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Sila Boutique – a rainy day winner!

September 6th, 2012

I am always looking for great places to shop online. The online “hunt” is so much fun to me, and I especially love to find unique and adorable duds and cute accessories for my kids. I recently heard about an online shop called Sila Boutique that caters to the “Posh Tot and their Hip Mom”, that sounded right up my alley (after all I’m still hip right? right? I’ll wait until you answer yes).

Sila Boutique is a beautifully laid out online shop, filled to the brim with gorgeous gift ideas. They carry everything from clothing, to decor, to Birthday gear, and even drool-worthy cell phone cases. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to try a product from their shop here at home, and it’s the PERFECT fit for my life here on the island! If you’ve ever been to Vancouver Island you know that it’s rainy…really rainy…like, much of the year. Sila Boutique sent a Pluie Pluie raincoat in the cutest floral print for Lola to sport around town. The raincoat is a much needed accessory here in our climate, but the best part is how incredible cute it looks on my baby girl! I love it! I’m so grateful for shops like Sila Boutique that stock their virtual shelves with great quality products, this jacket is so well made. The Pluie Pluie raincoat is European styled and made of a PVC-free material that will keep your kids dry in the rain. The outer fabric is cotton with a waterproof polyurethane coating.

Sila Boutique doesn’t just stop at one cute jacket, I love that they cover all the bases and carry the matching boots and umbrella too! Now that’s catering to the posh tot. – Daria

For gift-worthy goodies at a great price be sure to check out Sila Boutique right now! Don’t forget to join their Facebook group for deals and new products. You can also Twitter with @silaboutique

Boutique Cafe {Daily Dish} Sample Disclosure: The opinions expressed above are honest, accurate, and not encouraged anyway by monetary donations. A sample free of charge was received from Celebrity Baby Trend Expert, Rachel Florio-Urso.

Plug in, melt down and fragrance up

July 1st, 2010

Candle Warmers EtcLast June I reviewed Candle Warmers, Etc.’s Contempo Candle Warmer Lamp and I have honestly used it almost every day. I love the soft glow it gives the kitchen at night and I love that I don’t have to worry about a lit candle in a home with little ones. I’ve had to replace the bulb once, and I chalk that up to the move last August. Seriously, this little candle warmer is awesome!

When Candle Warmers, Etc. wanted to send me their new Plug-In Fragrance Warmer to review, I was more than happy to give it a test run. This little warmer is “designed to warm scented oils and wax creating the glow and ambiance of a burning candle. ...” Its size makes it perfect for small rooms and small spaces, but I had a hard time putting it in a bathroom because I was worried it would be too easy for the kids to bump or unplug. Instead I put it in the kitchen, at least for the test run. You can see it post-warming (above left) and all lit up and liquefying wax melts (below):

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(Yes, I own quite a few cutting boards; believe it or not, I use them all!) After a couple weeks of clicking this baby on and off, here’s my opinion: I love the decorative look and artsy feel of this plug-in versus other ones you’ll find in my home for sure, but the openness of the melted wax makes me hesitant to put it anywhere other than my kitchen, unless an outlet is safe out of my children’s reach. So for me the Plug-In Fragrance Warmer is a bit limiting, but if you want a more beautiful, unique option to those “other” plug-in fragrances, it’s definitely the way to go. Oh, and if you have limited counter space but want a little mood lighting and a little fragrance, the Plug-In Fragrance Warmer is a great option!

We’re well into wedding season, and if you’re not a fan of the whole registered-at-Target thing, I’d consider a candle warmer from Candle Warmers, Etc. The Plug-in Fragrance Warmer may  not be as flashy as a new set of pots and pans but it is a lot more budget friendly. And what newlywed couple doesn’t want their 200-square-foot studio apartment smelling good?—Emily

Holiday Tips with The Diva – Bow Tutorial

December 22nd, 2009

QUICK BOW TUTORIAL with Lisa Carroccio (The Domestic Diva)

Here’s a quick & easy Bowdabra Tutorial

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Get out your junky craft scissors and some florist wire. Cut a piece about 12 inches long.

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Place the wire through the center of the Bowdabra.

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Leaving 12_ for the tail of the bow, cinch ribbon between the holder.

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Make a loop and twist it away from you…then place in between the holder.

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Make as many loops as you want as long as you have the same amount of loops on each side. I usually do 6 or 8 loops in total.

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Cut the ribbon leaving another 12 inch ribbon tall.

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Cross the wire and twist tightly. Then fluff your bow.

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And if you don’t dovetail the ends of the ribbon, everyone will think you are an amateur…
Fold the ribbon end in half lengthwise (do not crease it). Cut across at an angle to form the dovetail end.

Holiday Tips with The Diva – Gift Wrapping

December 22nd, 2009

GIFT WRAPPING with Lisa Carroccio (The Domestic Diva)

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I hope you don’t think I’m mental, but my favorite holiday activity is GIFT WRAPPING. I “try” to wrap each night as new purchases come into my home. It helps to have a “gift wrapping station” set up in your home…a simple table with all the supplies you need to wrap gifts. My station has several holiday gift papers on rolls which are contained in a Rubbermaid™ Gift Wrap Holder.


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I keep several rolls of fancy gold and ivory ribbon, tulle, my handy dandy Bowdabra™ (the Diva’s bow-making secret), place cards (used as gift tags), scotch tape (on the big rolls in the office tape dispenser), plain white boxes, tons of gold gift bags, gold Calligraphy markers and my hot glue gun. Each gift, no matter, how small, is wrapped with care and is adorned with a nice bow.
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Stuck in the center of the bows are simple “holiday picks” such as silk flowers, ribbon roses, faux sugared berries, miniature ornaments, rhinestone buttons or some other glittered item. Year after year, my sisters fight over my bows as gifts are unwrapped on Christmas Day. They reuse them the following year to make their gifts “sparkle.”


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Every year I designate a specific color and/or theme to each of my two kids. That way I don’t have to put name tags on them until Christmas Eve and the kids’ don’t know which gifts are theirs.
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In the past, I’ve used some great color combinations for my teen daughter such as polka dots, zebra prints and tiffany blue. This year I’m using hot pink and black/white houndstooth for my daughter. My son will get either brown or turquoise blue depending on which wrapping paper I have the most of this year.
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When gift wrapping, don’t restrict yourself to just ordinary white boxes. Get creative! I’ve used colored Chinese take-out boxes, fancy hat boxes and different baskets. If you’re going to be lazy and use gift bags, be sure to at least add a beautiful bow and handmade gift tag.


Also, don’t be afraid to use non-traditional colors. As a matter of fact, I NEVER use any red in my house. Any color can become a Christmas color is you add sparkle to it.

Organic Luxury Towels from Amy Butler

December 2nd, 2009

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Hello! My new organic towels from Welspun are here!


After the exciting release of my organic bedding, I’m so happy to expand the collection with my beautiful bath towels. Made with 10% organic exchange cotton, these towels are super soft to the touch. The bold and vibrant colors will brighten up any bathroom space even in the wee hours of the morning when waking up is so hard to do. These joyful designs will lift your spirits and get you going!


My new line will be available in my online shop, along with stores nationwide and on Bed, Bath & Beyond.com (with many more retailers to come!). Please visit my website for inspirational photos and all the great details.


Warmest Wishes,

Amy

A Penny Stone for your thoughts

May 31st, 2009

I’m not one for baby shower games or bridal shower games or even getting-to-know-you games (unless they involve M&Ms), but when I heard about Penny Stones I was intrigued. The glass stones, which are printed with a variety of questions, help “spark meaningful conversations, create lasting memories and improve conversation skills.” It was that meaningful conversation part in which I was most interested, as the conversation around our dinner table could use a little more meaning!

Penny Stones are actually available in five sets: Original, Faith Based, Love and Marriage, New Parents and Slumber Party. The sets are perfect for families, game nights, reunions, road trips to those reunions, party favors and even corporate trainings. We received the original set, which came packaged in a cute little vinyl bag with satin drawstring. They sat on our counter for far too long until I finally broke them open—not at home but at our recent church Cinco de Mayo adult party!

We had round tables set up all around the room for dinner with a centerpiece complete with glass vase, daisies, wooden maracas and even tiny boxes of Chiclet gum. I took a few Penny Stones, about three per table, and placed them around the centerpiece. Their glass design was a beautiful finishing touch! As friends and soon-to-be-better friends sat and ate their dinner they chose a Penny Stone, asked the question and everyone took a turn answering. Our table had questions like who’s the most influential person in your life to what year you’d most like to travel back in time and revisit.

When the party was over I had more than a few people tell me how much they loved the Penny Stones and what a great idea it was for the party. Believe it or not I have yet to pull them out at dinner time (probably because we seem to always eat in shifts) but I’ll for sure be pulling them out at the next party!—Emily

*** Giveaway Penny Stones is giving away one set of their fabulous conversation stones! Please leave a comment answering the question, “What superpower would you most like to have?” Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: June 8, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Gina S., the winner of the Penny Stones giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

CreatedByMom.com for Mother’s Day and any day!

May 8th, 2009

Yes, Mother’s Day is this weekend and yes, if you’re shopping online you should have done your shopping by now. But I know a few of you out there are still on the hunt for the perfect Mother’s Day gift and may have a forgiving mom like mine who’s okay with a gift that’s a few days late (as long as she gets a card, chocolate and an IOU on Mother’s Day). If that’s the case then you need to check out the fabulous products from CreatedByMom.com.

And that’s the main reason I waited until today to feature this site—it is PERFECT for Mother’s Day because everything on CreatedByMom.com is made by moms. The site carries over 50 lines all designed by moms and boasts over 400 unique products with the offerings growing daily. (This is where I should probably disclose that georgie tees is one of CreatedByMom.com’s vendors so I am a little biased.) But even if we weren’t on her site I would still love the product selection and more importantly the story behind the site:

The CreatedByMom.com Chic Boutique was created by a mom to support moms everywhere, creating what they love and succeeding, selling their products in a mom-friendly environment.

CreatedByMom.com began with the perfect recipe of 50% inspiration and 50% desperation. After watching many friends make fabulous products and then start their own businesses Quinn Curtis had a brilliant idea: open an online store that makes it easier for moms to sell and buy each other’s products, making a one-stop shop for consumers to also support moms and their creations.


This site has everything from yummy lip balm to stunning jewelry to gorgeous handbags to one of my favorites, the Boot Scoot Bike. I love the Scribbly Tee pictured here and apparently the handmade tutus are a big hit!

CreatedByMom.com works using drop-ship accounts and quite possibly has the lowest fees and commission around. I remember going to pay the commission, thinking it was one amount, and having Quinn correct me telling it was another—almost half of what I was going to pay! One of the best perks about working with CreatedByMom.com is the 20% discount mom vendors receive on all other CreatedByMom.com products! Gotta love a good—no, great—discount!

Quinn doesn’t stop at providing a site for moms to showcase their products. She is all about empowering creativity and helping moms turn their dreams into reality. This July CreatedByMom.com is launching the first annual Moms Who Make It conference! The theme of the conference is “empowering creativity in life & business” and is an event you won’t want to miss. With our very own Daria form Boutique Cafe and Kim from YouCanMakeThis.com as keynote speakers, a variety of timely classes from blogging and social media to how to get press for your product and an awesome panel, you’ll be counting down the days until July 16th (around 68)! The Moms Who Make It conference will be held in South Jordan, Utah on Thursday, July 16th. Tickets will be on sale soon and you can visit MomsWhoMakeIt.com for more information.

Interested in keeping up with the latest happenings at CreatedByMom.com? You can connect with the LinkedIn group here, follow CBM on Twitter (@createdbymom) or visit the Facebook page here. This Mother’s Day it’s all about moms…and mom-made products!—Emily

*** Giveaway! In honor of Mother’s Day I am giving away a SoYoung Mother diaper bag in chocolate! (Read my review about this fabulous diaper bag here.) To enter visit CreatedByMom.com and leave a comment telling us your favorite mom-made product other than the ones I’ve already mentioned. Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: May 15, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

* For an extra entry tweet about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with the link to your tweet below!

  • Congratulations to Clara M., the winner of the SoYoung Mother giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

Don’t forget a Things Remembered charm bracelet this Mother’s Day

May 3rd, 2009

What woman doesn’t love jewelry on Mother’s Day? Okay, so maybe I prefer dark chocolate once in a while, but I still can’t resist something silver and shiny, especially if it’s been engraved with something meaningful.

I have enjoyed purchasing gifts from Things Remembered in the past, including a family ornament and necklaces for my daughter and her best friend, so I was excited when I heard about the company’s new line of charms. Charm Story is a new line of 50 exclusive silver-plated engravable charms designed specifically with personalization in mind. They offer “space to engrave a name, date or special message to make each charm a unique reflection of mom.” For example, if your mom is a runner give her a charm symbolizing her first marathon and engrave the name, date and finishing time of the race. If you’d rather tell her how she’s your strength, add a charm representing the Chinese symbol for strength and engrave the date of a moment she most inspired you.

Things Remembered sent me a sample charm bracelet and it is absolutely beautiful! (Yes, it’s even better than dark chocolate.) I chose the Clover Wax Seal charm and had them engrave one of my favorite quotes on the back: “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.” They also added a few other fun charms, including the Wax Seal Mom charm with “Live, Laugh, Love,” the Purse charm engraved with Boutique Cafe’s tagline (I’m a sucker for a great pair of heels!) and the August Birthstone Heart charm. You can see the photos of this gorgeous bracelet in this review. I’m already wondering which charm I’ll add next—maybe three more birthstone charms for my other three children!

Charm Story offers assorted mom and grandma charms, photo charms, cause charms, hobby charms, travel charms and even pet charms. Each charm, charm bracelet and necklace retails for just $20. However, Things Remembered is offering the bracelet or necklace with one “First Chapter” starter charm—heart, circle, star or dog-tag-shaped charm—for just $30. (Engraving is a small, additional cost.) I love a gift that is truly unique and tailored to the recipient. Things Remembered truly has mom in mind this Mother’s Day. A beautiful piece of jewelry from Charm Story by Things Remembered combined with your thoughtfulness and a little personalization will definitely make her Mother’s Day. (If you really want to be the “favorite,” pair it with some chocolate!)—Emily

*** Giveaway Things Remembered is giving away one charm bracelet and charm, winner’s choice! Please visit the Charm Story page on the Things Remembered website. Leave a comment on telling us which charm you like best and what you would engrave on the back. (Please include a valid email address.)

*** For an extra entry, follow Things Remembered on Twitter! Send a DM to tremembered letting them know you signed on as a follower thanks to this post. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and the list of new followers provided by Things Remembered. We will contact the winner via email. Deadline: May 11, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Bing Y., the winner of the Things Remembered giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

Basa Body does a body–and a soul–good

April 23rd, 2009

It’s one thing to find an all-natural product line that nourishes and heals the skin; it’s another to find one that also nourishes the soul. Basa Body does both and the story behind the company is worth telling in their own words:

Basa BodyIt began with a trip to Kenya where we connected with wonderful, intelligent women working hard to feed their families. We met with the women of Mombasa and visited the first small-scale coconut oil plant called Coast Coconut Farms where they produced pure organic coconut oil by hand. Determined to find a way to assist them in selling their oil and to help them grow their business, we came home and through the help of many good people, created Basa Body (named after the women of Mombasa). It is our hope that by sharing this natural healing lotion with their inspiring story, we can help lift these women of Africa out of poverty and help them become self-reliant.

Inspiring, isn’t it? Kind of makes you want to buy a truckload of Basa Body lotion!

Basa Body’s products are infused with organic virgin coconut oil, which nourishes, hydrates and rejuvenates the skin. The company works hard to keep their coconut body products 100% natural with no artificial ingredients, which means their great for sensitive skin. The line consists of lotion, a body stick and soaps, all made from 100% natural coconut oil and the finest natural ingredients. Basa Body products actually help the skin heal.

Basa BodyI received their Basa “Kiss Me” gift pack (see photo), which included the Basa Body Coconut Oil lotion, Basa Body Stick push tube, Mint Chocolate Truffle Soap and Cherry Chocolate Truffle Soap. The first thing I wanted to do when I opened the box was take a huge bite from the mint chocolate soap—it smelled that good! Plus it came in a cute candy-like paper wrapper, so can you blame me? I tested every product except the cherry chocolate soap (not a cherry fan) and the Basa Body Stick was by far my favorite. Though the soap smelled super fantastic and moisturized as I washed, once I rinsed my skin felt really grippy (i.e. squeaky clean), which is probably a good thing but I didn’t love it. And the lotion went on nicely and absorbed quickly…I only wish it smelled more like coconut!

Basa BodyBut the stick was awesome! For an oil-based stick, it absorbed really quickly and moisturized so well! I put it in my daughter’s upper arms where she suffers from dry skin and it immediately remedied the problem. Her arms (and my hands) stayed moisturized for hours! You can actually use it to treat skin irritated by eczema or psoriasis. Plus the natural antibiotic, anti-fungal properties of the coconut oil make it great for diaper rash. They say once you try it you’ll be hooked (right, Jyl?) and I am! And get this, the Basa Body Stick has been referred to by customers as the “Love Stick” because it’s a “wonderful, natural and safe personal lubricant. Try it and say goodbye to K-Y.” I’m sold!

Basa Body products nourish the body, while the company’s story and mission nourishes the soul. By the way, Basa not only purchases all their coconut oil from Coast Coconut Farms but also donates 10% of their profits to projects in Kenya to fight poverty. How can you not love Basa Body?

Mother’s Day is around the corner. Give a gift that gives back by purchasing Basa Body’s “Kiss Me” gift pack. At less than $30 it’s the least you can do!—Emily

* Promotion! Basa Body is offering a special discount and giveaway! Use the promo code “momitforward” when ordering for 10% off your purchase and an automatic entry to win a $250 Disney gift card!

gr8x debuts two fabulous new products

April 6th, 2009

gr8xsIn May of 2007 I reviewed the Baby Traveller Deluxe by gr8x, a diaper bag you definitely can’t judge by its cover. I was so impressed with this machine-washable (yes, machine-washable!) all-in-one diaper bag I was really excited to see their new messenger style diaper bags and super soft swaddling blankets. I was not disappointed!

gr8xsI received gr8x’s Messenger Diaper Bag in the camo print. The messenger is one of six styles of diaper bags (not including the Baby Traveller Deluxe) from the new line , which includes a hobo slouch, holdall, backpack duo, bucket tote and satchel. The messenger style is by far my favorite and the camo print makes me smile. Why? I’m not so sure except I feel super cool when toting it around! But cool will only get you so far. It’s what’s inside (and outside if you’re talking pockets) that really matters. So what’s inside?

gr8xsThis diaper bag boasts numerous zipped and mesh pockets (in super fun contrasting orange), an insulated pocket for bottles (a must-have in my book), change mat, wipes pocket you can access externally (so cool!), front section for mom’s things, nylon lining (i.e. easy to clean), adjustable shoulder strap, detachable stroller attachments and even a detachable pacifier case. Most of the designs also have rubber feet to protect the bottom (another must-have). What’s great about the camo print is that it’s great for Mom or Dad—if Dad is ever out and about with the kids long enough to warrant a diaper bag. (My husband tries to avoid those types of outings at all cost.) I really couldn’t find anything not to like about this bag, though I did wish it had a padded shoulder strap, but at least the strap they have is softer than most straight-edged vinyl or leather straps.

gr8xsAnd now for gr8x’s new Baby Stretch Swaddling Wraps. What makes these swaddling blankets so cool is the word “stretch.” The stretch in these soft cotton blankets comes from the elastane in the fabric. This small amount of elastane allows baby some movement, which means it’s more comfortable for your little one. Your baby will be cozy and warm while not feeling restricted. Plus the elastene also helps soften the fabric when washed, so the more you swaddle, the softer it gets. Just make sure you follow the washing instructions. I threw my blanket in the dryer when the directions specifically said to air dry, and it shrunk a bit in size. To be honest, I read the directions but I rarely hang-dry anything except my sports bras, and even those I’ve dried once in a while! I kind of wanted to see what would happen if it were dried, and as soon as the buzzer sounded, I found out by pulling out a blanket about 1/4th smaller than it was when it went in.

Even after I had made it less than its former self it still was a great size for swaddling and it maintained its stretchiness, which I checked by pulling it this way and that. And yes, the Baby Stretch Swaddling Wraps are pretty dang soft! I can’t think of any other swaddling blankets that have had quite this much stretch and been quite this soft. Way to go, gr8x!

gr8x has a wonderful product line including a changing wallet, feeding pillow and even footmuff for the stroller. And of course there’s always the Baby Traveller Deluxe!—Emily

Chapped lips go retro

December 7th, 2008

Pin Up Lip BalmWith cold winter weather comes wish lists, holiday shopping and the all too common set of chapped lips. All those glittery, shiny lip glosses in your purse often don’t cut it when it comes to moisturizing parched lips, and the stuff that actually does moisturize comes in some pretty boring packaging (think blue and white Chapstick or yellow Carmex). Maybe that’s why Pin Up Lip Balm’s sassy packaging and nourishing formula is the latest in lips.

Pin Up Lip Balm’s moisturizing formula is made from 100% natural ingredients including avocado oil (UV protectant), beeswax (natural emollient), apricot kernel oil (hydration) and Vitamin E (natural antioxidant). All these nourishing ingredients come packaged in a cute retro slide-top tins, each with its very own old-fashioned pin-up girl. Totally tasteful yet totally sexy, these pin-up girls are what makes Pin Up Lip Balm the talk of the town. Okay, the all-natural ingredients help too.

Pin Up Lip BalmI received a few mini Pin Up Lip Balms to review. I do love the packaging—the slide-top tin is reminiscent of elementary school when I went through a few strawberry and watermelon lip glosses packaged in just such a tin. (Anyone else remember those?) And the lip balm did help moisturize, but it didn’t seem to last very long. Perhaps I’m used to my favorite glosses from Bath & Body Works and Revlon, which seem to have more staying power, but they definitely don’t have all the natural ingredients that Pin Up Lip Balm does. Whatever the reason, I found myself applying it a lot more frequently than I would have liked.

But even so, Pin Up Lip Balm is a really fun and very affordable product. It is definitely a great girlfriend gift for the holidays and a great stocking stuffer for any female. And with over 40 flavors you’re sure to find a few tempting tins!—Emily

Santa Artwork Giveaway – Santa needs a home!

December 3rd, 2008

My awe-inspiring friend Nena is doing a festive, holly, jolly, Giveaway in time for the holidays. She created this stunning glittering Santa on Canvas valued at approx. $175.00 – and now Santa is looking for a new home. I’m publicly offering him a warm and cozy home with our family, but sadly all of the begging in the world won’t work because she’s drawing a “random” winner. I will still try to butter Nena up though, can’t blame a girl for trying. :)

To get all the details on how to win this beautiful art piece in time for Christmas visit Nena’s Blog.

Our Fave Holiday Book This Year!

December 2nd, 2008

My favorite new book this holiday season is called “Bear Stays Up For Christmas” by Karma Wilson. This is the perfect story to cuddle up with and read with a lap full of children. Full of beautiful charming illustrations, rhyming story, and heartwarming acts of friendship.

“Bear’s friends are determined to keep Bear awake for Christmas! So they wake Bear up and have him help them find a Christmas tree, bake cakes, hang up stockings, and sing Christmas songs. Bear stays up—by discovering that giving is one of the best Christmas presents!”

I snagged my copy at our local Winners store for under $10 (I think it was closer to five bucks). If you see it, be sure to grab your family a copy too! The kids will love it. – Daria

A DS game that exercsies your brain…

November 28th, 2008

Zenses...all while soothing the senses. No karts, no alien creatures, no spastic background music. The Game Factory has debuted two new Nintendo DS games designed for the growing number of female “casual gamers”—women just like me who aren’t serious gamers but enjoy a little break from reality once in a while.

ZensesThe two new games are Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest, which allow players to “escape from the stress of daily life while challenging the mind, body and spirit through relaxing puzzle games, soothing ambient sounds and authentic rainforest and oceanic visuals.” Sounds pretty soothing already, doesn’t it? Well, my girls and I have tested both Zenses Ocean and Zenses Rainforest and the verdict is in: we love them!

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Okay, I was only able to play Zenses Ocean. My daughter started playing Rainforest, her favorite of the two, when the battery ran out on her DS. We couldn’t find the charger so Rainforest has sat in the DS waiting anxiously for someone to play it—and I’m anxious! I enjoyed pretty much every game on Ocean and the crashing waves in the background were rather soothing. I had a little Zensestrouble with one of the games, and I will admit, a couple truly tested my brainpower, but a little cerebral exercise is a good thing especially when you have sand between your toes!

I can’t wait to charge up the DS and check out the Rainforest game. It’s already a favorite of my daughter’s and if it’s even better than Ocean I know I’ll love it. I’ll never be a hardcore gamer—not enough time and not enough interest—but I do enjoy a little reprieve from the daily grind and The Game Factory’s new line of Zenses games is perfect for the casual gamer like me.—Emily

Lilly Bean play food tempts little tastebuds

September 11th, 2008

Lilly BeanActually, it tempts grown-up tastebuds too. It’s a good thing I know better than to eat felt or my children’s Lilly Bean Market meal sets would have disappeared long ago. You might think I’m exaggerating a bit but once you lay eyes on the Deluxe Pizza or Market Fruit you’ll understand.

Lilly BeanLilly Bean Market was started by Hilary Seabolt, a mother who created her first “market-fresh” food when her four-year-old son’s stuffed animals needed something to eat. A cute little egg and pancake were soon followed by donuts, bacon, veggies and as they say, the rest is history. Hilary now creates her artisan designed wool felt play food for little ones everywhere. Our play kitchen now offers family and friends the Perfect Sandwich with a side of Market Fruit and a Super Sandwich Cookie for dessert. I’m thinking Christmas will be a great excuse to expand our menu with Lilly Bean’s new Deluxe Chocolate Strawberry Cake, Bag of Chips, and even Sushi.

Lilly BeanI love how Lilly Bean has encouraged my children’s creativity. Even I’m having fun “cooking” with these wonderful wool felt culinary confections. Can’t say the same for the Barbie kitchen gathering dust on the shelf! Lilly Bean Market artisan designed play food is sewn by a small group of Amish and a wonderful machine seamstress. The company is committed to “keeping the business in the US” and loves “knowing the people who help create such a beautiful product.” Yep, the company is just as sweet as its creations.—Emily

** Giveaway! Lilly Bean is giving away one Brown Bag Lunch set! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: September 19, 2008 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

* Congratulations to David N., the winner of the Lilly Bean giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

YourCover makes your special event newsworthy

August 5th, 2008

Remember the old school personalized magazine covers you’d find at the local amusement park where they basically put your face on someone else’s body? No matter how great the job it was always a little off. Well, say goodbye to fake bodybuilders and beach babes and hello to real life cover models. And let me tell you, the real life version is awesome!

YourCoverI had more fun reviewing YourCover’s Personalized Magazine Covers than I did inhaling a bucket of Trader Joe’s Dunkers. With our little one’s first birthday this week I had the perfect reason for creating a keepsake to celebrate this big event (she’s our last, what can I say?). With her pinchable cheeks and chunky thighs it was easy to turn that baby girl into a cover model. The process was super easy using the online design studio. I simply uploaded my favorite photo (vertical works best) and then cropped the image so her face was front and center. Next I created personalized headlines (font style, size and color) unique to her and her special day. The back cover had room for more photos (didn’t find this out until later, dang!), an Editor’s Note, masthead and sections for additional personalized text. I threw in Livi’s 10 favorite things and Top 10 Ways to Party.

YourCoverIf you’re not a big writer don’t worry; YourCover offers helpful suggestions for the various sections. Just tweak it a bit, proofread and you’re good to go. Your personalized magazine cover is printed on a heavyweight glossy paper and full bleed, which means the color goes to the edge of the paper so it looks like a real magazine cover. It arrives in a deluxe acrylic frame so everyone can see both the front and back, plus you can order extra copies to share with friends and family. I ordered two extra so both sets of grandparents could take one home. (Our grandkids are their favorites so displaying the magazine cover is a given…right, Mom?)

Typical of my life these days I waited until the last minute to order so Livi’s issue of First Birthday magazine has not yet arrived, but if it looks anything like the proofs it’s going to be fabulous! A personalized magazine cover from YourCover runs around $50 (additional copies are only $4.50) but let me tell you, I feel a lot better about spending that amount on this unique and beautiful keepsake than I do on a pathetically small amount (about three) photo sheets from Kiddie Kandids. My babies never made headlines there.—Emily

** Giveaway YourCover is giving away one free personalized magazine cover! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: August 13, 2008 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

* Promotion! YourCover is offering Daily Dish readers $5 off their purchase! Simply enter code BC5 at checkout. Offer expires September 30, 2008.

** Congratulations to Mary S., the winner of the YourCover giveaway! Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the review and add a comment. Keep reading the Daily Dish for your chance to participate in more giveaways!

Picture books from Blooming-Babies.com help your child’s imagination “blossom”

July 10th, 2008

First Picture BooksI’m always on the lookout for a great picture book or two to freshen up our current collection, and if you’re on the hunt as well you’ll be excited about today’s review! Blooming-Babies.com, a boutique for “moms and kids of all ages” brings you the First Picture Book series from Usborne Books.

First Picture BooksFirst Picture Books, recommended for ages nine months and up, is a collection of award-winning picture books featuring everything from numbers and letters to fairytales and trucks. But these aren’t your typical, often cartoonish, children’s books. Usborne First Picture Books are larger than your average picture book and filled with wonderful eye-catching and colorful illustrations. We received First Picture Fairytales and First Picture Trucks, and let me tell you, I knew the trucks book by heart after just a couple days. My son had me reading it before every nap and every night. Fortunately I enjoyed the real-life type illustrations as much as he did!

First Picture BooksOur 10-month-old is finally old enough to look at books at more than just teething toys and I can’t wait to share First Picture Fairytales with her. It includes eight favorite fairy tales filled with engaging illustrations and its board book construction means even if she needs to teethe the board book will survive. Looking at the other books in the collection I’m finding it hard to decide which book to buy next, First Picture Action Rhymes or First Picture Nature. ;) —Emily

* Promotion! Blooming-Babies.com is offering Daily Dish readers 10% off their order! Simply enter code “DailyDish10” at checkout. Offer expires August 10, 2008.

Something for Mama

June 19th, 2008

Moxie Designs Hey you! Yes you, the hardworking Mom over there! Need a little pick me up? Why not a gorgeous new necklace from Moxie Designs on Etsy?!

This POD designed necklace is the perfect little accessory to take your outfit from drab to fab. Check it out on Etsy today

Retro Week Revisits – Ubi Change Table

June 12th, 2008

It’s Retro Week on the Daily Dish! We’re posting some of our fave past reviews to share with you. Discover (or re-discover) great products that we’re still loving and talking about years later! Welcome to Retro week.

Ubi Baby Let’s face it, changing diapers is not the most glamorous or exciting job in the world. That’s why I’m so happy to have discovered the Ubi changing table. The Ubi to me, is like the swiss army knife of change tables due to it’s many handy features!

I was sent the Deluxe Ubi Table with natural wood base and “lime coco beach” cover. This swanky model also sports the most awesome diaper dispenser right where you need it, under the baby. The diapers push down into a spring loaded system that keeps several diaper right within reach. I loved that aspect to the table, it just makes so much sense that you shouldn’t have to stretch and reach to find a diaper – it should be right at your fingertips whenever you need it. The thing I loved most about the Ubi is the fastener strips that quickly and easily hold the diaper in place. It was so simple to change diapers with the fastener strips, just pull up a diaper from the dispenser and stretch the tabs up to attach on the strip. They hold firm despite any wiggles from your little one and the diaper change is stress free. Read the rest of this entry »

CnK Designs: handcrafted inspiration

May 14th, 2008

CnK DesignsI really wanted to feature CnK Designs before May 11th so you would be able to give Mom (or yourself) a beautiful, inspirational, handcrafted necklace or bracelet for Mother’s Day. Alas, our scheduled was full and I couldn’t review CnK Designs until now. But if your Mother’s Day was anything like mine (sick toddler, fighting prepubescent daughters, grumpy husband, exhausted me) you deserve a fabulous post-Mother’s Day gift just for surviving May 11th, and CnK Designs is the perfect I-survived-another-Mother’s-Day gift.

CnK DesignsIf you visit sites like Etsy you’ll find a wide variety of handmade silver jewelry, but I have yet to see anything that comes close to CnK Designs’ with its whimsical hand-etched designs on the front and hand-etched messages on the back. It’s those “hidden” messages I think I love the most. I received the Wildflower necklace, a pendant crafted from fine silver with wildflowers on the front and the word “grow” on the back. It hangs from a 16” sterling silver round box chain and both are oxidized and hand polished for a rustic look. When I wear this necklace it reminds me that even at my 30-something age I can still “grow”—learn new things, step out of my comfort zone, and if “bloom” wherever I’m planted. I love how such a simple design can make such a powerful statement.

CnK DesignsMy other favorite designs in the collection include the Do What You Love bracelet (we should all follow that advice), Summer Night earrings, and Shine necklace (pictured at the top). CnK Designs welcomes custom orders and can personalize any piece. Plus every item comes in the cutest little packaging. Treat yourself to a dose of inspiration from CnK Designs. Mother’s Day mayhem or not, you deserve it!—Emily

* Promotion! CnK Designs is offering Daily Dish readers 15% off their order! Simply enter code bc15 at checkout.

WIN – Bow of the Month for a YEAR! Molly O Designs

December 11th, 2007

Next in our spectacular Boutique Cafe Giveaways this Holiday Season, Molly O Designs is tempting us with a BOW OF THE MONTH prize. The winner of this giveaway will receive a signature set of boutique bows from Molly O Designs every month for a Year! At the beginning of each month, the winner will receive a one-of-a-kind set of bows designed around a theme or holiday. And of course, they will be accented in their signature style with Swarovski crystals. (The winner will have their choice of bow size and clip style.)

**All you need to do to snag this sweet prize is visit Molly O Designs website or her eBay Store and have a peek around.Then come back and comment here on which is your favorite item in her store. It’s that easy!! The winner will be drawn on Dec. 17th.

**UPDATE – Winner Announced! Congratulations to our poster “Cathy” from the Domestic Psychology blog. You have won the Bow of the month for a Year from Molly O Designs! What an incredible prize. Thank you to everyone who entered, we were so overwhelmed by the response. Happy Holidays!

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