Archives for January 2016

SpongeBob Square Pants Towel Bundle is a great gift for a SpongeBob fan!

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Does your child love SpongeBob Square Pants? They will absolutely love this gift bundle!

This is a Nickelodeon SpongeBob Towel “Boys of Summer” 28″ x 58″ Beach Sized and  1 Pk. SpongeBob Dig n Dips Candy- 7 Pouches (1.9 oz). I love the towel! It is bright and and is great for both boys and girls. It is 100% cotton and great for either the beach or at home after a bath. Kids of all ages will love the bonus of the SpongeBob Dig n Dips Candy. My son liked the vanilla and Blue Raspberry flavors. Will make a great gift for any occasion!

You can purchase at http://amzn.to/1ZTJmQA

Self Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an unbiased review.

Books of the Week Our favorites for the week of January 25th!

This January, Sky Pony Press is pleased to announce two fun new picture books!

I received copies of both books and found them delightful for younger children!

Rudy's new human

RUDY’S NEW HUMAN by Roxanna Elden and Ginger Seehafer is the perfect book to teach kids about dealing with the arrival of a new sibling or addition to the household. Family dog Rudy is upset when the newest member of the family doesn’t like the same things as him and, worst of all, steals the spotlight. Will Rudy ever find his place again in his family now that he’s sharing it with the new human?

I found this take on a new addition to the household a refreshing way to relate to young children especially those who will soon have a new brother or sister in the family. The illustrations are bright, colorful and fun too!

Rudy’s New Human: Amazon, B&N, Indiebound

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NO MORE BEIGE FOOD by Leanne Shirtliffe and Tina Kugler tells the story of two little siblings who are tired of their parents’ plain, bland cooking. To find something different, they embark on an adventure to their neighbors’ homes to learn about the cooking from different cultures. This book is a great way to introduce kids to different cultures and to persuade picky eaters to try something new!

This is a great book for younger children especially if you do have a picky eater in the house! It is a delightful book that is fun to read and has wonderful illustrations. I highly recommend for ages 3-6.

No More Beige Food: Amazon, B&N, Indiebound

This next one is the perfect one for this upcoming Valentine’s Day! It teaches young children just how special a hug can be!

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This book was actually released on January 21st, which was National Hugging Day! It is an adorable story about a bear who is ready to join the family business of giving hugs and spreading love to everyone in the forest. I like that it teaches young children about hugging. It has a delightful message and is fun to read!   I recommend this one for younger children but I think this would also be a great story time book for families.

THE BIG BOOK OF HUGS is now available on Amazon (Hardcover and Kindle)  (Coming soon: www.barkleythebear.com with lesson plans, activities and more).

The next books are a New American Revolutionary War adventure  series out for older kids from Harper Collins.

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The stories are designed to teach little known facts about the American Revolution to children and adults. Book 1 involves the Culper Spy Ring. Book two, the American Turtle submarine. These really are interesting to read and a great way for kids to learn about patriotism. What is really cool is that the authors are a Father and Son writing team.  I like that the books teach little known facts about the American Revolution. I highly recommend for both kids and adults.

10% of their earnings from the sales of Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue will be given to Team Never Quit, the foundation of former Navy SEAL and Lone Survivor Marcus Luttrell.

For more information, see www.robertskead.com.

Self Disclosure: I received copies of the above books to facilitate this post.

 

Celebrate National Hot Tea Month All Year Long

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There’s nothing as relaxing as a hot cup of tea on a cold winter day, and January is the perfect time to celebrate tea. It’s National Hot Tea Month!

I had the opportunity to try out a few of the Choice Organic Teas and my favorite is the Mango Black! It has such a smooth taste and I love the Mango flavor. It has quickly become my new favorite tea! This one is also great served over ice! But, they do have a wide variety of teas to choose from so I am sure you will be able to find your own favorite!

 

Here are Choice Organic Teas’ Top 5 Reasons to Drink Tea in 2016…Enjoy!

Courtesy of Choice Organic Teas.

TEA HELPS SOOTHE DURING WINTER COLDS AND SUMMER SNIFFLES

According to the CDC, adult Americans combat an average of 2-3 colds per year. Supporting your immune system with a Wellness Tea* like Choice Organic Teas’ Breathing Space* or Throat Cozy* can help maintain healthy airways or soothe your throat.*

 

AVOID THE AFTERNOON ENERGY SLUMP

Millions of Americans experience the dreaded “3:00 slump” and reach for sugary beverages like soda or energy drinks, or big mugs of coffee, to combat their dip in energy. Choice Organic Teas recommends choosing a natural way to energize with a tea like Energy Boost*, a crisp, lively green tea blend that supports healthy energy levels and vitality.*  Or, try the Gourmet Line, featuring traditional black and green teas with a culinary twist to enliven your afternoon.”

DETOX ALL YEAR LONG WITH TEA

Sure, detox diets are popular in January, when New Year’s resolutions are new and shiny, but what about a regular detox regime throughout the year? Choice Organic Teas’ Simply Detox* and Beauty Detox* are specially formulated with herbs to aid liver function and promote clear skin, cleansing your body from the inside out.*

THINKING HEART HEALTH

With February Heart Month just around the corner, Choice Organic Teas’ new Hibiscus Heart Wellness Tea* helps support cardiovascular health with hibiscus flowers and hawthorn berry.*

EATING CLEAN? BE SURE TO DRINK CLEAN TOO

  • Choose Certified Organic. Even teas billed as “natural” can contain pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic logo on the package to ensure you are drinking the real thing
  • Avoid GMOs in your food…and in your beverages. Look for the Non-GMO Project Verified logo on the packaging to ensure there are no artificially manipulated ingredients in your tea, coffee or other beverages
  • If you are watching your gluten intake, pay attention to sneaky ways gluten can enter your diet. Be sure to look for tea products with the GF logo indicating Gluten-Free certification.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. 

Osaka Cafetiere 6 Cup, French Press is a Must-Buy!

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Looking for a great way to start off your day? The Osaka Cafetiere 6 Cup, French Press is a great way to start off the day with having your coffee! I have to admit that I have never attempted to use a French Press before. I simply figured that it would be very complex. I was pleasantly surprised how easy this is to use! The Double-walled Borosilicate glass will keep your coffee/tea hot for longer than standard presses. It really does give you a perfect brew! It’s pretty too and I was thrilled that it is easy to clean. You can even put it in the dishwasher.  The Carafe is made of hand-blown Borosilicate glass that will resist thermal shock, so it won’t break when it goes from cold to hot or vice-versa. This was quite impressive to me!  The Carafe is also easy to clean and dishwasher safe. This would make a great gift for the coffee lover in your life!

Makes 6 (4.5 oz) cups of coffee. It is also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

You can purchase on Amazon.com.

Self Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an unbiased review.

Kung Fu Panda 3 – Visually Stunning, Emotional Rollercoaster, Comedic Sequel

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Who hasn’t fallen in love with the adorable Po, voiced by the versatile Jack Black, as he continues on his legendary adventures of awesomeness? In this third installment in this beloved animated franchise, Po is reunited with his estranged father, but the reunion isn’t all fun and games. When a new supernatural villain begins to sweep across China threatening all the Kung Fu masters, Po must do the impossible – learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Michelle C comments, “In the third installment of the popular family film series Kung Fu Panda, you will find yourself on an emotional roller coaster, with just enough action, comedy and love to go around.” Benjamin P. adds, “I liked this movie because it was a lot of fun and it still has a captivating plot even though it’s a sequel. I also really like the new villain. He was so evil and greedy, it made me want to SKIDOOSH! him so bad.” Abigail Zoe L. wraps it all up, “This film rocks! It holds nothing back as it is full of adventures that are fun and full of heart.” See their full reviews below.

Kung Fu Panda 3
By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

 

Kung Fu Panda 3 is a great film with excellent animation, a great villain and hilarious humor. My favorite dumpling-loving panda is back. I liked this movie because it was a lot of fun and it still has a captivating plot even though it’s a sequel. I also really like the new villain. He was so evil and greedy, it made me want to SKIDOOSH! him so bad.

As you can see, I am a big fan of this franchise and I promise you this latest installment does not disappoint. Kung Fu Panda 3 is about Po figuring out who he wants to be and adapting to a lot of changes in his life. As the movie begins, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) tells Po that next to being the Dragon Warrior, it will be Po’s job to teach the Furious Five. Before Po can learn how to be a teacher, he meets his long-lost father Li (Bryan Cranston). Their celebration is cut short by the arrival of Kai (J.K Simmons), the villain who is stealing the energy of Kung Fu masters from all over the land and who wants to destroy Po. To fight back, Po has to learn to master being a panda after he finds out pandas have special powers that might be able to help defeat Kai.

The lesson of this film is figure out who want you to be and then be your best self, even if you have to try new things you don’t know how to do. Po has to try to figure out how to live like a panda and become a teacher by trying things he’s not good at.

It’s nice to see the original characters back and it’s hard to pick a villain as a favorite character, but Kai is an excellent bad guy that I love to hate. He is surprisingly funny while being Po’s most formidable foe so far.

I love the animation because it uses a lot of different styles. There is a lot of detail. It’s very colorful and the animators use Chinese calligraphy and other cultural symbols to give the movie’s setting an authentic feeling. I also really enjoyed the score by Hans Zimmer because it has a lot of energy that goes perfectly with the high-action scenes.

I recommend this film for ages 4 to 12 because there are some scary scenes that may upset younger viewers. Adults will also enjoy this film. I give Kung Fu Panda 3 four out of five stars.

Kung Fu Panda 3
By Michelle Contreras, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Cast Interviews:

In the third installment of the popular family film series Kung Fu Panda, you will find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, with just enough action, comedy and love to go around.
Large and adorable panda Po (Jack Black) realizes he has a lot to learn if he wants to surpass his next obstacle from his role-model instructor. During this long, adventurous process, he finds himself reunited with his long-lost father (Bryan Cranston). Po must find a way to morph into the teacher he was always destined to be. With help from his new panda family, the martial-arts masters come together to fight the envious and malevolent Kai (J.K. Simmons), a warrior who came back from the spirit realm, in order to steal everyone’s chi.
I have always been a kid at heart but watching this film truly made me feel like it was my first time ever watching Kung Fu Panda in the movie theater. Since it brought back a ton of memories, I couldn’t help but notice all of the fantastic, quality changes the film has gone through. This has always been a great series from the start, but this movie takes the gold when it comes down to storyline and visual effects. There is no doubt in my mind that the creative directors and graphic designers behind this film spent tons and tons of hours developing such amazing oriental scenes within this movie. Every single color, movement, saying or setting in this film truly embodies what Kung Fu Pand” is all about, which makes the meaning and experience for an avid movie-goer all the more understanding and worthwhile. Because of the sincere storyline, it will hit home to lots of viewers and family members. One thing I do wish I had the opportunity to see more of are the famous and Furious Five (voiced by Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Angelina Jolie, David Cross, and Seth Rogen) and Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) in action altogether, especially when attempting to defeat the evil Kai.
Ultimately, Kung Fu Panda 3 is a hilarious and charming film for everyone in the family to enjoy. Whether it’s moving you to tears from laughter or gloominess, you’ll find it hard not to smile with satisfaction when the credits begin rolling. This movie is rated PG for its martial arts action and some mild rude humor, so I think this will be just perfect for kids ages 5 to 18. I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 five stars.

Kung Fu Panda 3

By Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 8 years old


Red carpet Interviews: https://youtu.be/1gQhhjOM9Is

This film rocks! It holds nothing back as it is full of adventures that are fun and full of heart. This third film of the awesome Kung Fu Panda series has us once again rooting for the most loveable Panda, Po. Watching Po in this movie is like watching myself because of his endless enthusiasm and passion for life which is just like me! He’s silly, funny and clumsy and still able to save the day!

We find Po battling a villain, discovering his true father and discovering his true self. The villain, Kai, wants to take the chi from all the great kung fu masters so he can become the most powerful grand master of the world. Kai will stop at nothing and the only possible way to defeat him is Po. Po must channel his inner chi and confidence to stop Kai.

Part of Po’s adventure is set in Panda Village where the student must learn how to become the teacher. For the first time Po meets other pandas. He changes this panda community and they also change him. Also, with the help of his mentor Shifu and the Furious Five, Po learns what it is to overcome challenges and become his own hero. At the heart of the story is the lesson that what is important in life is to become the best you can be. Po finally realizes this.

My favorite part of this film is when Po meets his real dad, Li. This occurs in his adoptive father’s restaurant when Li breaks Po’s dumpling eating record. This is both a touching and yet hilarious scene as everyone in the restaurant realizes that they are father and son except them.

While all the voices are amazing and perfectly match the characters I really like Jack Black’s voice as Po. I really can’t think of any other actor’s voice better for this role than Jack’s. Po’s look, personality and most importantly his soul is just totally Jack Black. I also love J. K. Simmons who voices the villain, Kai. His voice is so perfectly evil yet it also has this lack of confidence in it that can make you giggle at times. For instance, Kai considers himself very special and famous but when he escapes the Spirit World and arrives on earth he finds that no one has ever even heard of him.

There are many wonderful and positive messages in this film. One of my favorites message is that you have to believe in yourself and never give up. Another beautiful message from the film is that you are not alone in this world and that family is important. However, the message that stands out in my mind is when Shifu tells Po: “If you only do what you can you will only be what you are.” This means a lot to me because I think everyone is special and we all have something very special to offer and bring to the world.

Kung Fu Panda 3 comes out in theatres Friday, January 29, 2016. You definitely don’t want to miss this incredible animated film that is filled with adventure, humor and hear. I recommend this movie for all ages and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Credit: KIDS FIRST!

Bundle Organics Looking to Expand Product Line with Kickstarter campaign

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National Tea Month is this month and it is the perfect time to tell you about the new product and Kickstarter campaign from Bundle Organics.

 

Bundle Organics and Harney & Sons have teamed up to create a line of OBGYN-approved teas designed especially for pregnant and nursing moms.

 

Bundle Organics is looking to add a second product line to their already successful line of juices. Through the partnership with Harney & Sons, they are looking to bring organic teas to the market especially made for pregnancy support and lactation.

 

As with any small start-up, budgets are tight, and Bundle Organics will be launched a Kickstarter campaign this past Friday, January 15th to help with the production costs and get these teas to the market in time for Spring.

 

The contributions from the Kickstarter campaign will help make the Bundle Organics teas for pregnant and nursing moms a realiTEA!

 

For more information, you can preview the Kickstarter campaign page here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/730803386/308008261?token=d5283c5d

Credit: Bundle Organics.

 

 

Leia is the Pet of the Week

Leia, January 28 Pet of the Week

One person’s trash is not just another’s treasure. Leia, a 3-year-old American Staffie mix, is a jewel to every shelter volunteer and staff member. She richly deserves her name and princess tiara. Leia was found by a good Samaritan in a dumpster. She was as skinny as a rail and had apparently seen some tough times. But you wouldn’t know it—she loves to be petted and rewards you with sweet, gentle kisses. Want to add Leia to your treasure chest? Meet her on the shelter side of the Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS. Ask for ID#A561811.

 

(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: Courtesy of the Companion Animal Village.

New Fashion Options Join Del Amo Fashion Center Madewell, J.Crew and ANGL add to expanded center

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South Bay’s premier retail destination Del Amo Fashion Center is adding some classically stylish retailers to their already top-notch roster of stores, including Madewell, J. Crew and ANGL.

 

The new fashion options will join the center’s state-of-the-art Fashion Wing, which celebrated a grand opening in October with the addition of Nordstrom and 100 new stores.

 

“We’re excited to broaden our options for chic style here at Del Amo Fashion Center,” said Lindsay Hermance, Director of Marketing and Business Development for Del Amo Fashion Center. “The style scene is alive and well in the South Bay, and we’re delighted to be the new home to a number of fashion-forward options.”

 

Known for their great jeans and wide range of effortlessly cool pieces, Madewell will celebrate its grand opening on January 26 with graphic designer Kimberley Pesch of EAT/SLEEP/WEAR and photographer Taylr Anne. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., shoppers can enjoy sips, small bites, a DJ and the retailer’s newest arrivals. Each shopper gets a complimentary Bien Fait tote bag with any purchase, while supplies last.

 

The 3,000-square-foot store officially opens at 10 a.m., and they will be handing out Madewell gift cards to the first 25 people who stop by. Shoppers are encouraged to use the hashtag #MadewellCA.

 

Madewell’s sister store J.Crew, which focuses on style over fashion, is also slated to open on January 26 on the main level of the Fashion Wing, between Luxury Court and Nordstrom.

 

The roughly 5,500-square-foot store is known for color blocking and pattern mixing, and specializes in women’s, men’s and children’s apparel, shoes and accessories.

 

Also joining the center on the upper level of the new Fashion Wing, next to Torrid, is ANGL in a 2,400-square-foot space. ANGL is the West Coast contemporary retail destination for fashion-savvy, confident, and luxury-minded ladies, focusing on ready-to-wear apparel and accessories. The store is slated for a May opening.

 

Other recently opened stores include Arhaus, Banana Republic, Guess/Marciano, Express, a 25,000-square-foot H & M, KIKO Milano Cosmetics, Michael Kors, Tumi, Vera Bradley, Godiva, Kiehl’s Since 1851, Kipling, Roberto Durville, Varga, Fossil, Ben Bridge, Lush, MAC Cosmetics, Melissa Shoes, Nordstrom, PacSun, Papyrus, Sumo Salad, Uniqlo, a flagship Victoria’s Secret and a two-level Zara.

 

For ongoing updates and to learn more about the continued transformation of South Bay’s retail destination follow Del Amo Fashion Center on Facebook at facebook.com/DelAmoFashionCenter, Twitter at twitter.com/delamofashion or Instagram at instagram.com/delamofashion.

Credit: Simon.