5239 - Duo Pack Vampires

double the dracula: playmobil duo pack vampires

My daughters have finally settled on their Halloween costumes: the 6-year-old will be Pikachu from Pokemon (what, no Frozen?) and the 10-year-old is going the traditional route as a bat. While each girl purposefully planned to be something that had no relationship whatsoever to her sister’s (good old-fashioned sibling rivalry), as a mom I know far too well that whatever one kid has, another wants. (It’s why when one gets a present from Grandma, you can best be assured the other will be asking what she brought her.) If you’ve got a set of your own competitive kiddies at home, then you know firsthand how true this is, especially during the holidays. Right up our alley then is PLAYMOBIL’s Duo Pack Vampires, a twin set of costumed figures, a candlestick, a tiara and other accessories to put you in the Halloween frame of mind. With two vampires, there’s no fighting over taking turns or acting out their favorite Halloween scenes. And when they’re not making mischief in the playroom, these festive figures can double as decorations for your Halloween table. Care for a little nibble, Dracula?

In a Nutshell: Whether as a terrifying toy or as Halloween decor, these mini vampires are a real scream.

5239 - Duo Pack Vampires

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Estella_baby-toys-rattle-metrocard_HR

fastpass to fun: metrocard rattle by estella

One of my friends is expecting her first baby this winter, and so naturally, I’m shopping for that perfect gift. She’s a city girl and someone who can appreciate the finer things in life. What do you get when you want to distinguish your baby shower present from a sea of adorable outfits, cuddly teddy bears and other baby basics? While I may turn to her registry for something she has already requested, I’d love a gift topper that speaks for itself. Well, after stumbling upon a new line of NYC-themed rattles from Estella, I think my search may be over. These hand-knit first toys are like nothing we’ve seen before. Designed in a variety of urban motifs, including a taxi cab, salted pretzel (of course) and, our favorite, a MetroCard, these rattles are the perfect love letter to the city that never sleeps (something any new mom will be able to relate to…soon enough).

In a Nutshell: We’ll take Manhattan…and tie it up in a bow for the perfect baby gift. Bound to be the talk of the baby shower.

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Berry Patch Fruit Snacks

healthy, happy haunting: annie’s homegrown halloween snacks

I don’t think I can last much longer. Any day now, I’m going to cave and dip into the Halloween candy before it gets the best of me. As if it weren’t bad enough that those chocolate-covered treats are staring me down, every store I enter seems to be enticing me with ‘buy one, get one free’ offers that it won’t be long before we’re buried alive in candy corn. Can you relate? If you’re finding it difficult to resist the onslaught of tempting treats, might we suggest some healthier alternatives? We recently got our grubby little paws on the newest snacks from Annie’s Homegrown and we’re delighted to say that there’s something for everyone in their latest selection. Little ghosts and goblins will surely want to sink their fangs into Halloween Honey & Chocolate Bunny Grahams. (If your kids already know and love the original Cheddar Bunnies, they’ll appreciate satisfying their sweet tooth with a whole-grain crunchy goodness.) If fruitiness is more their style, you’ll want to get your hands on the newest Halloween handout: Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks in Berry Patch. In mouthwatering flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry, these yummy bite-sized treats are made with real fruit juice and don’t contain any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives–and no high-fructose corn syrup. Both Halloween Bunny Grahams and Organic Bunny Snacks are available in multi-packs with individual bags that are perfect for trick or treats. Speaking of which, if you’ll be hosting a Halloween party or having trick-or-treaters back to your house, be sure to stock up on Annie’s Mini Pizza Bagels and Pizza Poppers. Available at Target, these toasty treats are the perfect party, crowd-pleaser snacks, easy to make and hard to keep around!

In a Nutshell: ‘Healthy’ and ‘Halloween’ may not sound like they go together, but with these delectable treats in store this season, you’ll feel a little better about indulging this year.

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Monster Party cover

they did the mash: monster party

What’s Halloween without a good ghost story? Before my husband and I had kids, we made our yearly trek to Tarrytown, N.Y., where “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was reenacted by a local theater troop. Held within a stone’s throw of a dark cemetery through which the Headless Horseman was said to make his nightly ride, this was the ideal experience to get us into a spooky state of mind. Because my kids are still a bit too young to experience this terrifying, but terrific tale, we’ll have to settle for some other festive fables. If your own brood’s Halloween style is more Henry Hugglemonster than Headless Horseman, we’ve found a new book worth checking out with you this season. Monster Party! is the best place for all little goblins and ghouls, even when it’s not Halloween. Pre-readers ages 2-5 need not don horns or pointed ears to understand the joy that comes with celebrating with friends. From party games like pin the tail and pinata (what monster doesn’t like candy?), to tasty treats and delicious sweets, there’s plenty of fun for everyone. But, like all good things that must come to an end, the partygoers soon realize that the festivities can’t last forever. Of course, if your kid’s social life is anything like these monsters, you’ll be able to relate to the telltale ending. Be it Halloween or any time of year, Monster Party! is one invitation that’s worth accepting.

In a Nutshell: RSVP for the best preschool book party of the season. This is one delightful romp of a read for Halloween and beyond.

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Ice_Princess_Dress

thrills and chills: just pretend kids enchanted ice princess

Is Frozen fever still alive and well in your house like it is in ours? Amazing how much staying power sisterhood and one cool snowman truly has (sigh…). And with Halloween just a few weeks away, we can only imagine how many Elsas and Annas will be storming the castle–and our neighborhood–later this month. If your kids aren’t ready to give up their thrones anytime soon, but you’re looking for a Halloween costume that’s a little slight departure from the traditional fare, may we present the latest addition to trendy dress-up wardrobes everywhere? The sparking Enchanted Ice Princess  dress is in a class by itself. Its icy blue satin skirt boasts a frozen glittery pattern that will be the envy of the entire kingdom. A fitted bodice and sheer sleeves make a statement without detracting attention from the just-long-enough cape with snowflakes cascading across it. If your little princess prefers to go without, the cape is easily detachable, which makes for easy-breezy trick-or-treating or parading around the play room. Yes, we think this is one outfit that will make make little hearts swoon, and turn your little sweetheart into the belle of the ball.

In a Nutshell: The Frozen frenzy lives on. Here’s your chance to let your kid celebrate her unrelenting princess passion, and still be her own little person.

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holiday table-ready: yankee candle scenterpiece

I have always loved setting a holiday table. When my husband and I first hosted Thanksgiving, I remember putting out the miniature turkey place card holders that capped off each plate setting. A scattering of colorful fall leaves, carefully positioned away from a glowing candlelight, completed the festive look, one that I took pride in creating. As time passed and we had a family of our own, we traded Turkey Day for Christmas at our house. A glass tumbler filled with Christmas ball ornaments, pine cones and a few artfully arranged candy canes was front and center. Because we had small children with prying hands, I put my candles away for the time being…but not without a heavy heart. I missed that soft glow and the intoxicating scent that pervaded the dining room, be it the spiced apples of fall or peppermint of Christmas. If you’re someone who’d love an alternative to candlelight that makes for an inviting centerpiece this holiday season, check out the latest trend in home decor. Yankee Candle’s Scenterpiece is a flameless home fragrance that does away with the entire concept of melting candle wax and replaces it with scented MeltCups that can be updated to suit your mood or decor. We tested out the Scenterpiece system and were impressed how easy it was to set up (simply plug in and add your favorite scent). Within minutes, a subtle scent of apple pumpkin permeated the room without being too powering. Because no lit candles were in sight, our guests assumed the aroma was coming from our kitchen…little did they know. Aside from not having to worry about wax clean-up (or remembering whether or not someone blew out a candle before leaving the room), we love the Scenterpiece for its family-friendly design. My kids can drop in or lift out a new MeltCup without burning their fingers, as MeltCups are cool to the touch. Available in a variety of festive fall scents like Apple Pumpkin, Autumn Leaves and November Rain, Scenterpiece is the perfect addition to the Thanksgiving table or as a hostess gift.

In a Nutshell: A holiday centerpiece that’s no fuss, no muss. That’s something we can all be thankful for.

 

 

 

CATP_Jack O'Lantern+Witch's Brew1_HR

ghoulish goop: crazy aaron’s halloween putty

October begins next week, and that means Halloween will be here before we know it. I love everything about it: the decorations, the candy, the costumes…did I mention the candy? This is one holiday that my entire family adores, including the grown-ups. (Last year, my husband made a coffin for a skeleton that was part of our front lawn display…I kid you not!) So since Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore, we’re on the lookout for Halloween goodies that have grown-up appeal, too. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty celebrates the season with two new squishy putties begging to be played with. Jack O’Lantern is a orange and gold-speckled squishy putty that sparkles when the lights are dimmed. Witch’s Brew Putty Creature boasts a purplish hue that turns ghoulish green in the dark. Both come packaged in the signature Crazy Aaron tins–the perfect desktop companion to relieve workday stress. Just grab a handful and squish away! These also work great as grand prizes for Halloween party games. A real treat…and that’s no trick!

In a Nutshell: Halloween just got a whole lot more sticky…and we’re not talking about the bottom of your kid’s candy bag. These playful putties are decked out in Halloween hues that will delight your resident goblins and ghouls.

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Momosas Cover Image

celebratory cocktails: momosas

When I was pregnant with each of my daughters, my husband presented me with a stash of gourmet sodas in unusual flavors: key lime pie, pomegranate and even Shirley Temple (a throwback to my youth when my dad treated me one whenever we went out for dinner). It couldn’t have been more thoughtful…and depressing at the same time. Did I really think I could make it through nine long months without a sip of Chardonnay? Amazingly I did, but not without developing a strong dislike for pineapple-flavored bubbly stuff. If I’d hand my hands on Momosas while I was pregnant, I would have been able to ditch those fruity sodas once and for all. This paperback book is filled with more than 130 non-alcoholic cocktail recipes that are perfect for the expectant mom who’s grown tired of seltzer with a slice of lemon. These creative concoctions range from blender-friendly beverages and sangrias, to lemonades and mocktails that will be the envy of happy hour regulars. Colorful photos are cleverly paired with creative drink names like Boo Boo Berry and The Bump: memorable even for those suffering from mommy brain. Destined to be a bar guide companion for the next nine months, Momosas is required reading for the woman who wants to bask in the glow of her blossoming bump while satisfying her personal thirst. Cheers!

In a Nutshell: A must-read for the mom-to-be who loves her happy hour just as much as the next woman. Makes for a talked-about baby shower gift.

Momosas Cover Image

cleanlunchbox_crop4_jackpot

brain candy: lunchbox love

On my kids’ first day of school, I included a handwritten note in each of their lunch boxes. It was the first time I’d done anything like that, but thought it was a nice way to start off the year. Despite my efforts, my missives were met with mixed reviews. “Why did you send me a letter?,” inquired my first grader, who then went off to play without waiting for an answer (clearly, my gesture was lost on her). “Thanks for your note,” my 10-year-old offered later that day, and then told me about a classmate of hers whose mom packs a note everyday. “But it’s not written by his mom; it’s like a fun fact- kind of thing.” Hmmm, maybe that’s something I could live up to, without feeling like I’m adding yet another thing to my to-do list. So I decided to do a little research and came upon Lunchbox Love for Kids. This is one of those ‘why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?’ ideas that seems so simple, yet it took the time and energy of a fellow mom to do it just right. Lunchbox Love for Kids is a series of pre-printed cards that feature a sweet message to make your kid’s day, along with jokes and trivia on the backs. Just tuck them inside a lunchbox or brown bag, and you’re good to go. Each set contains 10 of these, along with 2 blank cards for those days when you’re inspired to jot down an original thought or two (hey, even “good luck on your math test” counts!). There are 80 different volumes, so you’ll won’t run out of cards until your kids are off to high school (yes, there are even sets aimed at teens). I’m all for making my kids’ days a little bit brighter and if Lunchbox Love is the ticket, I just bought a lifetime subscription.

In a Nutshell: Your kid not snagging a seat at the cool table this year? These fun notes may just make up for the lunchroom drama–or at the very least, just let her know you are thinking about her.

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all grown up: safety 1st baby on board 30th anniversary

Has it truly been 30 years since Safety 1st debuted its Baby on Board sign? I remember, back in my B.C. (before child) days, when I noticed these signs proudly posted in mini vans as they jetted around town. OK, I wondered, why the need to announce your precious cargo? When I later became a mom myself, I realized why so many like-minded parents wanted to alert their fellow drivers to the importance of safe motoring. While today, car designs may have become more sleek and parents, even savvier, one thing remain the same: our children’s safety is always top of mind. That’s why we’re helping celebrate the 30th anniversary of Safety 1st’s Baby on Board with the unveiling of its Digital Baby on Board sign. In recognition of doing your part in helping to ensure children’s safety, Safety 1st is awarding one lucky fan with a pair of diamond earrings for agreeing to its Diamond Promise. Good luck, and safe travels!