident ballerina of Lalaloopsy Land), or Blossom Flowerpot (one of the newer dolls, who happens to share a birthday with Earth Day), or even Pillow Featherbed (the one who's always ready for a slumber party), but, no, she insisted that Jewel Sparkles and her crown were meant to be her best friend. Lalaloopsy is a line of absolutely adorable dolls that look like rag dolls, with disproportionate bodies and floppy limbs, but are some of the sturdiest, most durable dolls around. Perhaps you've caught the commercials with the catchy theme-song? Have you wondered, "It's cute, but what does it do?!" Well, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the imagination of a little girl. Emma loves to go online and play in Lalaloopsy Land or with the Lalaloopsy app on my iPhone. I … [Read more...]

bareMinerals skincare review


Last month I shared with you details on the new skincare line from bareMinerals. I was really excited to try it for myself, as I love their makeup and think it's a beneficial practive to stay within cosmetics lines for makeup and skincare whenever possible. I have been using the Naturally Luminous Skin Renewing Trio, which features the new Purifying Facial Cleanser, Purely Nourishing Moisturizer for Combination Skin, and Firming Eye Treatment, for the last week and a half and have all but discontinued using two out of the three products. Now, before you think I'm telling you there's something wrong with these products, let me explain... Pros: The cleanser is absolutely lovely. It's texture is silky, it lathers well, and it smells very luxurious ;) The same goes for the moisturizer - it's soft, with a clean texture and it doesn't feel heavy on my skin. And the eye treatment, well, it's my favorite product of the three. A little bit goes a very long way, and I have a feeling … [Read more...]

mabel’s labels limited edition camp combo

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Mabel's Labels has recently released four new limited edition camp-themed designs for their Camp Combo and I've got a sneak peek for you! I made the following video so you can see up-close the quality of the product you will receive from Mabel's Labels and various ideas for using the Camp Combo, and hopefully anyone on the fence about ordering will climb on down and do so ;) I did make one math mistake in my video and want to clarify - the Camp Combo actually comes with 50 Tag Mates rather than 40 (woops!). Also, when you order a Camp Combo you will receive two free friendship bracelets! Check out the three other limited edition designs in addition to the Canoe Girl that I displayed in my video: How would you use Mabel's Labels Camp Combo? I have a 20% Off coupon code to share for any order at Mabel's Labels, so shoot me an email if you need it! Also, if you have any questions about any of their products, I'd be happy to share my experience further with you. I do love my Mabel's … [Read more...]

My Favorite Family Recipe: No Bake Cookies

easy no bake cookies recipe

Food, in all its various forms, has created a lot of memories in my family, and there are staples to be had at our dinnertables or dessertables. At Thanksgiving, I think everyone in my family can agree, Grandma Jukes' rolls make the meal complete. At other gatherings, there's got to be Banana Crush served. My mom had a Buttermilk-Chocolate Cake that to this day my dad's mouth melts for. And no other family can make toast quite so many ways as ours (am I right, my cousins?). Over 30 years ago, a recipe book was even compiled by our family, and I feel pretty special that I have a copy that has stood the test of time (despite being burnt on the stove a few times!). A conversation featuring Coca-Cola over at has prompted me to share one of our favorite family recipes, from the Jukes Family Cookbook. No-Bake Cookies are not only fun to make and delicious to eat, but it's so uncomplicated that children can do it and do it well. Submitted to the family cookbook by Ruth Jukes … [Read more...]

new blog series coming up

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I wanted to let you in on a series of product reviews, giveaways, and general fun that I am's a sneak peek! I'm excited about the sponsors I have on board already and am anxious to work with new ones. Plus, I welcome any guest posts on fun and imaginative ways to beat the no-school blues (for kids and adults!) … [Read more...]

smart & easy spring cleaning with sc johnson


I've been enjoying the last few weeks with the doors and windows open, garden being planted, and kids playing outside for a change. I've also enjoyed changing some of the things inside our home - the scents, the bed linens, the decorations, etc. SC Johnson has an array of household products that has helped get our house looking better and feeling better, from bathrooms to wood furniture, I love seeing the spring sparkle inside our home, too. Here are a few of the items we've used over the last few weeks to spruce things up a bit: The most noticeable change at home has been rotating out our winter home fragrances for spring-themed ones. Glade's "Sparkle of Spring" 4 oz. Jar Candle is a lovely, fresh green color and features zesty lime, ginger, and vanilla scents. I didn't think I would like it, but, in fact, I ended up loving the scent. So much so, that I am stocking up on this limited-edition variety of scent. In addition to candles, Glade offers Premium Room Sprays, Scented Oil … [Read more...]

bobby long: a winter tale ~ cd review & giveaway


I am part of a family that loves all varieties of music, but in the car and on the iPods, it's rare that I get a chance to play "my" music. It's nearly always my husband's playlists or my daughters' song choices. When I do get the chance, it's most often calm, melancholy, folk music that I favor, with artists like Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, The Avett Brothers, Hope Sandoval, etc...and now I am pleased to add Bobby Long to that line-up. A Winter Tale, the recently released full-length debut album from Bobby Long fits so well into my musical taste. I love the sound, the feel, the voice and the lyrics of this album. It beings with a lovely, somewhat familiar-feeling song, the title track, "A Winter Tale,"  and melts into tracks like "Sick Man Blues" and "Two Years Old." It's interesting to me that a modern British musician can sound so...american? A lot of the tracks, including one of my particular favorites, "Dead & Done," sound straight out of a decades-old blues album. My day … [Read more...]

making the switch

Because I am a person that thrives on routine, that is reflected in the demeanor and activities of my family. We do certain things in certain circumstances or at certain times of the day. It works for us most of the time, though, there are times when we can fall in to a rut. Promoted by a conversation over at and Cottonelle, I thought I'd share a few of the ways that we've broken out of our routine. They're simple things (I wouldn't have it any other way!) we've done and I'd love to hear others' ideas, too! In the following ways, I've mixed up routines for our family as a whole, my marriage, and my personal self: The biggest routine we have is family mealtime. With a toddler who doesn't have a full set of teeth yet and a seven-year-old with a picky pallette, I tend to stick with dinnertime staples I know my family will eat. I'm okay with it, but my husband likes different things every now and then. I've started to broaden our dinnertime horizons, so to speak. Before I … [Read more...]

what did you do this weekend? {giveaway preview}

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While a good portion of my extended family was running a half-marathon at Marin Headlands in California, I was here in Texas wishing I was there! I made chocolate chip cookies and some homemade ice cream, I set up a sprinkler in the backyard for the kids to run around in, watched a horrible movie (Cats & Dogs 2 - don't even bother), and, with the weather being tolerable, I did some gardening. It's this time of year that I dreadfully miss our old home in the suburbs of Sacramento with the great box garden in the backyard. I become completely irritated with our "postage stamp"-sized backyard. I remind myself that my husband's PhD program is nearly 1/3 completed... And then I get happy because I found Simple Garden from Fertile Earth. Using Simple Garden products, I planted tomatoes, basil, mint, parsley, and rosemary. In the next couple of weeks I'll add carrots and possibly cucumbers or bell peppers...I can't decide... But I'm so pleased with my make-shift garden! I love that … [Read more...]

betty crocker’s loaded mashed potatoes review & giveaway


In a hurry to get dinner on the table? Bored wit your options? Wishing you were eating at a restaurant instead? Betty Crocker knows your pain, and that's where the new Betty Crocker "Loaded Mashed" Potatoes come in. These instant potatoes can be made in minutes and have the taste and quality of a meal being served to you rather than by you ;) The "Loaded Mashed" variety (there are NINE!), in my opinion, is probably the most flavorful choice out of the Betty Crocker instant potatoes line-up. It's got a little bit of everything that you love on your potatoes: seasonings, bacon, sour cream, cheese, and chives. I love to serve these as a side to meals that have a meat main dish and dinner rolls. The weather's finally better here and we can use our grill again, so we barbecued some chicken and I served it over the "Loaded Mashed" potatoes. They complimented each other really well! Are you getting hungry yet? Well, you can get $0.55 off one box of new Betty Crocker “Loaded Mashed” … [Read more...]