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Alexa Ray Joel sings “Just the Way You Are”

September 16th, 2013

Back in 2007, I had the honour of interviewing Alexa Ray Joel for an exclusive Boutique Cafe podcast. I love Alexa’s voice and her music and have followed her career ever since. Now Alexa has beautifully reworked her Dad (Billy Joel’s) original hit “Just the Way You Are”, and also has teamed up with Gap for their “Back to Blue” campaign. Love you Alexa – Congratulations!! XO Daria

Snag Alexa’s gorgeous version of “Just the Way You Are” on iTunes here>>

Mindy Gledhill’s Pockeful of Poetry

September 5th, 2013

Did you know that you can Pre-Order Mindy Gledhill’s new album Pocketful of Poetry on iTunes? I just did and I can’t wait for the full album to drop. {LOVE IT}

Sneek peeks of her new songs on Mindy’s youtube channel here>>

I MUST own this, take me to iTunes>>

Sharing {Boat Song} – JJ Heller

July 8th, 2012

Too adorable not to share with all of you. One of my new favourite songs, and the video is awesome!

Boat Song by JJ Heller. Find more information about JJ Heller on her website. Enjoy!! – Daria

Nik Day definitely worth a listen (and a look) {giveaway}

November 19th, 2010

What can I say, this guy is cute. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happily married, but if I were single and about 10 years younger, I might be giving this Nik Day my phone number along with a listen. I mean you have cute combined with music “similar to Michael Buble and Jason Mraz” and a “warm, raspy voice similar to that of John Mayer.” No brainer, right? Right.

Nik DayNik Day is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter from Utah who started writing music and playing piano when he was just 5 years old. (I think I was still trying to color within the lines and sing my ABCs.) He sent me his Interesting Shade of Blue CD to review on Boutique Cafe’s Daily Dish, and always one to support new talent, I was happy to pop it into the ol’ CD player. And that happened to be in the car.

Funny thing is, I put it in the 6-disc changer and forgot about it until listening to The Lower Lights on a Sunday drive. That CD ended and Nik Day’s CD began. And holy cow, did my ears perk up immediately as his voice came across our car’s speakers. I loved it and I loved pretty much every song on that CD. I found myself actually preferring that to my favorite radio stations, which is definitely saying something because I’m not a Michael Buble kind of gal. But Nik Day somehow combined the best of Buble with the aforementioned Jason Mraz and the combination was perfect.

Nik DayThough a fairly new artist, Nik Day is going to go places. I can’t wait to see just how far he gets . . . and I can’t wait for him to release his next CD. (Interesting Shade of Blue only has five songs—not nearly enough.) Soon please, Nik. Very, very soon.

P.S. I googled Nik Day and discovered he has a previous CD, My Favorite Songs. Giving it a listen on Amazon.com, I discovered I may need it in my stocking this Christmas. Got that, Santa?

P.P.S. Nik sells most of his CDs in person, so the next best place to listen to and/or buy his music is on Amazon.com. And you will want to buy it, trust me.

*** Nik Day is giving away two (2) of his Interesting Shade of Blue CDs! ***

Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway; please leave a separate comment for each one you do:

•   Leave a comment telling us why you would like to win this CD.
•   Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL of your tweet
•   Update your Facebook status with a link to this giveaway and leave a comment telling us you did.

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: November 26, 2010 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Elizabeth T. and Nancy D., the winners of the Nik Day CD 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!

Can you hear me now? Didn’t think so. {giveaway}

June 11th, 2010

How many times were you able to guess the song playing on the MP3 player next to you at the gym? Or hear some sort of garbled background music playing from the nether regions of the car or back bedroom? Granted, it’s often due to a volume level more appropriate for a live concert, but many times it’s more likely due to crappy suboptimal headphones.

ifrogzearpollutionlogonav

cs40pageIf you’re tired of hearing voices then snag a set of EarPollution CS40 headphones from iFrogz. These stylish, lightweight headphones are the newest addition to the EarPollution headphone line by iFrogz and come in five colors: white, black, blue, red and pink. Not only do these headphones make life a little more comfortable for those around you (i.e., they don’t have to play Name That Tune when you’re plugged in), they are also super comfortable on the ears. In fact, the CS in CS40 stands for “comfort series.” The ultra-cushioned ear cups mean you can wear these babies for hours on end…or until your Pandora hours are up.

We received a pair of white CS40s, which were quickly followed by a pair of black due to the white losing sound in one ear. But no worries—I quickly learned iFrogz has superior customer service. They sent us the new pair and informed me that even if I were a “normal” customer to iFrogz and mentioned my problem to customer support, they would have replaced the item, too. Good to know! Before we lost sound in one ear, I did catch my daughter rocking out while wearing the CS40s, but my Flip video version was too quiet to hear her sing off key. Instead you can enjoy this little snapshot I snagged from the video:

iFrogz

But we had no problems with the second pair, and I gave them a few thorough test runs during late-night work sessions in the home office. The CS40s lived up to their comfort claim and the sound was seriously awesome. It was like surround sound for my little brain. Nothing like Jack Johnson sitting next to you while writing a blog post!

M husband is kind of an audio/video geek aficionado and iFrogz’s EarPollution CS40s would make the perfect Father’s Day gift for a guy like him! At only $39.99, they are an affordable way to say “I love you…but not the sounds coming from that action-packed movie you’re watching in the home theater.”—Emily

*** Giveaway! iFrogz is giving away one (1) pair of EarPollution CS40 headphones, winner’s choice! ***

Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway; please leave a separate comment for each one you do:

•  Visit iFrogz.com and leave a comment telling us your favorite color from the CS40 line.
•  “Like” iFrogz on Facebook and leave a comment telling us you joined.
•  Follow iFrogz on Twitter and leave a comment telling is you’re their newest follower.
•  Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL of your tweet.
•   Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL to your blog post.

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: June 18, 2010 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Tina R., the winner of the iFrogz CS40 headphones 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!

{Inspiration} Painted Piano

June 8th, 2010

When I saw this on The Pennington Point site I literally screamed out loud for joy! Doesn’t this just make you giddy? Now I’m on the hunt for an old piano that I can paint and love in my home. I’m inspired, how ‘bout you? Yum Yum Yummy! – Daria
piano01

Celebrate Earth Day with earth-friendly tunes from Earthworm Ensemble {giveaway}

March 30th, 2010

webcovOn April 22nd we will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Why not kick up the celebration a notch with some fun movin’ and groovin’ songs from Earthworm Ensemble? The group’s self-titled CD offers families a wonderfully varied range of musical styles from country to New Orleans funk and features a “who’s who” of California artists.

But before becoming a collection of child- and family-friendly songs, the idea for Earthworm Ensemble came from Shawn and Sherri Nourse. The couple recorded a few songs they’d created for their son Nolan, and those tunes inspired the rest of the earth-worthy songs you’ll find on the CD:

We’re calling it family music, rather than just children’s music. We hope children and their parents can enjoy the songs together, and talk about some of the ideas in the songs. We sing about the earthworm’s role in the plant cycle; about buffalo migration as told by a young buffalo; buying fresh corn at the farmer’s market and taking it home to cook; how to make pizza from scratch; trains, birds, walking in the woods, and a superhero team of Bear and Dog who’ve come to save the planet!

What child wouldn’t want to hear a song all about brave animal superheroes or a lullabye sung to a spaceship (an out-of-this-world lullabye, if you ask me)? You can even listen to a sampling of their songs on their website.

On most children’s CDs you find a song or two (or three) you can easily skip, but Earthworm Ensemble had me listening to each and every one from start to finish. Even ones that were a little slow (“Walking Boy”) had story-like lyrics that kept my attention for the entire song. My faves from the collection are “Bear and Dog” (perhaps because the music reminds me of an R.E.M. song), “Corn” (love a good country song); “We Are Birds” (soothing and enchanting).

Our family doesn’t do much to celebrate Earth Day but this year I’m going to make sure my kids gain greater appreciation for varying music styles while gaining greater appreciation for the earth by listening to Earthworm Ensemble. They’re already fans of Diary of a Worm; becoming fans of Earthworm Ensemble isn’t too far behind!—Emily

*** Giveaway! Earthworm Ensemble is giving away two copies of their debut CD just in time for Earth Day 2010! ***

Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway:

•   Visit the Earthworm Ensemble website, listen to a few sample tracks and leave a comment telling us your favorite song.
•    Become a fan of Earthworm Ensemble on Facebook and leave a comment telling us you joined.
•   Follow Earthworm Ensemble on Twitter and leave a comment telling is you’re their newest follower.
•   Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL of your tweet.

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: April 6, 2010 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Tina R. and Jennifer H., the winners of the Earthworm Ensemble CD 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!

Debbie and Friends will make you “So, So Happy” {giveaway}

March 23rd, 2010

20100323-88s3x462gy9gm6bckfep4a71u1If a children’s CD can get my head bobbin’ in rhythm to the music then it’s worth giving a listen-to. Debbie and Friends’ new More Story Songs & Sing Alongs features a great selection of fun, interactive songs for children ages 2 to 6 (and moms writing blog posts late in the evening).

Debbie and Friends’ first CD was an award-winning one, so it comes as no surprise her next one was a much anticipated compilation. Debbie has a very pleasant, engaging voice and the music’s beat will definitely make little ones want to get up and dance. I love the lyrics in “Rosie Wrong Rhyme” and the quick beat of “I Think I Can” (and I’ve always LOVED the story of The Little Engine That Could).

Debbie_photoWhen Debbie’s not putting together a rousin’ collection of children’s music she’s the dean of the Berklee College of Music. She has over 20 years of experience in the “kindie” genre and studied music and music education at Berkless. She was a classroom music teacher and author (with over 100 books and arrangements) for many ears as well. This woman knows children’s music!

Here’s a taste of Debbie’s talent. Check out the video for “Home Run Ronnie,” track three on her More Story Songs & Sing Alongs CD:


On Debbie and Friends’ latest CD you’ll also find “Wendell,” a cumulative movement song (I couldn’t remember all the moves but I bet a four-year-old totally could) and dance mix of her hit song “Little Red.” I love a great dance mix! I mean, your kids will love this great dance mix! Go, Little Red, go!

Along with all Debbie does (including really fun sing-along videos) she maintains a blog, Kids Music Matters, and offers regularly updated band and industry news. You can learn more about Debbie and Friends on her website.—Emily

***Giveaway! Debbie and Friends is giving away two copies of their new More Story Songs & Sing Alongs CD!***

Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway; please leave a separate comment for each one you do:

•   Visit Debbie and Friends online and tell us your favorite music video.
•   Visit Kids Music Matters and let us know you stopped by.
•   Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL of your tweet.
•   Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL to your blog post.

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: March 30, 2010 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!

  • Congratulations to Renee C. and Bhavana V., the winners of the More Story Songs & Sing Alongs 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!

Hey there, sunshine–it’s time to “Rise and Shine” {giveaway}

January 28th, 2010

Rise and ShineAs I write this post the upper half of my body is bobbing along to “Going to the Moon,” ditty number eight on Rise and Shine by Key Wilde and Mr Clarke. I kid you not, I’m rockin’ and rollin’ in my office chair. Good thing it has armrests to keep me somewhat contained, because if I weren’t bobbing to track eight, I’d be movin’ and groovin’ to track three, “Favorite Names.” Seriously—this song is awesome!

bppig-kwmc31_frontThough not all songs on Rise and Shine were made for serious rockin’ and rollin’, they are all made for children with enough funk for adults to enjoy. The songs range in style from bluegrass to 80’s punk rock and were perfected as the duo of Key Wilde and Mr Clarke performed together at numerous schools and kid-friendly events. When you listen to the songs you can tell these two “get” kids.

The CD comes wonderfully packaged in a board book complete with illustrations just as offbeat as the songs. It was my kind of humor and I thoroughly enjoyed browsing through it while listening to the music. (Does that mean my sense if humor is that of an elementary-aged kid?)
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Rise and Shine is one of the newest releases from Little Monster Records, an indie kid’s music label based in Woodstock, NY. Last February I reviewed another release from Little Monster Records (Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine) so it was no surprise how much I enjoyed Rise and Shine by Key Wilde and Mr Clarke. Definitely add it to your current collection of children’s CDs. Now.—Emily

* Promotion! Little Monster Records is offering Daily Dish readers a really awesome deal on Rise and Shine. Our readers can buy the book/CD combo for $9.98 and receive a free video download! You must click here or click below to purchase a copy of Rise and Shine for yourself your kids at this special price:

Get it Now!



*** Giveaway Little Monster Records is giving away two (2) copies of Rise and Shine! Here’s how to enter. You can do as many of these as you’d like. Each one is worth one entry into our giveaway; please leave a comment for each one you do:

•  Listen to Rise and Shine in the widget above and leave a comment telling us your favorite track.
•  Become a fan of Little Monster Records on Facebook and leave a comment telling us you joined.
•  Follow Little Monster Records on Twitter and leave a comment telling is you’re their newest follower.
•  Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL of your tweet.
•  Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with the URL to your blog post.

Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: February 4, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Melanie M. and Wehaf U., the winners of the Rise and Shine 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!

All the world’s a playground

August 11th, 2009

At least when it comes to Putumayo Kids and their collection of Playground CDs! We’ve reviewed quite a few Putumayo Kids CDs and the reason I keep featuring them on the Daily Dish is because I truly enjoy each and every one. But it’s not just about how parent-friendly I find these children’s CDs; it’s about how much I enjoy introducing my kids to fun, danceable, multicultural music.

The two newest additions to Putumayo Kids’ Playground collection is European Playground and Picnic Playground. European Playground is a fun romp across Europe with stops in places like Switzerland, France, Germany, England and Sweden…and the trip doesn’t stop there. I mentioned 15 songs so you’ll be transported to 15 different countries with their own unique sounds. My favorites are “Den Kanei Krio” from Greece, “Trampolin” from Finland and “Tudom Én Már Mit Csinálok” from Hungary.

Here is a wonderful video from London-based Herbie Treehead, who is featured on European Playground. His “Change Song” “explores a universal theme in a fresh, new way … notingm ‘We all have to change sometimes!’”

Herbie Treehead – “Change Song” from Putumayo World Music on Vimeo.

As much as I love European Playground I prefer to sink my teeth into Picnic Playground. Anything that involves music, fun and food from a variety of countries is super sweet to my ears! From the first song (“Eat Like a Rainbow”) to the last (“Milch”) you and your kids will be movin’ and groovin’ to songs from all over the world all about healthy eating. Usually on a CD there’s a song or two you don’t mind skipping but on this one, you’ll want to eat up each and every one. It’s all very picnic-y, and with a few weeks of summer still left, that means you still have some time to head outdoors with some cold chicken, potato salad and the sounds of Picnic Playground. Of course, with the long winter months we have in Utah we’ll be bustin’ out this CD in January for an indoor picnic so we can chase away those wintertime blues!

Right now Putumayo Kids is having a contest to celebrate the release of Picnic Playground! You can submit your favorite recipes here for the Picnic Playground Recipe Contest. The contest ends August 25th so hurry! Entries will be judged on 1) Originality 2) Cultural relevance 3) Kid-friendly appeal. The top 3 recipe winners will receive the Putumayo Kids CD collection and the winning recipes will be featured here on putumayokids.com!—Emily

*** Giveaway Putumayo Kids is giving away two sets of their European and Picnic Playground CDs! Please visit the Putumayo Kids website and listen to a few of their catchy tunes. Leave a comment telling us your favorite song from either European Playground or Picnic Playground; include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winners from the comments and contact them via email. Deadline: August 18, 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 URL to your tweet!

** For another extra entry, blog about this giveaway and leave a separate comment with a link to your blog!

  • Congratulations to Sky and Jen, the winners of the Putumayo Kids 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!

The mini acoustic with major appeal

May 27th, 2009

A while back I wrote a review about Little First Act Discovery’s Xander Xylophone and in the process discovered another of First Act’s product lines, First Act Discovery. First Act Discovery basically offers scaled-down versions of the company’s musical instruments so little hands can have an easier time strumming their strings.

The line includes guitars, from acoustic to electric, drums, tambourines, a grand piano and even an accordion! George received First Act Discovery’s 30” Mini Acoustic with a natural finish (pictured above on the right). This particular guitar is especially sized for younger musicians: “The classic dreadnought-shaped hardwood body is thin and comfortable with great sound and projection, while the hardwood neck features a zero fret to ensure low string height and excellent playability.” It also has steel strings, string post covers with handy little stickers and these little Learn-a-Chord cards, which you can slip under the strings as a sort of cheat sheet for learning chords.

The guitar was a big hit the minute it arrived. When George wasn’t walking all over the house with the guitar and practically sleeping with it I would catch my husband strumming away (see photo as evidence) and my 11-year-old daughter even taught herself a song. It held up fairly well to the abuse my three-year-old put it through, which included carrying it horizontally while walking down our narrow hallway no matter how many times I showed him a better way to do so. The guitar’s pick guard did start to peel away from the body and we did have to restring a couple strings, but considering what this baby went through, that’s not half bad.

I really love the idea behind the First Act Discovery line since I’m a big fan of music at an early age, but usually that means piano or violin or some other string instrument. It’s not often you find things like a “real” drum set, electric guitar or a super cool accordion sized for mini musicians! A 30” Mini Acoustic Guitar from First Act Discovery? $30. Watching George rock out to the Imagination Movers? Priceless!—Emily

Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum, this little CD is fun, fun, fun!

February 17th, 2009

Robbert BobbertAfter listening and loving Justin Roberts’ Pop Fly CD I knew the next children’s CD our family reviewed had a tough act to follow. We were still dancing around to Pop Fly when we received Robert Schneider’s Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine. Would this “kindie” rock CD measure up? Could we make the switch? The answer to both those questions is “yes!”

First, a little background. Robert Schneider (aka Robbert Bobbert) is the mind behind The Apples in Stero, one of indie rock’s original music groups. He has a huge following, and not only for his music. Schneider is also known for his amazing mathematical mind and has been a featured speaker twice at the Mathematical Association of America’s bi-annual MathFest. Some may think that makes him a bit of a nerd; me, I think that makes him super cool!

Robbert BobbertFor Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine, his first children’s CD, Schneider worked extra hard at being creative, even throwing out traditional instruments in favor of more “colorful” noises. Robbert Bobbert is actually an inventor/scientist and the CD includes a funny comic book introducing kids and parents to this new character. We found out the CD also has a fun little coloring book with the words to the songs so my kids could sing along. So what did we think?

  • My oldest daughter: “I think it is a really good CD. I really like the tunes; they have really funny words. My favorite song is ‘Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum.’” (And she really liked “I Am a Clock” because she played that one quite often!)

  • My second-oldest daughter: “I didn’t really listen to it. But I do like the mouse song (‘Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum’).”

  • Me: To be honest, Pop Fly rocks my kindie rock world just a little bit more than Robbert Bobbert, but I still really enjoyed the CD. My least favorite song was my kids’ favorite “Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum,” but I found it stuck in my head and couldn’t stop singing it to my littlest one, making her laugh every single time. I did enjoy “We R Super Heroes” and found myself doing a little mini head banging to that one. My favorite thing about Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine? The inscription on the inside of the CD flap:

I hope you like my new invention,
the shiny circle sound extension.
It plays my music through the air
just as if I were right there.
First, put the circle in the machine
then eat a purple jelly bean*
then turn the song releasing knobbert.
Your friend,
Robbert Bobbert

  • Jelly bean not included

You can listen to some samples of Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine on Robbert Bobbert’s MySpace page. You’ll find it the perfect addition to your current “kindie” rock collection, and don’t be surprised if you’re singing “Fee Fi Fo, Fee Fi Fum” to your litte lones!—Emily

** Giveaway! Little Monster Records is giving away 3 copies of the Robbert Bobbert & The Bubble Machine CD! Visit Robbert Bobbert’s MySpace page and listen to “I Love Animals,” then leave a comment telling us something else (besides animals) he loves. Include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: February 24, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Lisa L., the winner of the Robbert Bobbert 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!

Pop Fly hits a home run with my kids

January 26th, 2009

Pop FlyWe love a good CD, especially if it encourages family-room dance parties. Whether it’s Putumayo Kids’ Brazilian Playground or ABBA’s ABBA Gold, if it makes us move and groove without getting on Mom’s nerves (sorry to say many children’s CDs do that) it’s added to the collection. Well, we just added Pop Fly and I highly recommend you do the same. Yes, it’s a children’s CD but the fact that I’m a fan should tell you it’s really, really good.

Pop FlyThe man behind Pop Fly is Justin Roberts. Apparently this guy had another big hit in 2006 with Meltdown (his 5th CD—where have I been?). After listening to Pop Fly I’m sorry I missed that one; I’m seriously considering buying it. But back to the CD at hand…Pop Fly is Justin’s 6th CD and a wonderful example of his “kindie” rock style (think of it as family indie rock). “Pop Fly,” the title song is all about the “occasional triumphs of a distracted outfielder” and is probably my most favorite; it really gets us moving! A couple songs later you have “Henrietta’s Hair” (my youngest daughter’s favorite) about the imaginative creatures living inside Henrietta’s hair. I don’t think my kids ever skip a song when listening to Pop Fly; I can’t say the same for some other CDs in our collection.

My family’s not alone when it comes to being fans of Justin Roberts’ new CD. Pop Fly was selected as one of Amazon.com’s “Best Children’s Albums of 2008.” To make the Top 10 list on Amazon.com is quite the accomplishment and yet no surprise once you’ve listened to Justin’s music. Don’t take it from me; here are some recent quotes from some very reliable sources:

  • Los Angeles Times: “Childhood observed with wit and empathy and one of the most mellow rock ‘n roll voices around. Roberts weaves deft lyrics through layers of beautiful sound.” – Lynne Heffley

  • Out with the Kids: “Without a doubt, the greatest children’s record ever made.”

  • My oldest daughter: “Awesome! Cool! Awesome again! Fun! The first time I heard it I played it over and over again because I liked it so much. My favorite song would probably be all of them—it’s so hard to choose. Plus it’s a great CD to listen to while folding your underwear.”

  • My second-oldest daughter:“I haven’t heard many of the songs except for ‘Pop Fly’ or ‘Henrietta’s Hair’ but I really like ‘Pop Fly’ because it’s a very good tune and very easy to sing along to and easy to remember. And ‘Henrietta’s Hair’ is a very cute song. It has very good details and is really funny about all the bugs.”

If you too find yourself hosting in-house dance parties for the entire family and would like to dance to something other than Now That’s What I Call Music 4,002 (okay, it’s only up to 29), you just HAVE to pick up Justin Roberts’ Pop Fly. One Pop Fly CD…$14. A child folding her own clothes…priceless.—Emily

*** Giveaway! We are giving away one copy of Justin Roberts’ Pop Fly CD! Visit Justin’s website and read his bio. Then return and leave a comment telling us what you found most interesting about him and/or his music; please include a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winner from the comments and contact her via email. Deadline: February 2, 2009 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to Jennifer B., the winner of the Pop Fly CD 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!
  • Congratulations to Jennifer B., the winner of the Pop Fly 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!

Come and play…with Sesame Street Playground

October 28th, 2008

Putumayo KidsYAY! Another Putumayo Kids review! And I say that totally seriously. I love Putumayo Kids and their international collection of wonderfully fun children’s CDs. Don’t believe me? Just type “Putumayo” in the search box and you’ll read my past reviews.

The newest installment comes just in time as the perfect non-annoying, non-toyroom-cluttering children’s gift for the holidays. Sesame Street Playground is a CD/DVD set that features songs and music videos from Sesame Street productions around the world—that’s right, around the world! I had no idea Sesame Street was produced in other countries (naive, I know). The goal of this new compilation is “to reach children worldwide and help children learn about and respect other cultures.” This CD is the first globally distributed Sesame Workshop audio CD. Cool!

Putumayo KidsEach song and video on Sesame Street Playground is actually produced in its country of origin. You can listen to songs from Brazil and France to Palestine and Tanzania. And don’t worry, you can still sing along to “Rubber Ducky” but this time you and the kids get to sing in Chinese! The DVD lets children experience new sounds, characters and styles of music from other cultures. You have Elmo, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus joining the rest of the Sesame Street family and five music videos featuring distant places like Russia, South Africa and Mexico. You can visit the website to view some of the fun videos from the DVD. I found this YouTube treasure showing an interview with Elmo on the Bonnie Hunt show where Elmo talked about Sesame Street Playground:

We have a copy of the Sesame Street Playground CD and it’s as fun as our other Playground CDs, perhaps even more so since my kids recognize a few of the tunes. In true Putumayo style, this CD—even being Sesame Street—is easy on my ears, which means I’m more willing to play it when they ask me too! Our family is trying to give more meaningful, less mass-market gifts during the holidays and Sesame Street Playground is a perfect fit!—Emily

** Giveaway! Putumayo Kids is giving away 10 copies of their new Sesame Street Playground! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winners from the comments and contact them via email. Deadline: November 5, 2008 (midnight). The winner will have 24 hours to claim her prize or a new winner will be chosen.

  • Congratulations to the five women who commented below. They are the winners of the Sesame Street Playground collection! 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!

The “sweet” MP3 player for toddlers

September 28th, 2008

SweetPea3I know, I know, an MP3 player for toddlers seems as bad an idea as a cell phone for pre-schoolers, but after reading this review I’m pretty sure you’ll be adding the SweetPea3 MP3 player to your holiday shopping list!

SweetPea3I’ve often thought it would be nice for my three-year-old to be able to listen to books on tape or his favorite children’s music while riding in the car. I’m on of those moms who rarely pops in a children’s tape (yep, tape…no CD player in my ‘95 Odyssey) while driving. The noise level in the car with two tween girls is nerve-fraying enough without Disney’s Silly Songs blaring over the speakers. But even the simple CD and MP3 players my girls own are still too complex for my toddler, and I’d rather not have him watching movies every time we go further than Costco. We finally have a totally toddler-friendly option with our new SweetPea3 MP3 player from SweetPea Toy Co.

I don’t feel bad about my toddler toting his own MP3 player because he’s learning music appreciation in a whole new way—and he loves it! The first day we had it he carried that thing around only putting it down to eat and bathe. Even at his young age he easily figured out how to work the three—yes, only three—buttons (rewind, stop, fast forward). It has a rubbery yet solid exterior so it can be bumped, banged and tossed around, which I guarantee will happen, and a size that makes it hard to lose. And even though it has the three simple controls for toddlers, parents can access a menu to control volume (settings 1-5 and 5 isn’t too loud for little ears), playlists and play duration. Along with a headphone jack the SweetPea3 has a built-in speaker so everyone can enjoy listening in. (I made sure to load mom-friendly children’s songs just for that reason!)

SweetPea3You can download songs and stories just as you would for any other MP3 player. I had three separate playlists loaded in minutes! But the SweetPea3 goes beyond toddlers; you can even use it to soothe your overtired baby with calming music. My tween girls couldn’t wait until their little brother fell asleep so they could check out his new toy and our one-year-old has laid claim to it as well. Good thing the player’s enclosure is made from rubber that meets FDA food grade specifications. In fact the entire unit is lead free and exceeds the requirements of ASTM F963 Toy Safety Specification—good news in today’s world of unsafe children’s products.

Though designed to withstand all a toddler can throw at it, the SweetPea3 player looks cool. No bright primary colors and clunky parts. It would even look good on my grown-up desk. Hmmm…maybe I need to create my own playlist and borrow the player when its owner is in bed for the night! The SweetPea3 is sure to be a very hot item this holiday season so order it early before it’s out of stock. At only $60 and a 3-day money-back guarantee, the SweetPea3 is one super sweet buy!—Emily

African Dreamland, another sweet dream from Putumayo Kids

May 28th, 2008

African DreamlandI never get tired of reviewing Putumayo World Music’s new releases. I don’t buy a lot of children’s CDs; in fact, I think Raffi’s Bananaphone was the last one I purchased. For me the amount of children’s music out there is overwhelming, but if I were to buy a CD or two I would want the most bang for my buck (i.e. something Mom actually enjoys hearing over and over again). And if the music exposes my children to other cultures, that’s just icing on the cake. No wonder I absolutely love Putumayo Kids and their Dreamland and Playground collections.

African DreamlandTheir latest in the Dreamland collection is a relaxing, soothing compilation of African music. African Dreamland is the fourth CD and just as interesting yet calming as the other three (Dreamland, Asian Dreamland and Celtic Dreamland). African Dreamland’s soothing sounds feature vocal and instrumental blends from Cameroon to Cape Verde. Putumayo calls it a “cultural lullaby experience” and the CD lives up to its claim. I’ve actually been a fan of African music ever since I saw The Power of One and bought the soundtrack (“Penny Whistle Song” is one of my all-time favorites), and I fell in love with the music all over again after listening to African Dreamland.

African DreamlandThe CD also features new artists as well as longtime Putumayo favorites: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Toumani Diabaté and Samite. New artist Mapumba, from the Congo, and Chiwoniso, from Zimbabwe, are featured not only on African Dreamland but also on African Party, which celebrates Putumayo World Music’s 15th Anniversary. If introducing your children to other cultures is important to you, then add African Dreamland and a few other Putumayo Kids CDs to your collection. You never know…they may actually prefer them to the Disney culture they know so well.—Emily

P.S. A portion of proceeds from the sale of African Dreamland will be donated to NextAid, a non-profit organization committed to developing and implementing innovative solutions to the challenges facing African children.

** Giveaway! Putumayo Kids is giving away 3 copies of African Dreamland! Please leave a comment with a valid email address for our drawing. We’ll draw the winners from the comments and contact them via email. Deadline: June 5, 2008 (midnight). The winners will have 24 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be chosen.

** Congratulations to Michelle R., Suzanne B. and Cindi H., the winners of the Putumayo 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!

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