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Friday, November 21, 2014

Holiday Reminder: Batteries Not Included...

This holiday season as you buy gifts for your children or friends, don't forget the batteries!

I've always thought that it was super considerate when someone not only buys an electronic gift for my boys, but also wraps up a package of batteries to accompany it. It avoids meltdowns and saves mom the trip to the store. Plus, even when toys come with batteries already they never seem to last too long.

I plan to return the favor and 'gift it forward' this year by including batteries with any electronics that I give. In fact, the packaging on the Furby Boom that is going to my step-niece recommends on the packaging to power up with Duracell, but batteries are not included, so I'm wrapping up a Duracell 4-pack from Walmart as well.

TIP: Duracell recommends storing batteries in a dry place at normal room temperature. Despite what people say, do not refrigerate Duracell batteries; this will NOT make them last longer. Good to know once and for all. More usage tips here and on their Facebook page.

So, remember to power the holidays this year with Duracell the "#1 long-lasting battery."

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Duracell
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Peanuts Movie & Snoppy Sno-Cone Giveaway

Ready for the latest Peanuts news? For this month's Charlie Brown Christmas interview I got to speak with Ron Smith of Technicolor. He gave me and fellow Peanuts Ambassadors' exclusive insights into the cutting-edge technology—4k scanning and finishing—that’s making the beloved 50-year-old classic look as fresh and clean as the day it was created.

Basically, viewers will see a richer image that’s closer to the original film than any previous digital version of the special. There are more pixels per inch, so the picture quality is better than ever before on any television screen.

Beyond the classic TV special airing during the holidays there is more news for fans to look forward to. Next year, THE PEANUTS MOVIE hits theaters everywhere on November 6, 2015! In the new 3D, CGI animated comedic adventure, Snoopy, the world’s most lovable beagle – and flying ace! – embark upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home.

To extend the Peanuts magic this holiday, we are giving away a Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine for classic, delicious fun for the whole family. This nostalgic toy lets children create a refreshingly icy treat with just one cube and a few turns of the handle. You’ll love this updated version of The Original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine from the 1970s, which both Time magazine and VH-1 named as one of the 100 best toys of all time. You can enter via the form below (my first time using Gleam and not Rafflecopter, let me know what you think), good luck!

Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lalaloopsy’s World’s Largest Pajama Party!

Over the weekend, we headed to the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando to take part in Lalaloopsy’s World’s Largest Pajama Party! The event included activities and craft stations, photo booth, dance lessons, yummy treats, and a screening of the Girls Movie. The event was live streamed on social media channels world wide.

Here are our fun moving photo booth pics from the party:
Logan especially loved the beanbags and the soft Lalaloopsy blankets that were set up to watch the movie, what a perfect way to take in a flick.
If you plan to do your own Lalaloopsy Pajama Party, definitely make these Sew Cute Button cookies:
The Nickelodeon Suites Resort meanwhile is a kids dream and perfect for large families. This was the view from our suite of  just one of their two pool areas.
We only spent one night in their 2-bedroom suite, but would definitely come back especially since their suites have enough room for all of us with space to spare. We didn't even make it to any of the nearby resorts this trip as we kept plenty busy at the hotel's water park, playground and even did a character dinner with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Disclaimer: I received a discounted media rate for booking our hotel room.  
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Monday, November 3, 2014

A Berry Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Now that Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving is already looming. I was challenged by the #FebrezeHoliday scentspiration kit that I received to switch out my pumpkin centerpieces a little early in prep for the next holiday and I'm glad I did.

The Febreze Home for the Holidays Collection available for a limited time at Walmart can help welcome the upcoming holidays with the scents of Frosted Pine, Apple Tart, Toasted Almond, Vanilla Latte, and Sugared Cranberry. I was especially taken with the Sugared Cranberry scent since every Turkey Day I make homemade cranberry sauce (Tip: after I boil the cranberries with a splash of orange juice, I mix in a can of crushed pineapple to sweeten the sometimes tart dish).

This year, I thought I'd also decorate my Thanksgiving table with cranberries, which can be as easy as filling a clear vase or bowl with loose cranberries or slipping a branch of bittersweet, holly or fall favorite into a ceramic pitcher. I didn't know where to locate real fall branches down here in Florida, so I purchased artificial red berry holly and cranberry branches, which will definitely last longer anyway.

My favorite color is red, so I am really loving this bright home decoration on my table and I can't wait for my family to gather around it at Thanksgiving time (I'm hosting this year!).
While I've already been enjoying the Febreze NOTICEables Sugared Cranberry Air Freshener plugged in, I
plan on getting the Febreze Fabric Refresher spray also in Sugared Cranberry to spritz directly on to the faux berries to add a subtle but festive fragrance to the display.
Febreze Sugared Cranberry Fabric Refresher, 16.9 fl oz
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and Febreze, but all opinions and above statements are naturally my own. 
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Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Guide to Fall and Winter Weather Essentials for Kids

This is a partnered post 

Enjoying the outdoors whatever the weather throws at us is good for kids' development and great for preserving Mom's sanity as well. As the saying has it, there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. If kids are comfortably dressed in weatherproof winter clothes they can enjoy splashing in puddles or making snow angels all winter long.

Outerwear for kids can be quite expensive: however, the benefits of good-quality winter wear for kids are appreciated by their wearers. High-tech fabrics are soft, light and breathable and the most sensitive toddlers should not complain at wearing them. Factors to bear in mind when shopping for kids' cold weather gear are comfort, insulation and flexibility, allowing the freedom to walk, run and jump about whatever the weather.

If your budget is feeling the pinch, try asking around among family and friends for hand-me-downs, as these items are usually outgrown before being worn out. Goodwill stores and second-hand sites are other excellent resources to explore. I also like visiting children specific consignment shops like Once Upon a Child.

For winter weather outfits, layers are a good choice. A padded waterproof jacket or snowsuit overalls worn over pants are flexible and easier to get on and take off than an all-in-one snowsuit - an important consideration if your child is learning to get dressed. Make sure to get your kids outdoorweather garments that fit well. Little kids find running around in snow pants or walking clothes that are slightly too long and bulky a frustrating business!

If you prefer an all-in-one for your toddler, look for a zip that runs right down to the ankle like in the photo above of my boys to allow for easy toilet trips or diaper changes. Cuffs at wrist and ankle should be adjustable with velcro tabs or fully elasticated, to keep out chilly breezes.

Underneath, cotton layers are kind to the most sensitive skin. Synthetic blends that wick moisture away from the skin are also very comfortable. In the coldest weather, a soft woolen knit adds an extra layer of warmth. Long thermal underwear or tights worn under pants will keep little legs cozy.

Thick socks are comforting, but make sure that boots are big enough to fit easily over the top. Socks made from a mix of angora and wool feel especially soft, and can be worn over cotton socks for extra warmth. Kids need two pairs of boots to see them through the winter weather, fleece-lined snow boots and waterproof boots for rainy days.

Mittens are both warmer than gloves and easier for little ones to put on and take off. If your kids tend to lose their mitts, try fastening them to a string that can be threaded through the sleeves of their jacket. Mittens made from water-resistant fabric are an excellent choice for both snowy and wet weather.

To top it all off, a hat is essential to keep little heads warm in cold weather. The best hats have ear-flaps, and are made from fleece or wool. Hats should fasten with Velcro tabs under the chin as tie fastenings can pose a risk to young kids.

Also, come Spring don't forget to take advantage of winter coats and accessory sales and stock up for next season!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 Year Blogaversary!

This month, this year, When Tara Met Blog turned 10-years-old.

Est. in October 2004, I have been blogging for a decade!

That's longer than my marriage, careers or any other accomplishment that I've had. Older than my boys ages combined.

I guess it's not a fad after all ;) booyah skeptics

When I tell people I have a blog, I'll often get asked about how I got started. I definitely didn't expect that I'd still be blogging 10 years later that's for sure. There is also the misconceived notion that I was out for free stuff, but back then people were hardly even aware of blogs and there wasn't the swag or attention that I get now.

I actually started it as dare/project from my graduate professor at NYU J-School who encouraged his class to start "weblogging" to develop our voices and to take part in the new technology. He saw it as the future and 10 years later I think in many ways we can say he was right.  My fellow classmates chose meaty topics for their blogs ranging from politics to some guy saying his was going to be about "different schools of thought," which still sounds vague and pompous to me. When they saw my pink colored blog where I wrote about bad dates, resolutions, office crushes and riding on the subway with Lucky Charms, I received a lot of eye rolls to say the least. Yet, what made mine work and why theirs didn't is that I was having fun with it and I was developing my personal voice. I would get home from work and I couldn't wait to write a new entry. I miss those eager days of sharing into the void with Manhattan as my muse.

My blog started out on Tripod with a long URL and looked terrible with a rotating banner and often broken images. This was before fancy plugins I did most of the CSS coding and graphic design too, which made it all look very childish. Check out my blog from 2005 via the Wayback Machine.
Did you know my blog was even included in a Japanese book about blogging? Its also been mentioned in The New York Times and LA Times, but my first review I ever received was in The Weblog Review, which read: "easy, light, and a refreshing voice in the over populated blogging world... my guess is Tara will have a long list of loyal readers." I still get excited reading that :)

However, there were many times I thought about not blogging, but after a decade it's become a part of who I am.

For 10 years, I have shared stories about being single, finding the love of my life, moving across the country and then back again, my PR career changes and challenges and now motherhood. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

My favorite post: The Company I Keep
My most popular post: Sex and The City Bridal Shower
2nd most popular post: Hair Extensions Take LA
Most popular pin: Tips for Traveling with Twins
1,221 posts on Blogger
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Top Halloween Costumes for 2014 - TMNT, Frozen & Game of Thrones

With Halloween just days away, here are some last minute costume suggestions/inspiration.

As the leading authority for all things Halloween, Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween retailer in North America, announces the most popular Halloween Costumes this year.

·         New Disney characters like Frozen’s Elsa, Anna and Olaf
·         Official Game of Thrones (exclusive license)
·         DIY costume themes around Harlequin, Burlesque, Punk, Leopard and more
·         Disney Princesses including Ariel, Rapunzel and Merida
·         The Walking Dead (exclusive license)
·         Nostalgic Characters such as Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and Where’s Waldo
·         Superheroes including  Batman, Captain America, Spiderman and Transformers
·         Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
·         Day of the Dead 

With a husband named Raphael I thought it only fitting to go with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this year. Plus, their toddler romper outfits are just darling, easy to put on and are great costumes for multiples and siblings too. The shell on the back is plush, like a stuffed animal, making my kids extra huggable. I also like that it doesn't have a mask that goes over their eyes but sits on their head instead, allowing more visibility. Take a look at my cute ninja duo:
Clicks and Pixels Photography
Costumes can be expensive, but at $24.99 each and for what you get, I think it's a bargain. Especially for families like mine that don't make our costumes. They have matching parent TMNT shirts available too, but I didn't order those in time and now they are sold out. However, I plan on checking our local Spirit store this weekend. *fingers crossed*

Plus, did you know that when you purchase a costume from Spirit Halloween you are helping to support their annual tradition of bringing the fun and spirit of Halloween to hospitalized children with its Spirit of Children program. Founded in 2006, Spirit of Children supports Child Life departments across the country, making hospital stays less scary for kids and their families. The program positively impacts thousands of pediatric patients and their families by providing both fun and funding to hospitals during the Halloween season and all year long. This year, Spirit of Children’s goal is to raise $5.2 million nationally, bringing its total contribution to $21 million! Wow!

Also, here is a great Pinterest find of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed treat "Toxic Ooze" i.e. green Jello to give out at Halloween or serve at a kid's birthday party.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Birthday Party ~ Part 1 The Decorations

Related Post: DIY Orange Polka Dot Glitter Pumpkins and White Boo Pumpkins

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but sponsored or not, I only share stuff I love. Truly.
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Family Vacation at Beaches Turks & Caicos - Social Media on the Sand

I recently spent four fabulous days at the all-inclusive Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa to attend the invite-only Social Media on the Sand Conference, which was hosted by Beaches Resorts and BSM Media.

This was actually our first family vacation together, because although we've traveled with our boys before it was always to visit family or we would do an adults only trip without the kids. It was so lovely being all together and it made traveling easier being at a resort that specializes in families like Beaches.

I've stayed at all-inclusive resorts before with long buffet lines, dirty carpets, watered down drinks, low class guests and it left a bad taste in my mouth, but fortunately Beaches Resorts is on a different league with 5-star service.
Beaches Resorts is celebrating 10 years partnering with Sesame Street
Our stay was pure luxury and everything really was included from food at 19 specialty dining options to unlimited top-shelf liquor (they have a partnership with Remy so Dewar's White Label was available and they have wine bottled exclusively for Beaches - I liked the Cabernet), water sports including Scuba diving in the beautiful azure waters that PADI voted as the Top 5 in the world (we went snorkeling), shuttle transfers to and from the airport and even a kids camp for all ages including infants and toddlers! Plus, lots more like Pirates Island - a big water park for all ages featuring nine slides, lazy river, surf simulator, water cannons, cranks and spray features. Oh, and another bonus, they have a ‘No Tipping’ policy for all staff except Butlers and Spa Therapists.
One of three swim up bars. Yes, please!
Once there I loved NOT feeling nickle and dimed by  having to pay for add-ons or hidden fees. Even tax is included in your per person, per night rate up front. Thus, although the upfront price is higher than going on a cruise, which is what we normally do, but once you arrive, that's it. With cruising you then have to pay for liquor, excursions, etc.and that all adds up.

Starting next month, there will also be free WiFi in every room and when you don't have a cell phone that works internationally, this is key for staying in touch with family back home. There's more to come though! Sandals/Beaches Resorts CEO Adam Stewart says their resorts could include bowling alleys, ice rinks and a movie theater. Wow!

When speaking about his staff Stewart said "The only time you will hear us say 'no' is when we say 'no problem.'" I loved that. We asked our room attendant for milk to put in our mini bar for the boys and by that afternoon it was there. *sigh* So helpful and these little courtesies made for a less stressful trip.

I know I could go back several times and never be bored as there's so much to do and we barely explored and experienced everything and only ate at a handful of their restaurants. We can't wait to go again as the boys get older and I'd also love to visit their other locations one day.
As if the trip and conference weren't enough, Social Media in the Sand attendees were further pampered with goodies and experiences from partners: Coppertone, Avon, Jolen, Party City, HP, Lands’ End, IRISTOCRACY’s fine eye-wear sunglasses (seen in photo below), Yummie by Heather Thomson (I already own and love their products), Earth's Best, neuro drinks, Sea-Band, Certain Dri (so helpful since we forgot to pack antiperspirant), Cystex Plus and Puracyn Wound and Skincare Solution.
Sporting my new Iristocracy shades
Also, look at these super cute teal FlipOut Sandals, where you can easily change the style of them by switching out the different charms from bejeweled roses, to hearts to butterflies.
FlipOut Sandals
The boys weren't left out either as they received a Lets Imagine Elmo, an interactive plush toy from Playskool that will surely be a popular holiday gift this year. Each hat that you place on Elmo's head (cowboy hat, crown or sailor) brings on a new form of play and imagination. They liked it so much they wanted them in their cribs at night, but I turned off the power button so the toys talking wouldn't keep them up.
Boys with Let's Imagine Elmo
If you're planning a trip to Beaches Resorts with little ones, be sure and read my Traveling Mom post below, with advice and lessons learned from our trip with photos from the kids camp, the cribs and what kind of stroller to pack.

Read moreTips for Traveling With Infants & Toddlers to Beaches Resorts

Disclaimer: An an attendee I received a discounted rate at Beaches Resorts and complimentary gifts from sponsors, however, flights were not included and as always all thoughts are naturally my own. 
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