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July 25, 2016

LeapFrog's LeapStart Interactive Learning Books GIVEAWAY

LeapStart Learning System
I'm always looking for age appropriate learning tools for my twins as they continue to discover and grow.

As a LeapFrog Mom Squad member, we recently tested out their latest learning solution, the new LeapStart ($39.95), an all-in-one interactive early learning system for Preschool through 1st grade, jam packed with key school and life skills for curious 2-7-year-olds.

The LeapStart works with a library of replayable activity books (not games) that are sold separately for $12.99 each. The device comes with a sampler book though to get you started. Each book focuses on different skills from reading and writing to math, coding and STEM and more. Every book has the proper age range recommendation listed, which is super helpful.

Once a parent registers the device, you then need to download the compatible audio for the activity book, but it's pretty easy to do so. The book's binding then gets inserted into the LeapStart holder, much like an old school Trapper Keeper, but without the scary claws.

A pen-shaped stylus is connected to the device and encourages fine motor skills and supports proper writing grip. With this pointer children then tap to discover more within the book and solve the questions being asked in the different activities. Kids can tap any page or image to activate audio responses and play tasks designed to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

My Take: This is the perfect aged tool for my preschool boys right now as they start to trace, learn their numbers and practice letter recognition. I also like that while it incorporates technology, it's not another screen, but more like an interactive book. In fact, it needs a book to make it work. Unlike a delicate screen that I have to make sure they don't drop or break, the LeapStart is kid-tough. My twins have even stood on it and all was well, although of course I don't recommend doing that.

The Twins Take: They like it, especially the activities that incorporate music and songs, which most do. Because it folds like a laptop, they call it their computer. The other day while I was working on my laptop, Logan went and got his LeapStart. I looked over to see him studiously tapping away alongside me as I typed. It was too cute.

Your Take: Enter below to win your own LeapStart learning system and try it out with your kiddos! :)

As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share as I see fit. However, any opinions expressed by me are honest and reflect my actual experience. Links may be affiliate.
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July 19, 2016

Blogger Bash Recap 2016

For the last three years, I have been attending the annual Blogger Bash conference in Manhattan. This summer however, it was on a boat! Check out the highlights below from the celebrities that joined us to cool new products and blogging tools.

Celebrities on Board

Ginger Zee at Blogger Bash
Ginger Zee the Good Morning American weather anchor came on board to introduce the child voice actors of the new Peanuts vignettes on Boomerang network. I really enjoyed hearing about her honest experience as a new mom. I was especially sad to hear that she was attacked online for pumping and not spending enough time with her baby while being on Dancing with the Stars. As a mom, I know how terrible mom guilt is and that's mostly the guilt I put on myself, so I can't imagine how difficult it would be to have outsiders being negative and making me feel worse. Terrible. I also teared up at the video she shared of how she informed her husband Ben that she was pregnant thorough an edited video to him, so sweet.

Met the amazing Noah Galloway too, while the combat Army Veteran and Dancing with the Stars finalist was over at the Armitron Watches booth. I was a fan of his on DWTS where I was dazzled by his handsomeness and strength.
DWTS Noah Galloway
I then felt even shorter than I normally do while hanging out with NFL Lineman for the Baltimore Ravens John Urschel 🏈 who was over at the Texas Instruments booth to discuss their STEM Behind Sports program to get kids interested in math and excited for back-to-school. Besides being a cool sports star John is an MIT Mathematics PhD Student. Thus, showing kids that it can be cool to learn math.
With NFL's John Urschel
Oh, and I was excited to send the following pic back home to my boys of me with Jet from the favorite show Super Wings on the Sprout Channel. Also got to preview Auldey Toys' new Super Wings-inspired toys, which I have now added to my boys' future birthday gift list!

Super Wings! 

Products that Stood Out: 

While we met dozens of brands during the two day conference and received demos and samples of new products, some of which I'll go into more detail at a later point, but for now here are some that I found particularly interesting.

So yeah, while on the boat, I ate a cricket! Yes, you read that right. A dead, dried insect. Why? Because apparently they are a high-protein, nutrient rich, environmentally friendly, alternative to meat. Surprisingly, covered in salt and spices, it tasted like a crunchy pumpkin seed. Aketta produces cricket flour and dried roasted crickets in a bag. My boys are in need of protein so I brought back some for them to try. Hopefully they find the idea disgustingly fun and will try it. Boys!

Hello Peanut
Did you know you should be introducing your infant to peanuts before six months of age? Scientific research shows EARLY introduction of peanuts to infants helps prevent peanut allergies from developing. Hello Peanut is a new way to gradually introduce peanuts to infants! Made of an all-natural USDA certified organic blend of peanut and sprouted oats, the introductory system includes seven packets that are mixed into stage one foods over the course of seven days. The amount of peanut in each packet gradually increases each day.

Four Roses Bourbon
Four Roses Bourbon - As you may know, I'm a whiskey drinker and while I normally prefer single malt Scotch, I really enjoyed the Small Batch bottle of Four Roses, which was surprisingly smooth. I also thought the bottles were lovely with their wooden tops and etched roses on the glass bottles.

Since we aren't coffee drinkers, we only keep a single serve Keurig machine in the house and K-Cups for when guests visit and need their java. My mother included. However, I always ask that they save the used cups instead of tossing them, so I can cut into them and add the grinds to my compost. It's dirty and time consuming, but not for much longer. Now there are certified 100% compostable pods from Chock Full o' Nuts, Kauai Coffee and Hills Bros. Publix carries them even. I'm so going to be buying these from now on. Visit to learn more. Your garden will be greener – and so will the planet.

neckerchew cheeky chomper teething toy
Neckerchew teether
How genius is this product for baby? I wish my boys had Neckerchews from Cheeky Chompers when they were teething. This chew toy catches drool since it is attached to a bib. Also, you don't have to worry about them dropping their teether since it fastens behind their neck. Love the colors and soft fabric and it's reversible too.

Oh, and we want/need Uncle Bubble's MEGALOOP, a giant bubble maker available this holiday season. Take a look at this quick Instagram video where I was able to go inside the bubble, so fun! 

Blogging Tips

Besides the partying and swag, even this seasoned blogger learned a few new tricks and tools the trade to try.

Discovered Tailwind for scheduling pins on Pinterest. The app is currently offering a FREE trial, which I am now starting to take advantage of.

Several bloggers shared that they generate revenue through Linqia. Just signed up to be an influencer there too.

Blogging Concentrated offered lots of great SEO tips. Mostly though, it sounds like I need to finally move over to WordPress, but the idea of moving over 11.5 years worth of content and learning a new system at this stage in the game just makes me depressed and tired. lol

More From Blogger Bash

Caught Periscoping the after party cruise. Photo Credit: Blogger Bash
Watch my Periscope's from the after party cruise around the Statue of Liberty.

For more read my blogging pal Destiny's Blogger Bash 2016 recap.

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July 8, 2016

Making Cleanup Fun for Kids - Swiffer Sweeper Hockey

This post was sponsored by P&G as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. Thanks for the fun!

P&G Household Needs Available at Costco

Like most families, we seem to head to Costco weekly to buy milk, eggs and everyday P&G Household Needs products from Costco. I'm also grateful that all the shopping carts at Costco allow for two children to ride up front, without having to search for an extra-large wagon type cart like we have to do at other stores. As a mom of multiples, this makes my life so much easier.

Speaking of making life easier, I'm all about life hacks, especially when it comes to cleaning, which is my least favorite part of adulthood. Thus, my love of the little details in P&G Household essentials that make them different from other brands, especially their Swiffer products.

We long ago ditched our mop for a Swiffer WetJet. Now that the boys are drinking out of big boy cups, there are a lot of spills and sticky spots being discovered on our tile floors. However, with Swiffer WetJet I can easily clean it up without the hassle and in no time. It's so simple to use and leaves our home smelling fresh and our floors spotless. The Swiffer Sweeper is also great for that touch-up cleaning around the house.

Cleaning Hack: Kids Swiffer Hockey 

I don't know about your kiddos, but mine like to mimic adults. Early on I noticed that when I would vacuum, they would go grab their toy vacuum and pretend to clean up behind me. Same thing when I would use a broom. This got me thinking...instead of pretending to clean with me, why not actually have them help more. Thus, Swiffer Hockey was invented for added Sunday fun in our household.

Materials Needed:
  • - Swiffer Sweeper or Swiffer WetJet (in our case both)
  • - Swiffer Sweeper Dry Pad Refills or Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Pad Refills from Costco
  • - Frisbee or if you're in a bind you can use a soda cap or other puck-like material. 
  • - Net or some sort of goal. You could even use the legs of a chair. 
  • - Silly active kids 


I think you can see where I am going with this.  Start in one area of your floor, arm your kids with Swiffer Sweepers and accompanying pad for hockey sticks, throw down a Frisbee, set up a goal and get out of the way. Remember to keep moving the goal around so they can cover more ground.

It's a win-win -- they have fun, while also helping to clean. Skeptical? You'd be surprised what these pads can pick up, even after you already swept or cleaned. Designed with thick, dirt grabbing ridges and grooves the Swiffer Sweeper dry pads grabs dirt, dust AND hair! We have two cats, so this is especially helpful when they are shedding. Swiffer Sweeper Dry Pad Refills have 3X the cleaning action (common inanimate allergens from cat and dog dander and dust mite matter) and are safe on wood floors, tile, laminate, concrete. So, while they are busy going after the puck, they are also collecting dirt, dust and hair.

Meanwhile, Swiffer Sweeper Wet Mopping Pad Refills are loaded with thirsty little dirt-dissolving cleaners to pull away dirt and grime effortlessly while gliding across your floors.

Also, while they are busy "playing hockey" you can focus on other clean-up tasks that little kids can't help with. Unfortunately. I'm making it sound like I run a sweat shop or something, lol, 

More Fun Tips to Get Kids Involved with Chores

  • - Like P&G's campaign, "details matter" especially to kids, so whenever possible, make cleanup fun. Thus, the hockey example above. 
  • - Take your children shopping with you for cleaning supplies. During our Costco run my boys enjoyed helping to load supplies into the cart, making them more eager to use them later.
  • - Play the Clean Up Song or Whistle While You Work to make mundane toy pick-up and other cleaning choirs more fun for kids. Sing along too. This can also function as a timer or countdown for how long they need to be putting away their stuff before the song stops. 
  • - If you have more than one child. Make it a friendly competition. Most children are much more willing to participate in a game of “Who can clean up the most toys before the three minute timer goes off?
  • - Make it a scavenger hunt. For instance, first pick up everything that is red, then anything with wheels -- you get the idea. This turns clean-up into a game of hide and seek and can also help with teaching colors and shapes too. 
  • - Get them toys that mimic cleaning role play - we have a toy vacuum and broom. 
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June 17, 2016

Why I started using fabric softener, are you?

Before the boys came into the picture, I would only do our laundry once a week ... if that, now every other day. Ugh!

Since I always used dryer sheets, I figured liquid fabric softener was redundant. However, I've now learned with the simple filling of a cap, you can say goodbye to stretching, fading, and pilling, giving your clothes a longer, happier life. Okay, no one told me this before.

Downy Fabric Conditioner also keeps your clothes fresher longer and reduces wrinkles better than using detergent alone. All via a simple pour into every load of laundry.

Apparently, during a ride around the washing machine, garments pull stretch and rub together. Downy conditions, strengthens, and lubricates each fiber to protect clothing from the friction and agitation of a typical washing cycle.

I'm also loving the fresh fragrance that it leaves behind on our clothes, especially on our towels and boys bathing trunks after a day spent at the beach or pool since it successfully rids the strong smells of salt water and chlorine. The boy enjoy sniffing the flowery soap scent right from the bottle too.

Planning on saving your child's clothes for possibly your next baby or planning to resell them?
Downy extends the life of fabric by keeping your clothes looking and feeling like you just picked then up from the store!

TIP: In addition to the protection Downy fabric conditioner offers, turning garments inside out, and washing soft fabrics like cotton on the gentle cycle will keep your clothes looking the best.

Downy Fabric Conditioner is available at Walmart and for everyday low prices. Learn more and shop for it here.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G. I already owned the other Downy products seen in my laundry room.
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June 15, 2016

Applebee's New Hand-Cut Wood Fired Grill Menu

Applebee’s recently unveiled its new American-made, wood-fired grills as the centerpiece of nearly 2,000 U.S. locations, inviting guests to follow the enticing aroma of American Oak smoke into their neighborhood Applebee’s to try a new Hand-Cut, Wood Fired Grill item. These restaurants have renovated kitchens, revamped menus and selected trained chefs to be official in-house Meat Cutters to evaluate and then cut each steak or chop.

The head chef here at the Applebee's location in Estero, FL said in his 15 years of working with the company, he has never seen a kitchen overhaul of its kind and touts the upgraded beef selection.

Now their menu includes hand-cut wood fired offerings include USDA Choice Top Sirloin Steaks and Bone-in Pork Chops.

The new certified USDA Choice Hand-Cut Wood Fired Steaks and Bone-In Pork Chops are also hand-cut by trained meat cutters through a comprehensive process to ensure the highest quality, freshness and optimal thickness. Intrigued? I was.

8 oz USDA Choice Top Sirloin Steaks, Mac and Cheese and Garlic Green Beans

The Wood Fired menu includes: 

  • • 8 oz. and 6 oz. Hand-cut USDA Choice Top Sirloin Steaks (I went with the 8oz rear and it was delicious, cooked to my liking, thick and not too tough or fatty)
  • • Hand-cut Bone-in Pork Chops with Honey Apple Chutney (Raphael tried this item and loved the spicy seasoning) 
  • • Cedar-grilled Salmon with Maple Mustard Glaze 
  • • Grilled chicken breast

Hand-cut Bone-in Pork Chop, Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Broccoli
We typically dine at our neighborhood Applebee's on Sunday nights when kids eat for $1.99 with the purchase of an adult meal and now I'm excited to be able to have these delicious options for us adults! More Kids Eat Free Restaurant Listings in Lee & Collier Counties.

The new Wood Fired menu items are available at Applebee’s locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises in New Jersey, Long Island and 44 restaurants in Florida and Georgia.

Outside of the Wood Fired menu though, we also really enjoyed their Cheeseburger Egg Rolls appetizer with ground beef, cheddar, onion, pickles and signature sauce. It was sinfully cheesy and delicious!

Yummy Cheeseburger Eggrolls
Disclosure: We were skeptical, but really enjoyed our complimentary meal as stated above. No other compensation was exchanged. I eat what and blog about what I like.
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June 7, 2016

Mommy, Movie & Me Thursdays at Silverspot Cinema in Naples

Silverspot Cinema at the Mercato in Naples has launched “Mommy’s Morning Movies,” a special program geared to moms with babies and tots to enjoy a discounted movie together every Thursday for the first show of the day.

Tickets are discounted to $7 compared to normal pricing which is $12.50 and $14.50. Children ages one and under are free though, so definitely bring little brother or sister while your older child takes in a flick.
“This fun program will provide moms with the opportunity to watch a film amongst other moms and young children,” said Randi Emerman, vice president of marketing for Silverspot. “Moms can enjoy a first run film they’ve been wanting to see or a fun film for the little ones.”

I was already a fan of the high-end theater, so am excited to be able to take our family and experience a movie out together without worrying if my boys get fidgety and so forth since I'm sure we'll all be in the same boat. Will be fun to chat with other moms too. Also, with summer heating up, a day in the AC with other kids and a movie will be a diverting respite from the sun.

Join Me June 23 for Finding Dory

They are actually allowing me to host an upcoming show and pick the movie on Thursday, June 23 @ 10:15 a.m. I selected Finding Dory as I know my boys and I can't wait to see it, especially for half the price! I hope you can join us! :)

Silverspot Cinema is located at 9118 Strada Place in Naples, Florida.

Just keep swimming!
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June 1, 2016

Easy Donut Trifle in a Jar - National Donut Day

National Donut Day is Friday, June 3, but I got to celebrate the sweet occasion a little early thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts of Southwest Florida, which invited local Ft. Myers area bloggers and I to sample their newest breakfast sandwiches, frozen beverages and of course - donuts! Twist my arm, right?

They also showed us how to make and easy donut trifle. Check out their new offerings and recipe below!

Summer Treats at Dunkin Donuts 

    Dunkin Donuts Summer coffeesDunkin Donuts summer breakfast sandwiches and donuts
  • The summer try the new Bacon Supreme Omelet Sandwich - This breakfast sandwich comes on a croissant but you can customize the bread from any of their other options like an English muffin, etc. It's topped with bacon, American cheese, and an omelet filled with red and green bell peppers, potatoes and green onions. Eat up!
  • Almond Joy Iced Coffee - sweet and refreshing!
  • Frozen Hot Chocolate -  It's yum! My boys would love this treat in the summer too and it's not as heavy as a milkshake either.
  • Caramel Latte Square - this is the new seasonal square donut this summer
  • Blueberry Cobbler Croissant Donut - this cronut with blueberry filling is fluffy and decadent.
  • Sweet Tea Lemonade - it's a refreshing Arnold Palmer with sweet tea.
  • This summer the Coolatta's are brighter than ever! Try a Blue Raspberry, Watermelon or New Sour Apple Coolatta on a hot day. I liked the Watermelon the best. 

Easy Donut Trifle in a Jar

Easy Donut Trifle in a Jar

Have donuts to spare? Make yummy individual trifles for your family. It's super easy and fun to do. 


  • 6 Dunkin' Donuts Classic Donuts, ripped apart. We used Chocolate Glazed, but you can use any doughnutsyou like! 
  • 1 Can of whipped cream 
  • 1 Box of chocolate pudding prepared according to package instructions or you can cheat further and buy the pre-packaged pudding cups. 
  • 20 Pieces of candy, preferably something chocolatey! We used crumbled Heath bars. 
  • Optional: You can add mini marshmallows into the mix too.


In mason jars or cups, layer the ingredients in the following order: donuts, whipped cream, pudding then candy. 

Heath Candy & Donut Trifle in a Mason Jar

Repeat to fill the mason jars. 

Top with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with more candy. 


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May 25, 2016

Discovering Zaxby's in Fort Myers

The other night I was invited to a media dinner at the brand new Zaxby's location in Ft. Myers by FGCU and Gulf Coast Town Center.

Having been around for 25 years and with almost 800 locations open, you would think I would have already been familiar with the chain eatery serving up fried chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads. However, since they are mostly in the southern states and originating from Georgia, it was the first time this Yankee had ever eaten at a Zaxby's.

I was delighted to discover that everything is made to order, so not the typical fast food experience.

From their appetizers I enjoyed their Tater Chips with blue cheese crumbles on top and paired with a variety of dipping sauces.

Speaking of their sauces, I was too chicken (pun intended) to try their "Insane" hot sauce with their boneless chicken wings, but I did enjoy their Sweet and Sour dip.

ft. myers zaxby's

We were told that this summer, Fried Pickles will return to their menu as a seasonal item. I will need to go back for that!

I was really impressed with their "Zalads," especially The Cobb, which had large pieces of egg, fresh cut grilled chicken and super red tomatoes. A filling, healthy fast food option. 

zaxby zalad cobb salad

I was also a fan of their Nibblerz Chicken Sliders with Zax sauce. They were super juicy and filling. 

Although I was beyond full, I couldn't help buy eye their unique milkshakes - Banana Pudding, Chocolate Cookie and Birthday Cake. For me, the Birthday Cake shake took the cake though (Yes, another corny pun)! Not going to deny leaving with a cup, which are reusable and dishwasher safe by the way.

Unlike other quick service restaurants in the area, this establishment will be open until Midnight each night, so perfect on the way home from the airport, which is right down the road too. 

Also, this summer they will be having Kids Nights with a balloon artist and other fun kid activities. Stay tuned for that. Every day though, there are kids menu options as well.

Oh, and I took it as a good sign (I'm full of puns today!) that along with the roadside signs up on the walls, my two favorite actresses - Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall - photos were in framed photographs inside the restaurant along with some other local area flair. Random, but this classic movie buff delighted in seeing them! :)

One of the franchise owner's Rusti (a former teacher) says they will be opening 3 more locations in Lee County eventually for a total of 5 restaurants here in Southwest Florida.

Have you been to a Zaxby's? What do you like to order there?
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