Gourmet Meals Made Simple with McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawayI’ve always loved to cook, from homemade Stromboli and hand-rolled meatballs to lasagna, stirfry, and more. Now that I have a newborn, my cooking time is drastically diminished. If I can get 30 minutes to myself to throw something together, it’s like hitting the jackpot. Seriously, it is a wonder we haven’t had cereal for dinner yet. I can wholeheartedly thank McCormick for at least four of my recent meals, and two more to come, which took only minutes to prepare and gave us that gourmet dinner experience without the fuss.

First, let me say I am a longtime fan and patron of McCormick products. I make all my stirfry dinners with McCormick’s Italian spice grinder. I make roast beef au jus with the au jus packet, and I make pulled pork with McCormick’s pulled pork packet. I use their cream of tartar, vanilla, almond extract, food coloring, and other ingredients for my cookies and desserts. I would be deceiving you if I pretended to be surprised by the deliciousness of this new offering from this rock star spice and seasoning company, when I am already well aware of how their ingredients knock my meals and baked goods out of the park every time.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and Giveaway

With that being said, I AM pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to mix up dinners in only minutes with a newborn at home, often requiring only fresh meat and the secondary ingredients that I already keep in the house. Furthermore, I am in love with one of these seasoning packets in particular, which my husband and I both enjoyed the most out of all that we tried. Even washing the dishes later that night, our home smelled just like an Italian restaurant. I mean, I know I am a good cook and all, but that was quite unexpected for a meal that probably took all of about 15 minutes to throw together. Even my mom, who tried the Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken as leftovers the next day, loved it, and she now wants her own seasoning packets to use at her house.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawaySo far, I have prepared four meals with the McCormick Gourmet seasoning packets – Sweet Basil & Oregano Bruschetta Chicken (our favorite, husband even had seconds), Smoked Sausage & Pepper Creole Jambalaya (I used chicken sausage instead of turkey sausage), Bourbon Spiced Pork (my mom and I LOVED this for lunch one day while she was babysitting my daughter so I could work), and Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken & Potatoes (it was good, but we preferred the bruschetta chicken).

I love how easy it is to elevate your everyday meals with these great seasonings and meal ideas from McCormick. In most cases, it would take just as long to make macaroni and cheese and hotdogs as it would to whip up one of these bad boys, so adding these spice packets into your routine should be a no-brainer. You

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and Giveaway

can enjoy a more exquisite meal, and no one has to know it only took you 15 or 20 minutes to prepare (plus cooking time in some cases).

I received six packets of McCormick seasonings along with a wonderful McCormick Elevating Everyday Meals prize pack that included a fancy apron to protect my clothes while cooking, a dinner conversation game to make mealtime more fun, a Red Box certificate so we can enjoy dinner and a movie at home, and of course, wine glasses to celebrate my hard work (a-hem) in the kitchen. All items were for the purpose of this review and promotion of a giveaway that we are hosting on Life Love Beauty.

McCormick Gourmet Recipe Mixes Review and GiveawayOne winner will receive an incredible prize pack from McCormick, too. Simply post a comment on this page or on our Facebook page with your favorite meal idea that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. If you are leaving a comment on this page, be sure to double-check your email address so we have a means of contacting you. We can’t wait to hear about your easy meals in under 30 minutes. To be eligible for the giveaway, please enter your comments by Thursday, September 27 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Good luck, everyone, and happy cooking!

Four Fabulous Mally Beauty Makeup Products

A review of four great products from Mally BeautyI was so excited to receive and try out this large variety of Mally Beauty products for this review! This line is highly acclaimed by its fans and it’s not hard to see why.

Mally Roncal is the genius behind this cosmetics line. As a celebrity makeup artist, Roncal gained the experience necessary to create perfect products for a flawless look.

I highly suggest investing in these and other Mally Beauty cosmetics; they will change how you view makeup. (If you don’t believe me, look at the reviews of any product and see what seems to be an infinite amount of praise of not only the product, but anything by Mally Beauty!) The products offer long-lasting wear and all the necessary ingredients for cosmetics that work for every lifestyle.

You can find these products and more on MallyBeauty.com as well as from QVC.com.

If you are looking to update your look for fall, these products are great starters for your makeover as well as a great introduction to what this line of cosmetics can provide. Whether you are looking for something glam or something natural, Mall Beauty has got you covered.

Evercolor Poreless Face Defender

The Evercolor Poreless Face Defender from Mally Beauty

Although it’s not a powder, use Face Defender whenever you would use translucent powder to protect your makeup and diminish the appearance of pores and fine lines.

The formula isn’t a powder, but it isn’t a gel either. To use, swirl the buffed-edge Japanese sponge that the product comes with in the unique formula and pat your face. This product glides on smoothly and feels light on your face.

Face Defender will give your face a matte finish and set your look in place. It will reduce shine and last all day, even in warmer climates where makeup can seem like it’s melting off your face. Not only does it trump powder in its use, but it also will not make a mess or spill like other products.

If you aren’t already in love with the product description so far, the clear formula will always match your skin tone. If you are in between shades or if you are darker in the summer months and paler in the winter months, you won’t need to worry about buying multiple powder products to match your skin tone.

Age Rebel Lip Wand TrioAge Rebel Lip Wand Trio from Mally Beauty

These lip colors come in shades of two pretty pinks and a deeper berry shade. The beautiful colors appear and feel natural on lips.

To apply, slide the Age Rebel Lip Wand of choice and feel the smooth soft color on your lips. No need to worry about sharpeners with this product- simply twist the tube to reveal more lipstick.

The Age Rebel Lip Wand formula was created for more than just gorgeous lip color. This products works double time by providing hydration and conditioning for lips. Although not advertised, I’m convinced the lip wands have a subtle vanilla taste. Either way I’m absolutely in love with these lip colors.

Age Rebel Lip Wand Trio and Waterproof Shadow Stick Duos from Mally Beauty

Age Rebel Waterproof Shadow Stick Duo

Age Rebel Shadow Duo from Mally Beauty

If you are looking for flawless vibrant color for your lids look no further than the Mally Age Rebel Shadow Stick Duos. These shadows are designed to not only be beautiful, but also to be easy to use. Simply twist for color and roll the stick across eyelids.

I received sets in Rose Quartz and Chocolate Diamond as well as Royal Amethyst and Antique Gold. The third color combo features a shimmery taupe and green called Smoky Quartz and Emerald. The colors blend easily with other shades in this collection.

I love pairing the sweet pink color of Rose Quartz and the bright metallic of Antique Gold to really make my blue eyes pop. The shadows add a lot of sparkle to eyes to give them some extra WOW factor.

Not only will the Age Rebel shadow sticks make your eyes stand out, but they will treat your skin with anti-aging ingredients to smooth and firm. The waterproof formula lasts all day and feels very light.

Before applying these shadows, use a primer or a shadow base like the one in the following Mally palette to ensure long-lasting wear. Unlike some waterproof and long-lasting make ups I’ve tried, I had no trouble in washing these shadows off with face wash at the end of the day.

Citychick In the Buff Shadow Palette

This palette is perfect for creating subtle and natural looking eye makeup looks. The Citychick in the Buff Shadow Palette offers eleven neutral colors plus a shadow base. The colors range from matte to a bit a shimmer, although nowhere near the amount of glitz in the Age Rebel shadows.

This palette is your one stop shop with browns, taupes, and bronzes that blend with each other to create a classic barely there look. Create looks perfect for the weekend and office with the lighter shades as well as a night out with the darker shades.

The palette is designed in a chic green snakeskin patterned box. Inside the box you’ll find the shadows and base as well as a mirror and a double-ended brush.Citychick In the Buff Shadow Palette from Mally Beauty


Ricotta Pasta Toss

Ricotta Pasta Toss RecipeThis dish is my new favorite. It is a very easy and simple dish that goes with most items already in your kitchen. I was lucky enough to have some ricotta leftover after making a vegetable lasagna that I went to find inspiration for a new meal to use it in.

Between what I saw online and what I had in my fridge and cabinets I created my own delicious recipe! It goes great with bread or breadsticks and can work with any variety of pasta and vegetable combinations. This is sure to be a new staple in my diet!

What you’ll need:

– Ricotta

– Pasta (I used shells and mini penne on two different occasions.)

– Butter

– Milk

– Vegetables (I used zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and red pepper.)

– Lemon Pepper Seasoning

– Olive Oil

– Salt

Ricotta Pasta Toss Recipe


Slice vegetables up. After the water for pasta is boiling, fry the vegetables all together in a pan with a little olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Stir occasionally. Cook pasta as directed.

Measure out enough ricotta cheese to cover your pasta and vegetables. Add a bit of butter and milk (If you have it on hand you could use heavy cream or an egg if you don’t mind consuming raw egg.) to your cheese to make it creamy and easy to coat your pasta dish. Add this to the dish before serving and mix well.

Ricotta Pasta Toss Recipe



Recovery Tips Following a C-Section

Sleeping woman by NetrisC-sections account for roughly one-third of all births in the United States these days. Some are planned while others are emergency c-sections. Whatever the case, it may help to have some recovery tips in mind when it comes to healing from your c-section. Of course, everyone responds differently to pain and each person’s body is different from the next. C-section recovery will certainly vary from one person to the next, but there are still a few important things you can do to help yourself heal if you know you are going to have a c-section.

Newborn baby by MelkingNo matter if you have a high or a low tolerance for pain, a c-section is considered major abdominal surgery. Even if you are the most active, on-the-go person, you must not overdo it. Your laundry and your dishes can wait. Your husband, parents, friends, siblings, or neighbors may want to help you with things around the house, run out to do your grocery shopping, cook you meals… let them. You need to take it easy and rest up so you can be the best mom you can be for your precious new baby.

Shannon Smith, a PR consultant and mother of a soon-to-be one-year-old, recommends the following advice when it comes to recovering from your c-section:

•Ice, ice and more ice. “I actually found an ice pouch at CVS that was shaped like a bag of pees and found that to be the perfect size,” advises Smith.

•Take a warm bath as soon as you’re given the green light. “The warm water really helps the healing process by getting your blood circulating by the incision, plus it feels so good and is a great way to relax,” she says.

•Walk as much as you can, as long as you can, but don’t push it. “I found that being active right away definitely helped get me back on my feet,” she recalls. “Even with a c-section, I lost all the baby weight within a couple of weeks. (Of course I would say that good genes, a lot of luck, and breastfeeding really helped.)”

•Stay on top of your pain medication. “Don’t wait until you ache,” Smith cautions. “Take your medication every four hours (or however it’s prescribed) so you can stay ahead of the pain. The 800 mg ibuprofen really helped.”

The C-Panty After Cesarean Underwear (Incision Care) may be another way to help your body recover from a c-section, especially in caring for your tender midsection. C-Panty is designed to help with swelling, scarring, sensitivity, tenderness, and slimming post partum. This post-surgery undergarment has a tummy cut and a non-binding, fluted waist to avoid putting pressure on your incision and surrounding areas. It essentially eliminates the elastic waistband found with most traditional underwear.  C-Panty also provides moderate support and compression to help control swelling and tummy shaping.

The interior of C-Panty has a silicone panel where the c-section incision is located to increase the moisture in that area while helping with scarring and related symptoms. This garment also has a full-cut rear and the entire piece is made of smooth, stretchy fabric. For more information on C-Panty and related products, check out www.cpanty.com or www.upspringbaby.com.

Having someone available to cook you and your husband dinner when you get home can be a lifesaver, at least from all the takeout you might otherwise eat. Try to avoid bending – crouch instead, only if necessary. Also limit climbing stairs or other challenging activities. Always follow your doctor’s orders!

But healing from the surgery isn’t the only consideration following a c-section. You may need help caring for other children that you have, for pets, or for your garden or other responsibilities. Another thing to consider is bonding with your new baby.

“The researchers [in this study] suggest that vaginal birth stimulates the more rapid release of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a medical doctor and nutritionist. “Oxytocin is released during active labor and delivery. It’s been shown to be a factor in mother-child bonding. Some research has linked C-section delivery with higher rates of post partum depression and this may be due to the discrepancies in oxytocin release.

“For increasing bonding and treating post partum depression, I recommend magnesium (400 mg twice a day in a magnesium citrate powder form… dissolved in water it can be sipped throughout the day) and zinc (10 mg) and a homeopathic remedy called Ignatia 30C, 4 pellets three times a day for a week.”

Dean advises that magnesium and zinc can also aid surgical recovery, in addition to good nutrition, fiber, and getting out of bed as soon as realistically possible.

About the Experts:

Shannon Smith is a public relations professional and mother of a soon-to-be one-year old. She shared her personal experience in recovering from a c-section.

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND is a medical doctor and nutritionist with over 25 years of experience. She’s authored 22 books, including “Future Health Now Encyclopedia,” “The Complete Natural Guide to Women’s Health,”  “Hormone Balance,” “Menopause Naturally,” “365 Ways to Boost Your Brain Power: Tips, Exercise, Advice,” “The Yeast Connection,” “IBS for Dummies,” and “The Magnesium Miracle.”

Images courtesy of http://www.stockfreeimages.com/


Creative Labor Day Gift Ideas

Creative Labor Day Gift IdeasWhen you go to someone’s home for a Labor Day party or picnic, it can be nice to bring along a special gift for the host and hostess. Depending on the person, you can choose something sweet and simple or you can consider a wide array of more creative Labor Day gift ideas. Whatever you decide, the sentiment is sure to be appreciated. Here are a number of creative Labor Day gifts to consider for your friends and family.

Before selecting the perfect Labor Day gift, be sure to consider your budget. You can find nice Labor Day gifts at just about any price point, so the sooner you start thinking about what to bring, the better chance you have of finding a great gift that fits into your desired budget.

Consider these creative Labor Day gift ideas:

•    A nice bottle of wine
•    Bottle of scotch
•    Box of chocolates
•    Craft beers
•    Fruit basket
•    Salty snack basket
•    Flowers in the colors of red, white, and blue
•    Grill charms (to mark whose burger or meat is whose)
•    Wine charms (likewise)
•    Scented candle (think apple pie or something festive!)

Instead of an actual Labor Day gift, you might also consider bringing something to help take away a bit of the cost burden for the family hosting the party. You can offer to bring pies, cookies, or another dessert item. You might also offer to bring a fruit salad, veggie tray, or meat and cheese platter to help prepare for guests’ arrival. If you are close with the family hosting the party, offer to arrive early to help prepare and set up. Sometimes this simple act goes far beyond the idea of a host or hostess gift.

It isn’t always necessary to bring a present for the host or hostess when you go to a party, but it is definitely a classy gesture that they are sure to appreciate. If your budget can swing it, try to take a nice creative Labor Day gift with you to the party this year.


Kokopax Savannah Baby Sun Hat Review

Bubbles Sun HatKeeping the sun out of your baby’s eyes and off of her skin is such an important task, especially when you go places like the beach, the park, or anywhere you will be outside for a duration of time. Baby sun hats are a vital part of your child’s summer attire, and they can truly keep your infant safe from sunburn as well as bugs, the bright glare of the sun, or even a sprinkling of rain. The kokopax Savannah Baby Sun Hat is designed to keep your little one safe from the elements and stylish for the fun of it.

The kokopax Savannah Baby Sun Hat is available in a variety of patterns, colors, and sizes to suit your baby’s needs and your personal sense of style for your child. I received a Savannah Baby Sun Hat (6-12 mos.) in the “bubbles” pattern, which is a cool earthy color combination of greens, white, and shades of tan or grey atop a gorgeous chocolate background. The fabric of the hat is durable, but not soft and cuddly. Sun hats are not designed to be cuddly, though, so this 100% cotton canvas hat holds its shape and serves its purpose in keeping your little guy or girl safe from the sun and Mother Nature’s elements.

The no-fuss chin strap has a Velcro closure to help keep the hat secure on your child’s head. My little girl is only three months old, so she’s a bit too small to wear this cute sun hat, but I look forward to next spring and summer when she can enjoy wearing it on vacation before or after her uncle’s graduation and throughout the warm days of late spring and all throughout the summer.

I really like the construction of this hat – it seems to be very well stitched and shaped to comfortably fit the baby’s head. The brim of the hat is just a bit rough and frayed, intentionally, making it look adorably rugged. The hat’s interior has a strip of a liner with cute monkey faces to help it stay on your child’s head and to soften the fabric that touches his or her skin. I truly feel kokopax put great attention to detail into these cute and stylish baby sun hats.

The kokopax Savannah Baby Sun Hat retails for $19.99. For more information or to buy your own Savannah Sun Hat, check out www.kokopax.com. You can also like kokopax on facebook at facebook.com/kokopax for news related to special promotions, new product introductions, and more.


Patriotic Cocktails for Labor Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Anytime

Patriotic cocktailsFestive, patriotic cocktails and alcoholic drinks mixed and poured in true red, white, and blue style may be the finishing touch you’re missing for your party. Or they may just be a nice, relaxing end to a long week at work. If you are planning a party over the long weekend or just looking for some new mixed drink ideas to try, consider these fun and fancy patriotic cocktail recipes for your next gathering.

Before you get started on your party drink mixing, be sure you have all the components you need for an awesome bar setup. Don’t forget the lemons, limes, and maybe some strawberries and blueberries to add to the patriotic color scheme. You can also dress up your drinks with red, white, and blue straws, stirrers, or paper umbrellas.

Fruity Patriotic Alcoholic Drinks
Some of the most fun alcoholic drinks may be the fruitiest ones. Consider mixing up any of these popular and delicious party drinks for your next patriotic party.

–    Strawberry Daiquiri or Strawberry Margarita
–    Pina Colada
–    Blueberry Daiquiri or Blue Raspberry Daiquiri
–    Blue Hawaiian
–    Cranberry and Vodka
–    Jungle Juice

You should also consider making a pitcher or two of Sangria. Try white sangria or traditional sangria with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries for color instead of lemons, limes, and oranges.

Layered Patriotic Alcohol Drinks and Mixers
Layered patriotic alcohol drinks, actually layered drinks in general, can be a lot of fun to mix and drink. Here are some fun layered drinks to consider for your next Labor Day, Memorial Day, or 4th party.

–    Miami Vice – Half Pina Colada and half Strawberry Daiquiri
–    Try the above with Blueberry or Blue Raspberry Daiquiri instead!
–    Red, White, & Blue Shooter
–    Layered Fruit Drink
–    Stars and Stripes Cocktail

For additional tips on making layered shooters and drinks, check out these tips on how to make a layered shooter.

Other Patriotic Alcoholic Drinks
You can make just about any drink patriotic by sticking a mini toothpick flag into a maraschino cherry and tossing it in. Another option is to make pitchers of three different drinks – one red, one white, and one blue. You can also fill up martini glasses with drinks in any of the three patriotic colors. Use your imagination and you will think of all kinds of patriotic cocktail recipes to try for Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.

They may not be drinks, per se, but you can have a lot of fun mixing up patriotic Jello shots for your next Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Fourth of July party. Mix up a red flavor like cherry, raspberry, or strawberry, and a blue flavor like blue raspberry or grape (purple may be close enough). You can make your patriotic Jello shooters in plastic medicine cups designed for this purpose, or make them in ice cube trays or in a flat dish that you can carve them out into bite-sized cubes.

Remember, even if none of the drinks you already know suit your preferences, you can always mix up something totally brand new. Craft your own signature cocktails and then take a few moments to think up some alcoholic drink names for Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July. What are your favorite drinks to enjoy around the three summer holidays? Please share your favorites and any clever suggestions you have in our comments below.

Image © Photoroller | Stock Free Images


Top Labor Day Events to Enjoy with Family and Friends

Labor Day events 2012Labor Day Weekend 2012 is just about here. Many people plan to go to the beach for the long holiday weekend while others may plan to host or attend Labor Day celebrations, like a Labor Day party or pool party, barbecue, or picnic. Still others may be looking for Labor Day events to attend or activities to try. If you are still wondering what to do for Labor Day weekend, you can rest assured that you aren’t the only one. Sometimes some of the best plans for a holiday weekend are the spontaneous ones. Check out these ideas for Labor Day 2012 events that you can enjoy with your family, your sweetheart, or just your friends.

Remember, some Labor Day events and activities take little to no planning, and some even take little to no money. You can plan a fun Labor Day for your whole family to enjoy, or a romantic Labor Day weekend for just you and your sweetheart. If you aren’t attached, be sure to get together with your closest pals for a fun long weekend away from work. Here are a few Labor Day events to consider this year.

Labor Day Festivals and Parades
What is Labor Day without patriotic parades and festivals? You can find a lot of great family-friendly things to do for the holiday weekend when it comes to outdoor festivals, parades, and other big celebrations. Look in your local newspaper or check the Web for locations near you that will be hosting any kid of community celebration, parade, or festival. You might find a county fair, a carnival, an outdoor dance, or other special Labor Day event as well.

Labor Day Weekend Concerts
There’s just something about outdoor concerts that make for an amazing time, whether with friends, your significant other, or family. If the holiday weekend is nice and sunny, you can really enjoy some Labor Day weekend concerts in your community or a short drive away. A lot of outdoor concert venues are connected to a restaurant or bar where you can order food and drinks to enjoy outside along with the music. You might also be able to bring your own food and drinks to certain venues, especially if you are going to enjoy concerts in the park or another public location.

Labor Day Car Shows
A car show may not immediately come to mind when you think of things to do on Labor Day weekend, but you can definitely enjoy some time with family, friends, or your sweetheart at a Labor Day car show. A quick Google search will pull up all the Labor Day car shows, and potentially one in your area or within a short drive. Some car shows taking place on Labor Day weekend include Kiwanis of Boyne City’s annual Labor Day Weekend Car Show, the 3rd Annual Maple Falls Labor Day Car Show/Rod Run, and Spirit Lake’s Labor Day Car and Motorcycle Show, to name just a few.

If you know of a local car club or hot rod club, check their website for a listing about any upcoming car shows, especially one for the Labor Day festivities.

Other Labor Day Celebrations
If you are still thinking about what to do on Labor Day weekend, you may want to check with your friends and family to find out what they are doing. You might also consider visiting a grandparent, going out for ice cream, or for a trip to the park to rollerblade, ride on the swings, or take your dog for a walk.

One of the most popular Labor Day traditions seems to be the Labor Day barbecue or the Labor Day picnic with family and friends. If you are still on the hunt for Labor Day weekend events to fill your nice, long weekend, consider hosting a barbecue or a picnic for Labor Day. You can also have a pool party, go to a water park, check out the beach for Labor Day, go on a hike, a bike ride, or even a boat ride in a nearby lake.

If your close family members can’t be with you to celebrate Labor Day, you can also set up a Skype session with them so you can chat and see each other for a few moments. This can be especially nice when there is a new baby in the family, or when family members live across the country from each other.

Labor Day Fireworks
No Labor Day celebration would be complete without fireworks in the evening! Labor Day fireworks can be a romantic activity to enjoy with your sweetheart or it can be a nice family outing for your kids to enjoy, or even your grandparents. You can also get together with your friends after the Labor Day picnic or barbecue for a fireworks display – just bring a blanket and some bug spray, and maybe a few snacks or drinks. Better yet if you can see the local fireworks from your patio, deck, or hot tub!

What are you planning to do for Labor Day 2012? Share your Labor Day ideas in our comments below!


Slick Sugar Belly Banter Milestone Stickers

Belly BanterNo doubt you’ve seen the onesie stickers to mark each of your baby’s “month birthdays.” Well, Slick Sugar takes things a step further with their own Belly Banter Milestones stickers. These circular stickers are easy to apply and easy to remove, allowing you to save them for your baby’s scrapbook, memory box, or other crafty keepsake. These onesie stickers announce some of your baby’s proudest moments for all of your family and friends to see, like crawling, sitting up, rolling over, and first steps, to name just a few.

Slick Sugar also offers sets of 15 Belly Banter onesie stickers for the month birthdays (unisex, boy, and girl), holidays, and even a set for the expecting mom. The milestones set I received for the purpose of this review includes an array of cute and clever sayings on 15 belly stickers. A few examples are: “This is how I ROLL,” “I can SIT,” “Catching some Zzzzz,” and “giggle.” The milestone stickers announce first steps, sitting, crawling, rolling over, first words, first haircut, sleeping through the night, fruits and veggies, road trip, and more.

Each sticker is 4” and it can be easily adhered and removed to your baby’s clothing. Once you apply the sticker, be sure to snap as many adorable photos as you can muster. Capture your baby’s firsts with these stickers and your camera, and then arrange the sticker and corresponding photos in your baby book or scrapbook.

I also received an adorable yellow peace sign onesie from Slick Sugar with my own set of Belly Banter milestone stickers. These stickers would make a great gift idea for any baby shower or as a sweet little gift for no particular reason for the mom-to-be.

The Belly Banter Milestones Sticker Set and other styles in the collection retail for $14.99. For more information about Slick Sugar and Belly Banter, check out http://slicksugar.com/shop/category/belly-banter.


Rainy Labor Day Ideas and Activities to Enjoy Inside

Rainy Labor Day ideasEveryone always hopes for sunshine and warm weather on Labor Day weekend, especially when Labor Day parties, picnics, and barbecues fill up the calendar for this long holiday weekend. If the weather forecast predicts a rainy Labor Day weekend, don’t worry about it too much – there are lots of things to do on a rainy Labor Day. No matter if you are having a party, going to a picnic, or just hanging out with your sweetheart, your family, or your friends, you can find something fun to do for Labor Day inside.

Labor Day weekend can be a great time to travel, throw a party, or go to someone else’s barbecue or picnic. If rain is on the way, you don’t have to scrap your plans. You can still find lots of enjoyable things to do in the rain or inside during a rainy Labor Day.

Inside Rainy Labor Day Activity Ideas
Here are some rainy Labor Day ideas for you to try if the weather isn’t cooperating for your barbecue, picnic, or party.

•    Have a scavenger hunt inside.
•    Set up some indoor karaoke.
•    Do Labor Day crafts with the kids.
•    Run a board game marathon.
•    Have a movie marathon with only movies that are patriotic in nature.
•    Mix up red, white, and blue cocktails (if you are old enough to drink).
•    Make red, white, and blue slushies and smoothies (no matter what your age).
•    Have a video game competition.
•    Go shopping and hit up all the amazing Labor Day weekend sales.
•    Break your group into two teams and have an indoor decathlon of events. You can do puzzles, games, and other indoor activities. Best of 10 – only one winner!

These Labor Day ideas if rain’s outside should help to tide you over until the weather clears. Hopefully it won’t rain for the entire Labor Day weekend!

Rainy Labor Day Meals
If the rain is pouring down, grilling might not be your favorite option. You can find a few alternatives to the traditional holiday weekend fare by considering a few rainy Labor Day food ideas. Check out these examples of non-grilled Labor Day food for starters:

•    Meatballs and sauce in crock pots
•    Hoagies
•    Roast beef or turkey sandwiches (hot)
•    Baked ham with pineapple
•    Stir-fried veggies
•    Pork fried rice
•    Sweet and sour chicken
•    Baked ziti
•    Take-out from your local pizza shop, Chinese food place, etc.

Don’t forget delicious Labor Day desserts – brownies or Rice Krispie Treats with red, white, and blue sprinkles, themed sugar cookies, all-American chocolate chip cookies, sheet cake with strawberries and blueberries, fruit salad, and more. What are your favorite patriotic desserts?

Rainy Labor Day Picnic Ideas
If you are going on a Labor Day picnic, you might want to plan to hang out inside. Consider finding a place with shelter for your picnic, like an outdoor party tent, or have a picnic for two in your car, clubhouse, or garage. A Labor Day picnic with many guests may need to move the entire event indoors, perhaps in a basement or garage if not throughout the whole house. If the rain tapers off a bit, you can have your rainy Labor Day events move out to your deck or patio, even if there is still a little drizzle coming down.

If you still want to have a picnic in the rain, consider putting down a few water resistant tarps or setting up an outdoor party tent. You can also try a large beach umbrella or consider tailgating instead of doing the full picnic routine. Since Labor Day is a long weekend, you might also consider having a “rain date” if you can plan it far enough in advance.

To make things more festive despite the gray and gloomy weather, don’t forget to set up your red, white, and blue decorations for an inside Labor Day party. You can also ignore the weather and play outside in the rain if you feel so inclined!

What’s your rainy Labor Day plan? If you have other suggestions for Labor Day rain ideas, please share them below in our comments.


Baby and Toddler Sippy Cups and Water Bottles

Hello Kitty sippy cupIt’s pretty exciting when your child meets new milestones, whether it’s a first smile or being able to roll over, walk, or hold a bottle. When your little one graduates from baby bottles to toddler cups, sippy cups, and even kiddie water bottles, this can also be an exciting milestone. So many different colors and styles of baby cups and toddler cups are available, waiting for the moment when your babe is ready for his or her “big kid cup.”

Philips AVENT offers a wide array of kiddie cups and baby bottles to suit just about every need when it comes to drink ware for kids. The Philips AVENT Toddler Straw Cups (one-pack and two-pack, 9 oz. or 12 oz., ranging from $4.99 to $9.99) come in a variety of colors and designs, and they are perfectly adorable for your little ones. These 12-oz cups are designed for toddlers age 18+ months. Moms will love how the twist top keeps the straw clean and connected while kids will love how much fun it is to do the twisting. These toddler cups can be easily disassembled and are fully dishwasher safe. Perhaps the best feature is that these straw cups for kids are also leak-proof and easy to clean, not to mention easy for your child to hold and use independently. The pieces of this cup are also fully interchangeable with the complete Philips AVENT product line.

I received an adorable set of two Philips AVENT Toddler Cups Straw Cups in a beautiful bright pink color with a super cute bunny in a sailboat design. Next to the bunny’s sailboat is a teeny sailboat with a little mouse. The bottles themselves show measurements for US ounces as well as ml / cc. The straw is detachable and easy to replace, as well as bite resistant due to its silicone composition.

Philips AVENT also offers a sippy cup known as the Toddler Spout Cup (sold in one-pack and two-pack, 7 oz. and 9 oz., ranging from $4.49 to $8.99). I received a green cup with a cute bunny and kitty design, though blue and pink cups are also available. This cup holds 9 oz. and is rated for ages 12+ months. I love that the cup has two handles, making it easy for kids to drink and hold the cup. This spill-free sipper has a hard spout with a flip-top lid to ensure the parts touching your child’s mouth remain clean. This cup is also easy to clean and assemble, while also interchangeable with other Philips AVENT cups and bottles.

AVENT Drinking CupThe Toddler Natural Drinking Cup by Philips AVENT ($6.99) is the ideal way to help your little one transition from a sippy cup to an adult cup. I received a red cup, which has no spout and no straw – it is fully designed to help your child learn how to use a regular cup or glass. This 9 oz. “first grownup cup” has a lip-activated valve that releases the liquid when your child wants to drink. What a clever design! Who would have thought it possible to teach children how to drink from a regular cup without having to chance big spills or breakage with your regular cups and glasses! This product is also orthodontist recommended and it allows kids to drink from all the way around the rim of the cup, not just in one place. A plastic lid is included for good hygiene, and the cup also has handles for easy holding. True to the Philips AVENT way, this cup is also interchangeable with others in the product line.

These Philips AVENT products are BPA free, sturdy, and durable for little hands. Get yours at Babies R Us, Walmart, Target, Meijer, Fred Meyer, and Amazon.com. For more information about Philips AVENT baby products, visit www.philips.com/avent.

SIGG brand won’t leave you wishing for a cute and stylish, functional water bottle for your little one. SIGG crafts attractive, made-to-last water bottles for toddlers through adults, with an adorable collection of bottles for kids, with cute designs like the Hello Kitty SIGG water bottle I received for the purpose of this review. The lovely Hello Kitty is on the front and back of the water bottle, surrounded by a few clouds and pretty red balloons on a pale pink water bottle. The bottle’s cap is black and hot pink with a flip-top that reveals a turnable spout. Removing the lid reveals a sturdily constructed metal bottle that is eco-friendly and 100% recyclable. All materials in this SIGG bottle for kids are also BPA free.

SIGG kids’ bottles are available in a wide array of colors and designs featuring popular characters and toys like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and more. Choose from .3 and .4 L bottles, and even teen bottles and those for adults. SIGG products are Swiss-made in the highest quality using a single piece of aluminum to create a bottle without a seam that is leak-proof and durable. Be sure your entire family gets the recommended eight glasses of water per day with these fun and functional water bottles! For more information about kid bottles and other SIGG products, check out www.sigg.com and http://www.sigg.com/ch-shop/en/kids.html.


Hot Fall 2012 Nail Polish Colors and Trends

hot fall 2012 nail colorsFall nail polish colors and trends for 2012 promise to be darker, more mysterious, and richer than their summer counterparts. Keep in mind that as the weather becomes chillier and the leaves turn brown, the color palette for this season will be in the same tone. Let’s take a tour of the hottest nail trends for fall 2012.

Dark hues
Perhaps the most popular nail trend for fall will be of a more subdued elegance embodied by dark hues such as midnight blue, copper, and burgundy. The nails at Wes Craven were of the same look and feel. Dark, mysterious, but still as beautiful…

Black, but not quite
There’s plum, blackened malachite, black coffee, and midnight blue nails. These were achieved by combining two shades – one in a deep and vibrant hue and the other in an almost black shade. To make midnight blue, for example, you can combine Essie’s Electric Purple and Black Jack topped with a matte finish. Perfect for nail polish for fall evenings.

Crimson makes a big comeback this year. Red hot lips, whether with a blue or orange base, look great with crimson nails. This bold red nail trend also works well with metallic accessories as the color really pops. Other shades of red are as equally stunning- there’s coral and fire engine red, among others.

Fall 2012 nail trends aren’t just about the darker shades. Some designers like Rachel Anotoff like it spunky and colorful. Nail art, well, it never ceases to become a favorite. In fact, some summer shades such as watermelon, cucumber, lime green, and cobalt transition well into fall.

A little bit of shimmer is always beautiful. In fact, it goes pretty well with dark colors, giving them a little kick. Matte nails are also in season. Think subdued hues that are as matte as the most luscious matte lip color. Such a perfect combination, right? Like red, it goes well with metallic since the metallic shine is a stark contrast to the vivid matte color.

Other mainstays for fall nail trends this 2012 come from the summer hype. There’s ombre, neon colors, nude and neutral shades, as well as the classic French tip. Oval or short and round nails are still the best canvass for this seasons colors and trends in nails- classic neat and trim nails are always a sight to see- as well as beige and light pink lacquer.

The top brands in the beauty industry have been releasing their fall 2012 lacquer collections and these popular nail colors are widely available as early as today. OPI has its Germany collection which boasts a variety of rich colors such as Unforgettably Blue, Don’t Talk Bach To Me, and Deutsch You Want Me Baby. Pretty catchy names, a typical OPI trademark.

Essie also released its fall collection, Yogaga, with Pilates Hottie, Gym Dandy, and Boxer Shorts. These come in a lighter shade compared to OPI’s Germany collection.

A new fall favorite nail polish brand is the British laquer Butter. It just released its new fall/winter 2012 collection that’s sure to add sparkle into your life. I’m thinking this is a good set for nights around town.

The fall and winter collection for 2012 is all about the subdued elegance that comes in every bottle of color. Whether you prefer bold and dark tones or bright shades for your fall nails, be sure to add a new shade or two to your polish collection just in time for the autumn of 2012.