The Ultimate Winter Gear for Your Kids

As you head out into the blustery, winter-y weather that has descended on many by this point, you will want to make sure the kids are well equipped to handle all that mother nature dishes out. Here are some of our favorites for your snow days.

One of the most important winter wear items is a durable, water resistant coat. The Dare 2b Boy’s Dedicate Jacket is a coat for both daily wear and for serious outdoor play.  Girls Entrust Jacket also available- same jacket, different name. It not only wears well, but has all sorts of features that your kids will love. It has a waterproof outer layer, and is made with a breathable 4-way stretch fabric. The hood is detachable (but doesn’t fall off) and has an elastic trim, making adjusting it easy. The coat also has internal mesh pockets, and all the pockets zip (so not as many lost gloves and whatnot). It has bight reflective details, making spotting your child on the trails or during snowball fights even easier.  Available at for about $140. Infant snuggler suits (one piece coats for babies) available for about $50 each.

snow gloves

You will want sturdy gloves- it’s hard to play outside very long with cold, wet hands. The Jr Rascal Glove by Seirus comes in fun options like skeleton, zombie, and Digi (think video game/Minecraft looking), and feel as good as they look. Kids will like them because they are fun, you will like them because they are functional and do their job well. They are windproof and water resistant, and have Heatlock insulation to keep little hands warm. They feature a gauntlet cuff that cinches easily to help keep ice and snow from getting inside, and have SureGrip on the palms and fingers to help them hold onto whatever they are trying to keep in their hands. Most gloves are really slippery, this is a cool and useful feature. For about $30 at

snow boots

For snow trekking, you will love the Icebug Myoko BUGweb GTX.  These boots are fantastic- and yes, they have adult shoes and boots. You will love them that much. I have had Icebugs myself for several years, and my son and I agree they are both comfortable to wear and great at keeping your feet warm- we both really like them.  These boots are cut slightly higher then the ankle, and keep you warm with fleece insulation. They have a GORE-TEX® outer shell that will keep your child’s feet dry. They are easy to put on and take off- any parent that has had wars with snow boots will appreciate the double Velcro that kids can adjust themselves. No one will complain about sore feet in these boots- at least no one I’ve met. Available for $169.95 at

To go under your boots- and often not thought of until it’s too late- you want warm, comfortable, and high socks. Yes, high- at least mid calf, because there is nothing more annoying then a sock that falls under your foot while you are walking about. They should also stay put, not the drooping kind. Those are fine for lounging at home, not so much for activities. Hi-Tec makes socks for men and women, and we’ve worn them on a multitude of activities and climates and been happy with them. They are soft, they stay where you want them to, have both zone cushioning as well as cushioning though the entire leg, and (a must) reinforced heel and toe. No toes poking out, and they will last longer. They also have arch support and compression, which is pretty advanced stuff for a sock.  These retail for between $15 and $20, which might seem like a lot for socks- but like I said, these do flex an awful lot of muscle, and you might be surprised and how much happier your feet will be when they are warmer, for longer- and without annoying under-the-heel nonsense that often happens when wearing boots. Pick yours up at

Ready to hit the slopes? If not the mountain, perhaps a neighborhood hill. Your kids will really enjoy the Freshie Snow Scooter. It’s something fun and new, yet not so wildly different they will have a hard time using it. A great way to keep active and outdoors when the weather outside turns frosty.  Lightweight and easy to carry (as well as store), it is made of high impact plastic so those rough runs and wipeouts won’t ruin it. Use it to scoot sans wheels down snow covered walkways or driveways, or as a snowboard with handles down hills.  It’s super easy to maneuver and use, even for the less athletically inclined. Fold up the handle and put it away just about anywhere when you are done playing, or when Spring is around the corner. Prices vary, from about $40 and up depending on retailer, at retailers like Amazon and Sears.

Disclosure- Samples were provided in order to review. All opinions are my own and honest. For more, see “I Disclose.

Sharks and Ninjas to Help You Clean Up Your 2017

Now that the holidays are done and gone, what do you do with all the leftovers? Cleaning up after the festivities can be quite a project. Here are some of our favorite finds to clean up our acts in 2017.

Everyone has been in and out of your home for months now. The floors are a mess, and you could really use a deep cleaning.  From winter mud and snow and salt to all the random foods prep and holiday wrapping and decorations, there is just more mess then usual. The Shark Rocket Complete  is beast of a vacuum, with two powered brush rolls to make sure all the debris is picked up.  It’s good for hard floors or carpets, as well. The soft roll and gets into things by grabbing large, small, or stuck on items off hard flooring while grabbing large particles and piles on carpets.  The second brush roll has a bristle head, which on hard flooring accelerates large, small, and stuck on particles into the vacuum while on carpet deep cleans and pulls stuck on and small particles into the vacuum.  These two brush rolls working together make short work of just about any dry mess you can think of as well as regular vacuuming around the house.  It really gets in there, and you can tell the difference. About $200 on

For those sealed hard floor messes which a vacuum isn’t built for, check out the Shark Genius Steam Pocket Mop System.  This mop system is built to deep clean your floors using steam as the main agitator. The steam releases most messes and spills with minimal effort through the pad, lifting away the mess without you every having to touch it.  The stem can also be delivered directly to the floor with the Steam Blaster, which was created for stuck on or greasy messes, where steam is applied directly to the mess and can be wiped away with the pad secondarily.  The pad itself grabs 99.9% of common household bacteria (according to the manufacturer).  The best part is the amazing clean you get- the second best is the hands off approach to cleaning it gives you.  The pad detaches right into the laundry without ever having to get your hands dirty with a simple button push. That’s the third best part- no more pads to buy. About $120 on

If you are looking to clean up your eating habits as well, you might want a Ninja. Not only useful, but it’s fun to mess around with. The Nutri Ninja Nutri bowl Duo is an all in one blender, fusion machine for food prep, and processor. It can break down whole foods, seeds, ice, nuts, and more.  The dual usage for this machine will have you grabbing for it more often then you’d expect.  Plus, like I mentioned- it’s fun. Addicting, even. The Nutrient & Vitamin Extraction and Pro Extractor Blades® Assembly makes amazing smoothies and shakes as well as pops and purees, whatever your pleasure might be.  It can also make dough. The included recipe book is a great start for inspiration, and has some fun ideas as well.  Once you get the hang of using these devices (which won’t take long)  it will become second nature to grab fairly constantly.  About $140 on Amazon.

The Ninja Coffee Bar System has become a fast favorite in our house, and completely wow-ing my very picky husband. If you are a coffee lover, or perhaps spend more time or money then you want to in a coffee house, this is a great way to keep more money in your wallet and time in your calendar. This is a full system that is neither so huge it takes up the entire counter, nor so expensive you will need a loan to purchase it. Better yet, it’s not complicated to use, and it doesn’t require the use of expensive and wasteful (and environmentally unfriendly) pods.  Make multiple sizes, types, even iced coffees. It includes a milk frother (which you will love more then you think) and  theNinja exclusive Café Forte to amplify the flavors of your drinks. It also comes with drink recipes, which are interesting to try.  About $180 at

Robotic Pets and No Tech Huggables #HolidayGiftGuide

Is your child begging for a new pet this year, but you don’t want something else to clean up after? Look no further- we’ve found an array of low-maintenance pets for your holiday gift giving.

robot chimp

Zoomer Chimp is one of the latest in the line of Zoomer robotic pet toys. He has a lot of ?moves” to him, and can move on all fours as well as standing up on two legs. He can be taught to follow you, to “Chimp Talk” (repeat what you say), can be taught new words as you play with and train him, knows 10 commands (watch what happens when you tell him to “go bananas!) and will let you know how he is feeling by the color of his eyes and facial features.  Zoomer Chimp makes a lot of sounds as well, and has “progressive play” built in so he doesn’t always move the same way. His wiggles and dances are adorable and funny, which will make him a hit with kids (and dad, too). He needs 3 AAA batteries and 1 LiPo battery, and requires wall adapter to charge (not included). Prices vary – I’ve seen everything from $69-$110, so look around before you make a purchase.

zoomer hedgehog

Zoomer also put out the adorable and fluffy Hedgiez this year. They come in several colors, including blue (so boys won’t feel left out- my son adores his).  He (or she) does tricks, rolls around, and likes to play with you, as well as cuddles up and giggles. It’s a quieter toy then some robot pets, since hedgehogs are not known for wild parties, I assume. Mom and dad will love that. The fur is soft, not plastic, and can be brushed or styled with the included comb.  It will curl up when tickled (very cute) and blow you kisses. It comes with stickers as well, which is always a bonus. Hedgiez requires four AAA batteries (not included).  Prices seem to vary pretty wildly here as well- from $18-$40, depending on retailer and what sale is going on- do your homework when you buy (’tis the season!).

robot dogs

Chubby Puppies and Friends are very cute and affordable. They have been around for a little while, but they just keep getting better. They have added all sorts of animals to the original dogs (and there are a lot of dogs to pick from as well), such as bunnies, horses, pandas, all kinds of cats, and more. Some even have their own babies in the same pack (Mommy or Daddy and baby animal of choice sets) which delights my son and all children who like cute things or to play “baby” or house or….play. So, you know. All kids. Some sets come with “fashion sets” like a carrying bag for the pup and accessories like sunglasses, bows, etc, and there are playsets available as well (dog park, fashion runway, etc). The pets walk, hop, waddle by battery operated power. Each pet needs it’s (included) 1 AAA battery. Prices start at around $7.99 per pet, more for fashion sets and play sets.

home toy making kits

Want to build your own pet? Now you can create your own stuffed toys at home with the Build A Bear Stuffing Station.  Just like in the stores, these new furry friends will have their own adoption/birth certificates for you to name them and make them your own. Each kit contains 1 Build-A-Bear Stuffing Station (where you make your bears) 2 Build-A-Bear Furry Friends (1 bear, 1 bunny) 2 shirts, 2 hearts, 2 bags of stuffing for your friends, an instruction guide, accessories, and 2 birth certificates. Yes, you can get refills/more animals to stuff (additional purchases). Even better? Batteries not required! Runs on kid power. The price is $29.99 on

walking toy dog

Peppy Pups has the sweetest face, is no tech, and will get your kids outside and moving. What’s not to love about this toy? This doggie will follow you everywhere. Take him for a walk (indoor or out) and he will walk alongside, run, and even give bouncy “jumps”  since he literally has a spring in his step. It’s plush fur is soft, and s/he has springs in her feet to give it that “puppy prance” when you take her for a walk. No baggies required! You can get yours at Toys “R” Us nationwide and Amazon for $19.99 (standard retail price).

real baby dolls

When a pet won’t do, and they are begging for a little brother or sister, take a look at the new Cabbage Patch Kids Baby So Real. For the first time, CPK is giving children an interactive doll experience.  While they still have those classic Cabbage Patch looks, these life-like baby dolls have traditional play patterns kids love and are full of the latest technology. Baby coos, burps, sleeps, even runs a fever- and your child gets to play mommy or daddy in a fairly authentic way (for a doll). There is a “magic” spoon with medicine, your child feeds it and changes the baby doll, and more. Eyes open, close, and look around the room. It has random reactions, just like a “real” baby would. Of course, as with all Cabbage Patch Kids, Baby So Real is soft and snuggely, and comes with removable clothes (other outfits available for purchase). In case you were wondering, yes Virginia- there’s an app for that.The online mode allows you to see the virtual nursery where you can play with your baby, feed, diaper burp and administer TLC. You can also play games, watch video clips and earn baby points for additional virtual accessories and new features. Baby So Real is available in Blonde, Brunette, and African American babies, comes with a fully removable outfit and diaper, a special interactive bottle and medicine spoon, birth certificate, adoption papers and a free baby monitor style app for additional virtual play.  Retail price is $99.99


Starting Your Holiday Shopping? Check Out These Fun Items

If you, like me, like to get a head start on the holiday shopping, you will love these cute and fun toys. Your children (grandchildren, nieces or nephews, etc) will have a ball with these long after the festivities are done.

kids charm bracelet

Do you know a little girl who loves crafts? How about jewelry? She would enjoy Charm U®. Designed for kids aged five and up, they can create and then wear these cute toys that double as jewelry. There are more then 70 charms currently available, including fun foods, pets, princess, travel, sports, and more. These are very cute, and very trendy at the moment as well.  There are starer sets that come with the Charm U Bracelet and Eight Charms– everything a girl could need to begin her designing and creativity. This comes with a charm bracelet and eight different charms,as the name suggests- but you also get a “surprise charm” in a fun mini backpack, stickers, and more.  (about $12.99) If you ant to add some charm, there are additional charm packs with four charms or blind bags that each have two collectible charms. Looking for a little more? Try the Charm U Display & Playsets for about $19.99.

fighting robotsMy 9 year old son loves Big Robots, these were one of his “must have” toys this year, and it’s easy to see why. The 8” fighting robots are responsive and easy to set up. You use handheld controllers to “fight” (think motion controlled nun-chucks), moving your hands to move the robots.  They are easy to control, and fun- even for dad. They work best on a flat, smooth surface- floors are best, you don’t want them to fall off a table.  Also cool are the“damage tracking” LEDs that let you see the devastation you inflict. About $59.99 each, or $119.99 for a 2 Pack- and you are going to want the 2 pack, they are nowhere near as much fun alone.
travel stuffed toys
When you are ready to go to bed or snuggle up by the fire, grab your FlipaZoo. The coolest thing about FlipaZoo is that they are not only two animals in one toy, but also that it is two items in one. Not only a toy, it doubles at a pillow, something this traveling mom loves. They are so cute and the plush is very soft (and they are smooshy-cuddly, even if that’s not a real word).   There are 12 transforming characters available, just flip them from one to another. Safe for all ages, $19.99 on the website. When you buy, you get a free “Little Flipzee” mini FlipaZoo as a bonus.
Do you know Kate & Mim-Mim? If your kids are fans of this fairly new TV show, they will love the new toys available. One of the most fun is the Kate & Mim-Mim Magic Twirl  Mim-Mim, a large (and oh so soft) stuffed purple bunny from Mimiloo. Mim-Mim also likes to chat- he says 10 phrases from the show. You can turn off the sound if you are so inclined or for bedtime, if you’d like to.  About $19.99. If you want to complete your set, there is the Kate & Mim-Mim Adventures with Kate Doll. Standing at 8.5”, she comes dressed in in her adventure outfit and ready have some holiday fun with Mim-Mim.  About $12.99.
powerpuff girls toys
If you have a little helper on your hands, you can give them a playset that will encourage them to act on those instincts. They can help save the world- or at least Townsville- from any evil doers that would threaten it. (It’s also a good size for many standard size action figures, so “friends” can join in.)  The Deluxe Flip To Action Playset comes with 2″ Bubbles and Professor Utonium (other figures and playsets  sold separately) and with an easy flip, transforms from The Powerpuff Girls’ bedroom to their superhero lab. Who wouldn’t love that commute? The set looks just like the rooms on the TV show, and the “accessories” like dressers and backpacks, flip with the rooms and stay attached (no pieces to lose!) Available for about $24.99 at most major retailers, safe for kids 5 and up.

Toys That Let Kids Explore Their Creative Side

There are all sorts of options that allow kids to be creative- they can high tech, low tech, or no tech. No one way is best, we like to mix it up and bring in some of all kinds of play and playthings. Here are some of our current favorites.

new skylanders

Are your children Skylanders fans? The popular franchise has expanded again, this time with Skylanders Imaginators. The newest in the series really lets kids unleash their imaginations, as the title suggests. To me, this is the most fun of the games yet. Sticking to the theme of it’s other games, Kaos is once again causing problems in the Skyland, and Eon needs your help to defeat him. However, this Skylanders differs from previous iterations in the way that you can now create your own Skylanders with nothing holding you back but your imagination.  With the help of Senseis in game (these specialize in one of ten different techniques) you can also train your Skylander to defeat Kaos and his minions.  All previous Skylanders can be used with Imaginators, including Super Charger vehicles and traps both of which are functional in race mode.  In total there are 31 new senseis to collect, as well as Creation Crystals which save your own creation in the game.


The main concept behind Imaginators is the ability to build your own Skylander Imaginator.  This Imaginator can be customized in appearance, ability, sounds, and even appendages.  Each edit is done on the fly in game through a series of easy to navigate menus.  Scattered throughout each level in the game itself are items which can be used to build and rebuild your character. The gameplay is easy to pick up and play- hack and slash gaming where exploration is encouraged and villains are colorful and different.  Each level has a theme and each level has an end boss who must be defeated to progress.

The starter set includes a portal, the game itself and a minimum of 2 senseis and an Imaginator crystal to make your own Skylander.  The start set retails for $74.99 and is available nationwide now.

Adventure Time

To continue gaming, but build your own game pieces, try Lego Dimensions.  The Lego brick themed multiverse game is constantly expanding, and with the most recent additions you can now explore the worlds of the children’s favorite Adventure Time, the generational favorite Dr Who, and the TV classic The Simpsons and Springfield to name a few.

LEGO video games

Sets are broken down into a few different categories- the predominant one being levels. The download of an update to your game and the usage of figures from that particular universe (package you purchased)  the level is unlocked. The Simpsons brings your characters into Springfield to solve various quests and requests by locals as well as collect various items to complete the level to 100%.  There are playable levels as well as free play modes, where you can just go exploring to find all the nooks and crannies put in the game. Adventure Time has tons of characters and interactions with authentic voices- this has been a huge hit with both dad and son.  When combining the level pack with the character pack, you can play as the duo Finn and Jake, both causing mischief and saving princesses with the help of BMO and Lumpy Space Princess.  To be honest. my son was least interested in Lumpy Space Princess to start off with, but her animations and interactions with characters are so spot on and genuinely funny, she is now one of his favorites in the entire game across every universe.  In addition to the sets mentioned, there are also fun packs like the Ninjago Cragger pack, which includes the evil Croc-tribe warrior Gragger and his Swamp Skimmer (which can be rebuilt into Cragger’s Fireship and Croc Command Sub).  This is one of the interesting parts of Lego Dimensions- vehicles aren’t only one vehicle but can be upgraded and rebuilt into other forms making them stronger or adding a new mode of transportation to the game, such as a submarine going underwater or a jet which can fly around.  Each pack is jammed full of fun with levels, characters and of course the Legos themselves which come with digital instructions on how to build some characters in game.  Once put together the characters can also be played with just as other Lego sets are and fit in with the rest you have at home. Prices vary per pack and set size.

Playmobil sets

Want to keep building? You know how much we love Playmobil, and they have just come out with perhaps one of my favorite sets of all time. How adorable is this Halloween themed Haunted House Playset? It’s numbers are 5638- those are important when looking up a Playmobile set! This is adorable, and perfect for this time of year. It comes with two Halloween themed figures (Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster), mice, a skull, a raven, vials to make spooky concoctions in your lab, and more. The lab also closes, fitting all peices inside. This makes storage a breeze, and means you can take your toy with you on the go.  This is a fantastic toy- one of my favorites ever from Playmobil. And the price is right- $18 at Walmart, prices vary at other stores.

kids app toys

When you want to relax, but still want to enjoy some interesting play, check out Bluebee Pals. Kids can prop up a laptop, tablet, or smart phone onto their laps and tuck into their plush arms, or just plug the device in and watch what Bluebee can do. There are five options of plush to choose from, Riley the Zebra, Sammy the Bear, Hudson the Puppy, Lily the Lamb, and Leo the Lion. These soft and sweet learning tools can move their mouths when they talk, sing, or read to your child when connected to any Bluetooth device via Apple to Android in any language, with any app that has sound. Really. We even tried it with a Japanese heavy metal band- results were hilarious. Bluebee can even be used as a telephone, since it has a built in speaker and microphone. Not only is this fun, but facilitates language and literacy.  A rechargeable battery with USB micro-charged cable is included with the plush of your choice, and retails for $64.99 and available at

New Summer Toys

Looking for some fun new toys this summer?  Here are a few new items we think your kids will love.


Hamsters In A House by ZURU might bring to mind another toy craze from a few years ago, and we admit there are likenesses.  These little hamsters are small (though not so small your kids can swallow them) and and soft and furry. They buzz and scoot around any smooth, flat surface, as well as in their own little “ecosystems”.  There are several houses, like the luxurious “Ultimate Hamster House”, that has a bed, slide, and even a toilet that makes flushing sounds.  Every kid loves that best, potty humor goes a long way. Put the hamsters on any hotspot, and the phrases are activated. ($30) There are also Hamster and Accessory Packs that range from styling studios, to cars, and more parts for their runs (think train tracks for the hamsters). The cars are cute, and come in blue and pink. 9$ and up.
Available exclusively at Toys”R”Us. /

Micro Boats are so much fun for summer (and will be great year round as well).  They are water-
activated (put them in water and they go) and once dry they stop. These self-steering, fully motorized speed boats are lots of fun in tiny size. There are six individual boats available. $10

There is also the Micro Boats Shark Attack Challenge Playset that lets you put the boats into a set with a water filled track, and race to stay away from each other and a shark.  There is also a real working crane. One boat comes with the set.  $25 /

Finding Dory Toys

Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory Robo Fish Collection is out just in time for the Finding Dory movie.  If your kids are Nemo fans, they will love this movie as well. Dory and Nemo (and all their friends, as well as some new ones) are back and having some summer fun.  The Disney•Pixar Finding Dory Coffee Pot Playset is my son’s favorite, because he can carry Dory around in a Coffee Pot Playset just like in the movie.  Of course, it works with any other character you’d like to put into it as well, but it only comes with Dory.  $19.99  The additional Disney•Pixar Finding Dory Small Characters are also available as
RoboFish, which move as soon as they are in the water. Your kids can recreate all the Dory fun from the movie, and make up new scenes all their own.  They can also “just keep swimming” with them in the bath, pool, wherever. Dory, Nemo, Marlin and more are available. There is a  “power save” mode that automatically switches off after one minute in the water. $11.99 each. Available in Walmart, Toys R Us, and more.

If your kids can’t get enough Angry Birds, you are in for a treat. Spin Master has released everything from playsets, to collectable figures, to zooming toys, and more are available. Launch your bird at the pigs to save your eggs in the Angry Birds Pig City Strike Playset, which comes with launcher, bird, pigs, and stackable city (just like in the app!).  Victory is yours as the city comes crashing down. Small collectable figures can add to sets, or be played with solo (my son does both).  The large vinyl figures are great for launching or using as a ball- they are just the right size.  Angry birds come to life as you throw them into your blocks, playsets, and more. They do bounce, so they can go off walls and such as well. Angry Birds Speedsters are fun as well, and ready to roll on any flat surface. Wind them back, and let them go- and they are off and ready to crash into whatever you launched them into. Prices vary- available at Toys R Us, Amazon, and more.

Travel Light, Pack Right

Disclosure- I received the below in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own and honest.  See more at “I Disclose”.

When you are taking a family vacation, you want to be ready for anything.  You also don’t want to pack everything and the kitchen sink.  What do you really need when you are headed out?


A good cell phone is key.  I know some people are die hard apple fans, but I love Samsung.  In my opinion, it is the better option and I have preferred them for years. The new Galaxy S7 is amazing, you won’t want to put it down. The photos are sharp- which is a must for not only travel but anyone with children, the apps you can download are great and varied (nearly everything comes in an android version now, and if it doesn’t there is something similar), and most of the new versions are water resistant, which makes them that much more durable.  They tend to last longer then other brands I’ve had as well, without getting “glitchy” or throwing as many errors or slowing down as much as they get older.  (Yes, I keep my phones for the long run, then I let my son play with them on wifi only when I upgrade.) Sprint, the network that I’m using, also pairs really well with the new Galaxy S7 or S7 Edge  and has some really awesome offers at the moment for both new and existing customers, so it’s the perfect time to upgrade.  Summer travel is only a few weeks away, check out all that you can get with these new phones and services. No one likes to be in a dead zone, or “out of range”.   Options and prices vary, visit your Sprint store for details.


While your phone will likely be your main source of photo taking, lets be real- you need a camera for all the “big stuff”.  You don’t want to take your phone into a lake, the ocean, the pool, or ziplining- at least I don’t.  The photos might be awesome, but I don’t want to lose the phone (or ruin it) in the process of getting those “must have” shots.  The new GoPro HERO4 Session is the smallest, lightest camera that has come from the GoPro family yet, and the price point is doable at $200.  It has an app that lets it connect to your phone (for free) and you can see your photos and videos right away if you would like.  Smart remote sold separately. You can hold it, mount it, wear it- really, anything you’d like.  It’s waterproof, so you can take it jet skiing, snow tubing, kayaking- whatever suits you.  It’s really a camera that is ready for any adventure, and provides high resolution, sharp, professional-looking video.  Charge it up, and it’s ready to go capture some memories.   Pick yours up at .


You will want to dress appropriately, without having to pack everything. A good pair of shoes is top of the list, and one pair that I really like (and that does double-duty) is The Sara by NAOT.  Not only super cute, but super comfortable. Dress them up or down, these gladiator inspired sandals are padded, and have an anatomic cork and latex footbed which  is wrapped in oh-so-soft suede.  Yes, it can get wet and still look fine and function.  As you wear it, the sole molds to the shape of your foot. The heel and back panels have additional lining and padding as well for extra comfort no matter how long you wear them.  I have worn these all over the place, and have not got blisters or weird “ow” spots from strange rubbing . Of course, that doesn’t mean go hiking the first day you wear them, be smart- they are still shoes, break them in.  Get them at or Amazon for about $150, several colors available.


Looking to stay warm? Why not keep the dreaded bugs (now with added Zika virus) at bay with the new line from Craghoppers.  The NosiLife Apparel with Insect Shield® insect repellent as well as sun protection woven into the fabric is non-irritant and non-hazardous to the skin.  The jackets are cute and comfortable as well, perfect for summer weather excursions and nights when it gets cooler.  My son tried out the new Nat Geo NosiLife Chima Jacket, which is soft and lightweight, has front pockets, zip front, and a hood for when it gets chilly.  It’s also nearly impossible to wrinkle, which mom appreciates. I tested out the NosiLife Astrid Cardigan, which has neither pockets nor hood, but is easy to dress up or down, so it’s perfect for trips where you can’t pack too much. Also soft, lightweight, and hard to wrinkle, neither of us had bug bites on our arms while wearing these jackets.  Pick up jackets for your crew at



One more item that has become somewhat of an essential for me is the RFID Travel SCOTTeVEST.  It’s perfect for all those times when you don’t want to or can’t carry a giant bag, but want to carry things with you.  Your camera, binoculars, tablet, granola bars, wallet, maps, whatever provisions you prefer- this vest has room for it all. It has 18 pockets, is super lightweight, and looks nice on as well. You won’t look like the marshmallow man when wearing it- huge plus.  It comes in several colors, and has a special RFID blocking pocket to keep your passport, credit cards, etc safe from pickpockets and identity thieves.  Because the pockets are on the inside, your stuff is also safer from wandering hands.  You can choose from a regular or 2 way zipper as well- and yes, there are men’s versions.  I’ve been using this for way more then travel, it’s certainly gotten tested.  Regular life can require a lot of pockets sometimes! Since getting it, I’ve been surprised how much use I’ve gotten out of it.  Pick one up, and you will see what I mean. for $135 .

Filling Easter Baskets with Fun

Are you ready for the Easter Bunny to hop into your house?  Check out these fun spring toys to fill your little one’s baskets with.


For your smallest bunnies, take a look at these fun “Easter” eggs.  The HABA Shakin’ Eggs are perfect for baskets and they don’t ever go bad.  Little ones will love them- not only for their bright colors, but also for the fun sounds they make. Each box contains a set of five colored beech wood eggs- and yes the paint is safe and non-toxic (since we all know little ones are going to put them into their mouths).  Each egg makes a different sound- one jingles, another rattles, etc, so that your child can make some fun “music”.  It is recommended by the manufacturer for ages 2 and up, but in my opinion, smaller kids can play with these as well- they can’t fit into mouths and there are no small parts.   You can get them at or a store near you for around $20.


Great for nearly any age is the Aurora plush toy line.  You can choose from many adorable stuffed friends, some of our favorites being the Cheekeez Bunny and the oh-so-soft Lamb (this one seems to be in a “downward dog” yoga pose, which my son will just love, being that we do yoga together).  To me, no basket is complete without a sweet fluffy toy, and these Aurora makes some high quality toys without a ridiculous price tag.  They are soft, cuddly, and any child would love to cuddle up with one of these cuties. Cheekeez Bunny is $9, and the lamb is $15.50- you can pick them up (and more to choose from) at and gift stores like Hallmark.


For your gamer, Skylanders has released two limited edition, exclusive Easter themed toys for the Skylanders SuperChargers game.  Spring Ahead Dive Bomber ($14.99) is a new vehicle that the Skylanders have disguised as an Easter egg to protect their bounty! This is a fun new addition to the “vehicles” line of toys, which my son absolutely adores. The Skylanders figures can interact and ride inside them in the game, adding a new layer of fun. Also out for the holiday is Eggcited Thrillipede ($12.99) who, with an extra set of arms, is the reigning Dragon Egg Toss Champion.  Maybe they will substitute some Easter Eggs this year, who knows.  You can pick these up at Game Stop, Toys R Us, and other stores that carry video games.


If you are not in the mood to crate your own basket, you ran short on time, or perhaps your little chicks live far from you- not to worry!  You can order one to be delivered in time for Easter from . There are a large variety of pre-made baskets to choose from, no matter what the age, likes, or destination of the gift-ee. You can send them to your older children who live far away (there are options like the Gift Basket for Men, Premium Wine Spa Gift Basket, and more) as well as diabetics (Sugar Free Gift Basket), Happy Easter Brownie Cake, and more.  For families with more then one child, a great option would be the DOUBLE-BUNNY EASTER BASKET This basket has two of everything- candies, toys, chocolate bunnies- and of course, stuffed toys.  When you want to be there but just can’t be, you can send your hugs and chocolate kisses via mail. Head over and see what fits your fancy- prices vary.


When you are ready to get cooking, and before you head to the supermarket to deal with long lines, visit Tastefully Simple.  If you are like me, and want to make sure everything comes out perfect (but maybe aren’t the whiz in the kitchen you wish you were) you can get an extra hand with some amazing recipes, menus, and packages that will help make your Easter dinner turn out right. While you will still need to pick up the ham (or whatever it is you prefer to cook up), you can order a time saving, easy to prepare yet delicious Easter Celebration Menu that has nearly everything you need in it.  You will need to pick up the fresh items, but it makes cooking and planning so much easier. There are even ideas and “how to’s” on how to make your food look amazing- things you are going to want to share on Instagram, even if you are no Martha Stewart. Easter Basket Cookies, Chick Deviled Eggs, Easter Brownie Truffles, and more.  You are going to love they way your food turns out.  Visit and see what I mean- then place your order.

Disclosure- We received the above in order to facilitate reviews.  All opinions are my own and honest.