Disney On Ice presents 100 Years of Magic #Giveaway! #NY #NJ

Giveaway has been sponsored. All opinions are a 100% my own.

Over 60 characters from 18 beloved stories come to life before you.  It is both captivating for children and adults.  A magical experience for the whole family.  Bring your little ones dressed as their favorite characters and come celebrate the magic.  Since we loved our first Disney On Ice show, Let's Celebrate and loved it, we are excited that Disney On Ice presents 100 Years of Magic will be playing in the tri-state are in January.  Expect to see favorites like Mickey, Minnie, Disney Princesses, Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jimmy, Pinocchio, Timon, Pumba, Stitch, Nemo, and many more!

Show times & locations:
Uniondale NY
January 9, 2014 Thursday    7PM
January 10, 2014 Friday       7PM
January 11, 2014 Saturday   11AM, 3PM, 7PM
January 12, 2014 Sunday      1PM, 5PM 

Brooklyn, NY
January 22, 2014 Wednesday 7:30PM
January 23, 2014 Thursday    4PM, 7:30PM
January 25, 2014 Saturday     7:30 PM
January 26, 2014 Sunday       11AM, 3PM, 7PM

New Jersey
IZOD Center
January 3, 2014 Friday           7PM
January 4, 2014 Saturday       11AM, 3PM, 7PM
January 5, 2014 Sunday         11AM, 3PM, 7PM

Prudential Center:
January 15, 2014 Wednesday 7PM
January 16, 2014 Thursday     7PM
January 17, 2014 Friday          7PM
January 18, 2014 Saturday      1PM, 5PM
January 19, 2014 Sunday        1PM, 5PM
January 20, 2014 Monday       1PM

Win a family four pack of tickets to Disney On Ice presents 100 Years of Magic for opening night!  Enter below.  Giveaway will run until the 27th, so this is a short and quick giveaway.  Share and enter today! Good luck!! :)
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/17ff6127/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOVICA - New Premium Gift Wrap #Review #Giveaway

This post has been sponsored by NOVICA.  All opinions are a 100% my own.
I love shopping at NOVICA for so many reasons as you know from my previous posts and I just got another reason as they introduced Premium Gift Wrapping.  As you may know already they give you the option to gift wrap for free, but then now there's a step up from that to help you add that special touch to your order.  You simply select at checkout with an extra charge of  $3.95 - 5.95, your beautiful item will arrive uniquely packaged ready to gift.  The gift wrapping is available from Thailand, Bali and India at the moment, it is all wrapped by hand in a unique packaging.  It is an amazing feeling and experience shopping from NOVICA as you get your items shipped directly from the artists, who by the way are extremely talented.  You get a note from the artist, and a note with details about your item.  It's great to be able to use NOVICA, a fair trade artisan websites that works with National Geographic that give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market.  Stroll around on their website, and see what it's all about yourself.   
All the items I have ordered from NOVICA, has always delivered!  It is unique and great in quality, so to have this addition is exciting.  If you have someone on your shopping list still, check out their "gift finder" to help you select those gifts now and all year round.  I am confident that you will be pleased with your order and beautiful gift wrapping.  I will have to post photos of the items I have ordered when I have better lighting to feature the beauty of the items.  There's just something about giving presents that is just so much fun, and now shopping for gifts at NOVICA has gotten so much sweeter.

Enter below to win a $40 code so you can try out the Premium Gift Wrapping for yourself! 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/17ff6126/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

TRACKS AIR Wireless Headphones by SOL REPUBLIC x Motorola #MustHave #Review #Giveaway

Nothing I've tried compares to the TRACKS AIR wireless headphones by SOL REPUBLIC x Motorola.  You don't have to be tech savvy to figure it, it is one gift good for everyone in your family.  Everything you could ask for in headphones, I have nothing negative to say.  I have tried many different headphones, and while I love many of the ones I already have - this one has become our whole family's favorite.

Super-power wireless.  The headphones come with wires, if for whatever reason you want to use wires, but you can have incredible sound without the wires for up to 150 feet whether at home or on the go.  A2 Sound Engine allows music to come equal to better quality than wired, I have to say the quality is crisp clear sound for entertainment and to chat.  It isn't just a wireless headphone, it has capabilities that the wired headphone doesn't have.  You can connect multiple devices; watch a movie on your tablet and answer a call coming from your phone with a touch of a button using the crystal-clear noise reduction dual microphones.  The EasyPair Bluetooth and NFC compatibility allows for easy connection to your devices.  Connecting takes seconds!  What blew me away after using it every night for a week was it's battery life.  One thing I can't stand with new gadgets these days is battery life, and the SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Air wireless headphones is USB rechargeable and delivers up to 15 hours of playtime on a full charge.  It is also customizable as you can swap in different colors of PowerTrack headbands and change your style (available in 2014), it is the only interchangeable wireless headphones.  My son has done his educational games in the car, I have watched movies in the night in the bed without dealing with wires, and my husband has praised the sound quality when using it - it is loved by everyone in our family.

It is the perfect gift for anyone in your family this holiday season.  You can pick one up for $200, and that includes one year warranty.  Which in comparison to everything else tech out there, including headphones, I think these are well worth every penny - and I usually don't like to spend too much on gadgets.  I'm so excited to offer you a chance to enter to win one below! 
Good luck!

     http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/17ff6124/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Holiday Spectacs - Bring Your Holiday Lights to Life!

I received the item/s for the purpose of review, no other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own.
Holiday Spectacs are 3d lenses that bring your holiday lights to life!  You simply place them on, as you would movie theatre 3d glasses and look through them to see the magic happen.  It transforms any decorative (Christmas for example) to a unique image.  All your ordinary lights will appear as a snowman, a snowflake, a reindeer..you name it!  There are so many choices, it's simply exciting.
First image above is regular, second is a snowman, third is a snowflake, and the last one is a reindeer.  My attempt at showing you how it appears through these paper 3d glasses called Holiday Specs.  It looks allot clearer with more detail when you look through it. 

I don't know what it is about lights that just gets everyone happy during the holidays, imagine that excitement amplified.  I genuinely wanted to squeal in joy the first time I tried these on, it must've been the kid in me.  These are great for party favors, and party fun for everyone.  On the Holiday Specs website it states the following:
"A surprise for your eyes, HOLIDAY SPECS are a one-of-a-kind holiday favorite - perfect for everyone.
With over 10,000,000 sold around the globe, our special holographic lenses miraculously transform Christmas lights into magical figures of angels, stars, snowflakes, elves, reindeer, snowmen and even Santa!
Brightly printed and inexpensive,
 3D Christmas Glasses are great stocking stuffers & party favors for this season.
Perfect for kids, teachers, family members, the neighbors, the mailman - ANYONE!

I have been missing out all this time.  It is a true hit with everyone that has tried it out so far, I can't wait to let my whole family try it out come Christmas.  You should give these a try, learn more and purchase them online here.  Also if you head over to Holiday Specs Facebook page, there seems to be a photo contest you may want to check out and enter!

Holiday Essentials at Duane Reade! #DRHolidayGuide #shop #cbias

*I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
You guys all know that I love Duane Reade all year round, it's not only because I can find just about everything I need on a day to day basis, but on different holiday seasons as well.  On my recent shopping trip for gift boxes and ornaments for our tree, I noticed that if needed I could completely depend on Duane Reade for my whole holiday season essentials.  Everything from cosmetics for women, toys for kids, gadgets for men, tons of treats, everything down to the gift wrapping essentials can be found there.  The seasonal aisle is always fun, and my shopping buddy's (my son) favorite.  I wanted to share some of the items that caught our attention during our shopping trip, and perhaps inspiration for you if you are still shopping for some holiday items whether decorations for your home, treats for the table, or even a gift you still need to check off your list.
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
All over the store you can find the perfect stocking stuffers, along with the stockings and of course what's a stocked stuffing without a favorite holiday treat?  Plenty to choose from, our favorite is the candy cane.  Great for decorating around the home, placing on holiday cards, stockings and more.   
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
The seasonal section is full of plush friendly faces right now. 
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
This adorable little bear made me want it, I think I have to go back and get one for my little niece.  It's a bear that comes with matching slippers.

I had to grab this guy up to have around our home, singing and dancing!  "Moose Like Jagger."
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
I love the seasonal section, but also note that sections that are always available might also have the perfect gift you are looking for.  Rice cooker, toaster oven, a blender, an iron, hairdryers all that would be perfect presents for a co-worker, or simply a friend you know that needs one.  Have a girl for a Secret Santa this year, how about a hairdryer?  Add hair accessories, shampoo/conditioner, and the present is complete.
#DRHolidayGuide #shop
I was there for extra garlands, ornaments and square boxes which I picked up, and picked up some ideas for my Secret Santa this year..although I can't tell you since it's a secret.
#DRHolidayGuide #shopI went in looking for a square box, and walked out with lots more - and even more ideas that may require another visit, hope you did from my shopping trip as well.  Happy shopping, and as you can see shopping can be an easy task whether you are decorating, getting some holiday treats, picking up a gift for someone, or even shopping for a tree at Duane Reade!

Show Off Your Duane Reade Party Legs! #DRPartyLegs #shop #cbias

*I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
#DRPartyLegs #shop
It is that time of year, the time of year I get to dress up.  Something about having holiday decorations, holiday music, and family time that just makes dressing up extra fun.  It's not like summer when you put on a cute light dress, when it's cold out you put on that extra effort  and nothing completes that look like the perfect hosiery.  Time to let down my pony tail, take off the jammies, grab that dress I've had in my closet all year long, grab my heels, and complete my look with Duane Reade tights.  Ever since the beginning of fall I have been wearing Duane Reade hosiery at least once a week, and now that it is colder I just wear one solid black one under the patterned ones I have.  I give credit to having a daughter that I dress up in little baby tights and cute dresses that has inspired me to take care of myself more.  You need inspiration to show off your legs this season?  How about the "Show Us Your Party Legs" Facebook contest on Duane Reade's Facebook page.
#DRPartyLegs #shop
I visited Duane Reade recently to prepare myself for any occasions I may need to dress up.  I picked up some items from the cosmetics section first, and headed to the hosiery section.
#DRPartyLegs #shop
Duane Reade has the perfect assortment of legwear great for everyday and for special occasions.  I always have fun picking out from the selections as it isn't too much to choose from, yet just enough of a selection.
#DRPartyLegs #shop
 Here's one of my selections this time around.
This photo so simple yet the perfect hosiery makes such an impact don't you think?  This has to be one of my very favorite patterns so far.  A little black dress, heels, and wouldn't the look be complete?  You can see the other patterns I've chosen in the past in a previous post here.  Be sure to pick yourself up one or two, dress up for the holidays and enter the contest, be sure to click on the "Show us your Party Legs" tab on the Duane Reade Facebook page..  Find out the details and if eligible you could win some amazing prizes including gift cards to Broadway.com, Mr. Chows, Duane Reade, and even a limousine ride.  Guys this one is a must enter, if you can't enter, share with friends and family so they can win.  Speaking of winning, join in the #DRPartyLegs twitter party on December 16, 2013 at 8pm EST, RSVP here.

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies #SweetCreations

Who doesn't love chocolate?  I know I love chocolate which is why I decided to make chocolate chocolate cookies.  These are top 8 allergen free so that my whole family can enjoy them as well.  Like a regular cookie but with chocolate chips melted in and a drop of chocolate in the center.
It took some tweaking, but one thing I have learned with experience is that the right tools in the kitchen can make a world of a difference.  I had Sweet Creations by Good Cook products that made it fun and convenient..more than baking is already!  If you bake at all, you know the saying "baking is a science and cooking is an art," which is why measurements are so important.  The High-temp Spatula with measurement markings is a wonderful tool to have and will save you from making any mistakes with measurements while conveniently doing what a handy spatula does.  Mixing bowls are essential when baking, even better if they have a great look and grip to them like the Sweet Mixing bowls.  The Cookie Dropper is something I didn't even know existed and now can't bake cookies without - it scoops the perfect amount of cookie for you.  I loved it for scooping chocolate filling in the center of the cookies.  And of course along with the fun Cookie Cutters that have handles and many fun shapes, is the very essential item for baking cookies - the Large Cookie Sheet.    
Have three bowls in three different sizes handy.
Mix in the smallest bowl you have:
Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 1 tablespoon and a half of coconut water or dairy free milk of choice
Whisk the following ingredients in one medium bowl:
1 1/4 cups of gluten free flour mix
1/4 baking soda
a pinch of salt
In the largest bowl you have, mix the following with hand mixer or stand mixer in medium until fluffy and well blended:
1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (dairy-free)
1/4 cup of organic granulated sugar
3 full tablespoon of dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Take the smallest bowl with egg replacer and mix in with the wet ingredients.  Then in three to four parts mix in the dry into the wet.  Add about 1/2 cup or less of coconut water - tablespoon at a time, mixing until you get the consistency that is moldable but not completely wet or crumbly.
-for the extra chocolate cookie, add 2-3 tablespoon of chocolate chips and fold in gently.
Ball out tablespoon amounts and place on your baking sheet.  Bake on 350 for about 6 minutes.  Have a bowl of cold water handy, dip your finger in to make a well in the center of cookies.  Melt a 1/2 cup of dairy free chocolate chips, and scoop out on teaspoon into the center of each cookie.  Place back into oven - bake another 5 minutes at 350.  Let cookie cool before enjoying, if you like "half baked" effect enjoy them in 2 minutes like we did.
To find more delicious recipes in the "Good Cook Cookie Exchange" follow hashtags #goodcookcom #goodcookkitchenexprt and #sweetcreations on Twitter, and of course follow @goodcookcom.  Shop online at GoodCook.com for any Sweet Creations Halloween product, and use code: COOKIES for a 5% off.  Also head on over to Good Cook's Facebook page to "like" my cookies and be entered to win one of 10 Cookie Kits from Good Cook. 


Make a Rocket Out of a Plastic Juice Bottle #KidsCrafts

It was a cold day out and my son was hanging out with me in the kitchen when he decided he really wanted to make something with the orange juice bottle that was empty.  He started to scribble on it, and suggest how he wanted to make a rocket.
One thing lead to another, and here we had a rocket.  We simply wrapped the bottle with aluminum foil, he cut out circles for windows out of blue Duct tape, cut out wings out of cardboard also found in the recycle bin.  Taped on bendy straws for the "blasting off" effect he was looking for.  He later wanted extra length so he added a plastic cup and covered the area with foil once again.
Super easy, and lots of fun.
You will need:
Juice bottle (shaped like above)
Paper/Marker/Blue tape - for windows

It's pretty simple, let your imagination fly.  :)

Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers Into a Delicious Wrap

Did you have leftovers this Thanksgiving? We didn't have much but one thing we always end up having for sure is some rice, salad leftovers, and turkey. It doesn't have to be much, but I've got a way to make something that not only tastes good but to make sure you don't waste any food.  Completely top 8 allergen and gluten free "cheesy bread," topped with rice and light vegetables.
For the filling you will use whatever delicious leftovers you have.
I had white rice, capers, olives, bacon bits, raw carrot I shredded, and of course turkey I cut up/shredded.

For the delicious allergy friendly bread. I took some dairy free Daiya mozzarella cheese and let it melt and crisp up in the pan.  Enough to cover the whole pan surface.
Scoop out a half a cup of all purpose flour. (I used a tablespoon of Bobs Red Mill gluten & wheat free All Purpose Flour AND the rest gluten free King Arthur's All Purpose Flour)
Mix well.
Pour half a cup of milk and stir well. ( I used dairy free hemp milk)

Make sure to have pan nice and hot so dough gets crispy. Pour slowly all over melted and crispy "cheese." Let it cook and crisp, and flip.  Secret ingredient if you have any *bacon fat* I had from cooking some dishes with bacon. Take tiny bits and let melt along the sides, it adds a bit of flavor and makes the dough crispier.

Remove the bread, and toss in your leftovers and stir fry for about a minute to heat up. And enjoy.

Sometimes it's about having the right tools and products that help you be a better cook in the kitchen, and this year I was so thankful to have had some great products from Good Cook.  This recipe is #87 in the line up of 101 Thanksgiving Leftover recipes on the Good Cook site.

Zombelina by Kristyn Crow #ChildrensBook

*I received the item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own.
Zombelina, an adorable book about a young zombie girl who loves to dance, but then faces stage fright when it came to perform in front of an audience.  Seemingly only appropriate for Halloween season, it isn't a bit scary and a great addition to a children's book collection to have all year round.  At first my son said that the book must be for girls but showed interest because of the emphasis on the "zombie," but in the end loved the book.  A great stocking stuffer or great gift for that little book worm in your family this holiday season.

"Zombelina loves to dance. She moonwalks with mummies and boogies with bats. She spins like a specter and glides like a ghost and loves to dance for her family the most. When Zombelina enrolls in a ballet class for real girls, her dancing gives everyone the chills! But when her first recital brings on a case of stage fright, her zombie moans and ghoulish groans scare her audience away. Only her devoted family's cheers, in their special spooky way, help Zombelina dance the ballet debut of her dreams."

My 5 year old loved it, and so did my 9 year old niece.  Beautifully written, catches a beginner readers attention with rhyme and great story telling while being an adorable unique family story that makes it fun for anyone to read.  In the end of the book my son laughed and said "sometimes only your family understands you," he's absolutely right, and I loved that this book made my son say that.  Get yours today on Amazon.

Enjoy Life Foods Dark Chocolate Morsels! #top8free #foodallergies #glutenfree

*I received the item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided.  My opinions are a 100% my own. 
I have been a fan of Enjoy Life Foods since the day I discovered them in search of safe foods for my son a few years back.  They are the reason my son is able to have a chocolate chip cookie, or chocolate dipped..anything!  I first tried their chocolate chips and fell in love..soon after I tried their chocolate chunks - and of course loved them too.  Both so versatile, and I though that was it..until I was recently introduced to the chocolate morsels!  It is Dark Chocolate Morsels that take away any sadness you may be feeling about having a restricted diet.  Because for the moments that the chocolate is melting in your mouth, and your senses pause just for a moment to only taste that rich chocolate taste..well that's it, that's all you remember.  Never mind anything else you can't have, all you'll care about is that you can have these!  These are bigger than the chocolate chips in size, and smaller than the chocolate chunks. 

Unsweetened chocolate and cane sugar, that's it for the ingredients list!  And for those that may not know it is top allergen free, if you have food allergies check out the rest of their products as well.

Melt them and make into a chocolate bar, have it by the handfuls, bake with them..enjoy it how you want, but just enjoy.  That's what Enjoy Life Foods would want you to do.  I haven't been a complete fan of the changes Enjoy Life Foods have gone through in the past year because due to a change of ingredients my son said goodbye to snack bars he loved, but this kind of change, I approve.  I love the chocolate chips, the chunks, the morsels - and hope the ingredients don't ever change.  Thank you to Enjoy Life Foods for another delicious addition that means oh so much to us.

Zing Toys Air Huntress Z-Curve Bow #Review #Giveaway

I received the item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided. All opinions are a 100% my own.  This giveaway is sponsored by Zing Toys.
*giveaway has been added to this post*
Girl power anyone?  The first time I saw the Air Huntress Z-Curve Bow, I noticed all the sparkles!  I've seen the green and blue bow before, but this was so "girly" with pink, purple and sparkle.  Who said you can't have the sparkle and be sporty too?!  With the Air Huntress Z-Curve Bow kids could start their way into the sport of archery by being able to practice indoors and outdoors, safely. 
It can launch soft-foam ammo over 125 feet, it comes with Z-Arrows and stick-anywhere suction cup Zartz.  What I love about it, besides being so fun for adults and kids is that it's safe and easy to use.  My son has the older version of the Z-curve bow and have been using it since he was four (note:suggested age 8+)..which also brings me to quality.  It has been used throughout the year and still in good condition which I'm sure like the rest of the Zing Toys, it is the quality the Air Huntress shares as well.
Absolutely at the top of my list of top toys to give to a girl this holiday season; lots of fun, great price point, and great quality.  Learn more including where to purchase here, and enter below to win one!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/17ff6123/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

There's Still a Chance to See Disney On Ice Let's Celebrate! #DisneyOnIce #LetsCelebrate

I received complimentary tickets for the show.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own. 
We went to see Disney On Ice Let's Celebrate, and loved every moment!  Although I attended the sneak preview event at Grand Central Vanderbilt Hall earlier this month and had an idea of what to expect, to see the whole show it blew me away.

"sneak peak" of what to expect at a Disney On Ice Let's Celebrate show
The little girl in me couldn't help but keep a smile the whole time, and my children including my one year old loved it!  The classics and then some.  Truly a magical show, one full of celebrations.  Who isn't a Disney fan, but even if there's a chance, they'd enjoy the ice skating performed by the artists. 
I've never been to any Disney On Ice shows before but I have been to other live shows, and this beat many by far.  I absolutely recommend it, and could tell you all the children sitting around us seemed to really love it as well (and as much as the adults).  Many little girls had their princess costumes, it was adorable.  If you are or will be in the tri-state area, there is still time to catch a show:

Prudential Center in Newark, NJ (November 20-24)  
IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ (November 26 -December 1)
"Background:Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate!
It’s one colossal party on ice, with all your favorite Disney friends! Join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; Mardi Gras with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with the Disney Princesses; a Hawaiian luau with Lilo & Stitch; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains and more in a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the globe.  Come join the party when this spectacular ice show visits your hometown!"


Super Easy Pumpkin Shaved Ice Treat

I received item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own.  
I have never made anything with pumpkin before, and would almost say never tasted anything either..except I have had pumpkin pie.  So I'll go back to I've never made anything with it before, we actually carved our first pumpkin this year.  So I challenged myself to make something with pumpkin since I recently got a really awesome pumpkin scoop from Good Cook.  It comes with a little knife inside, and scoops so well.
It's the only tool you'll need when working with a pumpkin.
I'm so glad I have this scoop not only is it good for pumpkins, it is great for melons and other squash like fruits and veggies.  Also I'll be better equipped for next years Halloween pumpkin carving with the Good Cook pumpkin scoop, which is also available at Walmart as well as at the goodcook.com

I took 1/4 cup of dairy free coconut cream, 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar and blended it until light and fluffy.
I mixed in some (about 1 cup) of canned pumpkin I bought (since I couldn't find a fresh enough pumpkin to use fresh) slowly, until well blended.
Pour in a bit of orange juice, or mango juice if you want, it also goes very well.  Add any sweet fruit juice you may like to add sweetness.  Honey is another delicious option.  Mix well.
*I tried Apple Cider and it was very good.

Took them and froze in plastic bowls.  

Once frozen, take them out and I used my ice shaver to make delicious shaved ice.  If you don't have one of these, you can freeze thin layers at a time, adding thin layers at a time, then brake it up with a fork and serve.  

Also don't forget to join us on November 25th on twitter for a fun twitter party, follow hashtag #ThanksgivingTips. Click here for more info and how to RSVP.

Johari's Joy by Boots Hensel #BookReview #ChildrensBook

I received item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own.  
Falling in love with a book is possible, even when it is a children's picture book.  Maybe it is the little detail about the author Boots Hensel that captured my attention.  

"Hensel’s first book, The Zoopendous Surprise is based on real life experiences with her daughter Courtney, who worked as a zookeeper with two Asian elephants at the Little Rock Zoo in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"My daughter, Courtney, was the zookeeper for Mary and Ellen, two elephants at the Little Rock Zoo from 2002 to 2004. I visited her often at the zoo and was fortunate to observe these great animals play and interact together. I watched their antics and saw their keen sensitivity first-hand. After Courtney's death from cancer four years ago, I knew I had to write a story about ‘her girls’."

Learning of how she was originally inspired captured my attention, that and the cute story of an unlikely friendship in "Johari's Joy."  Since we started homeschooling this year I looked for different ways to teach my son, and one of our weekly "learning sessions" took place at the zoo, which is probably why he is such a huge animal lover now.  I knew he would love the book, and so he did.

Johari the rhinoceros is alone at the zoo, and so is Joy the pig.  The zookeeper places them together where an unlikely friendship is born.  My son (5) said he believes "it teaches you to not judge by how someone looks from the outside, that even though you could be completely different - you could be the same if you stop and look."

This is a great addition to our library, wonderful artwork by Mark Wayne Adams, and along with an easy to read cute story, it's complete with fun facts and Rhinoceros Jokes in the end.  

Both books are available at Amazon.com and online by visiting www.bootshensel.com

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Twitter Party on November 25, 2013! #ThanksgivingTips

Come join me, Good Cook, The Frugal Mom, and other Good Cook Kitchen Experts!
What: The Ultimate Thanksgiving Twitter Party
When: Monday, November 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm to 7:00pm EST
Where: On Twitter with hashtag #Thanksgivingtips

Join in as we talk about everything Thanksgiving from turkey prep to decorating the table. Plus get a chance to WIN a special gift and one of three $200 Thanksgiving Baskets that will arrive in time for your dinner.  It'll be lots of fun..you don't want to miss it! 

Also, be among the first 500 to RSVP by November 23, 2013 and receive a free set of Turkey Lifters
Click here RSVP.

Tweet you then!! :)

Sunbutter & Jelly Sandwiched Between a Shortbread Cookie and Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate!

*I received item/s for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was provided.
I loved the Sweet Creations by Good Cook tools, and wanted to use them to make something different from what they are originally intended.  I love to bake but since I am unable to use so many "main" ingredients I was used to baking with because of food allergies..I did my best without wheat, rye, eggs, dairy, nuts..etc. etc.!  The beauty of baking with food allergies is that the reward in eating safe foods, and the achievement in creating something great tasting. 
These quality cupcake papers made a great purpose for serving the little cookie-chocolate sandwiches I made.  Since I was baking allergy friendly, I used baking mixes for them.  I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free Shortbread Cookie Mix to make a thin cookie in the whoopie pie pan, and used Enjoy Life Foods Rice Milk Crunch chocolate bar which I melted and let set inside the whoopie pie pan as well.
Bob's Red Mill gluten/wheat free shortbread cookie mix
I mixed it as directed (w egg & dairy substitute) but pressed it against the whoopie pie pan to make a thin "bowl" shape.  Used a fork to make a slight pattern.  
Poured in a tablespoon of hemp milk and microwave melted the Enjoy Life Foods dairy free Rice Milk Crunch chocolate bars.
Poured them into the whoopie pie pan, and placed in fridge for about 15 minutes until solid.
Although I didn't create this recipe from scratch like I usually do, I hope that it still inspires you to think outside the box, and show you that is possible to have good tasting creations..even with many dietary restrictions.  Also..fun to use baking tools for different purposes, so fun to see how well it works out.
Thin shortbread cookie crisps, use it to scoop up a favorite dip or have as is.


Build-A-Bear Workshop Now Found Inside of FAO Schwartz! #NYC

We were invited to the grand opening of Build-A-Bear Workshop in FAO Schwartz, and received a gift card to use in store.  No other compensation was provided.  All opinions are a 100% my own.
On Friday, November 8th we visited the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony of Build-A-Bear Workshop within the awesome FAO Schwartz store!  We had such a great time, my sons first ever Build-A-Bear experience was a total hit.  He picked out "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" from their Holiday Friends collection and named him "Sparky." 
We visit FAO Schwartz often as it is my childhood favorite store, but to now with the addition of Build A Bear Workshop on the 2nd floor, words can't describe how visiting FAO Schwartz becomes any child's dream come true. 
Rudulph the Red Nosed Reindeer from Holiday Friends Collection
For those of you that have surely heard of Build-A-Bear Workshop by now and have yet to visit/take your child, GO.  That is all, just go.  You will not regret it, it is not just purchasing a toy for your child but really is a furry little friend.  My son who is not one to cling on to "binkies," blankets or toys his whole life has not let go of his little friend "Sparky."  If you have been to Build-A-Bear Workshop before then you already know what I'm talking about, and you must share my excitement as now there is one more location for you to get extra smiles, hugs, and memories created with your children.  If you don't have a location near you, you can go shopping online as well.

Build-A-Bear Workshop on 2nd level of FAO Schwartz
basket full of bears to "stuff w hugs" to donate
Everyone in the shop is super friendly, and helpful.  My son had such a great time, and I loved that as a part of the "celeBEARstion we were able to stuff a bear with hugs to donate as well.  Grateful for how easy they made it for us to give.  We are so excited for the new location, and will surely be visiting again soon.