Play with PAI Review!

I received a party pack filled with STEAM toys to experience, share and provide honest feedback. This was a very generous box and my kids were elated. They are school aged and although I initially thought only my youngest would be suited for these toys, all 3 were eager to dive right in.  I had to break the bad news to them: we would have to give one away as a door prize for sure! Don’t get me wrong, we love to share with our friends but voting on our least favorite was really hard.  They didn’t really agree but they let cookie decide since she is the youngest and ultimately the one I had intended these learning toys for.

She loved the TJ and the Beanstalk Book! My oldest boy and I really thought this would be the door prize and my husband tried to encourage cookie to select this one to give away. Here was our rationale: we thought, once you read through it and experience it, what more is there to play with? Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. She loves taking it from room to room and watching the beanstalk grow. She gets a kick out of the giant too. You download a free app and it makes the story appear in virtual reality (like an xbox Kinect game). The only really negative was that there wasn’t any sound and I wonder if I downloaded the app incorrectly or if that was just a glitch? Because this one was the easiest to demo, I ended up showing this one off at the party with my mom friends. They found it really entertaining. I expected it to be pricey but MSRP on the back indicated $15 which I think is fairly comparable to other hardcover books.  You can find PAI at Staples.

My son fell in love with the circuit conductor, so I knew for sure that wasn’t going anywhere. My creative middle gal loves to be creative so the 2 girls will enjoy the aquarium toy for a good long time: It’s called ocean pets.

I was able to bring this party in a box to my friend’s wine party. I love that tryazon makes it so easy to share their products! My girlfriends got to sample all the toys and I ended up giving the host cube-tastic unopened so we never really got to try it. It looks pretty awesome though. You scan the cube and the app helps kids to solve the puzzle. No more throwing the cube across the yard in frustration–what? you’ve never done that?

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Telestrations Review

 

So much fun to be had with this game! I received this #telestrations game free from #tryazon and #usaopoly in exchange for several product reviewing tasks.

I’m glad we played without scoring the first go round to keep things simple.

It took us just a bit to catch on…it’s not overly difficult, but someone should be paying attention lol!

I did watch the demo video before-hand. I think it would help if the instructions mentioned that everyone picks a card—not just one player. You all simultaneously sketch, then pass the book.

 

 

The neat freak in me ( do I actually have one of those? ) loved that the box was so organized with sections for every piece including the die. The small expo pens with the erasers built on the tip would have been a design improvement. I think they were pretty clever as is. Someone asked how well the little sketchbooks would wear after multiple uses and attempts to erase. I’m not overly concerned because I do have expo spray that can generally clean these up fairly well.

 

 

I loved seeing everyone’s sketches. It really is a great ice breaker. My group didn’t really know each other and this really warmed folks up. We were laughing in no time. I honestly can’t wait to play again. I reviewed the scoring suggestions and the competitive me is ready to jump into keeping points! Be ready: party at your house next time!!

 

Face Painting Fun!

I love hosting parties for my friends and sharing freebies or new products.  My pals all know they can come over and relax, eat, laugh and often–score some really great products or discounts.  I love seeing them get as excited as I do about what we are trying out and most importantly, without selling them anything.

On Saturday, I hosted a demo party for Snazaroo. It’s a face painting product company and I had never heard of them before Tryazon.  A big blue box arrived at my doorstep, free, in exchange for my hosting a party and providing reviews on social media.

This was a huge success. All the growns and kiddos got to test out the new paint pens. The stencils make it easy for the kids to use. We had so many laughs! I loved seeing the moms engage with their littles and put in some real effort toward the creativity in designs.  I had so much fun taking lots of photos. I have to say, this was one of the easiest demo parties ever.

Here’s what’s really great about Snazaroo:

–They have great videos and resources with easy to follow instructions.

–They are available at Michael’s (I couldn’t stop thinking about this product, so I checked in that evening when I was running errands). We also priced it online (walmart) during the party b/c we were curious.  This is a really nice investment and I could see myself growing a collection of colors and supplies. What a fun product to have on hand for children’s parties. Our PTA runs a carnival every year and these would be perfect.  Other mom’s thought about using them pre-sporting events and of course, Halloween.

–Feedback I got after the party from a friend who used to do a lot of face paint was that she really liked that the designs did not peel or crack even after a few hours of wear.

–One of the moms wondered if the pens would dry out and give us grief down the rode b/c it would stink to have these be one time use…I don’t know and I didn’t even rinse them as I had originally intended –b/c we were having a weekend–but my guess is they will do just as well as makeup concealer does in similar dispensers.

–I did have a minor glitch. The first pen I opened, I twisted and twisted and twisted until the clear tip popped a bit. So then I twisted and twisted and twisted some more until POP!! the whole top blew off and yes, paint everywhere. Good News: it wipes up sooo stinkin easy. That was the other great plus, even with this one blocked pen, there was very little mess. After the party, I just had to clear the discarded wipes but there were no stains or anything.

–This was very good for sensitive skin. Zero rashes reported and we had quite the mix of skin sensitivities.

I can’t wait for a little more down time b/c I know I want to pick up these pens and do some of their demos from you tube.  I’ll post to my chique chica fb page when I do so be sure to follow!!

What’s cooking?

My new issue of RR mag has arrived so I need to write about how the last went. If you know me, this is one of my fave topics to chat about so this may be a challenge to keep focused but let’s go for the ride:

For last month’s issue I started with the pizza burger. The pizza flavored onions called for a reduction with wine and I used my two-buck chuck from trader joe’s.  It was a new one: noveau red I think it was called. I have had a lot of reds and this one was really good. I don’t ordinarily drink and cook, although it is a nice experience, I did this time. This wine was dry but had zero notes of acidity. It lived up well to the award winning reputation Trader’s has for it’s wine!! I did not end up ‘cheating’ with jarred pizza sauce and I’m glad b/c it was pretty easy and turned out well. The sesame seed buns were not a hit with the kids–what is wrong with them. I love sesame seeds and it reminds me of our visits to Mongolian BBQ in Mountain Side, California where we would douse everything with the seeds. The burger itself was basic and I’m still perfecting my stovetop strategy.  I need to remember to flatten them to less than 1/4 inch before cooking–those patties sure do bunch up!

On to the twist on a dish: deviled eggs. So perhaps one of you could’ve mentioned, gee, that seems like a lot to eat hard boiled eggs on the daily. But no one said that and we ate eggs for about 3 days. Well, because of that I didn’t really get to cook through all the available twists and guess which ingredient went entirely unused: WHOLE PiCKLED BEETS! I really can’t grow to love this earth flavored (euphemism for dirt) veggie. I did make the buffalo styled, Chesapeake crab and the bacon egg and cheese. There was a lot of leftover filling and now one week later, I could go for an egg salad sandwich, but made zero of those last week. I don’t know how I could forget to mention INSTANT POT. All of this was made possible by the InSTANT POT and I feel that the editors at RR are really remiss in not even mentioning and perhaps they don’t even know? I use the 5-5-5 method to perfection and the girls happily help peel b/c it’s so darn easy.  As for faves: the first go w/ buffalo turned out too salty so I omitted salt on subsequent batches. The Bacon Egg and Cheese were a crowd (really just the big guy, me and my middle little) pleaser. Likely b/c of the BACON!! and now for my Air Fryer’s turn at glory. have you tried air fryer bacon? omeee oh my! yes. I can now have bacon any time within 10 minutes and no mess and it is perfection.

I made nothing else from this issue and truth be told haven’t finished reading it. The new issue has arrived and I’ve already made the Turkey burger. Let me tell you there was no twist on dish and RR pls get on it lol. So here’s a bit of a secret to it: she adds about 1T of sour cream per pound. This keeps them from drying out. Also, Leeks are a much milder onion and while I don’t like all the dirt and the washing–I think I can tolerate Leeks–no upset tummy. I forgot the swiss for my patty, but still delicious.

Another thing I made: Dr. Pepper pulled pork thanks to @OneHappyHousewife. I follow her on IG, FB and her blog. Catch up with her now b/c you won’t regret it. Anywhooo, my whole house stinks from the browning of the meat and I couldn’t fit the entire 8 pounds in my pot–what size do I have anyway? I had to fix the cooking b/c the timer started before it had gotten to pressure: you do know that’s a no no right? so I carefully stopped and opened (never force it open–I shouldn’t have to even say that) took all the meat out and scraped the bottom with a wooden spoon –any burnt on spots will prevent it from coming to pressure. Returned the meat to the pot and poured on more soda (b/c that won out over water). I set it and walked away for about 5 and that fixed it. It cooked forever and I was momma taxi so hubby finished it. I get a text asking if pup can have the sauce? sorry, no. Come home to pork no sauce. Why??? I cried and cried. welp, he didn’t know. Can I just say–still delicious. I need to cook that last 2.5 pounds, but I think I’m out of sweet baby ray’s. I might add catsup, mustard, brown sugar or something–probably extra water is just going to have to win this time. Pretty sure if you follow the instructions to a teee, it’s going to be perfection!!

Tonight’s tasks: cook that pork, prep the mango, prep the cantaloupe and go see a middle school show!! oh yeah, laundry for soccer uniforms too. etc. etc.

Family Game Night!

I love family game night, but sometimes it’s hard to find something that everyone is interested in playing. I’ve reviewed games before and sometimes, they are so easy that honestly, I’d rather do the dishes and watch the kids enjoy it.  Here’s the game to turn that around and I got it free for review! It’s Drop It by Thames and Kosmos. It’s geared to children aged 8 and older. This would theoretically mean it’s out of range for V who is 6, but she’s a clever lil monkey and I think with guidance a 6 year old could definitely play.  I think the hardest part is learning the scoring and not making it more difficult than it is.  I could get into the details about the rules, but I’ll leave that to the comments—feel free to post here and I’ll do my best to answer.

Game play initially seemed overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it–it’s slightly more complicated than matching.  I think maybe the instructions could have been a bit clearer.  Another possible reason for my initial alarm at the seeming difficulty is that we tried to play in a party setting. I don’t think that is the most conducive setting to play a game that requires some level of attention.

The game is bright with many pieces that I hope we don’t lose. None of them are miniscule, so providing that your kids show a small iota of responsibility, the game should remain intact.  My mom group enjoyed it and the best part was that the company provided 2 games to giveaway.  Now that got everyone interested and excited. As a reviewer, I appreciate being able to keep my ‘audience’ motivated in sampling by being able to provide such generous prizes.  They loved the game. I’m excited to play with my own family more often.  My kids are excited to invite friends over to play–more begging for play dates, dear goodness.

Starbucks Mocha Caffe Latte

Here’s my review I wrote for Viewpoints who sent it free in exchange for PR tasks.

I’ve tried other K-pod cappuccino and the thing that really surprised me was the quality of ingredients in the Starbucks Mocha Caffe Latte. Basically it’s coffee, milk, cocoa powder. This is in contrast to high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil and instant coffee powder. The smell and flavor were divinely Starbucks. It didn’t foam up, but I’m okay with that if the trade off is cleaner ingredients. One thing that would keep me from buying is guilt over waste, so if the pods could be recylclable I would be a loyal customer!

Meal Planning

I’m not sure what meal planning constitutes for some bloggers. I have this image of a frazzled parent sitting with spreadsheets and calendars splayed out on the table top as they try to decide what proportion of meals shall be grain versus kale.  For me it revolves around my Rachael Ray mag–the logical alternative of course! So I will add here that I originally posted 4 days ago that it had arrived and while I refuse to own up to being disorganized, yes, I misplaced it. but I kind of knew it was in a very special place I had just forgotten about. For sure, I had not thrown it out, so it was just a matter of sitting and think think think (picture pooh bear). bingo: on my chair in my bedroom and no this isn’t the time to acknowledge that M is right that I never clear it off. It is cluttered b/c I manage a whole household of life from that chair. Well, it isn’t how I envisioned that lovely chair when I first purchased it and then replaced it with an even better one from Bob’s furniture…but seriously, I digress….

Today is the fantabulous day that I pull out the mag and glean from it all of the ingredients I will need to make the first few recipes.  It is the challenge: to purchase enough to entertain me this week and not miss anything so I have to make a late night run, but also to not purchase so much that it spoils and rots before I make the recipe. B/c then I will be bitter about the whole darn thing and it will become a tedious chore.

Onward: I have flipped to the back page for the burger of the month: pizza burger. What do you think I should do? Should I go from scratch and make the pizza onions like RR suggests or should I just buy pizza sauce in a jar and cook the onions in that? I’m even thinking swapping to Vidalia onions. I think RR’s version might be great for adults b/c I like it a tad spicy but the kiddos are not going to go for that. and honestly, I can’t really complain about wegman’s pizza sauce. have you tasted their meals or read their food magazine? Wegman’s is where it’s at and as a nod to RR, it’s where she got her start and prolly learned a thing or two.

So google pizza burger, why? when I have the print version: b/c Paprika app. If you like your recipes and want a great app to store them in, this is it! I generally do not purchase apps, but this one I seriously love! it has a grocery list feature that has surpassed wegman’s app. I got it as soon as M had an extra ITunes card lying around (one that he won or maybe I earned it from product review?). All i’ll need to do at day’s end is check the fridge/pantry for those items b/c we are the proud owners of 6 jars of mayo, and 8 containers of salt, kid you not and I’m not interested in continuing to duplicate ingredients. even last night I discovered 3 parm cheeses in the fridge–the good, bad and the ugly. so yeah M: do not ask me to buy anything else unless you have looked with your own peepers and know for sure that we do not have it!!! even then, I’m sure i’ll find whatever he asked for…but anyway.

on to twist on a dish, deviled eggs. yum to the yum. add the instant pot and this is going to be fun! I still have blue cheese left from last month’s twists, so the first eggs will be the buffalo style. I only added the fresh ingredients for this one egg and all the rest I added the pantry items but not the fresh. Mainly b/c I think the food will spoil beforehand but also b/c I’d rather hit Aldi for some of it especially cheeses (just less expensive and if you are careful, equal in quality).

Okay: how are we going to get RR to do more instant pot stuff? has she already and I just missed it? it’s possible b/c I’m guilty of not watching the show quite as often as I used to. pretty sure the magazine hasn’t covered it since I read that cover to cover. I know she was doing slow cooker for a while. I wasn’t a huge fan b/c she likes to do lots of ingredients, some exotic, cook before and add a special touch after. Which is fab and all but if you are doing slow cooker it’s b/c you really want something fast.  So I don’t feel like she went out of her comfort zone.  RR isn’t always for me and there’s a reason I could cook through her cook books in grad school but not now while mothering the numerous quantity of persons/animals living in my household. and what do I like as a mom’s break? when M takes the kids for a Saturday and I can just pick a gazillion recipes to cook through.  with all the laundry and other projects at this point, that’s not going to happen for a while, but a girl can dream.

okay, so back to task and rounding out the meal planning: I added the usual suspects to the grocery list b/c most nights are not a cooking night.  with soccer and scouting and working more jobs than we remember: picking up applegate hot dogs, tuna, wegman’s turkey meatballs, chx nuggets and mac n cheese for those times when either I can’t really cook or the kids are just not going to do RR!! The best part about this is that for the most part: I can go through the store and pick up the regular suspects without consulting a list.

Well: happy meal planning and grocery shopping to you! what’s on your list for this week?

The Magazine has Arrived!

and I forgot to bring it with me.  I’m referring to my latest issue of Rachael Ray. I think she is one of the few people I really get ‘fan girl’ about. I’ve gone to countless of her tv tapings, have so very many of her books and have cooked my way from front to back of some. So yes, I get quite a bit silly when the new issue arrives. I love that my family gets just as excited. Because? Because! We are going to have the burger of the month–probably first! We will call it Sam’s Samplers (even though we prefer Costco–but I’m a sucker for alliteration). They know that we will make plain burgers but they will-must-sample the RR burger.  I was so happy when they placed it on the last page, because now it’s so easy to find!

Next up will be twists on a dish and if the kiddos are lucky, it will be some sort of dessert. I’ve had parties themed around ‘twists’.  We’ve done muffin, cookie and even a burger party. Those are cooking club parties to the maximum.  I think we skipped last month and I think the dish was fried rice.  The month prior was grilled cheese and I’m still working on finishing some of the cheeses because no one else is going to eat goat or blue in my house. I’ve been making the sandwiches but also taking the extra ingredients and being better about eating salads.  So generally, the kids get their easy favorites on rotation (hot dogs, chicken nuggets, turkey meatballs, lentils, tuna, fried haddock)–go ahead judgy mc judge face and judge away, but I do buy the highest quality I can find like Wild Planet tuna and Applegate hot dogs so whatever, for real. And I make myself a twist on the dish, which the hubby will usually join me in munching on.  This month, he’s particularly happy because it’s deviled eggs!

well: i’ll keep you posted so check back soon

and in other news: I need to get on that IG and post b/c yes, I’ve gotten some mailbox freebies, won some prizes and have gotten some products to review. and in even BIGGER news I’m going to the moms meet blogger conference in nyc. I am very excited b/c it’s on a Saturday and this will ease my cravings to go to nyc to visit with Rachael (no time off to see her b/c well, long story)

Revanika DIY Block Printing

I took a pic of this box because it was so lovely. I really like this company’s logo and when I opened the box it had the prettiest gold tissue paper. Half the fun of ordering subscription boxes is getting the box so I think this made it that much more special. Now you should know that I received this box in exchange for my review and honest feedback. It’s on sale right now on the site revanika.com for $24.99.

Doing my homework before writing my review, I stumbled across the video for this kit and yes, I probably should have watched that demo first. That said, I think my family did a very nice job with the kit. It came with every thing you need and while it’s pretty self-explanatory, it came with nicely written step-by step instructions.

I’m so happy it arrived prior to the winter break. It was nice to have this activity on hand for the family visits when the kids are eager to bond but are not quite ready for just chatting and coffee. My sister and daughter did this together and they shared their love for all things artsy.

My kit included orange paint and 2 blocks, a leaf and a square mandela design. It also included a child’s white apron. They worked together for about thirty minutes. It took a small amount of patience and learning. She didn’t quite get the right amount of ink at first try, but really, this just added to the character of the design. The result was something that they were both happy with and a memory of a very fun occasion.

If you are looking for craft subscription or STEAM boxes for the kiddos, you should check this small business out. They have some sweet gifts on the site too. It’s a great way to expose kids to a bit more culture too. I’m very pleased with it and grateful to have enjoyed this box!!

Daily Goodie Box is Here!

I thought I would share my unboxing of this fab box. The sweetest when it arrives at your doorstep filled with samples and best of all yummies. I filmed this and brought it right to work with me. I’m about to eat up all those little chocolate covered bears –dieting starts in the New Year, am i right? Hope you enjoy the video and I’ll post reviews once I’ve tried em all so it might take me a day 😉

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couldn't get it to work sooooo see the video on my insta:

https://instagram.com/p/BcuXS9DgYvp/