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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pumpkin at Dunkin is Back - New Fall Menu

I love fall and all things pumpkin, so I'm all about the limited time seasonal items this time of year, which is why I was super stoked to have been inviteDD to a Dunkin' Donuts Fall sampling event where I got to sample their full fall lineup of pumpkin beverages and baked goods.

Leading the autumn menu are the new Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares filled with smooth and creamy pumpkin cheesecake and topped with orange icing, crumbled graham crackers and white icing drizzle & REESE's Peanut Butter Squares, filled with rich and creamy Reese's peanut butter buttercreme, topped with chocolate icing and an orange icing drizzle. As you can imagine, they were rich and decadent.

Being a bit traditional, I really enjoyed the returning glazed pumpkin cake donut though and the Pumpkin Muffin with white icing and sweet streusel crumbs, which was surprisingly moist, light and deliciously spiced.

PSL say hello to PSM! Dunkin’ Donuts has also added a Macchiato to the menu, with its new Pumpkin Macchiato. Served hot or iced, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Macchiato is a handcrafted, layered espresso beverage made with steamed milk and pumpkin flavored swirl, then topped with a double shot of Dunkin’ Donuts’ rich, freshly-brewed espresso. It was a bit strong for this tea drinker, but I really admired it's layered beauty (see pic below) and its bold taste with just a hint of pumpkin.

While I usually prefer hot beverages, but I really liked their refreshing iced pumpkin coffee though. We also tried the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta featuring real pumpkin puree and spice flavors with crumbled graham cracker pieces mixed in. Like their other Coolatta flavors, it was a sweet frozen treat.

Free Coffee on National Coffee Day

You can score some FREE coffee too! Today, September 29, is National Coffee Day, and Dunkin’ Donuts will welcome the holiday by brewing a special offer. Guests can walk into any participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant across the country and receive a free medium cup of Dunkin’ Donuts hot or iced Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Dark Roast Coffee, with a limit of one per guest.

More deals can be redeemed throughout the next several weeks too if you're a DD Perks member, plus you get a free, any-size beverage upon enrollment and on your birthday. To enroll in DD Perks for free, download the Dunkin’ Mobile App or visit

Donut Hole Acorns

Using a glazed munchkin, we made donut hole acorn desserts, which are perfect for fall celebrations. The kiddos can help make them too. Simply pierce a slim mini pretzel stick through a pumpkin munchkin, then add chocolate icing or Nutella around the top and cover with chocolate sprinkles. I was quite proud of the result!

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Monday, September 28, 2015

7 Tips for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with Toddlers

How can the most magical place on earth, be even more magical? Come visit during the Fall to see it decorated for Halloween!

Besides the festive decorations at Walt Disney World's four theme parks, there is also the famous holiday bash called, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom Park. Don your favorite costume and get ready to trick-or-treat at this Halloween-themed event held each fall on select nights from 7:00 p.m. to Midnight. This requires an additional ticket outside of general admission. Starting at $68.00 for a one-day ticket along with a valid park admission is required.

It was our first year attending and we brought the boys too.

Activities at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: 

  • Happy HalloWishes Fireworks
  • Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade
  • Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular (live show in front of the castle)
  • Trick or Treating 
  • Special Disney character Disney appearances
  • Monster's Inc. Scream-o-Ween Ball
  • Exclusive merchandise for purchase

Tips for Attending Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with Toddlers: 

  1. While you don't have to be in a costume, it's that much more fun if you do. I was a blonde Snow White and the boys had little Ewok costumes that they refused to wear though. They are already too cool for school apparently ;) It was too hot for the costumes anyway, which is why I had them wear "Wicked Cute" tees from Target with Mickey and a Pumpkin on them, which made for cute photos still. In fact, I'm going to use the above photo for Halloween cards.
  2. FastPass+ isn't available during the party, however, the rides aren't as crowded due to all the other activities going on. Go on the rides during the parade and there will be no wait. We chose to do the Mickey Meet and Greet on Main Street with the boys. It was better than a fast pass, we went right in and with inpatient toddlers, this is a boon. We  also took turns going on Space Mountain just 15 minutes before the fireworks and the wait time was an unheard of 5 minutes!!

  3. The Monsters Inc. Scream-O-Ween Ball is an outside dance party in Tomorrowland that's great for toddlers. My boys had fun bopping around here and meeting Sully and Mike. Check out my Vine video to see the ball in action.
  4. Bring your own bag or purchase the larger souvenir bag for trick or treating. When you enter, two small, but festive bags are provided for gathering treats, but you'll likely want a bigger one that's easier to carry if you plan to hit all the treat locations. My boys loved collecting the free candy at the different treat locations throughout the park from sponsors like Craisins, Weather's Original, Dove, Peeps and more. The yogurt and chocolate covered Craisins were a big hit with them and I loved the Dove chocolates and Weather's Original caramel apple-filled hard candies.We don't often give them candy, so they were probably most excited about this than the rest of the other activities, lol.

  5. Enjoy the people watching and the amazing costumes that other guests are wearing. I loved that this group went as a FastPass+ that actually lit up and MagicBands:

  6. Let the kids go to bed late and stay for the fireworks at 10 p.m. We left after this. Wish we could have stayed longer, but we were already way past their bedtime and still had to get back to our hotel.
  7. The most crowded times to attend are on the weekends and the nights closest to Halloween in October, which is why I'm glad we went in September, especially when going with kids.
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

5 Amazing Ways to Re-use Baby Food Pouches

Baby food pouches are super convenient for on-the-go snacking. Also, at times it made feeding t a whole lot easier when I didn't have to spoon feed two cranky, hungry babies at the same time. With twins, you can imagine the number of pouches that we've gone through in our house. As a result, I had more pouches that I knew what to do with. Here are just some of the ways I've discovered to re-use these pouches.
Amazing Ways to Re-use Baby Food Pouch Caps

What to do with old baby food pouches

  1. TerraCycle them! TerraCycle makes consumer products from pre-consumer and post-consumer waste and by reusing other waste materials. It's free, simply join a baby food pouch brigade, collect your pouches in a box, print their free shipping label and mail them your waste. It's actually quite easy. You can also ship old CapiSun pouches, diaper packaging, potato chip bags, Nespresso capsules and lots more. So far, I have recycled 978 pouches and in exchange gained 2,512 points, which is a $25.12 value towards purchasing eco-friendly products, or use your points to make a cash donation to a charity of your choice. You can even donate your points to purchase honey bees to a needy family.

  2. Teach Colors & Counting with a Sensory Box - I started saving the round tops of baby food pouches, every time I found a new color or shade. I took a couple of months to get 12 different colors. I then put them in a StrideRite Shoe Box that had Sesame Street characters on it, which I saved from a recent sneaker purchase. I then presented them the box, which they loved opening and seeing the rainbow of colors inside. Each day, we'd point and name the colors together and soon they would open the box and say the colors out loud without me even asking them to. They also enjoy lining them up, stacking them and throwing them. I do make them collect and put them away each nigh though. Surprisingly, they have't grown tired of this box yet, in fact, it has outlasted more expensive toys too. We have now progressed to counting the caps, for a new level of learning.

    Teach Colors & Counting with a Baby Food Pouch Cap Sensory Box Teach Colors & Counting with a Baby Food Pouch Cap Sensory Box
  3. Use Caps to Make Crafts - Pinterest as you can imagine has a lot of ideas for using the colorful caps to make picture frames, puppets, ornaments, necklaces and a whole lot more. Follow this board for more Pouch Cap Crafts & Activities.
  4. Play-Doh Fun - You can use the caps as wheels for Play-Doh cars or use as Play-Doh cookie cutters. Best of all, unlike other cookie cutters or stencils, you can always toss these after kids are done playing, so no clean-up.

  5. Tic Tac Toe - Collect two sets of colors and play some tic tac toe!  
Any other ideas? I'd love to hear them :)
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Me in a Blogger Pie Making Contest in Sarasota

Over the weekend, I put on a pair of oven mitts for a blogger throw down during a weekend trip to the lovely Sarasota, Florida.

In the Amish community of Pinecraft, Yoder's Restaurant and Amish Village is celebrating 40 years of serving up comfort food including their famous homemade pies. Yoder's staff graciously showed me and three other bloggers (Leanette, Erin and Mary) how to make their Peanut Butter Cream Pie.

To start, they make peanut butter crumbles from peanut butter and confectioners sugar, which is the first layer that goes on the bottom crust, followed by their vanilla pudding, more peanut butter crumbles and then whip cream on top.  

We then put our skills to the test during a public Pie Making Contest. There were signs out in front of the village and flyers on the tables in the restaurant advertising the contest and public vote. The pressure was on. In front of a cheering audience, we had only three minutes to assemble our pies. Afterwards, people were encouraged to vote for the best-looking one.

Take a look at this 15 second time-lapse video of the contest (just pretend the part where my phone falls didn't happen):
A video posted by Tara (@tarametblog) on
Frankly, going into it, I didn't have much faith in my winning. I think I would have had better chances in a pie eating contest instead, but I was definitely excited to try. I also had a blast participating. I finished in just barely enough time, but my pie wasn't as heaping as the others. I only received a handful of votes and received the honorable mention trophy though. Good times.
The contest was followed by lunch inside the restaurant, which had lines out the door for a table on a Saturday afternoon. After hearing so much about it, I ordered their fried chicken and a slice of coconut cream pie. Both were simply amazing! I would definitely go back again for it. Inside, is also charming as if you're entering grandma's house. It's also kid-friendly.

With a Coconut Cream Pie that I made in Yoder's kitchens
Yoder's Restaurant & Village also includes a grocery store with to-go meals and a gift store with handcrafted goods from the Amish community worth visiting for unique gifts. Be sure and stop by if you are ever visiting Sarasota county.

Related Post: 11 Cool Things to Do in Sarasota with Kids

Disclaimer: My visit to Sarasota was part of a hosted media trip with Visit Sarasota County. 
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

7 Accessories that Never Go Out of Style

This is a partnered post 

Staying up to date with the latest fashions is hard work. Luckily, however, there are a few accessories that never go out of style. If you have these in your closet, then you’ll always look as if you’re moving with the times.

Designer watches
There may be a few who think the day of the watch is over now that we check our phones for the time, but these are people who don’t see that a watch is not just a device for telling the time. Designer watches for men and women are as much about the style as they are the time. A high quality watch will never be out of style. You can get stylish with Tesco, who sell a variety of cool watches.

Black mascara
For anyone who chooses to wear make-up, black mascara is a must have. You don’t need to wear it every day but it is a staple that never goes out of fashion and looks great with pretty much any style that you choose.

Little Black Dress
Little black dresses are always in and something every woman should invest in. Known to make most women look slimmer than usual, the black dress is perfect for just about any time of the year. It’s especially essential if you live in or visiting Manhattan ;) You can also add some color and style to your LBD by pairing it with the next two fashion staples.

Pearls are the epitome of style and class. Whether you are heading out or simply increasing the sophistication of your work outfit, pearls will always look the part.

Scarves are no longer an accessory just for winter. Lightweight scarves add a bit of something to most outfits and can be worn all year round, making them a statement that never goes out of fashion.

Tortoiseshell sunglasses
Regardless of the brand, tortoiseshell sunglasses come back every summer and are worn all year round. The style of the rims may change but the tortoiseshell color is complimentary to every complexion and hair color and so having a pair or two is never a bad idea.

A fancy handbag
Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada..,you get the idea. Men buy fancy sports cars to show their status and women have kick ass handbags. Yes, I'm sure that is a blatant sexist generalization, but in my case it's true. I consider an expensive brand name purse to be a reward for working hard. In a way, the bag encapsulates my achievements so to speak. Vain, shallow, whatever, but trust me, you'll never receive as many compliments on any other item that you might wear. Depending on the brand it can also be a good investment as you can always sell it once it's vintage.

The fashion world moves quickly and it is often the case that just when you get your head around another trend, it changes. These accessories don’t play by the rules and stay in fashion all the time.
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Monday, August 31, 2015

An End-of-Summer Toast with Sparkling Wines

Sadly, summer may come to an end, but the cocktails don’t have to! As summer winds down, pop the cork on one, or all of these sparkling wines to say farewell to summer in style. Refreshing and light, sparkling wine is the perfect addition to any Labor Day Weekend BBQ or party on the beach, by the pool or at home.
Try the finest Prosecco from Italy with these two lovely bottles from Bisol.
Jeio Prosecco DOC (SRP: $17) is a Prosecco produced with grapes from the low-lying hills of the Veneto. This beautiful straw-yellow Prosecco has a refined balance between acidity and minerality. The floral bouquet of apple, apricot and fresh meadow flowers compliments the fruity flavors and dry finish.

Stand out from the crowd by pouring this pink bubbly before summer is over! Jeio Cuvée Rosé (SRP: $16) is a sparkling wine made from a combination of Merlot and Pinot Noir grapes from vineyards on the steep hills of the Veneto. A brief period of maceration gives the wine its brilliantly delicate pink color, excellent balance, and unique personality. Intense notes of roses accompanied by a delicate bouquet of fresh citrus and lychee compliments the light acidity and dry finish. It is superb as an aperitif, while at the table, it perfectly matches pasta dishes with vegetable sauces, white meat dishes, and all manner of seafood.

You can also look like a hero and bring one of these stylish limited-edition 2015 Chandon American Summer Brut & Rosé bottles with red, white, pink and blue nautical stripes.

Toast to the rest of summer Chandon style!
For three years, Chandon has brought playful and patriotic pops of red, white and blue to summer entertaining with its signature American Summer Limited Edition bottles and now pink. Best of all, they make for great table decorations and no gift bag is needed if providing it as a hostess present. Hurry though as they are available only now until Labor Day weekend!

Cheers to a Happy Labor Day Weekend!
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Giveaway: Getting ready for pre-school with Mabel's Labels

I'm not sure I have truly processed the fact that my boys are off to pre-school already! I've kept my emotions at bay by busying myself with all the prep for the big day instead. Things like labeling their backpacks, lunch bags, sippy cups, shoes, extra clothes and books.

Since I can't put labels on my twins,
I've settled for labeling their stuff
Labeling is especially helpful when you have multiples anyway, because while I have no problem telling my identical twins apart, it typically takes a few weeks for others to get the hang of it. I was having nightmares that the teachers would be getting the boys confused and I wouldn't be there to correct them. I'm tempted to put labels on them, in fact, during one silly breakfast I did! From the beginning to make it easy we color coded their possessions - Ben's pacifier and cups were blue due to the B alteration and Logan's were green. They now know their colors too and it keeps them from fighting over the same toothbrush or snack cup. For back-to-school though, I now had to go beyond colors to putting their names on everything.

I didn't want to ruin the resale of their outfits by simply writing in them with a Sharpie. I also knew if I printed my own labels for their cups they wouldn't be durable enough, which is why I turned to Mabel's Labels instead. 

I ordered their Little Kid School Combo, which includes 104 personalized labels from dishwasher and microwave safe labels, to shoe labels that help kids learn which shoe goes on which foot, two tags to attach to their bags, plus laundry-safe stick-on clothing labels (no need to iron them on!). 

To create their personalized labels, all I had to do was enter in my boys names on the Mabel's Labels website and select from one of 16 different cute themes. I went with firetrucks for Logan and blue cats for Ben. They arrived in the mail very quickly via free shipping and all that was left for me to do was apply them. Super easy way to look like a super mom!

For only $9, I already had and been using Mabel's Labels Write Away Labels for when the boys went to the Kids Camp at Beaches Resorts. I have terrible handwriting though and I wanted something more professional looking now that they'd be going to school full-time anyway.  

GIVEAWAY: Get your kids ready for back-to-school and enter below for your chance to win a Little Kid School Combo pack from Mabel's Labels worth $42.
mabel's labels

Disclaimer: I received the Little Kids School labels free for review, but I was already using Mabel's Labels products and I only share stuff I love. Truly.
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Monday, August 24, 2015

New Bunulu Stores Celebrate Land, Water & Style

Over the weekend, my husband I attended a media event to celebrate the upcoming opening of Bunulu, a new store at Coconut Point in Estero, Florida between Victoria's Secret and The Apple Store.

The name Bunulu (pronounced buh-new-lou) is based on an aborigine term meaning of water. The store's motto is "Land, Water, Style" and features clothes, accessories and footwear to support an active coastal lifestyle.

The vibe inside is an open Hawaiian paradise with driftwood accents. There are even fun ocean backdrops in the dressing rooms allowing for picturesque selfies. The new store carries well known outdoorsy brands like Hurley, O'Niell, Garmin and Sanuk (my favorite sandals!).

Take a look inside, it's so pretty:

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I plan on buying this 'Travel Often' shirt from Wildfox!
To reemphasize Bunulu's themes, the media day started with a morning yoga session out in front of the store led by Fusion Yoga also based in Estero, followed by a guided canoe tour out on the Estero River, as well as an exclusive shopping experience at the first Bunulu location.

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Their second location will open in Jacksonville shortly and soon more stores throughout the Sunshine State. The Grand Opening is this Friday, August 28 and starting at 5:30 p.m. their will be refreshments, musical entertainment and more.

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