Archives for April 25, 2014

Mother’s Day with Hallmark! Special Mother's day Giveaway Opportunity!

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I love Hallmark and I love to feature and review their wonderful Products! One holiday that really is more special with Hallmark is Mother’s Day! I recently received the New “We Love You Because” pics ‘n’ props Frame Kit and I really love this! It is the perfect Mother’s Day gift for all Moms and Grandmothers too! It includes a chalkboard and chalk to create a personalized gift. The frame holds four 4×6 photos and retails for $24.95. I actually opened this review package with my son and I was so excited that he asked  if  he could make it for me as a gift. How could I say no to that? I also received four of their Mother’s Day Cards and the ones I received are just perfect for a few Mom friends I know! I love the New Sarah Jessica Parker Collection! Check out for the “We Love You Because” Frame Kit and all their other wonderful gift suggestions or simply go to one of my favorite places…the local Hallmark store. I could spend just hours looking at all the cards!

Here are a few of the Gift Card Collections for Mother’s Day:


  • Sarah Jessica Parker Collection: This collection includes 12 Mother’s Day cards created by a stylish mom herself — Sarah Jessica Parker. Parker worked with the Hallmark creative team to pair vintage artwork from the Hallmark archives with modern touches and embellishments. The designs feature simple, authentic and heartfelt messages, perfect for your mom and friends.
  • Hallmark Signature Collection: Celebrate mom or grandma with a card as unique as she is. With beautiful papers, rich textures and unique embellishments, each card in the Hallmark Signature Collection is handcrafted to be extra special, just like mom.
  • Magic Prints: Magic Prints is a line of greeting cards and gifts designed for kids to give mom or grandma a hand (their handprint) without a mess! New card designs for 2014 include Disney® characters, Peanuts® characters, as well as a baby’s footprint format — perfect for first-time moms.

We have teamed up with our friends at Hallmark for a very special Mother’s Day Giveaway!  Three of our readers will win a 10-card pack of greeting cards as well as a special gift from Hallmark! To enter, leave a comment below telling us your wish for Mother’s Day. For an extra entry, “like” the Hallmark Facebook Page and our page too! Deadline to enter is May 1st, 2014 at midnight. Three winners will randomly be selected from all entries. Self Disclosure: I am a member of Love, Hallmark (a group for bloggers) and received Free products to facilitate this feature/giveaway. All opinions expressed are truthful and honest. LogoLoveHallmark

Surprise Mom with a “Low” Afternoon Tea this Mother’s Day Let Nielsen-Massey Vanillas help you bypass the brunch celebrations this year and throw an English-themed Mother’s Day “low tea”

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones

With Mother’s Day just a few weeks away on May 11, it is time to begin planning how to make Mom feel special this year. Following the booming popularity of a certain PBS Masterpiece Classic, English-themed parties are certainly in vogue. However, instead of throwing the typical Mother’s Day brunch, try surprising Mom with a traditional afternoon “low tea.” Whether you are inviting sisters, aunts, grandmothers, or friends, a tea is a unique way to make the special women in your life feel like duchesses.

“Not only is hosting a tea a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day, it’s also a way to educate your friends and family on English tradition,” said Beth Nielsen, Chief Culinary Officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. “In the U.S., we’ve always thought the British had ‘high tea’, but really it is a misnomer. Americans thought ‘high tea’ meant high society, but we misunderstood.”

According to Ellen Easton, author of the book Afternoon Tea ~Tips, Terms and Traditions and a tea consultant to luxury New York City hotels The Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria, it is never correct to use the term ‘high tea’ when referring to the genre of afternoon tea popularized during the Victorian era. “Low tea, better known as afternoon tea, became customary amongst the leisured class in 1840, in ladies’ sitting rooms during the low time of day between 3 and 5 p.m.,” said Easton. “Around 1900, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, laborers had what is actually ‘high tea’ at the high time of day before sunset between 5 and 7 p.m. in pubs on raised tables or at home before returning to work the second factory shift. With this in mind, a ‘low’ afternoon tea is perfect for Mother’s Day, as the tradition was originally created to foster friendships.”

You can share this tidbit and other Downton Abbey-inspired fun facts at a special tea for mom and the other special ladies in your life while serving finger-foods such as scones, tea sandwiches and petit fours. Indulging in a bit of British tradition within your own home is extra special when you add Nielsen-Massey Vanillas to your menu:

  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to a pot of black tea along with cream or milk for the perfect vanilla-flavored centerpiece to your afternoon.
  • While Devonshire or clotted cream is a traditional accompaniment to scones, if you prefer a lighter whipped cream, try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to the cream, along with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, before whipping for a sweet, full flavor.
  • For a lighter dish, pair a teaspoon of fruity and floral Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract with fruit salad for an additional depth of flavor.

Tie your Mother’s Day menu together with the Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones recipe below!

Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Beans and Pure Vanilla Extract make these scones a classic favorite that Mom is sure to love.

I received samples of the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean and the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Pure Vanilla Extract and I am really looking forward to making the scones for Mother’s Day! I also love the idea of adding the Pure Vanilla Extract to the Tea! I actually did try that with a dab of milk and it was delicious!

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones

(Yield 1 to 1 ½ dozen)

1 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (or Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
1 cup (or less) whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a bowl; discard the bean. Combine the flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt in a food processor container and process for 10 seconds.

Add equal amounts of the butter in three stages to the dry ingredients and process for 6 to 8 seconds per addition; the dough should have a slightly coarse texture. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of the cream and the vanilla seeds. Stir with a fork 10-14 times awhile turning the bowl. Knead five or six times; the dough should hold together. Add enough of the remaining cream to reach the desired consistency if the dough does not hold together or seems dry.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar on a work surface. Turn the dough onto the sugar work surface and knead gently so the dough holds together. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the dough into two discs 1 inch thick and 6 inch to 8 inch in diameter. Cut into wedges. Place the scones on the prepared pans. Brush with the butter. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

NMV Mad Bean    NMV Mad 2 oz

A Marcy Goldman BetterBaking.Com Original Recipe for Nielsen-Massey.

Note: To experiment with a different flavor profile, try our Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans. To replace the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, simply use the same amount of the Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas

Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world. The full line of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla products include: Vanilla Beans and Extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico; sugar and alcohol-free Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar, Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Beans.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas also offers a full line of Pure Flavors: Pure Chocolate Extract, Pure Almond Extract, Pure Orange Extract, Pure Lemon Extract, Pure Coffee Extract, Pure Peppermint Extract, Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water. All Nielsen-Massey products are All-Natural, Allergen-Free, and certified Kosher and Gluten-Free. The company is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, with production facilities in Waukegan and Leeuwarden, The

Self Disclosure: I received Free products to facilitate this feature but any opinions expressed are truthful.

Del Amo Fashion Center Incorporating Green Elements into Redevelopment Efforts Transformation to include expansion of sustainability practices

Living greenery walls, advanced lighting controls, and the reuse of demolished building materials are just some of the sustainable practices Simon Property Group’s Del Amo Fashion Center is incorporating into the complete transformation of South Bay’s premier retail destination.


Incorporating eco-friendly elements is key to the redevelopment of Del Amo Fashion Center, which includes the brand new garden-like Patio Cafes dining pavilion, as well as the upcoming creation of a new state of the art two-level mall, new entrances, landscaping, flooring and lighting upgrades, enhancements to the ambiance in the outdoor lifestyle village and a new Nordstrom slated to open in Fall 2015.


 “At Del Amo Fashion Center, we understand how important it is to our shoppers in the community of Torrance to do business with companies that are demonstrating their environmental awareness,” said Lindsay Hermance, director of marketing and business development at Del Amo Fashion Center. “Our goal is to take the lead in going green as we progress toward transforming the center.”


Key components of Simon’s approach include initiatives to measure and reduce overall energy consumption, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and the availability of recycling at 100 percent of Simon properties.


“Because energy consumption is the most significant component of our carbon footprint, it has been and will continue to be a priority for our sustainability strategy,” said Ron Hanson, Vice President of Operational Efficiency for Simon Property Group. “What is taking place at Del Amo Fashion Center illustrates the many opportunities we have as a company to incorporate sustainable practices into our day-to-day operations.”


Among the green practices being applied to the redevelopment of Del Amo Fashion Center are the re-use, salvage and recycling of roughly 95 percent of the demolished building materials from the north section of the mall, which is currently being demolished progressively and is slated for completion of demolition by late June.


But well before the first wall came down, Del Amo Fashion Center carefully planned for environmentally sensitive redevelopment that ensured building materials would be reused, salvaged or recycled. This includes the donation of interior light fixtures and finishes, as well as about 80 tables and 320 chairs from the old food court, to Gymnastics Olympica USA, a nonprofit gymnastic training center that has been a leader in physical fitness for children and adults for more than 28 years.


Other efforts included the salvage of approximately 2,500 sheets of roof plywood and 2,000 linear feet of wood beams for re-use. Recycling efforts included an estimated 240,00 square feet of rolled roofing composite, 600 tons of drywall, 200 tons of interior wood wall, 1,000 tons of steel, 10 tons of aluminum, 10 tons of copper, 5 tons of stainless steel, 30,000 tons of concrete, 25,000 tons of asphalt, 200 tons of landscaping and 250 tons of brick.


In addition, the redevelopment of Del Amo Fashion Center provides an opportunity to increase energy efficiency. The center is planned to exceed California’s stringent energy code requirements by more than 10 percent. All lighting will use LED technology; these high efficiency, energy efficient sources have long lamp life and are maintenance friendly. The center will also use skylights to introduce natural light throughout the center. Advanced lighting controls tied to the center’s energy management system will reduce energy consumption during the day through occupancy and daylight sensors that compensate by dimming the artificial light output as feasible.


Other environmentally-friendly initiatives include the use of high performance glass, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems equipped with variable frequency drives to optimize energy usage, high-efficiency hand dryers in all restrooms to minimize the use of paper towels, and low water flow throughout the property, which employ auto-flush valves and sensor-switched faucets.


The living greenery walls inside the Patio Cafes not only have aesthetic benefits, but also contribute to biodiversity, cooling air and reducing the urban heat island effect, reducing airborne particulates and adding oxygen.


“We encourage everyone in the Torrance community to check in on the progress being made at Del Amo Fashion Center via our Facebook,Twitter or Instagram accounts and 3D architect renderings are also available on YouTube,” added Hermance. “This will provide up-to-date news on our renovation efforts.”

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PBS KIDS: Plum Landing


 PBS KIDS is celebrating Earth Day this month with the release of an all-new web-original property, PLUM LANDING!
PLUM LANDING follows the adventures of Plum, a video game designer from the desolate Planet Blorb, who longs to experience nature. This cross-platform, digital adventure is designed to engage kids ages 6-9 in environmental science by using animated and live-action videos, hands-on activities, web games and an app.
The free app, Plum’s Photo Hunt, is an educational photo-taking and sharing app designed to motivate kids to go outdoors and interact with nature. Kids can grab their friends and iDevice and head outdoors to complete more than 36 different missions. Plum’s Photo Hunt allows kids to learn and discover more in their own backyard!

KidsinBubble Plum

Self Disclosure: No products/compensation were received to feature Plum Landing. 

New Children’s Interactive E-Book Offered Free For One Week Only! Starting April 24, the Young David Books App offers first book, "David and the Hairy Beast"


The Young David Books App for iPads, which will be available in the iTunes Store on April 24, will be offering its first interactive e-book, “David and the Hairy Beast”, free of charge for one week only in honor of its release.


Based on the popular Young David Books by Fiona Veitch Smith, the Young David Books iPad App allows an increasingly technology-savvy generation to experience the Old Testament stories of King David in an interactive way. Each book in the series is based on the biblical stories of David and focuses on the formative events in King David’s childhood as he faces the universal challenges of friendship, trust, faith and courage.

The Young David Books App is available for iPads in the iTunes Store beginning April 24. The app is a free download with each book costing $1.99.


“David and the Hairy Beast” will be free from April 24 – May 1, in honor of the app’s release.


The app is available in the Apple app store by searching “Young David Books App.” More information on the app is available at

 Credit: Young David Books app.


Laura Mercier, ReVive & Nyakio gift ideas! For Mother's Day!


Looking for gift suggestions for Mom this Mother’s Day?

Below are some great gift ideas from Laura Mercier, RéVive and nyakio that are sure to please Mom.

For the Mother Who Loves to Give Back:

Consider a Laura Mercier gift that’s both beautiful and helps save women’s lives. 100 percent of the profits from the sale of Laura Mercier Bonne Mine Healthy Glow for Face & Cheeks Crème Colour Palette ($48) are donated to the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund. Brighten up your mother’s special day with this ultra-sheer, blendable palette that provides skin with a natural “no makeup” glow that looks soft and sun-kissed.


For the Mother Who Loves to Escape to the French Countryside:

Inspired by her hometown of Provence, Laura Mercier’s new Eau Fraiche: Verbena Infusion Collection captures the crisp freshness of Verbena. Take your mom on a journey to the French countryside with one of these three refreshing formulas:  Laura Mercier Verbena Infusion Gel Body Moisture ($45)Laura Mercier Verbena Infusion Crème Body Cleanse ($30) and Laura Mercier Verbena Infusion Eau de Toilette ($55).

I received the Laura Mercier Verbana Infusion Gel Body Moisture and just love how it smells and how if feels on my skin! It leaves my skin feeling so soft too! If i can’t take a journey to the French countryside, this may be the next best thing!


For the Mother Who Cherishes Her Family’s History:

Nyakio Kamoche Grieco created the nyakio brand to pay homage to her family’s heritage. Benefit from the beauty rituals and traditions that Nyakio’s family passed down to her by giving Mom one of the luxurious products from the collection: nyakio Hydrating Face Oil with Kola Nut ($49), nyakio Kenyan Coffee Face Polish ($34) and nyakio Kenyan Coffee Body Scrub ($55).


For the Mother Who Loves All Things Luxury:  

RéVive Moisturizing Renewal Cream ($235) is the secret behind the youthful glow of the jet set. Founded by renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Gregory Bays Brown, this cult-classic, anti-aging moisturizer works overtime while you sleep to help eliminate imperfections and visibly diminish fine lines—ensuring that your mom looks as radiant and youthful as she feels on her special day.

Self Disclosure: I received a product sample for free but any opinions expressed are my own. Photo Credit: Laura Mercier, ReVive, and Nyakio.


Bestowed April is for celebrating Earth Day!


Looking to try healthier products without buying big products to see if you like the products? Bestowed has the answer to that with their monthly boxes! They have a monthly subscription for $19.99 a month or $209. for a year. You get 7-10 healthy snacks, beverages, and other goodies delivered to your house (or place of employment). Now, how cool is that?! I received the April box last week and am really impressed! I received 3BBags Reusable Produce Bag and I love taking this one to the local Farmer’s Market with me! What I like best about the box is there is something for everyone in the family! I also received Good Health Natural Foods Glories Sweet Potato Chips, Little Duck Organics Tiny Fruits, Lucini Italia Premium Select EVOO, Luna Protein Bars, Nature’s Path Sunrise Cereal, Numi Tea Savory Tea Sampler, Torie & Howard Organic Hard Candies, Back to the Roots Mushroom Kit discount coupon and the House Foods Tofu Shirataki Noodle coupon. My favorite is the Nature’s Path Sunrise Cereal and the Numi Tea!

For more information, check out the website!

Self Disclosure: I received the April box and only paid for shipping to review.

Ideas to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Great ideas from Birthday Express!


It’s fiesta time! Celebrate with our neighbors South of the border, and throw a party for the number one Mexican-American holiday, Cinco de Mayo! Interestingly enough, it’s actually a much bigger and more popular holiday stateside, so let’s show the world how it’s done!

Cinco de Mayo party supplies on Birthday Express are muy caliente — your guests will stand up and shout “¡Arriba!” and you’ll be the host with the most festive fiesta around.

Keep on reading for a full list of Cinco de Mayo party tips to make it a day to remember. ¡Olé!

Now, while it is still technically Spring until mid-June, if you’re anything like us, you’re already craving that first splash of summer! Serve up some frozen margaritas for the grown-ups or slushies for the kids in plastic margarita glasses. Rim with sugar and add lime slices to complete the look.

To add some more fiesta flair to your refreshments table, dress up your drinks with our fiesta serape drink cozies! One size fits most bottles – just slip on and sip! Adding some fun fake moustaches adds to the humor, and your guests will definitely get a kick out of them.

To brighten up your party scene, try some festive paper fan decorations or our giant fiesta decorating kit. With three 24-foot banners, you’ll have enough party to go around for sure! You can even enhance the look further with handmade paper decorations of your own – this can make a great party activity for kids, too!

Simple white cupcakes with colored wrappers make a great accent, and a sombrero centerpiece ties the table together nicely. Red hot tissue paper chili peppers are another way to go, too, and piñatas are a necessity!

Try the rainbow donkey piñata for a classic style that screams Cinco de Mayo! Don’t forget to add a themed buster kit and piñata filler… after all, piñatas aren’t just for decoration! Add some maracas as a fun finishing touch to your party theme.

So, how are you going to celebrate Cinco? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share your thoughts! Be sure to check them out on Pinterest for even more party ideas and inspiration!

Self Disclosure: Thank you Birthday Express for sharing these ideas with us! No products were received to facilitate this feature.